Blotches on your credit report cost you. But, don’t despair. It’s never too late to become credit worthy — just get started, and remember that it won’t happen overnight. Here are 5 steps for improving your credit rating:
1. Order your credit reports
Find out what the top three credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — are saying about you. It’s likely that they’re all slightly different. Yes, different! Creditors don’t have to report to all three credit bureaus, so they typically report to the credit bureau to which they also subscribe. Time and money is wasted if you only order a report from one credit bureau. You can order a credit report from each bureau for free once a year through annualcreditreport.com. If you’ve been denied credit, insurance or employment because of your credit report, you are entitled to a free copy of your report from the reporting agency. The company you applied to must supply the credit bureau’s name, address and telephone number. You have 60 days after receiving the denial notice to request your copy. Note: ORDER ALL 3 REPORTS AT ONE TIME. Call: 877-322-8228 and follow the automated instructions. You should get these reports in the mail within 2 or 3 weeks.
2. Examine your reports carefully
Nearly every consumer has an error on at least one credit report from one of the major credit bureaus, says Rhode. Credit bureaus generate your report on information they receive from your creditors; they don’t verify. Keeping your credit report a true reflection of you is — like it or not — your job. Get ready to clean and polish. Carefully look for everything from typing errors, outdated and incomplete information to inaccurate account histories. You’ll want to make a thorough list of items you dispute and why. Be meticulous. Here’s how to read and understand your credit report. If the negative information in your report is true, only time and improved habits can change that. Late payments, such as credit cards, and charged-off accounts remain on your report for seven years; bankruptcies for 10. Most creditors, however, look for a pattern of payment rather than focusing on one-time or rare occurrences; so consistent on-time bill payments will improve those blemishes.
YOU CAN DISPUTE NEGATIVE ITEMS!
Once you get your credit reports from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies you will find dispute forms attached to your report. Some of the items may be true but inaccurate. These can still be disputed, even if it Is true but may possibly be incomplete, inaccurate or incorrect in any way you may state on your dispute the words “inaccurate information”, incomplete, “not mine” or whatever statement fits the situation.
3. Double-D strategy — dispute and document
Remember, a bad report costs you money. So, it pays to be thorough! You can either complete the dispute form provided with your credit report or write a letter. Clearly identify each mistake and state why it’s wrong. A recommendation is to send a photocopy of your credit report with the mistakes circled to the reporting credit bureau. Include copies of supporting documents. Document, document, document. Keep copies and records of all the forms, letters and documentation that you send the credit bureaus, plus dates sent. The credit bureau must investigate any relevant dispute within 30 days of receiving your letter. Any item that is not verified as accurate by a creditor is removed.
Sometimes it’s necessary to contact your creditors to resolve mistakes. You may need to contact the creditor directly. The company you are disputing the credit with will give you the exact steps to take to dispute the information or make corrections. Be sure to follow their instructions exactly and keep records of who you spoke to, what they told you and any phone and fax numbers you will need to send in the reports and paperwork that are requested. If you mail in the letter of dispute to the company be sure to send it with tracking or certified from the post office. ALWAYS have the following information available: Account Number for file you are disputing, Company Name , Your Name, Date of Birth, Address , Social, Licence and a letter of explanation of what and why your are disputing the information. Be sure to always date and sign your communications and keep copies for yourself on file. If the credit bureau makes any changes to your credit file, it will send you the results and a free, updated copy of your credit report. Once a negative item is removed from your report, the credit bureau cannot put it back on unless a creditor verifies its accuracy and completeness — and sends you written notice.
4. Solve and dissolve debt
Now’s the time to devise a spending plan that reduces your debt and sets you up to pay on time, every time.
If you’re having difficulty making payments, be proactive. Call your creditors and negotiate to keep your accounts current and from being reported as delinquent or “bad debt.” You can ask for reduced monthly payments, or even change due dates to balance out your monthly bills.
The same strategy can be used for fixed-loan payments. Remember, though, that this is a short-term strategy. You’ll pay more interest to extend the repayment schedule, but it allows you to stay current and save your credit rating. Use the extra money to pay off debts one at a time, gradually increasing payments to other debts.
CULTIVATE YOUR CREDIT SCORE!
ASK Your Lender about a Program called CreditXPert
This is a fantastic system that your lender should have access to that will analyze your report and give you the exact steps to take to improve your score for each agency and in what order to take them. This program gives you a step by step guide of which actions to take in which order to take them and then tells you exactly how many points that particular action will increase your score for each credit agency! (If you do not know of a lender who has access to this program just contact me and I will direct you to the appropriate resources) I LOVE this program and am personally using it as a guide to grow my own score to the goal rate that I would like to have for my next home purchase. You do not need to wait until you are ready to purchase to use this program. It is a wonderful planning tool for any future purchases that will help you to always get the lowest possible rate.
Deal with any collection accounts. Unpaid collections are worse than paid collections. You can negotiate a pay-off settlement that reduces your bill, plus demand that all derogatory remarks are removed from your credit report or at least reported as paid in full. Be sure to get verbal agreements in writing before sending off your payment. There are actually situations where yo come across just the right person that will be able help you remove the derogatory information from your credit report altogether once you pay off your debt. Always be calm, tell them your situation and ask for their help. Create a report with them. If you do not get help from your first phone call, keep trying! You will eventually come across the person who cares enough to want to help you and knows how to do it! Be nice, be persistent and don’t give up!
Slowly close out unneeded or unused credit accounts. Most experts recommend carrying between two and four credit cards. But, be cautious when canceling because closing accounts can negatively impact your credit score, commonly called a FICO score. FICO considers the ratio of total debts to total available credit. A good rule of thumb is to keep your revolving debt to 50 percent of your available credit. NEVER close out your oldest credit cards! If you close out a card close the new ones. The old accounts help your credit score! Remember that cutting up the card doesn’t close out the account. Here’s a step-by-step guide to smartly close out your account.
- Close out your newest accounts so that you don’t lose your longer credit history.
- Close out accounts slowly over several months.
- Verify that all accounts you’ve closed are reported as “closed by consumer” for the best report.
- Even if creditors offer to raise credit limits, allow yourself only moderate credit.
5. Add stability to your credit file
You can also work to add positive information and show stability in your credit file. You may have been denied credit because of an insufficient credit file, yet you have credit. Some creditors — such as, travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local banks and credit unions — may not report your credit history to the credit bureaus. You can try asking the credit grantors to report your account information and monthly payment history to a credit-reporting agency. Not all will do that. So, in the future, before opening a new account, ask if your on-time payments will be reported monthly to a credit-reporting agency. If you have really bad credit — perhaps even filed bankruptcy — don’t let your credit status go dormant. “The faster you begin to re-establish good credit, where you pay on time, every time,” says Craig Watts, consumer affairs manager of the Fair Isaac Corp., “the faster you’ll improve your credit score.”
Build a solid credit history. Secured credit cards offer people with no credit and those repairing their credit this opportunity. Shop around for the best deal available, but limit your applications. Credit bureaus look at how many new accounts you’ve opened, and the number of “inquiries” for new accounts that are listed. A sudden flurry of “inquiries” results in a lower score, because many times consumers anticipating money problems increase their credit lines. Inquiries made by creditors wanting to make “prescreened” credit offers are not counted. Lastly, open a savings account at your bank. This shows creditors that you are working to save and that you have reserves to repay debts.
ORDERING YOUR CREDIT REPORTS:
You can now ORDER ALL THREE MAJOR credit reports for FREE with just ONE Phone Call!
Centralized Credit Reporting: Call 877-322-8228 and follow automated instructions. You should receive your credit reports within 2-3 weeks. Then you can start your disputes! You may also follow the below link to order all three of your free reports online or by mail.
Note: If you go directly to the credit reporting agencies, you will be charged unless you fit another criteria for a free report
One more caveat: You’ll be able to order all three credit reports at one time or at different times throughout the year. It’s your choice. But, be sure to order from the centralized agency. Phone number 877-322-8228 or online at:
CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES AND OTHER HELPFUL NUMBERS & LINKS
You may order your credit reports individually from the 3 main agencies listed below. There may be a fee if you do not meet the criteria for a free report. Remember, you may order all three reports at once by calling he centralized agency listed above at 877-322-8228
Federal Trade Commission consumer response center
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-0949
Trans Union Corp.
760 W. Sproul Rd.
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
I hope this information has helped you. If you do not understand any part of this article or need further resources, have questions or hands on help, please feel free to contact me by phone or email.