Now that you have your credit score and a copy of your credit report, you've carefully checked your identifying information and reviewed your credit accounts you are ready to

    Parse through Your inquiries

    Inquiries show who has asked to review your credit report. Your credit score doesn't count inquiries made by lenders looking got make preapproved credit offers of your own requests to see your credit history. These are known as soft inquiries.

    The inquiries that matter are the ones from lenders that resulted from you applying for credit. These are called hard inquiries.

    What you do want to look for are these:

  • Credit inquiries older than two years
  • Hard credit inquiries that you didn't authorize.

    Add these to your list of items to dispute with the credit bureau.

    Examine Your Collections and Public Records

    The final section of your credit report includes any collection actions or public records including bankruptcies, foreclosures, garnishments, lawsuits judgements, and tax liens. Here's what you want to look for here:

  • Bankruptcies that are older than 10 years or that aren't listed by specific bankruptcy code chapter (chapter 7, Chapter 13, and so on).
  • Lawsuits, judgements, or paid tax liens older than seven years
  • Paid liens or judgements that are listed as unpaid
  • Duplicate collections, such as a loan that's listed under more that one collection agency. (An account you didn't pay often is listed twice, once with the original creditor and once with a collection agency, but there shouldn't be more than one collector listed at a time for the same debt.)
  • Any negative information that isn't yours.

    Dispute the Errors

    Your credit report comes with a form for disputing errors by mail.

    Credit bureaus are required by law to investigate any mistake you bring to their attention and report back to you within 30 days. Typically they ask the creditor that reported the information to check its records. If the creditor can't vouch for the accuracy of what it reported or doesn't respond, the offending item is deleted from your report.

    That doesn't mean the error stays off. Unfortunately, some creditors persist in reporting inaccurate information. A Consumer might follow the rules to get a problem removed, and the creditor simply reports it again a few months later.