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    Tips on when you have a (credit) score to settle

    As many people already know, the higher your credit score, the more likely someone will loan you money. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your score, the better the loan rate. Lower credit scores translate into higher mortgage rates because the bank is taking on additional risk.

    If you’re in the market for a new home or refinancing, I wanted to offer some advice in dealing with your credit score. Before you speak to any mortgage professional, get a copy of your credit report online. There are many companies that provide this service. When you get the report, go through your list of current and prior creditors, making sure that the information is current. You will see notations like “paid satisfactorily,” or there could be a derogatory remark next to a creditor’s name. This remark will be added to the matrix used to create your overall score and bring down your number.

    Let’s assume that you have a credit card at the BuyThisStuffNow store. As you are going through your report, you realize that BuyThisStuffNow said you were 30 days late paying your bill. After a careful and complete examination of your banking records, you discover that BuyThisStuffNow is reporting incorrect information. To challenge its claims, I would start by calling the customer service number to get to the department that handles consumer credit. After you speak to the representative about your situation and the store agrees to remove the derogatory remark, send a certified letter to BuyThisStuffNow detailing the discussion, making sure to note with whom you spoke and when and including any evidence supporting your position.

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    Once the letter is sent and signed for, I would check back in 30 days to verify that the remark has been removed from your credit history. At the same time, I would contact the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. All three have a place on their websites where you can file a dispute. In addition to that, I would send a written copy (regular mail this time) of your dispute to all three agencies and wait 30 days. The reporting agencies are then responsible to contact BuyThis-StuffNow to present your claim. BuyThisStuffNow can ignore the credit agency and take no action; it can contest the claim; or it can remove the remark. If it takes no action, I would write and call the company every 30 days until it does.

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    Getting inaccurate derogatory remarks removed from your credit can be challenging and time consuming, but consider the better rate you would get with it removed and the savings you’d see through the life of the loan.

    Good luck.

    Hugh J. Fitzpatrick III is the founding partner of New England Title and Fitzpatrick & Associates PC, a Tewksbury-based law firm specializing in real estate conveyancing. Send your questions to Address@globe.com.