So when talking about fixing bad credit, there is more to it than just trying to increase a credit score. It is about repairing the errors and omissions in your credit reports. Responsibly managing your credit will help you start working towards a better credit score, but truly fixing bad credit requires that you also focus on the source of the problem.
By the way, don’t use a credit card for a big bill if you plan to carry a balance. The compound interest will create an ugly pile of debt pretty quickly. Credit cards should never be used as a long-term loan unless you have a card with a zero percent introductory APR on purchases. But even then, you have to be mindful of the balance on the card and make sure you can pay the bill off before the intro period ends.
One of the main factors that goes into your credit score is your utilization rate, or how much of your available credit you actually use. If you have an available credit line of $10,000, for example, and you carry a balance of $5,000, your utilization rate is 50%. That's not bad, but not great. Keeping your utilization rate below 30% shows lenders that you're a reliable borrower who doesn't max out your cards. A rate of 10% or less is ideal.
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.
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.
My wife and I recently decided we wanted to buy a home better suited to starting a family and sell our townhouse (which she owned when we met). I didn't have the best, let's say, track record with financials in my past and my credit was abysmal. I hit rock bottom 2.5 years ago when my car ( a beautiful fully loaded Jeep) was reposed on Xmas eve morning. Even then, although angry and ashamed, I didn't do much to help myself out. My 20's, which were years of partying, spending and generally speaking not caring had finally caught up. I was 29. So, we got to work with fixing things. Paying off creditors, paying down debts, making on time payments, etc. When we had my credit run about 6 weeks ago, it was 588. This was much higher than the 410 I had a couple years ago, but still a far cry from good. (Side note here, be mindful of using credit cards that track your fico score, or having a credit bureau account that gives you your score. There are around 30 different scores that are used, and different scores are used for different types of inquires (auto loan is different than mortgage)). So we got to work, paid off the last couple things and really started paying attention to what was happening. One thing I can't stress enough is every year, you're allowed to get 3 free credit reports, 1 from each bureau. You MUST do this each year. This is where I found my credit windfall. I was able to uncover the fact that a debt that had been paid of was still being reported as open and late. I also found a debt that wasn't mine! A big one. $1700 showing open and late for 2 years with a collector. I filled a report with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and they started an investigation. The company that had this debt wrote me a letter saying that even though I had no proof that the debt wasn't mine, they would absolve it and would contact the 3 credit bureaus to have the reporting removed and cleared. At this point, I called my broker and said it's time to run the simulator. They ran it, and then performed what is called a Rapid Rescore. Some brokers charge for this; good ones don't. Since they are trying to get your business they will do it for free. If it's at cost, it's roughly $10 per item per report. If you have a lot of issues it can add up. Anyhow, they did the rescore, did the simulator, ran a hard inquiry and BOOM, 657.
Even if the debt has passed the SOL in your state for suit (variable by state) and even the federal SOL for reporting (roughly 7 years from when the debt discharged) a collector may still pursue you for this money if you owe it. They will just never be able to collect it or report it if you don't allow them to, although they will certainly try and hope you are ignorant enough of the law that they get money from you.
You will also need a big lump sum of cash. Borrowing from your 401(k) retirement plan is an option if you have no alternatives. It isn’t considered an actual loan, so it doesn’t show up on your credit report. You can borrow up to 50% of your plan balance without penalty. However, before taking that route, see if a wealthy family member may consider giving you a loan instead, as dipping into your retirement savings can be disastrous in the long run.
In some cases, it might be difficult to determine what to include as far as supporting documentation goes — that’s another way a credit repair company can help you. For example, if you’re a victim of identity theft and a fraudulent account is appearing on your credit report, it can be tough to prove it isn’t yours since you naturally don’t have any documents relating to the account.
If you have errors that can’t be verified: A little known fact about your credit report is that every detail in the report needs to be verifiable. For example, if you have a negative item on your credit report from a lender who was bought or went out of business, there is a chance that if the credit bureaus were to call to verify the information on your report, they would get no answer. In that case, they are required to remove it from your credit report. This is a loophole that credit repair services will use to raise your score.
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Delinquent payments, bad credit, and foreclosures usually mean high-interest rates and difficulty getting loans or mortgages. Lenders will consider you a high risk and will be hesitant to work with you. Changing your spending habits and cleaning up your credit report will help you get better loan rates and save you thousands of dollars in interest.
You’ll use your own money as collateral by putting down a deposit, which is often about $150 – $250. Typically, the amount of your deposit will then be your credit limit. You should make one small purchase each month and then pay it off on time and in full. Once you prove you’re responsible, you can get back your deposit and upgrade to a regular credit card. Read more about secured cards here.
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.
For example, assume you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit. It’s a rewards card, so you use it for everything. In fact, every month, you hit your limit. The statement arrives, you owe $1,000, and you send in a check to pay it off. But the credit card company is likely reporting the statement balance each month. So, it looks like you have a $1,000 limit and a $1,000 balance. That’s a 100 percent credit utilization rate.
Capital One is an odd example of this. I have read many reviews that state that after 18 months with stellar payment history and carrying no balance that users were told they qualified for an unsecured card but would first have to close the secured card (In order to get the deposit refunded) - or you can keep the secured card and open the new unsecured card as well. A few people indicated they were able to graduate without changing the card and it was converted for them - but 95% of reviews speak to how difficult it is to get deposits back - even from them.
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.
It’s easy to check your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You’re entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three of your credit reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These free credit reports can be accessed via AnnualCreditReport.com, the government-mandated site run by the major bureaus. (You can also view a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
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