4 Ways to Completely Sabotage Your Credit Score

Posted by Chris on March 25, 2015

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If you're wondering what you would have to do to seriously damage your FICO score, look no further. These tips will help you decrease that score in no time. Of course, if you’re like most people and actually want to improve your credit score, just do the opposite of these tips!

1. Ignore Your Credit Report

One way to sabotage your credit score is to ignore your credit reports. It's especially tempting to ignore them if you are pretty sure your FICO score is low. But if you never check your credit reports, you will never know where you stand, or even how accurate they are.

Maybe a bill you actually paid shows up as in collections on your report, or perhaps you have some disputed accounts that you could ask to have removed in order to boost your score. According to HSH.com, people who have fixed errors on their credit report have seen their score rise by as much as 100 points afterward. 

2. Pay Your Bills Late

You probably saw this coming. Creditors do not appreciate when you pay your bills late, especially 30 days or more after the due date. U.S. News & World Report points out that even one or two late payments can affect your credit score. And of course, paying late enough that your creditors repossess your vehicle or foreclose on your mortgage can destroy your FICO score.

Luckily, this credit mistake is pretty easy to avoid, as long as you plan ahead. Writing down the due date of each bill on a calendar and paying bills on payday are some good ways to get in the habit of making your payments on time.

3. Close Old Accounts

If you have lots of accounts, you might consider closing those that you seldom use. But this is a fast way to reduce your FICO score. According to Zillow, this is because you reduce your available credit when you close an account.

In addition, you should keep your oldest accounts open. This will show that you have used credit for a long time, which increases your score. 

4. Apply for More Credit

If you already have a few accounts that are not in good standing, applying for more probably won't help. Instead, get to work on fixing the accounts you already have. Every hard inquiry you get on your credit report can lower your score a little.

According to SFGate, hard inquiries can affect up to 10 percent of your credit score. One hard inquiry is unlikely to do much damage, but several inquiries will have a negative impact. Avoid applying for credit if you hope to increase your FICO score.

If you follow all these ways to sabotage your FICO score, you just might end up with a score of 300! That's the lowest possible credit score. Of course, if you can always rebuild your score, but that can take anywhere from one to 10 years, depending on the kind of mistakes you make with your credit report.

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Topics: Credit 101