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Got Credit? Here's what you really have to know about your credit.

By Gisela M. Pedroza

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you've managed to survive the last two years in adowntrodden economy, chances are you might not have gotten offscot-free. You might have added a few wrinkles to your credithistory by making late payments to credit cards or vendors. So howdo you go about fixing your credit score when it comes time to seekfinancing, get a loan or even open new accounts with vendors?

Most homebased business owners' credit is tied to theirpersonal credit, says Mari Gottdiener, a credit report specialist,credit counselor and founder of Outsource Solutions, a creditcounseling business. Your first step should be to get a copy ofyour credit report and see what your current score is. Creditscores are used to predict the risk that a consumer will default ona loan, and are calculated on a scale of 300 to 900, with anythingover 620 considered acceptable. Most scores fall within the 500- to800-point range, according to Gottdiener. "Credit scoringitself takes into account two things; the first is a consumer'spast history in terms of account payment history, amount ofaccounts open and timeliness of payments. The second is a currentsnapshot of financial obligations," she says.

The first step to raising your score if you're seekingfinancing is to pay down revolving debt to less than 50 percent ofyour credit limit. This raises your score more than paying offindividual cards one at a time, says Gottdiener. So if your creditlimit on one card is $4,000, and you owe $3,000, pay it down toless than $2,000.

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