Ahh, credit!!! One must love the fact that people will give us credit while we are young and full of dreams!!! You know the days, if you aren’t in them it’s quite likely you have been! My husband and I both made a series of mistakes when utilizing credit in the beginning and we are paying for it!!! (Both literally and figuratively!!!) Despite the fact that we have spent the last 5 years paying bills on time and not obtaining more debt, our credit was still too low to manage anything with. We finally got to the point where we were ready to take that giant home ownership leap, and we got the lovely and inspiring message ‘you’ve….uh…..got a lot of……uh……negative things…..on……your…..uh…..credit…..’ No amount of honesty or good intentions was getting us those keys!!!
So, here we are, lots of research later and we are almost there. I can TASTE the wonderful taste of home ownership!!! We still have a little to go, but not near as much as before and now it doesn’t seem like something we will never achieve!!!
All of that was said so that I could give you a few ‘tips’ and form letters to improve your credit once you’ve ran it into the ground. Make no mistake, it will still take time, but it won’t take 7 years! I was so frustrated in doing research and only finding ways to raise your credit BEFORE you’ve ruined it! Honestly, if I had thought to look up something like that all those years ago, I wouldn’t have needed it!!!
So, in hopes of saving you my headache, here goes:
1. Get a credit report. There are legitimate sites where you can get each report free once a year. Don’t PAY for that report!!! Also, you have three reports: ONLY get one!!! You’ll want to wait a few months so you can re-check your credit without spending the money to see if it has improved. I suggest printing it out without your social. You know what your social is, no need to put it on even more paper!
2. Keep your current bills up to date. If you can’t afford a bill, CALL THEM!!! They don’t want to send it to creditors if they don’t have to, they lose money that way. That is why they are willing to work with people. Don’t get me wrong, they try hard not to be too helpful, but they will help.
3. Go through your report, ensure that each item on the list is YOUR DOING!!! Identity theft is a very popular crime these days!!! Any charges that you are not familiar with, call and get information. Make sure it’s yours!!!
4. After verifying that all things on the report are your own, breathe. Just breathe!!! We all make mistakes and learn the hard way, this isn’t the end of being able to utilize your credit. Just start working on it!!!
5. Here’s where the work begins so the suffering can end!!! Current debt: stay on top of it. Pay off balances as quickly as you can. There are many ways to save money and when we stop and look at it, there are many things we can cut out of our budget!!! Which reminds me, budget!!!
6. Pay for Delete: All of the accounts you have that are in collections, start sending pay for delete letters. The letter will follow. Make an offer for less than what you owe, providing they respond in a certain amount of time and you pay that amount in a certain time frame. Don’t send the letter until you have the money, and when you do send it send it certified so they know you are serious and you know whether or not they’ve received it! The idea behind this is when they agree, and you have it in writing, you send the money and you are done with them. They will have 30 days to take it off your credit. Just make sure you promptly pay it!!!
7. Goodwill letter: Also to follow. A goodwill letter is basically to plea for companies to remove late payments and ‘paid after charge offs’ from your credit. One of two things can happen here: they can say no and nothing changes OR they can have some mercy and remove it. Worse case scenario: you are out the cost of printing and mailing the letter!
Pay for Delete
Your City, State Zip
Collector’s City, State Zip
Re: Account Number XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX
Dear Collection Manager:
This letter is in response to your [letter / call / credit report entry] on [date] related to the debt listed above. I wish to save us both some time and effort by settling this debt.
Please be aware that this is not an acknowledgment or acceptance of the debt, as I have not received any verification of the debt. Nor is this a promise to pay and is not a payment agreement unless you provide a response as detailed below.
I am aware that your company has the ability to report this debt to the credit bureaus as you deem necessary. Furthermore, you have the ability to change the listing since you are the information furnisher.
I am willing to pay [this debt in full / $XXX as settlement for this debt] in return for your agreement to remove all information regarding this debt from the credit reporting agencies within ten calendar days of payment. If you agree to the terms, I will send certified payment in the amount of $XXX payable to [Collection Agency] in exchange to have all information related to this debt removed from all of my credit files.
If you accept this offer, you also agree not to discuss the offer with any third-party, excluding the original creditor. If you accept the offer, please prepare a letter on your company letterhead agreeing to the terms. This letter should be signed by an authorized agent of [Collection Agency]. The letter will be treated as a contract and subject to the laws of my state.
As granted by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I have the right to dispute this alleged debt. If I do not receive your postmarked response within 15 days, I will withdraw the offer and request full verification of this debt.
Please forward your agreement to the address listed above.
Tips for Sending Your Pay for Delete Letter
- Send the letter only if you have the ability to pay the full amount listed as soon as the collection agent agrees to your offer.
- Send the letter and your followup payment via certified mail with return receipt requested.
- Make sure you keep a copy of the letter for yourself.
Goodwill Letter for late payments:
Late payment removal request regarding account # XXXXXXX
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been a loyal card member of Capital One for 7 (change to the # of years you’ve been a card member) years and couldn’t be happier with my decision to join the Capital One Family. You’ve always offered some of the most competitive rates and rewards programs, and evenbeat a competitor’s lowest interest rate when I inquired about transferring my balance to their card (replace this sentence with a description of a time the company went “above and beyond’ to help you).
Unfortunately, in December of 2010 (replace this with the date of your late payment(s) here) I took advantage of our relationship and failed to submit my monthly payment on time. It was an exceptionally busy time and my life as I was balancing the birth of our first child while taking night classes to fulfill one of my long standing career goals (replace this sentence with a POSITIVE life event that may have contributed to you missing the payment). Now that I have found a prosperous balance in my life I honestly cannot associate with the person that let this payment obligation go unattended to. I fully respect my obligations with Capital One and have worked diligently to amend my relationship with you by regaining your trust. A brief look at my account will reveal I have successfully made 12 on time payments since my unfortunate lapse of judgment.
Recently, I have begun search for a more financially rewarding career in business and it has come to my attention that my late payment(s) with Capital One may negatively affect my chances of obtaining a career in the field I am pursing. As you may know, FICO scores are being used more and more in the selection of prospective job applicants.
In light of my renewed focus and demonstrated commitment to rebuilding my trust with your company, I am requesting that you give me a second chance at a positive credit rating by revising the late payment(s) as reported on my three major credit bureau files (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax). I sincerely hope Capital Ones believes in their customers and I humbly request your consideration to allow me to pursue the career of my dreams. I appreciate your time and look forward to receiving a favorable decision from you department soon.
Your Name Here
Obviously the information should be changed to suit the company you are writing to!!!
Regarding Account # XXXXXXX
To Whom It May Concern:
My purpose for writing this letter today is twofold; one is to thank Toyota Financial Services for the excellent service you have provided me over the last few years and the second is a humble request to have my account information amended with regards to a late payment occurring in May of 2006.
I bought my new Toyota in the fall of 2003 and couldn’t be happier with my decision. Was it not for (describe some crazy situation that distracted you from making your payment on time: a move, a medical emergency, an accident, lost check, etc.) I’d have a spotless payment history. I understand my obligations with Toyota and have worked diligently to amend my relationship with you since that time (mention here how you’ve paid on time since the last late payment).
Since then I believe I have learned the essential organizational and financial management principles I desperately needed. Thankfully, responsible credit management is now reflected in my credit records which, excluding the Toyota 30-day late payment, are excellent. I wish to thank you for renewing your confidence in me and for giving me a second chance at a relationship with you, one that I am determined to keep spotless into the future.
Recently, I have begun my quest for a mortgage, and it has come to my attention that my tradeline with Toyota may affect my chances of obtaining the very lowest interest rates now available. Since the late payment(s) of record do not reflect my current status with Toyota, I am requesting that you give me a second chance at a positive credit rating by revising the late payment(s). I sincerely hope Toyota Financial Services believes in their customers, and I humbly request your consideration. I appreciate your time and look forward to receiving a favorable decision from you department soon.
Your Name Here
There are some tips on Goodwill letters and I got the examples for those here. This is an awesome and very helpful site!!! Good luck and don’t give up!!!
You can use this to get your credit score free! My suggestion is to get one (you can get three per year total), work towards fixing these, THEN after about 4-5 months, get the second to ensure the old stuff is taken off! Good luck!