The best way to fix bad credit is to be proactive in removing negative reports and adding positive reports to your credit report. Both of these processes can take some time. The time to start fixing your bad credit is now, not on the day you are ready to apply for a loan. Depending on how bad your credit is, it can take as little as 1 or 2 months to fix and or many as 12 months to repair.
Here are the steps to take to fix your credit:
- You want to know exactly where you stand. You will need to pull your credit reports and check your scores. You can get a copy of them for free once every year, but it will cost you a little bit to know your scores (unless a banker or mortgage broker is willing to give you a free copy of your report after applying for a loan). I suggest getting your scores directly from myFICO.com.
- Once you know where you stand, you will need to analyze your reports and find out what’s helping and what’s hurting your scores. It may take a while, but it’s worth learning how to read a credit report. Once you figure out what’s hurting your credit, you will need to make a plan of attack to get those accounts removed as quickly as possible. You can do that by disputing accounts with the credit bureaus, sending debt validation letters, negotiating with creditors and many other ways.
- When you make a dispute with the credit bureaus, the burden of proof is on them. All you need to say is something along the lines of, “Please provide documentation that the following accounts belong on my credit report; otherwise please delete this damaging data immediately." It is then up to the credit bureaus to contact the creditors to verify that all of the information they are reporting about you is correct. Fortunately for you, most creditors keep horrible records and cannot verify that the accounts even belong to you. In this case, by law, the accounts must be deleted immediately.
- Disputing is one of the best ways to get accounts removed from your credit report, but there are so many other ways to get better scores. You should also be trying to add positive accounts. I would suggest applying for a few secured credit cards or visiting your local credit union or bank and asking them if they have a credit card with a low limit.
There are many other ways to repair and rebuild bad credit. Make sure to always ask if what you apply for will appear on your credit reports. If you can find a card that reports to all 3 credit bureaus, that's even better.
Chane Steiner is a credit repair expert and founder of AAACreditGuide.com, the credit repair authority site. His site has helped many people repair their credit and get back on their feet. Chane has reviewed and recommends the following credit repair services.