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Why Pursue Credit Repair?
No matter how bad your credit is right now, the damage isn’t permanent. Credit repair allows you to fix the mistakes hurting your credit and improve your credit score.
Repairing your credit is critical to saving money on insurance, loans, and credit cards, but that’s not the only reason to repair your credit. Better credit opens up new employment opportunities, even promotions and raises with your current employer. If you dream of starting your own business or just want the security of knowing you can borrow money when you want to, you should repair your credit sooner rather than later.
Can You Repair Your Own Credit?
You’ve probably seen advertisements for credit repair on tv, radio, the internet, or even on the side of the road. The good news is that you don’t have to hire a professional to fix your credit.
You can do all the same things a credit repair company can do, so save some money and the hassle of finding a reputable company and repair your credit yourself.
Start With Your Credit Report
Before you can get started, you have to know what you need to repair. Your credit report contains all the information that’s contributing to your bad credit. This could be past due accounts, debt collections, high credit card balances, or public records. Read through your credit report to identify the negative items affecting your credit score.
Get a Free Credit Report
By law, you’re entitled to free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus each year. This yearly free credit report is available only through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also order by phone or mail if that’s more convenient.
There are a few other situations where you’re entitled to a free credit report:
- You’ve been turned down for credit because of something on your credit report in the last 60 days
- You’re currently receiving government assistance
- You’re unemployed and planning to look for a job soon
- You think you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft
- Your state’s law gives you an additional free credit report each year
These free credit reports should be ordered directly through the credit bureaus.
Paying for Your Credit Report
If you’ve already used up your free credit reports for this year, you can order your credit reports directly from the credit bureaus or myFICO.com for a fee. The bureaus all offer a three-in-one credit report that lists all three of your credit reports side-by-side. The three-in-one credit report costs more than a single credit report, but less than the combined price of purchasing your individual credit reports.
Why Order All Three Credit Reports?
Some of your creditors and lenders might report only to one of the credit bureaus. And, since credit bureaus don’t typically share information, it’s possible to have different information on each of your reports. Ordering all three reports will give you a complete view of your credit history and allow you to repair your credit at all three bureaus instead of just one.
Review Your Credit Reports for Errors
Read your credit reports thoroughly, checking for things that may be inaccurate. It may be a lot to digest, especially if you’re checking your credit report for the first time. Take your time and review your credit report over several days if you need to.
Reading Your Credit Report
Become familiar with the information in each of your credit reports. Regardless of where you’ve ordered your credit reports, they’ll all contain:
- Your personal identifying information
- Detailed history for each of your accounts
- Public records like bankruptcy and tax liens
- Inquiries from companies who have pulled your credit report
Deciding What Needs Repair
Here are the types of information you’ll need to repair:
- Incorrect information, including accounts that aren’t yours, payments that have been incorrectly reported late, etc.
- Past due accounts that are late, charged off, or have been sent to collections.
- Maxed out accounts that are over the credit limit.
Highlight or underline each type of information in different colors to help you make a credit repair plan.
You’ll take a different approach for each type of information. Highlighting in different colors save time re-reading your credit report each time you’re ready to make a payment, call a creditor, or send a letter.
Dispute Credit Report Errors
You have the right to an accurate credit report. You can dispute any information in your credit report that’s inaccurate, incomplete, or you believe can’t be verified. When you order your credit report, you’ll receive instructions on how to dispute credit report information. Credit reports ordered online typically come with instructions for making disputes online, but you can also make disputes over the phone and through the mail.