A possible recession on top of a credit crunch means your credit score is more important than ever. It determines what you pay for any loan -- on a mortgage or car loan or credit card. And whether you get a job. But "buyer beware" when it comes to promises of repairing your credit. Those commercials that offer free credit reports and free credit repair may sound tempting, but read the fine print. You can fix most of the blemishes on your credit report yourself relatively easily, said John Ulzheimer of Credit.com. Here are his top three ways to boost your score without a middleman:
1. If there is anything on your credit report that is legitimately incorrect, you can challenge it to have it removed within 30 days. (And remember, you can get a free copy of each of your three reports once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com)
2. Get your debt under control! Ulzheimer recommends this rule of thumb: reduce your debt to 10% of your credit limit and keep it below that amount.
3. Don’t use your credit report as a 10% off coupon at the mall. Meaning you shouldn’t apply for retail store specific credit cards that offer you a discount on your purchases at that store. They leave a “breadcrumb” in the form of a credit inquiry, which Ulzheimer said can lower your credit score for 12 months. Also, the interest rates on these cards are typically very high and the credit limits very low.