How to Fix Your Credit Report
Many consumers with damaged credit history or a low FICO credit score want to fix their poor credit report, but don’t know how to start. If you are tired of paying sky high interest rates and having lower credit limits, now is the time to get the negative information off your report and get your personal finances in order. In order to get the best credit rates available on credit accounts , car loans, and student loans, you need to improve the quality of your credit history which will also improve your FICO credit score.Don’t Confuse Your FICO Credit Score With Your Credit History
Many people assume that their credit scores are their credit. While these two ideas are related, they aren’t the same thing. Your credit history is information supplied by banks, credit card companies, debt collectors, student loan servicers, and other lenders about their experience with you. That experience includes things like your available credit, payment history, credit limit, and monthly payments. These companies (known as data furnishers) report this information to the credit bureaus in a standardized format known as Metro 2, which represents this account information in a series of coded data fields. Your credit score, on the other hand, is a calculated number that evaluates that credit data. So, even though these two numbers are related, these credit issues are not the same. If you want to improve your credit score, work on improving your account histories. Here’s how!
Get Rid of Accounts that Don’t Belong to You
Many consumers are plagued by accounts that don’t belong to them. These include accounts from identity theft scams and mixed credit files. No matter how they get on your report, and whether they represent good credit or bad credit, these accounts drag down your FICO score and paint a false picture of your credit history. When you review your credit history, look for incorrect information about accounts that aren’t yours and then dispute them. If you need an attorney to help with accounts that aren’t yours, call us for a free consultation with no upfront fees or charges, at at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Eliminate Time-Barred Information
Another major drag on your FICO credit scores are old, negative accounts. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), negative credit information can only stay on your Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union reports for 7 years after the date when the negative history began. After that 7 year time, the credit bureaus have to remove the obsolete account information. Many creditors report false delinquency dates to keep the negative information on your report longer than the law allows. You should keep electronic copies of all your credit statements so that you can use them to find out when your negative accounts should be removed from your credit report. If you identify an old account that should come off, write a dispute letter. If you can’t get it removed with a simple dispute letter or phone call to the credit bureau, you may need the help of a credit report attorney. Call us at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Watch for Duplicate Accounts
One of the most common credit errors to harm credit scores is duplicate reporting. Accounts can become duplicated when creditors transfer accounts to collection agencies or renumber the account. Credit bureaus recognize accounts by the unique combination of the account number and a unique credit issuer ID code. If either of these numbers changes, the bureaus won’t recognize the account as it comes into your credit profile and may duplicate it with the new creditor or account number. If you see a duplicated account, you should dispute the account. If you can’t get it removed, let one of our credit lawyers talk to you about how we can help. Call us at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Pay Off Collection Accounts
The most negative items on any consumer credit report are collection accounts. For credit providers, these accounts are red flags. These accounts reflect late payments, missed payments, and charged off accounts that credit providers have given up on collecting. While these accounts can only stay on your report for seven years after the original creditor first reported with a negative history, during that time these accounts are highly damaging to your credit history and FICO score. Pay any valid accounts off in full. If the debt collector won’t report the account as paid, you may need the help of one of our attorneys. Call us at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Reduce Your Credit Card Balances
Credit card debt presents unique challenges to consumers. While on-time credit payments can help your history and score, having high credit card debt will reflect high credit utilization ratios that will pull your credit score down. Pay down your credit balances and you will improve your credit score.
Explain Incorrect Information with a Consumer Statement
If there are incorrect items on your report that you can’t remove through the ordinary dispute process, be sure to write an explanation of the item to the credit bureaus. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives all consumers the right to include a 100 word statement if they disagree with the results of an investigation. By writing a good explanation, you can let potential creditors know that the report is accurate while you continue to work on correcting it. If you need help writing your 100 word statement, our attorneys can help guide you through this process without any upfront charge. Call us at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Avoid Excessive Credit Applications
New credit may be a way to build credit, but excessive applications can hurt. Applications for a new credit card, personal loan, mortgage, or car loan will trigger credit inquiries from those lenders. While checking your own credit report won’t impact your score, “hard inquiries” from creditors will drive your score down. If you are working on increasing your credit score, don’t apply for new credit unless you need it.
While these suggestions won’t directly impact your credit sore or history, they will help support your continued efforts to improve your personal finance.
Use Autopay to Pay On Time, Every Time
On time payments are a significant factor in good credit scores. Setting up autopay on all your credit accounts will help to show an on-time payment history so long as the account and autopay are active. Autopay helps to make sure you are never late and never miss a payment. Autopay works best when combined with household budgeting.
If you are already using autopay on your accounts, you credit monitoring won’t improve your credit. But, credit monitoring can help you to understand your credit activity impacts your score. More importantly, credit monitoring can identify unauthorized accesses to your credit report that can be associated with identity thefts or mixed credit files. Monitoring can also help you see your ongoing progress as you work on improving your credit. If you aren’t interested in paying monthly fees for credit monitoring, you can look for a credit card with free credit score monitoring. While these services won’t necessarily help you stop an ongoing ID theft, they will keep you up to date if there are any major changes in your credit profile. Because these services are free to cardholders, these service won’t cause any additional cost.
Don’t Fall for Credit Repair Scams
Many consumers who want better credit turn to credit repair companies to remove negative items. These companies are required to comply with the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act. Under this statute, credit repair services are prohibited from helping consumers remove accurate, negative history. In short, if your report contains negative information that is true, a credit repair company cannot legally help you remove it, no matter what they advertise. If you are looking for help in improving your credit, there are many nonprofit credit counselors who can help, without paying a monthly fee. You can find local help from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. And if you are having trouble getting false information off your report, our credit report attorneys are here to help. We are here for toll free consultations at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
Freeze Your Credit Report
Putting a freeze on your credit report helps protect you in two ways. First, by locking your credit file with the major credit bureaus, you reduce the opportunity for identity theft. Because creditors cannot obtain your report on demand, but rather have to verify you are the person that requested credit, you will know if anyone is attempting to open credit in your name, and you can inform those creditors that you have not requested the credit. Second, by freezing your credit, you remove the chance of applying for credit you don’t need. The simple delay caused by having to verify your identity may be helpful in keeping you from taking on more credit than you really need.
Consolidate Debt to A Lower Rate
If you are working on bringing your credit balances down, you should consider consolidating your current balances to a lower rate. With many cards charging well in excess of 20% interest, a significant balance can mean that you pay hundreds of dollars a month in interest alone. If you transfer those higher interest balances to a low/or no interest card, you could be paying that money towards reducing your balances, and at the same time increasing your credit score.
Opt Out of Pre-Screened Credit
If you really want to improve your credit, wean yourself from new credit by opting out of prescreened credit offers. Prescreened offers are actually “pre-approved” offers, meaning that so long as you still meet the qualifications that caused you to be selected for the offer, you will be automatically approved. But, you can opt out of receiving these new offers of credit, just by writing to the credit bureaus.
Work with A Credit Report Attorney
If you have been trying to remove errors and inaccuracies from your credit history for years, without success, it may be time to get the help of a qualified credit attorney. We can provide a free consultation and a review of your report to see if we can help restore your credit. There is no upfront costs or fees, and we only get paid if we recover for you. Call now at (888) 400-CREDit | (888) 400-2733.
There are four major credit bureaus that get information from lenders, debt collectors, and public record collectors. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that these credit reporting agencies provide you with a free copy of your credit report every year and to process credit report disputes within 30 days.
1550 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30309
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
250 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
555 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60661
If you are looking for additional resources, you can get a free copy of your credit file from the Annual Credit Report web site. https://www.annualcreditreport.com
For a more complete list of the companies that operate as consumer reporting agencies, you can see the list prepared by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at their web site:https://www.consumerfinance.gov. For more information on getting your free credit report, you can also visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) web site: https://consumer.ftc.gov.Where do you practice?
Our office is located in Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. We practice throughout the entire state, and we have been admitted to practice and made appearances in several other states where we are not licensed: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
Disclaimer: If we are unable to practice in the state where your case needs to be filed, we can make a referral to another qualified credit report attorney near you.