I know I’m getting older because I now worry about things like my credit score. In my twenties, however, I couldn’t have cared less. Back then, I didn’t know the difference between my credit report and the Drudge Report. As long as I could still get credit from somewhere, anywhere, I was happy. Until one day when I tried to buy a home.
Turns out, I had a judgment from years earlier that the lender said I would have to settle in order to secure the mortgage before the closing date. The original judgment was for a $1,200 loan that I had cosigned for a coworker and friend. Three months later, I got a new job and never saw the coworker again, who apparently ended up defaulting on the loan a few months later. Fast-forward 8 years and the judgment in my name as a cosigner had grown to almost $9,000. I ended up settling the debt for $6,000 because it was the only way I was able to get the house to close on time.
Don’t let something like this happen to you. Your credit score is the key to your long-term financial success, especially in today’s tough economy. That one little number helps lenders decide, not only if you’re a good credit risk, but how much that credit will cost you in interest rates for credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and mortgages. Even utility companies, landlords, and employers sometimes make decisions based on your credit score. It may seem unfair, but that’s the system we have, and you’re responsible for making the right decisions with your credit.
To help you avoid the mistakes that I’ve made, I contacted Linda Ferrari, author of The Big Score: Getting It and Keeping It, for advice on how to take charge of your credit score. Unlike the financial generalist that you might find in the media or on the internet, Linda is President of Credit Resource Corp. in California, and has personally dug through thousands of credit reports. She knows the tricks and secrets for responsibly managing credit, and The Big Score is a straight-forward, easy-to-read and understand guide to credit success for people looking to make the most of their credit.
I met up with Linda recently and had a few questions for her: