Order your free credit reports. Credit reporting agencies are required to give you a free copy of your credit report once a year, when you request it. You'll need to go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order the reports. The credit report includes a credit score and your credit history. Businesses and lenders use this to decide whether or not to offer you credit and what interest they'll charge.
We'll start with derogatory marks like collection accounts and judgments. It's not uncommon to have at least one collection account appear on your report. I had two from health care providers I used after having a heart attack; my insurance company was extremely slow to pay and kept claiming it had paid while the providers said it had not, and eventually the accounts ended up with a collection agency. At that point, I decided to pay them right away and argue with the insurance company later, but both collections wound up on my credit report.
Your payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score, and a couple of missed payments can really hurt your score. Most consumers don't know you can request creditors stop reporting missed payments to ratings agencies if you have an otherwise clean record. This is called a good-will adjustment. Write a letter to your bank or card issuer emphasizing your past good payment history and asking politely to stop reporting the missed payments. Of course, this trick only works if you have a pretty clean record already, but you can remove those few blemishes that holding back your credit score.
Set up automatic payment reminders. Paying your bills on time is the most important factor in figuring up your credit score. Setting automatic deductions from your banking account for house and automobile payments, utilities, and credit cards will help you make timely payments. If auto payments aren't possible, set payment reminders on your calendar or budgeting software.
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There is no company that can wipe your credit report clean and remove all negative marks, no matter how much money you pay them. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about falling prey to such promises saying that, “only time, a deliberate effort, and a plan to repay your bills will improve your credit as it’s detailed in your credit report.”
If you have a low credit score, there are many things you can do to improve it. Sometimes we don’t even realize that our credit report contains errors—errors that can be removed with a little determination and perseverance. Even if your score is low because of your own poor choices in the past, you can still take control of your finances and improve your credit over the long run.
Nearly 8 out of 10 credit reports have errors. That means, remove the errors and your score will most likely increase. Go through your credit reports very carefully. Especially look for; Late payments, charge-offs, collections or other negative items that aren't yours, Accounts listed as "settled," "paid derogatory," "paid charge-off" or anything other than "current" or "paid as agreed" if you paid on time and in full, Accounts that are still listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy, Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically fallen off your report (you must be careful with this last one, because sometimes scores actually go down when bad items fall off your report. It's a quirk in the FICO credit-scoring software, and the potential effect of eliminating old negative items is difficult to predict in advance). Also make sure you don't have duplicate collection notices listed. For example; if you have an account that has gone to collections, the original creditor may list the debt, as well as the collection agency. Any duplicates must be removed!
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Credit scores affect your ability to buy a car or home, get insurance, and even get utilities turned on in your name. The ins and outs of credit scoring and reporting remain a mystery to many consumers. As a result, many people feel they don't have the power to remove the bad credit items that prevent them from getting what they need. Credit repair companies know the laws that govern credit reporting. Many have relationships with creditors and lenders where they can negotiate debts on behalf on consumers.
Whether we like to admit it or not a little three-digit number rules our credit life that’s called our credit score. If you have a good credit score of, say, more than 750 you should be able to get just about any type of credit you apply for and at a good interest rate. Conversely, if your credit score is down in the dumps at 580 or less, you will have a hard time getting any new credit and if you can it will have a pretty stiff interest rate.
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So if you want -- and I'm not recommending this; I'm just saying it's a strategy you might decide to use -- you can dispute information that you think is accurate in hopes that the creditor will not respond. (This is the strategy many credit repair firms use to try to improve their clients' scores.) If the creditor doesn't respond, the entry will get removed.
Develop the good financial habits of living within your means, setting aside money in your emergency fund, and saving for the future. That way, you’ll be less inclined to skip payments, and you’ll have something to fall back on if you run into financial trouble. Keep with the good habits you formed while rebuilding your credit, and it will be easier to maintain your new, better credit history.
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