Q. I got laid off and was unable to pay my credit cards. How can I start to repair my credit and raise my score, even though I’m still not working?
A. First, check for and correct any errors on your credit reports. You can get copies at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only place providing reports for free with no strings attached. (Other sites may slip in paid monitoring services unless you opt out.) Going forward, pay all bills on time. As little as one day late can hurt your score. Use your cards prudently to build a record of repayment and low balances. Payment delinquencies stay on your report for seven years but count for less as you show good debt management.
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Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.