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By Charlestien Harris

Credit is always a subject of interest to most consumers. When I teach my financial education classes, it is the topic that garners the most questions and takes quite a bit of classroom time to cover.

Credit affects everyone in some way, whether positively or negatively. Having a good credit score is essential for becoming financially stable and maintaining financial health. Credit touches many areas of your life, including applying for a job, accessing additional capital, loan terms, mortgages, and your emotional, mental, and physical well-being, to name a few. The more you know about your credit history, the better equipped you are to grow and improve it.

Let’s discuss ways you can enhance your credit score to secure a brighter financial future!

  1. Obtain a copy of your credit report. The very first step you need to take is to obtain a copy of your credit report. Federal law states that you have the right to request one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) by visiting You now have permanent access to free weekly credit reports. The three national credit reporting agencies permanently extended a program that lets you check your credit report at each of the agencies once a week for free.
  2. Check your credit report for errors. Mistakes, such as accounts or bankruptcies that aren’t yours, can harm your credit, increase borrowing costs, and even jeopardize your chances of obtaining loans, insurance, rental homes, or jobs. Mistakes can result from errors by businesses reporting credit information to credit bureaus or signify identity theft. The sooner you spot a mistake, the sooner you can dispute it. If it’s the result of identity theft, you can report it at
  3. Verify account and personal information. Why check your credit report for accurate information in addition to errors? Your report reveals details such as your number of credit cards and loans, bill payment history, and debts in collections. Creditors, insurers, some employers, and other businesses use it to assess whether to engage with you and the terms they’ll offer. Accurate information helps creditors better evaluate your financial history and determine loan terms, such as interest rates, loan duration, and borrowing capacity.
  4. Dispute any errors or incorrect information you find. There is a process for disputes. Three ways to dispute incorrect information are online, in writing, and over the phone. Ensure you have all necessary documentation during the dispute process. You should dispute with each credit bureau that has made the mistake. Explain in writing what you believe is incorrect, include the credit bureau’s dispute form (if available), copies of supporting documents, and retain records of everything you send. If disputing by mail, use the address found on your credit report or a credit bureau’s dispute address. If disputing online, upload documents, answer questions, and submit your request.
  5. Ensure all eligible debt is removed. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion began removing incomplete tax liens (legal claims on delinquent taxpayers’ assets) and civil judgment debts from consumer credit reports. Additionally, they agreed to exclude medical debts until they are at least 180 days past due. As of September 15, 2017, this waiting period gives consumers time to resolve medical billing issues. Moreover, if a debt of $500 or more initially appears on your credit reports but is later paid off, it will be removed. Since April 2023, medical collection debt under $500 is no longer included on U.S. consumer credit reports.

Remember, the information in your credit report can influence your purchasing power, job prospects, housing options, and insurance purchases. Credit bureaus sell this information to businesses deciding whether to lend money, extend credit, offer insurance, or rent homes. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. Your credit history’s strength also impacts borrowing costs. Ensuring your report accurately reflects your financial payment history is crucial for a successful and brighter financial future. If you follow these guidelines, you can celebrate National Credit Education Month with joy, happiness, and peace of mind!

For additional information on this and other financial topics, visit our blog at, email me at, or call me at 662-624-5776.

Until next week – stay financially fit!