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Improving Your Credit Score
How to improve credit score with free sample letter, delete bad credit from credit report

Good credit restoration is key to maximizing your financial opportunities in the future. At, you will find free credit repair tips and step-by-step advice on how to fix your credit score yourself.


Knowing how to improve your credit rating is the easy part. Following through and actually doing what is needed to fix your bad credit is quite something else.
To restore your credit score, you will need step-by-step instructions like those you get here on how you can write letters to remove outdated credit items ... and more importantly, you will need to consistently apply your own efforts if you want to fix your credit score yourself.

If you feel like you are buried under a mountain of credit card debt, it pays to learn how to improve your credit rating by paying down debt. If you are getting collection notices, it is affecting your credit scoring. If you're only making minimum credit card payments, your account balance will seem like it will never go down, and it could be a huge factor in eventually lowering your FICO credit score.

For these reasons, learning credit relief strategies and knowing how to deal with bad credit is the purpose of this article.

A big factor in achieving financial freedom will be achieving debt relief for yourself, and sometimes that goal requires debt consolidation.

While turning to professionals sometimes is a practical way to tackle this daunting chore. But here at, you get free do-it-yourself debt relief strategies you can put to use right away to repair your credit and get a better credit score.

The first step to better credit? Asking yourself this question: "What's my credit score?"

Your credit score is the sum from a mathimatical formula used by credit scoring agencies. Credit scores are determined by your past use of credit. When a business or an employer or a landlord orders your credit report, that report will detail information about who you work for, where you live, where you've lived the past several years, how you handle your bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy protection.

Therefore, it's important not only to know what is in your credit report, it's also important to know how to challenge outdated derogatory errors, and learn how to remove duplicate info from your credit report.

The information gathered about you and resold to creditors, employers, insurers, landlords and other businesses is called a consumer report, or more commonly, a "credit report."

What shows up in your credit report is the raw data that creates your credit score, so it has become instrumental in giving lenders, employers and insurers a financial "snapshot" of you. Your credit report score is a quick guage of your credit history, and lenders use it to determine your creditworthiness. Their experience tells them that people with high credit scores -- those who have paid their bills on time and in full in the past -- are very likely to do the same in the future.

Our readers ask: "What is the federal law to fix your own credit?"

FICO Scoring Model Changes; Piggyback No Longer A Factor In FICO Scores

Fair Isaac Corportion is now finally changing how it calculates your FICO credit score. And it's about time.

Fair Isaac Corporation has stopped the practice of including certain types of credit card accounts, and closing the long-standing questionable loophole that allowed strangers to "piggyback" on a different cardholder's good credit score.

This practice was being exploited across the Internet by many people to artificially boost their credit score by adding better credit ratings to their own.

The new FICO score formula is no longer include authorized user accounts -- users on credit cards who are not responsible for paying the balances but are approved to make purchases with the cards -- and putting an end to the practice of renting seasoned tradelines on the Internet.

Adding these types of accounts to one's FICO score in the past actually significantly improved one's FICO credit score if the primary cardholder kept low balances and paid the balance on time over a long period. If that person had good credit, you got good credit.

This change was the result of industry lenders and bankers who were nervous over "credit renting," a burgeoning practice that was letting people with bad credit piggyback on excellent credit histories of other credit card holders -- often, on the credit history of people they didn't even know.

Talk about a "credit crisis."

The media was full of stories of how people were being paid huge sums to rent out their own high FICO credit scores to others, and this practice allowed people who previously had poor credit to actually qualify for home loand, home equity lines of credit, and auto or truck loans by tweaking their own bad credit. Sometimes they went from poor credit to excellent credit instantly.

It didn't make them more "creditworthy." It simply got them past the credit screening process at the lender's level. Some might say this was a clever way to work the system. Since they weren't the ones paying the bills that earned the original creditor such high credit marks, their new higher credit score turned out to be inaccurate at best. At worst, it posed the potential for fraud.

Here's the way the system was working: An individual with a low credit score would pay a fee to "rent a spot" as another authorized user on a stranger's account. That way, person that was authorizing the piggybacking on his or her credit was in fact "lending" their good credit for a fee. If their credit was high, the new authorized user's credit was boosted.

It is true that many times, an authorized user is really only a family member of a cardholder. As an example, this could be a college student who is using one of their parents' cards, or spouses with no credit history of their own. But Fair Issac noted there was no way to easily know who was family, who was a stranger, when it came to this practice.

But each person's credit rating ought to stand on its own, and by changing the FICO credit scoring model, Fair Issac Corp. has taken a positive step to improving the integrity of their credit scoring system.

So with this change, it is more important than ever that you learn how to fix your bad credit yourself, to change your credit habits to ensure your FICO score goes up and stays as high as possible, and that the score lenders see is a true reflection of your good credit. And that's exactly what the rest of this article will help you do!

How To Increase Your Credit Score Yourself

Disputing personal information in credit reports: your first step is to order your free credit report online. You will be able to get your credit reports free from the Big Three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Print out each of your free credit reports so you will have a hard copy to refer to as you start to dispute credit report entries.

Once you have your credit reports in hand, you are armed with the facts, and then you can begin the process of reviewing your credit reports and taking action to dispute inaccurate or outdated credit information contained in your credit reports. Now it's time to learn how to write a credit score dispute letter.

(Sidenote: If you are curious enough to want to see your current FICO score, you'll need to pay $5 to $10 at the time of your order. The credit report information is free; the FICO score remains a chargeable item. You can order the FICO scores online at .)

Under the law, both the CRA and the organization that provided the information to the CRA have very strict responsibilities for ensuring your credit report is accurate and up-to-date. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the CRA and the information provider when you have a dispute.

To contact the three major credit bureaus by mail, phone or the web:

Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union
Trans Union, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022

Equifax Disputes? Contact: CSC Credit Services, Box 98122, El Paso, TX 79998

Click here to get your credit reports for free online.

How to write the letter to have your bad credit deleted from your credit report:

Your next step in repairing your credit is to write a letter to the CRA (that is, the "consumer reporting agency") describing exactly what information you believe is inaccurate.

You'll need to include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. Below you will find a sample letter concerning credit card debt.

You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter may look something like the one below. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Always keep copies of your dispute letters and enclosures.

Sample Dispute Letter to Remove Credit Report Errors


Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department

Name of Credit Reporting Agency

Their Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

   I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.

   This item (identify the specific items disputed by name, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

   Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.


Your full legal name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

The CRAs are required to reinvestigate the item(s) in question—usually within 30 days—unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so that they can correct this information in your file.

Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.

If your report contains inaccurate information, the CRA must correct it.

If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer delinquent, the CRA must show that your payments are now current.

If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete it.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice of its intent to reinsert the items that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

If you request, the CRA must send notices of any correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the CRA to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

In addition to writing to the CRA, you should tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider continues to report the disputed item to any CRA after receiving your notice, it must include a notice that you dispute the item. If you are correct—that is, if the information is not accurate—the information provider may not report it again.

Accurate Negative Information Stays On Your Credit

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information generally can stay on your report for seven years. There are certain exceptions:

Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years. Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.

Information about criminal convictions has no time limit. Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.

Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans can be reported for seven years after certain guarantor actions.

Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

Seven-year Reporting Period

There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.

With regard to any delinquent account placed for collection—internally or by referral to a third-party debt collector, whichever is earlier—charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, the seven-year period is calculated from the date of the delinquency that occurred immediately before the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar action.

For example, assume that your payments on a loan were late in January, but that you caught up and making timely payments by February. You were late again in May, but caught up in July. You were again late in September, but did not catch up before the account was turned over to a collection agency in December. You made no more payments on the account, and it is charged to profit and loss in July of the following year.

Under the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," (FCRA) the January and May late payments each can be reported for seven years. The collection activity and the charge to profit and loss can be reported for seven years from the date of the September payment, which was the delinquency that occurred immediately before those activities.

Adding Accounts to Your File -- you can improve your credit score fast adding positive items.

Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to CRAs: Some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don't.

If you've been told that you were denied credit because of an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask the CRA to add this information to future reports.

Although they are not required to do so, many CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the CRA on a regular basis, the added items probably will not be updated in your file.

To learn your full rights under the FCRA, visit

Next Article: "How to read and understand your credit report"

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What you can do to protect your credit score

Sales, coupons, discounts and deals -- wise use of special offers can help you save money while out shopping. But you might want to think twice before taking advantage of at least one type of incentive commonly offered by stores.

Department stores, clothing retailers and other shops often offer a day's worth of discounts, free rewards points or some other gift to entice you to sign up for a credit card while you shop in their establishments. But before you sign up, you should be aware of how that new credit line could affect your credit score.

During the holidays, it may seem particularly tempting to fund holiday shopping by opening new credit accounts or maxing out current accounts. However, it's wise for consumers to educate themselves about how holiday shopping behaviors can affect their credit scores.

Here are a few tips for protecting your credit score:

Know your score

Smart holiday shoppers start out with a list and a budget. Credit-savvy shoppers check their credit score before starting their shopping list. Knowing your credit score and taking action to preserve a good score can help you secure better deals on larger-ticket holiday purchases. Plus, knowing your score can help you make informed decisions about how you will use credit throughout the holiday season.

Finding your score is easy since you can take advantage of products like Signing up with also allows you to access your score throughout the year, receive alerts when your score changes, learn more about how your score works, and even plan ahead to see how major financial decisions may affect your score.

Decide carefully

Decisions about how you will use credit this holiday shopping season can affect your credit score well into next year. The number of open cards you have, as well as the amount of available credit on those cards, directly affects your credit score. And your credit score directly affects your ability to get more credit and to secure favorable rates from lenders. So holiday moves that lower your credit score now could affect your ability to get a good rate on a new car loan next spring.

Holiday moves that could lower your credit score include:

* Missing a payment or making a payment late on a credit card, loan or any other type of debt.

* Maxing out your credit cards so that you are using 80 percent or more of your total available credit.

* Opening or applying for multiple new credit accounts in a short period of time.

* Carrying too much revolving debt.

* Transferring a balance from one card to another. If you have to open a card to transfer the balance, or if you are transferring from a card with a higher limit to one with a lower limit, a balance transfer could affect your credit score.

To protect your credit score through the holidays, consider these steps:

* Continue to pay all your bills on time.

* Create a holiday budget and stick to it. Don't borrow money from other budget areas to pay for holiday shopping if it means you won't be able to make full payments on other bills.

* It's smart to use a credit card for big-ticket purchases or online shopping because of the extra layer of protection credit cards can offer versus using cash, but be sure to pay off those holiday items as quickly as possible.

To learn more about how you can protect your credit score through the holidays and all year long, visit

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