Students ponder ‘CredAbility’

The Clarkston auditorium filled as everyone grabbed a seat for the Credit Report speech with Brian Scott from CredAbility. He offered suggestions on websites students could go visit to get a free copy of their credit reports. was the most highly recommended, along with

Your credit report: check your credit score at least once a year to make sure the information is correct and to prevent identity theft, the number one crime in America.

Scott explained how your credit score impacts your mortgage, car loan, insurance and employment. It’s very important to get your score so you can be educated before you purchase a home or car. Having your credit report on-hand can also help you negotiate and save money.

Mortgage: there are homebuyer workshops that can help first-time homeowners get money. Scott received up to $19,000 when he first purchased his home.

On getting insurance: apartment complexes now send information about the bills you pay to Credit Bureaus. Scott stressed that we should monitor our accounts. Equifax, a credit bureau in Georgia, makes money by selling our information to Visa and other companies. We can stop these unsolicited credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPT- OUT.

Be aware that the score can vary from bureau to bureau because of when information is reported or that not all the information is sent. Scott noted that negative debt information stays on your report for up to 7 years and positive information, like paying your loans, stays on your report for 10-30 years.

The bottom line: pay your bills on time each month and do not max out your credit card, keeping your balance at 30% or lower. Remember, only you can fix your report and companies like CredAbility can offer free advice on where to start.