Credit repair requires a number of steps, some seem more exciting than others, but if you leave even one of them out your effort may fall flat. Imagine investing time, money, and your emotion in a project and failing because you miss one little component. As the old proverbial rhyme goes, for want of a nail the kingdom was lost. This is largely true with credit repair. Here are the steps you simply must include to reach your goals.
The Big Review
Your project must start with a comprehensive review of your credit report. It is not enough to browse the list of accounts to spot the obvious stuff. You will undoubtedly be able to pick out the items that do not belong to you, and should be able to note any late payments you feel are reporting erroneously, but these issues may only be the tip of the iceberg. There are many types of reporting problems that are more subtle and yet may be harming your scores much more than the obvious items.
A Real Hands-On Job
You need to roll up your sleeves, print your tri-merge report, spread it out on the table, get a pen and a highlighter, and plan to spend an hour or two working on it. If you think this is silly, maybe you are not putting enough value on your credit. In fact, there may be no other investment of your time that will ever repay you in such a huge way. Circle every single derogatory item; because you recognize it does not mean it should be on your report. Once you have your list it is time to investigate.
Some Baddies You Do Not Want to Miss
How about this? Do you see more than one collector reporting the same debt? Most people with old charged off accounts, older than one year, see multiple collectors dunning the same debt. This is not accurate reporting and must be disputed. When a collector sells an account they should withdraw their reporting from the credit bureaus. This type of reporting failure may be costing you major points. There are many other angles to consider. If you do not have the time or energy to do the research yourself, consider employing a credit repair service.
Dispute with Determination – Do Not Be Wimpy
Once you establish the final list of all of the errors you want to fix, you need to dispute them. This is as simple as writing to the credit bureaus, but it may take more than one try. The major credit bureaus are fully prepared to process dispute letters, but this does not mean that they will do it right or even at all. You must be a little forgiving of the bureaucracy involved and prepare yourself to dispute more than one time if you do not get the answer you want. When you know you are right, stand your ground.
Disputes Are Only Half of the Answer
Rooting out the bad stuff on your report is awesome. Your credit report will look better, you will feel better, and you may even see a nice pop in your scores. This makes a good start to your credit repair project. But if you want real score improvement you need to make sure you have good stuff on your report, and that it is tweaked for success. If you do not have any open accounts with balances (that you make payments to each month) you are not feeding the bureaus the info they need to score you properly. If this is the case, open a couple of new accounts; secured cards are fine. If you do have open credit, make sure your balances are low enough not to thwart your progress.
Getting the Help You Need
There are many resources available on the web to aid your efforts. You should take a look through the Fair Credit Reporting Act for a start. You will also want to familiarize yourself with reporting period limits for different account types to determine when old derogatory information should stop reporting (as well as when the clock really starts). You may also want to browse the credit blogs on some of the reputable credit related site to learn from other people. Or if you are not the do-it-yourself type, contact a credit repair service to discuss their offerings.