DIY Credit Repair: Step 1, Credit Reports

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While you may have a good idea of the negative items contributing to your credit score, it's important to go straight to the source: your credit reports.
While you may have a good idea of the negative items contributing to your credit score, it’s important to go straight to the source: your credit reports.

If credit repair is always in the back of your mind, but last on the list when it comes to actually getting things done, why not take some time right now to change all that? Granted, there is no quick-fix to bad credit. It takes time to restore your credit to where it once was (or better). However, as long as you focus on one step at a time, eventually you are bound to get there.

Step 1: Credit Reports

While you probably have a pretty good idea of the negative items contributing to your credit score, it’s important to go straight to the source. Only by reviewing your credit reports do you know with certainty what items are bringing you down. You may even find incorrect listings, such as late payments on an account you’ve always kept current, or a credit line you don’t remember opening.

Request Copies of Your Reports

Every 12 months, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies. To receive your copies, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. From there you will be able to request a credit report from TranUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Note, it is essential that you request a copy from each of these agencies. Creditors may report to one (or all) of them, meaning each report could show different listings from the rest. And since you never know which credit bureau a future creditor is going to use for evaluating your credit worthiness, all three of your credit reports need your attention.

Once you’ve received copies of your credit reports, go through each of them with a fine-tooth comb.

Look for Erroneous Listings

On the first sweep, look for (and make note of) errors. This may include misspellings of your name, incorrect addresses, past due status on an account you know is paid in full, or a line of credit that simply doesn’t belong to you.

Look for Negative Listings

On your second sweep through your credit reports, look for anything negative. Yes, this includes items that you know are correct.

Rank Your Negative Listings

The items putting the biggest dent in your credit report are the ones you want to address first. Here’s a list of common negative listings organized from “most damaging” to “least damaging” to your credit:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Foreclosure
  • Repossession
  • Loan Default
  • Court Judgments
  • Collections
  • Past due payments
  • Late Payments
  • Credit Rejections
  • Credit Inquiries

Up next, Step 2: Sending Dispute Letters To the Credit Bureaus.

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