Here are some things you should know about your credit report. While going through this process myself, I've found and learned a lot of myths about credit reports.
1. Pulling your own credit report does not hurt your credit score.
Credit bureaus want you to monitor your credit. They want you to report mistakes and fraudulent activities. It is absolutely untrue that pulling your own report would lower your credit score.
However, having a lender pull your credit report will lower your score. Why? Because a lender should only do this when you are trying to find financing. When they pull your report and you are declined financing, it puts a hard inquiry against you. A hard inquiry is basically showing that you're trying to over-extend yourself financially. These hard inquiries can last on your credit report for up to two years. Having 8 hard inquiries is considered "high risk".
2. Disputing entries on your credit report also does not lower your credit score.
If you don't know if something is right, then dispute it. What happens when you submit a dispute is as follows:
* the credit bureau will contact the lender/collections agency regarding the disputed account.
* the lender/collections agency has 30-45 days to respond with proof and verification that the information on the account is accurate.
* if the lender/collections agency does not respond to the credit bureau's inquiries in 30-45 days or are unable to prove that the account is yours and that the information is correct, they MUST remove it from your credit report.
3. A common thing to hear is that collection accounts will stay on your report for 7 years so there is no use in paying them off.
If you negotiate with your collections agency, you may be able to convince them to take it off your credit report sooner and thus raising your credit score. I have done this many times and for one incident, my credit score went up 51 points.
Also, if you send in a dispute for an agency that is out of business, most of the time, the credit bureau will take it off your record.
Another reason to pay off collections is that having debt settle or preferably, paid in full, will look better to your future lenders and will eventually increase your credit score.