To repair your credit, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of your credit report. This actually isn’t as straightforward as you might have thought. Here’s why:
- By federal law, every US consumer is entitled to a free copy of their credit report (from all three bureaus) once a year. You get these completely free credit reports ONLY from annualcreditreport.com. This is great, but you only get your credit reports – not your credit scores. And you only get one every year. When repairing your credit, we need to get reports AND scores, and we need to have them updated pretty often.
- You can get a free credit score and report from places like CreditKarma or CreditSesame, but you don’t get reports and scores from all of the bureaus, and the scores you get from them aren’t your FICO scores, which are the most important.
So, Our Recommended Method
When repairing your credit, you need access to your report from all three bureaus, as well as your FICO scores, frequently. There are many services that offer this – most are quite expensive. If you work with Swell, we will refund or deeply discount the service fee with our partner, MyScoreIQ. Plus you’ll have all three credit reports and FICO scores in one place with your credit repair process and updates in the Swell client portal.
Understanding Your Credit Report
So you now have your credit report in front of you. Great. Here’s what to look for:
Your personal information. Make sure it’s correct. It usually is.
Late payments. These are the most damaging items on your credit report, if you have them. If you only take away a few things from everything we have to teach you, let one of them be this: late payments really hurt your credit score. You want to avoid them if at all possible. Learn more about the right way to pay your debts and bills .
Collections. These are probably the next most common negative items on credit reports. They hurt your credit score, but not as much as late payments. They’re also some of the easiest stuff to remove from your credit report. Learn more about collections here.
Public Records. Technically, public records are liens, bankruptcies or civil judgments that have been documented by federal, state or county courts. A good example is unpaid parking or speeding tickets. These are slightly less common, and slightly less damaging, but getting public records off your report can definitely help improve your score. Learn more here.
Credit Inquiries. You get credit inquiry records every time you allow someone to run your credit (when applying for a credit card, a loan, etc.) Each inquiry is a small ding to your credit score, and goes away more quickly than other types of negative items. There’s nothing you can do to remove valid credit inquiries from your report, so the key for credit inquiries is to be careful about allowing them onto your report in the first place.
A key thing to know, however, is that there are two types of credit inquiries – hard and soft. Hard inquiries show up on your credit reports; soft inquiries do not. Whenever someone is going to run your credit, be sure to ask what type of inquiry it is. If it’s soft, no worries. If it’s hard, try to limit the number of inquiries you have in a short period of time. If at all possible, keep it to 2-3 inquiries over any given 2-3 month period.
Need help with all this?
Talk to an expert credit advisor about the right repair plan for YOUR credit. Learn more