There are several important issues to consider before starting your credit repair effort. The time you invest in preparation will save you time and effort, and more importantly, insure that you get the results you deserve from your credit repair project. Take a moment, plan your approach, and proceed thoughtfully. You will succeed!
Make Your Payments on Time
If you are currently not able to keep up with your existing obligations, credit repair is not the right option for you. Before starting a credit repair effort your finances should be stabilized and you should be able to pay your bills on time. There is no point in cleaning up your credit report while derogatory events continue to occur. If you are having trouble paying your bills you should investigate other options, including consumer credit counseling and debt negotiation. You should also consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney.
Get Your Credit Reports
You will need all three reports from the major CRAs (credit reporting agencies) for your credit repair project; they are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can get them for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, but I am sorry to say that I advise against this option, as it is difficult and frustrating. And in the end, should you succeed, you will have three credit reports in different formats, and all about as clear to the layman as reading Chinese. I suggest purchasing a nice tri-merged report. They are easily available on the Internet and should cost less than $20. A good investment in your credit repair success.
Get Your Credit Scores, Maybe
It seems like a nice idea to obtain your credit scores at the outset of your credit repair project so you can track the progress of this important number. Should you choose to do this, you need to be aware of a controversial battle between the credit bureaus and Fair Isaac Corp, the developer of the FICO scoring model. Lenders purchase FICO scores from the credit bureaus to make loan decisions. The credit bureaus, however, will not sell these genuine FICO scores to consumers. Instead they have created their own scores which are meant to mimic the behavior of FICO scores. Unfortunately, they often differ by as much as 100 points. At the moment consumers can purchase genuine FICO scores for their Equifax and TransUnion reports directly from Fair Isaac at MyFICO.com. A single Equifax FICO score is available at Equifax.com. Experian FICO scores are not available to the public.
Read the Fair Credit Reporting Act
You cannot hope to succeed at credit repair without knowing the compliance requirements imposed on the credit bureaus. These requirements are codified in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Many people starting a credit repair program assume that it is only necessary to spot and dispute the obvious derogatory errors. If you make this mistake you are likely to leave half of your potential improvement untapped. If you take the time to grasp the essential reporting guidelines of the FCRA you will gain the legal leverage you need to get the credit repair results you deserve.
Read the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
If you have any collection issues at all you will need a working knowledge of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is not a difficult read and will give you a significant advantage in dealing with both active collections as well as dormant collection accounts on your credit report. Armed with your legal rights you will be able to stop collectors from bothering you, force them to validate their legitimacy, provide you with an accounting of the debt, and force them to remove erroneous and outdated entries from your credit report.
Learn Your Statutes of Limitation
Statutes of limitation define the time limit for collectors to enforce collection of a debt through the court system and are an essential tool in your credit repair arsenal. A statute of limitation (SOL) has no bearing on the reporting period limits that the CRAs are required to enforce. Reporting period limits are generally seven years for derogatory events, whereas SOLs are often as short as three years. When an SOL has expired, a collector has no way to enforce the collection of a debt. This gives you a powerful credit repair advantage; you may opt to ignore the debt with no fear of being sued, or you may choose to negotiate a very favorable payoff.
Consider Professional Help
If you are going to manage your own credit repair effort you must invest the time in understanding your rights and the compliance requirements of all parties involved in the reporting process. But if you decide that you cannot manage the effort it takes to manage the credit repair task properly you should hire a professional. Should you decide on this path I suggest that you write down a list of questions relevant to your case and call several reputable credit repair services and interview them. Choose the company that you are comfortable with and put them to work. Good luck!
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