FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
Below you'll find the answers to the top 10 most common questions.
A credit score is set of calculations to determine your credit worthiness to lenders. It is based on your credit history and current credit accounts. Scores can range from 300 to 850 points. The higher the score, the better your interest rates will be on loans. Your score is also a "snapshot" of your credit history, and changes many times a month. Lenders tend to look most closely at the last 12 months of your credit report.
If you don't have any credit history, it will take 6 months of reporting to establish a score for potential lenders.
You can order a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus once a year by contacting:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 1050281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Bear in mind that your credit score is NOT included in these reports. If you would like a credit report with your score, you will have to pay for it. Other "free" services will require you to sign up and pay for some other service.
- Credit Inquiries - 2 years
- Closed Accounts/Loans - 7 to 10 years
- Collections - 7 years after the collection is paid in full
- Bankruptcy - 7 to 10 years
- Delinquent/late payments - Indefinitely if the account is still open. If the account is closed, 7 to 10 years after the account is closed/paid in full.
The principles of credit repair are similar to those of keeping your score high. To improve your credit score:
Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major impact on your score. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score.
Keep balances low on credit cards and other "revolving credit." The most effective way to improve your score in this area is by paying down your revolving balances.
Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don't open new accounts just to have a better credit mix--it probably won't raise your score.
Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. In fact, this approach could backfire and actually lower your score.
Check your own credit reports for accuracy. You can dispute inaccurate information found there.
Finally, realize that in combination with the above, if negative information already exists on your report, rebuilding your credit score may take time.
The answer is YES! Statistically, 25% of all credit reports contain errors*, and checking your reports ensures the information on your report is yours, not someone else's.
Often we can. There are reputable companies which offer a debt management program to take your unsecured debt (credit cards, medical bills, collection accounts and legal fees) and pay off balances at a much quicker pace with interest rates and other fees reduced.
YES! In a debt management program, you're repaying your debt at a quicker pace. This shows future creditors that you can repay debts and allows you to start rebuilding a positive credit history. Remember, a bankruptcy stays on your report for 10 years and may affect other areas of your life and finances.
You are not alone. Often our problem is not a lack of income, but a lack of organization. We also offer assistance with budgeting. Paying your bills late or not at all is probably costing you a lot of money, as well as lowering your credit score.
With a lower credit score you are probably paying higher interest rates. When you don't pay your bills on time, late fees are being added on top of your monthly amounts.
If you pay two late fees each month, at $25 each, it's costing you an extra $600 per year. Pretending that your bills don't exist will not make them go away.
Don't count on it. Just because a creditor has stopped calling you does not mean that the information is not on your credit report.
Again, while it should, there's still room for error. A credit report only reflects what a creditor reports. Often accounts that have been cleared through a bankruptcy or even through collections do not get updated. You need to check your report for accurate information.
Whether it is a large debt load, budgeting, credit report issues, or other financial challenges, often we'll have the solution to your problem. When you make the first step and commit yourself to the work which must be done, we'll be here.