What’s in your credit report?

When is the last time you checked your credit report? Nearly two-thirds of adults have not ordered a copy of their credit report in the past year, according to The 2009 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, released in late April and commissioned by The National Foundation for Credit Counseling. And 1 in 4 adults admit to not paying all of their bills on time, one major behavior leading to a bad credit score.

As many Americans get some spring cleaning done around the house, it’s also an ideal time to make your financial house shine-especially if a car or house loan is on the horizon. Banks are less willing to lend in this current economical climate. That hits home for the average consumer when a loan is denied or the offered interest rate is high.

Although credit isn’t the only factor in loan eligibility, it’s worth making an effort to stay on top of it. That goes for those with good credit, too. While 680 used to be the threshold to “good credit” and the best mortgage rates, now anyone with a score of less than 720 can get socked with fees. Every point in your credit score can make a big difference between paying low and high interest rates.

As can every error on your credit report. Always check your credit report regularly to make sure there are no errors that can end up costing you a lot more than just a bad credit score.Spring into action – Here are eight insider tips for the task:Gather your tools – There’s no reason to put off checking your credit.  Reviewing your credit won’t hurt your credit, despite a common misconception that it will (although ordering multiple copies can affect your score). Bear in mind that credit reports don’t always include your credit score. And the three main credit scoring bureaus don’t receive identical data, so each score will be a little different.

Check your report for potential inaccuracies – According to a Public Interest Research Group study, one in four credit reports contains serious errors. Disputes should include the item name, account number associated, the error, and the requested changes. Always request an updated credit report showing the mistaken items removed or corrected.

Examine your revolving debts –

“Revolving accounts include all major credit cards, store charge cards, and store lines of credit. Each is assigned a maximum credit limit-but everyone should aim to only use 30% of total credit at once. When that’s not possible, “getting the balances below 50% is also beneficial to your score.

Caution: Credit card companies have been lowering limits, so your credit score could fall even if your balance doesn’t increase.Pay on time -Twenty-two percent of consumers are paying more bills late these days, especially on utilities, according to a Western Union online survey this year of more than 3,000 respondents. Even a $10 missed payment can hurt your credit score for a long time. Using such tools as automatic bill-payments can help you hit those deadlines, Lin says. Even paying your bills on time for a month can hike a modest credit score by 20 points.

Hold your cards -

The average consumer has eight or nine credit cards, but that’s too many, experts agree closing unused accounts isn’t the answer.

That affects the ratio between available credit and open balances. Closing an old account could also shorten your payment history, causing a negative impact. The longer you hold a card, the more valuable it is in your credit score determination.Befriend your creditors – If you can’t keep up with your payments, ignoring creditors’ calls, letters, or knocks on the door in the hopes that they’ll just go away is not the solution.

Be proactive: Call your creditors to explain your situation — you’ve lost your job, for example, or fallen ill – and what you intend to do to recover. Then ask for assistance, such as a reduction in your interest rate, or a temporary moratorium on principal payment. Creditors don’t want to repossess assets or foreclose if they don’t have to.

Keep on scrubbing –

Building a great credit score is like building a resume. It takes time and patience to form the right financial habits needed to getting your credit in shape.

Sweep away the doldrums –

The simplest step you can take is also, in some ways, the toughest. Building pristine credit could take years, but most people can reach creditworthy levels by simply making all delinquent debts current and maintaining that on-time payment history.Get proactive identity theft protection – Checkout these top rated identity theft protection monitoring to help stop identity theft impacting your credit before it happens from TrustedID, Identity Guard, LifeLock, ProtectMyID, and ID Patrol from Equifax.