You can repair your credit information if you have the know-how and the tenacity. Often, it involves calling your lenders, creditors and collection agencies to barter and negotiate with them. You may have to send them a letter or hassle them every single month until an item is removed, but you can often get lesser items off your report. |
Things like charge-offs, collections accounts, settlements and late payments can all be negotiated. Sometimes, people hire a credit counselor or debt relief company to manage these negotiations for them. If you have a bankruptcy, foreclosure, lien or judgment against you, then this negative credit information will be on your account for 7-10 years without much you can do. But for the rest, you may want to micromanage a little to see what you can get.
Sometimes, you may look at your free credit scores and credit information only to find it rife with errors. First, get your free credit scores online from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at "Annual Credit Report", then print them out and highlight any negative information. Circle disputed records.
Check the expiration dates of the records. Bankruptcy filing records should have expired 10 years after the first filing date, charge-offs should be gone within 7 years, collection records should expire within 7 years and 180 days after the last late payment, closed accounts should be removed in 7 years, foreclosure records last for 7 years, inquiries will remain on your credit report for 1-2 years but will not hurt your overall score, judgments/court decisions will remain for 7 years after the filing date, late payments of more than 30 days remain for 7 years, repossession records persist for 7 years and tax liens can remain indefinitely, if unpaid, or else 7 years from the paid date.
To file a dispute about your credit information, you can write a dispute letter to each of the three major credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. On the letter, include the date, your name, address, phone number and social security number. Just write "The following data is incorrect and should be updated," then list each inaccuracy, explaining why it's wrong and what it should be updated with.
Attach a marked copy of your credit score report and include any communication, account records or statements that can help verify your version of the truth. Mail is the best way to dispute with Equifax and TransUnion, while Experian only allows online disputes. The credit bureaus then have 30 days to investigate and repair your credit info.
Once it's finished, they will send you a letter including what was or was not updated. If you're not satisfied with the results, then you can try to resubmit with different documentation or go directly to the creditor to resolve.
There's no tool greater than credit information. If you've suffered poor credit scores in the past, then you can still rebound from a foreclosure or collection account by paying regular bills in full and on-time. The best way to stay ahead is to bring in more income, see where your spending problems lie and save sufficiently.
"What works" in this department varies for each person. Some need to put the money out of sight, out of mind, while others can manage it in their checking account. Whether it was a one-time "oops" or a pattern of "I didn't know," seeking credit info is the first step toward financial recovery.
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