We agree that it is very important for individuals to be knowledgeable of their credit standing. When you have a credit-monitoring tool like freecreditscore.com on your side, you get e-mail alerts whenever there’s a change in your credit score–and you can also see your credit score whenever you want. With the free credit report from the government, you only see your report once a year. If you monitor your credit score regularly, it’s easier to catch inaccuracies before it’s too late.
A good credit repair company first pulls your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus in order to pinpoint your credit issues. Why all three? Because each credit reporting agency has its own “data furnishers” (aka lenders, credit card companies, debt collectors, etc.), that report your credit information to them. And there may be errors that appear on one of your credit reports, but don’t appear on the others
Seek help if you want it. You can dispute credit report errors yourself, but for some people, the process is stressful. If you feel overwhelmed, you can hire a credit repair company or law firm to help. Note that a professional credit repair firm will charge a fee for its services. A good credit repair company will never promise a “300-point jump in your scores!” In fact, that’s illegal. Instead, the company should be upfront about what they can do and will take payment only after they’ve helped resolve your situation.
Each account on your credit report has a rating. A letter followed by a number shows the type of account and the rating. For example, if you have an account, that is rated as an I1 that is an individual account that is paid on time. If you have an account that has a J1, that is a joint account. An I5 could mean trouble. Highlight everything that isn't a 1 and everything that is turned over to collections.
Scoring models consider how much you owe and across how many different accounts. If you have debt across a large number of accounts, it may be beneficial to pay off some of the accounts, if you can. Paying down your debt is the goal of many who've accrued debt in the past, but even after you pay the balance down to zero, consider keeping that account open. Keeping paid-off accounts open can be a plus in your overall credit mix since they're aged accounts in good (paid-off) standing. You may also consider debt consolidation.
“A good credit repair company will scrub questionable credit report items against other laws—like the Fair Credit Billing Act, which regulates original creditors; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which oversees collection agencies; and others that address medical illness, military service, student status and other life events,” Padawer said.
There are a lot of reasons that your credit may be in rough shape. Most are related to your spending habits. And, if you missed a few payments or your debt levels are too high—think over 30% of your total available credit limits—disputing errors won’t help you. You’ll have to make some changes to improve your credit scores instead. And you may have to wait a bit to see an uptick.
When the bureaus and data furnishers receive the dispute and supporting information, they then work with the credit repair company to determine if the item should be removed from your credit report. The major law governing your rights when it comes to credit reporting is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but it isn’t the only law on your side when it comes to credit repair.
Although a debt settlement company may be able to settle one or more of your debts, these programs can be very risky and have serious negative financial consequences for consumers. Additionally, some debt settlement companies deceive consumers by making promises they do not keep and engaging in other illegal conduct (like charging fees before obtaining any settlements, in violation of the TSR). For information, read Coping with Debt and Settling Credit Card Debts.
Here’s a good example of when a reputable credit repair service can help you do something you may not be able to accomplish yourself. If you have a collection account that’s been sold to a few different debt collectors, it can appear on your credit report multiple times. That information is accurate but having that one debt dinging your credit score multiple times doesn't meet the “fair” standard that Padawer mentioned.
Credit utilization is the amount of revolving debt you have relative to your credit limits. More specifically, it’s your available revolving credit, which is your available credit limit, compared to your total credit debt or the amount you’ve actually charged on your cards or credit lines. It’s also the second most critical factor in how your credit scores are calculated