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:
Every creditor has an official “Report Date.” This is when they send the information about your account with them to places like FICO and the three credit bureaus. More often than not, the report date (aka closing date) is before the payment due date on your account. This means that they will report a higher account balance for that month than what is necessary…and this may lead to a lower credit score!
One of the best ways to quickly build a payment history is to use a credit card. A secured credit card can help with this step if your poor credit precludes you from qualifying for a “regular” credit card. A secured card requires that you keep money in a linked savings account as collateral. Because the money is already there, it is easier to get approval for a secured card — especially when you have poor credit. In either case, your payments are reported to the bureaus every month, so it makes a big difference in showing that you pay regularly — and on time. (See: Wise Bread's review of the 5 best secured credit cards.)
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Increase your credit limit: A new credit card will increase your overall credit limit, which in turn lowers your credit utilization ratio. The more credit that lenders approve you for, the more trustworthy you seem to other lenders. As a bonus, look for a credit card that has some great perks like cash back incentives, so you can earn money while you use it. Here is a good list of the best cards with great perks.
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Beware of scams that tell you to create a new credit file. Some disreputable credit repair agencies will suggest inventing a new credit identity by using an Employer Identification Number rather than your Social Security Number. This is illegal! Besides the fact that it is considered to be credit fraud, this action does not mean that your “real” report no longer exists. Any lender who asks for your Social Security Number will still find this information.
While credit building loans can be a key step in establishing a strong credit history, it’s imperative that you make all of your payments in full and on time. When you are committed to building a strong financial future with personal budgeting and spending discipline, successfully paying off a credit builder loan can lead to approval for good rates and terms on mortgages, auto loans and other loans in the future.
On the other hand, credit repair services are effective only to the extent that they have a good working relationship with lenders, credit card companies, and other debt collection agencies. But be warned, not all lenders work with credit repair companies. Before you spend money on a credit repair company, make sure that your lenders will negotiate and work with them on your behalf. If not, you'll need to know how to work directly with the lender yourself.
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.
CreditRepair.com has a relationship with TransUnion, so they can actually pull your credit score for you, which is extremely helpful. They also have an “A” rating from the BBB. The only downside to CreditRepair.com is the cost. They charge $89.95 a month, although they don’t have an initial fee like most other credit repair services. With the $89.95, you get your standard credit repair services, as well as monthly credit monitoring, a score tracker and analysis, mobile apps and text and email alerts.