Opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time can appear risky to lenders and negatively impact your credit score. Before you take out a loan or open a new credit card account, consider the effects it could have on your credit scores. Know too, that when you're buying a car or looking around for the best mortgage rates, your inquiries may be grouped and counted as only one inquiry for the purpose of adding information to your credit report. In many commonly-used scoring models, recent inquiries have greater effect than older inquiries, and they only appear on your credit report or a maximum of 25 months.
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Getting negative and inaccurate information off of your credit reports is one of the fastest ways to improve your score. Since credit bureaus have to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days—a few exceptions can extend this to 45 days—it’s a short timeline. The timeline is particulary important when consumers want to buy a house, get a new car or open up a new credit card and don’t have time to wait to build good credit organically.
A debt-settlement firm is typically a private company that works to settle your debt with a creditor. They may charge fees upfront and promise to help you pay off debt. Beware of debt settlement companies, and if you’re unsure of the difference between a debt settlement company and credit counselor, review this chart by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Hint: If you pay a credit card off on time regularly, your issuer will likely see you as a good credit risk and increase your credit limit. Don’t however start charging more. Simply charge the same basic amount. Doing so will keep your utilization lower! Say you started with a $2,000 limit and charged just $200 a month, you had a 10% utilization. If your limit is raised to $4,000 and you continue to charge just $200 a month, your utilization is now just 5%.
Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don’t believe these claims: they’re very likely signs of a scam. Indeed, attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, say they’ve never seen a legitimate credit repair operation making those claims. The fact is there’s no quick fix for creditworthiness. You can improve your credit report legitimately, but it takes time, a conscious effort, and sticking to a personal debt repayment plan.
If your financial problems stem from too much debt or your inability to repay your debts, a credit counseling agency may recommend that you enroll in a debt management plan (DMP). A DMP alone is not credit counseling, and DMPs are not for everyone. Don’t sign up for one of these plans unless and until a certified credit counselor has spent time thoroughly reviewing your financial situation, and has offered you customized advice on managing your money. Even if a DMP is appropriate for you, a reputable credit counseling organization still can help you create a budget and teach you money management skills.
In April 2018, the average FICO® Score in the U.S. was 704, which is a good score.1 Comparatively the average VantageScore 3.0 score in 2017 was 675.2 And even though average credit scores are in the good or almost good range, they vary by age, state and other factors. So, there are still plenty of us with lower than desired scores and plenty of room for fixing credit issues. While fixing credit doesn’t happen overnight, there are steps we can take right now to get the process started.
Credit counseling is a service offered to those struggling with credit and debt. Our expert coaches will go over your personal finances and offer expert advice that is tailored to your unique situation. We will help you create a spending plan to cover all of your debt payments and living expenses, provide personal finance tips and help negotiate better payment plans with your creditors. We will set up a plan to stop the collection calls. 
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