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How To Repair Credit | Bankrate

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Your credit score is one of the most important aspects of your financial health, but it’s also one of the most fragile. Building a great credit score can take years, but damaging it can seem to happen—in some situations—overnight.

Thankfully, with the right credit repair tactics, you can reclaim this pillar of your financial strength. Knowing how to repair credit can get you back on track and put the days of less-than-great credit behind you.

What can damage your credit?

Your credit score is a reflection of your likelihood of defaulting or missing payments on a loan in the future. Anything that makes you riskier in the eyes of lenders or demonstrates that you might not be an ideal borrower can damage your credit. Some of the more common causes include missed payments, late payments, too many hard credit inquiries, too much outstanding debt or too short of a credit history.

5 steps to repair your credit

  • Check your credit score and pull your report from each credit bureau
  • Review your report and dispute any errors
  • Make a payment plan
  • Establish a positive credit history
  • Seek out credit counseling to discuss your options

1. Check your credit score and pull your report from each credit bureau

The first step in the credit repair process is understanding where you’re at, where you need to be and what goes into your credit score. Start by pulling a copy of your credit report; there are plenty of free options where you can get a copy of your report.

One of the most popular free options is AnnualCreditReport.com. Generally, the site allows one free report annually, but in response to the effects of COVID-19, you can get a free report every single week between now and April of 2021. The site does allow you to pull from all three reporting bureaus, which is advised.

2. Review your report and dispute any errors

The next step in how to repair your credit is reviewing your reports for any errors or discrepancies. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study, one in four consumers found an error on their credit reports. If you have an error in your report, your credit score may be unfairly low.

If you find a discrepancy, file a dispute with the reporting bureau immediately. In the same FTC study, four out of five people who reported a discrepancy receive some sort of modification to their credit report.

What happens after a dispute?

According to credit reporting bureau Experian, most disputes are completed within 10 to 14 business days after they’re reported, but often much more quickly. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires disputes to be addressed in no longer than 30 days.

Once the discrepancy is corrected, you may see changes to your score almost immediately. Even though the bureaus are required to handle discrepancies in under 30 days, you should still make it a habit to follow up and double-check your report to make sure things are corrected appropriately.

3. Make a payment plan

Often, it can be confusing to know where to start when your credit is in need of repair. The best course of action is to lay out a payment plan to tackle debt that takes into account your current income, debt obligations and past-due balances.

It’s always smart to start by catching up on your past-due balances. As late payments get later, the effect on your credit score increases. Once you’ve accounted for these instances, make a plan that covers at least the minimum balances on all of your debt. If you need to contact your debt holders to work out special arrangements to keep up, do it. There’s no penalty on your credit report for making arrangements with your creditor.

If you have extra money that you can put toward your debt, you have two options: The most fiscally responsible plan is to start with the debt that is the most expensive, but many people like to start with smaller accounts to get them closed and then focus on the larger accounts.

4. Establish a positive credit history

The good news is that no matter which method you choose, your on-time payments will demonstrate good borrowing behavior and an attempt to pay down your debt. These two factors combined will help your credit score to recover. On top of that, time is on your side; as time passes, the age of your credit accounts will get longer, in turn helping your score.

At this point, you have some additional options you can employ to help build your credit score. First, you can take advantage of balance transfer credit cards to lower your interest rate for the length of the promotional period. While opening the new account may temporarily lower your credit score, the interest savings that can be applied to the principal balance will have a long-term, net-positive effect on your credit. Remember, contrary to what some credit repair services may claim, good credit does take time.

A second option that may help with credit repair is opening a new line of credit — even if there is no balance transfer incentive. While the new account will have the same temporary score lowering effect, it will raise your overall available credit. What this does is lower the percentage of your credit utilization. Basically, the more credit you have access to that you’re not using, the better it looks to creditors. With a FICO credit score, credit utilization is part of the amounts owed category, which makes up 30 percent of your overall score.

5. Seek out credit counseling to discuss your options

If you’re still confused or having trouble with your debt payoff, there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help from a professional. Credit counseling services exist to help people just like you determine the best course of action to get their financial health back on track.

Sometimes it can be as simple as driving home the points already covered in this credit repair guide; in other instances, it might be something more extreme, like filing for bankruptcy. It all depends on where you’re at, what your goals are and what you need to do in order to get there.

When searching for help, look for credit counselors. You’ll want to stay away from debt settlement companies that will advise you to stop paying completely on your accounts, which can make the situation worse. Be careful, though, because some debt settlement companies operate under the guise of credit counselors.

The best way to know you’re working with a reputable credit counselor is to ask what their plan for you entails. If it involves not paying on debt and paying their company instead, you’ll want to find another service provider. But if the counselors advise plans similar to what has been mentioned here, chances are the company has your best interests at heart.

Bottom line

While building your credit back up can seem like a daunting task, there is light at the end of the tunnel. By continuously implementing responsible financial practices over and over again, you can start to rebuild your score. You may see some results quickly, but the full credit repair process may take months or years, depending on where you’re starting from. Remember, though, focus on good habits from here on out to protect the gains you make so you don’t ever have to look into how to repair your credit again.

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Victims of SolarWinds Cyberattack Face Investigation Costs, Liability Issues

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While the customers impacted by the recent SolarWinds Corp. cyberattack are rightly being described as victims, they are nonetheless facing significant costs stemming from the incident.

SolarWinds’ customers will need to determine whether any of their data was accessed or exfiltrated. Making that determination requires a digital forensics investigation, typically involving a third-party security vendor.

First, the Forensic Investigation

The forensics bill depends on factors such as the number and types of devices and systems on a network, the geographic distribution of the network, and whether the customer already had a contract with a security vendor to provide such services in the event of a security incident.

If investigators determine that certain categories of personal information of residents of U.S. states or certain foreign countries was accessed or exfiltrated from a SolarWinds customer, the victim will need to provide notices to affected individuals. It is considered a best practice to offer credit repair and monitoring services and call centers to assist affected individuals.

Depending on its contracts, the victim company also may be required to notify its business customers and vendors and to reimburse them for expenses they incur in investigating and mitigating the effects of the breach and providing notifications. It may also be required to indemnify them for third-party lawsuits and regulatory proceedings.

The victim company may also be required to notify regulators or state attorneys general. Such agencies may issue fines if their investigations find that the company’s cybersecurity practices were not adequate or that the company did not notify within a required time frame. Additionally, the victim company may incur substantial costs in defending consumer, business partner, or shareholder derivative lawsuits.

Furthermore, after it has been determined that an adversary has accessed a network, there is a debate about whether any device on the network can be trusted and remain in use. Many IT security practitioners recommend fully rebuilding a network that has been breached by malware.

Take Proactive Steps to Address Potential Liability

Once the security incident has occurred, there are limits to what a company can do to minimize its liability. It can work cooperatively with its business partners to reduce the likelihood that they will sue. But other costs, such as class action suits, regulatory fines, or legal fees are considerably less controllable.

Not surprisingly, the best time to address potential liability for a security incident is before it happens. All companies, regardless of whether they were victims of the SolarWinds breach, should consider taking the following proactive measures:

  • Contracts with business partners should have reasonable limitations of liability and the implications of the cost of data breach provisions and indemnities should be carefully scrutinized, not just for each contract as it is negotiated, but in the aggregate for all contracts.
  • Companies should have cyber-insurance policies in place and, because the details of cyber-insurance coverage vary, they should also have a good working knowledge of what is and is not covered by the policies.
  • Companies should follow reasonable cybersecurity practices, not only to reduce the chances of experiencing a security incident, but to reduce the likelihood of being fined or successfully sued if an incident outside their control occurs.
  • Companies should regularly conduct a risk assessment and develop and update a written security plan based on the risk assessment.

In fact, many statutes and regulatory frameworks, such as the New York SHIELD Act, the Massachusetts Standards for the Protection of Personal Information, the rules and guidelines issued under the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and New York’s Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity Regulation, require risk assessments, written security plans, and the use of reasonable cybersecurity measures.

Also, the California Consumer Privacy Act gives private litigants a right to sue if their personal information is exfiltrated as a result of a company’s failure to use reasonable security measures.

Assess Future Risk, Take Compliance Steps

What security measures are reasonable is heavily driven by the risk assessment. Recognized standards such as ISO 27001, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework, or the Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls can be used to determine what is reasonable. Using an accredited outside vendor to certify compliance can help establish the proper diligence.

Common best practices include network segmentation, appropriate logging, use of intrusion detection systems, multi-factor authentication, use of current encryption standards in connection with data at rest and in transit, strong password requirements, use of password managers, regularly backing up data and testing the restoration of data, patching and vulnerability management, and regularly testing security controls and incident responses. Data retention policies also should not be overlooked , since data that a company has not retained cannot be the subject of a data breach.

Educating employees about risks and best practices is also important. Additionally, companies should foster close multi-stakeholder coordination and communication about security. Representatives from the security organization, legal, IT, procurement, and product or sales groups should be included in the discussions.

Companies have exposure to significant potential liability arising from the SolarWinds security incident and a short set of options for limiting that liability. The best time for a company to limit its liability for security incidents is before they happen.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

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Andrew Baer is chair of the Technology, Privacy & Data Security group at Cozen O’Connor where he focuses his practice on cutting-edge technology transactions on both the buy-side and sell-side, cloud computing, data privacy, security compliance, software, and transactions in the digital advertising ecosystem.

Christopher Dodson is an attorney at Cozen O’Connor, where he focuses his practice on privacy, technology, and regulatory law. He works extensively with clients on issues rated to compliance with the GDPR, CCPA, and privacy and data security laws.

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Lexington woman opens new tax agency in her hometown; Valentine’s Day events planned

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TRU Tax office opens in Lexington

Sharicka Holloway Sides is planning a grand opening celebration on Jan. 30 for her recently opened TRU Tax office in Lexington.

The 2008 graduate of Lexington Senior High moved back to her hometown after a stint of living in Georgia to open her business at 364 Dixon St. The local agency opened in December.

“I moved back really because I got an offer to have my own agency, and a majority of my clients are in North Carolina,” she said. 

Shortly after high school, Sides began doing her own taxes and helping family members file their annual tax forms. She worked for various tax preparation companies in N.C. and Georgia during the next several years. TRU Tax began in Georgia, she said, and now has agencies in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Ohio.

“I love to help people,” she said, explaining why she began working in the tax form preparation industry. “My company will be about modifying charges and getting you the most (refund) back as possible. We have so many tools to use. If I can lower your fee or help you get more refund than you did last year, I’m all for it.”

TRU Tax also has credit repair and accounting services. Sides’ Lexington office will concentrate on tax returns, however, and has 10 employees. She said she will refer clients to TRU Tax credit repair and accounting specialists if requested.

Managing a new TRU Tax agency in Lexington is not Sides’ only job. She is also working with her husband, Kevin Sides, to open Kitchen Konects, a catering company. She first opened a food catering business of the same name while living in Georgia. More information about this business venture will be given when the opening date is nearer.

Potential clients can reach Sides or her employees by downloading the My Tax Office app and using code 8925LA, or by calling or emailing (404) 721-3349 and [email protected]

Pictured are charcuterie boards made by Chef John Wilson of Sophie's Cork & Ale for the Arts Davidson County New Year's Eve fundraiser. The arts nonprofit and Wilson have teamed up again to offer charcuterie boards for Valentine's Day featuring sweet treats.

Charcuterie boards are back for Valentine’s Day

Arts Davidson County is bringing back its charcuterie board fundraiser, but this time with sweets and wine for Valentine’s Day celebrations at home during the pandemic.

The nonprofit staged a New Year’s Eve charcuterie board fundraiser where it partnered with local artists to make the boards and local restaurants to create the food and sell the wine. 

“We sold 89 boards for New Year’s Eve,” said Amanda Murphy, events and community coordinator for Arts Davidson County. ” We had a few boards left that we did not sell, so we wanted to do this again for Valentine’s. People loved it.”

While the first fundraiser partnered with a Lexington and Thomasville restaurant, the Valentine event will feature the mostly homemade treats of one Lexington restaurant. Chef John Wilson of Sophie’s Cork and Ale in Lexington will fill the handmade boards with Chocolate pretzel sticks, chocolate-covered strawberries, candied pecans, crunchy peanut butter buckeyes, s’mores Girl Scout cookies, pistachio brittle and Nutella marshmallow fluff.

 In addition, Wilson has also partnered with three other Lexington eateries to provide treats. Those treats and businesses are: Chocolate bombs from The Factory – Coffee & Waffles, doughnut holes from Red Donut Shop and swiss rolls from Sinfully Delicious Custom Bakery.

Purchasers will select from six wines when purchasing their charcuterie board at eventbrite.com. The cost is $50. Boards and wine will be ready for pick up at Sophie’s Cork & Ale, located at 23 W. Second Ave., from 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

“It’s important to us that we are supporting local businesses with our fundraiser,” Murphy said. “…We’re trying to say stay at home and be safe and stay healthy, but you can still support the businesses in our community.”

A Valentine dinner catered by Kathleen Watson of Cuisine Kathleen is planned for Feb. 13 at The Holt House.

Valentine date night dinners planned in small setting at Holt House

The owning partners at the Holt House have planned a Valentine dinner on Feb. 13 at the historic home in Lexington.

Nia Ward, one of three local women who purchased the home in March 2020 to operate it as a wedding and events venue, said she and her partners wanted to provide a way for people to still “go out” for Valentine’s Day but in a safe, socially-distanced way.

Timed, staggered seating will be provided for two to 10 people. Tables will be set up six feet or more apart in all the rooms on the house’s first floor. A party of six to 10 will be provided a private room. There is also an option to purchase a meal and take it home.

Kathleen Watson, owner of Cuisine Kathleen catering, is preparing the meal that features beef tenderloin, seasonal salad, potatoes au gratin, yeast rolls, flourless chocolate torte and a glass of beer or wine. The cost is $50 per person and includes a floral arrangement to take home.

Seating times from 5-7:30 can be made and tickets purchased at holthoucenc.com. Guests may enjoy their private table for up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Afterward, guests may lounge by the outdoor fire pit and patio area. 

– Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. She wants to know what people in Davidson County are talking about. Contact me at [email protected] and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.

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How to Find a Credit Repair Company in New York

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Your credit score isn’t something you tend to give too much thought to – that is, until you need to borrow money, rent an apartment, or sign a car lease wherein it may require a credit check.

Suddenly, the fact that you may have missed a bill here and there, fallen behind on payments, and not worried too much about your credit score, will come back to haunt you.

For many people, bad credit can be scary, especially if you’ve never experienced it before. Having bad credit can negatively affect you in all kinds of ways, not just right now, but also in the future. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a permanent situation, as there are ways you can go about fixing your credit. One of the most effective methods is to work with a credit repair company that understands exactly what steps you will need to take, and how to improve your rating as smoothly and quickly as possible.

So, if you’re looking for a credit repair company in New York and aren’t even sure what you should be looking for, let this act as your guidebook. Here we’ll outline all the most important steps in finding the perfect credit repair company in New York.

Look for a Company with Experience

The first thing to look out for is a company that has credit repair experience. Fixing your credit is a serious matter and not something you want to make mistakes with. This means you need a company that has a proven track record of helping clients, and one that can show real results.

Does the Company Offer a Guarantee?

Besides experience, it’s also wise to ask if the company offers a guarantee on their services. Ideally, it should be a money back guarantee should they not be able to follow through no their promise or guarantee. In other words, they are unable to fix your credit score.

Does the Company Offer a Free Consultation or Evaluation?

It’s also important to look for a company that approaches each case or client on an individual basis. What works for one person may not be the best solution for you. Ask the company in advance if they offer any type of free consultation or evaluation. This gives you a chance to get an idea of the approach they would take, and you can then make a decision if it matches with your needs and wants.

How Long Will it Take to Fix Your Credit?

Any reputable credit repair company should be able to look at your current credit rating, your personal situation, and then give you a rough estimate on how long the process should take. Will it be weeks, months, a year? It’s important to get a realistic idea of what you can expect going forward. Some companies will even offer real-time status updates, which can give you peace of mind knowing that they are working to remedy your credit rating.

Ask What is Needed Of You

While the credit repair company will be doing all the hard work, you will still have a role to play. Make sure to ask what will be expected and needed of you in order for the process to move along smoothly.

What Is the Customer Support Like?

Because you aren’t an expert yourself when it comes to credit repair, there is no doubt you’ll have questions here and there. It’s important to research what the level of customer support is should you have concerns, issues, or questions that you need assistance with.

Inquire Into Various Plans

Here’s a tip you may not think of right away, but it may be helpful. Sometimes it’s not a matter of a credit rating for a single person, rather you need assistance as part of a couple. You can find a robust Couples Plan at Pyramid, a reputable credit repair company. The Couples Plan is actually Pyramid’s most popular plan and boasts a personalized service for two people and specific finance tools for couples, among other features and benefits. It’s a great way to take action as a couple and get some really positive results.

What Will the Company Need from You?

In order to do their job, the credit repair company will need documentation from you, so make sure you are given a list of all the essential items you need to gather. Without all the necessary documents they may not be able to successfully repair your credit score. This is why it’s so important to be keeping careful records at home.

When you do gather all the material for the company, they should also never ask you to lie. Even if it’s not a bold-faced lie, a misleading statement shouldn’t be used either.

Do You Have to Sign a Contract?

While some companies may try to rope you into a contract, there is no reason you have to go with them. Instead, look for a company that doesn’t have contracts or commitments so that you can feel free to leave if you’re not happy.

Asking for Full Payment Up-Front

Another red flag can be a company that asks for full payment up-front. As experts state, these are companies you want to steer far away from.

Read Online Reviews from Other Clients

Finally, you want to take a look at online reviews about any company you are considering using. Although online reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt, they can offer some helpful insight and help to ensure you make an informed decision.

Besides online reviews, you can speak to family and friends who may have worked with a credit repair company in the past and get their insight on the experience they had – both good and bad.

Finding the Company That Will Help You

While it may seem like a lot of things to be mindful of as you look to hire a credit repair company, the fact is that you want your credit score to be repaired quickly and properly, so choosing the right company is key.



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