Do you want to buy a new house or car? Or do you need to take out a loan? Your credit is the thing that can make or break the deal. Because of your credit’s importance, you must learn to use it effectively and do your best to continually build it up.
If somewhere along the way you make bad decisions and your credit suffers as a result, there are always ways to try and repair the damage. Read our article to learn to differentiate between myths and facts about credit repair.
Credit Repair Myths Exposed
Many myths are circulating on the internet regarding credit repair. It’s important to be informed on what might be helpful, and what might be ineffective, or even harmful to your credit. This is why we’ve scoured the internet for the most common credit repair myths, and we’ve chosen 10 of them to highlight in this article.
Myth no. 1: Credit repair doesn’t work
When your credit is in trouble, the logical response would be to focus your energy on credit repair. Here is a short credit repair guide:
Step 1: The first step of this process is reviewing and analyzing your credit report. You are usually entitled to one free credit report every 12 months. However, since living through a worldwide pandemic is anything but usual, you now have free weekly access to your credit report from all three credit bureaus through April 2022. So, take advantage of one of the rare perks of the pandemic and track changes on your credit reports regularly.
Step 2: If you feel like your credit needs improvement, go into repair mode—dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report, look out for any signs of fraudulent activity, make sure to keep your payments up to date, minimize your credit utilization, and make overall smarter financial decisions.
Step 3: One of the most important steps to credit repair is patience. Keep your expectations realistic and aim towards long-term results. You won’t see an immediate change in your credit score, as this process takes time, but if you play your cards correctly, the results will speak for themselves. So, yes, credit repair does work; you just need to give it time.
Myth no. 2: Credit repair companies are not legitimate
If you’re not into the idea of repairing credit on your own, you can always hire a credit repair company to do it for you. Even though some people might have doubts about these companies, we’re here to tell you that they are indeed legitimate. Credit repair companies will deal with fixing any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your report.
As you might have already guessed, these companies don’t offer free credit repair. They usually work on a subscription basis—for a monthly payment, they maintain your credit report and report any issues to the bureaus.
These issues include:
- Entries that don’t belong to you (such as bankruptcy or other legal actions)
- Accounts that aren’t yours
- Negative items that are too old to still be on your report
- Misspellings that can prevent positive entries from showing up or can result in showing someone else’s negative entries on your report
- Unvalidated and unverified debts
Before you choose a credit repair company, make sure it has a good reputation and that it’s in your price range.
Even though legitimate credit repair companies can remove negative items from your credit report, a part of the responsibility is still on you. Your role is to be aware and deliberate in the way you handle your finances. Only a combination of both can result in repairing your credit fast and maintaining it in a good state.
Myth no. 3: You can’t repair your credit by yourself
As we already mentioned in our first point, it is possible to repair your credit by yourself. In fact, you are essential to some aspects of credit repair. If you make an effort to make better financial choices, you can positively influence your credit:
- Don’t take out too many loans—it can negatively impact your credit utilization ratio
- Make your payments on time
- Control your spending habits
However, in regard to filing any disputes and resolving inaccuracies on your report, we would recommend hiring a credit repair company. The truth about credit repair is that some of its aspects can prove to be challenging and tedious for some people. Why is this?
Reason 1: Even though it’s entirely possible and legal for you to handle this aspect of credit repair, not everyone has the skills and finesse to negotiate with credit bureaus.
Reason 2: You must also have a solid knowledge of law and finance, which the employees of credit repair companies have in abundance.
Reason 3: Finally, repairing your credit is not a one-time thing—it’s an ongoing process. You must keep checking your credit report and filing any disputes if needed. Not all people have this level of patience and dedication.
All things considered, the best way to repair credit is whichever suits your skills, lifestyle, and financial situation most.
Myth no. 4: Opening many credit accounts will increase your credit score
Having several open credit accounts can be beneficial for your credit score if they are well-handled. However, more often than not, this isn’t the case.
First off, be careful not to apply for too many credit cards as every application will warrant hard checks that will take off a few points from your score. This may be an insignificant impact, but it adds up if you apply too often.
Biting off more than you can chew in the case of credit cards can often result in disaster. Keeping up with all the due dates will prove challenging, and you will more often than not miss or be late with your payments. Missed or delayed payments will have the opposite effect on your credit score than the one you hope for, leaving you googling for credit repair advice.
Moreover, having multiple sources of funds (that aren’t yours) is a source of temptation to some: “After all, why shouldn’t I buy that bag I’ve been eyeing for a year?” Well, buying the bag can lead to buying a few more bags, a nice pair of shoes, or maybe the latest wireless headphones model for good measure. The result? You look incredibly chic, but you also have a mountain of debt. And believe us, that debt really ramps up your credit utilization ratio, dropping your credit score down a few notches and preventing you from repairing your credit fast.
Don’t buy the bag. Better yet, don’t own more credit cards than you can handle. Keep only a few credit cards and make sure to pay off the balance regularly. That’s the right way to increase your credit score.
Myth no. 5: Closing all your credit accounts will increase your credit score
We just told you that having too many lines of credit has the potential to do a lot of damage to your credit score, so won’t the logical solution be just to close all of them? Nope.
That notion is yet another entry in our list of credit score myths. The solution is to never go to the extreme—taking radical measures makes you look like an unstable borrower.
The older your credit accounts are, the more positive impact they will have on your score. Keeping a credit account for a long time is a sign of financial stability and closing an older account decreases the average age of your credit, negatively impacting your credit score.
If you are adamant about closing all your credit accounts, you can do it, but don’t expect your credit score to increase. On the contrary—doing a credit account cleanup on your credit report will result in a temporary dip in your score.
However, if your goal is to build up your credit, the secret is to keep at least one credit account. This will prove good for your credit score if you maintain it for a longer time by keeping the credit utilization ratio low and paying off your balances regularly.
Myth no. 6: Paying off your loans early will increase your credit score
Not really. Pre-payments don’t have an impact (positive or negative) on your credit score.
Paying off your installment debt early won’t fix your credit score. Experts recommend that you keep the debt open and pay it off regularly each month until completion. In this way, you’re building a solid history of on-time payments that will reflect well on your score. Moreover, some lenders have early payment fees.
However, there is one exception: paying off revolving debt before the billing cycle due date will decrease your credit utilization ratio and positively affect your credit score.
The bottom line is, don’t rush to make your payments earlier, but focus on keeping them consistent and punctual.
Myth no. 7: You can fix your credit by removing negative items from your credit history
This is generally false. We say “generally” because it depends on whether you can remove the negative item.
If a negative item is on your report by mistake, you (or a credit repair company) can file disputes with credit bureaus to remove it. In this case, the item’s negative impact on your credit score will cease after it’s removed, and your credit will improve as a result.
That said, if a negative item on your credit report is rightfully there as a result of your financial behavior, you can’t remove it and repair your credit score by doing that. Most negative items will stay on your credit report for 7 years, and there’s little you can do about it, unfortunately.
Myth no. 8: Negative items can be put back on your credit report
Have you ever wondered whether a past financial mistake can ever come back to haunt you?
No need to panic—the past is the past, and this is yet another of the credit myths circulating the internet. Once a negative item has “served its purpose” and disappeared from your report, it can’t be put back and affect your credit score.
The only situation when this can happen is if you removed the item through a dispute, and the allegedly fake or wrong data is later proved to have been true all along.
Myth no. 9: Bankruptcy is the only option
No, it isn’t.
Declaring bankruptcy may rid you of your debts, but it won’t clean your credit history. Even though starting afresh after years of debt-induced anxiety may sound tempting, you should remember the drawbacks of bankruptcy.
Although bankruptcy relieves you of your debt and lets you keep some of your assets (depending on the type of bankruptcy), a major drawback of bankruptcy is its effect on your credit score—it can lower it severely.
The impact of bankruptcy on your credit score is also long-lasting. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for up to 10 years, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy sticks around for 7 years.
Once the damage is done, it can’t be undone by simple credit repair tips. If your score is affected by bankruptcy, you will be less eligible for future loans, credit cards, mortgages, or buying or renting a home or business.
That said, we don’t mean to leave you with the message that you should avoid declaring bankruptcy at all costs, just that you should leave it as a last resort.
Myth no. 10: Credit reports are always accurate
Out of all the credit myths exposed here, this might be the most surprising one for you. Many people are under the assumption that credit reports are always correct, but we’re here to tell you that mistakes can happen even in credit reports.
Common errors can be as simple as typos or spelling mistakes, but they can also be as severe as negative items that don’t belong to you being included in your report. In any case, it’s good practice to check up on your reports regularly. If you spot any issues, make sure to report them to the credit reporting agencies.
We hope you found the credit repair myths exposed in this article helpful.
Remember, credit repair can be a slow process that requires a lot of patience and attention. However, now that you know about some common misconceptions, you can fix your credit score. We wish you luck!
The person who will be most helpful with handling your credit is you! By making responsible financial choices and keeping yourself informed on the ins and outs of credit (e.g., reading our articles), you can control your credit. If, however, something does go wrong and you need help, you can contact a credit advisor or a credit repair company.
Your credit score is important because it’s a factor in many endeavors, such as taking out loans, mortgages, choosing a cell phone plan, renting an apartment, getting a credit card, and determines the rates you will pay. Beware of credit score myths, as they are rampant as well.
Absolutely. Contrary to popular belief, credit is not that hard to fix; it just takes time and effort. It’s also much more cost-effective than paying a company to do it for you. However, before you start working on fixing your credit, make sure to be aware of all the credit repair myths exposed in our article.