Financial Spring Cleaning

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Knoxville (WVLT) - When you think of spring cleaning, do you think about financial cleaning?

Spring inspires many of us to deep-clean our homes, but, we seldom think about cleaning our credit.

Whether you're buying a home, purchasing a car or financing a new refrigerator, your credit score can either hurt you or help you.

If you're unsure of your score, it may be time to freshen up your credit report.

Your credit is constantly updated with information about your address, your repayment history for any loans or credit cards, and information about any arrests, lawsuits or bankruptcies.

Take these steps to clean up your credit report this spring:

Order your credit report. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can receive one free credit report every 12 months.

Examine it carefully. Any time you're ready to make a major purchase for which you'll need credit, make sure all information in your report is accurate. Look closely for evidence of identity theft.

Report any inaccuracies. If you discover problems within your credit report, you'll need to report the error in writing to both the reporting agency and the creditor. By law, the credit reporting agency must investigate the questionable item within 30 days.

Let time heal the damage. If negative information on your report is accurate, there's not much you can do except wait it out. Most information stays on your credit report for seven years.

Make a fix. The higher your ratio of current debt to available credit limits, 40 percent is ideal, the better your credit score will be.

Check your credit card statement. Are your minimum payments rising? The OCC has required most credit card issuers to raise the required monthly payment to cover all the cards interest, late fees and 1 percent of the cards outstanding balance.

By doing this, the OCC hopes to decrease the number of bankruptcies filed each year by helping Americans pay off debt sooner.

If you need a copy of your credit report go or call 1-877-322-8228.

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