New Contributor
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎03-25-2008
Re: Success Stories and Encouragement
I'm still working on stuff, but I've finally gotten to the point where I can actually get approved when I apply for things, so I thought I'd try writing a success story.

The only FICO score I really have an ongoing record for is Equifax. But I do know that my Experian, while differing from the Equifax, has mostly gone up or down by just about the same amount at the same time. I admit I've paid almost no attention to TransUnion, but that's been because TU is always a little higher than EQ and/or EX.

In 2001 unexpected medical problems caused me to have a sudden large income drop. With the exception of a very few things I was able to pay off, all my debts went delinquent by March 2002.

In 2003 I was somewhere around 480 or 490, and got an auto loan, my first credit since my 2001 financial melt down. In October 2005, I finally got Social Security disability, along with a retro check. I used that money to settle the bad debts (except for one, but that's another story) from 2001/02. After paying everything, I started disputing all the bad account listings. By October 2005, the date from which I have FICO records, I was at 520. By March 2007 I had gotten rid of a decent amount of the bad listings and had managed to get a couple of not very good (high initial fees, high interest, low limit, etc.) MC/VISA cards, along with a couple retail accounts (gasoline, dept. store, etc.), and I finally broke 600, but by May I was back down to 580. What happened? Well, this was where I learned how badly too many inquiries can hurt your score. Breaking 600 had encouraged me to apply for too many things, almost all of which I didn't get approved for anyway. By September 2007 I'd only gotten back up to 590.

From that point on I just made sure I kept paying all my bills on time and didn't apply for new credit. By April 2008 I had gotten to 660. My revolving debt to credit ratio was 89%. The accounts I had gotten since '06 all had low limits, I'd gotten them a few months apart from each other, I had nearly maxed them all out, and had never paid very much more than the minimum required. At that point I had perfect payment records from 2003 on, but I still had a few "bad" listings from '01 and early '02, even though, except for one, they'd been paid off.

It seemed my utilization was the one thing I could do anything about at the time, so I did. I borrowed some money from the credit union and, using that and some of my own money, paid my revolving debt down during April and May, including paying at least 3 accounts down to zero balances. I had previously noticed that "too many accounts with balances" was something you could get scolded for by FICO, even if your ratio was fairly low, like below 20%. It seemed like they wanted to see at least one or two accounts with no balance at all. Right now my revolving debt to credit ratio is reporting as 21%, my EQ FICO is 685 and my EX FICO is 701.

There is an account on EQ that was mistakenly reported as closed, but that is in the process of being corrected, which will gain me a few points. Also, my ratio is REALLY a hair under 10%, and I expect that enough of my balances will have gotten brought up to date by the 20th or so of June to get my reported ratio below 15%, possibly even lower.

Barring some weird catastrophe, by the end of June I'll be above 700 on EQ and EX both, and, based on past experience, TU will be 10 to 20 points higher than EQ or EX.

480 in late 2003, something over 700 by the end of June 2008, with the most increase (590 to over 700) happening in the past 12 months. The one really big improvement came when I paid the revolving debt to credit ratio down from 89% to 21% (actually lower than that, but 21% is what my reports are showing now), along with paying a few accounts down to zero. Now I'm really waiting to break 720, which may well happen in the next 3 or 4 months.

As recently as 2 years ago I had been thinking it was hopeless, I'd never get my score out of the high 500s/very low 600s. Now I know better, and I've seen that once "the dam breaks", things can start improving much, much more quickly than they had in the past.