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Moves to make that could improve your credit score

The No. 1 rule is to pay your bills on time.

INDIANAPOLIS — Improving your credit score can be a lot of work.

But there are some strategies that might be able to help.

The Golden Rule in credit

The No. 1 rule is to pay your bills on time. Creditors can report late payments to the credit bureaus once you are 30 days behind, and late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, according to Experian.

Medical debt, however, is treated differently than normal consumer debt.

Other factors

To make sure you are working with accurate numbers, request your free credit report from all three bureaus.

The government-approved site is Annual Credit Report.

Consumer advocate Doc Compton said if you find anything on your credit that you don't recognize, reach out to that creditor or collection agency, and the bureau.

"See if you can have that removed. Oftentimes, a single collection can have as much as a 50-, 60- or 70-point impact on your credit scores," Compton said.

Compton added that the time of month you pay your bill can also make a difference.

"Your due date doesn't necessarily correspond with the date that they [credit card company] report your balances to the credit bureaus. And if you strategically pay the balance before they report, you constantly look as though you have a zero balance or a low balance."

If you are a responsible spender, increasing your credit limit could also improve your score.

"With credit utilization ratio, they're looking at how much you have spent, or do consistently spend on a card. And if you don't consistently use much of what's available to you, from a revolving credit standpoint, you look like a much less significant risk to a potential lender," Compton said.

Just don't fall into the trap of spending more money.

If you are separated from a spouse or a child is grown, make sure they're off your cards and vice versa.

That way you are not affected if they forget to make a payment.

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