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Five facts about your credit.

Things you should know to keep your credit rating healthy.

1 You have three credit reports. Each of the three national credit bureaus--Equifax, www.equifax.com; Experian, www.experian.com; and TransUnion, www.transunion.com--independently collects and maintains consumer financial records. The information on each credit report can be significantly different, though. Since you don't know which bureau a lender will use, it's important to check all three at least once a year.

2 It's safe to check your credit. Contrary to popular rumors, checking your own credit data will not harm your credit score. The rating drops only when a lender or creditor checks your credit for an application. You can safely monitor your own credit reports as often as you like.

3 Negative information expires after 7 to 10 years. Late payments and bankruptcy filings remain on your credit report for the full 7 to 10 years, even if you repay a debt or make changes to an account. Positive records, such as closed accounts that never were paid late, can stay on a report even longer.

4 Keeping active is key. One of the most important things consumers can do to keep their credit healthy is to use it. Use at least one credit card each month and pay all bills on time to consistently add new positive information to your credit report. If you allow cards to go dormant or close too many accounts, this positive reporting slows down and your credit score could drop. The longer you keep up stable credit activity, the better your score will be.

5 Good credit is up to you. Creditors and credit reporting agencies work diligently to maintain accurate records, but with millions of updates made each day, mistakes can happen. Only you can identify and report certain kinds of inaccuracies, including creditor errors and signs of identity theft. Review your credit reports regularly to check that the information is accurate and file disputes when you need to make corrections.

Source: TrueCredit, www.truecredit.com, a provider of consumer credit management services.
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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:343
Previous Article:Travel with confidence.
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