Decide Areas That Need Repair
Be on the look-out for possible errors you may see on your credit report:
- Incorrect information
- Accounts listed on your report that is not yours
- Payments with incorrect or late payment dates
- Past due accounts that are late and charged off
- Accounts sent to collection agencies
- Maxed accounts that are over the credit limit
This will help you identify the documents you will need to file a dispute on your credit report.
Why You Cant Afford To Wait For Negative Information To Drop Off Your Credit Report
Be clear that delinquencies have staying power.
Consider these time lengths that credit laws allow for negative items to remain on your credit report. These years can be like prison sentences, so understand them clearly.
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy: 10 years
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy: seven years
- Collection accounts: seven years after the first delinquency
- Late payments: seven years from the first late payment, even if youve caught up and the account is current or closed
- Unpaid tax liens: 10 years
- Paid tax liens: seven years
Mistake #16: Filing For Bankruptcy
Some people think they need a fresh start and decide to ârepairâ their credit by filing for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, bankruptcy will not improve your credit rating, it will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, and even when itâs gone, many lenders will ask if youâve ever filed for bankruptcy as part of the loan application process and use that as a reason for not approving a loan.
Also Check: How To Remove From Credit Report
Two Popular Debt Repayment Methods
Consider tackling your debts via tried-and-true repayment methods like the debt avalanche or the debt snowball.
The debt avalanche involves paying off debts starting with the highest-interest accounts first. This approach can reduce the amount of interest you pay over time.
With the debt snowball, you pay off debts starting with your smallest balances first. This approach creates a series of small successes that could provide valuable motivation to tackle your more intimidating debts. Paying off small individual debts may also improve your credit scores faster.
Managing a bunch of debts at once can be tough, especially if one or several of them have high interest rates.
Debt consolidation involves taking out a loan to pay off several debts in one shot, leaving you with a single bill to pay in their place . Ideally, your new loan should have a much lower interest rate than what youd get with most credit cards.
Consolidating credit card debts this way could also boost your credit scores since the balance of an installment loan wont impact your credit the same way a revolving account balance will. The impact to your credit scores, however, also depends on your ability to make the loan payments on time each month.
Negotiate With Lenders
How Long Does It Take To Fix Errors On A Credit Report
Once you submit your dispute, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows the credit bureau 30 days to complete the dispute process. The agency will forward your dispute to the creditor and, ideally, the creditor will verify that the agency should remove the error from your report.
Once the creditor responds , the credit bureau will notify you of the results of the dispute. In the meantime, if you filed your dispute online, you can log in to the credit bureaus website to check on the status of your claim.
If a change is made to your credit report, the credit rating agency will also notify the other two major credit bureaus so any inaccurate information can be updated on those reports as well. If all goes well, you should see an improvement to your score right away.
Thats the ideal scenario. However, things dont always work out so well. If there is a lot of back and forth between you, the credit bureau and your creditor, the process can take 90 days or more.
In a follow-up study to their 2012 report, the FTC revisited 121 consumers who had filed disputes with credit reporting agencies that were unresolved at the end of their initial study. One year later, the study found that:
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Dispute With The Business That Reported To The Credit Bureau
Now, you can completely bypass the credit bureau and dispute directly with the business that reported the error to the credit bureau, e.g., the credit card issuer,;bank, or debt collector. You can make the dispute in writing, and the business is required to do an investigation just like the credit bureau.
When the business determines that theres indeed an error on your credit report, they must notify all the credit bureaus of that error so your credit reports can be corrected.
Dispute Errors In Your Report
Once youve found mistakes on your credit report, its time to challenge the errors. Luckily, the bureaus are obligated legally to try and resolve mistakes. You can request a correction online or by mail or phone.
Report your errors directly to the credit bureau where you received your report. Youll need to provide documentation, such as proof of your identity, the erroneous account information and any documentation that proves the error is false, such as court documents or credit card closing statements.
File your free dispute with:
You should also contact the lender or creditor that issued the account to let them know of your challenge and the inaccuracy. Oftentimes the lender can correct the information on their end, which should update all of the three main credit reports. In most cases, you should hear a response to your dispute within 30 to 45 days.
For help with disputing inaccurate items on your credit report, contact us or .
Read Also: Which Credit Score Matters The Most
Increase Your Credit Limits
Youll also want to consider your credit utilization ratiomeaning, how much you owe on all of your accounts compared with your total available credit.
For example, if you owe $5,000 on all of your credit cards, and you have $20,000 of combined available credit, your credit utilization ratio is 25 percent. Experts often recommend aiming for a credit utilization threshold of 10 percent, although having a ratio of up to 30 percent usually doesnt impact your credit score. Once your ratio is above 30 percent, it begins to negatively impact your credit standing. By increasing your credit limits, your credit utilization ratio decreases.
Send A Request For Goodwill Deletion
Like pay-for-delete, writing a goodwill letter seems like a long shot, but its an option for borrowers who want to exhaust every possible alternative. Write to the creditor and ask for a Goodwill Deletion. If you have taken appropriate steps to pay down your debts and have become a more responsible borrower, you might be able to convince the creditor to remove your mistake.
There is no guarantee that your plea will get a response, but it does get results for some. This strategy is most successful for one-off problems, such as a single missing payment, but it may be futile for borrowers with a history of missed payments and credit mismanagement.
When writing the letter:
- Assume responsibility for the issue that caused the account to be reported to begin with
- Explain why the account was not paid
- If you can, point out good payment history before the incident
You Can Do It Yourself For Free Or Pay A Credit Repair Company For Help
Chip Stapleton is a Series 7 and Series 66 license holder, CFA Level 1 exam holder, and currently holds a Life, Accident, and Health License in Indiana. He has 8 years experience in finance, from financial planning and wealth management to corporate finance and FP&A.
Repairing your credit doesn’t cost anything if you do it yourself. If you hire a credit repair company to assist you, however, you’ll have to pay fees, which can range widely.
How Credit Repair Agencies Work
Each credit repair company has its own way of doing things, but most of them follow a four-step process:
- Free Consultation. The credit repair company will walk you through the process, pull your credit reports from all three bureaus and determine if youd be a good candidate for credit repair.
- Limited power of attorney and written consent. The companys representatives will inform you if they find mistakes in your file, and send you a written contract giving them limited power of attorney, that is, the legal right to act on your behalf.
- Challenge items. With your legal consent, the company goes on to dispute inaccuracies with your creditors and the major credit bureaus. Once theyre notified, must then investigate within 30 days of receiving a dispute. Once they confirm them as errors, theyll remove them from your credit profile.
- Progress reports. A good credit repair company will track the disputes progress and update you on the status of each disputed item. They will usually send progress reports along with an updated copy of your credit report so you can review the changes.
Is your credit score hurting your chances of getting approved?
Mistakes on your credit report could be costing you more than you think by lowering your credit score. Find out ways to improve your credit today!
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Consult With A Professional
There are many independent credit repair agencies in Canada. These agencies use the aforementioned techniques along with a deep knowledge of the Canadian credit system to help you remove negative items from your credit score.
However, the buyer should beware there is no guarantee that your credit repair agency will succeed in removing negative items.
If you dont know where to start when rebuilding your credit, it can be a good idea to partner with a credit agency, but make sure you do your research, and pick a Canadian credit repair agency with a history of good outcomes and great customer feedback.
Review Your Credit Report
Review every credit reporting agencys credit report in detail. Each report has the following sections: Credit Summary, Accounts , Inquiries and Negative Information. Reviewing each section can help you understand the source of a poor credit score, and if your report contains errors.
When you review your credit report, you will need to visit each section of your credit report, and keep notes about erroneous information. Remember, there are three bureaus, so you need to repeat this process for all three reports.
The next section details what you should should note.
Keep Your Credit Utilization Ratio Below 30%
Your is measured by comparing your credit card balances to your overall credit card limit. Lenders use this ratio to evaluate how well you manage your finances. A ratio of less than 30% and greater than 0% is generally considered good.
For example, lets say you have two cards with individual credit limits of $2,000 and $500 of unpaid balances on one card. Your credit utilization ratio would be 12.5%. In this case, total your debt owed and then divide that by your total credit limit .
What To Know Before You Pay For A Credit Repair Company
It can take from three months to a year to see an improvement in your .
Not all negative information can be removed
Late or missed payments, hard inquiries, charge-offs, and debt collections can only be removed if the information is inaccurate or outdated. For steps on how to deal with negative items that cannot be removed, read our guide on how to repair bad credit.
You have to do some of the legworkYou still have to provide credit repair agencies with information about your accounts.
Most companies have setup feesMost credit repair companies charge an initial fee that can range anywhere between $15 to $200. This fee is used to set up your account, which may involve gathering your personal and financial information and creating a strategy plan for your particular credit situation.
Legitimate credit repair companies should include a copy of the Consumer Credit File RightsUnder the Credit Repair Organizations Act , credit repair companies must give you a written contract outlining their services before receiving any payment from you. The agencies must also give you a copy of the Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law, a document that is meant to inform you of your right to order credit reports and dispute inaccurate information yourself.
These companies can only charge you for services they have actually fulfilled, though they may charge a first work fee upfront.
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Become An Authorized User On Someones Credit Card
An is someone added to an existing credit card account under someone else’s name.
The financial risks here are mostly for the cardholder, not the authorized user. But as someone trying to build credit, Lynch says you do have to ask some uncomfortable questions before sealing the deal, like inquiring about the persons payment habits to determine whether this is the right move for you.
Mistake #15: Hiring A Shady Credit Repair Company
Some people donât feel they have the time or expertise to do their own credit repair. For those people, hiring a credit repair company can be beneficial and convenient although the convenience comes at a price. According to Credit Karma, the cost of professional credit repair services could include a flat fee or âper deletionâ charge of $35 or more. The total cost could go up to $750 or more. Some companies charge a monthly fee ranging from $50 to $130 or more. Only you can decide if the cost of paying someone else to repair your credit is worth it. Itâs worth noting that credit repair companies, in general, donât have a great reputation, so review your rights above and as spelled out in the CROA.
Mistake #8: Sending Uncertified Mail
Any paperwork you send to a credit agency, collection agency, or creditor, should be sent certified mail with the return receipt requested. This provides you with the documentation mentioned above as well as proof the agency received your letter. The same âproofâ rule applies to any communication to you from any of the above entities. Do not verbally agree to anything unless it is also in writing. That way you will know what the agency has agreed to and, more importantly, will have written proof.
All communication should be in writing; you shouldn’t verbally agree to anything unless it is also in writing.
Figure Out Where You Stand
Before you begin do-it-yourself credit repair, youll want to get copies of your full credit reports from all three bureaus .
You can get your reports truly free, once a year, at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Other websites may claim to offer free reports, but the Federal Trade Commission warns that these offers are often deceptive.
You can also try free credit score tracking apps; or to get a sense of where you stand.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850. A score of between;700 and 740, depending on the scoring method used, is considered good credit and usually;enough to qualify you for the best credit cards and lowest mortgage rates.
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The Credit Repair Organizations Act
The makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you, and to charge you before they’ve performed their services. The CROA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and requires credit repair companies to explain:
- your legal rights in a written contract that also details the services they’ll perform
- your three day right to cancel without any charge
- how long it will take to get results
- the total cost you will pay
- any guarantees
What if a credit repair company you hired doesn’t live up to its promises? You have some options. You can:
- sue them in federal court for your actual losses or for what you paid them, whichever is more
- seek punitive damages money to punish the company for violating the law
- join other people in a class action lawsuit against the company, and if you win, the company has to pay your attorney’s fees
Request A Credit Limit Increase On Credit Cards
If you cant afford to pay off the extra debt to decrease your credit utilization, you still have a chance for improvements. Call one or more of your credit card issuers and request a credit limit increase on your credit card.
You dont want to actually charge any more than you already owe. Instead, you simply want to have a higher credit limit so that your existing credit card balance consists of a smaller percentage of your available credit.
Heres an example. Say you owe $5,000 on a credit card with a $10,000 limit. Youd be utilizing 50% of your credit. But if you got your limit up to $15,000, then your $5,000 balance would only be utilizing 33% of your limit.
When making the call to your creditor, it helps if youve submitted regular on-time payments throughout your history with them. More than likely, theyll value customer loyalty enough to help your credit line.
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How To Choose The Right Credit Repair Company
Check for Credit Repair Organizations Act compliance
CROA establishes clear directives that legitimate credit repair companies should follow, and its important to ensure the company you choose is compliant in every step of the process.
Companies must provide a written contract explaining in detail the services they will provide, how long it will take for them to get results, any guarantees they offer and the total credit repair cost for their services.
You have the right to walk away without penalty within three days of signing the contract if it does not satisfy your requirements.
Read customer reviews
These websites are helpful, but we recommend complementing what you read with further research after all, most people post reviews when theyre unhappy with a service, not when theyre satisfied.
Having said that, if you read multiple reviews alleging similar types of issues, you should certainly consider it a red flag.
In our search for the best credit repair companies, we focused on those that received mostly positive consumer feedback across multiple review websites.
Check the Regulatory Agencies
The credit repair industry is tightly regulated and must abide by the provisions of multiple consumer protection laws.
When searching for the right credit repair company, its a good idea to check the CFPB complaint database and check how many complaints if any have been filed against the company youre considering.
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