HOW TO: From BK7 discharge to 700 in 24 months or less![ Edited ]
05-03-2012 03:02 PM - edited 04-22-2016 02:04 PM
If you're going to follow THIS guide, please DO NOT get a SECURED/STORE card. This guide is designed with patience in mind, and pays off over time. Every single person (there have been hundreds) who has followed this plan to the letter has a 700ish score INSIDE 24 months. Most people who take it upon themselves to "cheat" or do one of those-"but I thought it would help"-things wind up stuck with low scores, low limits or worse. This guide works, just be patient and give it a chance.
UPDATE: February 26, 2016 - Adjusted "Fixing your Credit Report" - step 7 to include FCRA information - And update section 1-B to adjust for graduating secured cards. - And an update to section 2 regarding Share/Savings/Certificate Secured Loans. - And an update to Pre-Step 1 to remove ScorePower, which is obsolete.
Hey all, I wrote this for a friend who went through a BK recently... it outlines the steps I took.... I'm @ 18 months post BK in 3 days and expect that when my Zero + 9% balances report this month I'll be somewhere between 675 and 685, roughly 15pts away from my 700 goal with 6 months to go.
Any how, it's written as "you" and for someone living in NV (OneNevada CU reference), but this method really does work quite well:
ETA: Posters note: I am sure there are other ways to do this, and differing opinions about secured cards, balances, etc. I'm not saying that this is the ONLY way to rebuild after BK7, what I'm saying is that this plan WORKS.
Steps to rebuild after BK - Goal: 700 FICO 24 months or less after BK.
I recommend starting this anytime after you get your discharge in the mail. Some people start before that, but until the BK is discharged, errors on a credit report are so common they should be expected. At my office, we recommend clients pull credit reports about 10 days after they get the letter in the mail and go from there.
Pre-Step 1. You can choose to sign up for a "Ultimate 3B" subscription from MyFico.com so you can track your progress (http://www.myfico.com/Products/Products.aspx), or you can pull a "Score 3B report" once every 6 months or so if you want to save a buck. Note: Several cards now provide credit score for free (Sometimes FAKO, sometimes FICO)... do with that knowledge what you will.
There are NO other sites that you can pay for that will give you a true FICO score. They all sell FAKOs and are even more worthless than FICOs. They're not horrible to guage your rebuild compared to other people on a grading system, but the scores shouldn't be trusted. Because this is a FICO sponsored forum, I'm not even going to mention them.
Fixing your credit report (in other words, making sure that all IIB accounts report as IIB):
1. Pull a copy of your 3 credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com.
2. Run through with a pen and make sure that ALL accounts that were included in bankruptcy are noted as:
a. Zero Balance
b. Included in Bankruptcy
c. Current (not "default/derogatory" status"
3. For any accounts that do not meet all of the criteria in #2, file a dispute "Included in Bankruptcy" and "Incorrect Balance"
note: Disputes need to be done with ALL 3 Credit Reporting Agencies(CRA), see far below on how to do this. Include a copy of your discharge letter once you have it. You can include multiple inaccuracies in the same letter, but if you do that, make it a list/spreadsheet rather than paragraph format. Mail the 3 letters to each CRA (addresses below) CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED (CMRRR).
4. Once you get your receipts back, wait about 30 days for the results. For anything that wasn't updated to the correct info, get the creditor info from your report and mail a letter to them, including ONLY the account for that creditor. Send this letter CMRRR as well. Example:
5.a At the same time, send a "Method of Verification" letter to the CRA, including a copy of the result sheet they mailed you, with the questionable accounts highlighted. Example: http://www.gimmelaw.com/legal-form-credit-repair-m
6. Wait 30 days from the day you get the receipt.
7. At this point the bad stuff should all be pretty much gone (or reporting correctly). IF IT IS NOT; gather the documentation of your disputes and your MOV and find an FCRA attorney* in your area. Violations at this point may entitle you to free money under the law. Up to $1000 per report/violation.
*Yes, you can file an FCRA complaint yourself, but the FCRA specifically provides that attorneys fees are paid by the CRA. In other words, FCRA attorneys are free to use and have more experience. A good FCRA attorney will not charge you an advance fee if you've done steps 1-6 yourself, though they may charge to do steps 1-6 for you because their fee covereage doesn't kick in until 1-6 are complete.
Rebuilding/Reestablishing credit (some of this is at the same time you're doing the stuff above):
1. 15 days after you get your CMRRR receipts back from step 3, above, apply for a CreditOne card.
b. You do NOT want a SECURED version of this card. If that's all they'll offer you, decline it and look for a secured card from a Credit Union/Bank that you DID NOT included in your bankruptcy filing and are 100% CERTAIN will "graduate" to an usecured version in 12 months (these boards are full of them).
2. The DAY AFTER you receive and activate your Credit One Card, go to a OneNevada Credit Union branch and open a $1000/1year CREDIT BUILDER loan (if you do not already have a savings/checking with them, you'll need to open one of those, too. (www.onenevada.org) - (If you do not live in Nevada, find a different credit union/bank that offers a Credit Builder-type product. If you are unable to find one, most institutions offer secured installment products named Share, Savings, or Certificate Secured Loans, which are good options if they report to all 3 beureaus).
3. Use your CreditOne Card for <10% of it's balance/month and Pay In Full(PIF) as soon as you get the bill.
a. In other words, if your limit is $300, do NOT charge more than $29/month on the card. EVER.
b. If there is an activation/processing charge, that's you're first month's purchase.
c. PIF the day you get the bill, not the day it's due.
d. An easy way to do this is to set up your MyFICO Scorewatch subscription to use your Credit One bank card instead of your debit card.
4. 5 months after activating the card from Step 1, get a Capital One card.
a. https://www.capitalone.com/ - This link will take you to the pre-qualifier, which is a good place to start. Say you have average credit.
b. Get the QuicksilverOne Rewards card for Average Credit (it has a $39 AF)
c. Capital one will enroll you in the Credit Steps program on this card, watch for the letter, it's an auto CLI @ 5 or 6 months.
5. Change your purchasing patterns:
a. Charge $1 or so on the CreditOne Card every month and PIF when the bill cuts (just to keep it reporting)
b. If you did step 3.d, change the MyFico auto-bill to your new CapitalOne card.
c. Charge up to 30% of the limit of your Cap1 card and PIF every month when the bill cuts.
6. When you get your Credit Steps Credit Line Increase (CLI):
a. That month DO NOT use your CreditOne Card
b. Pay your Cap1 card down to a $10 balance BEFORE the statement cuts. (you can do this online, make sure you leave $10 on your card… it's important.)
7. 11 Months after opening your CreditOne Card (6 Months after opening the CapitalOne card, after you get your CLI):
b. If you DID burn Discover, Do step 10 right now, then move to step 8. Or, instead of applying for a DiscoverIT, app for the Walmart Discover, which is issued by GE Money Bank. (http://www.walmart.com/cp/Credit-Cards/632402)
8. When your CreditOne Card has a Zero Balance (and is reporting that way), it's time to cancel the card. You should have had it for 11 months by now. Cancel it immediately before the end of month 12 to avoid the annual fee.
9. It should now be 12 months after you got your Credit Builder loan, which means it's over. Put the cash in savings and go back to OneNevada(or wherever you got it). If they will let you get a $1000-$2000 UNSECURED 2 year loan, do that. If not, get a new Credit Builder loan, this time $2000 and 2 years.
10. 2 months after you get your Discover:
a. Apply for a Barclays Apple Financing Visa (don't worry, you don't have to buy anything Apple when you get it).
You should now have the following cards in your wallet and be about 12-13 mo out of your BK:
1. Capital One (7 months old)
2. Discover (2 months old)
3. Barclays Visa (Brand New)
If you've done everything right, your FICO should be between 650 and 680.
It should also be time to pull your reports from www.annualcreditreport.com again. Look for / dispute anything inaccurate.
Use your credit cards sparingly over the next 6 months, charging small things on them and paying in full each month. Do NOT exceed 30% of your total available credit at any time. For example… if you need to charge $900 for something, and you have 3 cards that each have a $1000 limit. Pay off all your cards, put the $900 on one of them, and don't use the other two that month.
Always PIF the day the statement cuts, never charge anything that you couldn't just pay cash for.
To maximize your score, Pay 2 cards to ZERO, BEFORE their statements cut and pay the third card down to <10% of your total available credit BEFORE it's statement cuts. This forces 2 cards to REPORT zero balances, and the third to REPORT a small balance, which is the optimal credit formula.
Once you've had your Barclays for 6 months (and not a DAY sooner!) you may apply for additional credit if you like. If you are eligible to be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union, join them and app for the nRewards Visa + NavCheck (Overdraft Line of Credit). If not, you might want to ask OneNevada (Or your credit union) if you Q for one of their cards with the BK on your record, or you could get a Walmart Discover or something… There are several cards / loans to choose from at this point, pick one you like. Note: Chase / AMEX / Citi will NOT approve you with a BK reporting, don't even bother. Also, you might want to avoid anyone you included in your BK for a couple more years.
Please note, you do not HAVE to apply for anything. The cards from Discover and Barclays will grow with you over time, so instead of applying for anything, you might want to call Discover (which you've now had for 8 months) and ask them for a Credit Limit increase. You can do the same with Barclays too, since it's 6 months old now. You may notice inquiries on your credit reports when you ask for CLIs, but these aren't bad since you have limited your inquiries for the last 18 months. (you may see a slight score dip, but it will come back in 3-6 months).
Don't apply for anything else for the next 6 months… just let time do it's thing.
In FEB 2012 pull your reports from annualcreditreport.com again, look for/dispute any inaccuracies.
In April of 2014, it will be 2 years after your BK discharge. If you pay down all your balances but one BEFORE the statements cut, and pay that one down to <10% of your TOTAL available credit BEFORE the statement cuts, you'll have an optimized credit score. It should be 700 or so, plus or minus 15 points.
Keep using credit wisely and your score will only go up from where you are. As a note, I have $3550 of available credit. I use my Discover card to buy gas, have a couple of auto-payments going to my C1 and my Barclays, and NEVER carry a balance. I pay cash/debit for everything else. Also, I normally pay my cards to zero BEFORE the statement cuts, so they report no balances.
NOTE: Always apply for credit on a Tuesday or Wednesday around noon. If you are DECLINED, immediately call for Reconsideration: http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/Backd
The dispute process:
Step 1: Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of any documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should identify each item in your report you dispute; state the facts and the reasons you dispute the information, and ask that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report, and circle the items in question. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document that the consumer reporting company received it. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
Your letter may look something like the one below.
Dispute Sample Letter:
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items you question within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it is required to investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company. If this investigation reveals that the disputed information is inaccurate, the information provider has to notify the nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct it in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the results in writing, too, and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company is not permitted to put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you ask, the consumer reporting company must send notices of any correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You also can ask that a corrected copy of your report be sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay for this service.
Step 2: Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate — the information provider may not report it again.
P.O. Box 7404256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Starting Score: ~470 preBK(8/2010)
Current Scores as of Late January 2016 All 700+. Last CR pull from a lender(housing) was mid-score 749.
Goal Score: 700+ - reached.