You’re entitled to a free credit report if a company takes “adverse action” against you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment. You have to ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice includes the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
How it works: Once you choose the secured card you prefer, you’ll open an account under your child’s name. If your teen is approved, the bank will ask for a security deposit. Most secured cards require deposits of at least $200, but there are secured cards with security deposits as low as $49. That deposit typically becomes their line of credit. For example, if the minimum security deposit is $200, the line of credit will also be $200.
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3) Make sure your payments on any debt and other bills like rent and utilities are on time going forward. After all, payment history is the biggest factor in calculating your credit score. You might also be able to get letters of recommendation from these companies when you apply for credit. For those reasons, you may want to consider having your payments automatically deducted from your checking account. Just be sure not to overdraw the account. If you do miss a payment, contact the creditor as soon as possible and ask if they would be willing to remove the late payment from your account as a courtesy and gesture of good will.
2. Negotiate. You can’t deny that you stopped paying a credit card bill when you were unemployed last year. But you can ask creditors to “erase” that debt or any account that went to collection. Write a letter offering to pay the remaining balance if the creditor will then report the account as “paid as agreed” or maybe even remove it altogether. (Note: Get the creditor to agree in writing before you make the payment.)
As you go through life, your credit score will fluctuate. How much it fluctuates depends on how reliable you are at repaying debt on time, especially credit cards and installment loans. When you use credit more often, whether it’s by taking on more credit cards, getting a mortgage, taking out a student loan or auto loan, your credit score changes to reflect how you deal with the responsibility of more debt.
"The long-term benefit to your utilization can far outweigh any short-term loss of points," said Barry Paperno, a four-decade veteran of the credit industry. Paperno cautioned that you should only do this if you don't anticipate needing to apply for a car, home or personal loan in the next six to 12 months. Otherwise, those extra inquiries could hurt you.
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If you have one of those letters we mentioned earlier that details your credit problems, you have some idea of what’s holding you back. Even though it may seem complex, as we mentioned, your credit score is based on five core factors: payment history, credit utilization, the age of credit accounts, mix of credit accounts and history of applying for credit. They’re not equally weighted, and this information will most likely vary between credit bureaus.
If you’re hesitant for your teen to open their own credit card, adding them as an authorized user on your credit card account may be the best option. You can easily monitor their spending through statements and online banking. While they piggyback off your credit, you can continue to benefit from the same perks your card offers and even earn rewards on their purchases — if you have a rewards card.
If you are a long time customer and it's something simple like a one-time late payment, a creditor will often wipe it away to keep you as a loyal customer. If you have a serious negative mark (such as a long overdue bill that has gone to collections), always negotiate a payment in exchange for removal of the negative item. Always make sure you have this agreement with them in writing. Do not pay off a bill that has gone to collections unless the creditor agrees in writing that they will remove the derogatory item from your credit report. This is important; when speaking with the creditor or collection agency about a debt that has gone to collections, do not admit that the debt is yours. Admission of debt can restart the statute of limitations, and may enable the creditor to sue you. You are also less likely to be able to negotiate a letter of deletion if you admit that this debt is yours. Simply say "I'm calling about account number ________" instead of "I'm calling about my past due debt."
If you find mistakes on your credit report, like errors regarding your payment histories, or even mistakes in the spelling of your name and incorrect social security numbers, contact the credit bureaus to correct them. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees your right to dispute listings in your credit report, free of charge. All of the major credit bureaus have online systems in which to dispute errors on your credit report. By law, the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and correct the errors.