We’ve all heard the old trope that building credit takes time. In fact, “length of credit history” is one of the major components of your credit score, and you can’t exactly fast track that!
But if a low credit score is keeping you from making moves, there is one thing you can try to quickly impact your score: Clear up any trouble spots.
Trouble spots may include inaccurate information or they may include credit mistakes that you made long ago, but that may still be causing potential creditors concern. Either way, you should clear up these entries on your credit report so that you’re better prepared to borrow money when you need to.
And better yet, taking these steps will raise your credit score in a matter of weeks.
Step 1: Pull your credit report from all three of the main credit bureaus. You can do this for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. (This is the only website where you can pull three credit reports for free every year. Beware of other websites set up to mimic this site. If you are asked for a credit card, you’re at the wrong site!)
Step 2: Examine all of your credit reports. Does something look wrong? One study shows that as many as 25% of credit reports may contain errors. These might include:
You may also have an old judgment that you didn’t know about. Sometimes collections letters can get lost in the mail and you truly didn’t realize you owed money. Scope out anything that looks suspicious or new to you, and get to work in step 3!
Step 3: Verify that the information is erroneous. For example, this could involve tracking down a collection agency and asking them to confirm with the credit bureaus that you have indeed satisfied a judgment that went to collections. In same cases, you may be asked to satisfy the judgment against you by paying up. If this is the case, you can then ask the credit bureaus to show the amount as paid rather than outstanding.
Step 4: Contact the credit bureau(s). Send a dispute letter along with your supporting documents to the credit bureau that is reporting the erroneous account. Even if you were unable to get in touch with the collection agency or other creditor to dispute the error, the credit bureaus are obliged to investigate and will usually get back to you with a result in about 30 days.
That’s it. If your credit score was suffering due to an error, inaccuracy or old issue then this could quickly help clear it up.
There may be instances where old collections records or judgments stay on your record for up to seven and a half years. We know this can be frustrating, especially if you need to borrow money right now. But rest assured that, as time passes and the black marks age, they will have less and less effect on your credit score until they disappear altogether.
Until then, keep checking your credit reports every year. Experts recommend checking one of the three major credit bureau’s reports every four months so that you keep fairly current on your credit reports should other issues arise.