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How to Fix Your Credit Yourself

You can pay a credit repair company to fix your credit, but if you’re willing to invest your time instead of your cash then you can do it yourself without having to pay a professional. The only questions you need to know before you get started are how much your time is worth to you, and how comfortable you are with initiating and managing multiple credit profile related contacts via phone and email. You will also need to be comfortable with reading and writing quasi-legal documents. You can find example correspondence online which can help you with this.Step 1: Obtain Your Credit ReportsYour credit score is based on a combination of factors and information which is reported about you by 3rd parties to the 3 major credit reporting agencies. The major agencies we are concerned with are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These three companies are the ones who are responsible for publishing information about you onto your credit report, however they are not the ones responsible for generating the information. A creditor, a collection agency or another company (known as data furnishers) will tell Experian, Equifax and TransUnion what to publish about you, and then the credit bureaus will publish it. They do not perform a thorough investigation into the legitimacy of the information when they initially report it. Only when it is discovered and disputed by you will it be investigated, at which point it may have been damaging your credit for months or years. It is also very common for information to be different on each of your three credit reports, which is like playing Russian roulette every time your credit is pulled if you don’t fix all three at the same time. The reason is because you never know which report your potential landlord, employer or loan provider is going to pull. Let me give you an example:

You have never checked your credit reports or felt the need to do so, however 2 years ago a credit card account was fraudulently opened in your name, maxed out and never paid on. You have never heard anything about it. The credit card company which was defrauded only reports payment information to Equifax and TransUnion, not to Experian. You have previously been approved for a car loan from your bank about 9 months ago, so you assume your score is good, however you are turned down in the final stages of your employment application and receive a form in the mail stating that a consumer report was used in the negative determination of your employment application. That means that even though your bank pulled your Experian information to verify your credit worthiness for your car loan, your potential employer used Equifax or Transunion and assumed the fraudulent negative credit card entry was valid.
Situations similar to the above are very common, and whether you are turned down for a loan, a credit card application, a job or an apartment it is a huge disruption to your plans and can be a major stress inducing event. Go and check your credit reports right now and then once a month from here on out in order to nip this potential problem in the bud.The first step to take is to simply obtain a credit report from each of the agencies above. Legally you are allowed to do this for free once per year and also every time you are denied credit or suffer another qualifying negative event based on the results of a consumer report. To get your free reports go to annualcreditreport.com and follow the instructions to obtain your report. This is the official government website for obtaining your free credit reports, and it does not require a credit card or any kind of subscription or trial. Some people are not able to receive their reports from annualcreditreport.com due to problems verifying their identity or other reasons. If you are unable to obtain your reports from annualcreditreport.com, you can either search online for credit report providers or you can contact the credit bureaus directly yourself. Typically you can find providers online which will charge you $1 for your first month of access to your credit reports and to a credit monitoring service, with cost rising to about $30 per month thereafter. Remember, it’s free for you if you can get your reports from annualcreditreport.com, so that is definitely your first choice. If you can’t get them there try a paid provider or contact the bureaus directly either online or by mail and persuade them to provide you with a copy of your report. I always send mail certified, signature required, with a tracking number – and I highly advise you do the same. Keeping a detailed record of all of your communications with each entity you will be contacting is of the utmost importance to your success. The dates of your mailings and of the correspondence you receive as a result are extremely important. Below are the web addresses for the credit bureaus – search their site or search online for instructions for requesting access to your credit report if you are unable to do so through annualcreditreport.com.So, just to be clear:

annualcreditreport.com – official site for obtaining your credit reports – go here first

Experian.com – Equifax.com – TransUnion.com; contact directly if needed
OK, I’ve received my credit reports in the mail or I’ve accessed them online – now what?Step 2: Reviewing Your Credit Reports for AccuracyOnce you receive your reports you will need to review them for accuracy. Check each one carefully. There are several sections you will need to review and each one contains important information about you which will be checked by employers, landlords, utility companies, your cell phone provider and of course, potential creditors and others. Credit reports from the three agencies each look slightly different, but are generally composed of sections similar to these:

Personal Profile: This section contains your personal information, such as your legal name, your current and previous addresses, your employment history and your birth date.

Credit Summary: A snapshot of your credit, including how many accounts have been opened in your name and their total balance. Reported delinquencies will be listed here as well.

Public Records: The odds are that you likely don’t have any public records listed on your report, but they are very common. Mistakes in this area of your report are also fairly common and need to be disputed immediately. This type of information includes bankruptcy, tax lien, court records, judgements and child support.

Credit Inquiries: Any company you have given permission to review your credit file (called a hard inquiry) will be listed here for two years. More than 3 inquiries listed in this section can lower your credit score. If you see companies listed in this section that you have not authorized to pull your credit, then they need to be removed. If you personally check your own credit (such as through a paid provider or credit monitoring service like referenced above) your credit score will not be affected. This type of inquiry is known a soft inquiry. Typical listings in this section include lenders, and potential or former employers and landlords.

Account History: This is the specific account information for all accounts opened in your name which are reported to a credit reporting agency. This information can be positive or negative, and collectively has the biggest impact on your credit rating. A large amount of inaccurate information can be found on some people’s credit reports in this section. Positive information reported about you will remain on your report indefinitely, while negative information will remain for 7 – 10 years from the date that the account was closed, or the date you last made a payment on or acknowledged the alleged debt.

The contact information for all the companies who are listing information about you will also be found in this section. These addresses are where you will be sending your dispute letters if you choose to mail them versus filing online (recommended).
The above sections will comprise the majority of your credit reports. As stated before, go through them very carefully. Pay special attention to the alleged amounts that you owe, the payment dates and the names of the companies which are reporting the negative information. Take note of whether or not it is the original creditor or a debt collector as this will have an effect on the wording of the letters you will be sending out, and look at the account creation dates. In short, go through and verify that every single datapoint which is being reported about you on that credit report is accurate. Make notations of what you believe to be incorrect, reconcile this information with your records and if it is not exactly the same, then it may be being reported incorrectly and having a negative effect on your credit profile.Step 3: First ContactNow that you have reviewed your credit reports the fun part starts. You need to take all of the information which you want to be removed from your report and begin writing letters to address those issues. You can put multiple issues on each letter, however I never send more than 3 issues per letter to any agency and I recommend you don’t either. You will want to send a letter to each of the credit bureaus which specifically details the reasons the information should be removed from your report. If it is inaccurate in any way, then legally it must be removed from your report. Carefully word your dispute letter with diplomatic and professional language, and inform the credit reporting agencies that you want them to investigate the points you raise in your letter as you are disputing their accuracy. If you have evidence supporting your claim, submit a copy with your dispute letters. The credit agencies want to report correct information, and they will look at the evidence you send to them. Make sure you do not acknowledge that the debt is yours or make any payment offers as this could potentially restart the 7 year clock that the debt will be reported about you.After you have disputed your items the credit agencies are allowed a minimum of 30 days to respond under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). During this time they will contact the data furnisher and attempt to verify the accuracy of the debt they are reporting about you. Generally the data furnisher will simply respond that the data is correct, and nothing will change. The credit bureau will send you a letter explaining that they reviewed your claim, and the information was reported to be accurate, and therefore they will continue to report it. If you have submitted good documentation supporting your position, the credit bureau will review it, however they may still side with the data furnisher and refuse to remove the incorrect items(s) from your report.If this happens, you will need to contact the original creditors and the collections agencies if they are involved, and request validation of the debt they are reporting about you. Typically you will receive some sort of report generated by them which simply states that you them a certain amount of money. This amount will rarely correlate with what you think you owe, or what is being reported onto your credit report. Depending on what type of information you receive from the data furnisher directly, you may be able to simply write a new letter to the credit bureau with copies of the information you received from the data furnisher and an explanation of how the information doesn’t correlate with what is being reported on your credit report. They are also required to be able to validate your debt. This is different than verifying it, which is what data furnishers sometimes do. Look up this distinction online and then check to make sure that they have provided the evidence legally required of them to continue reporting information about you.The parties you will be contacting include:
The three major credit bureaus

Experian
Equifax
TransUnionThe data furnishers

Original creditors
Collection agencies
Attorneys
Others various partiesDealing with each of these contacts and correctly generating effective correspondence to them along with corroborating evidence will be the best and fastest way to fix your credit reports.

Do not enter into any payment negotiations with collections agencies or any other data furnishers without express written statements from them that they will be deleting the “tradeline” once you have fulfilled your payments. This is a very important step when dealing with data furnishers, and forgetting to specify this could cause negative information to stay on your report for much longer in the form of a paid collections account.
Step 4: Raising or Establishing Your Credit WorthinessIf everything looks good on your credit reports and your score still isn’t as high as you think it should be, or if you are just new to obtaining credit, there are several things you should be aware of.

Some credit scoring models will give you a lower score for credit card limits or loans which are under $2,000 – get a limit at least this high if you can.

The average age of all of your combined accounts is important – the older the better. What this means is that if you have 10 accounts with an average age of 22 years and then you go out and open 4 new accounts to try and raise your score, the average age of your accounts will drop to just under 15 1/2 years old. This will have a negative effect on your credit score and may offset any benefit of opening 4 new accounts, which will also generate 4 new hard inquiries which will also have a negative effect. Make sure you absolutely need credit before applying for it.

Having over twenty accounts in good standing can raise your score, however the average age of your accounts will generally make more of an impact on your score than the total number of your accounts (see above).

If you have bad credit or no credit – try this out: Pull your credit reports and fix everything on them that you can so that your credit history is as favorable as possible. Save up $200 dollars, and then go to your bank or go online and find a company which offers secured loans and credit cards – these are generally easy to be approved for because the credit limit is the same as the amount which you deposit. In this case, you will deposit $200 to obtain a secured loan, then you will take the $200 from your loan and open a secured credit card. This way, you will gain two new accounts which are reporting your timely payments to the credit bureaus for the price of one. Also, you aren’t really out any money because even though you deposited $200 to obtain a secured credit card and loan, you now have $200 worth of credit at your disposal. Make sure you make timely payments on these two accounts and your score can easily go up 75 points or more in just a few months. If you can manage a $2,000 secured loan then you will get the benefit of having a loan and a credit card with credit limits of at least $2,000 each which will both report to the major credit bureaus and can raise your score even more. If you decide to do this make sure your secured card provider reports to all three major credit bureaus – and try to pay off your credit card in full each month.

On time payments to your accounts in good standing are the best way to raise your score and keep it there.

If you are offered a lower credit card limit than you want you can always call the financial provider and request a higher limit. Sometimes all they need is a little additional information to approve you for thousands of dollars more.

The amount of your credit limit which you actually borrow matters; your debt to credit ratio is what credit agencies use to quickly see how much of your available credit you are using each month. This amount can change on a daily basis and has a major effect on your credit score. Keep the total amount of your debt down to about 20% or less of your available credit to look favorable.

Don’t max out individual cards; if you have $10,000 of total credit on three cards of $4,000, $5,000 and $1,000 dollars, don’t max out any individual card. Keep each of them at 20% or less utilization to save on interest and to keep your cards from being individually over utilized.

Keep your cash back by paying your cards in full each month. As long as the accounts are active and being used, paying them off each month won’t look bad for your score. By not carrying a monthly balance you will avoid paying interest completely while still receiving cash back for using your cards. In this case, you can actually make money by properly managing your credit cards if you are disciplined.

Paying twice can save you thousands; many loans can be paid off much quicker by simply taking the monthly amount owed, splitting it in two and paying it off in two separate payments each billing cycle. If you can add just a little extra in each payment your savings could be significant and it could speed up the time it takes to pay off your loan by months. Mortgages and car loans are great for this strategy.
I encourage you to look into the huge amount of information available online and learn as much as possible prior to taking any of the steps outlined above as a simple mistake could be extremely negative to your credit profile. Fixing your credit can be tricky, with a lot of pitfalls and confusing rules, regulations and recommendations. Even so, it is absolutely imperative to just go ahead and dive into it and get started as the longer you wait, the more it will cost you in the long run.

Why Personal Finance Software Is Important

Why personal finance software is important These days, technology has really revolutionized people’s way of life, including their financial life. Back in the day, most people used a pen and paper to document their earnings, spending, and finances.What is personal finance software?Home finance software refers to a financial tool that enables you to prepare a budget, track your expenses, and check your overall finances. These days, there is no valid reason why you should be disorganized and mired in debt because there are many good personal finance programs that you can use to keep track of your money, plan your future, and completely control your finances. If you have a PC or laptop, you are lucky because you can easily find good home finance software at little cost. Application programmers have now catered for the high demand for these applications as they now come with all sorts of functions and capabilities that can save your money, time and effort.AnalysisYou can now analyze your finances unaided. However, this kind of analysis can be much easier if you have some accounting background. Finance software will analyze your important financial details. Details such as your monthly expenses will stick out. Many personal finance applications also allow personalization. If there is one particular aspect you want to know about your finances, you can simply create a specialized analysis. Many personal finance programs can also give you a monthly analysis-an excellent way to see how you actually spend your money on a monthly basis.Budget creationWe all know the importance of a personal budget. But creating a real budget that you’ll stick to is easier said than done. You can find a personal finance application that creates a realistic budget for you. Simply enter your basic information into the software and quickly create a simple budget.Checkbook balances and bill paymentsSometimes you’ll fail to pay bills on time. When it happens, interest rates are more than likely to shoot up. Fortunately, you can avoid this mistake once and for all. Look for a personal finance application that’ll remind you when to pay your bills. Likewise, you can accomplish balancing your checkbook by just ticking a box. Sum up any amounts withdrawn from your account and check carefully anything that seems suspicious. Once you have everything on record, it becomes much easier to know how your finances are faring.Trust yourself and no one elseWhen it comes to finances, it is best to keep track of all you have carefully. You may trust your finances with your financial adviser, but it is still important to know where every cent is at, always. With a personal finance application, your money will never be far away from you. Whether you are paying bills, balancing your checkbook, tracking your paycheck, or creating a personal budget, you should not live without personal finance software.

Taking the Confusion Out of Internet Web Site Promotion

Internet web site promotion is one of those things that make you
go “hmmm”…Seriously, there are so many ways to promote a website that
reviewing options for internet web site promotion and ultimately
choosing a route for promoting your website can be mind boggling.
It will much easier for you to decide which internet web site
promotion techniques are in your best interest if you have an
overview of the many options that are available. Providing an
overview that will enable you to make better decisions for your
internet web site promotion is my goal for this article.Following are some simple explanations of common internet web
site promotion tools and techniques…1. Publishing a newsletterPublishing a newsletter is an internet web site promotion
technique that helps you to collect email addresses for opt-in
email campaigns as well as keeping you connected with previous
website visitors resulting in continuous web site promotion to
qualified individuals who have chosen to subscribe to your
newsletter.2. Email marketingMany internet marketers have found that email marketing is a
powerful web site promotion tool. The main thing to avoid with
email marketing is SPAMMING, which is sending unsolicited email
messages to recipients. For email marketing to be effective and
legal you have to have an opt-in list, a list of email addresses
for people who have chosen to receive email marketing messages
from you or on the topic you are addressing.These opt-in lists for internet web site promotion can be
obtained through your newsletter or website, or can be purchased
from third-parties. However, if you purchase opt-in lists from
third-parties, always make sure that you know how the addresses
on the list were collected to ensure that they truly are
targeted, opt-ins.3. Offering freebiesBecause of human nature, people love free stuff – free products,
free information, free graphics, free services, anything free is
hot so offering freebies can be a good internet web site
promotion technique.Publishing free articles that are of interest to your target
market, or better yet, giving away free articles with the right
to republish, is an excellent internet web site promotion
technique as long as the article contains information that will
direct readers to your site and republishing rights clearly state
that the information cannot be altered or removed prior to
republishing.4. Classifieds and e-zine advertisingJust like in the “real” business world where classified ads and
magazine advertisements are good promotional techniques,
classifieds and e-zines can be a great internet web site
promotion medium. There are a number of category specific
classified ad sites on the internet through which you can
purchase classified advertisements. There are also e-zines which
are effectively electronic magazines, as well as newsletters,
that offer classified advertising services.5. Search engine optimizationSearch engine optimization is a technique that optimizes your
website so when submitted to the search engines, it will get
indexed with a good rank. Effective search engine optimization
requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to maintain your rank
in the search engine results. Though obtaining and maintaining a
good search engine ranking can be difficult, it is undoubtedly
the most effective internet web site promotion technique because
prospects that are looking for your products, services or
information will use the search engines to find you.6. Shopping botsShopping bots are nifty internet web site promotion tools because
they help shoppers to find the best deal for whatever they are
shopping for. They actually give shoppers a comparison of various
websites that are offering the products or services with a brief
description of the offering and the price. Effective use of
shopping bots as an internet web site promotion tool will send
qualified shoppers that are ready to buy to your website.7. Pay-per-click advertisingPay-per-click advertising is an internet web site promotion tool
that enables you to bid on keywords that will put your website in
the top ranking in search engines.8. Viral marketingViral marketing is one of the easiest and most inexpensive
internet web site promotion techniques. By including information
about your website at the end of email messages and other
correspondence to your contacts, the information will be spread
through a network of your contacts to others they come in contact
with.9. Newsgroup participationIf used properly, industry-based newsgroups can be awesome
internet web site promotion channels. By participating in a
newsgroup you can build your reputation as an expert in your
field as well as building trust-based relationships with those
interested in your products or services.10. Press releasesPress releases are often underrated as internet web site
promotion tools. Press releases are actually sent to the media to
break news about your company. An effective press release that
captures a reporter’s attention has the potential of producing
massive media coverage that will be good for your internet web
site promotion.11. Link campaignsLink campaigns are relatively inexpensive ways to accomplish
internet web site promotion. The main point is to get relevant
websites to put your link on their site so their site visitors
can follow it to your website. This can be done through a
reciprocal link agreement, a link exchange where you put their
link on your site in exchange for them putting yours on their
site, or by paying for the placement of your link. Providing high
quality content that is of interest to another site’s customers
is also a great way to get others to link to your site.12. Banner adsBanner ads are ads that you buy that are displayed on other
websites. At one time they were thought to be an incredible
internet web site promotion technique, but over time they have
diminished in value. Even so, banner ads can still be used for
internet web site promotion.13. Affiliate programsWhen you have your own affiliate program, you basically
accomplish internet web site promotion via affiliates who
advertise your products and services for you for a fee. The fee
structure for an affiliate program is sometimes based on a
commission of sales from an affiliate’s referrals or on a pay-
per-visit structure for visits to your site that result from the
affiliate’s efforts. Affiliate programs aren’t only a great
internet web site promotion technique; they are also an
incredible tool for multiplying your sales through increased
marketing efforts that essentially cost you nothing.