How to Check Your Credit Score

It’s always beneficial to have a general idea of where your credit stands, but there are specific times when you should check your credit. You’ll want to know exactly what your score is before you apply for new credit, apply for certain jobs, and sign a lease on a home or apartment.

Your credit score affects whether or not you’ll be approved for new credit and at what interest rate. It can also affect your ability to get a job or a promotion. Landlords typically check your credit score before they agree to rent to you. In general, it’s also good practice to request a free copy of your credit report every year.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a number that tells a lender how likely you are to pay credit back on time and it’s based on your credit history. Scores range from 300 to 850. Lower scores mean a higher risk for the lender. A history of late payments or accounts in default cause your score to go down, which makes it more difficult for you to secure new lines of credit.

Each person can have multiple scores depending on the scoring formula that the lender uses. The two most common credit scores are FICO and VantageScore. Both use the same basic criteria in their scoring formulas; they include payment history, length of credit, type of credit, credit usage, and recent inquiries.

How can I check my credit score?

There are a number of ways to check your credit score. You can buy your score from the credit reporting companies, like FICO, but there are free options as well.

  1. Many credit cards companies have started to include and offer for obtaining credit scores in monthly statements. Check your account to see if your score is available.
  2. A credit counselor may also be able to give you your score.
  3. There are a number of websites that offer free credit scores, but be sure to read the fine print before you sign up. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:
    “Many services and websites advertise a “free credit score.” Some sites may be funded through advertising and not charge a fee. Other sites may require that you sign up for a credit monitoring service with a monthly subscription fee in order to get your “free” score. These services are often advertised as “free” trials, but if you don’t cancel within the specified period (often as short as one week), you could be on the hook for a monthly fee. Before you sign up to try one of these services, be sure you know what you are signing up for and how much it really costs.”

Checking your score will help you prepare for financial decisions. Be sure to check your credit report regularly as well for more detailed information about your credit history.

Get Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents victims of credit reporting problems. Whether you are facing loan denials, lowered credit limits, increased interest rates, the consumer protection laws may provide protections. Contact Us today to discuss your credit report problems and find out how we can help.  There is no cost for the legal evaluation.

How Medical Debt Impacts Your Credit Score

Medical emergencies occur as we go through life. Often, health issues are unexpected and can end up costing thousands of dollars in medical bills. The lapse in time from when you are billed by a medical provider to the time your health insurance company pays, very quickly accounts can be turned over to third party debt collectors, and frequently, become listings on your credit report.

Even when the medical bills are paid, the time spent in collection status may negatively impact credit reports and lower credit scores.  The result could make it more difficult to get approved for a loan, purchase a car, rent an apartment, or even get a job.

How to Manage your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that’s used by lenders to predict the likelihood that you’ll pay your credit obligations on time.  Scores range from 300 – 850 and are calculated based on credit history information listed on credit reports. Make sure that information listed on your credit report is accurate.  Incorrect listings may contribute to lower credit scores.  Take these steps to make sure your credit score is an accurate reflection of your credit history.

Obtain Current Credit Reports
Every twelve months you are entitled to obtain new credit reports for free from each Transunion, Experian and Equifax. There may be a fee from the credit bureaus if you need to request reports more often.

Review your Credit Reports for Accuracy
The bureaus list not only personal information, such as your name, birth date, social security number, addresses and employment history, but also list account payment information, liens, judgments and bankruptcies.  Learn to read your credit report .  If there are errors that could bring your credit score down, take steps to get them corrected.

Dispute Errors on your Credit Reports
If there are errors on your reports, send written disputes to the credit bureaus.  Your dispute letter should be concise and provide documents illustrating why the listing is incorrect.  Send your dispute to the bureau by Certified Mail, Return Receipt, so that you have proof your dispute was received. Be sure to keep copies of your complete dispute. The credit bureau has 30 days to respond to your dispute.

Collection contact over Medical Debt
Once a medical provider assigns the collection of a medical debt to a collection agency or law firm collector, the consumer has rights against a collector’s abusive collection practices. Whether you have been unable to pay or dispute the amount, the collector must follow the law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents victims with problems involving credit reporting errors and abusive collection practices.  Whether you owe the debt or not, our firm will evaluate whether your consumer rights have been violated.  Contact us today for a free legal review.