Your credit score will not improve if you don't take steps to improve it. The first step is making sure your score is not affected by inaccuracies.

Know Your Rights

No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. There is no such thing as a quick fix for creditworthiness. Improving your credit takes time and a conscious effort. Don’t believe claims that promise to “erase bad credit” or “create new credit identity.” These are typically a sign of a scam. Many states also have laws regulating credit repair companies. If you have a problem with a credit repair company, report it to your local consumer affairs office or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Know Your Entitlements

Did you know that if a company takes “adverse action” against you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, you’re entitled to a free credit report? It’s true. You have to ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice includes the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.

You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.

Know Your Credit Reporting Companies

There are three nationwide credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months; however, you must ask for it. You may order reports from each of the three credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year.

Call 1-877-322-8228 to get more information on obtaining your credit report, or visit annualcreditreport.com.

Know More of Your Dispute

Both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. It doesn’t cost anything to dispute mistakes or outdated items on your credit report. Contact both the credit reporting company and the information provider to take full advantage of your rights.