LAS VEGAS -- While economists are saying the recession is over, for many Nevadans, the damage has been done when it comes to their credit score.
Unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies are tarnishing credit scores. Nevada ranks among the top 10 states with the worst credit scores in the nation. People are drowning in debt.
Meet Roberta Gomes. Five years ago, her credit was very good at 750. Now, she is among the thousands of Nevadans who have become a victim of the volatile economy.
Counselors at Consumer Credit of Nevada have doubled their staff to handle an increase in clients and calls.
Cena Valladolie with Consumer Credit of Nevada says there are ways to improve credit scores, even in the heart of the recession. Her advice? Keep current on all bills even if you've lost your home. She says the average credit score for Nevadans is between 540 and 620.
"I had 10 to 15 credit cards. I had to use them for eight months, paying one and getting out of the other. I said that's it. I can't do this anymore. I need help," said Gomes.
The most important factor on a credit report is the payment history. Keep those current and make sure that the balances are less than 50 percent of your credit limit. A maxed out credit card leads to a lower credit score.
"The services that we provide have been in demand far more than we have ever seen. Our counseling staff has doubled over the last two years, because of the demand," said Valladolie.
And nobody knows that better than Gomes. Thanks to some sound advice, Gomes' credit is salvageable. "I wasn't about ready to drown. I'm a fighter, and if you're a fighter and you want to hold on to what you got. Go get help," she said.