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by Jesse Campbell on March 05, 2014

Girl wonders how do I raise my credit score

Ask the Experts: How do I raise my credit score?

I need helping raising my credit score. I haven’t had a credit card in many years (5-8 years) and as a teen I really didn’t know how important a credit score is. Also, I believe my Social Security number was stolen about 5 years ago when someone broke into my car. There’s an active credit card, opened in another state, on my credit report and of course it isn’t mine. Plus, there are some things I was late or paid off in collections when I was a teen that still seem to be on there and I don’t know how to go about clearing that and raising my credit score. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me. –Patty

Hi Patty,

I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough time with credit so far. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Lots of young adults aren’t taught how to smartly and successfully use credit, leading to many of the same issues you’re facing now.

First thing first – since you specifically asked about raising your credit score – you need to know that no action or activity can guarantee an increase in your score. No one can or should ever tell you “If you do X your score will increase by 50 points.” It doesn’t work that way. The best we can do is to use our understanding of how credit scoring works to make smart decisions that will positively impact our credit history.

It looks like you have three main issues to address: your compromised identitypast negative marks on your credit report, and things you can do going forward to prove your creditworthiness to future lenders.

Clearing identity theft

Hopefully you reported your break-in five years ago. Anytime something like that happens you want to contact the police. They might not be able to retrieve your stolen goods, but the police report is important in the case of potential identity theft.

Contact the creditor who is showing an open account in your name that isn’t valid. They may request a copy of the police report to help clear you of all charges and activity related to that account. Also, you’ll want to contact all three major credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your account. That will prevent any new lines of credit from being opened in your name fraudulently.

Unfortunately, if your identity has been compromised, it can be a long and difficult process to clear your name. The sooner you start, the better.

Negative marks on your credit report

You need to understand that most negative marks – specifically missed payments, delinquent accounts, and charge offs (where a collection agency takes control of an unpaid account) – will stay on your report for seven years. Even if you brought your accounts current or paid off your collection accounts, the negative mark stays on your report for seven years. The good news is that the negative impact lessens over time, so a missed payment from five years ago should hurt you much less than a missed payment five months ago.

If you believe that negative items are being reported in error or that you’re past the seven year mark, you should contact the credit reporting agency and advise them of the error. They’ll review and remove the item if it’s proven to be in error.

Building healthy credit

While you’re addressing past issues you can start working on building up a positive credit history and the best way to prove that you’re creditworthy is to simply use credit wisely over a long period of time. Remember, the primary purpose of a credit report is to help potential lenders decide whether or not it’s a good idea to lend you money. So using borrowed money smartly – making on-time payments, never overdrawing your accounts – shows other lenders that you can be trusted.

There’s a lot more you can do to build a positive credit history. Check out our new eBook Getting the Credit You Deserve to learn all you need to know about how credit reports work and what you can do to make the most of yours.

Good luck!


Ibeagleorg says:
March 07, 2014

Great article. your all Tips is Really Nice. if i Follow your all Tips then i can really Rise My Credit Score?

Jesse says:
July 24, 2014

A Debt Management Plan (DMP) usually impacts your credit report in two ways. When you begin a DMP the accounts included are usually closed - since part of your credit score is calculated based on the age of your open accounts and the amount of credit currently available to you, your score usually dips at first. Additionally, creditors that have agreed to participate on a DMP by reducing your interest rate and creating a new fixed monthly payment will often report that the account is being paid through a DMP. This has no impact on your score, but is something that a potential lender might consider. You should not open new unsecured credit accounts while on a DMP (a secured loan, like a mortgage or car loan, is generally okay). The creditors who have agreed to help you repay your debt through the DMP have the right to cancel that agreement if you open new accounts. This is because opening new accounts and taking on new debt can be interpreted as you not being serious about repaying your existing debt. If you're considering opening new credit accounts while on a DMP, talk to your Support Counselor to discuss the reasons why and the potential ramifications. Meanwhile, at the conclusion of your DMP, once all your debts are paid off, you should find your credit report and credit score in much better shape than when you started.

Kathy says:
July 24, 2014

I believe that MMI shows up negatively when you apply for credit because if you are currently in a DMP, you are not supposed to be applying for credit.

margrett Moussa says:
March 06, 2014

very good info and suggestions

Molly Swope says:
March 09, 2014

Why does signing up for MMI negatively impact your credit? I have applied for credit and MMI is always brought up. Would think they would see that you are taking care of your credit and paying on time.

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