Posted by Gail | Filed under Credit Wise
I received an email the other day from a young woman named Annie who was inquiring about companies that say they’ll improve a consumer’s credit rating. Was it true? Was it worth the money?
Annie had been in to apply for a car loan at her bank and the lender had declined her loan. She was told only that she should check her credit bureau report. Something there was gumming up the works
If you don’t already know, when you sign a loan application form, you give your consent to the lender, be it a bank, credit card company and retail store, to access your credit bureau information to decide whether or not you’re a good credit risk.
Your credit file contains a listing of debit and credit payments and it includes public record information about how promptly you’ve paid bills, along with all the yucky stuff like collections, judgements and bankruptcies.
You don’t have to be a late payer to be declined. A lender may refuse a loan application simply because the credit bureau’s records indicate that you have other loans outstanding. Yes, everything you owe shows up — including all those credit cards you have even if there are no balances outstanding. When credit is refused, you’re usually advised to have a look at your credit bureau report to see what’s amiss.
In Annie’s case, someone else’s information was being recorded on her credit report. The other woman had a similar name, and it was an honest mistake. All Annie has to do provide the credit bureau with proof of the error and her credit report will be cleaned up.
So back to Annie’s original questions: Can a credit-repair company clean up a mess and is it worth the money? When a company offers to fix your sloppy credit history, it’s often just a ploy to get your money. And wouldn’t you rather spend that fee — anywhere from $250, to $1,000 — paying down your debt, especially when it’s virtually impossible to cover up your past mistakes. While ads for credit repair companies may seem like the cure for a credit life lived less than perfectly, in reality, no credit repairer has the power to change or erase accurate information in a consumer’s file.
If the reason you’re in trouble with a potential lender is because of wrong information on your credit file, you could pay someone to take care of the problem for you, but it’s often just as easy to take care of that problem yourself.
If you’ve damaged your credit rating by missing payments, carrying high balances or over extending yourself financially, you can improve your credit rating. Start by locking away your credit cards. Don’t cancel them because if your credit rating is low, you could have trouble getting new ones. But don’t use them until you are debt free. You must pay at least the MINIMUM to stay on the positive side with your credit history. But paying the MINIMUM isn’t going to get you out of debt. So figure out what it’ll take to get out of debt and then DO IT!
Creditors like to see a solid credit payment history. If you have a credit card, use it every month. Make small purchases and pay them off IN FULL. If you can’t get a credit card — maybe you’ve just come through a bankruptcy — use a secured card. You deposit money with the lender and they give you a credit card with a limit of between 50% and 100% of the amount you deposited.
Can’t cope with all the bills you’ve got? You have two choices. Declare bankruptcy or find a way to put more money toward you bills: cut expenses or make more money.
You should check your credit files at least once a year to ensure the information is correct. Send a written request to one of the two major credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada Inc. or Trans Union of Canada Inc. More information can be found online at www.equifax.ca and www.tuc.ca. There is no charge for this service. If you’re into instant gratification, you’ll have to pay a fee.
If you question an item on the file, the credit bureau will investigate on your behalf to verify the status of the entry. If an error is found, the credit bureau will fix it and send copies of the updated file to credit grantors upon request.
The longer you exhibit good credit behavior by paying your bills on time and managing your credit wisely, the more your credit rating will improve, until you once again achieve a favorable credit rating. And if you’ve got a good rating that’s been marred by inaccurate reporting, it’s your job to fix it. It’s your credit, after all.