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Credit Repair Kit For Dummies, 4th Edition

Book Description

Manage and repair your credit

Credit card debt is the third largest source of household indebtedness. Credit Repair Kit For Dummies gives you the tools you need to repair your credit.

This new edition covers: major changes with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) inquiry into overdraft practices and their effect on consumers; dealing with the effect of tightened credit markets on those with good, marginal, or bad credit; best ways to recover from mortgage related score hits or minimize damage after walking away from a home; updated Vantage Score information; updated coverage on reporting programs like FICO Score watch, etc.; what makes a good FICO score today; a new section on significant others (boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse) and credit/debt sharing; Debt Relief Act in a mortgage meltdown situation; the latest tips and advice on dealing with identity theft and annoying collection calls; and more. Online you'll find sample credit reports, forms, templates, and other helpful tools to help whip your credit into shape.

  • Updated credit score examples with new ranges

  • New information about IRS exceptions to the Mortgage Forgiveness

  • Advice and tips about adding information to a credit report, and beefing-up thin credit

  • Useful, downloadable, forms and tools on

  • If you have mediocre credit and want or need to better manage it in order to get a job, reduce insurance costs, qualify for banking products, and more, Credit Repair Kit For Dummies has it covered.

    Table of Contents

      1. Introduction
        1. About This Book
        2. Foolish Assumptions
        3. Icons Used in This Book
        4. Beyond the Book
        5. Where to Go from Here
      2. Part I: Getting Started with Credit Repair
        1. Chapter 1: Introducing Credit Repair, Credit Scores, and Your Life on Credit
          1. Repairing Bad Credit
            1. Settling debts
            2. Resetting your goals
            3. Rebuilding your credit by using it
            4. Using a cosigner or becoming an authorized user
            5. Finding sources of free help
            6. Dealing with collectors
          2. Weathering a Mortgage Crisis
            1. Opting for help
            2. Doing it on your own
            3. Strategic mortgage default
          3. Filing Bankruptcy
          4. Protecting Your Credit and Your Identity
            1. Getting familiar with credit laws
            2. Receiving free reports and filing disputes
            3. Signing up for credit monitoring
            4. Setting alarms, alerts, and freezes
            5. Identifying identity theft
          5. Maintaining Good Credit Throughout Life
            1. Establishing credit for the first time
            2. Making credit changes at life’s stages
            3. Avoiding pitfalls
          6. Managing Credit in Today’s Unforgiving Economy
            1. Planning for success
            2. Reviewing your credit report
            3. Knowing your credit score
            4. Considering credit a renewable resource
        2. Chapter 2: Turning Your Credit Around
          1. Understanding How Your Actions Impact Your Credit Score
          2. Using a Cosigner to Raise Your Score
          3. Turning Small Purchases into Big Credit
          4. Maximizing Your Credit Score with Major Expenditures
            1. Leveraging your mortgage
            2. Financing your car
            3. Paying back student loans
          5. Understanding How Good Debt Builds Good Credit
            1. Achieving goals with the help of credit
            2. Sending a message to potential lenders
            3. Giving nonlenders a sense of how you handle responsibility
          6. Selecting the Best Tools for Building Your Credit
            1. Spending your way to better credit with a spending plan
            2. Tracking your progress: Paying attention to your credit report and score
        3. Chapter 3: Cleaning Up Your Credit Reports
          1. Understanding the True Value of Good Credit
          2. Reviewing Your Reports for Problems
          3. Using the Law to Get Your Credit Record Clean and Keep It That Way
          4. Identifying and Disputing Inaccurate Information
            1. Understanding the dispute process
            2. Correcting all your credit reports
            3. Contacting the creditor
          5. Adding Positive Information to Your Credit Report
            1. Opening new credit accounts
            2. Adding a 100-word statement
        4. Chapter 4: Getting the Best Help for Bad Credit for Free
          1. Knowing Whether You Need Help
            1. Gauging your need for outside assistance
            2. Handling situations on your own
          2. Identifying Help You Can Get for Free
            1. Getting help with your mortgage
            2. Considering credit counseling
            3. Working with an attorney
        5. Chapter 5: Coping with Debt Collection
          1. Handling Those Collection Phone Calls
            1. Knowing what collectors can do
            2. Knowing what collectors can’t do
            3. Deciding whether to answer the phone
            4. Preparing to answer collection calls
            5. Knowing what not to say
          2. Taking Charge of the Collection Process
            1. Asking for proof that the debt is yours
            2. Knowing when debts fade away: Statutes of limitations
            3. Negotiating a payback arrangement
            4. Keeping your promise
          3. Identifying Escalation Options That Help
            1. Asking to speak to a manager
            2. Approaching the creditor
            3. Fighting harassment
          4. Communicating with Customer Service Before Being Placed for Collection
            1. Contacting your creditor promptly
            2. Explaining your situation
            3. Offering a solution
            4. Covering all the bases
          5. Keeping Collectors in Check
            1. Calling in a credit counselor
            2. Referring the matter to your lawyer
          6. Freeing Up Money to Pay a Collector
            1. Utilizing a spending plan
            2. Cutting the fat from your monthly spending
          7. Avoiding Collectors Altogether
            1. Getting organized
            2. Stopping the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle
        6. Chapter 6: Working with Collectors, Lawyers, and the Courts to Manage Debt Obligations
          1. Getting a Handle on Charge-Offs
            1. So what is a charge-off?
            2. Making sense of unpaid charge-offs
            3. Making charge-off payments
          2. Coming to a Debt Settlement Agreement
            1. Considering a debt settlement offer
            2. Hiring a debt settlement firm
            3. Reaching expiration dates on debts
          3. Finding Out about Judgments and What They Mean to You
          4. Understanding Wage Garnishments
            1. Dodging wage garnishments
            2. Figuring out how much can be garnished
          5. Stating Your Case in Court
          6. Managing IRS Debts, Student Loans, and Unpaid Child Support
            1. Handling IRS debts
            2. Educating yourself about student loans
            3. Putting your kids first: Child support
      3. Part II: Reducing Credit Damage from Major Setbacks
        1. Chapter 7: Reducing Credit Damage in a Mortgage Crisis
          1. Assessing the Damage from a Mortgage Meltdown
          2. Understanding How Mortgages Differ from Other Loans
            1. Spotting a foreclosure on the horizon
            2. Counting to 90
          3. Knowing Where to Turn for Help
            1. Finding good help for free
            2. Working with your mortgage servicer
            3. Avoiding help that hurts
          4. Alternatives to Going Down with the Ship
            1. What to do first
            2. What to do for more serious problems
            3. What to do to end matters
            4. Managing a foreclosure
            5. Strategic default: Stopping payments
          5. Dealing with Deficiencies
          6. Preparing for “Credit Winter”
        2. Chapter 8: Starting Over Again with Bankruptcy
          1. Deciding Whether Bankruptcy Makes Sense for You
            1. Deliberating the bankruptcy decision
            2. Adding up the pluses and minuses
            3. Considering a debt management plan first
          2. Understanding Bankruptcy, Chapter and Verse
          3. Qualifying for and Filing for Bankruptcy
            1. Qualifying for Chapter 7
            2. Qualifying for Chapter 13
          4. Managing Your Credit After a Bankruptcy
            1. Telling your side of the story
            2. Reaffirming some debt
            3. Repairing your credit score
            4. Establishing new credit
            5. Moving forward with a game plan
        3. Chapter 9: Repairing Credit Damage in the Wake of Identity Theft
          1. Taking Fast Action When Identity Theft Occurs
            1. Communicating with the right people
            2. Protecting your identity through the FACT Act
            3. Sending out a fraud alert
            4. Blocking fraudulent credit lines
          2. Getting and Using Credit After Identity Theft
            1. Closing and reopening your accounts
            2. Altering your PINs, passwords, and radio transmissions
            3. Changing your Social Security number and driver’s license number
      4. Part III: Rebuilding Credit, No Matter Where or When You Begin
        1. Chapter 10: Starting (or Restarting) Your Credit in Real Life
          1. Debunking Misinformation about Banking and Credit
            1. Why you need credit
            2. Why credit is safe
          2. Obtaining Credit: Starting Out on the Right Foot
            1. Establishing a credit file without a Social Security number
            2. Setting goals before you set out
            3. Establishing a relationship with a financial institution
            4. Using prepaid and reloadable cards
            5. Fattening up your credit file
            6. Avoiding high interest, fees, and scams
          3. Overcoming Credit Fears and Mistakes
          4. Qualifying for First-Time Cards and Lending
            1. Getting a credit card
            2. Using savings for credit
          5. Considering Credit for Students and Military Members
            1. Giving credit to students
            2. Following military credit rules
        2. Chapter 11: Ending Life’s Negative Credit Surprises
          1. Keeping Your Credit from Hurting Your Job Prospects
          2. Dealing with Rental Application Checks
            1. Knowing what’s on your reports
            2. Taking action
          3. Qualifying for a Mortgage
            1. Ordering your credit report and score
            2. Looking at your credit file like a lender
          4. Preparing to Purchase a Car
            1. Arming yourself with information
            2. Reviewing what to consider when you’re at the dealership
          5. Unveiling the Relationship between Your Credit and Your Insurance Premiums
            1. Understanding insurance scores
            2. Getting a copy of your insurance score and insurance claim report
            3. Figuring out what to do with your newfound knowledge
            4. Taking other factors into account
        3. Chapter 12: Protecting Your Credit During Major Life Challenges
          1. Tying the Knot in Life and in Credit: A Couples’ Guide to Building Good Credit
            1. Engaging in prenuptial financial discussions
            2. Considering joint accounts
            3. Managing joint debt
            4. Avoiding money conflicts
          2. Protecting Your Finances in a Divorce
            1. Taking precautions when a split-up looms
            2. Preparing your credit before heading to court
            3. Protecting your credit in a divorce decree and beyond
          3. Keeping Credit Strong While Unemployed
            1. Preparing your credit for the worst-case scenario
            2. Using credit when you don’t have a job
            3. Protecting your credit lines
          4. Curing Medical Debt
            1. Reviewing your options for paying medical bills
            2. Discovering how insurers get your medical information
            3. Monitoring insurance claims for errors
            4. Dealing with denied medical claims
          5. Resolving Credit Issues After the Death of a Spouse or Partner
            1. Understanding what happens to joint credit when you’re single again
            2. Knowing exactly what your liability is
            3. Building your credit record on your own
          6. Fitting Credit into Retirement
            1. Budgeting on a fixed income
            2. Using credit for convenience
      5. Part IV: Big Brother Credit Is Watching You: Credit Reporting and Scoring
        1. Chapter 13: Discovering How Credit Reporting Works
          1. Grasping the Importance of Your Credit Report
          2. What Is a Credit Report, Exactly?
            1. Revealing the facts about your financial transactions
            2. Providing insight into your character
          3. The Negatives and Positives of Credit Reporting
            1. The negatives
            2. The positives
          4. Your Credit Report’s Numerical Offspring: The Credit Score
            1. Cracking credit score components
            2. The reasoning behind reason codes
        2. Chapter 14: Understanding Credit Reports and Scores
          1. Getting Copies of Your Credit Reports
            1. Where to get your reports
            2. What you need to provide
            3. When to get copies of your credit reports
          2. Tracking Down Specialty Reports: From Apartments to Casinos to Prescriptions
          3. Perusing Your Credit Reports
            1. Personal profile: It’s all about your details
            2. Accounts summary: An overview of your financial history
            3. Public records: Tallying up your legal losses
            4. Credit inquiries: Tracking who has been accessing your file
            5. Account history: Think of it as a payment CSI
            6. Your optional 100-word statements: Getting the last word
          4. Correcting Any Errors You Find
            1. Contacting the credit bureau
            2. Contacting the creditor
          5. Getting and Understanding Your Credit Scores
            1. Ordering your score
            2. Telling a good score from a bad one
            3. Connecting pricing to your credit score
            4. Knowing the reason for reason statements
        3. Chapter 15: Monitoring Your Credit Reports and Scores
          1. How Credit Monitoring Really Works
          2. Understanding the Types of Monitoring Services Available
          3. Making a Case for and against Third-Party Credit Monitoring
            1. Monitoring on your own
            2. When paid monitoring may be worth the time and money
            3. Recognizing the protection you have already
          4. Getting Your Money’s Worth from Monitoring Services
          5. Setting Alarms, Alerts, and Freezes
            1. Alarms
            2. Fraud alerts
            3. Credit freezes
      6. Part V: Never Have Bad Credit Again! Successful Credit Management for Life
        1. Chapter 16: Putting Yourself in Control of Your Credit
          1. Determining Your Credit Style
          2. Balancing Spending, Savings, and Credit Use
            1. Spending on your terms
            2. Saving for financial emergencies
            3. Using credit to enhance your life
          3. Remembering the Importance of Planning When It Comes to Your Credit
            1. Zeroing in on the plans others have for your money
            2. Developing your own plans for your future
        2. Chapter 17: Taking a Sustainable Approach to Your Credit
          1. Going Green: Treating Credit as a Renewable Resource
            1. Recognizing your credit environment
            2. Taking a closer look at the parts that make up your credit ecosystem
          2. Sustaining Your Credit Ecosystem for Life
            1. Funding college
            2. Home sweet home
            3. Credit on wheels
          3. Steering Clear of Credit Pollution
            1. Endangering your payment history
            2. Clear-cutting your credit in bankruptcy
            3. Outlasting a long, cold credit winter
          4. Surviving and Reviving After a Credit Catastrophe
            1. Understanding what happened
            2. Rebuilding your credit ecosystem
        3. Chapter 18: Safeguarding Your Credit with a Spending Plan
          1. Appreciating the Benefits of a Solid Spending Plan
          2. Deciding on Goals: Imagining Your Future as You Want It to Be
            1. Setting the stage for planning
            2. Categorizing your goals
            3. Putting your goals in order
          3. Building Your Vision of Your Future
            1. Step 1: Counting up your income
            2. Step 2: Tallying what you spend
            3. Step 3: Making savings part of your spending plan
            4. Step 4: Managing your credit to improve your spending plan
            5. Step 5: Looking at your insurance options
            6. Step 6: Planning for the IRS
            7. Step 7: Planning for retirement
          4. Using Cool Tools to Help You Build and Stick to a Spending Plan
            1. Web-based financial calculators
            2. Budgeting websites
            3. Smart-phone apps
            4. Spending plan assistance
          5. Adjusting Your Priorities and Your Plan
        4. Chapter 19: Knowing Your Rights to Protect Your Credit
          1. Why You Have the Right to Credit Protections
          2. The CARD Act: Shielding You from Credit Card Abuse
          3. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Your BFF (Best Financial Friend)
          4. Safeguarding Your Credit Data through the FACT Act
          5. The FDCPA: Providing Protection Against Debt Collectors
            1. Controlling the contacts
            2. Finding out about the debt
            3. Stopping a collector from contacting you
            4. Spotting prohibited behavior
            5. Suing a collector
          6. Exploring Other Protections
            1. The ins and outs of payday loans
            2. The details of debt settlement
            3. The scoop on the statute of limitations
        5. Chapter 20: Protecting Your Identity
          1. Keeping Thieves at Bay
            1. Getting on the technology train
            2. Looking out for phishing scams
            3. Safeguarding your computer data
            4. Keeping passwords secret
            5. Protecting your mail
            6. Storing financial data in your home
            7. Putting your credit information on ice
            8. Shielding your credit card number
          2. Catching Identity Thieves in the Act
            1. Watching for early-warning notices
            2. Early warnings from the IRS
            3. Handling a collections call
            4. Detecting unauthorized charges
            5. Being denied credit or account access
            6. Noticing missing account statements
      7. Part VI: The Part of Tens
        1. Chapter 21: Ten Consumer Protections Everyone Needs to Know
          1. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
          2. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act
          3. Your Lawyer
          4. Consumer Credit Counseling
          5. Statute of Limitations Laws
          6. Your State Attorney General
          7. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
          8. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act
          9. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
          10. The Federal Trade Commission
        2. Chapter 22: Ten Strategies for Dealing with Student Loans
          1. Knowing How Student Loans Are Reported Differently Than Other Loans
          2. Dealing with the Collection Process
          3. Identifying the Best Repayment Option for Your Situation
          4. Taking Your Loans to Bankruptcy
          5. Dealing with the Prospect of Default
          6. Gaining Student Loan Forgiveness
          7. Lowering Your Bill While You’re in School
          8. Keeping Up with Your Loans After You’re Out
          9. Setting Limits During the Planning and Application Process
          10. Getting Help if You’re in the Military
        3. Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Deal with a Mortgage Meltdown
          1. Knowing When You’re in Trouble
          2. Knowing How Your State’s Laws Treat Foreclosures
            1. Nonrecourse or recourse
            2. Judicial or nonjudicial
          3. Deciding Whether to Stay or Go
            1. Walking away
            2. Working with the lender to exit
            3. Staying the course
          4. Tightening Your Spending to Stay in Your Home
          5. Prioritizing Your Spending to Build Cash
          6. Lessening the Damage to Your Credit
          7. Knowing Who to Call
          8. Beware of Scams
          9. Beefing Up Your Credit with Lines of Credit
          10. Consulting an Attorney
      8. About the Author
      9. Cheat Sheet
      10. More Dummies Products