You’d never noticed them before you started having credit problems, but now it’s like ads for credit repair companies are everywhere you look. What’s more, some of them sound really good too; promising as they do to help you strengthen your credit history in no time at all.
Well, the fact of the matter is, those companies aren’t going to do anything you cannot do yourself — well, except charge you to do what you’re capable of doing on your own for free.
Of course, with that said, while cleaning up your credit report on your own is doable, it is a time-consuming process, so you’ll need to be ready to be patient.
Here’s what else you’ll need to do.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports from each of the big three credit monitoring agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once each year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request yours. It’s important to get all three, because they can sometimes have different information. Errors on one might not appear on the others, so you need to be thorough.
Look for Discrepancies and Unfamiliar Accounts
A percentage of American consumers have bad information on their credit reports. This drags down their credit scores, making it difficult to get loans at reasonable rates of interest. Low scores can also impact your ability to get apartments, utilities, insurance and even employment.
Review each of your three reports carefully. If you find bad information, such as debts you’ve cleared still listed as outstanding, accounts you didn’t open, or anything else, contact the reporting agency. Let them know they have an error on your report and ask to have it removed. You should also get in touch with the entity filing the entry and tell them you’d like it removed.
Be prepared to show proof to substantiate your assertions.
The best way to proceed is to make a list of all of the items in need of correction, do what you can to gather supporting documentation and include copies of that evidence with your requests for corrections.
Problems Owing to a Poor Credit History
Past-due accounts, high- and over-limit balances, unpaid judgments, loan defaults, bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens and judgments diminish your score as well.
Some of these items, like bankruptcies and judgments, will have to just time out. Bankruptcy falls off your record after about 10 years. Unpaid judgments will be sealed after seven years or after their statutes of limitation run out. Making agreements to pay all of the others will give your score a bump when you’ve followed through on those arrangements.
If you’re behind and struggling to come up with minimum payments on unsecured debts, availing yourself of the services of a company like Freedom Debt Relief may help you work toward settling your accounts. It’s important to note this won’t improve your credit score directly. However, you’ll be in a better position to rebuild your reputation with lenders in the future if you’re able to clear those debts.
Be careful to avoid letting debt take over again once you get these items corrected and under control. Too many people work so hard to improve their credit histories only to later dig the same holes for themselves.
Pay cash whenever possible, avoid charging things for which you’ll need more than 30 days to pay off. Pay close attention to your credit reports to head off errors and fraudulent behavior as early as possible. Sticking to these principles will all but eliminate the need for cleaning up your credit report on your own.
Instead, you’ll keep it clean before it gets soiled.