Credit Repair: Do-It-Yourself for Free
Many of my clients ask: How quickly can you rebuild credit after bankruptcy? While you can get credit cards shortly after your bankruptcy is filed, getting good interest rates typically takes 12-24 months of rebuilding your credit. If you’re looking to repair or rebuild your credit, you likely have heard the commercials advertising credit repair for hire. These credit repair consultants promise improved credit scores by challenging negative information on your credit report. But everything the credit repair professionals can do, you can do yourself for free. To learn more, follow the steps below and download the free Credit Repair Guide attached to this post that details everything you need to know to dispute false information on your credit report and provides a sample dispute letter.
Anything a credit repair consultant can do legally, you can do for yourself at little to no cost. You can use the credit repair procedure outlined below free of charge and often times, be just as effecitve at repairing your credit.
1. Obtain a copy of your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. This website was mandated by Congress under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and is the only truly free credit report website that does not require you to provide credit card information or sign up for a free trial. You are entitled to one free credit report, each year, from the three major credit bureaus.
2. Review your three credit reports for false information. Note that to use the dispute procedure to repair your credit, you can only legally dispute false, negative information. This is one area where a number of credit repair consultants have violated the law because they attempt to dispute all of the negative information on a credit report, regardless of whether it is accurate.
3. Using the sample dispute letter for credit repair enclosed with the credit repair guide in this post, detail the inaccuracy in your credit report and provide a copy of your report for the particular credit bureau circling the disputed information. You should also provide proof of your identity and address, such as your driver’s license and a recent utility bill. You should also provide, to the extent you can, copies of the evidence that the information is inaccurate (copy of a cancelled check showing payment; bank statement, recent bill from a creditor with a different amount, etc.).
4. Make a copy of the letter and enclosures for your records and send the letter and enclosures via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the credit bureau’s dispute department.
Credit Bureau Dispute Addresses for Credit Repair:
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
5. You should also send a copy of your dispute letter and enclosures to the organization that provided the information.
6. The credit bureaus must contact the organization that provided the disputed information – unless they consider your dispute frivolous. The information provider then has 30 days to investigate the information and either verify the disputed information or not. If the information provider cannot verify the information within 30 days, the information must be corrected on your credit report.
7. If the investigation does not resolve the dispute, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask that the credit bureau provide a copy of your statement of dispute to anyone who has reviewed your credit report in the recent past. This service typically comes with a charge.
When considering credit repair, keep in mind that your credit score is a fluid number that fluctuates each month as the information on your account histories change. While events like bankruptcy, foreclosure and debt settlement can negatively affect your credit score and will be on the public record section of your report for up to 10 years, you can rebuild your credit during that time by making timely payments on your debts. If your income has changed making it impossible for you to make the minimum monthly payments on your debts and pay your monthly living expenses, bankruptcy, foreclosure or debt settlement may be an option that helps you resolve the burdensome debt and rebuild your credit more quickly than if you let the problem debt remain unaddressed for a long period of time.
If you have been struggling with burdensome debt, are considering bankruptcy, but are concerned how bankruptcy could hurt your credit score, learn about your options by scheduling a free consultation by calling or filling out our contact form. Get started on resolving the issue today – there is no obligation.