Consumer sentiment falls in May after rising in April

With the housing market in shambles, gas and food prices on the rise and the unemployment rate at 9 percent, Americans have many reasons to be skeptical about the country's economic progress.

According to the Conference Board's latest Consumer Confidence Index, sentiment among U.S. consumers fell to 60.8 in May, from the 66 recorded a month earlier. The Expectations Index declined to 75.2 from 83.2, while the Present Index dropped slightly to 39.3 from 40.2.

"A more pessimistic outlook is the primary reason for this month’s decline in consumer confidence," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumers are considerably more apprehensive about future business and labor market conditions as well as their income prospects."

With many consumers feeling less confident about the country's economy, many may be trying to make changes to their finances to improve their respective situations. For some, boosting credit scores is a primary goal, as a higher three-digit number may enable them to qualify for more affordable financing offers.

A number of Americans have begun reviewing their credit reports in order to spot problematic or questionable items that may be negatively impacting their credit scores. Any marks that were reported in error or without following federally mandated credit reporting guidelines may be challenged. Because this process can sometimes be difficult for an individual to handle on his or her own, some people will contact a credit repair company for assistance.