Your credit score is a critical report on the status of your financial health. Just like your annual physical with a doctor provides a snapshot of your physical health, your credit report is a snapshot of your finances. Many people are left reeling from the sting of debt, overdue credit card bills, or unpaid medical expenses that wreak havoc on credit ratings. While you can repair your physical health on your own through better diet and more exercise, not everyone is familiar with the steps that can be taken to repair their credit.
Believe it or not, you can actually repair your own credit for free online. There are a lot of helpful tips and useful guides available online, but the information is scattered and disjointed. In this post, you’ll find a complete guide to help walk you through the process of repairing your credit. You can do all of these steps yourself, for free, and get yourself back on the road to financial freedom.
You cannot repair your credit for free until you know exactly how good, or bad, your current credit rating is. With the help of free services such as MyFico.com, you can request a copy of your credit report without paying any fees. This allows you the opportunity to look through your credit report for errors. All of the information contained within is used to calculate your score. If it contains errors, you need to report them so you don’t suffer the negative effects. Common errors include:
- Late payments incorrectly listed when you have none.
- Inaccurate amounts for open accounts.
- Accounts listed as open and active that you know to be closed and inactive.
If you find errors on your credit report, the next step is to dispute them with the credit bureau. Fortunately, you can also do this for free.
Credit Repair Tip
Use a service such as MyFico.com to request your credit report and examine for errors.
Request an Investigation
According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, you can ask for an investigation into the discrepancies on your credit report at no charge to you. The process starts when you submit a list of details you believe to be inaccurate on your credit report. You must submit your disputed items in writing to the credit reporting company. Included with the letter of dispute, provide the reporting company with copies (never original documents) of any paperwork you have that supports your position.
Keep the following in mind as you file your dispute with the credit reporting company:
- Identify each individual item you dispute on your credit report.
- State the facts and reasons behind your dispute.
- Ask for the information to be removed or corrected.
- Enclose a copy of your credit report with you dispute, and be sure to highlight the items in question.
- Mail your dispute letter using certified mail with return receipt requested. This allows you to document when the credit company receives your dispute.
It is also a good idea to inform your creditor (or other responsible party) of the items you are disputing with the credit reporting company. This submission should also be completed in writing. Again, include copies of your supporting documents and clearly state the facts on your credit report that you dispute. When dealing with a creditor or information provider, take care to contact the proper department within that organization.
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Like it or not, your creditors are not going to jump into action right away. Credit bureaus have 30 days to address your disputes. Once you submit your formal dispute to a credit reporting agency, that company will contact the creditor to receive a response to the dispute. The creditor then has 30 to 45 days to respond to your dispute via the credit bureau. If no response is received, your dispute information will be removed or corrected.
Once you’ve launched your dispute, the trek toward credit repair is just beginning. Assuming you win your dispute with the credit reporting agency and the damaging, inaccurate information is corrected, your credit won’t rebound overnight. There is no magical service, free or paid, that will repair your credit in the blink of an eye.
With that said, there are steps you can take (for free) to help repair your credit over the long term now that you’ve launched a dispute. The first place you can start is by tackling your debt.
Pay Down Debts
It is easier said than done to tackle your debt. Many people find themselves in debt through bad luck. Maybe your medical bills have piled up as a result of constant illness, or your car was totaled and you’re still paying for a vehicle you can’t even drive. Whatever the circumstance, you have to get your debt under control.
Sit down and look at all of your debt and determine which accounts you can afford to start paying off. It’s not vital that you erase all of your debt as quickly as possible, but it is helpful to show that you can manage debt effectively and pay it down over time. Set up automatic payments to start paying off a credit card bill or begin making small payments on overdue medical bills.
Credit Repair Tip
When beginning to pay off debt, start small to show you can manage your debt effectively. It’s not vital to erase all your debt in one fell swoop.
Use Automatic Payments to Stay Ahead
Perhaps the best tool you have to avoid spiraling debt is automatic payments. Whether you set these up directly through a credit or service provider, or set them up on your own through your bank, automatic payments ensure that your debts are paid off (in-full or partially) each month. This shows a trend of positive debt management and could even enable you to pay off reasonable debts.
Establish New, Positive Credit Transactions
Applying for a new credit card is a surprisingly effective tool to help you repair your credit rating. Remember, a major contributor to your credit rating is your ability to manage debts and lines of credit. As you try to repair your credit for free, a new line of credit that is managed effectively can actually help you establish a positive transaction history that boosts your rating over time.
Now, this requires focus and determination. A new credit card is not license to spend freely on a new line of credit. Instead, this card should be used to charge just a few items to each month. Charge your cable bill or mobile service bill to the card every month, and then set up an automatic payment to pay it off in full. Paying off the full balance each month will establish positive credit tracks.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Finally, keep an eye on your credit report over time. Courtesy of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Make sure you take advantage of this offer and request a report on an annual basis.
Use that yearly report to keep tabs on your credit score and track any inaccurate data that might pop up on your report. You’ll find it easier to nip problems in the bud if you catch them before they start damaging your credit and dragging down your rating.
Assistance from Fair Debt Lawyers
While it is possible to repair your credit for free, not everyone has the time it takes to initiate and track disputes. If you’d like assistance from legal professionals in filing disputes with credit bureaus and reporting agencies, Fair Debt Lawyers can help. Our legal experts can provide you with an in-depth review of your report, assist in preparing and filing your disputes, and even monitor the progress of your claim.
If you want to get started repairing your credit, but aren’t sure where to turn, contact Fair Debt Lawyers today to learn more about what our team of legal professionals can do to help you get back on track toward a healthier financial future.