Credit fixing is the process of repairing your credit score to make it easier to qualify for loans with competitive interest rates. This can help you save thousands on a mortgage or car loan over the course of your life. It can also help you save on insurance and utility bills. But credit fixing isn’t a quick fix; it can take anywhere from 30 days to several years. The length of time it takes to repair your credit depends on the severity of the damage and the negative items affecting your score, which can include late payments, foreclosures, bankruptcies and collection accounts.

The best way to start fixing your credit is by examining your credit reports and disputing any errors. You can do this yourself or hire a company that specializes in it. But it’s important to do your homework, because there are legitimate and illegitimate credit repair companies out there. Look for a company that offers an upfront fee, doesn’t charge you unless you win and abides by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

To dispute an error on your credit report, you’ll need to submit a written letter explaining the problem to the credit bureau that reports the information to your credit score. Typically, this involves a name, address, account number and the details of the error you believe has occurred. Credit bureaus are required to investigate and correct any errors that you find on your credit reports, so you have a good chance of getting the information removed from your score. Some common errors that credit reporting agencies make include closed credit accounts showing as open, debts that appear multiple times and revolving utilization percentages that are too high.

Another key part of credit fixing is paying your bills on time and limiting the amount of credit you use. Paying down debt and maintaining a healthy credit utilization ratio can raise your score. If you have trouble making payments on time, try putting them on autopay to avoid missing them. And even if you can’t afford to pay everything you owe, try calling your creditors to ask about hardship options before the account is charged off in bankruptcy.

Finally, don’t apply for credit too often as this can lower your credit score by one to five points. If you need to get a new credit card, consider opening it in a different name or as an authorized user on someone else’s account. This can give you a fresh start without the need for a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will drop your score. If you do apply for credit, keep applications to a minimum and limit them to the types of products you really need. This will keep your average credit age low and minimize the impact on your credit score. It’s also a good idea to wait at least six months before applying for a mortgage or auto loan, which gives you the best shot at having your application approved.

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