So your credit rating is horrible.

Over the years, you used credit recklessly. You paid bills late. You didn’t keep track of cumulative card debt — or what it was doing to your creditworthiness.

The good news is you can fix your credit, regulators and card specialists say, but it will take a long-term effort.

“There are no quick fixes to clean up your credit,” said Lisa Lake, a consumer education specialist with the FTC.

“Start being very diligent in paying your bills,” said Bill Hardekopf, the founder of, a credit card advice website.

Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with, said to reduce high credit card debts “by making an extra payment or two,” which improves a credit rating.

Take these additional steps, card specialists say, to achieve a better rating.

Get a free copy of your credit report and go over it carefully. Do you recognize all the accounts? Rossman warned “20 percent of all US adults have errors on their credit reports.” If you find any, contact the credit bureaus that reported the wrong information. Under law, they must delete it.

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