All credit scores are based on the contents of your credit reports. Any errors in those reports can cause undeserved credit-score damage. They can also indicate fraud. So check your reports, dispute any errors you find, and take steps to protect yourself from identity theft if necessary. In particular, look for collections accounts, public records, late payments and other bad credit-score influencers.

Credit scoring models usually take into account how much you owe compared to how much credit you have available, called your credit utilization rate or your balance-to-limit ratio. Basically it's the sum of all of your revolving debt (such as your credit card balances) divided by the total credit that is available to you (or the total of all your credit limits).


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 find information that is incorrect, you can file a dispute. Remember too, that items on your credit report that you don't recognize could also be potential signs of fraudulent activity — someone working to secure credit in your name for their own use. Make sure you're clear on items that could potentially be fraudulent, versus those that may simply be inaccurate.

In my article on using Excel to manage your life How To Use Microsoft Excel To Manage Your Life How To Use Microsoft Excel To Manage Your Life It's no secret that I'm a total Excel fanboy. Much of that comes from the fact that I enjoy writing VBA code, and Excel combined with VBA scripts open up a whole world of possibilities.... Read More , I included a section on managing debt which shows you how to use Excel to pay down your debt using a snowball approach.
If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, be aware that bankruptcy laws require that you get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before you file for bankruptcy relief. You can find a state-by-state list of government-approved organizations at www.usdoj.gov/ust, the website of the U.S. Trustee Program. That’s the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that supervises bankruptcy cases and trustees. Be wary of credit counseling organizations that say they are government-approved, but don’t appear on the list of approved organizations.
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.
As far as templates go, there are plenty of free credit repair letter templates online. Debt.com offers a free credit repair template letter that you can use if you want to repair your credit on your own. Template letter archives just change a few words based on common situations. But if you aren’t confident about making disputes and how to word the important stuff (which is the stuff you must fill in with any templates), then all the templates in the world won’t help.
A financial institution such as a credit union, which typically issues credit builder loans, deposits a small amount of money into a secured savings account for the applicant. The borrower then pays the money back in small monthly installments — with interest — over a set period of time. At the end of the loan’s term, which typically ranges from six to 24 months, the borrower receives the total amount of the credit builder loan in a lump sum, plus any interest earned if the lender offers interest.
Even closing an account won’t make your late payments disappear. Your best bet here is to get yourself back on the right track — set up payment due date alerts with all your credit cards and loans and get organized. You can move credit card payment due dates around pretty easily on your bank or lender’s website. Be sure to check your payment due dates in relation to your paycheck schedule.

Full disclosure: credit repair companies don’t do anything that you can’t do on your own. But they usually do it better than what you can do on your own. Legitimate credit repair companies have state-licensed attorneys and experience making disputes. They know how to make disputes to get results. So, working with a professional repair service often means more mistakes corrected and a bigger boost to your credit score.
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.

Repairing your credit is certainly something that you can do yourself, but it requires a lot of time, work, and organization. Correcting just a single error on your credit report can take several hours when you consider obtaining copies of your report, writing a dispute letter, and communicating with creditors. There are advantages to hiring professionals who are familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and understand credit law to do the legwork for you.
Even closing an account won’t make your late payments disappear. Your best bet here is to get yourself back on the right track — set up payment due date alerts with all your credit cards and loans and get organized. You can move credit card payment due dates around pretty easily on your bank or lender’s website. Be sure to check your payment due dates in relation to your paycheck schedule.

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.
If you’re going to be hiring one of these services, you probably want to know what you’ll be receiving for your money – right?  Companies that claim to help fix your credit should be completely upfront with what they can and can't do for your situation.  A good company can remove negative items from your credit report and help improve your FICO score, making it easier to obtain a home, vehicle, mortgage, or insurance.
The time it takes to repair your credit can vary widely, depending on a number of factors – from how many mistakes you have to fix to what you want to accomplish once your credit is fixed. Since people often repair their credit with a specific goal in mind – like buying a house or negotiating an interest rate with a creditor – it’s important to know how long the process can take so you can plan ahead effectively.
If you find information that is incorrect, you can file a dispute. Remember too, that items on your credit report that you don't recognize could also be potential signs of fraudulent activity — someone working to secure credit in your name for their own use. Make sure you're clear on items that could potentially be fraudulent, versus those that may simply be inaccurate.

Getting negative and inaccurate information off of your credit reports is one of the fastest ways to see an improvement in your scores. Since credit bureaus have to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days (there are a few exceptions that may extend this to 45 days), it’s a short timeline. Especially when consumers want to buy a house, get a new car, or open up a new credit card soon and don’t have the time to wait to build good credit in other ways.

When the bureaus and data furnishers receive the dispute and supporting information, they will then work with the credit repair company to determine if the item should be removed from your credit report. The major law dictating your rights when it comes to credit reporting is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but it isn’t the only law on your side when it comes to credit repair.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can request that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You can also ask the credit reporting company to provide a statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service, and a dispute on your credit report does not improve your credit score.
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.

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If following the steps above seems daunting, some organizations specialize in paid credit repair services. Most of the services require a monthly subscription fee between $60-$100 per month, and most reviews report that the negative items are completely removed within 3-5 months. Despite the high cost, legitimate companies provide a valuable service if you’ve been the victim of identity theft and you want someone else to do the work for you.
This [These] item[s] [identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because [describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why]. I am requesting that the item[s] be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.
If your debt feels overwhelming, it may be valuable to seek out the services of a reputable credit counseling service. Many are non-profit and charge small or no fees for their services. You can review more information on selecting the right reputable credit counselor for you from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Credit counselors can help you develop a Debt Management Plan (or DMP) and can negotiate to reduce your monthly payments. In many cases, you'll be responsible for only one monthly payment to the credit counseling service, which will then disburse funds to all of the accounts you owe on.
In general, credit repair takes about three to six months to resolve all of the disputes that the average consumer needs to make. Of course, if you only have a few mistakes to correct or you repair your credit every year, it may not take as long; you might be done in just over one month. On the other hand, if you’ve never corrected your credit and have a large volume of things to dispute, it may take longer.
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.
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