JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) "If you go to buy a car or a house or sometimes even get a job or a student getting an apartment, the first thing a lot of folks are going to do is check your credit," said financial specialist, Garry Patterson.
Tough economic times forced millions nationwide into foreclosure or bankruptcy, doing damage to credit scores, but financial specialist Patterson says you can rebuild credit.
"Starting point really is to see where you're at," said Patterson.
Patterson says that means getting your credit report and checking to make sure it's mistake free.
"If you wait too long to see what's on the credit report it may go from being a past due account to a collections account. Those show up in a different area of the report and those are red flags," said Patterson.
Patterson says consider getting a secured credit card through your bank, and start building a payment history on small items, then work your way up to bigger ticket items like appliances or furniture, but he says use good judgement.
"You want to do it with a company that uses a nationally known finance company, because those are going get reported on your credit report thereby establishing more credit worthiness," said Patterson.
He says once you're on your way to a good pay history, purchase a vehicle, for example, in your name only to maximize credit worthiness.
"The ultimate goal is to purchase a home, because when you can get a home loan, you've pretty much arrived financially," said Patterson.
Patterson says no matter the size of the account, always pay creditors on time. It's the best way to establish and maintain excellent credit.
"If you go 30 days late, people can see that on your report for seven years and it's very difficult to go back and make that go away," said Patterson.
Patterson says it's important to realize, good credit isn't built overnight. While there are exceptions, it's something that takes work and patience.
"Most of the time before you're really going to see any difference, I'm going to say it's usually about 12 months, said Patterson.
Patterson says if you need help getting a credit report or help reading it, he suggests going to a national federation for credit counseling or NFCC certified credit counseling agency. They can help make sure what's on your credit report is accurate and help explain it too.