Unfortunately, I know way too much about “not so great” credit. From taking out credit cards for my entrepreneurial efforts to having a few medical bills that fell behind, my credit and I are not on BFF status. So, what do you do when you find that your credit is subpar?
You either hire someone to fix it or you DIY!
Here are a few steps that can get you moving in the right direction…
Step 1 Get A Copy of Your Credit Report
Sign up with Credit Karma because it doesn’t impact your score every time you check It. Then, closely analyze your report and make a to-do-list prioritizing what to tackle first.
Step 2 Find Out the Statute of Limitations
If it’s past the statute (usually 7 years) since the debt first appeared on your report, then certain debt can be removed. If you find that something has passed the statue, you can send a certified letter to all three credit bureaus asking that they remove it from your credit report. Check the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to see what the statute is for your type of debt. The FDCPA is a federal law that limits the actions of third-party debt collectors attempting to collect a debt on behalf of a creditor or lender. The goal of the FDCPA is to protect you from unfair collection practices.
Step 3 Analyze Discrepancies
Look for discrepancies or things you don’t understand. If something is incorrect or confusing you can write a Verification of Debt Letter to the creditor (not the credit bureau) asking that they verify your debt. In your certified letter ask them who the original creditor is, request a copy of the original contract, ask who has the authority to collect the debt, and the amount owed/age of debt when the collector purchased it. Also, ask whether or not their specific agency is allowed to collect debt in your state.
Step 4 Negotiate A Good Settlement
If you do indeed owe money to a bunch of people, start making calls to work out settlement agreements. Let them tell you an amount first. Say you owe $800 and they offer to settle at $400. Then, you proceed to say “unfortunately all I have at the moment is $280 available that I can give you right now in one lump sum.” In my experience, they will usually take whatever you offer because they figure something is better than nothing. If you don’t have the extra money to start making settlements, if possible get a part time job or part time customer service work from home position to help.