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Credit Misconceptions

Closing old accounts will improve your credit score – To close or not to close, that is the question. Many people advocate closing old and inactive accounts as a way for improving your credit. In most cases, closing accounts will actually have the opposite effect. Canceling old credit accounts can lower your credit score by making your credit history appear shorter. Think twice before closing the oldest account on your credit report. If you want to reduce your levels of available credit, ask for your credit limits to be reduced or close newer accounts instead.

Once you pay off a negative record, it is removed from your credit report – Negative records such as collection accounts, bankruptcies and charge-offs will remain on your credit report for 7-10 years after they are first posted. Paying off the account before the end of the set term doesn’t remove it from your credit report, but will cause the account to be marked as “paid.” It is still a good idea to pay your debts, it can improve yourcredit score, but the major improvement will come when the record expires.

Being a co-signer doesn’t make you responsible for the account – When you open a joint account, co-sign on a loan or become an authorized user on someone’s credit card, you are taking on legal responsibility for the account. Any activity on these shared accounts, good or bad, will show up on both people’s credit reports. If you co-sign for a friend’s auto loan and they don’t make the payments, your credit profile will be hurt by their actions and visa versa. The only way to stop this double reporting is to refinance the loan or to have the creditor officially remove you from the account.

Paying off a debt will add 50 points to your credit score – Yourcredit score is calculated using a complex algorithm that takes into account hundreds of factors and values. It is very hard to predict how many points you can gain by changing one factor. For a person with a high credit score, just one late payment can cause a significant drop. If a person has a low credit score, it may not cause a large drop at all. There is no magical way to improve your credit score, just keep paying your bills on time, reducing your debts and removing negative inaccuracies from your credit report. Good financial behavior and time are the two most important factors on your credit score.