Debt Settlement is an excellent option for dealing with debt. But, after you have settled all of your debts, you need to do some work to make sure your credit report and score is being reported correctly! Here's what you need to do....
We have been helping people deal with the stress of have too much debt for many years. Once one of our clients has successfully completed the debt settlement program, they are not sure what they can do to improve their credit score.
As an example, I received this email yesterday:
"I'm so glad we've finally wrapped everything up! Do you have any advice for me, with regards to building back up my credit score?"
It is very important to understand the "basics" of how your credit score is determined.
According to the Fair Isaac Corporation, your score is determined from the following:
As you can see from the breakdown above, at least 65% of your credit score is determined by how you have handled credit (History) and how much outstanding credit you are carrying now.
Our credit reports are used by lenders, insurance companies, potential employers, etc. to get a snapshot of how you have dealt with and are dealing with credit and debt.
When someone enrolls in our Debt Settlement Program, they have usually gone through (or are going through) a very emotional and stressful time in regards to debt and debt management.
Once the balances and the subsequent "minimum payments required" get too large to manage, most people choose a debt settlement program rather than bankruptcy protection.
When accounts have been delinquent for 5-6 months, they are usually charged off and/or sold or turned over to a debt collection agency. Most of the time, the debt collector will accept a settlement of 40% -60% of the balance, sometimes more or less, depending on circumstances.
Click below to see some actual settlements we have negotiated for our clients:
Once an account has been settled, the debt collector is supposed to report the settlement to the major credit bureaus, but many times they don't.
This is where spending a little time and effort can pay off tremendous benefits as regards to your credit score.
FIRST, you need a copy of your credit report to see what is being reported.
All of us can received a FREE COPY of our credit reports annually.
There are several companies you can find online that offer credit reporting services, but I've found the easiest to be:
Just follow the instructions and get a copy from all 3 of the Major Credit Reporting Agencies:
Once you have it or them printed, take some time to go over the report. These reports are not that easy to understand, but with a little effort, you can determine what is being reported.
What you are looking for are ERRORS.
Let's say, for example that you had your XYZ Credit Card account settled last year.
The balance was $14,875, but the debt collector, Atlas Collection Corp (not real)., accepted $7,000 to settle this account.
As you are checking your credit report, you see that the balance of$14,875 was charged off from XYZ Credit Card and the notation says that it has been "placed for collection" or something like that.
Several pages further back in your credit report, you see that Atlas Collection Corp. has the account and is reporting the balance at $14,875 (might be more or less, depending on additional interest and fees.)
Atlas Colletion Corp. never reported the settlement, or reported the settlement, but the Credit Reporting Agency never changed the reporting to read....
Balance $0 "account settled-as-agreed" or in some cases, "settled-in-full"
As long as this account is showing a large, unpaid balance, your credit score will suffer!
Time for you to go to work...
You are going to go online and open a DISPUTE with each credit reporting agency that is not reporting this account as $0 balance and/or "paid-as-agreed".
To do so, click on the links below and follow the instructions.
Going on line is far easier and quicker than trying to send in by mail, but either way will work.
You will need to be able to show proof that the account was settled, so you will need:
- Copy of the Credit Report page showing the error (you want to circle the error and make it easy for the agent to see what you are disputing)
- Copy of the settlement agreement
- Copy of the cancelled check or check-by-phone or debit card you used from your bank statement
- Brief letter of explanation, such as: