Credit reports are important. They help you get mortgages, jobs, apartments, cars, and insurance, among other things. Being responsible about credit can help you maintain a high rating, but don't just assume that your report accurately reflects your credit management -- there are often errors.

If there are errors on your credit report, you can have them corrected. First, though, you'll need to get hold of your report, so you can review it. You'll find some guidance on doing just that in our Credit Center. (By the way, did you know you can now access your credit report for free?)

Somewhere in the report, often at the end, there should be instructions on how to dispute anything that you believe is an error. Often it's just a matter of filling out a "research request" asking the credit agency to look into the issue and make a correction.

Sometimes you may see things that are not, unfortunately, errors. If your credit history is less than pristine, don't despair -- there are things you can do to improve your credit rating.

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And while you're getting your financial house in order, learn how to make the most of your short-term money by visiting our Savings Center, which offers Fools some special deals on interest rates.

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This article has been updated by Foolish research associate Katrina Chan. It was originally published on Oct. 11, 2005.