The following is a step-by-step method to erase bad credit. This is the same method used by attorneys and credit consultants:
To begin, you will need a current copy of your (3) credit reports. It is important to note that there is more than one credit reporting agency, so make sure you get a copy from each. Some creditors may report to one agency but not another. Just because something doesn’t show up on a credit report from one bureau doesn’t mean it isn’t on report at another.
There are two ways to get copies of your credit report. One way is to pay the fee required by the reporting agency. The other is to apply for credit and get turned down. Within 30 days of being turned down for credit you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. However, applying for credit and getting turned down shows up on your report as an inquiry that did not result in credit. It is a small black mark that stays on your report for one year. To avoid this, it may be better to pay the $10-20 fee. The credit agency will require ALL of the following information:
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER,
DATE OF BIRTH,
The three major credit bureaus are:
Order Credit Report: 800-685-1111
Report Fraud: 800-525-6285
Order Credit Report: 888-397-3742
Report Fraud: 888-397-3742
Order Credit Report: 800-888-4213
Report Fraud: 800-680-7289
Once you have copies of your credit profile, check all the personal information (name, address, etc.) to make sure it is accurate. Note any changes that need to be made. Understand that recent address changes or changes in employer may result in being turned down for credit, so every item on your credit report is important.
Before going further you may need to learn how to “read” a credit report. Credit bureaus use codes, and the following is a sample of these codes and what they mean:
Who is Responsible for the Account
J = Joint Account
I = Individual
T = Terminated
M = Maker (signer)
C = Co-Maker
U = Undesignated
A = Authorized User
B = On behalf of another
S = Shared Type of Account
O = Open account (30 or 90 days)
R = Revolving or option account (open-end)
I = Installment Account (fixed number of payments) Current Method of Payment
O = Approved, but too new to rate
1 = Pays account as agreed
2 = Pays (or paid) after 30 days of due date but before 60 days, not more than one payment due at any given time.
3 = Pays in more than 60 days, but less than 90, or two payments past due.
4 = Pays in more than 90 days, less than 120, three payments past due
5 = Pays in more than 120 days.
7 = Making payments under wage-earner plan or similar arrangement.
8 = Repossession
9 = Bad debt, placed for collection; written off
These symbols are often combined, such as R2, which means it is a revolving account and has been at least one payment late less than 30 days. Often each payment is recorded, showing if it was late, how late, by how much. Your objective, then, is to get all R1’s or I1’s. Understand that credit bureaus are not responsible for what is on your report. Their only function is to provide the information to creditors that are provided to them. It is your responsibility to see that your report is accurate. Check it at least annually and make any necessary corrections. It has been estimated that at least 25% of all credit reports contain inaccurate information that can cause credit problems. It is not unusual for accounts to appear that you never had. So check your credit report thoroughly and often. If you do not, you will have no one to blame but yourself.
Now that you know what is on your report, the next step is to list the names and account numbers of every derogatory item on your report, even if it is valid and true. Write a letter using these guidelines: State that you have reviewed your profile and found certain items you believe to be in error. List all bad items by name and account number. Request they investigate these items as they are highly injurious to you. (Use the words HIGHLY INJURIOUS.) List discrepancies in the personal information first, and provide the correct information, then list the accounts. At the end of the letter state that these items do not agree with your records and you wish to have them removed immediately if not substantiated. Also state you want an up-dated copy of your report issued to you showing any changes made.
Note: at the beginning of the letter be sure to include all the personal information you provided when you requested your credit report.
Also, if possible, choose a busy season to send your letters. Many businesses will be too busy to respond to the credit bureau during busy holiday seasons.
When you mail the letter be sure to send it registered mail. Always register any mail to any credit bureau or creditor, and always keep a copy of your correspondence to them for your own records.
Once the bureau receives your request they are required by law to contact the creditor who listed each contested item and ask for substantiation. If the information is not true, the creditor will not be able to substantiate. The real beauty of this, however, is that many creditors will not bother to respond. Either they no longer have the record handy, or they are busy, or the letter got lost in some pile, or maybe they really just don’t care. Whatever their reasons, if they do not provide documentation to the bureau within a reasonable time (usually 30 days) the credit bureau is required by law to remove the item from your report.
If you do not receive an up-dated copy of your record within 45 days, send a registered letter requesting the up-date, stating the date you had disputed some items. Again be sure to include all personal information, as this is how they locate your report. When you have the up-date check it against the original and note the differences. You should find that many, if not all derogatory items have been removed.
If any remain, do not despair – you have just begun. To remove any items that are still plaguing you, your next step should be a repeat of the prior one. Send another dispute letter stating you still believe these items are in error and to please investigate again. This time when the bureau contacts the creditor, the creditor may not respond this second time. Why not? Perhaps he thinks it is a duplicate request sent by mistake. Or perhaps he will just say to heck with it – he responded once and simply will not waste any more of his time. Or maybe the letter gets lost in the Incoming pile, or he is busy, or…
Whatever the reason, he may not send documentation a second time. If not, the item is removed from your report.
Again request an up-dated copy showing any changes. When it arrives, check it thoroughly. If any bad items still remain, you have other options at your disposal, including:
Offer the creditor a cash settlement provided he removes the item from your report, or has it marked “settled”. Your first cash offer should be 50-60% of the amount claimed. Even if you settle at 80% you are still ahead of the game, and the creditor at least gets most of his money. All he loses, really, is the profit margin on the item you bought on credit.
Offer to pay the amount in full, in monthly payments you can afford. The written agreement should include that, after 3 on-time payments, the creditor will re-write your account and mark the old account “settled” on your report. Then, when you make the payments on time it shows up on your report as a GOOD reference.
If necessary, and if you can afford it, offer to pay the debt in full, provided the creditor immediately notifies the reporting agency that the account has been paid in full.
If you cannot get the creditor to work with you, you still have a powerful weapon left. This is where keeping copies of registered letters will pay off. You have a legal right to enter a 100 word statement showing proof that you made attempts to settle this account but the creditor refused. If the debt truly is not owed by you, the statement can be used to prove you do not owe this account. The statement is attached to your report and issued to every creditor who checks your credit. You may also request that a copy be sent to every creditor your report was sent to in the last 90 days. Often, your honest account, accompanied by documentation, will convince creditors that you are a good risk.