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How can I repair my poor credit?

Your first step in repairing poor credit should be to obtain a copy of your credit report. The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. You can obtain a copy of your report by contacting these agencies by phone, by mail, or through their websites. Check the report carefully for any errors and make sure that all the information contained in the report is correct.

Next, you can try mitigating the impact of any derogatory credit you may have on your credit report by adding positive account information to your credit file. Start by contacting creditors with whom you have a good credit relationship and give them permission to release your account information to credit reporting agencies. You should then contact the credit reporting agencies and provide them with the names and telephone numbers of the creditors with whom you have good credit. For a small fee, most credit reporting agencies will call your creditors and add the positive account information to your file.

Another option is to go directly to your creditors and try to clear your credit record. If your poor credit resulted from circumstances that were beyond your control (e.g., hospitalization, layoff), and you have reconciled your account since that time, you may be able to convince your creditors to upgrade your rating.

If you have bad debts that are current, you may be able to negotiate away poor credit by agreeing to pay off your debts over a period of time. Contact your creditors and propose a deal in which you will agree to a reasonable repayment schedule if they agree to upgrade your status with the credit bureau.

You can also add a statement to your credit report that tells your side of the story. You have the right to include a 100-word statement in your credit file. The statement should list any extenuating circumstances that could possibly mitigate the negative credit information in your credit report. Perhaps you were hospitalized for a period of time and were unable to pay your bills, or maybe you were laid off from your job. If your credit history shows that you typically pay your bills on time, this statement could help to explain an isolated instance or period of derogatory credit.

Finally, you can always choose to wait out your credit problems. With some minor exceptions, derogatory credit will be purged from your credit report within seven years. However, if you can show income stability and prompt payment patterns, your situation will improve within one to three years. Keep in mind that you should avoid incurring any more derogatory credit while you try to repair your poor credit. If you do incur derogatory credit, the seven-year clock resets and starts ticking again!