Repairing Your Sub-600 Credit Score
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) There's no two ways about it: If your credit score is below 600, it's time to consider how you're going to repair it. Still, once it gets that bad, you might not know where to begin; But repair it you must if you want to get good rates on your credit card, a home loan or even the apartment of your dreams.
Contrary to popular opinion, 600 is not a "magic number." Erik Larson, one of the founders of NextAdvisor.com, says there's not much different between a 599 and 601. "Your score can vary from week to week or even day to day depending on what the latest balance is," he said. Still, anywhere near 600 is a bad place to be. Here's how you fix it.
Step 1: Get Your Credit Report
John Heath, a directing attorney at Lexington Law, believes the first thing a person should do is pull his credit report from all three reporting agencies. Larson concurs: "The first thing you need to do is figure out why your credit is in the state that it's in."
Step 2: Get Rid of the Mistakes
The Federal Trade Commission reports that 5% of all credit reports have some kind of error on them. "You can write a letter to the credit agency," says Heath, "or you can just go to their website." What you want to do is investigate these items, then try and get them removed. "As you get items removed, you're going to start to see some upward movement," Heath says.
"We just came out of a holiday season with two major security breaches at two major retailers," he says. "Credit agencies are for profit and using your information to make money. Make sure that it's the correct information."
Step 3: Leave Your Mark On Your Report
Here's something most people don't know: you can put statements in your credit report telling your side of the story. Heath advises that you do this any time there's a dispute that you can't get removed. "You can make additions of approximately 100 characters," he said. While your "statement" might be shorter than a Tweet, it still allows you to get a word in -- and that can make all the difference.
Larson further states that in the event that you can't get something removed, a credit counseling service might be the answer. Remember to do your due diligence; There are a lot of shady outfits out there. But if you pick the right one, they can get some of the more difficult stains out of your credit report. Larson's website includes reviews of credit counseling services.
Step 4: Start Paying
"If you have a credit card you haven't been paying, it's important to get it in good standing," says Larson. The reason being that defaults are one of the worst things to have on your credit.