Like anything else, you can repair your own credit report, if you know how. As an attorney, I can tell you that after years of credit repair litigation that credit repair is not a good DIY project. While I am happy to share some of the principles that you die hard DIYers should know, there is much more to credit repair than just these tips. Still, here are my best tips for repairing your own credit:
In Arizona, you should review your credit reports at least every six months. If you have a common name, make it every three.
With free access to credit reports through CreditKarma.com and other service providers, you should pull your own credit reports at least every six months. Credit reports are fluid and change daily. Be sure to look at not only the tradelines to be sure that they all belong to you, but that they are all accurate. Also, be sure to see who has pulled your credit report so you can know if anyone has accessed your credit report illegally.
With the rise of identity theft, it’s easy to have your identity stolen. Most people don’t discover that their identities have been stolen until several months later when debt collectors start to call to collect on a bogus debt. Worse is when you go to buy a car or get a mortgage only to discover that there is already such a loan on your credit report.
Finally, if you have a common name like John Jones, you should pull your credit reports every three months to be sure that no one else with the same name has their credit information on your credit report. This is called a mixed file and tends to hurt people who have above-average credit.
Dispute anything that you do not recognize as soon as you find it.
If you find information on your credit that does not belong to you, your first question should be “how did it get there?” If you have a common name and believe that it’s a mixed file, then you simply draft a dispute to the credit bureaus reporting the incorrect information. If it’s the product of identity theft, then you will need to get a police report or file an affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission. Either way, you had better dispute it quickly because time is not on your side. The longer it stays on your credit report, the more it looks like your obligation.
If a debt does not belong to you, do not pay it, no matter how small.
Some people believe that the best recourse is the path of least resistance. I would usually tend to agree, except when it comes to credit. Once you pay a debt, you have admitted that its yours. If you pay a collection item “just to get it off of your credit report”, you should know that after you pay it, the debt collector has NO obligation to remove that collection from your credit report. In fact, it can mark the debt as paid and keep it on your credit report for up to seven years.
If a credit bureau declines your dispute, you had better be prepared to file a lawsuit to get the inaccurate item removed.
There is a very short 2 year statute of limitations to sue a creditor and the credit bureau for failing to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. If you choose not to file the lawsuit to remove the inaccurately reporting item, you might as well have admitted that its accurate and that it belongs to you.
Submitting letter after letter with the credit bureaus is a poor strategy for removing negative items.
Each credit bureau has an algorithm to determine whether a letter has come from a credit repair company or whether the language was lifted from the internet in some fashion. Don’t forget that the credit bureaus get hit with millions of letters each year. They are not stupid. They know what they can and cannot do. They don’t have to respond to dispute letters that come from credit repair companies nor do they have to respond to frivolous letters. If you have disputed something and the credit bureau did not remove it, its unlikely that another letter is going to change that result.
Call for help when needed.
If you get to a point when you have exhausted your options on having a negative item removed, see a credit repair lawyer. In fact, you should come see us. We know how to write the right letter and how to dispute things legally and properly. We can get you results.
If you are trying to legitimately clean up your credit report from inaccurately reporting information, you should contact us at Arizona Credit Lawyers. We have been fixing credit reports since 2008. Visit us at Arizona Credit Lawyers at www.azcreditlawyers.com or call us at (480) 771-6001 or email us at [email protected]. We are happy to look at your credit reports for free and give you our opinion as to how we can help.
Join our 3 for Free program and we will send out up to 3 dispute letters for you for free. You can also join our Auto Pilot program and we will pull your credit reports for free every two months to make sure that they stay free of inaccurately reporting information. Contact us today for your free, no obligation consultation.