Are you shopping for a new car or looking to move into that downtown apartment? Before either of those dreams can become reality, you'll have to answer one little question - what's your credit score?

If that's a question that you dread answering, follow these tips to improve you credit score.

Build good credit

It might seem counterintuitive that credit cards can actually help your credit, but they can if used responsibly.

Open just one or two credit cards and utilize no more than 30 percent of your maximum limit at a time. Keep your balance low and pay it off as quickly as you can rather than just move it around to different cards. Playing hot potato with too many credit cards can have an adverse effect on your credit score.

Remember that canceling your credit card account won't erase the damage it's done to your credit score, or your debt. Keep your accounts open even after they're paid off to rebuild your credit over time.

Learn to negotiate

If you're normally in good standing with your creditors, there's no reason not to try negotiating with them if you miss a payment or two. Write to the company with an explanation and try to negotiate removing late payments from your credit report.

Pay on time

Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your credit score. Paying your bills on time could be the single largest improvement you can make to your credit score.

Make sure your credit report is correct

You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies each year. We suggest you request at least one every year.

If you see something that isn't quite right on your credit report, you have the right to dispute it with either the credit bureau that provided the report or the creditor that reported incorrect information. Contact the Eason Law Firm, LLC for a dispute letter free of charge.

If your dispute has been investigated and is still incorrect, you have the right to sue under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You can recover $1,000 in statutory damages and your attorney's fees will be covered. You might even receive compensation for any damages you sustained as a result of the inaccurate information.

Contact James Eason online or at (314) 932-1066 if you want to improve your credit score or you believe you have a FCRA case. We've never charged a client for an FCRA case and we never will.