Know Your Credit Rating Before You Apply for a Loan

credit-ratingIs there any feeling more embarrassing than to go and apply for a loan at a car dealer or at your local credit union in New Bedford, only to discover that you don’t qualify because your credit score is too low? Unfortunately, this happens way too often. Most consumers don’t have any idea what their current credit score is – or what they need to do to find out. The truth is, it only takes a couple of small mistakes to make a big difference to your credit rating. If there are errors on your credit report, it could cost you much more than mere embarrassment. It could actually cost you real money.

What Bad Credit Can Do
When you apply for a credit union loan or any other type of home loan, equity loan or short-term credit, the financial institution uses your credit score to paint a clear picture of your financial history. It will show whether or not you pay your bills on time, if you have any outstanding debt and how many loans you have successfully paid off, among other things. Bad credit can cause you to be denied a loan, but even if you are approved, a lower credit rating can mean higher interest rates, which can really add up over time.

Before you apply for a loan at your local credit union in New Bedford, make sure to take the time to review your credit report. Consumers should review their credit report on a regular basis, to ensure that no mistakes are made. Even if you have a perfect payment record, sometimes mistakes are made and errors are reported to the credit bureaus that can affect your credit score. You don’t want to be denied credit because someone else made a mistake.

What to Check When You Review
When you review your credit report, it is important to look beyond the credit score and make a thorough scan of each individual account. Something as small as an account that was paid off and closed, yet appears to still be open, can cause your score to go down and can affect your credit-worthiness. Another common mistake is something on your credit that belongs to someone else. If you have a name similar to another person in your family or if you were married, but are now divorced, you might want to make sure that no other accounts that aren’t yours are tied in on your credit score.

Some professional credit managers recommend that consumers receive a copy of their credit score and review their credit report once a year. However, with identity theft and other digital-credit issues becoming more and more common, some experts are suggesting that consumers check their credit score every six months. Make sure to get a report from all three major credit reporting agencies, as one might have different information than the others.

What to Do If You Find a Problem
If you discover a discrepancy when you review your credit report, it is important to contact the credit agencies at once and request an investigation. The best way to accomplish this is to file an official dispute by sending a certified letter. Make sure to include your full name – including your middle name and any suffixes used – your full address, date of birth and of course, your Social Security number. You will need to include information about the company or information that you are disputing, as well as the account number that is associated with the item, as well as details on any measures you have taken to correct the issue.

The credit bureaus are required to verify any disputed information that you present. However, if your dispute cannot be verified, the offending information might not be corrected, changed or removed. If the investigation does not achieve the desired result, you may request that your filed dispute be included in your report to show potential creditors that you made an attempt to fix the problem.

How to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
All Americans are entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report if they have been denied credit, insurance, rental housing or employment in the past 60 days – or if they believe that their report is inaccurate due to a mistake or fraud. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com, which allows you to receive a free copy of your credit report every twelve months, or contact the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion, to get a copy of your report and credit score. When going directly through the credit agencies, there will be a small fee required for each report.

Improve Your Credit at St. Anne Credit Union
St. Anne Credit Union is the number one credit union in New Bedford. In fact, it is the oldest credit union in all of Southeastern Massachusetts, serving thousands of local members living and working in the Plymouth and Bristol counties of Massachusetts. Contact St. Anne today for more information about obtaining a credit union loan or for more tips on how to improve and maintain your credit score.