If your credit reports and score are not as great as you would like, you may be intrigued by the advertisements that claim that they can help fix your credit. There are a bjillion companies out there that claim to be able to help you improve your credit score. Some of them will charge a lot of money for their “services,” and the work they do is either simply handled yourself, or it is something that shouldn’t be done.
No one can legally remove accurate information from your credit report, and you (the consumer) are perfectly capable of disputing inaccurate information without the help of an outside company. If you find it overwhelming, ask your friends or family. Most people know someone who enjoys this type of challenge!
There are three basic steps to improving your credit reports and score. The first two are fairly simple and quick, the last step takes more time and it can be quite hard.
Know What Your Credit Reports Say
The first step in the process is to know what your credit reports actually say. Each of the three major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. To request your free credit reports, visit annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. You may order reports from each of the three credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year. If you’re working on a great credit clean-up, I recommend that you get all three to start, then make a plan to check them on a staggered basis in the future.
Your free credit reports will not include your credit score(s). You don’t really need to know your credit scores, but it might be a motivator for you to watch your score go up. Many credit card companies and banks now offer access to your credit score as part of your overall account access – see if you have that option. Be sure to understand what type of credit score you are receiving, as there are many different options out there. If you can’t find credit score access through an account that you already have, you can use Credit Sesame, Credit Karma, or Quizzle to access your free score.
Unfortunately, a majority of credit reports contain errors. I am always amazed at the things that pop up on my credit report – it is crazy. Thankfully, disputing inaccurate information is usually pretty simple. When you get your credit report, whether online or via the mail, it will have instructions for disputing the items listed.
If information is truly inaccurate, then you absolutely should dispute it and hopefully have it removed from your credit report. If you’re not sure how to dispute an item, here is a sample letter that might help. Generally, you just need a few sentences that clearly identify the item being disputed and the reason why you are disputing it.
Once the credit reporting agency receives your dispute, they will then put a request out to the company that originally provided the information. The company can either affirm that the original information was correct, or agree that it was incorrect.
If the company affirms that the information is correct, but you disagree, then you need to contact the company directly to try to resolve the issue, and also ask that a statement be included in your credit report stating that you dispute the information.
Continue Making Timely Payments And Decreasing Debt
This is the slowest part of the process. Every month, be sure that you pay all your bills on time. Work hard to pay off as much debt as possible. As your debt balances decrease, your credit score will go up.
These three steps aren’t hard, and they don’t require the help of a pricey credit score improvement service. You can do it yourself, it’s free, and it works!