Is your FICO score less than perfect? Even ideal borrowing behavior does not guarantee a high total. Unfortunately, credit reports may be flawed. False entries, such as repossessions, tax liens, or charge-offs, are not uncommon. They may explain high interest and rejections. The harm is repairable — in fact, anyone can fix mistakes. But how long does it take?
Repair is a tricky process, and duration varies. The more complex the case — the longer it will take. Most often, consumers want to fix their credit for a specific goal — for instance, better conditions on a mortgage. Thus, it is crucial to understand how much time to allocate. Our article will help you plan ahead.
1. The Analysis Stage
By law, every US citizen is entitled to a free copy of their credit reports annually. You may collect the information and dispute the errors by yourself. However, do not expect smooth sailing — this process is complex and demanding, as you need to navigate the subtleties of credit laws and written communication.
This is why professional repair services are so popular. Top-rated credit repair companies will collect reports from all major bureaus, scrutinize them to find mistakes, and dispute the errors through letters to creditors and agencies. Undeniably, this is the fastest way to fix the score — providing the company is trustworthy.
If you decide to do everything on your own, begin by heading to annualcreditreport.com. Log in, answer a few security questions and download a copy of each report. Note that every lender may only share data with one credit agency. Thus, you need data from the big three — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
Scrutinize each report line by line to spot any inconsistencies. If you have never done it before, this may take you one-two hours in total. Aside from your credit history, check the spelling of your name and address, the list of credit cards, and other personal information.
2. Evidence Gathering
You cannot request deletion without proof. Collect evidence like bank statements to show that the entries are false. Then, you may start drafting your dispute letters.
This stage may take from a few hours to a few days depending on how organized you are. If you work through a credit repair company, the duration will depend on the complexity of your case. Obviously, experts in this field will accelerate the process. This official Equifax knowledge center will help you choose a trustworthy provider.
3. Waiting for Response
After a bureau receives your dispute letter, it has 30 days to respond. The agency will contact your lenders to check the data. It is preferable to keep some hard evidence of communication. Thus, send your dispute letters with all the necessary documents by certified mail. Keep a copy for yourself.
In 30 days, you should get an official response. The bureau may eliminate the errors, or request additional proof. The latter will inevitably delay resolution. In addition, note that mistakes on each report must be disputed separately. If none of them is perfect, you will have to communicate with all three bureaus.
Do not pack a dozen items into a single letter. If there are a lot of mistakes, you ought to split them between disputes. Naturally, this makes the process lengthier and more complicated.
Average Total Duration
So, how much time do you need to fix your credit score? On average, this takes between 3 and 6 months. The fewer mistakes there are — the faster it will be. The easiest cases are resolved in just a month. On the other hand, consumers who accumulate a lot of negative items need to wait for months. Any credit repair company should give you a preliminary estimate.
Take Care of Rebuilding
Fixing the score is only the first step to a better financial future. At the same time, you need to work on your spending habits to avoid bad credit in the future. Thus, while the company is busy disputing, you may work to resolve any actual issues hurting your score.
For example, make sure all the bills are paid on time. Pay off your debt, particularly credit cards. Recurring forms of lending are the most insidious. Be careful with your payments and take measures to lower the credit utilization ratio.
Repair Never Happens Overnight
Any company promising quick results through representation is probably a scammer. Credit repair is a lengthy formal process. Mistakes must be found, the evidence must be gathered, and dispute letters must be sent. If you are fixing the score in order to qualify for a cheaper mortgage, be patient. Give yourself from six months to a year.