Questions about credit, your report, or your score? How credit bureaus work? Can you repair your credit report by yourself? Below you'll find quick answers to many of the popular questions in this area. You may also ask a question if it's not addressed below.
Yes. Depending on your time, patience, perseverance, and complexity of your dispute, you can successfully dispute inaccurate credit report items on your own. However, credit bureaus' strategies and tactics make the process often time consuming, overly burdensome and ineffective for the consumer. Disputing items is not difficult; getting results is.
RMC ASAPfocuses on removing inaccurate, misleading and unverifiable information from your credit profile. As RMCA is engaged in the dispute process with the credit bureaus, your score may change periodically, especially since 35% of your score is based on your entire credit history, and we are working to correct negative items within your credit history this is likely to have a positive effect on your scores! When disputing 'negative' information on your credit report, the credit bureaus will remove the item(s) in question until it is verified, modified, or deleted. Since we are disputing primarily 'negative' items on your report, your score may increase during the process because the negative item is temporarily removed until the investigation is over. This temporary score is not necessarily an indicator of your final credit score. (Disputing personal information such as an incorrect address or date of birth will not typically affect your credit score.) Upon completion of the dispute process, your credit report will then show the new score. Keep in mind that each credit bureau has different criteria for determining your score, which is why your score varies from bureau to bureau.
We cannot advise you whether or not you should file bankruptcy. If you are considering bankruptcy, it is always in your best interest to get as much information about bankruptcy as possible, and consult with a local bankruptcy attorney.
As a consumer it is always in your best interest to pay off any balances that you owe. When disputing items and accounts on your credit report, it is always easier to pursue deletions when accounts have been paid off (zero balance). It is advantageous to pay your accounts off because it facilitates the dispute process and further collection activities are ceased. As a collection tactic, creditors prefer to invest their time and efforts in verifying negative information that still has a balance due. As you are paying off your creditors ask them to send you a confirmation letter that the account has a zero balance. Important Note: If a creditor or collector agrees to settle an account for less than the full amount, have them send you a written statement to protect yourself from further collection activity and unethical collectors harassing you for the original balance later.
A charge off is a credit account that you did not pay and then the creditor wrote the account off as a loss. A settlement is an account that went past due, maybe even charged off, and then you negotiate a pay off amount that is less than the full balance due. Once you pay that negotiated amount in full then the account reports as a settlement. As consumers we depend on credit bureaus to report information accurately. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, it is the minority. Seventy-nine percent of all credit reports contain inaccuracies - meaning that we all must be diligent in monitoring our credit reports and take immediate action when mistakes are discovered. In our expectations of being treated fairly, we assume that if one negative item on our credit report is considered equal to another item; the credit bureaus have to be fair and accurate when reporting the item. Credit bureaus sometimes 'generalize' and will argue that 'Settlements' and 'Charge Off' are the same, when in fact, they are not. It is up to us to insist they investigate these items and change the incorrect information, or if they cannot verify the information within 30 days, then they need to delete the item. This is one of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. We remain steadfast in pursuing these items.
Credit scores are used by creditors to measure the 'risk factor' of a consumer who is applying for a loan or credit line. The credit score was out in place to reflect the financial responsibility of a consumer, through past and present credit use. Creditors use the score to 'predict' how a consumer will treat their potential financial obligation.
As a 'snapshot' of your financial history, your credit report is essentially your 'financial fingerprint' and contains information that can be grouped into the five categories:
While we have the above information we still do not know the specific formula to calculate credit scores. The credit score algorithm is closely guarded by its originator: Fair Isaac Co. (also known as FICO). For more details about the factors that affect your credit score, visit our Education Center.
When reviewing your credit to decide if you should keep an account open or closed you need to consider its affect on your credit score. It is good to only have about 3-5 open credit cards so when you decide to close some of them you will want to close the accounts that were opened recently. Older accounts have more payment history and closing them usually results in lowering your credit score. However, what you choose to do with these accounts once they have been paid off is up to you.
Another item to keep in mind when you are paying off credit accounts is that credit card balances over 50 percent of the credit limit negatively affects your credit score, so try to keep your balances below half of your credit limit. Naturally, having accounts that are paid off will not hurt your credit score.
Part of your credit score considers the number of inquiries made for your credit report. Credit inquiries are placed on your credit report each time a business requests a copy of your report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires businesses to have an acceptable reason for accessing your credit report. Acceptable reasons include:
Each inquiry on your report can drop your credit score any where from 2-5 points. The inquiries on your credit report will remain for two years but only affect your credit score for one year.
More organizations are offering consumers choices about how their personal information is used. For example, many let you "opt out" of having your information shared with others or used for marketing purposes. The best way to opt out of offers and third parties pulling your information is to go to the credit bureau websites and click on "Contact Us" page and then look for the information for Opt Out.
The three main credit bureaus are: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The credit bureaus gather, store, and sell information about consumers’ credit histories to help establish a consumer’s credit worthiness. The credit bureaus are also private for-profit companies that gather the information about consumers and then sell it to businesses that are legally permitted to see your credit report. For more information about the three credit bureaus you can visit their websites at: www.TransUnion.com www.Experian.com, and www.Equifax.com.
Fair Isaac is not a credit bureau. It is the company who develops and maintains the FICO score. For more information about your credit scores you can visit www.MyFico.com.
If your financial problems stem from too much debt or your inability to repay your debts, a credit counseling agency may recommend that you enroll in a debt management plan (DMP). A DMP alone is not credit counseling, and DMPs are not for everyone. You should sign up for one of these plans only after a certified credit counselor has spent time thoroughly reviewing your financial situation, and has offered you customized advice on managing your money. Even if a DMP is appropriate for you, a reputable credit counseling organization still can help you create a budget and teach you money management skills.
In a DMP, you deposit money each month with the credit counseling organization, which uses your deposits to pay your unsecured debts, like your credit card bills, student loans, and medical bills, according to a payment schedule the counselor develops with you and your creditors. Your creditors may agree to lower your interest rates or waive certain fees, but check with all your creditors to be sure they offer the concessions that a credit counseling organization describes to you. A successful DMP requires you to make regular, timely payments, and could take 48 months or more to complete. Ask the credit counselor to estimate how long it will take for you to complete the plan. You may have to agree not to apply for - or use - any additional credit while you're participating in the plan.
An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you've been taken in by a "phishing" scam. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you're entitled to one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
An extended alert stays on your credit report for up to seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you've been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an "identity theft report." When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you're entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.
To place either of these alerts on your credit report or to have them removed, you will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity: that may include your Social Security number, name, address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company.
When a business sees the alert on your credit report, they must verify your identity before issuing you credit. As part of this verification process, the business may try to contact you directly. This may cause some delays if you're trying to obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number, where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in your alert current.
Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three bureaus to put on an alert. The bureau you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.
Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports. Once you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed. Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make confirm there has not been any further unlawful activity.
If you are a member of the military and away from your usual duty station, you may place an active duty alert on your credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed. Active duty alerts are in effect on your report for one year. If your deployment lasts longer, you can place another alert on your credit report. When you place an active duty alert, you'll be removed from the credit reporting companies' marketing list for pre-screened credit card offers for two years unless you ask to go back on the list before then.
The process for getting and removing an alert, and a business's response to your alert, are the same as that for an initial alert. You may use a personal representative to place or remove an alert.
When you're an RMCA client what can you expect? Not only our best, but the best the industry has to offer. Here are a handful of crucial elements built into every credit repair program we deliver: