Building a good credit score is hard work. Once you’ve achieved a solid rating, how do you maintain it?
For starters, keep doing the things you did to earn that high score in the first place. These include:
- Making all payments on time
- Maintaining low balances on revolving accounts or paying them off in full at the end of each month
- Diversifying your credit through different types of loans (credit cards, car payment, mortgage)
- Limiting applications for new credit
- Leaving open (but no longer using) old, unsecured debt accounts after they are paid off
Beyond sticking to the fundamentals, vigilance is the best way to make sure your credit stays in good shape. Try these tips for keeping an eye on your credit:
- Utilize credit monitoring. Many financial service providers track your credit score for free each month, and some may offer more extensive credit monitoring. Credit scores typically vary from month to month and may drop slightly if you open a new account or have closed an old one. A sudden, unexplainable dip in your score is a sign that you may want to check your report for misinformation or fraudulent activity.
- Check your credit report annually. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to review your credit report for free once a year. Obtain a report from all three credit agencies:
- Dispute inaccurate information. If you find a mistake on your credit report, dispute it immediately. Many errors are mistakes, but some may be evidence of identity theft. Either way, reporting errors promptly will minimize damage to your credit.
If you find evidence of identity theft in your credit report, these steps may also be helpful:
- Notify the companies with fake accounts that you’ve been the victim of identity theft
- Inform all of your creditors that they should be alert to fraudulent activity
- File a police report