Improve Your Credit History In 5 Easy Steps

It is never too late to improve your credit score.  It will not happen overnight, so it's important to get started as early as possible.  Many consumers are overwhelmed into inaction.  Be sure you slowly take action, do not be paralyzed.  Break up everything you need to do into easy steps and take your time. 

Step 1: Order your three credit reports

First, find out what the three major credit bureaus are reporting about you. The three major agencies are Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. They are all a bit different, so be sure to review them all. The reports will be different because creditors are not required to report to all credit bureaus.

You are entitled, by federal law, to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year. To get your free credit reports, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or directly to the credit reporting agencies. If you are not comfortable completing the application online, just call 877-322-8228 or send a request to:

     Annual Credit Report Request Service

     P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta

     GA, 30348-5281

Step 2: Examine your credit reports line by line

It is common to find errors on your report because the bureaus receive unverified information from your creditors. It is your job to ensure your credit report is correct. Look for everything from outdated to incorrect information. Write down the corrections and be specific about all dates and amounts.

Step 3: Document and dispute anything that is incorrect

Fill out the dispute form provided with your free credit report, or write a letter. Clearly indicate the disputed information and include a copy of your report, with each mistake circled. Send copies of any supporting documents you may have, such as cancelled checks or letters from the creditors.

Send the letter and keep copies of everything.  Write down the dates the disputes were sent. The credit bureaus have an obligation to investigate any dispute within 30 days of receipt. If an item can not, or, is not verified by your creditor, it must be removed.  Be sure to come back on the 30th day with a tickler system and ask them to remove all disputed accounts from your report.

Step 4: Reduce and track personal spending

Your next step is to produce a spending plan that reduces your debt and personal spending. If you are having trouble making payments, call your creditors and set up a payment plan. Ask for reduced monthly payments or a change to due dates to help keep payments on time. Address all collection accounts and ask about negotiating a pay-off.  Get all agreements in writing. Many times, collection companies settle for less than the debt amount is owed.

Don't cancel your credit cards because it reflects poorly on your credit history. Pay down balances and only use credit for emergencies. Also, add accounts in good standing to your credit file. Before opening new accounts, ask if your payments will be reported to a credit agency.

Step 5: Follow up with the credit bureaus

Be sure to utilize your tickler system every 30 days to and send out follow up letters. If something is still not removed from your profile, send all three credit bureaus evidence of previous correspondence and insist that the derogatory credit item be removed. Your credit is your responsibility so be sure to follow the steps.  Do not be overwhelmed, just devote one hour out of every month to send out letters  and follow-up on the progress of your credit.


View all 3 of your FREE Credit Scores

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