Have incorrect negative information removed from your report. Check your credit report annually. If you notice any mistakes, dispute them. It usually takes 30 to 45 days for complaints to be processed. “There could be erroneous reports that were sent to collections agencies,” says Irby. “Myfico.com posts the credit score used most by lenders. In addition, Creditkarma.com offers free credit reports, but they are provided by TransUnion, not FICO.”
Apply for credit when you need it, but don’t apply excessively. “Inquiries count toward 10% of your credit score,” says Ulzheimer. “The damage that one inquiry can cost lasts a year. If you plan to buy a car or a home in the next year, think wisely about inquiries.” That retail store credit card that will save you 10% every time you use it isn’t worth it. Although, “your credit report should include various types of credit: Auto loans, credit cards and mortgages,” says Woolsey. “If you’re shopping for a loan for a car or home, shop within 45 days. Loan inquires that occur with a 45-day period are counted as one inquiry, said Ulzheimer.
This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.