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How to Remove a Bad Credit Score

by Andrew Cockerham
  • Overview

    Your credit score is one of your most important financial assets. As a certain ad campaign constantly reminds us, your credit score affects your ability to finance a car purchase, buy a house or get a cellular phone. Some employers even use credit reports to screen potential employees. Because your credit score affects so many aspects of your life, a bad credit score can severely limit your options.
 
  • Step 1

    Examine the section of your credit report marked "Potentially Negative Items," or a similar title. Are there any items listed that you believe are errors? If so, continue to Step 2. If not, skip to Step 4.
  • Step 2

    Contact the credit bureau that issued your report. Each of the major credit bureaus has a dispute process, which you may initiate as long as you have a recent credit report. When you dispute a charge, send along copies of any documents that support your case. The credit bureau will contact the organization that reported the negative item. Within 30 days, the organization must confirm the item or ask the credit bureau to update or remove it.
  • Step 3

    If the credit bureau changes your report, you can request that they send an updated copy of your credit report to anyone who received your report in the last six months. Even if your report stays the same, you can request that a record of the dispute be added to your account.
  • Step 4

    If the negative items on your credit report are factual, all you can do is wait. According to the Federal Trade Commission, most negative items can be reported for seven years, while a bankruptcy can be reported for 10 years. You can still improve your score by paying down debt.
  • Step 5

    Look at the "Debt" section of your credit report. Even if you have no negative items, having high debt can significantly lower your credit score. If you are deeply in debt, the best way to improve your credit score is to pay it off, by reducing your spending or negotiating directly with a lender to create a workable repayment plan. Check with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org) or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (aiccca.org) to find a reputable counselor who can help you in this process.
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  • Recent copy of your credit report
  • Recent copy of your credit report
  • Check with your local community college or adult education center to see if they offer classes on budgeting and debt management. Most of these classes are offered at low cost and can help you improve your credit by paying off debt. If you can't pay down your debt right now, contact your creditors. They may be willing to accept less than the original loan rather than risk losing the whole amount. This kind of agreement will lower your credit score, but not so much as declaring bankruptcy or writing off the account entirely.
  • Check with your local community college or adult education center to see if they offer classes on budgeting and debt management. Most of these classes are offered at low cost and can help you improve your credit by paying off debt.
  • If you can't pay down your debt right now, contact your creditors. They may be willing to accept less than the original loan rather than risk losing the whole amount. This kind of agreement will lower your credit score, but not so much as declaring bankruptcy or writing off the account entirely.
  • Do not try to create a "new" credit report, using an Employer Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number. This is illegal, and you could be charged with mail fraud or wire fraud if you try to obtain credit this way. Beware of all offers to quickly "erase" bad credit. They are illegal. Period. Remember, even if you commit a crime on someone else's bad advice, you can still be prosecuted for it.
  • Do not try to create a "new" credit report, using an Employer Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number. This is illegal, and you could be charged with mail fraud or wire fraud if you try to obtain credit this way.
  • Beware of all offers to quickly "erase" bad credit. They are illegal. Period. Remember, even if you commit a crime on someone else's bad advice, you can still be prosecuted for it.
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References & Resources