This article is about a journey I took in rebuilding my credit; what I learned having went through it and since then. If you are going through this, or need to, you will want to read further so you can learn the credit secrets that I did.
One of the first things you want to do is to look at a detailed record of your credit report from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, the top three reporting bureaus. That way you can see what’s all being reported.
Credit Secrets #1
The best way to do this is by going to annualcreditreport.com. This site is authorized by federal law to allow anyone the right to download their reports once a year for free. I might be a little old fashioned, but I printed mine out. It took some paper and ink, but I was able to spread it out and really go through it. If you like the screen a little bit more than paper, then critiquing it from the desktop, tablet or phone is fine.
What are you actually looking for?
Look for any companies that you still owe, or they say you still owe, but have not made a payment to them for seven years. Whether you just quit paying, your account was sent to a collection agency, or for any other reason the payments to them stopped. Write these companies down and the credit bureau that is reporting it.
Look for any clear mistakes, like a company you never heard of, an account that is not yours or negative comments that doesn’t make sense. Write this information down along with the reporting credit bureau. Also check for inquiries. This is companies checking your credit to get approval for giving a service, products, credit or extending credit. This doesn’t heavily impact your credit score, but if it’s wrong, getting it taken off your report can give you a few points back.
Take this information that you have written down and contact each credit bureau necessary and make a dispute. You can do this in a couple of different ways. One way is to mail in disputes, which is pretty well outdated, but still an option. The other way is to visit their websites, make a free account on each and submit a dispute. The other way is by phone.
Credit Secrets #2
What I did was a combination of two. I disputed online and after I did, I called on the phone and confirmed they received the disputes. I made sure to get the name of the one who helped me and noted the date I called. See, these companies and creditors have 30 days to gather and present information that you, in fact, owe what is said on your credit report. If they don’t the credit reporting bureaus must take it off your credit report.
The 31st day I called back and asked if the creditors involved in my dispute came forward, and they had not. So, the negative items were removed from my credit report and I was able to download another copy of my credit report from each bureau after the changes were made. A copy of your credit report is complementary after changes has been made from your disputes.
Credit Secrets #3
Do not pay or even acknowledge a collector who has bought your account from the original owner. You can pay them and the original owner of the debt can come back and have legal right to pursue you for the debt. Now if it has been over seven years they can’t put it on your credit history. But there is something they can try and do. Read on.
Credit Secrets #4
If the original creditor or any creditor reaches out to you about an old bill in any way and you respond back by confirming you owe the bill and make payment arrangements, even if it’s to get them off your back, the seven years start all over and they can now legally put this on your credit report. This can really be aggravating, especially if the bill is five years old. Now it starts over.
Continuing from your credit report
Once you’ve submitted your disputes, go back to your credit report. Now you’re going to look for negative accounts that are within the seven years that you do owe. Write them down along with what you owe them.
Here, you are going to have to ask yourself something, and this question should be asked for every account that you just wrote down. Should I wait for the seven years or settle with them now?
Since I needed my credit report as good as it could be as quickly as possible I decided to try and settle, which worked great. I contacted my creditors with the phone numbers and account numbers I had gotten from my credit report.
This is the deal we made. We settled on an amount I was willing to pay to settle my debt, the deal included the removal of my account from the credit bureaus. The reason I asked for the removal is because a negative account showing settled is still a negative account.
I told them when I received a letter from them stating they agreed to this, I would send them the money. It worked with every one of them. And they did exactly as they said they would, removing that account from my credit report. I did take a chance they would say no and restart the seven year countdown, but it was a chance I was willing to take. So, ask yourself is it worth it?
Credit Secrets #5
If someone close to you passes away and a bill collector or even the hospital comes a calling don’t acknowledge the bill. Don’t even answer the phone for them or respond through email or regular mail.
If you live in California, your name is on the bill also or you had made prior arrangements for the bill then it becomes yours, but if this don’t apply to you, then it is not your bill. Once you acknowledge the bill, it legally becomes yours.
After all this work now it’s time to start monitoring your credit. I would begin with making a free account on Credit Karma. You can sign up by clicking on the image below.
Hopefully you will get some negative accounts off your credit, but how many accounts you have also effects your credit score. So, while you’ll be losing some, you may want to add some accounts that will be in good standing. Below is a credit card with a $1,000 limit and comes with 24/7 roadside assistance. By putting a little on it each month and paying it off your credit will rise.
This is a card especially for this purpose. You will be able to buy brand name goods at their online store and build your credit. I had to do the same thing and it helps. Don’t do this if you think you might limit the card out and not be able to pay the monthly bill. Even though the monthly bill is low, if you miss a payment you won’t be doing your credit any good.
Remember to pay your bills on time and call the credit bureaus back in 31 days and see who hasn’t responded to your disputes, if the results are not showing up online. This beginning could greatly increase your credit score.
Now sit back, it’s going to take some time, but you will see your credit score increase almost every month. I believe my credit score initially, after contacting the bureaus, went up by 70 points and was steadily going up a couple of points every month.
If you can’t or don’t want to repair your credit yourself, and I do understand, their are credit repair companies that can help. Below I will give you a credit repair company who has had a lot success helping their clients rebuild their credit.
I hope you have found some useful information from my credit journey and I wish you success in yours. To learn more about your credit score and how you can build on it I have another article I believe you will like 668 Credit Score: Is It Good Enough.