Common Credit Repair Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
Here are some of the most common mistakes consumers make when trying to repair their own credit and some tips on how to avoid them.
1. Closing old accounts
The age of your accounts, types of accounts, and amount of debt used make up a total of 55% of your credit score. When you close an account you remove that account from the equation. That's usually not a good thing.
Instead, it's much wiser to use your old cards once every 6 months to keep them active. Be sure to pay off the balance within 2 -3 months.
2. Using template credit repair letters
The credit bureaus aren't stupid. They keep records of every dispute you make. In fact, they keep records of all disputes. When they see a dispute often enough, (like a template dispute you may find on the internet along with thousands of other net surfers) they are much more likely to mark that dispute as frivolous. Since the odds are the person using it is either a fly-by-night credit repair service or an amateur.
Once your account has been flagged, it will be much more difficult to make any further progress on your credit report. Use the template to give you an idea of what you need to say, and then put it in your own words.
3. Reviving the statute of limitations
The statute of limitations is the period of time a creditor can sue for a balance owed. The time varies state by state but begins on the date of your last payment. Making ANY payment, even 20 years later, will cause the debt to reactivate and become legally enforceable. Before making any payments be sure to research whether the debt is within the statute of limitations.
4. Not using certified mail
Believe it or not, credit repair is a legal process. Any lawyer will tell you it's not what you know, but what you can prove that counts. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit bureaus, creditors, and collection agencies have 30 days to investigate and respond to your disputes. This is a major weapon in your arsenal because lenders maintain millions of records. It can be very difficult for them to produce the requested documents.
5. Not disputing in the proper order
When disputing you are requesting the bureaus and your creditors to prove they are following the law to the letter. If they are not your ultimate recourse is a lawsuit. Your case won't hold water if you don't follow the proper procedures.
6. Giving up too soon
While you may get immediate results if you have evidence of wrongdoing, you can still get good results if you're persistent enough. For instance, most collection agencies will reply to a request for validation with a template letter.
This letter violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). By following up you can leverage their violation into a deletion or a lawsuit.
7. Not validating with the creditor or collection agent first
Many consumers are too quick to pay off creditors and collection agents just to stop the harassing calls or to clean up their credit history. Before paying any past-due debt, you have the right to request validation that the debt is yours. You'd be surprised how often they fail to comply.
8. Not keeping copies of all correspondence
Every letter you send and receive from a creditor or collection agent can be used to build your case. Never negotiate or accept offers unless they're in writing. Document EVERYTHING.
9. Validating negative information
Another common credit repair rookie mistake is to validate negative information while trying to dispute the information being reported. The rule of thumb is the less you say the better. Make them prove themselves to you. The law is on your side.
10. Not hiring a professional
Credit repair may seem simple. As you can plainly see, it's not. To get fast results far above anything you could ever do on your own without years of experience, trial and error, and maybe an ulcer, you'd do well to invest a few hundred dollars hiring a reputable credit repair service.