In July 2017, all three credit reporting firms (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will remove tax-lien and civil-judgment data from credit reports if a person’s name, address, social security number or date of birth is incomplete.

What impact will this change have? Approximately 11 to 12 million consumers will see a slight increase in their credit score — typically about 20 points — once this change is implemented. If you are affected by this change, you’ll see a short-term improvement. However, it also provides a good opportunity for you to take a deeper look at your credit score, why you had those civil judgments or tax liens in the first place, and what you can do to improve your score over time.

Since March is Credit Education Month, this is a great time to be proactive about your credit.

Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to access your full credit report.

You are entitled to one full, free report per year from each of the three reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax).

Review your report to ensure there are no inaccuracies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced earlier this month that it is taking steps to make it easier for consumers to fix inaccurate data by filing a dispute. If you see a derogatory mark for a debt that you’ve already paid or an item in collections that you don’t recognize, file a dispute.

Monitor your credit.

You can always monitor your score for free through services like CreditKarma. Factors like the age of credit and credit utilization will affect your score over time; by reducing your debt and making on-time payments, you can improve your score.

Set fraud alerts.

You can request a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com; this alert requires you to verify anyone who is accessing your report for 90 days. This tool can help you reduce your risk of identity theft.

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