Spring is here! While everyone begins this time of year with spring cleaning their homes and garages, it’s also a great time to clean up your credit report and work on rebuilding your credit.
If it’s been more than a year since you last checked your credit report, you may find unwanted or incorrect information accumulated over time. There are several things to look at beyond just accuracy, such as making sure that your credit cards and loans are the best ones for your current circumstances.
On top of that, if you’ve had a serious blow to your finances, such as defaults or bankruptcies, it can take quite some time to clean that stuff up and recoup any damages to your score. Start today, and you’ll have a head start now rather than when you find yourself wishing you’d done it sooner.
How To Clean Up Your Credit Report
1. Get A Free Copy Of Your Credit Report
Free weekly credit reports have been extended for another year, so there’s no reason to hold off here. The first step to cleaning up your credit report is to have the report in front of you. Sites like CreditKarma and FreeCreditReport make it easy to see your report and understand how you can impact it.
NOTE: You’re going to want to pull the whole credit report, from all three bureaus – not just the scores.
2. Thoroughly Check Your Credit Report(s)
Depending on your credit history, this could take a while, or it could be pretty quick. Either way, making sure that your information is correct and up to date is critical to building, rebuilding, repairing, and maintaining good credit.
Since lenders can choose which bureau they send info to, and how often, there will be slight differences on each report and that’s normal. But when you next apply for a loan or credit, different lenders look at different reports, so an error on one may not come up on another and you want to be prepared if the lender comes back to you with something like that.
3. Resolve Errors By Filing A Dispute
Easy fixes: Credit inquiries stay for two years, but missed payments, delinquencies, and tax liens can stay on your report for seven. If it’s been longer than legal timelines, these items should have done what’s called “aged off” and not be on your report anymore.
You also want to look out for items that are flat-out inaccurate, such as your name and address, or worse, someone else’s name on your report, along with accounts you did not open yourself.
So be sure to get those errors corrected right away. You can dispute directly with each of the credit bureaus. If your dispute is valid, they are legally obligated to correct your report. It’s easy to dispute, by the way. You can do so online or via mail.
Dispute Center P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016
|Equifax Information Services P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374||Experian P.O. Box 4500 Allen, TX 75013|
In your letter (or in the form online), explain what information you think is inaccurate and why you’re filing the dispute. Ask for the error(s) to be removed or corrected, and try to include any evidence you have that can be used to back up your claim (payment receipts, for example). Credit bureaus have 30 days to review and take action, so make sure to check again to ensure they followed through.
Cleaning up your credit report today will ensure your credit is ready for your next goal, no matter what time of year it is, so be sure to stay on top of it all year round!