If you’re interested in buying a home, having better credit can increase your loan success. The time spent saving money and looking for the right home is an excellent time to improve your credit.

There are a lot of bad shortcuts out there, so it’s key to understand the right way to improve your credit. Here are two credit-improvement techniques to make your profile more attractive–or at least less risky–to lenders.

Contact Your Lenders
Financial collapse and economic nightmares are everyone’s problem. While not all bad credit situations come from a national-level economic crisis, it’s something that lenders acknowledge.

You don’t need to be an economic scholar or skilled in linking financial news articles to prove your point. If you lost your job, suffered higher utility costs, or if your cost of living has increased significantly, there is help.

Most banks and many lending companies have financial counselors who do more than give advice. While any counseling will come with information about what you can do to pay your debt on time, your situation is valuable research and security.

At the end of the day, lenders want their money back–and preferably with interest. Whether you bring compassion into the equation or not, it’s better to treat a long-time payer with support so that they will continue borrowing in the future.

Short-term support means a continued client. If giving you a delay in payments means giving you a chance to move to a new job, receive training, or hold onto mental health, it can happen if you communicate properly.

If you’re buying a new home, that purchase would and should be scrutinized if you’re not able to make other payments. That said, buying a home to get to a better situation–along with proof of why that situation makes sense–can work.

You’re essentially making all of your financial decisions the business of the lender. If it makes sense to them, you can get help. Even if you’re declined, heed their advice. Whether for greed or honest concern, their interest is in improving your money.

Look For Credit Errors
Is your score lower than perfect or at dangerous levels? Do you know why?

People with no credit history or less than a year of credit history will need time to establish their credit. If you’ve had credit cards, loans, and other credit accounts for over a year and have less than a 600 score, it’s time to investigate.

If you haven’t looked at your credit at all, it’s time to check immediately.

Credit fraud and credit mistakes are common. In 2017, an IRTC report showed some staggering numbers about identity theft:

  • 14.2 million credit cards exposed.
  • Almost 158 million social security numbers (SSN) were exposed due to data breaches.
  • Around 91 thousand medical/healthcare industry breaches took place.

Identity theft can come from any place that handles your personal data. From the stores you visit–physical and online–to the personal information you write down or the mail you throw away, there are lots of places to scrape information for a fake identity.

While there’s no shortage of advice on what to do to protect yourself –and what to do after identity theft–the critical detail is to look through your credit report and question every unknown account.

If there’s an account you don’t recognize–and especially if it’s a negative mark on your credit–file a report. You can report multiple accounts, and an investigation will find details for the accounts.

While reporting a legitimate account is illegal, you still have plenty of reasons to question everything. It’s fair to forget about old accounts, and some companies have account names that are different from the business name.

File the report with the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian PLC, and TransUnion) as needed and wait for a report.

Credit repairs may take time, but it shouldn’t take more than a month to receive a response. You may need to submit more information to prove that the accounts aren’t yours, but if your credit is debatable, seek legal representation.

For more details on improving and protecting your credit rating before a home purchase, contact a financial adviser today.