How to Defend Your Credit Score and Financial Future
Check in periodically and call a lawyer if something seems suspiciousBy Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 21, 2023 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorney Alexander Taylor
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- What Is a Credit Score?
- What Can I Do if My Credit Report is Suspicious?
- Getting an Experienced Attorney Involved
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.”
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.
Additional Consumer Law articles
- What Is Consumer Law?
- Avoiding Foreclosure in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond
- What to Do If Your Scholarship Is in Jeopardy
- Four Ways to Protect Your Credit History from Errors and Misuse
- How Furnishers Impact Your Credit Report and What to Do if They Get Data Wrong
- Is Your Vehicle a Lemon or Not Living up to Its Warranty?
- Make Sure Your Employer Follows Consumer Laws in Background Checks
- Privacy Concerns Over Smart Speakers
- Three Steps to Catch Up on Student Loan Delinquency
- Anything You Post Can and Will Be Used Against You
- Your Rights at 10,000 Feet
- Is Privacy Dead?
- Two Steps to Avoid Problems With Payday Loan Debt
- Five Steps to Prevent Identity Theft
State Consumer Law articles
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you