Credit Repair: 10 Simple Steps for Quick Credit Repair

by : David Kamau

We live in a credit-driven economy, where bad credit can cause life to be miserable. After all, you can hardly get a good apartment - you let alone a mortgage, without good credit. This article offers simple steps towards quick credit repair and some common mistakes to avoid.

Just how quick is "quick"? Well, no two situations are alike, so it simply means as fast as possible relative to your individual situation. Some people have been known fix their credit in thirty days or less.

It all depends on how much damage has been done and for how long, as well as other aspects such as your present financial situation, personal efforts, and plain guts. But the good thing is; there's hope.

Now here are the steps you can take to begin credit restoration and remove negative items:

(1) Before anything else, determine to start paying your bills on time. This is the most important step in credit scoring process, accounting 35 per cent of your score. It can make or break all your other credit repair efforts. One missed payment could your score lose as much as 100 points. Do whatever it takes to keep your open accounts paid on time.

(2) Know what is on your credit report: Start by obtaining your credit reports from all the major credit reporting bureaus. Most "experts" recommend getting your free annual reports. Unless you're dead-broke, don't. Why? Free reports are tied to a technicality that increases time for reinvestigation, in case of a dispute, from thirty days to forty five. Don't allow the bureaus or creditors this indulgence.

(3) You also need to know what your credit score is. You see, raising your score can open up some closed doors, and speed up the repair process. The most important score at present time is the FICO score because it is the most widely used. You can only get a true FICO score from either Fair Isaac Corporation or Equifax credit bureau.

(4) Credit reports often do contain mistakes that could impede your ability to get credit. Inaccurate negative information is generally easier to remove than accurate. Check for mistakes in accounts, types of credit, names, addresses, and other personal information. Also check for duplicated accounts that may have different account numbers (some debt collectors have been known to use such dirty tactics).

(5) Report any inaccuracies to the bureaus in writing. If you suspect that the error(s) emanate from a furnisher (creditor), contact that furnisher with the information. Furnishers are usually quicker in correcting errors as they have reputations to keep and don't want law-suits on their rear ends. Collectors are a whole different story. If you have documents to support your claims the better: enclose copies.

(6) Cut down your balances. Your credit cards and other "revolving debt" should not exceed 30 per cent of your limit. 30 per cent of your score is based on this. Once your creditor(s) report your new lower balance(s) you could see an almost instant increase your credit score.

(7) Perhaps the best way, bar none, to repair your credit is to negotiate with creditors and debt collectors. This is where guts come in. Creditors and collectors are the only parties, apart from the bureaus, that can legally remove negative items from your report. Some knowledge about your rights comes in handy, so as both parties may need to flex some muscle. Unfortunately this subject is far beyond the scope of this article.

(8) Disputing credit bureau entries is one tactic credit repair services often use. The assumption is that some creditors will find old debts not worth verifying. However, this can be a double-edged sword: it can reinvigorate collection efforts since by disputing you technically acknowledge awareness of the debts, and also because the debts could come back to haunt once verified. Also, bureaus are aware of this tactic and will often dismiss disputes as "frivolous".

(9) A mistake to avoid if you decide to take the credit bureau dispute route is using canned dispute letters lifted off of the Internet. This is a give-away that your claim may not be legitimate, which could cause your claim to be dismissed. Write in your own words. Also, avoid technical terms like "revolving accounts" and "trade lines".

(10) Don't dispute or close any open accounts, even with some blemishes. Open accounts help build credit history. Unless the accounts cause you excessive stress managing them, keep them open and paid on time. With time, these accounts will help farther raise your score.