Little Known Secrets About How To Fix Your Credit
Are you tired of paying high interest rates or worse, being denied credit when you apply? If so, keep reading. I’m about to tell you how to raise your credit score to levels you never thought possible.
It may take some time (3 to 6 months), but if you follow these steps you’ll know more than 99 percent of consumers and you’ll likely raise your score 100 points or more.
Step 1: Pull Your Credit Report and Get Your Credit Score
Legally, you can pull your credit once a year from each credit bureau at no cost. I use annaulacreditreport.com. There are three credit bureaus (or credit-reporting agencies) – Experian, Equifax and Transunion. You go onto the site and fill in some basic info – you’ll need your Social Security Number – and have to answer a few questions to verify your credit accounts to get your report electronically.
When you access the reports you’ll also be given an option to see your credit score. This usually costs less than $10, but is more than worth. If you’re serious about raising your score you need to know what it is.
Step 2: Review Each Report and Highlight All Your Bad Accounts
Credit reports can be a bit confusing if you’ve never reviewed one before. First, you’ll go to a credit summary page, which will overview your credit profile. Typically your debt is broken down into four categories: mortgage (home loan), installment (usually loans like auto loans, which you pay monthly for a certain period of time), revolving (credit cards) and other.
You can see your total number of accounts for each category, your balance, available credit (how much you’ve paid the loan down or how much of your credit limit is left on your credit cards), your credit limit, debt to credit ratio and monthly payment. You’ll also see a column that tells you how many of the existing accounts have balances.
Print out each report and highlight all of the negative items you want to fix. This includes any accounts that are negative, collection accounts, and any public records (includes judgments, tax liens, bankruptcy, etc.). Also, mark those that are okay now, but have any late payments on them.
Seven-Year Reporting Period
Here’s some good news. You can have any bad account that has been reported for more than seven years legally removed from your account. (10 years for bankruptcy). This usually happens automatically, but if you find any tell the creditor to remove it.
Every state has its own time period for when a debt can be collected. It’s called the statue of limitations for debts and you can find it by doing a quick online search. If your debt “falls off” your report it does not mean you don’t have to pay it. Your state’s law determines that.
Step 3: List Your Debts In An Organized Way
You can do this with a pen and paper or a spreadsheet, whichever you prefer. Here are the four things you want to identify.
- The credit bureau: Experian, Equifax, or Transunion
- All debts on that report: Not every report will list the same debts
- Original creditors or collection agency: Some accounts may show up multiple times if they’ve gone into collections.
- Fall off dates: This is seven years from the date the account first went negative or you made a late payment.
Step 4: Organize Your Bad Accounts By Fall Off Dates
Some credit reports or accounts may show this date, while others will make you figure it out. To do so, just find the date the account first went delinquent and add seven years to it. If you have a bankruptcy, add 10 years to the date it was discharged.
Step 5: Write Letters To Your Creditors (Instead of Disputing Online)
All of the credit bureaus offer an online disputing process, but here’s why you don’t want to use it. I’ll spare you all the boring details and get right to the point. The process is automated and doesn’t go through a real person. The automated system merely sorts the disputes by predefined categories. If your debt fits into one of the categories it’s “verified” with little or no real research. Sometimes this involves little more than confirming contact information.
What you want is not for the debt to be verified, but validated and this puts the burden of proving the debt onto the creditor. The creditor has to provide proof that you actually signed paperwork and entered into a relationship with them.
So you need to make all the creditors who have dinged your credit report validate the debt by providing written proof of it. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can request the removal of the item if the creditor or debt collector does not provide proof within 30 days.
Step 6: Negotiate With Those Who Validate
Some creditors may validate your debt. If they do, it’s time to negotiate. But, make sure you get any agreements in writing. Start with the accounts that are going to stay on your report the longest. These are your most recent debts and will affect your credit the most.
If you have the money, offer to pay 10 percent of the debt if they agree to remove the account from your credit report. You may have to offer more, but it’s realistic to get it removed for less than 50 percent of the amount owed. But, remember don’t send any money or agree to anything unless you have the commitment to you in writing.