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Bad Credit Report? How to Raise Your Credit Score

Don’t fret if you got a bad credit report – change it! Here’s how to raise your credit score and stop it from destroying your applications for your credit cards, mortgage loans, and more.

“Your credit score not only affects your interest rates on a mortgage or auto loan, but credit reports also might be viewed by prospective landlords, employers and insurers,” says Ethan Ewing of Bills.com. “The credit report often is the first indicator that identity has been compromised by fraud or theft. It is important to monitor your credit report at least yearly to be certain it reports accurate information about your use of credit.”

If you want to fix a bad credit score, read How to Repair Your Credit Score Now: Simple No Cost Methods You Can Put to Use Today.

And, here are Ewing’s tips for fighting a bad credit score report…

Follow the guidelines of the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion)

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that credit bureaus provide a procedure for consumers to dispute inaccurate listings on their credit reports. Follow the guidelines provided by each of the three credit reporting agencies on their websites. The easiest way to file an effective dispute letter is online. If a consumer disputes an item with one of the three major agencies, the bureau will notify the creditor that the item has been disputed. The creditor then has 30 days in which to respond to that dispute. The Federal Trade Commission also offers a free guide to disputing credit report errors.

Wait for the creditor’s response

If the creditor provides substantial evidence that the item is valid, then the listing will remain on the report. If the creditor cannot substantiate the item, then the credit bureau is required to remove it – and you’ve successfully fought a bad credit score report. And, you might want to learn how to protect your credit score.

Watch your credit score report

If the creditor does not respond to the credit bureau within 30 days, then the credit bureau is required to remove that listing from the consumer’s credit file (though this period can be extended by 15 days under certain circumstances). However, even after an item has been removed, if the credit bureau receives information from the creditor substantiating the listing, the credit bureau can replace the item on the consumer’s credit report.

To learn more about credit reports, read 10 Facts About Credit Scores.

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

If a credit reporting agency refuses to remove a listing that is truly invalid, even after the consumer has provided substantial evidence, the consumer can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and with his or her state’s Attorney General’s office.

To raise your credit score, go back to step one

Occasionally, a debt will reappear even after a consumer has successfully disputed it and had it removed. This may happen if a debt is sent to a collection agency that begins reporting the item to the bureaus again. In that case, the consumer must dispute the item all over again.

“The bottom line is that consumer credit reports include whatever information creditors or collectors report to the credit agencies,” says Ewing. “Unfortunately, that sometimes includes incorrect information. Monitoring your credit is your responsibility. Take that responsibility seriously, and you also take charge of protecting a valuable, intangible asset — your credit rating.”

If you want to use your credit card for serious financial rewards, read How to Use Your Credit Cards Rewards Program for Realistic Rewards.


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11 thoughts on “Bad Credit Report? How to Raise Your Credit Score”

  1. If the dispute about a bad credit report is denied and you believe the decision is unfair, you have the option of filing a complaint with your state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission. You also could file a lawsuit, but legal cases can be long and expensive. If you choose this route, consider seeking an attorney who will accept awarded damages as payment, in case the case is longer and costs more money than you anticipate. Raising your credit score is important, but you have to weigh the costs.

  2. I have been reading into this topic quite a bit of late. I think it’s interesting to see differing opinions on whether or not to use a credit repair company. Some people are saying that they can help a great deal, where as others are saying that they are not worth wasting your time on. What is your opinion Laurie?

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your offer to write an article on a financial topic, Sophie! What do you have in mind? I welcome your suggestions!

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  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments. I totally agree — fixing a bad credit score takes time, energy, and dedication….but it’s worth it!

    Financial freedom must be amazing.

  6. Good summary; just remember it’s not an easy process, so expect to put some work into it. Over time, you can clean up your credit, but it’s definitely not without work.

  7. archercredit @ Credit Report Repair

    These is the overall dispute process and anyone can do it. I did this exact process for my credit reports and my wife’s. Thank you for the post and information.

  8. Great steps to repairing credit. Remember anyone can repair their credit, but it is never a bad idea to hire a credit repair company to help.

  9. My credit score last year got lower because i have some unpaid bills on my credit card company and i also lost my job.`,*

  10. I am retired navy 100% disabiled (exactly 135%) there is a govenrmnt directive out there that states no one can change , touch my crdeit for up tp 2 yrs until the military styart to pay me my checks. I habe no problems paying my bills but I do have a problem paying a used to be 97$ homedepot bill that is now 2 yrs later 3600$.

    Dont ask me to ask the navy, military Ive been calling for over 8 yrs now an all I get is i got wronge number or there not allowed to send directive out or tell me where to pick it up.

    I just want this form so I can sue all 15 compannies ’cause the need to be sued very harshly for there ignorance for thnkinh and actingthere above the law. Which it seems tnere are.

  11. ok, my mind is blown from all of the “post bankruptcy loan” sources online! theres just too many and im not going to run my credit that many times to try and find the best rate, lowering it further, so i need your help… ok, i was discharged from bankruptcy a year ago. since then i have two
    credit cards for about a year that are NOT maxed and are paid on more than required. however, my credit score is 586. im looking for the lowest possible interest rate, for my credit history (i know im not going to get prime rates). im just looking for a REPUTABLE, known place that will almost guarantee me an auto loan.