Expert Q&A Archive
How do I repair my credit?
My question is: “how do I repair my credit?” I will be applying for another Federal job and I have several late payments on my report. I settled the debts, but they won’t come off my record for several years. I am currently a Federal employee, and the position I will be applying for will require another background check. I don't know what they will be looking for on my credit report. I’ve paid off the entire negative debit. What do I do?
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Repairing credit is a tricky thing. In fact, if there is legitimate negative information in your credit [report], there is no legal way to remove it permanently. On the other hand, if you see information in your report that is, in fact, incorrect, you can dispute the information by following the directions at the end of your complete credit report.
Generally they ask that you submit verification for any information that you are disputing, and after investigating your request, will either remove the information, or leave it as is, depending on their findings. You can also submit a short explanation that can be included in your credit report for any item on your report that is valid, but negative. The instructions for this should also be at the end of your complete credit report as well.
Moving forward, the best way to improve your credit is to use credit properly. That means, always pay off credit balances in full each month...not just the minimum payments. Always pay bills on time, and try not to charge up more than 30% of your available credit line in any given month. If you follow these steps, your credit will begin to improve over time. It is a slow process, but it works. A credit counselor approved by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling can sit down with you and help you understand your credit report, what information therein is helping and/or hurting your credit score, and more specifics on what information should be corrected and how to do it. You can go to http://www.nfcc.org/FirstStep/firststep_01.cfm
to find a credit counselor in your area. Good luck.
[Editor’s Note: There are a number of resources on debt on the website of the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit/debt.shtm
, including Credit Repair: How To Help Yourself.]