10 QUICK STEPS TO CLEAN UP YOUR CREDIT REPORT YOURSELF!
Pulled up your credit report lately? Do you have plans to buy a house or maybe you are simply just interested in getting a better score? Below are 10 quick steps to help you clean up your credit report yourself!
Before you start, call or go online and pull up your credit report from all 3 bureaus:
EXPERIAN TRANS UNION EQUIFAX
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- If you have errors: Photocopy the report, highlight the errors, and send it to the credit bureau, along with a letter of explanation. If you have not received a response within 30 days, then the errors should be dropped from your record. (Section 611d of the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970.)
- If you have duplicate information: Photocopy the report, highlight the duplications, and send the highlighted copy with a letter stating that you want the inquiry and the account information merged. Again, mark your calendar for 30 days for a response.
- If you have information that should be “aged off”: Creditor inquiries stay on your report for a minimum of 6 months; employer inquiries for a minimum of 2 years; and delinquencies, garnishments, repossessions, court orders, etc. inquiries stay for a minimum of 7 years; and Bankruptcy inquiries for a minimum of 10 years. Anything that stays longer, follow the same steps of highlighting, sending a letter and waiting 30 days for a response.
- If you have unsolicited inquiries: Photocopy and highlight the report and send it with a letter requesting the inquiries to be deleted. Remember, the law states that your report can be pulled by anyone with “legitimate business needs.” Yes, even if you have not given your permission.
- If you do not get a copy of your corrected credit report: Not only are you entitled by law to get a copy of your corrected report at no charge (Section 611d), the agency also must send revised reports to anyone who has inquired within the last 6 months. Send a letter stating you want a free copy of your corrected report or you will take action under Section 616 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act for “willful noncompliance.” Send a copy of the letter to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Put in a consumer statement: You may add a 100-word statement to your credit file, explaining why your report suffered any bumps or bruises or explaining a dispute. This is free and easy.
- Contact your creditors: Be very wary of anyone who claims they can remove or clean up your credit. Negative information can only be removed by the creditor who reported it. If you agree to pay off a portion of your debt, be sure to get it in writing from the original creditor – not a collection agency.
- Ask for supplemental credit information: Get written recommendations from your landlords, utility companies, or anyone you have maintained good credit with. Submit the recommendation letters with your application.
- Document everything: Keep letters of all letters sent, mark your calendar, follow-up, get names and titles of everyone you deal with, keep a log of interactions, try to send letters by registered or certified mail, so you have proof.
- If someone is using your I.D. to obtain credit: Make a copy, highlight anything that does not look familiar, and send a letter to the credit bureaus, explaining which accounts are fraudulent and request that they put a fraud statement in your file. This statement will explain to potential creditors that someone is using your I.D., they will send you an “Affidavit of Forgery”, which you must complete and send back before they can start an investigation.
Most importantly, always follow-up after 30 days, if you get no response. Good luck!