Many of us don’t understand the importance of having good credit until we need to make a major and important purchase. The word “DENIED” pierces our soul deeply and that is when we set out to discover how to overcome our credit challenges. I remember being denied for my first apartment and car crush because of a $7k credit card debt I incurred my first year in community college. I was financially illiterate and didn’t understand that this was borrowed money that should be paid back by the due date and paid in full in order to avoid paying late fees and interest. After receiving the news that my poor payment history and collection account hindered me from obtaining the luxury of finally having my own FIRST apartment and car, I needed to fix this problem and I needed to fix it FAST! It was then, at the age of 21, I set out to obtain a wealth of knowledge around what exactly having good credit meant and how to obtain the knowledge and skills to clean it up and keep it in an above average status.
I always believed in not paying for something that I can do myself, so credit repair clinics was never a thought. They make promises that can’t be fulfilled and that ones that can be, can typically be done by you if you are willing to have patience and learn the numbers games. Now, I’m going to share 7 tips that will take you from being credit poor to a 700+ credit score. The process takes time as it is NOT a get fix quick type of deal. As I stated, patience and willingness is the name of the game. Here goes:
Tip 1: Request, for FREE, all 3 of your credit reports by visiting https://www.annualcreditreport.com
Tip 2: Review the reports for any errors like past addresses, your name, DOB, credit and/or collection accounts that clearly aren’t yours.
Tip 3: Make sure that any negative information in your report is limited to the time frame set out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The general rule is if there's something negative on your credit report, it's supposed to drop off after seven (7) years. One exception to that is bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can stay on your credit reports for 10 years.
Tip 4: If you find any mistakes, log onto the respective credit bureau’s website and follow the instructions to submit your dispute
Tip 5: The creditor has 30 days to respond back to the credit reporting agency regarding your dispute. If there is no response, the item will automatically fall off
Tip 6: If a creditor responds and validates that the account is indeed yours, you can continue to dispute using other measures like template letters and statue codes if you are sure the account isn’t yours or it was paid off prior to going to collections
Tip 7: If any negative accounts are yours by your admission, you can contact the creditors directly by writing a “Goodwill” or “Pay for Deletion” letter.
Again, it takes persistence, knowledge and patience to work on your credit but it is all worth it. As you learn these strategies and see your score rise, please be sure to share the knowledge with your younger family members so that they start on the right path to obtaining and keeping good credit.
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Lavette Minn, Owner & Family Brand Educator© at The Family Brand Movement™, LLC