Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Your credit report contains the information used to compute your credit score. It can be obtained by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com(Opens in a new window) or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Your credit score won’t be included in the free report, but can be purchased at the same time your report is pulled for a small fee.
Understand your credit report. The report is made of of your credit history and other financial information. It's used to create your credit score, which is a number. The annual free credit reports won't give you a score, they'll just provide you the information that goes into calculating the score. This is the information you'll get with your credit report:[8]
Each account on your credit report has a rating. A letter followed by a number shows the type of account and the rating. For example, if you have an account, that is rated as an I1 that is an individual account that is paid on time. If you have an account that has a J1, that is a joint account. An I5 could mean trouble. Highlight everything that isn't a 1 and everything that is turned over to collections.
The only way to instantly fix your credit to escape even legitimate items is to create a new credit identity. These fraudulent credit repair companies will charge you exorbitant fees to help you set up a new credit profile under a different Social Security number. Then they take your money and disappear. Everything seems fine until the feds show up at your door because you committed criminally-liable identity fraud. You can actually go to jail or face serious fines for taking this bad advice.
Set a budget and stick to it. A budget is simply a plan to direct parts of your income to specific expenses. Budgets can be simple or detailed. Determine how much you can comfortably set aside for savings and how much you can reasonably afford to pay of your debts. Try to lower your fixed expenses as much as possible so you can put more money towards fixing your credit.[4]
Once you have your credit reports, read through them completely. If you have a long credit history, your credit reports might be several pages long. Try not to get overwhelmed by all the information you're reading. It's a lot to digest, especially if you're checking your credit report for the first time. Take your time and review your credit report over several days if you need to.
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The only way to instantly fix your credit to escape even legitimate items is to create a new credit identity. These fraudulent credit repair companies will charge you exorbitant fees to help you set up a new credit profile under a different Social Security number. Then they take your money and disappear. Everything seems fine until the feds show up at your door because you committed criminally-liable identity fraud. You can actually go to jail or face serious fines for taking this bad advice.

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First, the credit repair company will pull all 3 credit bureaus and look for the specific error you inquire about. They should also give you a copy to examine for complete accuracy. Next, they will dispute any incorrect items and the credit bureau will have 30 days to respond. You'll need to provide any documentation and receipts to support removal of the information. They'll follow up with the credit bureau and lender for you to make sure everything happens in a timely manner.
If you download your reports, review and send the disputes that day, you can expect it to take anywhere from 31-40 days. The timing depends on how quickly the bureaus receive your dispute. It will take longer if you need to make disputes in several rounds to the same bureau. If you have more than five disputes to make on one report, you should always send them in rounds, five at a time.
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Just as one example, the average age of your credit accounts is a component of this category. Let's say that you have four credit cards -- one that's a year old, two that you opened three years ago, and one that you opened 10 years ago but don't use anymore. Currently, your average credit card account is 4.25 years old. If you decided to close your old and unused account, however, this average would drop to just 2.33 years and could hurt your FICO score.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the results in writing, too, and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it’s accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any correction to anyone who got your report in the past six months. You also can ask that a corrected copy of your report be sent to anyone who got a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.

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Getting approved at the right interest rate on a mortgage isn’t the only reason you should review and repair your credit regularly. We explain the twelve ways that credit repair makes it easier to get the right financing while saving money on everything from utilities to car insurance. Learn all the ways that fixing your credit can help you get to a better place financially.
If that doesn’t work, the Federal Trade Commission offers a sample letter you can use as a template to make disputes. Include copies of any documents that support your dispute (always keep the originals for yourself). State only the facts in your letter and concisely express why you are making the dispute. Send the letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested: to verify when the bureau received your dispute.
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It’s important to be careful with this step, though. If you apply for too many loans, it can damage your score. Instead, you need to plan your credit applications carefully. Start with a small installment loan. You might be able to get a small, low-balance installment loan from your bank. It might also be possible (if you are looking for a car) to get an inexpensive car from a dealer that specializes in customers with poor credit. Your small loan will probably have a relatively high interest rate, so plan to borrow a small amount, and keep the loan term short.
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The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is another option for those who want to strengthen their credit score. This card offers a potentially lower minimum security deposit than other cards, starting as low as $49, based on creditworthiness. Be aware the lower deposit is not guaranteed and you may be required to deposit $99 or $200. You can deposit more before your account opens and get a maximum credit limit of $1,000.
The mix of credit you have is 10% of your credit score. The credit-scoring model favors people who have both revolving lines of credit (credit cards) and installment credit (auto loans and mortgages), or a “mix” of the two types of credit.   If you only have credit cards listed on your credit report, this can hurt your score. Consider applying for an auto loan or a mortgage, and make sure the lender will report the account to the credit bureaus.
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