Illustration: David Wyffels

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Why It's Important: Your credit score affects the interest rates you're offered on credit cards and loans, can be used to vet your job application, and in some states may influence your insurance premiums. So your credit reports, which determine your FICO score, need to be up-to-date and correct (mistakes abound). A score in the mid-700s (the range is 300 to 850) earns you a gold star.

Do This Now: Go to to get your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Every year, you are entitled to one free report from each. If a site asks for your credit card to receive a report, you're at the wrong place! Scour your reports for mistakes, and follow the directions for filing a dispute. Once corrections are made, go to to buy your FICO credit score. You may receive offers for free credit scores. They are knockoffs of the real deal—your FICO score is what most lenders and businesses check. It costs $20 to see your FICO score; with so much on the line, that's a small price to pay.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.