Like it or not, your credit score is important. It affects where you’ll live, where you’ll work, and how much interest you’ll pay when you borrow money. Most people think it takes something like foreclosure or bankruptcy to tank their score. But, that’s not the case. Here’s a list of small mistakes that do big damage your credit rating: 

  • #1: Opening too many accounts. The next time you’re offered a discount to sign up for a store card, consider this: Each time a lender looks at your report to establish new credit, your score drops about 4 points.  

  • Another credit mistake: Missing a payment. Susan Lou is the editor of CreditLand.com. And she says that even if you’ve always paid an account on time, one check lost in the mail could drop your score by 200 points! If that happens, be proactive. Most banks will strike a late payment for good customers. Just call, explain the circumstances, and ask for a goodwill deletion.

  • The third small mistake that can hurt your credit score: Ignoring bills. Chris Mettler created the website CompareCards.com. And he says that a lot of people ignore hospital bills because they’re waiting for their insurance to pay. Don’t do it! Places like hospitals, utilities, and cell phone providers automatically send overdue accounts to collection agencies. And when that happens, your score takes a hit that’s equal to missing a mortgage payment!

  • And the last credit score blunder: Not looking at your report. According to a recent study, 35 percent of credit reports contain errors. And finding and correcting just one could boost your score by at least 100 points. Federal law requires that the 3 major credit reporting agencies give you a free copy of your report each year. You can get yours at AnnualCreditReport.com.