One of the things I feared when I filed my bankruptcy was that my credit would be shot forever. That was as far from the truth as the east is from the west. Whether you have filed a bankruptcy plan, debtors court plan or credit counseling plan or not, here are a few tips that can assist you with improving your credit score.
- ORDER YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
First things first, order your credit report from the three credit bureaus: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Your credit report will contain a list of accounts that are hurting your credit score. You are entitled to a free credit report from each bureau once per year. To save time you can go to annualcreditreport.com and order all three for free. If you want to see your score there may be a charge to upgrade to include the score. You won’t know your credit score unless you order your credit report. You will need to have all three of them, because each report differently and you will need to see how your accounts are being reported on each one. Don’t just assume that each report contains the exact same information. Remember, you can’t improve your score if you don’t know exactly what you need to work on!
- DISPUTE ANY ERRORS
Now that you have your credit reports review them for errors, such as, accounts that are closed but are still being reported as open, any erroneous accounts that may not belong to you, or anything that you know to be incorrect. Write the credit bureau or the creditor and have this information removed. THIS IS YOUR RIGHT!! Errors hurt your credit report more than you think. For example, payments that are reported inaccurately can bring your credit score down anywhere from 60-110 points.
- REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF DEBT THAT YOU OWE
The amount of debt you are carrying makes up 30% of your credit score. You will need to start paying off your debts in order to improve your credit situation. Come up with a payment plan that will put most of your available budget for debt payments towards the highest interest credit card or account first, while paying the minimum on the remaining credit cards or accounts.
- PAY BILLS ON TIME
I know that should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Paying your bills on time will only have a positive effect on your credit score. As a matter of fact, paying your bills on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score. Write down all of your bills and their due dates. Keep them posted where you can see them and make sure that you paying on or before the due date.
- AVOID NEW CREDIT APPLICATIONS
Since you are in credit repair mode, you should avoid making new applications for credit since some inquiries hurt your credit score. New accounts can hurt your credit score as they lower your average credit age. So stick with the accounts you have and work to improve their standing.
Be patient and persistent during this process. You didn’t ruin your credit overnight and you can’t repair it overnight. Continue to make your payments on time each month and watch your credit score improve over time.