30
Jul

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If you’ve been considering signing up for a credit repair service you may be wondering if you could just do it yourself. The truth is, due to the Credit Repair Organizations Act, you do have the right to work directly with the credit bureaus and your creditors and collection agencies to challenge items on your credit report.

You can go through all the steps of do it yourself credit repair just like you can build your own backyard wood deck with stairs and a pergola, rebuild your car’s transmission or replace that leaky tub faucet and the pipes behind it yourself, too.

The question is, do you know enough about how to do the best job for yourself to legitimately raise your credit score as high as possible? After all, I showed recently how it could be worth tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars saved by good credit on loan interest and points over the course of a 30-year mortgage or even a 5-year car loan or a credit card interest rate.

How to repair your credit yourself

  1. Start with a thorough review of your credit reports. Request your free credit reports from all three agencies and comb through them highlighting all negative, problematic items. Next, check the accuracy of every aspect reported such as names, account numbers, payment dates and payment amounts. Check the report details to make sure your birthdate, social security number and any addresses or employers are reported correctly, too.
  2. Gather back-up documentation for wrongly reported items; draft letters: If you find any inaccurate items, gather your personal evidence refuting the wrongly reported information. Experts advise you actually mail a hard copy dispute letter following this template from the FTC, along with your supporting documentation, instead of simply filing the online dispute form. The online form does not allow for the same degree of specificity and thoroughness in your explanations and supporting documentation as the hard copy does (plus you can have a copy of the hard copy for your records.) Mail dispute letters to the credit bureaus and call the original creditors and the collection agencies, if known, to find out where to mail dispute letters to them as well.
  3. Keep meticulous records and follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.
  4. Pay all bills on time and set up automatic payments if necessary. This is especially true if you see that late payments are a problem on your credit report. The more you improve the “payment history” portion of your credit score, the longer negative items are in the past, the better your credit repair efforts will be going forward.
  5. Keep working to reduce your debts (amounts owed). Stick religiously to a budget or seek help from a credit counselor, if necessary. Consider entering into a debt management program to help you repay your debts as these help repair your credit because creditors agree to report your debts paid as agreed as long as you make your payment to the debt management plan on time every month. Search for reputable, non-profit agencies who are are members of the National Foundation for Credit counseling that offer free or very low-fee services. Keep balances low so the “amounts owed” portion of your credit score rises as you pay off balances.
  6. Stick to responsible credit usage, avoid gimmicks. Make small charges you know you can afford and pay them off without accruing interest, before your bill is due. Stay away from constantly shuffling balances around, closing accounts you have paid off or opening many new accounts, all of which can actually cause your score to get lower. Showing responsible credit usage allows your credit score to rise over time.

What the legitimate credit repair experts know that you don’t know

There are several federal laws in your favor, some of which you may never have heard of, and the credit repair experts use these legitimately to your advantage.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires all items listed on a credit report to be verifiable, current and accurate. FCRA details how a credit bureau must handle your dispute which includes how the disputed item is noted in your credit file and that the inquiry into the dispute must be completed during a “reasonable time” of 30 days. They also must notify consumers whether the item was verified.

  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows you the right to request further information from collection agencies about a debt and this is called “debt validation.”
  • The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), with oversight from the FTC, requires your creditors to bill you correctly and accurately which includes all disputes about merchandise questions, deliveries, returns, billing errors and erroneous charges including billing address disputes.

As you can see, credit repair is a long and arduous process when done correctly. The different laws, communications and interventions are best applied to each disputed item very specifically, also depending whether you need to dispute the item with the original creditor, a collection agency, the credit bureaus or all three.

So, while you certainly can learn how to repair your credit yourself, some jobs, just like the wood deck, the transmission and the leaky pipes, are best left to a professional, resulting in your highest optimal credit score, provided you do your part in maintaining it.

 


Posted in Credit Repair