How are we, the average Joe or Jane on the street, supposed to build (or rebuild) our credit when no one teaches what’s on our credit report to begin with? Well, here’s the answer:
Contact information (no impact on credit score): It simply includes the names, addresses, employers, and, sometimes, marital statuses under which you have applied for credit in the past.
Credit & Trade Lines: Details on the various lines of credit the consumer has had in the past 7-10 years, including balances, terms and their history of on-time payments.
Public Records: List of court actions, including bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens and possibly evictions over the past 7-10 years
Inquiries: List of creditors and businesses that have looked at your credit in the past 2 years. Those you authorize as part of an application for credit may impact your score (slightly), while others do not.
Personal Statement (no impact on credit score): Up to 99 words the consumer may add to their own report. We generally suggest this only be used to clarify report errors.
Since up to 25% of all credit reports contain a significant error (usually in the credit lines or public records section), you should know where to go to dispute and resolve the error. It’s no guarantee, but go directly to the credit bureau’s home pages (EquiFax.com, Experian.com, and TransUnion.com) and follow the “Dispute Error” instructions.
Think of your credit report as your own personal file that holds information about your where you reside, what type of debt you owe on and what your payment history is with your lenders. Your credit report file will also include whether or not you’ve filed bankruptcy and if you’ve been sued to collect upon a debt you owe. If you have mortgage or automobile payments those will show on your credit report as well.
Creditors, lenders, employers, insurance companies or property management firms may purchase a copy of your credit report in order to determine your creditworthiness. They will look for positive items such as an established credit history, high balance to available credit ratios (do you have access to credit but keep the balances down?), on time bill payment, what types of credit do you use and have you recently applied for new credit?
Importance of Credit Scores
The word credit can be heard every day from the TV, ads in the paper, and even the radio.
What is credit? It is the ability to borrow based on the promise of repayment. Lately, everything seems to be based on a person’s credit score. Here are a few ways credit scores affect the price you pay for the following items:
Personal Life Insurance: Having a bad credit score can drop you to the lower tiers causing you to pay a higher premium, though your health is still the most influential factor.
Auto and Home Insurance: Poor credit can mean you are denied insurance completely or you will pay more. Before obtaining insurance from a company, ask them, “What percent of the premium will my credit score account for?”
Employment: The trend is growing for companies to pull a credit report along with a background check. They want a stable employee. They are not allowed to ask you why you have a bad score, but you are allowed to tell them. Be prepared to discuss it. Employers can pull credit to promote or transfer an employee as well. Be open and willing to explain what happened.
Housing: Property management companies will likely pull your credit report to determine approval or denial, though many do not take into account any medical collections. The larger the company the stricter they typically are. Small locally owned companies tend to get to know the individual.
Loans: The higher the score, the better the interest rates you pay for standard bank loans (auto, home, signature). If your score is too low (mid to low 500s), you may be denied a loan completely or receive an interest rate in the high teens to twenties.
Check your credit report every year at to check for fraud or misreporting. While 8 in 10 credit reports contain some sort of error, one in four contains such an error significant to cause you to be denied credit in spite of any other positive information.
As you can see, building and maintaining a good credit score can positively affect a major part of your life.
Have You Pulled Your Credit Report Lately?
Information found on credit reports and that three-digit number called a credit score have become such integral decision factors in our lives. Do you feel as though you are now judged by your credit report and credit score more than ever?
We have the opportunity—and the right—to see our credit reports and ensure that they are accurate, which is especially important before you apply for a loan. Here are some steps to taking advantage of the FACT Act to monitor your own credit:
Pull your credit regularly at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. We are entitled to one credit report fro
Ask a family member with good credit to add you as an authorized user to their current credit card account(s). You do not even have to use the card (or even ever see it). It has no impact on the family member’s rating, and their good account activity can help your own standing before creditors. Keep in mind, though, that the family member is responsible for any charges made on the authorized user’s card.
2. String of Light BulbsSome states allow utility companies to report your history of payments to the credit bureaus. You do have to ask, though, and the utility companies are not necessarily required to report, so ask nicely… with sugar and a cherry on top.
3. Correct errors on your credit report. We all have the right to a free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) every twelve months through www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can access your report for free and immediately online, or you can order them by phone or by mail. Check the report for accuracy and dispute negative information that is older than 7 years, that is reporting a balance that has been paid off, or that shows late payments when there were no late payments. Please feel free to contact me, one of our credit counselors, or another nonprofit credit counseling agency for a free credit report review to help you understand what is on your report.
Simple and No-cost or Low-cost Steps
Tire Stores and (Re)Building Credit4. Generally, I suggest that you do not apply for more than one or two new accounts each year, but to start, you might consider a tire/brake store that has its own finance department. Gas station cards are other possible places to start. They tend to be a little more liberal in their application approvals, but they compensate for this risk by charging higher interest rates. If you need to purchase tires for your vehicle anyway, save up the cash, apply for the loan at the tire store, and then pay off the loan almost immediately. Some well-meaning so-called experts will tell you that you should not pay off the loan because you need to establish a history of on-time payments. To maximize your credit rating, this may be true, but you do not need to maximize your rating; you just need to build it. If maximizing is your chosen way, it means you’ll end up paying interest, so to minimize interest payments try this. Once your account is approved, register with the lender for an online account, link it to your bank account, pay off all but $50 or so, and then make $15 or so payments until the account is at $0. This will give you 6 or more months of payment history while also minimizing the interest you are charged.
Department Store Front
5. Retail store cards are also generally easier to qualify for. Just do not make purchases for the sake of building your credit. Make purchases that you would have made anyway. JC Penney is one example. Let’s say you were going to make a $50 purchase there and that you already had the money saved in your checking account or in cash in your purse or wallet. When applying for an account, they might give you a discount on your first purchase. Don’t go crazy. Keep the purchase the same as what you would have purchased without the discount. Then, after being approved, do not even leave the line. Inform the cashier that you would like to pay off your account balance right then and there. This way, you leave the store with a new open account in good standing with no balance and a payment history. If you waited to pay until the bill came in the mail, chances are you would have spent that money elsewhere and would then be in trouble trying to come up with the minimum amount due. Other stores that tend to have lower approval standards include Ann Taylor, Bath & Body Works, Express, Gamestop, Loft, and Victoria’s Secret, among others using Comenity Bank. Target’s Red Card can also be an effective place to start.
More Expensive but Effective Steps
6. Finding a secured credit card can help, although they usually come with high annual fees (sometimes even monthly fees). Just make sure that you get it in writing that the card company will report your credit usage history to all three consumer reporting agencies.
Credit Building Loan Agreement7. Some banks and credit unions offer credit building loans of $500 to $2,000. They typically require proof of employment. After approving your application, they place all or part of the loan into a secured savings account that you cannot access until you have paid the entire balance due. While the secured savings account earns interest ( a pittance), you are likely paying 8% to 15% or even more on the loan. Still, that’s better than the corner finance store that will charge 20% to 30% or more and makes it as difficult as possible to pay off the loan.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Regardless of the above steps, the fundamentals of building (or rebuilding) credit remain
Community Credit Repair specializes in collection removal, collection deletion, charge off removal, bankruptcy removal, late payment removal, repossession removal, foreclosure removal, tax lien removal, judgment removal, and dispute code removal. These are permanent deletions from your credit report.
Community Credit Repair will work with your creditors to lower your interest rates on your current credit cards to help pay off the debt faster, or we can settle the debt for much less than you owe.
Community Credit Repair will work with your delinquent student loan lender and have all of your late payments removed under the rehabilitation program.
Community Credit Repair offers credit coaching and budgeting techniques to help you re establish your credit faster and get you on track for long lasting financial changes.
Community Credit Repair fixes bad credit and low credit scores.
Call us today for a free consultation at 888-580-2879
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