Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.
A major driver of increased scores is the decreased proportion of consumers with collection items on their credit report. A credit item that falls into collections will stay on a person’s credit report for seven years. People caught in the latter end of the real estate foreclosure crisis of 2006-2011 may still have a collections item on their report today.
Studies show that the majority of credit reports contain errors. Whether through clerical errors, mistaken identities, improper accounting, or simple misunderstandings, there are an estimated 200+ million Americans with errors on their credit reports. And in many cases, these errors are significant. As many as 25% of all credit reports contain errors serious enough to cause someone to be denied on a credit application.

First, you need to pull your credit report see if you have any errors. The government allows each person one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). You can get these reports from annualcreditreport.com. Look over each credit report for any errors. Each credit bureau’s website includes instructions on how to file the paperwork to get an error fixed.
If you pay a charge-off in full, your credit report will be updated to show the account balance is $0 and the account is paid. The charge-off status will continue to be reported for seven years from the date of charge off. Another option is to settle charge-offs for less than the original balance if the creditor agrees to accept a settlement and cancel the rest of the debt.
The difference between the credit utilization ratio and the debt-to-income ratio is that the credit utilization ratio is the only one that will impact your credit score. The debt-to-income ratio is used by lenders and can be very influential when it comes to extending credit which is why it also plays a significant role and should also be monitored as you would your credit utilization.
Get a copy of your credit report: Knowing what is on your credit report is important – you can’t fix it if you don’t know exactly what is wrong. According to a recent survey by Bankrate Inc., 31% of adults do not know their own credit score. Since this is one of the main factors in a bank’s decision to give you a loan or mortgage, it is a good idea to both know and understand this number.  Trisha cleaned up her act and her credit report:
"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.

A hard inquiry happens when a financial institution takes a look into your credit history to determine whether or not you are in a good position to take on a loan. These inquiries typically take place when you are trying to obtain a significant loan or credit line such as a mortgage, auto loan or credit card. Each inquiry drops your credit score by a few points and remains on your reports for up to two years.

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.
Remember, though, that any credit card isn’t an excuse to spend more money. Whether you get a secured card or use an unsecured card, getting a card just to “free up” more money that you don’t actually have to spend out of control won’t help you in the long run. You have to keep a tight rein on your spending. If you can’t change your habits so that you are in control of your spending, don’t get a credit card, secured or unsecured.
We all know that good credit is important, but most people struggle from time to time with too much debt, loss of income, or other financial emergencies. Collection agencies start entering the picture when payments are late or incomplete. People often file bankruptcy hoping for a new start, only to find their future credit is negatively affected for seven or more years. Understanding how to repair your credit is a far better alternative emotionally and financially.
One of the easiest ways to tell if a financial service is legit is to check with the BBB. If a company is A+ rated, then you can have more confidence that they will provide legitimate help. Unfortunately, this protection isn’t available with credit repair companies. The Better Business Bureau doesn’t rate any company whose primary service offering is credit repair.

You're the best. My mom added me as an authorized user to a couple of her cards (when I was 12, and she never even told me about it), but they're at 99% utilization and have late payments! I'm still in the process of trying to get myself removed from those, and getting those accounts completely removed from my credit report, not just listed as closed accounts. 
!function(n,t){function r(e,n){return Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(e,n)}function i(e){return void 0===e}if(n){var o={},s=n.TraceKit,a=[].slice,u="?";o.noConflict=function(){return n.TraceKit=s,o},o.wrap=function(e){function n(){try{return e.apply(this,arguments)}catch(e){throw o.report(e),e}}return n},o.report=function(){function e(e){u(),h.push(e)}function t(e){for(var n=h.length-1;n>=0;--n)h[n]===e&&h.splice(n,1)}function i(e,n){var t=null;if(!n||o.collectWindowErrors){for(var i in h)if(r(h,i))try{h[i].apply(null,[e].concat(a.call(arguments,2)))}catch(e){t=e}if(t)throw t}}function s(e,n,t,r,s){var a=null;if(w)o.computeStackTrace.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement(w,n,t,e),l();else if(s)a=o.computeStackTrace(s),i(a,!0);else{var u={url:n,line:t,column:r};u.func=o.computeStackTrace.guessFunctionName(u.url,u.line),u.context=o.computeStackTrace.gatherContext(u.url,u.line),a={mode:"onerror",message:e,stack:[u]},i(a,!0)}return!!f&&f.apply(this,arguments)}function u(){!0!==d&&(f=n.onerror,n.onerror=s,d=!0)}function l(){var e=w,n=p;p=null,w=null,m=null,i.apply(null,[e,!1].concat(n))}function c(e){if(w){if(m===e)return;l()}var t=o.computeStackTrace(e);throw w=t,m=e,p=a.call(arguments,1),n.setTimeout(function(){m===e&&l()},t.incomplete?2e3:0),e}var f,d,h=[],p=null,m=null,w=null;return c.subscribe=e,c.unsubscribe=t,c}(),o.computeStackTrace=function(){function e(e){if(!o.remoteFetching)return"";try{var t=function(){try{return new n.XMLHttpRequest}catch(e){return new n.ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")}},r=t();return r.open("GET",e,!1),r.send(""),r.responseText}catch(e){return""}}function t(t){if("string"!=typeof t)return[];if(!r(j,t)){var i="",o="";try{o=n.document.domain}catch(e){}var s=/(.*)\:\/\/([^:\/]+)([:\d]*)\/{0,1}([\s\S]*)/.exec(t);s&&s[2]===o&&(i=e(t)),j[t]=i?i.split("\n"):[]}return j[t]}function s(e,n){var r,o=/function ([^(]*)\(([^)]*)\)/,s=/['"]?([0-9A-Za-z$_]+)['"]?\s*[:=]\s*(function|eval|new Function)/,a="",l=10,c=t(e);if(!c.length)return u;for(var f=0;f0?s:null}function l(e){return e.replace(/[\-\[\]{}()*+?.,\\\^$|#]/g,"\\$&")}function c(e){return l(e).replace("<","(?:<|<)").replace(">","(?:>|>)").replace("&","(?:&|&)").replace('"','(?:"|")').replace(/\s+/g,"\\s+")}function f(e,n){for(var r,i,o=0,s=n.length;or&&(i=s.exec(o[r]))?i.index:null}function h(e){if(!i(n&&n.document)){for(var t,r,o,s,a=[n.location.href],u=n.document.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=""+e,h=/^function(?:\s+([\w$]+))?\s*\(([\w\s,]*)\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,p=/^function on([\w$]+)\s*\(event\)\s*\{\s*(\S[\s\S]*\S)\s*\}\s*$/,m=0;m]+)>|([^\)]+))\((.*)\))? in (.*):\s*$/i,o=n.split("\n"),u=[],l=0;l=0&&(v.line=g+x.substring(0,j).split("\n").length)}}}else if(o=d.exec(i[y])){var _=n.location.href.replace(/#.*$/,""),T=new RegExp(c(i[y+1])),E=f(T,[_]);v={url:_,func:"",args:[],line:E?E.line:o[1],column:null}}if(v){v.func||(v.func=s(v.url,v.line));var k=a(v.url,v.line),A=k?k[Math.floor(k.length/2)]:null;k&&A.replace(/^\s*/,"")===i[y+1].replace(/^\s*/,"")?v.context=k:v.context=[i[y+1]],h.push(v)}}return h.length?{mode:"multiline",name:e.name,message:i[0],stack:h}:null}function y(e,n,t,r){var i={url:n,line:t};if(i.url&&i.line){e.incomplete=!1,i.func||(i.func=s(i.url,i.line)),i.context||(i.context=a(i.url,i.line));var o=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(r);if(o&&(i.column=d(o[1],i.url,i.line)),e.stack.length>0&&e.stack[0].url===i.url){if(e.stack[0].line===i.line)return!1;if(!e.stack[0].line&&e.stack[0].func===i.func)return e.stack[0].line=i.line,e.stack[0].context=i.context,!1}return e.stack.unshift(i),e.partial=!0,!0}return e.incomplete=!0,!1}function v(e,n){for(var t,r,i,a=/function\s+([_$a-zA-Z\xA0-\uFFFF][_$a-zA-Z0-9\xA0-\uFFFF]*)?\s*\(/i,l=[],c={},f=!1,p=v.caller;p&&!f;p=p.caller)if(p!==g&&p!==o.report){if(r={url:null,func:u,args:[],line:null,column:null},p.name?r.func=p.name:(t=a.exec(p.toString()))&&(r.func=t[1]),"undefined"==typeof r.func)try{r.func=t.input.substring(0,t.input.indexOf("{"))}catch(e){}if(i=h(p)){r.url=i.url,r.line=i.line,r.func===u&&(r.func=s(r.url,r.line));var m=/ '([^']+)' /.exec(e.message||e.description);m&&(r.column=d(m[1],i.url,i.line))}c[""+p]?f=!0:c[""+p]=!0,l.push(r)}n&&l.splice(0,n);var w={mode:"callers",name:e.name,message:e.message,stack:l};return y(w,e.sourceURL||e.fileName,e.line||e.lineNumber,e.message||e.description),w}function g(e,n){var t=null;n=null==n?0:+n;try{if(t=m(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=p(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=w(e))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}try{if(t=v(e,n+1))return t}catch(e){if(x)throw e}return{mode:"failed"}}function b(e){e=1+(null==e?0:+e);try{throw new Error}catch(n){return g(n,e+1)}}var x=!1,j={};return g.augmentStackTraceWithInitialElement=y,g.guessFunctionName=s,g.gatherContext=a,g.ofCaller=b,g.getSource=t,g}(),o.extendToAsynchronousCallbacks=function(){var e=function(e){var t=n[e];n[e]=function(){var e=a.call(arguments),n=e[0];return"function"==typeof n&&(e[0]=o.wrap(n)),t.apply?t.apply(this,e):t(e[0],e[1])}};e("setTimeout"),e("setInterval")},o.remoteFetching||(o.remoteFetching=!0),o.collectWindowErrors||(o.collectWindowErrors=!0),(!o.linesOfContext||o.linesOfContext<1)&&(o.linesOfContext=11),void 0!==e&&e.exports&&n.module!==e?e.exports=o:"function"==typeof define&&define.amd?define("TraceKit",[],o):n.TraceKit=o}}("undefined"!=typeof window?window:global)},"./webpack-loaders/expose-loader/index.js?require!./shared/require-global.js":function(e,n,t){(function(n){e.exports=n.require=t("./shared/require-global.js")}).call(n,t("../../../lib/node_modules/webpack/buildin/global.js"))}});
Once you’ve filled out the form and requested reports from all three bureaus, you’ll fill out some security questions and be directed into your report, one agency at a time. If the security questions trip you up, the website will lock you out of your report, but it will offer a phone number that you can call to get your credit report via mail. If you get locked out, request the report via mail.
Understand your credit score. This number, ranging from 300 to 850, represents your creditworthiness. Software developed by FICO and used by the credit reporting agencies determines the score. The scores between agencies should be similar, but there may be differences. It's important to make sure that your information is correct for each reporting agency.[9]
I know this is old, but seriously what a great Dad you are! You didn't hand her money and you didnt leave her to flounder. You helped her in immediate ways she couldn't do herself like adding her as an authorized user, but also helped her long term by guiding her, teaching her, and establishing a plan. Plus, sharing your thoughts has helped many others. 
Write a letter to the specific credit reporting agency that shows the falsehood, whether it is Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Explain the mistake and include a copy of the highlighted report along with your documentation. Although certain bureaus now let you submit disputes online, it’s not a bad idea to send this letter by certified mail, and keep a copy for yourself. The reporting agency has 30 days from the receipt of your letter to respond. The Federal Trade Commission provides advice on contacting the credit bureaus about discrepancies. Here are the contact numbers and web sites for the three credit bureaus:

The net result is that disputed accounts are basically suppressed from your credit history in terms of your credit score. For about 30 days or so, while the bureaus are actively investigating disputed accounts, those accounts are not included when your FICO or VantageScore® are calculated. That could prove helpful if you need a fast, legitimate way to quickly improve a credit score weighed down by erroneous, incomplete or outdated information.


If you haven’t yet taken care of all your delinquent accounts, it’s the perfect opportunity to negotiate with your creditors to re-age your accounts. Anytime an account becomes delinquent, the creditor or lender reports that status to the credit bureaus. Then it becomes a negative credit report item that lasts for seven years from the date it was incurred.
I do not agree with the secured card info you've provided.  They are great tools when used correctly.  You can find one with no/small annual fee.  The interest rate won't come into play if you pay your balance in full each month.  Even if you don't pay in full, the interest on a very low balance is a non-factor.  Alomst any credit union will allow you to open an account with as little as $5 and secured card with $300/500.  My card is $500 and I never charge more than $150(30%).  It takes will power to not max it out.  You don;t want to fall back into old habits (if that is what got you into this situation in the first place).
The Credit Advice pages of the Site may contain messages submitted by users over whom Credit Karma has no control. Credit Karma cannot guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of any such messages. Some users may post messages that are misleading, untrue or offensive. You must bear all risk associated with your use of the Credit Advice pages and should not rely on messages in making (or refraining from making) any specific financial or other decisions.
Next, estimate your monthly spending habits for other expenses such as gas, groceries and entertainment. Create a limit, based on your income, of what you can spend in each of the different categories of expenses. For example, if you tend to spend $400 a month on groceries, try to stick to $300 a month on groceries by making changes like buying generic brands, using coupons, and resisting impulse purchases.
Isolating your financial needs on different credit-card accounts will help you get the best possible terms on every transaction that you make. For example, you could get the best cash-back credit card for everyday expenses, the best travel rewards card for airfare and hotel reservations, and the best balance-transfer card for reducing the cost of your existing debt.
If you've already used up your free credit reports for this year, you can order your credit reports directly from the credit bureaus for a fee. The bureaus all offer a three-in-one credit report that lists all three of your credit reports side-by-side. The three-in-one credit report costs more than a single credit report, but less than the combined price of purchasing your individual credit reports.
11. Pay your bills twice a month. Using too much of your credit limit at any given moment doesn’t look good. Suppose your limit is $3,000 and a month’s worth of havoc (car repair, doctor bills, plane ticket for kid to get to college) means you’ve charged up $2,900. Sure, you plan to pay in full by the 18th of the month – but until then it looks like you’re maxing out yet another card.
The Walmart® Credit Card offers a three-tiered cashback program to benefit avid Walmart shoppers. You receive 3% cash back on Walmart.com purchases (including purchases made on the Walmart app), 2% back on fuel purchases made at Walmart or Murphy USA (excluding Murphy Express) gas stations and 1% at Walmart & anywhere your card is accepted. Your cash back will be issued monthly as a statement credit for all earnings during that period. Note: This card can only be used at Walmart Stores, Walmart Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, Walmart.com, Walmart and Murphy USA Gas Stations and Sam’s Clubs.

The best way to handle these types of information lines on your credit report is to dispute them but you have to remember that if that isn't done correctly, it is like kicking a hornets nest. Just calling them and saying, "hey, I dispute this." is NOT good enough, regardless of what ANYONE says. It has to be done with a certified, return receipt letter that has been properly worded to prevent the sleezy little buggers from using a loophole. You can find a lot of information out there about how to do this on sites from people like Dave Ramsey or with self help books like Weathering Debt (either one works, but I prefer Weathering Debt, it was much more concise and to the point) but whatever you do, DON'T try to wing it and don't pay someone to do something you can do yourself with ease and for free. Besides, you need to know how to stop the problem from happening again, right?
As part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, certain activities are prohibited under the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Specifically, credit repair companies cannot require payment in advance for credit repair services. The act further requires all contracts be in writing and that consumers have certain cancellation rights. Since this is federal law, consumers in every state are protected. If you have been told that you can't cancel a contract with a credit repair company, speak to an attorney in your area about your rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act.
Once you take steps to improve your credit score, keep checking your credit report to ensure that you take the right steps to get the desired credit score. You can consider going for a credit-monitoring service. There are companies that offer free services, and others give regular three-bureau monitoring services. This kind of help will keep you updated on your credit score.
By co-signing, you agreed to be the backup payer on the account in case the primary folks defaulted (as it appears that they did). If the debt is past due by six years, check your state's Statute of Limitations for debt collection - many states only give creditors 3-4 years to collect on a debt, after which point they cannot bring you to court. A Partial payment will re-set this clock. You may also hit the 7 year limit for how long it can stay on your report (7 years from the date it was first past due with the cable company).
"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.
When possible, avoid closing credit card accounts. The longer your credit history, the better your score. However, if you are very far behind in your payments, you may not have a choice. A payment plan may require you to cancel your credit card. If possible, though, keep your older accounts so that you have a substantial credit history on your side. (See also: How to Avoid Getting Your Credit Card Cancelled)

Borrowing from your 401(k) may be the best option for you, since it won’t count as new debt and you pay yourself back interest rather than paying it to a bank. However, if a 401(k) loan isn’t an option, then you’ll need to select a debt consolidation loan. When it comes to debt consolidation, there are lots of scams out there. Review the following options to make sure you’re making the right choice.
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.
×