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Master Your Credit Score

You may not know the ins and outs of what makes up your credit score, but you probably know that your credit score is extremely important.

Not only can you be denied a home loan if your score is too low, but poor credit could also lead to difficulty renting an apartment, higher insurance premiums, or even losing out on a job application. Your credit also determines what types of loans you are eligible for, and what interest rate you qualify for.

Having a good credit score gives you access to lower rates, which could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. So even if you have decent credit, there’s always a reason to improve.

The higher your score, the better your financial wellness. While building credit is more straightforward, repairing it can be a bit more confusing, says Debi Honeycutt, Credit Enhancement Specialist at TowneBank Mortgage. Debi is an expert on credit with over 30 years of experience. As a credit enhancement specialist, Debi helps mortgage applicants improve their credit scores so that they can qualify for a mortgage and access the best rates available to them.

Here’s what Debi has to say when it comes to mastering your credit:

  • It’s not just for people with poor credit. Even bumping your credit up by 20 points could give you access to lower interest rates, which could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
  • It’s not one size fits all. Your credit is like a fingerprint- no two files are alike, and what helps one person’s credit could hurt another’s. That’s why Debi creates a personalized plan for each of her clients. The good news- there is rarely a credit file that cannot improve over time.
  • You should regularly check your credit report. It will give you an accurate snapshot of your credit history and will also allow you to ensure that everything is being accurately reported. This way, you’re able to dispute anything on your file that is not yours. For instance, if you’re a Junior, and your dad’s information is being reported to your credit report, you can dispute it to have it removed
  • You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your credit report once a year. While it won’t tell you your scores, it will give you the option to pay for your scores from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, which Debi recommends.

TIP: If you detect fraud on your credit report, you should:

  1. Notify social security that your social security has been compromised
  2. Notify the police of your stolen identity and file a police report
  3. Write a letter to the creditors disputing the fraud and ask them to remove fraudulent information
  4. Call the credit bureaus and ask them to place a fraud alert on your files

Bureau Fraud Numbers:
Equifax: 800-525-6285
TransUnion: 800-916-8800
Experian: 888-3973742

While taking out credit can seem daunting, especially to those who have always been told to always pay in cash, it is important to have a credit history when applying for a loan.

TIP: When trying to establish credit, you should work towards:

  1. Two revolving loans (such as credit cards)
  2. One installment loan (such as a car loan)
  3. Parents: consider making your college-aged child an authorized user on your credit card to help establish their credit early on

The information contained herein (including but not limited to any description of TowneBank Mortgage, its affiliates and its lending programs and products, eligibility criteria, interest rates, fees and all other loan terms) is subject to change without notice. This is not a commitment to lend.


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