The Dos and Don’ts of Credit Repair
Looking for ways to improve an unfavorable credit score? Look no further! Our handy guide will help you get on the road to improving your score.
Expect quick fixes.
There is no “quick fix” for creditworthiness. If a credit repair company promises to increase your score by 100 points in less than a month, don’t believe it. There are legitimate credit repair companies, but there’s nothing they can do for you that you can’t do on your own.
Determine your actual credit score.
If a recent credit application of yours has been denied, find out why. You're also entitled to a copy of your credit report if an adverse action like this happens – as long as you request it within 60 days of the notice.
In addition, each of the three major credit reporting agencies are required to provide you with a complimentary copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. To order yours, visit annualcreditreport.com. You can also view your credit score for free with apps like Credit Karma and Experian.
While you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies, you may have to pay extra for your credit score. If you're a member of Arizona Federal, you can get a free copy of your credit report and credit score once every 90 days with the credit union's IDProtectTM service.
Review your report and dispute errors.
If you spot erroneous information on your credit report, dispute it in writing. Clearly identify every item you are disputing and the reasoning. Include copies of documents that support your stance and ask that the errors be corrected.
Send it by certified mail and keep a personal copy of your entire letter for your own records. You’ll also want to dispute the charge with your actual creditor.
Take steps toward fixing your credit.
If you’ve determined that your credit report is accurate, take a careful look at which habits are generating the unfavorable score.
- Avoid making late payments. A late payment by 30 days or more can really hurt your credit score since 35% of your score is based on your payment history and a late payment stays on your report for up to seven years. Set up automatic bill pay so your bills are never late.
- Don’t make multiple requests for new credit in a short time period to limit "hard" inquiries (e.g., credit checks by lenders and credit card companies) which can hurt your credit score.
- Keep your credit utilization at 30% or less. The less credit you use of your available credit, the better it is for your score. You can determine your credit utilization by adding the total balances of all your credit cards and dividing it by the total credit limits of all your cards.
- If your debt isn’t going anywhere, rethink your spending habits. Trim your expenses wherever possible and never shop with credit cards.
- If your debt has become unmanageable, consider a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer to a low interest credit card. You can also consider contacting creditors to work out a more reasonable payment plan.
Expect to see improvement immediately.
It may take 30 days or more for your account to be updated and your score to improve.
Ask us for help.
Here at Arizona Federal Credit Union, we’re all about helping you manage your finances. If you’re in financial trouble of any kind, call us at (602) 683-1000 or stop by today to ask about our credit counseling services and assistance with creating and sticking to a budget. We even offer debt consolidation loans, providing you with the opportunity to transfer your debt to a lower interest loan, making the prospect of paying down your debt a lot more manageable.