If you have a bad credit score then you’ve probably wondered how you would go about improving it. Your credit score is a rating that is used by banks, credit card companies and other lenders to assess whether you are likely to be able to pay back credit if you were to take it out.

Your credit score is based on your track record. If you have missed payments, been evicted, been taken to court for non-payment, or otherwise been found to be delinquent when it comes to your credit rating, then this will be marked against you.

Even if you have always paid on time, however, you could still be considered a credit risk if you owe a huge amount of money – especially if you have access to several large open lines of credit (such as an overdraft and credit card) and are actually using it all.

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Your credit score is based on what lenders report to the credit reference agencies and what they report isn’t always ‘right’. If you know that they have reported incorrect information, then it is relatively easy to fix that by contacting the credit reference agencies and sending in a report, and also by contacting the individual lenders and asking them to send in a report.

If, however, the information they are reporting is correct then you are in a more difficult position.

Your best bet is to pay off as many debts as you can. If you have defaults, they will be recorded on your credit rating for six years, so will court judgments. With very old debts, waiting for them to drop off could be the answer. With debts that are newer, the best bet is just to pay them off as quickly as you can.

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If you have payments that you are keeping up with, then make sure that you don’t miss any deadlines on those. If you pay your bills on time you will be building up a good credit history so when the old debts drop off you’ll be in a better position.

Order copies of your credit report, and make sure that you aren’t financially linked to anyone that you shouldn’t be. Don’t apply for credit unless you intend to use it (credit searches will raise eyebrows if you have a lot of them on your history), and be patient while you wait for your score to improve.