If you are drowning in debt and crippled by bad credit, what better gift to give yourself and/or your family this holiday season than a brand new start on the path to credit repair. Though it can be a many-months-long process, depending on the extent of negative listings on your credit report, now is as good a time as any to start. In fact, this may be the ideal time to address your credit issues – before and and during the holiday season when your head and heart can easily lend more weight to finding the perfect gift than staying within budget (i.e., charging up more debt).
To get started on credit repair today:
1) Pull copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Transunion and Equifax. You are entitled to one free copy from each of these agencies once a year.
2) Go through your credit report with a fine-tooth comb, making note of negative listings, including:
- Loan Default
- Court Judgments
- Past due payments
- Late Payments
- Credit Rejections
- Credit Inquiries
3) Send letters of dispute (via certified mail) to the lenders or collection agencies holding the debt, asking for debt validation. Reasons for dispute may include:
- Not mine or not my account.
- I didn’t pay late that month.
- Wrong amount.
- Wrong account number.
- Wrong original creditor.
- Wrong charge-off date.
- Wrong date of last activity.
- Wrong balance.
- Wrong credit limit.
- Wrong status – there are about 20 of these.
- Wrong high credit – the highest amount you used.
4) Track when the certified mail letters are received to ensure the bureaus respond within the time they legally have to do so – 45 days if the credit reports were acquired for free, 30 days if not.
5) If they are able to validate the debt in reference to your first reason for disputing it, move on to another reason. Continue to do so with each negative listing until you run out of reasons.
For more detailed information – including samples letters of dispute – check out our comprehensive collection of articles on do-it-yourself credit repair.