There is one exception to that rule… If you default on a federal student loan and then bring it current, any negative actions from the late payments disappear. But for all other debts, charge-offs are usually sold to collections, which creates ANOTHER trouble space that causes issues for 7 years. So, letting a debt slip into default is almost a double or triple whammy to your game.
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.
Mortgages are secured loans that are given to first time buyers, homeowners and people who have bad credit. If you have poor credit, it will always be hard to get an apartment, to get a house, to refinance a loan, or to get any other form of credit loans, including even credit cards. ARMs can also be very helpful for assisting those with poor credit in purchasing a home for the first time.

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Stop using credit cards. This is usually the most expensive of debt type, the easiest to use without thinking, and the source of aggressive collection efforts. Keeping zero or low balances on your credit cards will save money and increase your peace of mind. Use cash or your checking account debit card for irregular purchases, keeping your credit cards locked up securely at home.
Making sure your credit is mortgage-ready is an essential first step in the home buying process. A few percentage points more in a mortgage interest rate can equal out to thousands over the life your loan. A lower interest rate can also lower your monthly payments. That means it’s in your best interest to make sure your credit is as clean as possible. You should review and repair your credit before you prequalify for a mortgage.
I had a $10,000 surgery when my medical insurance lapsed. I had to fill out a form with the hospital that stated I could not afford to pay it and they forgave it/never went on my credit. If you make under a certain income, the hospital should help you get those off, call the hospital and ask. It may be too late since it’s in collections already, if that’s the case, don’t pay it because it won’t change the negative impact since it’s already in collections. Wait for it to fall off.
However, each model weights the information differently. This means that a FICO® Score cannot be compared directly to a VantageScore® or an Equifax Risk Score. For example, a VantageScore® does not count paid items in collections against you. However, a FICO® Score counts all collections items against you, even if you’ve paid them. Additionally, the VantageScore® counts outstanding debt against you, but the FICO® Score only considers how much credit card debt you have relative to your available credit.
Mortgages are secured loans that are given to first time buyers, homeowners and people who have bad credit. If you have poor credit, it will always be hard to get an apartment, to get a house, to refinance a loan, or to get any other form of credit loans, including even credit cards. ARMs can also be very helpful for assisting those with poor credit in purchasing a home for the first time.
You're also entitled to a free credit report if you've been turned down for credit because of something on your credit report, if you're currently receiving government assistance, if you're unemployed and planning to look for a job soon, or if you think you've been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft. Some states even have laws that let you get an additional free credit report each year. All these free credit reports should be ordered directly through the credit bureaus.

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Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in the areas of consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Counselors discuss your entire financial situation with you, and can help you develop a personalized plan to solve your money problems. An initial counseling session typically lasts an hour, with an offer of follow-up sessions.
If your lenders are willing to work with credit repair agencies: The credit repair agencies that have been doing this for a while know the tricks of the trade, so they have the experience to negotiate with your lenders on your behalf. Does this always work? No. Some lenders don’t like working with credit repair services. Some lenders aren’t willing to negotiate. However, for the lenders who are willing to listen, this is a good way for credit repair services to raise your score.

Leading up to the credit score crash — You lost your job and used credit cards to pay expenses. You are overburdened with five maxed out credit cards at $5,000 each, for a total debt load of $25,000. You stopped paying them all for six months so they’ve grown to $30,000 with interest included and a balance of $6,000 each. You have 100% utilization and a terrible credit score of 450. As a last resort, you take out a $14,000 loan from your 401(k) and start calling creditors to negotiate.
1) Fix any errors in your credit report. It's bad enough if you've made your share of mistakes in the past so you certainly don't want to be penalized for ones you didn't make as well. About 70% of credit reports have them so there's a good chance at least one of yours does too. You can get a free copy of each of your 3 credit reports every 12 months, at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. Once you get your report, you can then correct any errors you find that could be hurting your score.
If you’ve never had a credit card before, your scores may be suffering because of that account mix factor we talked about earlier. Just make sure you make on-time payments — a new credit card account with a bad payment history will hurt you, not help you improve your credit scores. If you have a fair, good or excellent credit score, there are many credit card options out there for you. If you have a poor or bad credit score, read the next tip.
6) After your payment history, the next most important factor is the amount of your credit that you use. Pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible and avoid closing credit cards because what matters is the amount you owe as a percentage of your total amount of credit. However, opening a lot of accounts in a short period of time to increase your available credit could actually hurt your score.
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as I have 3 small debits for under $150 each for medical & 2 that are for the court (MUNICIPAL) that are about $1000 in total. so with everything I have a debit of about $1500 total that is killing my credit. was wanting to get a $1000  fixed interest rate Secured credit card at about 5.99%-8.99%. & start paying off Debit, killing 2 birds with one stone. instead of just paying the debit with cash, use a low interest Secured credit card. paying about $200 month then leaving a low balance of $25 on card to continue to get credit once debits are paid in full.

None of the other banks approved my applications, and my score went down from the very beginning due to the number of “hard inquiries” against my report. Hard inquiries occur when lenders check your credit report before they make lending decisions, and having too many inquiries in a short period of time can result in several dings to your credit score. 
An example of when verification can work in your favor. Let’s say you’ve had a debt that’s gone through multiple collectors. It’s been bought and sold several times. In many cases, collectors don’t have complete information about the original debt, which is required to verify that the debt is really yours for the amount they say. If you ask a bureau to verify it and the collector can’t provide all the information required, then it must be removed. This can sometimes get a collection account removed, even if it’s legitimately a debt that you originally owed. Basically, you get off on a technicality because the collector doesn’t have complete records.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.
Each account on your credit report has a rating. A letter followed by a number shows the type of account and the rating. For example, if you have an account, that is rated as an I1 that is an individual account that is paid on time. If you have an account that has a J1, that is a joint account. An I5 could mean trouble. Highlight everything that isn't a 1 and everything that is turned over to collections.

Thanks for the helpful information. Being a loan officer, would you please be able to help guide me in the right direction of obtaining a home equity loan or refi on my paid mortgage? My home has been paid off for years now, and I would like to rent it to elderly HUD housing in my community. I need to make some modifications to be able to comply with HUD standards plus some other repairs. However, my credit file is very thin, and I was hoping to be able to use the home as colateral. Is this possible? Any feedback would be a blessing. Thanks so much for your time.

Set a budget and stick to it. A budget is simply a plan to direct parts of your income to specific expenses. Budgets can be simple or detailed. Determine how much you can comfortably set aside for savings and how much you can reasonably afford to pay of your debts. Try to lower your fixed expenses as much as possible so you can put more money towards fixing your credit.[4]
A trustworthy credit repair company will have no issues supplying you with complete access to all they work they are doing for you. They should be able to give you access to some form of secure online account where you will be able to track the progress they are making.  If you find the company cannot provide something similar to this, chances are they are not equipped to be handling your personal information.
It helps to go through your credit reports with a highlighter and pick out any and all inconsistencies. Keep in mind that a credit report from one credit bureau may have an error, while another may not. That’s why it’s so important to check all three of your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies for inaccuracies on each. You may find none, a few, or perhaps many errors on your reports. That’s where the next step to improving your credit comes in.
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