Learning that your credit rating has slipped can send you into a panic. Our credit ratings are our reputations, financially, after all. It is a thing we own, like our cars or our homes. Thus, waking up one morning to learn our credit ratings have been damaged can be unnerving to say the least.
What’s more, while a leaky roof or a dented door is easy enough to understand, who really knows where all these credit numbers come from, anyways? They just seem to manifest themselves. And, if you are among the many who do not understand the intricate workings of credit scores, know that you are in good company (the author of this blog post has limited knowledge at best).
The problem is that this great unknown “credit thing,” combined with the feeling of loss associated with a credit downgrade, can lead to rash behavior. Or at the very least a sort of dependance on institutions who claim to know the game, and promise to make it all better…. for a price. But there is hope: you do not need to know how credit scores are formed to know what you might do about your own.
Credit Service Organizations have No Special Powers
These organizations check, and attempt (more on this in Part 2) to repair your credit for you. But they ultimately can do nothing you couldn’t do yourself… for close to free.
Step One: Get Your Report
You obviously need the whole story before you will know how to proceed. Colorado law requires that credit bureaus provide you with one free credit report a year, upon request. There are services on the internet that will pull such reports for you, but they are always looking to offer something more. To save time and possibly money, send the request directly. The three major bureaus are:
It should be noted that these bureaus will request personal data before they will send a report. This includes your social security number. But rest easy: most, if not all, of the information they will want they already have. The purpose of requesting it is to make certain you are who you say you are. Identify theft can only further damage your credit: don’t be afraid to provide the necessary info, this keeps us safe.
Not only may you obtain a report once a year for free, but if you are denied credit the creditor must give you the name and address of the bureau that supplied the report upon which the decision was made (it will most probably be one of the three above). If you contact them within 60 days, you may receive a copy of that report for free.
Once you receive your credit report you can begin to repair to to the extent possible. This will be covered in part two of our series on credit repair.