How to Defend Your Credit Score and Financial Future

Check in periodically and call a lawyer if something seems suspicious

By Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 21, 2023 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorney Alexander Taylor

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It’s advertised in nearly every credit card commercial: a free credit report. But what does your credit score mean, and what can you do to protect it?

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number showing the likelihood that a person will repay debt based on their credit history. This score is based on all reported credit interactions. It looks at whether the person paid their debts on time and how many outstanding debts they have. Common types of debts include car loans, mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt.

Banks, lenders, and credit card companies will look up this score to determine whether they should lend a borrower money, raise a credit limit, or open new lines of credit. There are various organizations that compute your credit score, such as Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Each of these credit bureaus may have different score outcomes. FICO is the most common credit scoring system (hence you may hear of your “FICO score”).

What Can I Do if My Credit Report is Suspicious?

If something fishy is going on with your credit report, you may want to reach out to an attorney. “We make sure everything that is going on our client’s credit report is accurate. We make sure that, if you have disputed a claim, it shows as disputed. We fight people impermissibly pulling people’s credit,” says Alexander Taylor, a consumer law attorney at Atlas Consumer Law in Lombard, Illinois.

Some of the trouble with a credit score is that you must seek it out. It isn’t often sent or mailed to you, and since there are three or more of them, they can be difficult to find.

“Make sure you’re on top of your credit reports,” says Taylor. “There are very large corporations that are in litigation over impermissibly pulling consumers’ credit reports.” 

If something is wrong on your credit report, dispute it; and, if after the dispute there is still an error, call a creditor debtor rights attorney.

Alexander Taylor

The other difficulty is that your credit score is not policed by anyone but you. So, if you don’t act, your score may be affected and won’t be fixed until you do something. “Some collectors will place a debt two or three times on your report, which, if you don’t dispute this and make sure that the credit reporting agency takes it down, it could affect your ability to own a house or car,” says Taylor. To be on top of your credit, check on your score periodically through one of the many free means available online. Look out for payment history, including late payments, new accounts, scoring models, and all lines of credit.

Getting an Experienced Attorney Involved

Consumers who are having trouble with their credit report or debt collectors need not worry about the cost of an attorney. “No money comes out of a consumer’s pocket in these cases,” says Taylor. They work entirely on contingency fees collected after the close of their services.

Practically speaking, Taylor says, “If something is wrong on your credit report, dispute it; and, if after the dispute there is still an error, call a creditor debtor rights attorney.” 

For more information on this area of law, see our overview of consumer law.

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