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Topics addressed on June 8, 2011:
No need to pay to improve your credit
I would like to try to fix my credit myself before I pay $865 for 60 months. What should I do first?
You can do for free anything that you would pay a credit repair organization to do for you. It just takes a little time and effort.
The first step is to get copies of your personal credit reports from each of the national credit reporting companies. You can do so free of charge once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Review your report for anything that appears to be reported incorrectly. Your report will include dispute instructions. Simply follow those instructions to contact Experian and the other national credit reporting companies to request a dispute.
If the information is correct, you can use the funds you would otherwise send to the credit repair company to begin paying your existing debts. One expense you might consider is purchasing a credit score when you request your free credit report.
The score will give you a good idea about where you’re starting from in terms of credit risk. Even more important is that, along with the score, you will receive a list of the risk factors from your credit report that are most affecting the score. The risk factors tell you what need to focus on to rebuild your creditworthiness. A score with the risk factors typically costs less than $10.
If everything in your reports is correct, it becomes a matter of taking small steps over time. Use the risk factors to identify what areas you should concentrate on. The most common issues are catching up on late payments, reducing balances and making on-time payments.
You will also need to reduce or stop spending, if you haven’t done so already, so that you can reduce your debts. When your balances are paid off, keep using your credit cards for small amounts and pay in full each month to demonstrate that you can manage credit. Over time you will rehabilitate your credit history and restore your creditworthiness.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team