At least once a year, you should review your credit report to ensure that no unwarranted derogatory information has surfaced.  Every year, the government allows us to obtain one free copy of our credit report, so make sure you take advantage of this service.  To obtain your free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.  This report will not have your credit scores.  If you are interested in knowing your credit scores from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three most highly recognized credit bureaus among lending institutions, you’ll need to pay a fee for this information. 

Once you have reviewed your credit report for accuracy, connect with any of the credit bureaus mentioned above to dispute any accounts that do not belong to you.  Each of the credit bureaus has a dispute form on their website.  In some instances, you can file a dispute online if you can provide them with a reference code from a recent credit report.  Make sure that any items filed incorrectly on your credit report are disputed with each appropriate credit bureau.  Filing a dispute with only one credit reporting agency, when the other credit bureaus are also reporting that information, will not completely remove the derogatory citation. 

If you are interested in purchasing a home, make sure that any judgments on your credit report have been satisfied and show as such on your credit report.  Lenders will not lend you money if a judgment is on your report, as judgments can attach themselves to property.  Nonprofit organizations specializing in grant funds and, in recent years, some lenders have been requiring that all collections on a credit report are paid.  Resolve to have a middle credit score of at least 640, as many lenders now have that as their minimum required score to obtain a loan.