If you’re deep in debt and your credit is suffering, the important thing to remember is that negative or bad credit is not a permanent thing that’s going to hound you forever. It’s not easy but it’s not rocket science either — you can actually do something to repair bad credit.
Repair Bad Credit
Here are a few simple steps you can take to begin the process of reclaiming your good reputation:
Stop making the same mistakes. We know exactly how our debt situation started and spiraled out of control. Sometimes, there are circumstances (illness in the family, job loss, etc.) that force us to go into debt but if the situation came about because of bad choices (impulsive spending, disorganized financial records, etc.), it would pay to not repeat the same mistakes that got us into debt in the first place.
Stay organized and always stay on top of things. Don’t ignore important paperwork — if you receive a bill, file it away and try your best to pay it on time. Being organized takes a bit of getting used to if you haven’t been doing it but it only takes a few minutes each day. It’s an important step to repair bad credit and its effect on how you handle your finances can be tremendous.
Get an updated report of your credit rating. You can order free copies of your online credit report. By law, the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, Trans Union — are obligated to provide you a free of charge copy of your credit report each year. However, unless you have an inquiry that’s specific to a credit bureau, send your credit report requests online at www.annualcreditreport.com or call them at 1-877-322-8228. That site is operated by the 3 agencies to centralize all report requests.
You can’t start to repair bad credit if you don’t know what has been reported or where your problems lie until you see your credit report. Make sure you obtain a copy of your credit rating from all three credit reporting bureaus through the site above.
Scrutinize everything that’s been written. Go over your report line by line and highlight any discrepancies that you may come across. If you see any errors or mistakes in the entries, mark and list it down. People often ignore this step because they feel one discrepancy won’t cost them. We’re talking about your finances and accounting here, however. One little mistake can be a huge deal and can greatly impact the bottom line numbers and your credit score.
Evaluate the severity of your credit rating and debts. People see the big picture, but when you’re on a mission to repair bad credit, you need to see the big picture little by little. What are the most severe collection accounts? Where are you most in debt? Which ones are in collection? You need to know this because these are the accounts that you will need to work on paying off first. Collection accounts are the ones that affect your credit rating the most.
Take action now, start working to repair bad credit. You will need to be highly organized and must allocate a certain amount of your time each day to make this work. You will be working with your creditors and collection companies, making calls and lots of follow-up calls, mailing letters and documents, keeping track of everything, focused on reaching good agreements with your creditors to move things forward.
Honestly, doing all the tasks necessary to repair bad credit can be a tedious job itself and if you feel that you can’t deal with all the hassle or simply don’t have the time, you can work with credit repair companies that specialize in doing all of these tasks on your behalf.
Just be aware of what’s going on all the time when working with a consumer credit counseling services company — which tasks are being done, and which ones are you incurring expenses for. When working with these companies, be clear about service termination arrangements because you would want to drop them as quickly as you can the moment they show incompetence, lack of transparency and communication, or progress.
Ease the pressure, stop those harassing phone calls. Debt collectors are apparently convinced that just because they call you every single day twice, money magically appears. You don’t need that kind of aggravation. Talk to the collector once and clarify with them, in writing, how you intend to settle the debt (ex. credit card consolidation), then ask them to stop calling you. Read the “Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers” at www.ftc.gov for more information.
These are just the initial steps that you can take to repair bad credit. We will keep updating this page in the next few weeks to provide additional steps or tips, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have your own suggestions, please free to add them below.