The information provided is designed to help you undestand your credit and provide some insight on how to possibly help your ratings. It does not work overnight and is no magical cure but if you are persistent and work towards improving your credit you will see results.  Remember from the time you actually get things corrected on your report it may take from 90 to 120 days for it to be reflected in your credit score.  H.M.A. Inc is not a legal service nor is the information below advice given by or represented to be by an attorney. As in all cases Legal advice is alway recommended in dispute situations.

  The 3 major consumer credit reporting agencies are:

EFX-  Equifax Information Services: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, Ga 30374 - Dispute Page

XPN- Experian: P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013 - Dispute Page

TUC- Trans Union: P. O. Box 34012 Fullerton, Ca 92834 - Dispute Page


Tip # 1
Anytime you deal with the Bureaus do it by Certified Mail or via the internet. Federal Regulations require the Bureaus to respond to you within 30 days of  admitting to receiving your information. By using certified mail you have a signed receipt that documents when the 30 day clock started. The same is true by using Email, you can document when you sent  your dispute. 

Tip #2
Use Consumer Counseling Services only when you are in real trouble.  If you have a great credit score but just want to lower your monthly payments they are not for you.  Call the charge card company and see if they will renegotiate the rate you pay.  Remember it is a negotiation, there are lots of card companies out there, chance are that the ones you have want to keep your business.

Tip #3
If you have a $5,000.00 limit on your charge card one way to help your score is never allow the balance to reach 33% of the limit. Keep it just under the 33% level, make your payments on time and it should increase your score.

Tip #4
If you are not using a Charge card, don't close the account.  The Bureaus do not consider charge card debt as long term debt until it is at least 7 years old.  If you have paid off the card and the company isn't charging you an annual fee let it sit. Every 3 to 6 months put a small charge on it and pay it off within 30 days.

Tip #5
If a collection is showing on your report and you feel it is not yours disputing it with the bureau's may cause a delay in your mortgage application. When you dispute an account with the 3 bureaus it may not be counted in your credit score and until the dispute is removed lenders cannot obtain a valid credit score. If the account is not yours, provide the bureaus with information to prove its not and then ask that they remove it from your report.  If an account is not yours and you pay it off you admit, by paying it, that it was yours. Remember you have the right to see the original document that you signed saying you agree to repay the debt.  So just because someone tells  you that you owe the money does not necessarily mean that you do, many people have similar names and occasional typographical errors do occur when the information is input into the credit system.

Tip #6
If the collection is yours negotiate with the agency, the only way they get paid is if you agree to pay them.  Always ask what will it take to settle this issue. Never be the first to state a dollar figure.  Don't let the collection agent unsettle you,(afterall the money is still in your pocket) if you get frustrated politely end the conversation and agree to call back when you feel you are in control.  The collection agent may not agree to an arranged settlement but if you don't ask you will never find out. Calling back and asking to speak to the manager or another agent generally does not work.  So no matter how ugly the agent may get stay calm and professional, count to 10, smile at the phone, its your money he/she wants and you have the upper hand.

Tip # 7
If anyone tells you that if you send me a check or pay me today I will remove this from your credit report, you should be wary.  The only way something may be removed from your credit report is if it is proven to be an error, so if you are paying someone how can it be an error.

Tip # 8
When you payoff or settle any dispute/collection KEEP the DOCUMENTATION for 10 YEARS NOT 7 years.  Good things fall off of your credit report generally in 7 years, bad things can come back to haunt you after that.  As long as you have the cancelled check, letter showing paid in full etc. you have the proof.  If you loose it and the information shows back up on your credit report the only way to get it back off is to PAY IT AGAIN.  It is your responsibility to prove that a collection has been paid off so keep your documentation for at least 10 years.

Tip # 9
If you are behind on your mortgage payment please contact your lenders servicing department and let them know your situation.  Most lenders are more willing to work with you if you have kept them informed.  Lenders do not want to take your home back unless there are no other options.  

Tip # 10
If you are facing the possibility of  Foreclosure don't let the "I'm not going to lose my equity" bug bite you.  If you have an offer that takes you out of the situation and you cannot afford to wait for another it may well be better to lose the equity and not have a foreclosure on your credit report. Remember if the bank forecloses you still lose your equity and if they sell it for less than what you owe they may get a deficiency judgment against you for the difference. A foreclosure may lower your credit score by as much as 280 points while a short sale may only hit your score for 100.

Tip # 11
If you get a credit item/discrepancy repaired with 1 bureau do not assume that it has been taken care of with the other bureaus.  Make sure you send your documentation to all 3 bureaus via certified mail. Get documentation from all 3 bureaus that the item in question has been corrected. Save the documentation and letters for at least 10 years.

Tip # 12
If you have filed for Bankruptcy and it has been discharged make sure you send a copy of the Discharge and  the list of creditors to all 3 bureaus.  Even if your attorney says they will do it for you send it yourself by certified mail.

Tip # 13
Getting Divorced?  If  the divorce decree stipulates you are to quit claim deed the property over to your soon to be ex spouse, make sure that it also stipulates that before you complete the quit claim the spouse receiving the home must first refinance the home into his or her name. If you quit claim the property you have given up your asset but you still have the liability of the note secured by the mortgage. Even if the decree says the ex is to hold you harmless if he/she doesn't make the payment and he/she has not refinanced the loan into just their name the delinquency may show up on your credit report.

Tip # 14
Trying to re-establish your credit, try joining a credit union.  Set up a checking and savings account then ask to borrow $500.00 to $1,000.00 offering the savings account as collateral. Take the loan amount an place it in the savings account and pay back the loan over the next 6 to 12 months.  Installment debt paid on a regular and timely basis should help to rebuild your credit. 

Tip #15
Every time someone, other than yourself, pulls your credit report it lowers your score, the best guess is 3 to 8 points per bureau.  So, if you fill out one of those credit forms to get a free hat or umbrella, you guessed it, they are pulling your credit report.  If you are car shopping tell the salesman that they are not authorized to pull your credit report before you decide on which car you are purchasing. The same is true if you are mortgage shopping if you do it online with one of those will get you 4 quotes places they may well be pulling your credit report 4 times, (lowering your score).  If you have an honest idea of what your credit is like any broker can prepare a good faith estimate for you without pulling your credit just keep in mind that if items do show up and your scores are less than you thought it will have an effect on the interest rate and the  Good Faith Estimate.

Tip # 16
30 days late on a charge card payment? Considering paying off the creditor and closing the account all at the same time?  DON'T at least not at the same time.  When you pay off an account that is past due by 30 or more days and close it at the same time the Creditors last report on you to the bureaus may well reflect an R-2 rating on your report for 7 years.  Bring the account current, wait for the next bill to come in then pay them off and close the account.  This should leave  you with an R-1 rating on the report as when it was closed you were current.

Tip # 17
When you close a credit card that has a balance, your total available credit card that has a balance, your total available credit is lowered to $0.  Since you still have a balance on that card with no credit limit, it looks like you've maxed out. The amount of debt you have is 30% of your credit score; so a maxed out credit card, or one that appears maxed out, can have a very negative impact on you credit score.

Tip # 18
If you only have 1 credit card with available credit, closing out this card will decrease total available credit and increase your credit utilization, which as before is not a desired situation.

Tip # 19
Using a free credit report service is good for getting an idea on where your scores are at, BUT, the scores that you receive from this service will probably be higher than the one that a Bank or Mortgage Broker will see when they get your report.  WHY?  Credit scoring is Risk Based and when you pull the report on yourself there is no risk involved.  When a lender obtains your report the Risk factor increases, different parameters are in place and in most cases, due to that risk, the scores will be different and probably lower. Remember, if you use one of the "Free" credit report services you probably had to "join" their service, don't forget to cancel it if you don't plan on availing yourself of their continuing services and bills.

Tip# 20
Using a “payday loan” service is not looked upon well by most lenders and  in some underwriters opinions it is looked at as financial mismanagement or proof of inability to manage your funds and debts.  So prior to considering the purchase of a home it may be in your best interest to have not used one of these services for at least 75 days.

Tip# 21

Being 30 days late on a mortgage payment may drop your credit score by as much as 85 points, in addition some lenders, in today’s market, will not consider a new purchase or refinance until you have had 0 x 30 days on your credit report for a minimum of 12 months.

Tip #22

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with a collection agency is to remember the money the agent wants is in your pocket, You are the one in control stay professional and remain calm if the conversation is getting heated, Remember the money is in your pocket.
















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