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Putting Together a Credit Repair Plan

Posted on November 4, 2010

How did we get anywhere before GPS? Anytime you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, you need directions to tell you how to get there. The same thing goes for credit repair. This is probably the first – and hopefully only – time you’ve ever had to repair your credit. It’s only natural that you don’t know what to do or when to do it. Even after you’ve read the guides, tutorials, and tips, you can still be lost on what steps to take. What you need is a plan.

Month 1

  • Order your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can do this through If you order your credit report online, you’ll have it immediately. Print it out. If you order by phone or through the mail, it will take 7 to 21 days to receive your credit report.
  • Review your credit reports, highlighting the areas that need improvement. You might use different color highlighters to differentiate between errors that need to be disputed, collections and charge-offs that you need to negotiate, or accounts that are just fine.

Month 2

  • Prepare dispute letters to send to the credit bureaus. Don’t overwhelm the credit bureau with dispute letters because they may mark them as frivolous and simply throw them out. Instead, send out 3-4 dispute letters per bureau per month. If you only have 3-4 disputes, that’s all you have to do this month. (Don’t forget to include copies of your proofs with your dispute.)
  • Take a trip to the post office to mail your dispute letters via certified mail with a return receipt request. Keep a copy of everything for yourself.
  • Send debt validation letters for debt collectors. With debt validation you request the debt collector to send proof of the debt you allegedly owe. In the meantime, the collector can’t collect on the debt or put it on your credit report until the proof has been sent. Do this for all your collections. Again, send these via certified mail with return receipt requested.

Month 3

  • The credit bureaus get 30 days to respond to your disputes, so you should get getting some mail from the bureaus this month. The credit bureaus will either write back to say your items have been removed from your credit report or that they haven’t been removed.
  • Any disputed items that weren’t removed can be added to your “Negotiate With the Creditor List.”
  • If you have more disputes to send, make them this month.
  • Check your debt validation responses. Collectors should send actual proof of the debt – this is something from the original creditor, not just a statement of what you owe. If the proof is insufficient, write back letting them know they did not send sufficient proof and need to remove the listing from your credit report. You can also dispute with the credit bureau.

Month 4

  • Prepare and send Pay for Delete Letters for charge-offs and collection accounts that have been verified. Only send as many Pay for Delete Letters as you can afford to pay at this time. Save the others for another round.
  • Continue sending disputes, 3-4 at a time until you’ve disputed everything you highlighted at the outset.

Month 5 and beyond

  • Check your Pay for Delete offers. Get a signed copy of the agreement before you make any payment.
  • Repeat the dispute, debt validation, and pay for delete processes until you’ve worked through all your accounts.

In the end, you may have to take an “L” on some of these accounts and wait for the credit reporting time limit to elapse.

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