Consumer Alert: Improve your credit score

Consumer Alert: Improve Credit Score

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Sunday kicked off Consumer Protection Week and according to the New York Attorney General, one of the things consumers complain most about are credit issues. That all-elusive credit score can impact so many areas of your life from buying a house to getting a cell phone.

I spoke with a consumer education expert with Experian about the top three ways to improve your credit score. But he says before you can improve it, you need to understand it.

“Don’t be afraid to pull your credit report,” said Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Consumer Education at Experian. “I think that’s so important today. It’s important about impowering yourself. it’s important about protecting your finances and identity. Know what’s in that credit report.”

You can get a free credit report every week. He says there are two primary factors that affect your credit score: late payments and your credit utilization rate. Late payments are reported to the bureau after 30 days and will definitely bring down your score. And to compute your utilization rate, Add up the total amount of revolving debt you have, like credit card debt, and divide that by your total credit limits on those cards. Ideally, that number should be less than 10 percent. I asked Griffin about the top three ways to improve your credit score.

 “One, catch up on any late payments and make your payments on time,” said Griffin. “Two, reduce the balance on your credit cards. That’s that utilization rate. Three, take advantage of tools that are available now that weren’t before. Most of us carry a cell phone, a smart phone. You can have those positive cell phone payments reported to Experian through something called Experian Boost.”

You can also have payments for you streaming accounts and utility bills reported. That’s especially helpful for young people who are trying to build their credit. He also advises you to enroll in a credit monitoring service. Many of them are free. Click here for US News list of the six best ones.