Bad credit can get better. When debts pile up, it can be impossible to see a way out. And in the meantime, a bad credit report can prevent you from getting a mortgage, car loan, credit card, apartment, or even a job. Let the sensible strategies in Credit Repair help you take control now, clean up your credit, and live debt-free.
- Assess your debt situation
- Correct errors and improve your credit report and score
- Choose the best repair strategy for your situation
- Prioritize your debts
- Negotiate with creditors to reduce debts
- Add positive information to your credit report
- Avoid identity theft and credit scams
- Reduce mortgage debt through new government programs
- Build a solid credit history
I always read the personal finance articles about how to raise your credit score, actions that lower your credit score, and how your credit score impacts your personal finances. So, I was happy to sign up when offered the chance to review the latest edition of NOLO's Credit Repair book.
Though we've all read about the free credit reports that we're entitled to request from the 3 credit bureaus, which you can request online from www.annualcreditreport.com or by phone 877-322-8228, or by mail from Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
I did learn several new things about credit reports that make the book worth purchasing:
- You are also entitled to a free credit report from a specialty consumer reporting agency, such as those that specialize in tenant histories, insurance claims, medical records or payments, employment histories, etc. You will likely have to contact each of these companies separately to put in your request. I recommend contacting Lexis Nexis for your Personal Report. If you have private health insurance, go to www.mib.com and request your MIB Consumer File or call 866-692-6901. For insurance claims, go to www.iso.com or call 800-627-3487. For a check writing report, go to www.telecheck.com or call 800-366-2425 OR www.consumerdebit.com/consumerinfor/us/en/freereport.htm
- You can file use Form F-32 in the book, Request for Basis of Unfavorable Credit Offer or Action and put in a request 60 days of the denial of credit/adverse action if a report from a credit agency does result in the denial of credit or an adverse reaction.
- One credit card account may have spawned "tradelines" such as when you report a credit card lost or stolen and the credit card company closes the account and issues a new card. Your old credit card will likely be considered a different tradeaccount/separate account. This might mean that the age of your credit has changed, you have lost the advantage of the old account and have a new, younger credit line.
- The list of ways and times that you can obtain your credit report for free that go beyond the 3 free annual credit reports.
- Sources of additional information on credit scoring developments (www.creditscoring.com) and how to understand your credit score.
- Aside from the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the FTC also enforces the application of the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003.
- The common errors in credit reports and how best to correct them and combat their effects.
- The section on why to Avoid Credit Repair Clinics is particularly important. I have friends that were badly hit by the recession, the decline in housing prices/values in California, and the variable interest rate of their home mortgage. They received calls from credit repair companies and were considering paying a credit repair consultant thousands of dollars to help them with their situation. I wish I had known about the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) (15 U.S.C. sec 1679-1679j) when they were going through this process in 2008.
- How to supplement your credit report by adding information that shows stability. The book has a particularly helpful form for this in its Appendix B and the enclosed CD-ROM.
- The book also helps you negotiate with your creditors to have negative information removed from your credit file.
- The Chapter on Building Positive Credit History breaks down the different ways that a person can improve their credit score and does so in a systematic and step by step manner.
Though I haven't read the previous editions, NOLO's Credit Repair 10th Edition looks like helpful resource for those who want to improve their credit scores, to keep their credit reports accurate, and for those with a particular interest in the subject matter.
ISBN-10: 1413314201 - Paperback $24.00
Publisher: NOLO; 10 edition (June 6, 2011), 465 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.
About the Authors:
Robin Leonard has co-authored several personal finance books, including Nolo's Solving Your Money Troubles and How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Margaret Reiter is an attorney who worked for 20 years as a prosecutor in the California Attorney General's Consumer Law Section.