What You Should Know About Your Credit Score

However, Hobson said if you signed up for an installment plan with the IRS and you owe more than $5,000 there is a possibility that the IRS can file a notice of federal tax lien, according to credit.com, which will then be noted on your credit report.

Hobson said that should a federal tax lien be filed, the National Taxpayer Advocate says it could substantially reduce your score and it remains on your credit report for seven years after you paid it off.

If you paid your taxes with a credit card, this will not affect your credit score until you carry that debt as a balance because it will then increase your credit utilization, Hobson said. Instead she suggested paying off the full balance on time.

Mistakes on Your Credit Report

Hobson advised everyone to check their credit report every year for mistakes. Inaccuracies on your credit report can drastically lower your score, Hobson said, and could cost you thousands of dollars.

Consumer advocates have said that as many as 80 percent of credit reports have errors, Hobson said, although the credit agencies disagree and say that number is too high. Hobson advised everyone to get a copy of their credit report from each agency, because they could be different.

The easiest way to get a free copy of your credit report is to go to www.annualcreditreport.com. Hobson said you are entitled to one free copy from each of the agencies every year, although you may have to pay a small fee.

Should you find an error on your report you can file a dispute with the credit agencies immediately and get it corrected.

Web Extra Tips from Mellody Hobson

Hobson said that you should not open a credit account at a department store just to get a discount, even if you intend to close it immediately. Opening and closing an account can hurt your credit score twice.

There is a myth that says checking your own credit report could reduce your score, that is false, Hobson said. You should check your credit report at least once a year for errors.

Using a credit counseling service will not lower your credit score, however, Hobson said that recommendations that a credit counselor may advise, such as partial payments, could negatively affect your credit score. If these actions keep you out of bankruptcy, though, it is still the more advantageous choice, Hobson said.

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