Moms: Get the credit you deserve

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Mothers wear many hats. In addition to being cooks, chauffeurs, maids and child care providers, many moms act as their family's CFO. A survey by Money Management International determined that 73 percent of women consider themselves to be the primary spender in their household. Many of these women also pay the bills and take responsibility for teaching their children about money. Yet, despite the huge financial responsibilities they handle at home, many of these women are not able to get the loans they need or want because there is no record of their financial responsibility.

Although having no credit is better than having bad credit, it still presents some problems. Lending decisions aren't made by a committee of family and friends that know and love you, creditors lend money based on the potential that it will be paid back on time and as agreed. Credit reports help lenders evaluate a borrower's level of risk. So if you have no credit history, there is no way to prove that you will pay your debts. This Mother's Day, consider giving yourself a gift - the good credit you deserve!

The experts at MMI offer the following tips to help you get started.

Get the facts. Consumers are entitled to annual free credit reports from each of the three bureaus. You can obtain your reports by visiting . Review your report often and report any errors or fraud immediately.

Assess the situation. Determine what kinds of existing accounts you have. If they are joint accounts, information about the accounts should appear on your credit reports. However, if you are only listed as an authorized user, the information may not appear. If this is the case, consider asking the creditors to report the account's activity; they are usually more than happy to add another person to an account.

Safely build your credit history. If you have few or no existing accounts, one safe way to build your credit is to get a secured credit card. You make a deposit into a savings account with a bank to secure a line of credit. The credit card company then issues you a card and a line of credit for at least the amount of your deposit.

Know your rights. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act give you specific rights that protect your credit information and help you obtain credit.

Finally, remember credit isn't a right; it's a privilege that you should protect. The key to establishing a good credit rating is to use the credit you have responsibly and make all payments on time.