Your credit score probably means a lot to you. You work hard for it and put a lot of effort into it. But unfortunately, fixing your credit score after it takes a hit is a process and can take time; you can’t erase a bad credit score overnight. There are no legitimate ways to quickly fix your credit score. If anyone tells you otherwise, it might be a scam or illegal.
How to remove negative items from your credit report
Checking your credit report is critical and allows you to catch mistakes that could potentially drop your score. If you find an error on your credit report, you have the legal right to dispute them. Some factors that can hurt your credit include delinquencies, collections, filing for bankruptcy, judgments and multiple hard inquiries. You are aware of some of these factors, like numerous hard inquiries and filing for bankruptcy. Other factors, such as collections and delinquencies, can result from fraud. Consistently checking your credit report can help you catch issues and get them resolved quickly. So what happens if you spot a negative item on your credit report? Here are a few steps needed to start a claim.
Get your credit report
First, you need to check your credit report. Annualcreditreport.com allows you access to a free credit report every year. It is the only source for free credit reports, and it is authorized by federal law, so you do not have to worry about the legitimacy of this website. When you’re ready to access your report:
- Select access report on the website.
- Complete the requested form. You will need to enter your address, Social Security number and previous addresses.
- Pick the report you want to access between Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
- Request and review your reports. There is another level of security before getting your report. The questions will be about your financial history and might be challenging. They are meant to be questions only you would know. Take your time.
- Review your report.
- Repeat the process with the other two credit bureaus.
File a dispute with the credit reporting agency
You’ve reviewed your credit score and found an issue; the next step is filing a dispute. Filing a dispute is free, and the process is simple. To file a dispute with the credit bureaus, you can submit an individual request to whoever has the incorrect information. For example, if you notice a dispute with Equifax, you would complete an online dispute through their site or mail in to Equifax, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256. If you have documentation that supports your dispute, submit it when you file. If you are mailing your dispute, make sure to send copies and not the original document so you can keep it for your records.
File a dispute directly with your creditor
You could also file a dispute directly with your creditor or bank if you notice they are the source. Sometimes, you mail a dispute directly to the issuer, including copies of your documentation, or you can call them directly to start the dispute.
Review the claim results
After filing a dispute and making a claim, consumer reporting agencies have five days after the investigation is complete to notify you of the results. At this point, you find out if your claim is resolved or denied. The entire process should take about 30 days or longer.
Ways to legally alter your accurate credit history
Though the quick-fix methods of changing your credit score aren’t usually legit or legal, you can improve your credit history.
Make payments on time
Making your monthly payments on time counts for 35% of your credit score, carrying the most weight toward your total score. Make your payments a priority by setting up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you get them paid.
Keep balances low
Credit utilization also plays a role in your credit score. Keeping your balance low means less of your total available credit is being used. Therefore, you want to keep your credit utilization below 30%, ideally at 10%, to boost your score and keep it there.
Pay down existing debt
Similar to keeping your balances low, paying down existing debt plays a part in changing your credit score. Keep your debt manageable and pay down existing debt to help keep your credit utilization low.
Check your credit report for errors
You are entitled to one free credit report a year, and it is essential to check it. Checking your credit report every year can help you stay on top of any errors before they get unmanageable. If you find a mistake on your credit report, file a claim immediately to solve the issue.
Don’t close old credit accounts
About 15% of your credit score depends on your account age. Although 15% might seem low, it is essential when considering the big picture. Make your best attempt to keep your older accounts open. Having accounts with a longer age shows creditors that you have longevity and can keep accounts managed.
Refrain from opening too many new accounts
As tempting as some credit offers might be, try to refrain from opening too many new accounts, especially at one time. Too many inquiries to your credit can drive your score down. Try to be selective when considering running your credit. Most soft inquiries only drop your score for a short time, but a hard inquiry can stay on your credit for years.
Stick to a budget to avoid overspending
When you notice how much available credit you have, it can make it easy to want to use your credit cards or lines of credit. Remember, it eventually has to be paid back. Make a budget to avoid overspending and depending too much on using credit. Sticking to your budget can help keep your credit utilization low, which is a more significant portion of your credit score.
You can change your credit score
Seeing your credit score drop might be disheartening, but don’t panic; you can change your credit score. It can take time and patience. Pay down your debts, check your credit and file disputes if you see any inaccuracies.
Why isn’t my credit score changing?
It can take 30 to 45 days for your credit score to change, so you may need to wait a little longer. Also, consider checking your credit report for free to see if any inaccuracies need to be addressed.
Can I pay someone to change my credit score?
There are no secrets or quick ways to change your credit score.
Can you buy a credit score?
You can not buy a credit score. If someone offers a fake credit score, it is likely a scam.