This article takes an in-depth look at credit repair, what it means, how it works, and how you can do it yourself to fix your credit.
What is Credit Repair?
Credit repair basically means disputing the negative accounts on your credit report. This is what credit repair companies do for their clients, and it’s effective.
All three credit bureaus allow consumers to dispute any item on their credit report. When you dispute an item, the credit bureau has 30 days to validate the account. If they do not hear back from the creditor with satisfactory validation within 30 days, it must be removed from your credit report.
How Bad Credit Affects Your Financial Life
When you have bad credit, it makes life difficult. Loans and credit cards are hard to qualify for, and if you do, you usually have very high-interest rates. High rates can cost consumers tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their life.
Getting a mortgage with bad credit is almost impossible these days. Using our free do-it-yourself credit repair guide, you will be able to improve your FICO score so you can qualify for lower rates.
How to Increase Your Credit Score
How To Fix Your Credit Yourself
You do not need a professional credit repair company to fix your credit yourself. Disputing accounts on your credit is something you can do yourself and have success.
Use the advice in our guide to increase your credit score quickly. If your goal is to purchase a home, you should use the guide to maximize your credit scores before applying for a mortgage.
1. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
First, you will need your free credit report and scores. Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your credit report. You can get your free scores from several reputable websites.
2. Identify the Negative Accounts
When you download a copy of your credit report go through it with a highlighter and mark each negative account item, wrong address, mistakes, late payments, etc. You will need to be able to refer back to them quickly in order to dispute them with the credit bureaus.
3. Dispute Items with the Three Credit Bureaus
Credit bureaus allow consumers to dispute just about anything on their credit report they believe may be inaccurate. Once you officially dispute an item on your report, the bureau launches an investigation.
The creditor must provide information that verifies the account belongs to you and is correct within 30 days. If they fail to respond or fail to include sufficient documentation then the credit bureau will remove the account from your report entirely. If a creditor validates an account at a later date the account can end up on your credit report again.
4. Contact Collection Agencies
After you have disputed all of the collection accounts on your report, some may get removed and you don’t have to do anything else. Others will verify the account and it will remain on your report, contact the creditors who have validated the account to see if they will agree to a “pay for delete.” A pay for delete is an agreement that you will pay a past due account and they will agree to remove the account from your credit report.
This is the only way you can improve your credit score by paying off an old collection item. If you pay a collection and the creditor just updates the balance but leaves the collection account on your report then your credit score will not improve.
5. Stay Current on Your Bills
You’re working on improving your credit score so you need to make sure you don’t add to your work by adding any new negative items to it. Stay on top of your bills and don’t apply for new credit while you work on your report.
- Pay all bills on time
- Set up autopay so you don’t forget any payments
- Do not apply for new credit
6. Pay down your Credit Card Debt
If you’re carrying high credit card balances, your credit score is being affected. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of available credit you are using.
Your credit utilization ratio makes up 30% of your overall FICO score. Only your payment history has a bigger impact on your credit. Keeping your balances as low as possible is ideal, try to at least have your balances less than 25% of their credit limit.
7. Get added as an authorized user
An authorized user can be added to any credit card account, giving them access to use the account. When another user is added, the account’s entire history is added to the new user’s credit report, increasing their credit score.
If you have a family member or a friend with a credit card in good standing, you can ask them to add you as an authorized user. You don’t even need to have a card; you’re just using the account to help your credit rating.
Get Collection Accounts Removed
There are some common misconceptions around collection accounts and how they affect your score. Naturally, collections lower your FICO score significantly. But paying them off will do nothing to improve your score.
There are a few ways you can remove collection accounts from your report. The first step you should take is to dispute them. We show you how to do this in our free credit report guide,
If that doesn’t work, you can send a debt validation letter to the creditor. The debt collector has 30 days from the date they receive your request to respond with the information verifying the debt. If they do not respond within 30 days, they must remove it.
Download our free credit repair guide. Inside, you will find sample dispute letters, phone numbers, and secrets to remove negative items from your report better than any credit repair company will be able to do.
Credit Bureau Dispute Information
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Phone: 800-916-8800 – 8am-11pm EST
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (714) 830-7000
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone: (800) 846-5279