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Credit Repair - A Few Steps To Perfection

May 28, 2008
Are You Ready?

You have the power to transform your credit - regardless of what it looks like today. A nationally recognized credit repair expert outlines a powerful plan easy enough to start right now, and powerful enough to change everything. The only question is, are you ready?

A Realistic Start

Effective credit repair is a multi-dimensional process. Your credit report is just the final outcome. If you want to repair your credit you need to start with your finances. You must develop a budget. A budget is a powerful personal financial tool, and you can't succeed without it. Get a pen and paper. Get serious. List every expense you have, from essential to entertainment. You should examine your checkbook and your credit card statements. Whatever you spend money on should be included.

You Must Plan to Save

Compare your income with your expenses. This can be a wake-up call for people starting a credit repair program. If you are spending more than you earn, credit problems are guaranteed. But this exercise is not about getting your expenses to match your income - there is a bit more to it; you must organize your budget to allow 10% of your income to be deposited into a savings account. If this seems difficult you should reevaluate your priorities. Life brings surprises, and without a cushion the first unexpected expense can undo your credit repair efforts. If you want to succeed you need to save.

The Details of Credit Repair

It's time to roll up your sleeves. Get all three of your reports and examine them individually; treat each credit bureau report as an individual project. This is not just about identifying obvious derogatory information. There are many factors that affect your credit scores, and you can't afford to miss anything. Some of the most important and often neglected issues include duplicate accounts listings, understated high credit limits, erroneous open dates, multiple collections for the same account, and derogatory information reporting beyond the seven year limit.

Consider a Credit Repair Service - Or Read a Book!

The majority of problems that depress credit scores are FCRA compliance violations like those listed above. If you feel lost hire a competent credit repair service, or take the time to read a good book on the subject. One of the great misunderstandings about credit repair is that you only need to identify unfamiliar data and send dispute letters to the credit bureaus. This is of little use and may leave you worse off than before. But this is not to say you can't repair your own credit. Just take the time to learn to do it right. One of my favorite books on the subject starts with a very valid warning to "do nothing until you have read this whole book".

Credit Repair Clean Up Time

Once you have identified every item that is not in compliance with the FCRA it's time to clean up the mess. If you hire a credit repair service this will be handled for you, but if you are doing it yourself there are a few things you should know. The credit bureaus are not in the business of cleaning up errors on your report. There are over 200 million Americans with credit files at each of the credit bureaus, and billions of transactions reported to each bureau every week. The credit reporting system is not perfect. In fact over 75% of all credit reports include errors.

Understanding Disputes

Without FCRA enforcement, the credit bureaus would do nothing to rectify this problem. Correcting errors is inconvenient for the credit bureaus, and they have made a science out of minimizing dispute related costs. The FCRA is designed primarily to protect consumers from life altering errors that are generated by the credit reporting system, but it also very even-handed and crafted in such a way as to insure that regulation does not overly disrupt the credit bureaus ability to operate profitably. Fair enough.

The Credit Bureaus Have Rights Too

The credit bureaus will process your disputes, but they will also exercise every right they have to ignore your request. A competent credit repair service will manage your disputes in a way designed to produce optimal results; the factors that influence the willingness of the bureaus to process a request include the clarity of the request, the number of items disputed, and the timing of repeated disputes. If you are repairing your own credit and want to succeed you need to understand the legal rights of the credit bureaus and to manage your disputes accordingly.

Rebuilding For Credit Repair Success

There is a lot of satisfaction in cleaning up your credit report. But the credit repair process is not complete until your credit scores qualify you for the best possible financing. Remember that credit is a means to an end; it must be usable. If your credit repair efforts have left you with little or no open credit, it's time to rebuild. The easiest way to build new credit is with secured credit cards. Secured cards can be very powerful tools, but it is crucial that you keep your balances down. The ideal is to keep the balance below 20% of your high credit limit. Many people let their balance approach the limit and wonder why their credit scores are so low. If you do it right you will be amazed at the results.

Copyright 2007 James W. Kemish. All Content. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Jim Kemish, a well known credit repair expert and consumer advocate, is the president of Sky Blue Credit, a leading credit repair service since 1989. Jim is also the president of Power Mortgage, a Florida mortgage company.
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