Here are some news articles that you appreciate http://www.yourhome.org/2010/11/bad-credit-can-cost-you-abc-
In a nutshell, the fastest way to boost a credit score is to pay off debts. If you have any outstanding debts or debts that have gone into collection, pay those off, and the score can increase by as much as 20 pts immediately. However, if you need more than a 20 point boost to get a loan, you will need to work on your credit over time--usually 6 months to a year--in order to increase the score and counter balance any negative comments.
Wikipedia has an excellent article on their site regarding the 'components' of FICO scores. You can also talk with a credit counselor to view your personal credit history, determine what items are causing the greatest negatives on your score, and to chart a path toward credit repair.
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
San Jose, CA