The first step to improving your credit score is checking your credit reports. Everyone has three credit reports — one from each of the 3 major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Credit reports can, and often do, have mistakes on them.
A 2012 study from the Federal Trade Commission found that 1 in 5 consumers had an error on at least one of their credit reports, and a follow-up study in 2015 found that those who reported an unresolved error on one of their reports believe that at least one piece of disputed information is still inaccurate.
Since your credit scores are based on the data in your credit reports, it’s incredibly important to make sure that all of that information is accurate. If you have a mistake or discrepancy on your credit report, your credit score will reflect that mistake.
It’s easy to check your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You’re entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three of your credit reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These free credit reports can be accessed via AnnualCreditReport.com, the government-mandated site run by the major bureaus. (You can also view a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
Most credit scores – including the FICO score – operate within the range of 300 to 850. The credit tiers generally look like this:
Excellent Credit: 750+
Good Credit: 700-749
Fair Credit: 650-699
Poor Credit: 600-649
Bad Credit: below 600