Debt and credit—Jean gets the most questions on these two subjects! John Ulzheimer, consumer credit expert and author of Surviving Identity Theft, joins the show to answer some of your most burning questions.
How do I boost my credit score?
First things first: You have to know why your score isn't higher in the first place, John says. Pull all of your credit reports from the three major reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You may see that your payment history is muddy or that you've been shopping for credit too often. Once you know the root of the problem, you can come up with a game plan.
If I want to buy only one report, which is best for me?
It depends on where you live, John says. In the Southeast, you want to go with Equifax; in the Northeast, TransUnion; and on the West Coast, Experian.
I'm a victim of identity theft. What should I do?
Focus on making sure that your credit report hasn't been damaged, John says. Look for new accounts, but also zero in on inquiries, which can lower your credit score. You can get both removed, but it takes time. John suggests that you keep track of your correspondences with the agencies.
Should I close credit cards that I'm not using?
No, John says. Closing your accounts will tank your score, which takes into consideration the percentage of outstanding credit that you're actually using.