This year -- you deserve some credit

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Pearletta Ullrich
  • 301st Mission Support Squadron
Did you know you can lose your security clearance due to bad credit?
     Did you also know:
     * Your commander, first sergeant, security manager, and civilian employer or supervisor are not authorized to obtain or review your credit report unless you give it to them willingly?
     * The Defense Investigative Services is a government agency authorized to access your credit report for the armed forces’ security investigations or reinvestigations?
     * Employers use your credit report to assess your creditworthiness, to qualify for a particular job and to achieve a security clearance?
     The holidays have now come and gone and the bills are here. OK, but I had so much fun spending money at Christmas and I always spend some on -- you guessed it -- me! This is typically the season for overspending.
     This isn’t a rare phenomenon. Many people have bills that are bulging and exceeding comfortable limits. This heavy spending can affect your credit score, so set a goal that will help increase it.
     Do you know your credit score? If not, order your free credit report. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act entitles you to one free credit report every year, no strings attached.
     Never underestimate the importance of your credit report. This is how creditors and employers assess your creditworthiness. Your credit rating determines what kind of credit you qualify for -- which impacts your interest rates, insurance rates, whether you get a particular job or qualify to rent an apartment or home. It will also alert you to signs of identity theft, which can plummet a credit score in minutes. Here are a few basic actions for improving and fixing a low credit score.
     $ Make payments on time - This works wonders for your credit score and keeps interest rates low. Call credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. This rarely works if your credit payment history with that company is poor, unless you threaten to transfer your balance (hint).
     $ Apply for credit sparingly - Every time you apply for credit, the creditor notes the request on your credit report. Too many applications in a short period of time will throw up a red flag.
     $ Pay down balances - Paying down your balance on credit cards could boost your credit score.
     $ Budget - Pay off higher interest rate items first, not the highest balance. Remember sometimes there are five- versus four-week months in your payment schedule and your budget will work better.
     $ Seek counseling - Beware of quick-credit-fix offers; most are gimmicks for adding more costs than solutions. Start with our 301st Fighter Wing’s Family Readiness Office at 817.782.7435.
     $ Don’t be an ID-theft victim - Don’t give or share your credit information, copies of debts, etc., with anyone. It’s never a requirement for unit members to do so.
     Requests for information for official government or other legitimate purposes will never require you to provide copies of your own personal information.
     Go for it! Set your goals, obtain data, and know how your information can be accessed. This year, you deserve some credit! (For more information, log onto
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