It’s something no one talks about. It’s right up there on the list of taboo items you don’t mention to other people, like your annual income and amount of debt you have or your credit score. The lower it is, the less likely you are to share that number with people. But you’d probably be surprised at how many people have made mistakes and witnessed the swan dive of their credit score. The important thing is to get it fixed as quickly as possible.
Just like with a diet, there’s no magic pill that’s going to fix your problem overnight. After all, it probably took a few months to get where you are now. So, it’s going to take some time (and some hard work and discipline) to repair the problems, BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The first step is to access the situation. You can’t begin to repair your credit if you don’t know all the issues that are affecting your score. You can get your reports truly free, once a year, at www.annualcreditreport.com.
The next step is to make sure everything on your report is accurate. If you’ve made all your payments on time for your mortgage but it’s showing as late or there is an account on your report that isn’t yours, you should file a dispute and make sure it gets corrected. You may be asked to provide additional information, so make sure you keep good records for all your accounts. In many cases, you can dispute the records right online, but you may have to write a letter or call the Credit Reporting Bureau directly.
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 – http://www.experian.com/
TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800 – https://www.transunion.com/
Equifax: 800-685-1111 – https://www.equifax.com/personal/
You also want to make sure that all your good credit is being reported. If you have student loans that you pay meticulously but they aren’t being reported, then you need to get those added. You may need to reach out to the loan lender and ask them to do this for you.
After reviewing all your information, you need to get control of your spending. Your credit report provides all your debt in one location so that you can easily see where you’re making mistakes. Do you easily fall victim to opening too many Store Cards, or are you just horrible at paying your bills on time even though you have the funds? Take a good assessment of your spending habits, your debt, and your payment habits. Where can you make improvements?
It’s time to move forward and get your credit back on the up and up. A simple and easy tip to getting your credit on track is to avoid opening new accounts. I know, it’s tempting to save 20% on your in-store purchases when you open a new card, but trust me your focus should be on paying down your outstanding accounts and paying them down on time. Not only do new credit inquiries create an inquiry on your credit report (which can lower it if there are too many) but if you already have poor credit, your interest rate will be high, and you will end up paying more fees in the long run. Have you opened store credit cards and no longer need or use them? Contact the card issuer and close them now!
Be patient. Repairing your credit is going to take time. It could take several years for the mistakes to disappear from your credit report.
Need help setting up a checking or savings account to help you save money and pay down your credit debt? We can help!
Paul A. McLaughlin, Jr
Executive Vice President, Chief Retail Banking Officer