Here are the top 7 questions we hear from consumers about credit reports and credit scores...
1. Will closing paid off credit card accounts improve my credit score?
This will surprise many of you, but closing paid off credit card accounts can actually hurt your score in two ways. In “Your Credit Score”, Liz Pulliam Weston explains:
A. Closing accounts can make your credit history look younger than it is. Your credit score factors in the age of your oldest account and the average age of all your accounts. So closing accounts, particularly older accounts can ding your score.
B. Closing accounts reduces the total credit available to you, making your debt utilization ratio soar. Remember that the FICO formula measures the gap between the credit you use and your total credit limits. The wider the gap, the better. If you suddenly lower that limit by shutting down accounts, the gap narrows – and that’s a bad thing.
2. What’s the best way to deal with a collection agency when you don’t have the money to pay them?
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act clearly states that you do not have to deal with credit or debt collectors. You can stop collectors from calling and writing with a “cease and desist” letter. This is short for “cease communication”. Once this letter is received by your collector, they will no longer be able to legally contact you by phone, at work, by fax, by certified mail, by nothing.
Of course, to improve your credit score, you will ultimately want to get the debt removed from your credit report by either getting the collector to agree to delete the item when you pay in full or by getting the credit bureau to delete the item.
3. Is there a limit to how many items I can dispute on my credit report?
Technically, no. But keep in mind that if you try and dispute 7, 10, or more items on your credit report at one time, you may not be taken seriously and the credit bureaus may respond telling you that your request is “frivolous and irrelevant.”
I recommend disputing no more than five or six items at a time.
4. Is a 20 point increase in 72 hours possible?
There are literally hundreds of “credit repair” outfits promising to drastically repair credit scores in as little as 24 – 72 hours. Is it a scam? Believe it or not, this is not a scam. Rapid rescoring services can and do help consumers up their credit scores rapidly. But, it may not be as easy as you think. Here’s what I mean:
Rapid re-rescoring agencies do not and cannot deal directly with consumers. They work with lending institutions. So you can’t contact them directly to work on your behalf if you’re a consumer.
Rapid re-rescoring agencies cannot and do not simply “remove” negative items. That is, they can’t magically erase legitimately negative items. If, however, you have proof of an error, a rapid re-rescoring agency can quickly get the item deleted. Such proof might include a letter from a creditor explaining that your debt is paid or was never yours.
Rapid re-rescoring agencies cannot delete any items that are in dispute. If you already have an item in dispute with one or all of the major credit bureaus, rapid re-scoring agencies cannot delete the item(s).
5. What is fastest way to improve my credit score?
Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on your score.
6. Where can I get my credit reports and credit scores?
I get my scores from www.suzeorman.com. I like using Suze's site because with a few clicks of the mouse you can get all 3 reports (from the major bureaus) and your FICO score, plus a kit to help you improve your scores.
7. Is personal informaiton included on my credit report?
Personal information such as your race, color, religion, national origin, sex and marital status is NOT included on your credit report.