It takes years to build and establish a good credit score, according to FreeScore.com. An individual's credit score changes over time, and it is affected by applying for, using, making or missing payments for credit. Recent activity carries more weight, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Negative changes to an individual's credit score can be caused by delinquencies, public record items and inquiries, according to Experian. Delinquencies and most public record items remain on a credit report for seven years, while unpaid tax liens and some bankruptcies remain for 10 years. Inquiries remain on a credit report for two years. Paying bills on time is the most important contributor to a good credit score.
Payment history alone accounts for 35 percent of credit history, according to FreeScore.com. Some suggestions for establishing a credit history when starting from scratch include opening a credit card, unsecured if possible but secured if necessary, where an individual has a checking account; opening a store credit card; or financing a store purchase with a same-as-cash offer, according to Investopedia.com.
Individuals should take the first step of knowing what is in their credit report and dispute any errors with the credit bureaus to improve their credit score, according to Forbes.