How long will negative items stay on my credit report?

Q: How is my credit score determined?

A: 35% is payment history, 30% is amounts owed, 15% is length of credit history, 10% is new credit opened, and 10% is type of credit used.

Q: What are the benefits of a good credit score?

A: Lower interest rates on loans, which will save you money in the future. Also, the information will determine whether or not you may be approved for a loan or insurance. The better your score, the lower price you pay.

Q: How do I improve a poor credit score?

A: The first step is to make sure your credit report is accurate. Every year, you can pull a free credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Q: How long will negative items stay on my report?

A: Foreclosure will stay on record for 7 years and can negatively impact a score between 85-160 points. Chapter 13 bankruptcies stay on file for 7 years and Chapter 7 bankruptcies for 10 years. Both reduce your score by about 130-240 points. 30-day mortgage delinquencies reduce a credit score between 60-110 points, and the impact is higher for 60- and 90-day delinquencies.

Q: What are some tips for maintaining a good credit score?

A: To maintain your credit score:

  • Set up a periodic bill paying schedule to ensure that you pay your bills on time.
  • Develop a budget.  Try free budgeting software online like Mint.com.
  • If you’re having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors to try to modify your repayment.
  • Pull your free annual credit report each year and check that all items are correct.

The Federal Trade Commission offers more details on disputing credit scores and legal ways to improve your credit score at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre03.shtm

Credit given to the first tuesday Journal Online — P.O. Box 5707, Riverside, CA 92517

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