If you don't know how to read a credit report let alone know what the information inside means, now's a perfect opportunity to learn why your credit score matters, what makes it increase/decrease, and what your individual score means.

FICO scores consider both positive and negative information in your credit report. Activity like late payments and accounts being sent to collections will lower your score, while establishing or re-establishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your FICO score. Here's how your credit score breaks down...  

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You can obtain a free credit report yearly without hurting your credit. Know that the scores you run on free credit report sites such as freecreditreport.com or creditkarma.com may be slightly different than those that a lender will run. Running your credit report and learning your FICO score from a trusted lender is your first step to home ownership.

So, once you get your score, how can you tell if yours is considered poor, fair, good, or excellent? This is important because lenders will have different interest rates and loan program qualifications for different scores and many will require a minimum of an average score to get into a loan.

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If your current FICO score is less than average, no need to panic. CREST, along with our preferred lending partners, has helped guide our clients to programs to help them clean up their credit...quick! Credit recovery or credit repair is done through removing or mitigating the impact of negative information found on your credit report while increasing the amount of positive credit history that impacts your FICO score. Late payments and bankruptcies won't haunt you forever. In fact, most negative information falls off your credit report after seven years. Here's a quick glance at how long negative information will linger on your credit report...