3. Identify and mark the
negative items on your credit report.
Here are the items you’re looking for:

-late payments

-charge-offs

-collections

-bankruptcy

-judgments

-repossessions

-foreclosures

-tax liens

-inquiries that you don’t recognize as belonging on your report

4. Stop! It’s time to do some homework! I bet that’s not what many of you wanted to hear. I’m sure you’re anxious to dive right in and start attacking the negative items on your credit reports, and I don’t blame you a bit. But the task you’re about to undertake is not cut-and-dry; credit repair is complex and there is often not a one-size-fits-all solution for every individual and every credit report. The approaches you’ll take to challenge the derogatory listings on your reports may vary depending upon your specific circumstances. You need to know what you’re doing beforehand to keep from making mistakes during the credit repair process.

You also need to understand the laws that you’re going to use to your advantage in order to clean up your credit. Remember, if you don’t feel you have the time or patience to tackle this yourself, you can always seek the assistance of a credit repair organization (YES, there are good ones out there!).

Here is your pre-credit repair reading homework. It will help you understand the credit laws, and also to understand which approaches are appropriate for which types of listings:

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Debt validation (Pay special attention to the second-to-last paragraph!)

HIPAA and credit repair (You can skip this one if you don’t have any medical items listed on your reports)


5. Start your disputes. Since I’m sure you did your homework in part 2 of this series 😉 you should have a basic grasp on how to dispute items on your credit reports. Refer back to the articles listed in step 4 as needed.

Here are some sample letters you might find useful:

debt validation sample letter – for listings placed on your report by third-party debt collectors
nutcase letter – for fully paid derogatory accounts
pay for delete agreements – for valid, outstanding derogatory debt listings

6. Get organized. Create a file to keep copies of all correspondence between you and the credit bureaus, creditors, collection agencies, etc. Keep all your certified mail return receipts paper-clipped to their corresponding documents. I don’t recommend you communicate over the phone during the course of your credit repair efforts, but if you must, at least keep documentation of all your telephone conversations in your file.

7. Wait for the results of your disputes and follow up as needed. Unfortunately, not every dispute will be successful the first time around. But persistence often pays off!

Whenever a disputed item comes back from a credit bureau as “verified”, you should write them and ask for the contact information of whoever verified the item. Once you receive it, write to the creditor/collector/courthouse and ask them how they verified the listing with the credit bureau. What documentation do they have that proves the accuracy of the disputed item?

Frequently, they won’t be able to comply with your request and will be forced to delete the item from your credit reports.
Sometimes the credit bureaus will not be able to verify a disputed listing within the 30-day timeframe required by the FCRA, and they will temporarily delete the item from your report and reinsert the item once it is verified later. This is legal assuming the item was verified properly and provided the credit bureau notifies you in writing that the item is being reinserted.

Also keep in mind that you can dispute the same accounts again at a later time, as long as your disputes are not exactly the same as the ones you’ve submitted previously. Remember, there are many possible disputes; you can dispute an account in its entirety, or you can dispute one or more of the details of the account listing, such as the date of last activity, the credit limit, the high balance, etc. I recommend waiting at least 2 or 3 months in between disputes for the same account, otherwise the credit bureau may choose to treat your dispute as frivolous (meaning they will ignore it).

Just continue repeating this step until you’re satisfied with your credit reports.

I hope you found this series of articles on how to repair your own credit report helpful; if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment!