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What's so important about your credit score?

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By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Do you know your credit score? If not, you may want to find out today. A good credit score could mean the difference between cheaper payments or even landing a job.

Timothy Hill, from Richmond, watches his credit score like a hawk. He has good reason to watch it so closely -- not too long ago his credit score was horrible.

"Back in the day I did a lot of things, just not paying bills, things going to collections and I would just say forget about it," he said.

Hill is working hard to repair his credit, he now uses a credit monitoring company.  "Since I have been doing that I have seen my credit score go up 100 points in the last two years," he said.

Andrew Grasso, with Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions says a good credit score is worth it's weight in gold.

"It could mean getting a job -- almost 50 percent of all employers actually look at credit scores. I'd say the average guy out there walking around doesn't really worry about their credit score that much but that credit score is a big impact on you. It can cost you more money for car insurance, it cost more for homeowners insurance," he said.

Want a loan, a new car, or to buy a house, if you have a bad credit score, Grasso says forget about it.

"You can range anywhere from 350 to 850. The actual median FICO score for the country is 650 right now. You want to be in 700 or higher to get the best possible financing deal," he said.

A good deal is exactly what Hill is hoping for, he's looking to buy a home, something he couldn't do several years ago because of bad credit. His experience is now a teaching tool for his children.

"When they get older, especially when they start going to college and they are old enough to get credit cards, these are things that they should know. When I was growing up, I didn't know anything about credit. I didn't know things could hurt your credit,"  he said.

There are many things that can send your credit score plummeting. Grasso says be warned, the small bills can pack a big punch.

"Electricity bills that haven't been paid, cable bills, that haven't been paid, parking tickets that haven't been paid, even your taxes," he said.

Grasso says one of the quickest ways to boost your credit score is by paying your bills on time and getting rid of outstanding debt. If you have a low credit score, the good news is, you can fix it.

"Your credit is not going to get better and not start to heal until you start to pay off those debts are start to heal it yourself," Grasso said.

Also keep in mind with a sluggish economy, late payments will go into collections quicker.

"The creditors, the doctors offices, the utility companies, they need those funds right away," Grasso added. He said to also be cautious of accepting offers to settle your debt for less than the actual amount. The IRS could consider it earned income -- putting you in a different income bracket -- and causing another headache.

You can get your free credit report at Annual Credit Report Dot Com. For more information on your credit score visit ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, FTC, or Consumer Federation of America.

Remember, if you feel you've been scammed, ripped off or have a consumer issue you want us to investigate, you can email us at alerts@nbc12.com.

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