How Can I Fix My Credit by Myself?

By Carly Kullman

  • Overview

    If you're on a mission to repair your credit yourself, devote a lot of patience and time to this very important task. Credit repair can be done without the assistance of an attorney, although sometimes it may take a bit longer.
  • Know What You're Dealing With

    • Step 1

      Get a copy of all three of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can get a copy of all three of your credit reports for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to receive a copy of your credit report from it once every 12 months. It's important to get all three of your credit reports because each report may show different things being reported on them. Check the basics listed on your credit report, such as your name, home address, telephone numbers and employers, to ensure they are all reported accurately.
  • Step 2

    Review your credit reports for all of the items contained on it. This includes the positive trade lines as well as the negative trade lines. You should know what accounts you opened and closed, and which ones you let lapse. Make sure that the information that is being reported is accurate as best to your knowledge as possible. Also take the time to review the inquires on your credit reports. This usually will show who has been looking at your credit report. When you attempt to open an account, such as a credit card, lenders will review your credit report to see what is on there. Make sure the inquires listed are ones you have authorized, such as applying for credit or loans.
  • Step 3

    Contact the credit reporting agencies immediately--and place a freeze on your reports--if you find incorrect information pertaining to social security numbers, names, addresses or other information. This means creditors will not be able to view your credit reports in hopes of extending credit. You could be the victim of identity theft. Follow all procedures as required by law if you feel you are a victim.
  • When You Find a Problem

    • Step 1

      Write a note to yourself if you find information on your credit reports that may not be reporting accurately. This will come in handy when you dispute the information. Make notes of any name, address, trade line or inquiry discrepancies. You may also find it useful to make a copy of your credit reports so that you can use one for an original copy and another for writing notes on when you find something out of the ordinary.
    • Step 2

      Get the address of any creditor that you feel is reporting derogatory or negative information. You will need this later when sending letters to the creditor. Also obtain the addresses for each of the three credit reporting agencies. Make sure you have the ones designated for disputes; otherwise, you may find that your letter will get lost and you will not get a response.
    • Step 3

      Use a web search if you're having a hard time finding information or an address for a collection agency. Many times you can find the company website and a way to contact it. Also, be sure to check your other credit reports. Sometimes they'll have the address of the collection agency listed on them, especially if this is something that is reporting on more than one of your credit reports.


  • Disputing Information

    • Step 1

      Dispute any information you found on your credit report that is not reporting accurately. First, dispute any names or addresses you have found to be incorrect. The best bet is to first dispute this with the credit reporting agencies. The best method would be to first try online disputes. In many cases, the information will be removed from your credit report. However, some of the credit reporting agencies have stricter requirements and may not remove the information from your credit report.
    • Step 2

      Provide as much information as possible when you dispute information from a creditor. After you have typed your letter to the creditor, make sure you make a copy. This will serve as proof that you have tried to contact the creditor. You can include a copy of the credit report (or reports) that are reporting this information, but make sure you only send the part that shows the account that the creditor is reporting incorrectly. Do not send your entire credit report. In addition, include a paragraph in your letter to the collection agency in which you request all communications on this matter be conducted via mail. This will prevent annoying phone calls from collections agencies, so if you receive any phone calls, you have a legal leg to stand on against the collection agency.
    • Step 3

      Make sure you have proof you have mailed the letter, when sending it to creditors. Get proof that the credit agency has received the dispute that you sent. You can do this by sending your dispute via certified mail with return receipt. This means that when the agency receives the letter, someone will have to sign for the letter. In return, you receive a postcard in the mail letting you know when it was received and who signed for it. This will protect you from the collection agency stating that it did not receive your dispute.
    • Step 4

      Be patient after sending your dispute. Credit collection agencies and credit reporting agencies have 30 days to respond to your dispute. The 30 days will start from the day that the agency signed for and accepted your letter. If you find the agency has not responded after 30 days, you can again send a dispute letter asking for verification of this debt. Be sure to document that you have tried to contact the agency before, and include a copy of the receipt that the letter was signed for. Never send the original to the agency.
  • Fixing Your Credit By Payment

    • Step 1

      Pay off accounts when possible. If you have any accounts that are open and are currently in good standing, keep paying on these accounts. This will help your credit in the long run. Having a solid payment history looks good to other creditors.
    • Step 2

      Try to negotiate a pay-for-deletion plan if you have accounts that have been charged off and sold to a collection agency. This is where you tell the creditor that you will pay such and such an amount. In return for your payment, the collection agency will remove its trade line on your credit report. The main thing is to make sure you receive a copy of its agreement in writing. Don't take the word of the collection agency over the phone. It will say anything to get you to pay off your debt. If it will not agree to a pay-for-delete, paying off the old charged-off debt will not help your credit score in any way. If that is the case, it's better for you to wait the 7 years for the derogatory trade line to fall off your credit report. Also, if your original creditor sold a charged-off account to a collection agency and the collection agency agrees to the pay-fo- delete, the original creditor will remain on your credit report. The bright side is that you only have one of the negative trade lines reporting instead of two negative trade lines reporting for the same account.
    • Step 3

      Pay attention to your balance compared to your credit limit. If you do have open credit lines in good standing, making sure you are making timely payments is only one part of the equation toward better credit. In addition, creditors will look at the utilization of the credit cards you have already. This basically means that the creditors will look at the balance of your credit card versus the amount of credit that you have available.
  • Don't Let Improvement Excite You

    • Step 1

      Stay on an even keel, even if you start to see a change in your credit report and some of the negative trade lines start to disappear. Try to stay away from opening any new accounts. The new trade lines will initially hurt your credit and drop your credit score. If you were having financial problems before, you may not be in a position to pay off the new credit that you would be using. It's best to wait it out for a while.
    • Step 2

      Take the time to check your real FICO score. Make sure you obtain it when you are starting your credit repair journey and do it once a month to see how the negative information affected your score. Beware of any sites that offer to give you your credit score for a fee. These scores are normally referred to as FAKOs, because they do not utilize the same method of score calculation as the FICO scoring method. The FICO scoring method is what most lenders use when evaluating your credit worthiness.
    • Step 3

      Determine how you can prevent making the same mistakes as before. As your credit scores are increasing and you notice a slight improvement in your credit score, take this as a fresh start and work hard on maintaining your credit worthiness. Keep paying bills on time and don't rely on your credit cards solely. Pay down what you can monthly, trying to at least make more than the minimum monthly payments.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Credit reports from Transunion, Equifax and Experian
    • Copier or printer
    • Notebook
    • Folder
    • Tip: You may want to try disputing information online through the credit reporting agencies first. You may find that some of the information will come off without any problems rather quickly. Be cautious, though, when dealing with Experian; it tends to refuse to re-investigate things previously disputed and verified.
    • Tip: Try to stay away from talking to credit collection agencies on the telephone. Unless it is in writing, it never happened. If you find that you must talk on the phone, record the date, the time, and with whom you spoke.
    • Tip: If you think that closing credit cards witn no balance that you don't use is a good idea, think again. These cards go toward your utilization and length of time that you have had credit. These can contribute to your credit score, so closing them could cost you points.
    • Tip: Be sure to read the laws involving collection agencies. There is a wealth of information that you can use when disputing trade lines on your credit report. Refer to the Fair Debts Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
    • Tip: If you feel that any collection agency or credit reporting agency has violated your rights, you can use these violations to your advantage.
    • Warning:
    • Beware of credit repair companies. They often offer you the same thing that you are doing yourself. The only difference is, they will charge you.
    • Collection agencies may try to use scare tactics or threats as a way of getting you to pay your debts. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
    • Never give your social security number or bank account information to a collection agency.
    • Save all of your correspondences with the collection agencies. Sometimes the information has been to known to reappear on one's credit report. If this happens, you can take legal measures against the reporting agency.

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