Gearing up to Soar Your Credit Scores?
Here are 5 tips to get you started on the right track!
These tips have been gathered from the questions that are often asked from my workshops and members of my facebook community, Credit Makes $ense:
Tip #1: The Bureau's Reports Are the Best Report
All credit reports are not created equal. The reports from annualcreditreport.com (or directly from the credit bureaus) are displayed in a way that is easier to read and dissect than the trimerged reports from sites such as creditchecktotal.com; credit.com; etc.
They also contain more information that will allow you to thoroughly review every aspect of the account (about 22-26 areas depending on the report) to check for inaccuracies.
If you're able; invest in the reports directly from the credit bureaus.
Some states get an additional for free so, check your state.
Tip #2: Your first dispute should be your Personal Data
You want to ensure your name, address, telephone number, employer, date of birth, and ssn (will be abridged) are 100% accurate.
All of that data has been supplied to the credit bureaus from either an inquiry from an application we've filled out or from an account that is currently, or was, reporting on our credit reports – positive and negative, open and closed.
If we notice that an address, social security number or a date of birth differs from ours, that's a clear sign that our credit file has possibly been merged with another consumer's, or of identity theft.
So, check the personal data information and dispute to get the older addresses removed. I request removal both online and the mail; no preference. Online is quickest for Transunion and Equifax, Experian may give you a hard time so I like to start off via the mail with them.
One thing that I like to do is to look at the Address ID number that is associated with negative accounts reporting. Make note of it. Scroll back to the personal data section to see what address is tied to it, if it's not your current address; dispute for removal.
Tip #3: While you're waiting on your Personal Dispute Responses to come back; review the other areas on your credit report, starting with the negative information.
If you have a tri-merged report from credit check total, privacy guard etc. sometimes it's easier to grab the negatives and place them in a spreadsheet, notebook, etc.
Because they clump all of the positive information with the negative information and it makes it more difficult to focus on just the negative accounts, initially. The reports from the bureaus make it much easier as they separate Positive and Adverse accounts quite easily (especially Equifax and MyFico.com).
Next look for errors. Here is a list of the most Common Errors that I personally encounter.
What if you don't see any errors? The burden of proof is on the credit bureaus and the companies listed on your credit report.
If I don't see any errors, I rank the accts from most negative to least negative, rank them again from most recent recent to oldest.
Example: The most negative thing that can happen on our reports is a bankruptcy and tax lien. If the bankruptcy and tax lien are 4yrs old, and we have late payments reporting 2 months ago, the late payments are negatively impacting our scores more than the bankruptcy because they are more recent.
How should you dispute items you're not sure if an inaccuracy exists?
Simple, first look at how much of an impact that item has on increasing your scores, if it's on the low end; why bother it? Focus on the other more pertinent areas. If it's on the higher priority end of the list; ask yourself: Is this the right open date? Close date? Status Date? Balance? etc. Look at every single piece of information on the account and if any of it is questionable that's what you go after. Example:
More specific dispute: The date of last payment seems incorrect as well as the date of first delinquency; please verify and validate this information or delete it from my report.
General dispute: This account is not familiar to me, I need all of the data for this account validated or deleted from credit report.
I can tell you, factual disputes get better results, specific disputes 2nd, general disputes 3rd.
In each case you are not sending out ‘Not Mine' disputes but requesting proof of accuracy and validity.
If ANY of this is unclear let me know. This is probably the most confusing part of the credit improvement process and where most people have questions or become discouraged.
Tip #4: BEFORE you mail a dispute letter for one of your negative accounts, REVIEW YOUR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS (SOL) for your state
SOL = The amount of time a creditor has to sue you to enforce payment of a debt.
When I see an account is close to being past the statute of limitations, I warn my client of the repercussions of disputing and it comes back with docs that verify it.
If you do not have a plan to pay them, they may sue you before their time runs out to do so. Sometimes it's best to let it go past the SOL, then dispute depending on how long you have to go.
Tip #5: Have a working budget
The chances of everything being removed is slim, some things you are going to have to pay. Set some funds aside in a Debt Payoff Fund to start accumulating lump sum payments to settle your debts.
Further, you'll need to start rebuilding your credit; this may include obtaining secured accounts (loans or credit cards) or paying down credit cards/accounts that you currently have open that are over-utilized or past due (but not charged-off).
Hope this helps!
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