How to Repair and Improve Your Credit Score

Written By Ahmed Raza
Reviewed By Diary Trend Staff

Your credit report and credit score play a big role in your financial life. Many lenders and financial institutions use your credit report and score to evaluate your creditworthiness and ability to repay debts. That’s why it’s important to understand what’s in your credit report as well as how your credit score is calculated. credit repair philadelphia

What’s in Your Credit Report

Your credit report details your credit history, including:

  • Identifying information – Your name, date of birth, Social Security number, current and previous addresses.
  • Credit history – Details on credit accounts opened now and in the past. Includes type of accounts (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc.), dates accounts were opened, credit limits, loan amounts, balances owed, payment histories, and current status.
  • Public record information – Bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens, wage garnishments, legal judgments, and overdue debt settlements.
  • Inquiries – List of everyone who obtained your credit report within the past two years. There are “hard inquiries” when you apply for credit and “soft inquiries” when you check your own credit or an employer checks.

Reviewing the information in your credit report lets you identify errors to dispute as well as areas where you can improve.

How Credit Scores Are Calculated

The most commonly used credit scores come from FICO and VantageScore. While the exact formulas are proprietary, we know the general factors influencing your score:

Payment History

Whether you pay accounts on time. This tends to be the biggest factor, accounting for 35% of a FICO score.

Amounts Owed

The amounts owed across different credit accounts, especially compared to your total available credit (called your credit utilization ratio). About 30% of a FICO score.

Length of Credit History

How long you’ve had credit accounts opened. Generally, a longer history helps your score. About 15% of a FICO score.

New Credit

Opening new accounts can indicate higher risk and hurt your scores temporarily. Around 10% of a FICO score.

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Credit Mix

Having different types of credit accounts (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc.) can help your score. Makes up about 10% of a FICO score.

Checking your credit report and addressing errors is an important first step toward improving your credit.

How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

Here are tips for disputing incorrect information and errors on your credit report:

Getting Your Credit Report

The first step is to check for inaccuracies by obtaining copies of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get one free report per year from the bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. Review all reports since errors may appear on some but not others.

Reviewing Your Credit Report

Scrutinize your reports carefully, looking for:

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you
  • Late or missed payments reported incorrectly
  • Incorrect balances, credit limits, or statuses
  • Misspellings in your personal details
  • Hard credit inquiries you don’t recognize

Document everything incorrect or suspicious.

Disputing Incorrect Information

Contact the Credit Bureaus

To dispute errors online or by mail, follow the dispute instructions specified in your credit reports. Provide details, proof documents, and any evidence supporting your claims. The credit bureaus typically have 30 days to investigate.

Contact Creditors Directly

For incorrect account information, contact your creditors too. Inform them of the dispute and include your evidence. Ask them to fix or remove the errors.

Consider Getting Help

Seeking professional assistance from a credit counselor or consumer lawyer can help facilitate effective disputes. They understand exactly what information credit bureaus need. Legal experts also know consumer credit laws well.

Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

Beyond disputing errors, there are also fixes and best practices you can implement to build your credit history and improve your credit scores long-term:

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Pay Bills On Time

As payment history has the greatest impact on your credit score, strive to pay all bills on time, every month. Even just one or two late payments can ding your credit significantly. Set up automatic payments or payment reminders to avoid missed due dates.

Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Using too much of your total available credit can hurt your score. As a rule of thumb, keep credit card balances below 30% of your credit limit on each card. Pay down balances to decrease this ratio.

Don’t Close Unused Credit Cards

While closing cards you don’t use may seem beneficial, it can actually hurt your score. Length of credit history is important, and closing your oldest accounts has an impact. Leave open unused cards.

Limit New Credit Applications

Each credit application triggers a “hard” credit check that can temporarily knock a few points off your score. Minimize applications for new credit cards, car loans, mortgages or other credit lines. Too many in a short period raises your risk profile.

Space Out Applications

If opening new credit accounts, space out applications over time instead of applying for multiple new credit lines at once. Allow about three to six months between applications for optimal scoring.

Balance Transfer vs. New Account

If offered lower APRs with balance transfers to a new card, accept transfer offers rather than applying for brand new accounts if possible. This avoids additional hard inquiries on your report.

Understanding the Credit Repair Process

Repairing issues on your credit report takes effort and patience. Here is an overview of the credit repair 30 landscape:

Know Your Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees certain consumer rights involving credit reports and scores. These include the right to dispute information believed to be inaccurate. Credit bureaus must investigate disputes and respond within 30-45 days.

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Understand Services Offered

Credit Counseling

Non-profit credit counseling agencies can advise you for free on addressing credit problems. They help create budgets and payment plans to pay off debts and discuss options.

Credit Repair Companies

credit repair oklahoma city companies help identify report errors and manage disputes for a monthly fee. They may also offer credit monitoring and education. Research companies thoroughly before engaging services.

Be realistic – no one can remove 100% true negative information from your reports if you are currently behind on payments. Bringing accounts current and good financial habits going forward are vital.

Maintaining Good Credit

Once you’ve repaired issues on your credit report, be sure to actively monitor and maintain your credit to avoid issues in the future:

Monitor Your Credit Regularly

Check your credit reports from all three bureaus several times per year to spot errors early. Monitoring also alerts you to any signs of identity theft. Consider signing up for credit monitoring.

Create a Budget

With detailed income and spending plans, effective budgets allow you to see exactly where money goes monthly. Tight budgets with wiggle room for essential and variable expenses help prevent late payments.

Consider Getting Alerts

Many banks now offer account alerts via mobile app or email, notifying customers of payment due dates, when balances exceed limits, large expenditures and other account activity. These can prevent overspending and late payments.

Conclusion

Maintaining good credit requires checking your credit reports routinely, disputing any errors, managing credit responsibly, and correcting bad financial habits. Pay bills on time, lower debts, be cautious of new accounts and aim for long credit histories. With diligence and patience, credit scores can be repaired and improved over time through practical steps.

Ahmed Raza

Ahmed Raza is a versatile writer featured on Crosall.com and notable sites like TechBullion.com. He excels in crafting insightful content across various sectors, enriching readers with his diverse expertise.

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