Even if you think you do not need to or you know for sure your credit report reflects your real credit situation, it is always a good idea to request a copy of your credit report at least once a year (you can get a copy for free) in order to see where you stand and to plan ahead your actions to improve your credit situation.
What to Look For
The most common inaccuracies are: pending payments that have already been made, outstanding loans that have already been cancelled and open accounts that have already been closed. Also, it is not uncommon to find loans wrongly informed. For instance, you may have requested a $ 10,000 loan and they might have informed a $ 100,000 loan.
Even though these are the most common mistakes, you should do a thorough examination and make sure there are absolutely no mistakes or inconsistencies on your credit history. A minimum discrepancy could motivate a decline in a loan or credit card application.
Fixing Credit Report Inaccuracies
When you discover an inaccuracy, the first thing you need to do is to make sure it actually is an inaccuracy. You may think that you did not miss a payment but you actually did. Or you may think you did not pay late but you just did not notice it. Get hold of any documentation in your possession that shows proof of the inaccuracy and make several copies.
The next step is to write a letter to the credit report agency telling them that you've found what you believe to be a mistake on their behalf and that you wished for it to be corrected. Tell them which negative information is inaccurate and ask them to remove it or correct it. Enclose to the letter all the copies (never the original) of the documents providing your claims.
The Credit Agency will check this info and if your claim is true, they'll correct the information and send a new copy of your credit report to you. They'll also send a written explanation of their investigation even if they conclude that there was no mistake on their side. You can always resort to legal means if you believe them to be wrong and they refuse to exclude the negative information.
Eliminating Accurate Negative Information
Only time can aid you in eliminating negative information from your credit report. Some stains on your credit history will remain for as long as 10 years (bankruptcy), others may only remain for a couple of years. What really helps improving your credit score and history is to maintain an impossible credit behavior. Paying always on time, never missing a payment, reducing your debt exposure, paying your credit card balances in full whenever possible and at least the minimum payments the rest of the time are the best way to fix your credit. Then, it is all just a matter of time.