Ask The Expert: ‘My ex-boyfriend ruined my credit score – help!’

Q: Hi David,

My name is Dan and I just graduated from Caltech and I’m looking for a career now.  I know that employers look at your credit rating, and I think I might have screwed mine up.

My ex boyfriend needed money and so I gave him one of my credit cards and thought he had paid it off.  He never did and after we broke up I moved several times and the creditors just found me. I want to know how I can fix it to get the job I desire.

A: Hello Dan,

You are obviously the kind of guy that only will be satisfied with the best. You just graduated from an awesome school. Your credit rating should be treated in the same manner.

A score of 750 or higher is what you want to have full stop.  A FICO rating of 750 or higher will prove to employers that you’re a “steady ship” and get you the job, your lenders will give you the best rates to save you money and landlords will give you the lowest down payment on your apartment.

Anchor yourself to this rate like you would to your preferred job and take steps to get it!

Dan my man, the fist thing you need to know is to get your credit rating and see where you stand. The next step is to make a plan how to get it to 750+.

You find out your rating from the three credit rating agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once a year for free in most states.  For $40 you can check them all at myfico.com.

Your credit rating is very important so be sure to treat it like you would any other important person in your life.  Respect and nurture it and it’ll pay you back in the long run.  No more giving cards to lame ass boyfriends who won’t treat your credit like you need to.  So much is at stake -  like your dream job!

Next you need to single out any of the negative ratings you’ve received from lenders.  Write a credit dispute letter to the credit bureaus that have taken off points based on late payments, bankruptcies, etc. and dispute these events. The credit bureau will ask for back up on these events from the lender and if they don’t have them or they are not documented properly the bureau will take it off your report and your rate will go higher.

Invest the time to get a clean record.  It’ll pay you back ten fold.

Other ways to keep a high credit rating is to keep only two (max three!) credit cards.  When you have loads of credit cards it lowers your overall credit available and your rating too.  Keep it to two or three cards and fix the limits to your desired amount.

Call up your bank or credit card company and make sure that they don’t have auto limit increases.

Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score so it is crucial that you pay all of your bills on time.  This makes total sense if you think of it from a lender’s point of view.  They want to make sure that you are paying back your loans in full and on time.

Why not make this a win-win situation?  Make all of your monthly bills such as electricity, mobile phone, cable, gym, etc. all come out automatically from your account or on a credit card and then pay your card off completely at the end of the month. I talk more about this strategy in my book.

Missing one payment won’t hurt your rating, but missing them chronically will put you on the late payers list or worse. If you’re in an emergency and can’t pay your loans or credit cards call your lender and have an open dialogue with them.  Don’t ignore the problem because your rating will be hurt the most in that situation.

Employers are like creditors in the sense that they don’t like it when you’re always searching for credit or a new career.  If you’re applying for a loan make sure that the credit officer is going to give you the loan and you’re going to take it before they check your credit.

If you have several credit inquiries on your report it’ll lower your rating.

A good rule of thumb is to have it checked only once a month max.  If you’re buying a car, house, etc. then spread them out so your rating doesn’t take a huge hit in that one month.

Love your credit and it’ll love you back with an awesome job and cheaper rates!

Dave