Fixing a Low Credit Score When You Aren’t At Fault
You can be the most responsible person on the planet, and you can practice impeccable self-control every minute of the day, but it’s still possible to end up with a bad credit score. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? But here’s the thing: sometimes a low credit score isn’t really your fault at all. Sometimes, there are simple ways of fixing it.
Mistakes occasionally happen when credit scores are calculated. Identity thieves can steal a credit card number and make purchases that go unnoticed until it’s too late. Young adults who are just beginning to take financial responsibility and beginning to open lines of credit will find that their scores are low, even though they haven’t had time to make any mistakes at all. Millions of Americans find themselves in these situations every day, and they don’t know how to make their scores better. Fortunately, it’s possible to fix your score no matter which situation applies to you.
If you’re just starting out on your own and your score is low, that’s completely normal. Your credit score is an evaluation of your past credit history, and it gives lenders an idea about how responsible you’ll be if you borrow money. If you haven’t incurred any debts yet, and therefore you haven’t proven that you’re capable of repaying your debts, then credit bureaus can’t assess your reliability. The best way to build up your credit score at this point is to open one or two lines of credit, such as a small school loan or a credit card, and make sure that you make your monthly payments on time. It’s as simple as that!
If you notice that a mistake has been made on your credit report, you’ll need to file an official request with the bureau that calculated your score. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law stating that credit bureaus are responsible for fixing mistakes on credit reports, and the bureau has up to 30 days after receiving your request to investigate the mistake and change it, if necessary. It’s best to send your request through the mail and to request a return receipt so that you know exactly when the bureau received your letter; you’ll also have to provide proof that a mistake has occurred. After the mistake has been corrected, you’re entitled to another free copy of your credit report that reflects the changes made.
If you think that you’re the victim of identity theft, you’ll want to start making some phone calls and filing claims ASAP. Many banks and credit card companies have started alerting their customers if fraud or theft is suspected, but you’re also responsible for monitoring your credit report regularly. You’ll have to file an official identity theft report, and you’ll want to order credit reports. The best way to ensure that your report is processed and accepted is to keep track of everything -- every phone conversation you have with a financial adviser, every transaction or payment you’ve made with that particular line of credit -- you can’t be too organized or too prepared when it comes to reporting identity theft.
If you weren’t convinced before that it’s a good idea to regularly check your credit score -- hopefully we have you convinced now! It may seem like a hassle to fix these mistakes, and it may take some time, but the earlier you’re able to spot something fishy, the easier it will be to remedy the situation.
We know that fixing a faulty credit report can be a pretty daunting task, and we know how frustrating it is when you’re just starting to build up a credit history and you keep seeing low credit scores. But it is possible to build up a strong credit score, and there are plenty of resources available to help you do so.