The Basic Steps to Credit Repair

     The following are the basic steps to credit repair. These steps should be followed in approximately the order that they are listed to give you the most effective and logical approach to impact your credit report.

    * Get your credit report and review it. This credit report must have all three credit bureaus so that you see all the accounts that are being report by your creditors (not all creditors report to all three bureaus). Get your free credit report.

    * Make a copy of your report and do not write on it, this copy you’ll send to the credit bureaus – they want a clean copy. On your other copy, mark all items you consider to be questionable or negative.

    * Make a list of each item you want to dispute on a separate sheet of paper. Make sure you clearly identify each item from your report that you want dispute, including an explanation about why you dispute the information, account number (s), dates, and balances. Make sure you look at: account opened dates, dates of last activity, credit limits, amounts owed. If any of this information is incorrect you should ask for a deletion.

      If you are recovering from a Bankruptcy, you need to address the accounts that have the bankruptcy listed on them, before you try to get the bankruptcy off your public record section. If is possible to get the bankruptcy removed. By the way, there is no law that says that a Bankruptcy, or any other credit account information must stay on your credit report for any number of years, the Credit Laws that address consumer credit only really say that things have to come off after a certain number of years. Bankruptcies must come off your credit report after 10 years and other negative information after 7 years. The exception to these items are IRS tax liens and state tax liens and in some cases judgments like past child support.

    * Start with the first 12 most recent months. Another key to your credit score is what your last 12 months of credit history look like. If you have had collections in the past12 months, these will dramatically lower your scores. If you are qualifying for a mortgage, never payoff a collection account when it is older than 12 months until you check with your loan officer if you have a question about this. To pay off a collection that is under 12 months old, you always want to go back to the original creditor first to see if they will take payment. If they will, ask if they will write a letter stating that the account is paid and that the collection company who bought the collection to delete your account. Never pay the collection company first, and if you are going to pay the collection company, ask them to delete the account from the record.

    * Write a letter for each item that clearly shows what you are disputing. This information comes directly from the list you just made. You don’t want to just dispute changing a balance or something small within the item, you want to request for a complete deletion.

    * Send the letters to each credit bureau, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion along with a copy of your credit report. If there is supporting information like a paid satisfaction letter, or your bankruptcy paperwork, you’ll want to provide a copy of that with your letter. The addresses to each bureau are found on your credit report.

    * Make sure you send them registered or certified mail so you know that the letter got there. Knowing this date is important as the credit bureaus and creditors have approximately 30 days to respond to your disputes. If the creditor doesn’t respond within this time, then the disputed information needs to be corrected by the credit bureau.

    * Be Patient. You won’t get any results until in the mail for at least 30 days – if you haven’t heard anything within 45 days, call the credit bureaus and ask them what’s happening.

    * You should get a letter from each credit bureau showing you what corrections were made, if any. Review what happened.

    * If you are satisfied with your results then you are finished.

    * If there is more to do, then you can re-dispute the items that didn’t get fixed, and/or dispute additional items. The rule of thumb is you should wait around 60 days before you re-dispute the same items. Be careful, however, you don’t want to "bug" the bureaus as they are people and if you are too rough with them, who knows how long it might take them to "get" to your paperwork. This might be harsh, but remember it – they are people too. Another thing about disputing an item, toss in getting an attorney, or referencing the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1977 this will let the bureaus know that you know something about what you are doing. You can even call the bureaus and ask them questions once they have worked on your report. Don’t expect them to give you any answers before hand, until they have had their initial 30 days and had a chance to work on your paperwork.

    * To get your credit score you’ll have to repull your credit. The credit bureaus will not give you your scores with the information they send you about what they corrected.

    * It is possible for items that have been removed to show up again. In this case the creditor putting it on your report is supposed to notify you about their actions – before they do it. If they do not, you might nave grounds to have it removed again.

     Hopefully you find this information helpful in fixing your credit report. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website: ftc.gov for more information on credit repair, credit repair companies, scams, and the Credit Repair Organizations Act which regulates credit repair companies.