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Money

5 tips to shape up your credit history

Don't get bogged down in debt.
Research shows women aren't as savvy as men when it comes to being aware of their credit rating and its importance
Credit expert Andy Sheehan says women need to be more vigilant when it comes to taking control of their finances.
He said recent changes to credit reporting - which means providers, like banks and telcos, will have access to both positive and negative information; instead of just the negative details as in the past - is a great opportunity for us to understand credit better and get out of debt.
Andy's top tips for coming to grips with credit reporting are:
1. Check your credit report annually
You can request one free copy of your credit report per year. It has information on credit history, including payments made on time, late payments and defaults. More information at moneysmart.gov.au
2. Be mindful of shopping around
You are likely to be perceived as a better credit risk if your accounts are consolidated by using one provider for all credit lines. Before applying for credit, think carefully about what credit you need and which lender you already have a relationship with.
3. Beware of default payments
Some people are still unsure about the difference between defaults and missed payments. A default is a payment that is 60 days overdue and more than $150 in value. If you missed a payment by a few days as an oversight, it won't be recorded.
4. Major life events
If you have taken out a joint loan with your partner and are no longer together, you are still responsible for servicing the debt and this includes making payments on time. Communicate to ensure bills are paid on time and close as many joint accounts as possible.
5. Seek help if you're having trouble with your debts
Finally, Andy says if you are having trouble paying off debt, speak to the provider to work out a way to manage it, such as through a payment plan. "It's in the provider’s interest to keep a customer and help them to manage their credit,” he says.

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