Sometimes I get questions sent to me through the email that I thought would be a good topic for a post. I love to hear from readers and appreciate that you took the time to email me. Please feel free to contact me anytime.

I received a question yesterday from a gentleman about to get married.  It was regarding credit scores and reports, so I’m including a post for others to pitch in their advice and ideas.

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Reader Question

My fiance has a pretty low credit score (505 as of July) and I have a pretty high score (780 as of July).

She was irresponsible about 4 years ago when it came to money with about $4,000 of debit she racked up with bills, and credit cards. When she met me we settled with the collection companies and she has no outstanding personal debit.

However, she had an injury while in college through athletics and the school’s insurance is in the process of paying the medical bills, but some are on her credit report as of June. I disputed that they had been paid and they were marked as paid but still remain on her report. However, she still has some including a $10,000 bill that is in the process of getting paid by AIG.

So now that you have some background here are my questions.

1) what can I do about her credit report? are the things on there supposed to stay on there even though it was medical related and insurance was supposed to pay it?

2) should I add her to my credit cards and an authorized user in order to let her piggy back off of my score?

I don’t want mine to go down, but will hers go up as a result? I added her as an authorized user on the family cell phone plan in July and am interested to see if the account will show as good standing on both of our credit reports.

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Addressing Errors on Your Credit Report

First off, I’m going to say that I’m not a financial professional, so most of my information will be resources I found helpful and personal experiences.

Federal Trade Commission points you to the genuinely free link at annualcreditreport.com.

The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.

If you do not have Internet access, you can also call 1-877-322-8228.

Double check to see if there are any mistakes on your credit report and fix them.He mentioned that his fiance’s college is paying them, so I would suggest adding a note on her credit reports explaining that situation. Some people may not know this, but you can add comments to your records to explain blemishes. It will not remove it (accurate blemishes stay on for 7 years), but it can help.

Fixing Your Credit Score

While we don’t know the exact method of how Fair Issac calculates your score, we do know what they consider. It does take some time for it to improve, but this is how you raise your credit score. Here’s how your score is broken down:

  • 35% – Paying your bills on time: If you’re late with your payments, not only can you get a late fee charged to you, but after 30 days, it ges reported to the credit bureaus.
    • How to fix it: Make sure you get current on all your bills and start paying them on time. Make sure you don’t have any accounts in collections. As you pay on time month after month, year after you, your FICO score will go up.
  • 30% – Debt you owe and the amount of available credit: It’s not just how much debt you’re carrying, it’s how much of your available debt you’re taking advantage of. Another reason why it may not be a good idea to cancel unused credit cards.
    • How to fix it: If you don’t want to take a big hit on your credit score, don’t cancel too many credit cards at the same time, as it can have an adverse effect. You can also pay down your credit card debt and improve the debt/available credit ratio.
    • Don’t open an account JUST to increase your credit limit. Instead focus on paying down the debt.
  • 15% – Your credit history length: This is basically keeping track of how long you’ve had your accounts.
    • How to fix it: This is easy to do, but it takes time. You just have to keep being responsible
  • 10% – New credit applications: This considers how many accounts have been opened up recently.
    • How to fix it: Another simple one to improve, just don’t open too many accounts at once. Also remember that some banks pull your credit report so keep that in mind.
  • 10% -Different Types of Credit: Having a mix of installment loans like a mortgage
    • How to fix it: This shouldn’t be a huge problem, so be aware of the accounts you have. DO NOT get a car loan so you can have an installement. Getting into debt to build a record is not a smart move.

It can be satisfying improving your credit score, but know that it won’t change overnight.

Your Thoughts

Do you have any tips for our reader?