Credit and your Credit Score

Why Credit is important?

Credit is part of your financial power. It helps you to get the things you need now, like a loan for a car or a credit card, based on your promise to pay later. Working to improve your credit helps ensure you'll qualify for loans when you need them.Your credit score determines a lot more than the loans you can get, and the interest rates you pay. Insurers use credit scores to set premiums for auto and homeowner’s coverage. Landlords use them to decide who gets to rent their apartments. Without a good credit score and history, the experts say, it's more difficult to qualify for a mortgage or car loan – and more expensive too, because you won't get the best interest rates.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number between 300–850 that depicts a consumer's creditworthiness and lending risk. A credit score is one way banks, credit card companies and finance companies determine the likelihood that you can and will pay off debts you owe. The higher the score, the better a borrower looks to potential creditor. A credit score is based on credit history, number of open accounts, amount of debt, repayment history, and other factors.

How do I establish or Improve my credit score?

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Get credit for paying utility and cell phone bills (visit
  • Pay all your debts and keep your balances low and credit cards
  • Open New Credit Accounts as Needed. Unnecessary credit can harm your score.
  • Don’t Close Unused Accounts.
  • Don’t Apply for too much credit. Too many credit inquiries negatively impact your credit.
  • Check your credit regularly and dispute all inaccuracies. You should check all three credit reporting bureaus (Trans Union, Equifax & Experian).

How do I check my credit score?

You can check your credit score with all three bureaus once a month or your credit report once a year for free. Checking your own credit score or report is called a “soft” inquiry and does not affect your score. Studies have shown that checking your credit score often can help you improve your credit standing. There are several third-party services available on the internet to help you pull your credit score and report or you can contact the three reporting agencies directly (Trans Union, Equifax & Experian).

How do I dispute inaccuracies on my credit report?

  • First contact the credit reporting company and tell them what you think is inaccurate. If the creditor fails to respond in writing within 30 days the credit bureaus MUST remove those negative items from your credit.
  • Inquiries or too many inquiries can also have a negative impact on your credit. Check the inquiries on your credit report and be sure that they represent companies or credit that you have applied for. Inquiries can be disputed just like inaccuracies.
  • Dispute inaccurate information with the credit reporting companies (Trans Union, Equifax & Experian). If you dispute with the credit reporting company, you must explain in writing:

    1. What you think is wrong?
    2. Why?
    3. Include documents that support your dispute including a copy of your credit report that contains the disputed item.

Credit reporting companies are required to investigate your dispute unless they determine it is frivolous and chooses not to investigate, but they must send you a written notice within five days stating they have made that determination.

Here is how to contact the three credit reporting companies:

By Phone: (800) 916-8800By
Mail: Download and complete a dispute form off the Trans Union website and send to

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
PO Box 2000Chester, PA 19016

By Phone: (866) 349-5191
By mail: Download and complete a dispute form off the Equifax website and send to

Equifax Information Services, LLC
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, GA

By Phone: (888) 397-3742
By mail: Send your written dispute and copy of your credit report to:

PO Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

Additional Resources
The internet is an endless supply of information to all of your credit questions, simply Google, Bing, etc your question and dive in. The following is a list and links to three organizations that LendSmart believes will provide our customers with a complete and in-depth education on all aspects of consumer lending, credit scores, credit reports and more.

CFPB – Want credit to work for you?
FDIC – Money Smart for Adults (Module)
Experian – Credit Basics