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5 Ways to Prepare for a Credit Check

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The list of businesses that do a credit check is continually increasing. These days it seems like everyone is doing a credit check from banks to landlords to employers and even insurance companies, even companies that don't seemingly need your credit score. Before you put in an application, there are some key things you can do to prepare for a credit check.

Do your own credit check.

Close up of stack of credit cards
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Order a copy of your credit report and review it to see what's on it. You're entitled to one free credit report each year from each credit bureau. You can get your free credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is one of the most important parts of preparing for a credit check and should be done a few months in advance of your application, if possible.

Check your credit score.

Most credit card and loan applications also include a credit check. So when you're getting ready for a credit check, it's a good idea to order a copy of your credit score. In addition to knowing what's on your credit report, you'll also have a good idea of where your credit stands.

Dispute inaccurate information.

Having negative information on your credit report can hurt you during a credit check. It's possible that the information was put on your credit report by mistake. Before the credit check, submit a credit report dispute to have the information removed. It's best to wait until after your credit report has been updated to make your application.

Many lenders have a process called rapid rescoring, where you can show proof of the error to credit bureau and have your credit report updated and credit score calculated within a few days.

Pay off past due accounts.

If you have accounts that are past due, it's a good idea to bring them current at least a month before your credit check. That's typically enough time for the account to be updated on your credit report. When the credit check is done, those delinquent accounts should be updated.

The 30-day late payment will still show up on your credit history, because you were indeed late. Bringing the account current will bring your account status to current, which is better for your chances at being approved.

Follow up on unfavorable credit checks.

Not all credit checks turn out the way you want. When a business makes a negative decision based on information in your credit report, you're given the opportunity to see that credit report for free. Along with a free copy of your credit report, you should also receive a letter stating the specific reasons that you were denied.

If your credit score played a part in your being denied, the creditor or lender is also required required to send a copy of your credit score along with an explanation of two key factors that influence your credit score. For a more detailed explanation of the factors, you can visit ReasonCode.org.

If you were denied based on errors in your credit report, dispute the errors and ask that your application be reconsidered. On the other hand, if the information was correct, you should use the opportunity to repair your credit.

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