-Paying bills on time will improve my credit score – While it is definitely a good start, it is not the only thing that needs to be done. Since 35% of your score is based on your payments being on time, it is essential but it will only continue to raise your credit score slowly over time. Remember that if payment history only accounts for 35%, there is still 65% of your score that has nothing to do with missing payments.
-Cancelling credit cards that you haven’t used in a while will increase your credit score – Cancelling unused credit cards can actually hurt your credit score. Since 10% of your score is based on the length of your credit history, it is a good idea to keep the oldest credit card open.
-When you get a divorce, your accounts automatically divorce with you – This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you have a joint account and one of the parties on the account is late, you are both late. With some types of loans, such as a mortgage or a car loan, the lender may not accept a letter asking you to be removed from the account after a divorce even if that property is going to your ex-spouse. They will need to qualify for the loan on their own before you will be removed from the account. Take this into consideration because if they don’t refinance, and then have late payments, you may find yourself with some credit issues. When possible, close all joint accounts and refinance any debt separately. If it is not possible, maintain some type of control, whether it is an escrow account or at least access to information to make sure the accounts are paid on time. Don’t assume.
-You have to make a huge financial mistake for your credit score to be negatively affected – You don’t have to be fielding collection calls at all hours for your score to suffer. In fact, one late payment can be detrimental, sometimes upwards of 110 points off your credit score. For one late payment!! Also, something as simple as opening up a few store credit cards for the promotional discount can make you look like a credit risk.
-Short sales are better than foreclosures – the assumption is that a short sale is actually better for your credit score than a foreclosure. But in reality, they have the same effect. It is certainly better for the neighborhood housing prices than foreclosure, but from a credit score perspective, there is no difference.
– Do not dispute items with the bureaus online. This is the worst thing you can do when trying to help your credit score because when the user signs up, they are agreeing to the disclaimers (which everyone does NOT read) stating that once the information comes back, they are agreeing to whatever results the bureaus decide. There is no going back and disputing again.