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How to Clean Credit

How to Clean Up Your Credit Report Fast

To clean up your credit, the most crucial step is to thoroughly review your credit reports and ensure all the information is correct. While most credit reports are accurate, it’s still essential to be aware of the details they contain.

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To clean up your credit, the most crucial step is to thoroughly review your credit reports and ensure all the information is correct. While most credit reports are accurate, it’s still essential to be aware of the details they contain. You can't remove accurate negative information from your credit reports. However, removing accounts you didn't open or disputing a late payment you believe was paid on time can help protect your credit score. Here’s how to clean up your credit and clear the path to your financial goals.

What Does Cleaning Up Your Credit Report Mean?

Cleaning up your credit means getting it into the best shape possible so that lenders see you as a reliable potential borrower. Each credit reporting agency—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—has a process for disputing information you believe is incorrect. This could include personal information or accounts that don’t belong to you.

How to Clean Up Your Credit Report Yourself

1. Request Your Credit Reports

Start by requesting your credit reports. You can get them for free from each of the three credit bureaus weekly at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also access your free Experian credit report directly on Experian’s website.

2. Review Your Credit Reports

Carefully review all three of your credit reports. Ensure your name is spelled correctly and all your account details are up to date.

If you find any errors, you can begin the dispute process.

3. Dispute Credit Report Errors

Here’s how to submit a dispute with Experian:

  • Visit the online dispute center. (You can also initiate a dispute by phone or mail.)
  • Click on the “Start a new dispute online” button to begin. Potentially negative items on your Experian credit report will be flagged for special review.
  • Navigate through each credit account on your report and initiate disputes from there.
  • If you find an item to dispute, choose from a drop-down menu of reasons and leave a comment with details about your situation. You may also need to upload supporting documents.
  • Experian will confirm your dispute submission and keep you updated on its status. They will contact the source of the disputed information, such as a lender, to review their records. The dispute process typically takes up to 30 days.
  • Experian will notify you when your dispute results are available. Your information will either be modified, deleted, or remain unchanged if it was found to be correct.

Your credit scores might improve if, for example, an erroneously reported late payment is removed. However, many factors affect your scores, so you may not see an immediate, significant change.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

While errors in credit reports are uncommon, verifying the accuracy of your credit report should be one of your first steps in cleaning up your credit. Additionally, there are many ways to build good credit.

Take steps to protect your personal information to reduce the risk of identity theft. Since payment history is the most important factor affecting your credit scores, automate your bills to avoid missing payments. Also, maintain a low credit utilization rate—the amount of debt you have relative to your total credit limit. Aim to use no more than 30% of your available credit at any time, and ideally keep it under 6% for the best scores.

Once you’ve disputed any errors, adopt smart credit-building strategies. This will help you feel confident knowing you’re doing everything possible to maintain a secure credit report.

 

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