Your Credit Report: How to Improve Your Score

By Michael Hall

Are you wondering how to fix your credit? No one can legally remove negative information from your credit report if it’s accurate and current. But there are steps you can take to fix errors and improve your credit. Here’s what you need to know about how to fix your credit.

Your credit report has information about:

  • Whether you pay your bills on time.
  • What loans and credit cards you have, and what you owe on them?
  • Whether you’ve been sued or arrested or have filed for bankruptcy.

The more positive information you have in your credit report, the better your credit will be.

If there are negative items on your credit report, the Credit Bureaus sell the information in your credit report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to make decisions about you. If there’s a lot of negative information in your report, you could have trouble getting a loan, or might have to pay more in interest. You also could be turned down for a job, insurance, or some services.

Most negative information will stay on your report for seven years, and bankruptcy information will stay on for ten years. Unpaid judgments against you will stay on your report for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

There are exceptions. In certain situations — like when you seek a job paying more than $75,000 a year, or a loan or insurance valued at more than $150,000 — a credit bureau will include older negative information on your report that wouldn’t show up otherwise.

Each of the nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months if you ask for it. Go to annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. However, because of the pandemic’s effect on so many people’s financial lives, you may now access your credit report weekly through April 2021.

Be aware, because each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in your report from one credit bureau may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two credit bureaus.

Michael Hall is a financial counselor with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. As a financial counselor he helps individuals allocate their funds better, deal with debt, weigh in on legal options, and even save for a rainy day. If you’re in debt or have no credit and need help, a reputable credit counseling organization, like the Office of Financial Empowerment through NYC Office of Consumer Affairs might be able to help. To schedule a financial counseling appointment, go to: www.nyc.gov/talkmoney or call 718-636-6900 and ask for Michael Hall.