Many of us believe that it is only through an agency that we could possibly have any hope for repairing our own credit. Rest assured that this is not true. It could possibly cost you more money and time to arrange through an agency than it would to just do it yourself. My recommendation, before contacting an agency for assistance is to follow the steps below as you may just be surprised at the results.
Repairing your own credit takes time, and definitely takes patience. You first need to contact the credit reporting agencies in writing requesting your credit report. You are entitled by Federal Law to a free credit report every year. There are three main credit-reporting agencies that you will need to contact. The bureaus information can be located by running a search on the internet for “Credit Reporting Agencies” or looking through your local phone book. Include the following in your written correspondence with the credit agency.
- Written request for a copy of your credit report (You are entitled to one free credit report a year).
- Include a copy of your state ID.
- Send proof of your current address if it is not current on your ID.
- List your last known addresses for the past 5 years.
- Include a copy of your social security card.
- Sign the document
Allow at least 4-6 weeks to receive your credit report(s). If you have already received an annual credit report from an agency and are not entitled to the free yearly report, you may also use any denial letter of credit within 60 days of its receipt. If you receive a letter denying you credit, make a copy and enclose it with your written request for a copy of your credit report.
Once you receive your reports from all of the agencies, review each report for accuracy and differences. Design a spreadsheet or written log to track the differences. Do not hesitate to make use of disputes or accounts that are invalid. If you find anything on your report that is worth disputing, most agencies allow you to file an official dispute via their website.
Your credit reports should include contact and account information for each creditor. Organize all of your debt and creditors. Most debts older than 7 years old will or may not appear on your report, if this is the case, leave them alone, do not dig around for them. Most creditors after 7 years of not having any contact with you will write off the debt, some may continue their pursuit to locate you, either way, don’t open the Pandora’s box if the account isn’t listed on your credit report.
Take it upon yourself to contact each creditor to make payment arrangements, most are willing to work with you, some may make your task very difficult. If a creditor is being difficult, feel free to ask for his or her supervisor or speak with someone else. Expect some creditors to be rude and unwilling to work with you, do not feel discouraged, and just ask to speak with someone else. Offer a settlement amount. Write down details of the conversation as well as the person’s contact information every time you speak with a creditor.
It may take up to 6 months to feel like you are making any progress at all on your credit with your payment arrangements but rest assured that your credit will fall into place within a year.
It is very important that while you are paying your creditors, when you mail in your payment, that you pay by check or money order and keep all of your receipts. Always include a SASE (self-addresses stamped envelope) with your payment and request a receipt for the payment from the creditor.
Obtain copies of your credit reports on a yearly basis from each agency. Do not obligate yourself to any other creditors while paying off your current ones. You will or may receive several credit offers, throw them away. Stay focused on your goal to get out of debt and keep track of all your activity such as payments, contact with the creditors, their names, extension, time and date you spoke with them and list any details of your conversations and arrangements.