How Can I Repair My Credit?
Three Steps to Repair Your Credit
People often think they need to hire a company to fix their credit. But you can do a lot yourself for free. First, learn about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
. It was created in 1978 to educate consumers on their rights regarding debt collection, creditors, and credit bureaus.
Follow these steps to learn how to spot negative credit entries, like late payments and delinquent loans. And learn how to have the best chance of getting them deleted from your credit history.
Step 1: Get Your Free Credit Report
If you haven't already, you can get a free credit report from each credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) once every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com
. Simply fill in your information and answer a few security questions to verify your identity. Then, you can either download your free credit report or ask for a hard copy in the mail. If you prefer, you can call 1-877-322-8228.
Step 2: Review Each Credit Report Carefully
Your credit reports may not match exactly. Some creditors and lenders only report to one or two credit bureaus. And even if they report to all three, one credit bureau may make a mistake. So, check each report carefully instead of assuming the information is the same:
- Personal Information
Check your personal information and make sure no one else is listed on your credit reports. Then, look at all your account information on each page.
Look through your entire credit history for anything that looks wrong, especially if there's a late payment. Make sure you recognize all the lines of credit on your reports. If you see anything unfamiliar, you'll want to make sure someone hasn't stolen your identity.
- Collections & Public Records
The next step is to check the negative records sections on each of the reports. Any listings there will damage your credit score the most. So if you see anything, you can try to get it removed. This includes late payments, bankruptcies, or public records.
Step 3: File Disputes and Ask to Have Negative Info Removed
Depending on your situation, you can dispute and get removed any inaccurate, misleading, or unfair items on your credit reports. Their removal can positively impact your credit score.
You'll write a letter asking the credit bureau to remove the negative information from your report. Make a copy of the letter for yourself and send the original by certified mail. They have 45 days to respond. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even has a sample letter you can use
Many people don't realize this is an option, but it's often successful. Plus, it's easy and cheap. You'll just have to pay for the postage. It's much better than waiting for negative information to disappear from your reports on its own.
Need More Credit Repair Help?
Misinformation is a big obstacle to credit repair. And you also have to watch out for credit repair scams. To get good information you can trust, here are two reputable agencies that can help:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC is in charge of protecting consumers. Their website offers great information on credit and credit repair.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The CFPB protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. Their website also has helpful information.
No one likes to have credit problems. Hopefully this brief article has given you some helpful information to use to repair your credit.