You already know how significant your credit score is and how it impacts many aspects of your life. As a result, it makes sense to work to improve your credit rating. If your credit score has suffered, you can improve the situation with the help of credit repair. Credit repair tactics are tried and tested and proven to be successful.
Before I explore the required steps, it is important to note that you can employ all of these tactics yourself, or you can hire a reputable company that specializes in credit repair. If you choose to hire a company, make sure they are experienced and have a long track record of success. At present, the most experienced company proved to be reliable over the years, and one that charges very low fees is Lexington Law; I highly recommend them.
Getting Credit Report & Credit Scores
In order to have an effective plan you must know your current situation. That way you know where you stand, and you can put your effort into the items that need to be fixed. For assessing your current situation, credit wise, you have to get a hold of an up-to-date credit report and credit score from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus and you can get these reports online at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports will not contain your scores, though; you’ll need to pay a small fee to see your scores. If you plan to hire a credit restoration company, part of the setup fee is to purchase the credit scores.
Reviewing the Credit Report
When you review your credit reports, you attempt to find errors and identify fraudulent accounts. First, make sure that your personal information is accurate. Then, look at the accounts on the report and verify that you recognize them all as yours. Also, look for duplicate accounts.
Check the negative items on your credit history. Negative items can appear only for a certain period (with few exceptions) and should drop off once the prescribed period has passed., Verify that the negative items are accurate and determine if their dates are old enough to drop off from your report. As a general rule, the older a negative item is, the less of an impact it has on your score. Some of the negative marks that you are looking for and their reporting durations include:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcies will stay 10 years.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcies will stay 7 years.
- Late payment will stay 7 years.
- Collections will stay 7 years.
- Foreclosures will stay 7 years.
- Judgments will stay until the statue of limitations runs out or for 7 years, whichever period is longer.
- Charge Offs will stay 7 years, counted from the last delinquency date.
- Tax liens will remain on the report until paid plus 7 years. There is a way to shorten it by paying in full or getting into a payment program and filling a withdrawal form (IRS form 12277).
Every time you find an item on your report that is either inaccurate or that you are unsure of its accuracy, add it to a list for further investigation. Your investigation list is the foundation of the repair and clean up process.
Disputing Credit Report Errors
The law is on your side and allows you to request an investigation on any questionable item on your credit history report. It is important to note that no one can delete an accurate negative item from the report. However, if you feel an item is inaccurate, you are entitled by law to challenge it. You can also challenge questionable items, such as the date of the removal of an item, or items that you feel are incomplete.
When you challenge a bureau with a dispute letter on a questionable item, it is required BY LAW to investigate your case in a timely manner. If the bureaus cannot VERIFY the accuracy of that item within a limited time frame, they must delete it from your report.
Experienced professionals know the little nuances that make their practices very effective in the way they have negative items removed from their clients’ credit reports. Not all credit repair firms are equal. In an industry where the clients are already stressed, some companies will take advantage of the situation.
Maintaining and Building Positive Records
Going forward, your best defense is to make a point to build and maintain a positive credit history. The most important thing you can do is make ALL of your bill payments on time. Otherwise you’ll keep damaging your credit standing and your scores will get lower and lower. In order not to miss any payment, consider setting these bills up to be paid automatically, either through a credit card or a bank account. This will help you avoid negative items and will show that you are creditworthy.
Keeping Low Debt-To-Credit-Limit Ratio
The debt to credit limit ratio has a significant impact on your credit score. The relevant debt for this ratio is the short term one. This ratio represents the amount of credit that you actually use out of the total credit that you are entitled to. In order not to damage your score, you don’t want to max-out your credit limit. You should aim for keeping your debt to credit ratio under 40% in order to maintain and increase your credit score.
Manage your Credit Cards in a Responsible Manner
A closed credit card account will show up on your report. In addition, the longer your history, the better. When you close a card you actually decrease your average account age. Also it is not wise to open new accounts in a short period; open a new credit card only if you need to. By closing a card, even if it is not in use, you reduce the amount of credit you are allowed. You hurt your debt to credit ratio, as well as appear to have a shorter credit history. There are benefits in keeping cards open even if you don’t use them, so think carefully before closing one.
I know all of this can be a little overwhelming, but the fact that you are reading this indicates that you have already started your journey. Most people go through a four stages process:
- Acknowledging of having a poor score
- Asking how to fix my credit
- Seeking for answers
- Taking action
Raising your FICO score is possible and achievable! It requires consistency and requires you to take the right steps. If you are willing to put the effort in learning the exact details of the steps mentioned above, you’ll see a significant improvement on your credit score. If you prefer to hire assistance then I strongly recommend Lexington Law.
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You may want to read our Lexington Law review to understand a bit more about the process of working with them.