How to Rebuild Credit Program

Today, companies use credit scores to make decisions on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and even insurance and employment. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved – and pay less for your loan – or get hired. Credit scores range from 300-850.

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The Program

Information about you and your credit experiences, like your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, whether you pay your bills by the due date, collection actions, outstanding debt, and the age of your accounts, is used to develop your credit score. Your credit score does not include such factors as your gender, race, religion, age, education level or marital status.

Action Step 1: Order a FREE annual copy of your credit report from one credit bureau. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 877-322-8228. Order from one credit bureau today, order from another credit bureau in four months and from the third credit bureau in eight months. That way you’ll receive ongoing information about your credit for FREE, every four months. Your credit report is a key to your credit score, so make sure it’s accurate and up to date. Make sure creditors are reporting correctly and you have not experienced identity theft.

Action Step 2: Get credit and use it. If you do not have any credit or have bad credit, get a secured credit card like the UNITY Visa secured card to begin to build or rebuild your credit. A secured Visa credit card is like any other Visa credit card. There is no difference in how it is treated. It’s simply a credit card that requires a cash security deposit, which sets your credit limit. Unlike prepaid cards, it reports to the credit bureaus and therefore can help you rebuild credit. Check with your bank or credit union to see if they offer a secured credit card and can show you how to rebuild credit.

Action Step 3: Pay your monthly bills on time. Payment history is the #1 factor that influences your credit score. If you pay even one bill very late (60 days or more), your credit score can drop significantly. So pay on time, even if you only pay the minimum amount due to rebuild credit.

Action Step 4: Don’t max out of your credit limit, even on your secured credit card. The ratio of your balance to credit limit is an important factor that influences your credit score. So keep your balance low or pay down your balance to rebuild credit. You can also increase your credit limit on your secured credit card (by contacting your bank or credit union and making an additional deposit) to increase your balance to credit limit ratio.

Action Step 5: Make more than the minimum payment. With some banks, your balance will not decrease if you only make the minimum payment. By making more than the minimum payment, you will improve the ratio of your balance to credit limit and rebuild credit.

Action Step 6: Avoid opening multiple accounts at once. Applying for multiple accounts within a short period of time can decrease your credit score. Research your credit options by reviewing the Schumer Box (an easy to read summary of credit card disclosures), which provides information on the annual percentage rate (APR) and fees to find the best secured credit card available, then apply for one secured credit card. Fixed rate cards are better than adjustable rate cards because your interest rate will not rise simply when market rates increase. Also try to avoid cards with high penalty fees or rates.

Action Step 7: Try to pay down debt. A great way to improve your credit score is to pay down your current debt. Start by paying off low balance loans and then move to reduce the balances of larger loans. Do not over-extend yourself to pay down debt. Remember that making regular payments can improve your credit score…and making late payments can decrease your score. If you have additional funds after making your monthly payments, then pay down debt.

Action Step 8: Use online resources. There are many online resources available to show you how to rebuild credit. Here are some suggestions:

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/money-credit
http://www.experian.com/index-hpw.html

Action Step 9:
Work on repairing your credit report with a trusted professional. Questionable negative items and inaccuracies on your credit report can and should be addressed. Be sure you work with a trusted professional that will work diligently and ethically to help you repair your credit reports, like Lexington Law®. Lexington Law is a consumer advocacy law firm with decades of experience helping hundreds of thousands of Americans work to improve their credit. Call 1-888-516-9077 or visit their site to learn how they may be able to help you repair your credit.