A bad credit score can affect so many different areas of a person’s life, and makes life far more difficult than if you had a good credit score. A bad credit score can lock you out of the best loans, best credit cards, best apartments, houses, and even jobs. Because of this, repairing a bad credit report is extremely important and should be taken on with all the strength and gusto that can be mustered.
The problem is that there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to repair your credit score, and some of this information is just flat out wrong. Then you have the thousands of guys who want your money before offering any information at all, and outright scammers on top of that. The good news is that while there is no guarantee that every person in the world can upgrade their credit score ‘X’ number of points in ‘X’ amount of days, for most consumers with bad credit in the low to mid 500s or even worse, there are definite ways you can repair your damaged credit score quickly, and 120 points or more isn’t out of the question.
Step #1: Stabilize!
Some of you might already have done this step, but for those who haven’t this is critical. Don’t overpay all your credit card bills $20 a month when you have an old $150 bill sitting in collections. That doesn’t make any sense. The first part of quickly turning around your credit score 120 points or more is to stabilize your current situation.
This means every single bill needs to be paid on time every month. If you have bills that are 120 days or more overdue, pay them or work out a payment plan to avoid those from going to collections. If your bills are 90 days overdue, keep them from going 120. Same process with bills that are 30 and 60 days overdue, and especially for bills that are late, but haven’t hit that 30 day mark apply for loan and preserve credit score where most get reported.
Some credit bureaus have your history of on time (or not) payments account for up to a third of your entire credit score. Even if you’ve been bad about this, paying all your bills on time for even a few months after a long history of not can show immediate dividends for your credit score. On the other side, getting hit with one 30 day overdue mark can drop you 50 points or more in one hit.
Many other credit scores have the 30 day mark account for up to one third of your credit score, so do not let late bills hit this bench mark. Once you are stabilized so you are at least paying all of your bills on time, add an extra penny to credit card bills, car loans, mortgage loans, bank loans, or student loans.
This is my favorite trick for helping out the credit scores of really cash strapped consumers. Your credit score records if you pay on time and if you pay the minimum or pay more. You get more positive points on your credit score for paying more than the minimum, but most credit scores don’t differentiate between whether you pay $100 a month extra, or one penny a month extra. Those extra pennies can add a nice little boost to your credit score.
Step #2: Check Your Credit Reports and Clean Them Up!
Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus per year. Order all three and take a close look at them. A conservative estimate says that over 30% of all credit reports will have errors of some type on them. You will want to remove all the incorrect information immediately, especially if you have a common name. It is not uncommon for someone else’s information to appear on your account
Have all incorrect information removed. For some people, this action alone could result in a 120 point jump if someone else’s negative information is on your account. Getting your credit reports to reflect on you specifically is the first step to fixing your credit score. There is a second part to this step, one that involves advice given by many credit repair “experts” who give the wrong advice (we’ll correct the myth here).
Many will give advice to challenge every negative item on your account. Unless you only have one or two black marks, do NOT do this! First of all, it will set off a red flag. If your requests get marked as frivolous, then not only will legitimate problem accounts not be removed, but they can prevent you from challenging in the future. This means if you have a negative account that hits the 7 year mark and should therefore be removed, but isn’t, you have no way to get that black mark removed even though by law that’s your right.
If there are one or two accounts you do question, do ask for evidence of these late charges. That’s the key. Don’t categorically deny that this is your debt, but ask for evidence. If the company doesn’t respond in a timely manner, the challenged mark is removed. But never challenge more than one or two accounts at one time unless there is an actual concern of identity theft.