How to Repair Your Credit for Free
Welcome, contestants, to an exciting round of the Game of Good Credit. If you’ve ever lost big in the Game of Good Credit, it can feel like you’ll never be able to win again. But if you take the right moves you can get back to winning score faster than you think.
A winning game plan often starts by cleaning up your credit report. It helps you clear the board so you can move forward effectively. Negative items can linger longer than necessary. You may have actually made some bad moves, but some negative items that show up may not be real at all.
So, the first step in your game plan should be to order your credit reports through annualcreditreport.com. Answer a few security questions, pass through the portal and access your profile from each credit bureau. After a bad credit loss, you’ll want to play through three rounds of review – one for each bureau.
As you work through each round, look for trouble spots that could set you back. Make sure those items are legitimate. But keep an eye out for errors, such as mistakes in your personal information. But take note if your report shows duplicate accounts or accounts that shouldn’t be there.
Detail any information that’s not correct: Look for late payments that you actually made on time and identify bad account statuses that might be outdated. See if there are any hard credit inquiries that you didn’t authorize.
Now you can dispute these errors to the credit bureau to have them verified or removed. They have 30 days to respond to a dispute. Once that clock expires, the item must be verified or, by law, it must be removed from your report.
This is how you clean up your credit so past issues don’t affect your current game. If you’re ever unsure of any credit rules, call the toll-free number for the bureau listed on the report. They’re required to explain any rules you don’t understand so you can play with confidence.
For more tips on how to win the Game of Good Credit, visit ConsolidatedCredit.org.
More great tips on how to fix your credit for free.
As we noted in the video, you can’t remove just any negative information from your credit report. If a negative item is correct and legitimate, there is nothing you can legally do to get it removed early. You have to wait for the item to expire and then it will fall off your report naturally. If it doesn’t, then you can use follow the steps to dispute the mistake for free credit repair.
With that in mind, remember the following tips to establish good credit the right way as quickly as possible. If you take the right steps to rebuild credit, you can achieve a better score in about 6 months.
Tip No. 1: Don’t be scammed into breaking the law
Although you can hire a state-licensed attorney to dispute errors on your behalf, be careful with credit repair services! There are many fraudulent services that can push you into breaking the law, paying them fees for their bad advice.
If you decide to use third-party credit repair, always work with a state-licensed attorney. Don’t trust any service that tells you to create a new credit profile with a different Social Security Number or by getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It’s breaking the law.
You should also be wary of any service that promises or guarantees to raise your credit score. You use credit repair to remove negative items that are errors; any increase in your score is a secondary benefit. Companies can’t guarantee score increases in any legitimate way.
Tip No. 2: Offset old items with new positive actions
Always keep in mind that nothing negative in your credit will last forever. All penalties expire and, in fact, the “weight” of a negative item decreases over time. The further you get away from a late payment or charge-off, the less it affects your credit. In addition, you can offset past negative actions by taking positive actions now.
Take positive actions like making payments on time or paying off credit card debt to improve your credit utilization ratio. This will help you build credit so you can achieve the score you want.
Tip No. 3: Review your reports every year
By law, you can review your credit reports from the three credit bureaus for free once every twelve months. If you go to annualcreditreport.com, you can download them at no charge and with no strings attached.
Always take advantage of this free review, so you can check for errors and mistakes. Look for all the negative items mentioned in the video above. This will help ensure you maintain the best credit possible.
Tip No. 4: Be aware credit reporting and scoring methods can change
It’s important to note that both credit reporting methods and credit scoring models can change. As long as they follow the regulations established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit bureaus can make adjustments.
In most cases, the credit bureaus make adjustments that work in the favor of credit users. For example, the FCRA says bankruptcy filings must be removed 10 years from the date of discharge. However, the credit bureaus voluntarily agreed to remove Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings after 7 years. That’s good for any credit user who’s ever had to declare bankruptcy.
In 2017, the credit bureaus announced they would make some major changes to credit reporting. They’ve also announced major changes to their credit score model, the VantageScore. To keep up with these changes and how they’ll affect your credit, visit Consolidated Credit’s Credit News section!