So, you’ve made the decision to clean up your credit and are trying to determine the very first step in this process.
Cleaning up your credit is a wise choice. It is the beginning of repairing past financial mistakes, the inception of creating a positive stride towards a sound future and the introduction to recognizing, understanding and taking responsibility for the mishaps of life. When we do not immediately catch, the curve ball that life throws us, there is no need to sulk about it. We must repent, fix it and keep moving.
It happens; and there is hardly any way to avoid it. If this were not so, then 110 million Americans, as it has been recognized would not have the bad credit that statistics indicate during this slightly bleak economic era; and unfortunately, bad credit continues to be on the rise.
Included in this article are my research, investigation and personal experiences regarding this significant topic. When I first pulled my husband and my credit report, it consisted of over 8 pages of negative information. Before purchasing a vehicle, or even viewing dream homes; here are the necessary steps for you to understand, prior to filling out any loan applications.
Step One: Request your annual credit report from the three different credit reporting agencies (CRA). The three reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and Transunion. After you receive your reports, proceed to step two.
*The credit reports can be requested by phone, by mail or immediately viewed online by going directly to the respective website. In most states you are entitled to one complimentary report each year.
Step Two: Choose any one of your credit reports to review. Your primary concern is to target the negative items on that report. Do not take the time to occupy yourself with the positives.
*Some words and phrases that indicate the item on your report is negative consist of: charge off, collection and/or delinquent. Some words and phrases that indicate items are positive consist of: paying, paid as agreed and/or current.
Step Three: Highlight/circle/mark with an asterisk (whatever is most comfortable for you) all negative items.
Step Four: View the date next to each item. Ask yourself “Are any of the items showing on my report older than seven years?” This process can be tricky. In order to be able to determine the legitimate reporting date, you should look for words and/or phrases such as “date first reported” and “date of delinquency”. On the other hand “date opened” is not one of the phrases that you should contend against. You cannot calculate seven years from the “date opened”, as this is not an admissible means in which to request an item removal.
*Deuteronomy 15:1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. This statement taken directly from the bible indicates that it is illegal for outdated information to be reported after seven years; hence, the necessity to primarily dispute the outdated information.
Helpful Tip: It is important to keep copies of your credit reports for approximately seven years. I once had a certain creditor who tried to report me for a period longer than seven years. A review of my credit report showed this creditor had updated and changed the “reporting date” to reflect a later date then they had originally reported. I was fortunate enough to have kept a copy of my credit report from years ago; this proved that I had fulfilled the seven year obligation necessary for the creditor’s reporting. I sent a request to the CRA and it was immediately removed from my records. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from that same creditor apologizing for their error; and I was the one initially at fault, that allowed my account to go delinquent.
Patience, motivation and determination are necessary in order to start the procedure for cleaning up your credit. In addition, time, energy and persistence are essential to complete this process. After spending diligent time and an immense amount of energy to cleaning up me and my husband’s credit, we went from having 8 pages of negative information down to two pages of positive.
Let us not forget any of the exceptional aspects; I mentioned previously, as we travel on our journey to financial gratification. And it all begins with making sure that our credit is in good standing.
Former Texas Congressman, Ruben Hinojosa stated it best when he said “A person’s credit report is one of the most important tools consumers can use to maintain their financial security and credit rating, but for so long many did not know how to obtain one, or what to do with the information it provided”.
This no longer holds true. With widespread internet access comes a wealth of information, invaluable resources and many other helpful tools at the fingertips of billions in the American population. No more excuses; even Great Grandma can do a simple Google search in the event that she desires to fulfill a request.
Now that you have ordered your credit report and taken the necessary steps as recommended in the first process of repairing your credit, it is now time to proceed to the next level of repair.
No matter how much you try to get around this step, it is not possible. You are inherently required one way or another to reach out to those who claim that you owe and the companies that systemically apply the negative information to the files that have your name attached to it.
You do however; have the option of choosing the method by which you prefer to communicate with them. Please view the below three approaches and decide what your preference is:
Contact by Phone: If you contact your creditor or Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) by phone, I cannot stress the importance of documenting all information involved. Make certain that you write down the date and the time of call, representative’s name, item disputed, specific reason for dispute, and outcome.
Contact by Mail: Always certified mail. You do not necessarily need to elect return receipt.
Contact by Phone and Mail: You may find it effective to phone your recipient and then follow up with a certified letter.
Contact by Fax: If this option is available, you can certainly fax a letter to your recipient. The same rules apply as with the phone. Make certain you document all pertinent information and save your fax receipt.
Helpful Tip: When communicating with your creditors, relay the information to them as indicated on your credit report. This means supplying them with the name of account, account number, and your name, for example. Do not give them any additional information that is not indicated on the report.
Years ago I had a Bradlees Department Store account that I defaulted on prior to them going out of business; ABC Collection Agency (not the real name of the collection agency) took over that Bradlees account and was given limited information regarding my delinquency. In addition to ABC Collection Agency taking over ALL of the Bradlees accounts, they also took over/bought out other department store accounts for several other delinquent debtors. When I contacted them, I advised them that I did not know who the original creditor was, as it was listed as ABC Collection Agency on my credit report. This was actually the truth; however, ABC Collection Agency is required by law just like every other collector to supply the original creditor and the proof that I owe. After months of me disputing this information with them and demanding that they give me the original creditor’s name, I found out on my own who the original creditor was ( I did not release this information to them). They unfortunately could still not provide the basic facts surrounding the debt; therefore, had no choice but to release me of any and all obligations concerning the debt.
Do not get frustrated and overwhelmed; if necessary, stop the process and continue at another time when you are feeling a bit more relaxed and receptive. When you are ready, you may proceed to level three.