Manipulating Your Credit Score

Offers to boost that mythic number aren't worth the trouble.

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There's been much buzz recently about how easy it is to manipulate credit scores. A handful of companies, some of which advertise on radio and television, promise to improve poor credit scores, which determine how easy and expensive it is for people to take out loans. I recently spoke with Larry Chiang, founder of Duck9.com, which promises to help people boost their credit score to an impressive 750.

Here's how it works: Duck9.com reminds people to pay their bills on time, which is key to improving credit scores. Students—the service is aimed at those in college—can pay $9.95 a month for this reminder or put themselves on a 25-to-40-day wait list and get the service free. "Twenty-four on-time payments in a row get you to a FICO score over 700," Chiang says. "It's very binary."

My take: Life doesn't need to be this complicated. Pay attention to the bills that arrive by snail mail or E-mail, and you won't need to rely on a company to give you reminders.