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Rebuild Credit

Resources and information about how to fix bad credit and rebuild your credit score.

Basic Credit Rebuilding Strategy

The basic strategy to rebuild credit is as follows:

1. Get your credit report.

This is the first step. To obtain free copies of your credit report, visit Annualcreditreport.com. By law you are entitled to one free copy every 12 months. Please note: when you get a free report, you are not going to see your credit score, which is a crucial tool for rebuilding credit. To purchase your credit scores, we recommend this site.

2. Analyze your credit report.

You can analyze your credit as outlined in the instructions with the credit report and score. You can use the free credit report analyzer which comes  with your credit score to figure out which items on your report are damaging. We suggest printing out your report then highlight everything you see as a negative listing along with what the computer analysis pointed out.

3. Rank questionable/negative items

Step 2 covered how to identify items, both positive and negative on your credit report. Now you have this list, you should rank each item according to the amount of damage they are doing to your overall credit picture. Rank the most damaging information first, followed by the next most damaging information, followed by those items which are neutral. Do this for each credit report. You must be aware, though, they may not all have the exact same information on them.

The items here are listed in order of descending importance with the first item being the "most damaging" to your credit.

Bankruptcy
Foreclosure
Repossession
Loan Default
Court Judgments
Collections
Past due payments
Late Payments
Credit Rejections
Credit Inquiries

4. Requesting Corrections and Disputing Your Credit

What should you challenge? Answer: everything that is damaging, and you should always shoot for a complete deletion. In your initial challenge, meaning the first letter that you send to the credit bureaus, don't dispute the specific information within a collection listing, a charge-off, a court record, a repossession, a foreclosure, or a settled account. Save disputing the specific information within the listing for the NEXT ROUND OF DISPUTES. The first time you contact the credit bureaus your reason for your dispute on a negative listing whenever possible should be "not mine".

You will have the toughest time getting bankruptcies, judgments, child support and foreclosures off of your credit report as these things are very easy for the credit bureaus to verify electronically through e-Oscar. In the instance of a bankruptcy, if that applies to you, there will most likely be a few trade lines saying "included in Bankruptcy". If you want to challenge your bankruptcy, you will first need to clear off all credit lines mentioning a bankruptcy before challenging the bankruptcy itself.

5. Make sure you send your dispute letters by registered or certified mail.

This is important, as you must be able to tell when letters were sent and received. It gives you some leverage with the credit reporting agencies if they don't respond in the time frame required by law. DON'T USE THE ONLINE DISPUTING SERVICE PROVIDED BY THE CREDIT BUREAUS. You need to be documenting everything, and you want to make sure that you have a complete record of your disputes.

6. Document Every Step As You Rebuild Credit

As soon as you have ordered your credit reports and photocopied your order letters and checks, you must create a precise organizational system to track your correspondences with the credit bureaus and your creditors. Why is this necessary? Unfortunately, credit items you have worked so hard to remove sometimes mysteriously reappear. If this happens, it is usually easy to have the items deleted permanently if you show your complete records on the first removal. Why take a chance? As you proceed through these steps, keep copies and records of all correspondence you send and receive. Copies of all correspondence are a must, as well as notes on all telephone conversations! Also, if you should encounter any special difficulty and would like help in repairing your credit, you will need these records to proceed.

Every time you have a telephone conversation with a creditor, you must document the conversation by recording the name of the person to whom you spoke, his or her position, the date and time of the conversation, what was said in the conversation, and what was agreed upon.

7. Wait for the credit bureau to finishing investigating

Once the credit reporting agency has received your dispute letter, they are obligated to investigate. This obligation is not contingent upon you having been denied credit. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit bureaus must take the following steps:

The credit reporting agencies must resolve consumers' disputes within 30 days limit, unless you have used the services of annualcreditreport.com, then the bureaus can take up to 45 days.

In response to consumers' complaints that documentation in support of their disputes was disregarded, the credit bureaus have to consider and transmit to the furnisher all relevant evidence submitted by the consumer the first time.

Consumers will receive written notice of the results of the investigation within five days of its completion, including a copy of the amended credit file if it changed based on the dispute.

Once information is deleted from a credit file, the credit bureaus can not reinsert it unless the entity supplying the information certifies that the item is complete and accurate and the credit bureau notifies the consumer within five days.

The Federal Trade Commission has stated that inaccurate credit reports are the number-one source of consumer complaints, and that it is quite common for problems to take six or more months to be resolved. All of the big-three agencies are working on making sure that all disputes are handled within 30 days.

If the new investigation reveals an error, you may ask that a corrected version of the report be sent to anyone who received your report within the past six months. Job applicants can have corrected reports sent to anyone who received a report for employment purposes during the past two years. However, this is unlikely to repair any damage done when your credit report was first pulled, so don’t waste your time or energy on this approach.

8. Evaluate the results of your efforts to rebuild credit.

When you get your "repaired" credit report back from the credit bureaus, they will summarize what changed on your credit report due to your challenges. You can compare this list to your own notes or just to the previous credit report.

9. Repeat your credit bureau dispute:

It's a good idea to keep disputing negative listings with the credit bureaus. If you hit on the right dispute, the listing could get completely removed from your report. For instance, if you dispute the date the account was opened, and the credit bureaus can not verify this information they may pull the whole listing. You will need to change the reason for the investigation so the credit bureau will have something new to investigate. Each letter of dispute must have a different reason for disputing. That's OK, there are a lot of reasons that a single negative item can be disputed. The order of the reasons should be (one letter after another until the negative item is removed, but wait for the results from the first dispute before sending the second letter, and wait for the results from the second letter before sending the third, etc.):


Not mine (not my account)
I didn't pay late that month
Wrong amount
Wrong account number
Wrong original creditor
Wrong Charge-off Date
Wrong Date of Last Activity
Wrong Balance
Wrong Credit limit
Wrong Status (there are about 20)
Wrong High Credit (the highest amount you used)

For example, the first time you challenge a listing, you might say the account is "not mine." The second time through, you would say "I didn't pay late the month that shows on my report as being late."


Tips for resubmitting your credit dispute

Be persistent! Become more insistent, but never threatening, with each dispute. Make sure your letters are clear and to the point. Remember, an employee at one of the credit bureaus has about 4 minutes to enter the dispute into the computer for analysis by e-Oscar. Remember if you call the company, this resets the clock on how long they have to get back to you. If you are on day 29 of the 30 days that they have to get back to you and you call, the clock resets and they have 30 more days because you "provided them with more information". Just like any other consumer, you can become frustrated and threatening as time passes. You may mention that might hire an attorney, you may indicate that you are going to send a written complaint to the FTC and your state's attorney general, etc. But don’t overdo it by threatening. A polite and professional tone, while being firm and informed, will get the best results.

Be creative - Create and utilize other techniques that help further the idea that the dispute letter is from a truly wronged and disadvantaged consumer. The checker is only interested in investigating disputes that truly are erroneous and damaging.

Do not bombard the credit bureaus with disputes (about the same listings, that is). Sending one dispute right after another is wasteful and counterproductive, even if you do use a different reason in your dispute. Again, you must remember to change the REASON for the dispute each time you submit. Otherwise, the dispute can be deemed frivolous and the credit bureau is under no legal obligation to take action. Also remember, that credit repair is a time-consuming operation requiring great patience. The rule of thumb is to wait 60 days between disputes of the same listing WITH A DIFFERENT REASON FOR DISPUTING. The process to repair credit score is very time-consuming and there are no shortcuts available.

10. What if a removed negative item comes back on my credit report?

Ok, you’ve removed a listing and are breathing a deep sigh of relief. Then you get a letter in the mail from a credit bureau telling you the item has been added back on. What happened?

Re-verified listings

This is actually becoming more commonplace: since the new credit laws require that the bureaus investigate and resolve your disputes within 30 days, they will sometimes remove the negative information temporarily until they get the information verified as true. Then they will put back any information verified to be true and notify you of this. By law, they can do this, but they have to notify you in writing.

If they DO NOT notify you in writing, it is an instant violation of the FCRA with an $1000 fine PAYABLE TO YOU. Many of our readers have had great success earning some easy cash by suing the credit bureaus for reinserted listings in violation of this notification law. Not only do you earn $1000, but that listing is removed from your report as well.

11. What if I get stuck or this is just too much work?

After reading all the steps involved to rebuild credit, you may realize that it would be easier for you to just have an expert do the work for you. We recommend the services of Lexington Law. They use the exact dispute process explained above to obtain impressive results. In fact, they delete thousands of negative credit listings every day, and they have been doing it for 15 years.

Whether you choose to rebuild your credit yourself, or have a professional firm such as Lexington Law rebuild credit for you, with the lending climate and tight standards needed to qualify, a very good credit score is more important than ever.


Rebuild Credit Resources

Listed below are a variety of additional resources to help you rebuild your credit:

Current news stories about rebuilding credit.

More rebuild credit news items.

Rebuild credit documents from the FTC.

 


   
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