By Tiffany M. Greer, First Horizon Writer
You Can Repair Your Own Credit: Here's How
Do you have bad credit and have no idea where to start the repair process? If you are worried that the major credit bureaus stand between you and a bright future of success and creditworthiness, there are steps you can take to fix your credit and get out of having a bad credit score.
The fix will not be overnight, but there are certainly opportunities to improve your credit score through paying your bills on time, consolidating your credit, lowering your credit card balances, taking out a personal loan or using a secured credit card, never missing payments, and correcting any misinformation that may be marring your credit report.
For most people, the best advice on how to repair credit is to simply do it yourself.
Griffin says that credit reporting agencies welcome corrections, and the process is not difficult to complete See for yourself. Start by requesting a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Every consumer is entitled to receive one free report from each agency every 12 months. You can request your report at AnnualCreditReport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. You also can get a free report any time you are denied credit or have another adverse event due to a credit report.
Scan the report for mistakes. Look for accounts you have paid off that still show as unpaid, or transactions you didn't make. If you find an error, contact the credit reporting agency and explain the situation.
Within 30 days, the credit reporting agency must forward your information to the creditor that submitted the original item. The creditor must then investigate and report back to the credit reporting agency. Inaccurate information must be corrected, and whether or not a correction is made, the credit reporting agency has to tell you in writing what happened.
There are limits to what you can do when it comes to cleaning up your credit report. A credit reporting agency can't remove accurate and timely information, even when it's negative.
If you can't get a negative item removed, you can still improve your credit by making all future payments as scheduled. Seeing this improvement takes time, but it is worth the effort.
"A good credit history and good credit score will save you a lot of money in interest or fees you'd pay to access credit," Griffin says. "So rehabilitating and managing your credit history is a very valuable financial step to take to make sure your financial well-being improves."
The way credit scores are calculated used to be something of a mystery. Not anymore. These days, the basic components of a score are well known, as is the relative importance of each. Here's an overview of how your score is determined – and how you can focus on areas that may need improvement.
Timely payments. Your payment history weighs more heavily than anything when it comes to your credit score. Payment history counts for 35% of a score calculated by the FICO credit scoring agency.
Controlled credit usage – aka credit utilization. Credit utilization or usage is a percentage figure that shows how much you are using of the total credit available to you. Credit usage explains 30% of a FICO score.
Credit history. Lenders want to see that you are capable of building and maintaining a responsible credit profile..
Credit inquiries. The number of inquiries on your report is another piece of the puzzle. If your report shows a lot of inquiries from lenders in a short time – as in, it looks like you're applying for numerous credit cards and/or loans – it can temporarily push down your score.
Repairing your credit is a job many borrowers can do on their own. It takes time and attention. But the benefits of good credit, including more access to credit and lower borrowing costs, make it a task well worth doing.