Written by Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Chairman of Debt.com
The time it takes to repair your credit can vary widely, depending on a number of factors – from how many mistakes you have to fix to what you want to accomplish once your credit is fixed. Since people often repair their credit with a specific goal in mind – like buying a house or negotiating an interest rate with a creditor – it’s important to know how long the process can take so you can plan ahead effectively.
With that in mind, we’ve put together the information below to help you understand the different time spans that can be involved with credit repair. If you want to get started or you need more information, call us or complete the form to the right to connect with a Debt.com-accredited service provider now.
Important Update: Bureaus Offer Free Weekly Reports Through April 2022
In light of the unprecedented financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit bureaus have expanded free credit report access. You can now download your credit report from each bureau once per week through annualcreditreport.com.
We recommend taking advantage of these free weekly reports to check your credit often during this crisis, so you can avoid mistakes.
Table of Contents
Starting the clock on your first disputes
Credit repair starts by reviewing your credit reports to identify potential errors and mistakes. It takes about half an hour to download your reports from annualcreditreport.com. That’s the time it usually takes to login in, answer the security questions and download your three reports. Then you review your reports to see what they say and take note of any errors. If you’ve never looked at a credit report before, it can take 1-2 hours to review all three reports in-full.
Once that is done, dispute letters have to be drafted and documentation needs to be gathered before you submit your disputes to the credit bureau(s). The time required for this step varies, depending on the nature of your disputes and how organized you’ve been about keeping financial records. This part of the process can take anywhere from a few hours if you’re organized to a few days if you need to hunt down statements and documentation that proves your case.
If you’re repairing your credit on your own, you determine how fast this part of the process goes because you’re in the driver’s seat. If you pay a credit repair service, the company will help you expedite so this gets done as quickly as possible.
Once your first disputes are submitted to the credit bureaus, the official clock on the responses starts. The credit bureau has 30 days to contact the creditors to verify the information and respond. This is why it’s a good idea to send your letters by registered mail, so you have proof of the delivery date.
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From the response to the resolution
After 30 days, the credit bureau must respond to your inquiry. In some cases, more documentation may be required if the bureau needs something else to verify or reject a dispute. As a result, there can be some back and forth before disputes are resolved.
Fact: Mistakes that appear on all of your credit reports must be disputed with each credit bureau individually.
In addition, you may have to file more than one dispute letter. If you have a large number of mistakes that you identify, you usually don’t want to submit more than a few disputed items at a time in each dispute letter. As a result, you may have to submit a few disputes at a time and resolve them in sets.
In general, credit repair takes about three to six months to resolve all of the disputes that the average consumer needs to make. Of course, if you only have a few mistakes to correct or you repair your credit every year, it may not take as long; you might be done in just over one month. On the other hand, if you’ve never corrected your credit and have a large volume of things to dispute, it may take longer.
If you’re doing the work on your own, it’s basically going to be that you have to keep working until it’s done. If you have retained representation, your credit repair company should be able to give you an idea of how long it should take in your situation.
Rebuilding while you repair
It’s important to remember that credit repair is usually one step (often the first one) you take when you want to obtain a better credit score. So while the repair process may only take 3-6 months, the time it takes to rebuild your credit can take longer. It can take up to a year or more to achieve a good credit score, depending on how low you start.
One thing you can do to expedite the process to better credit is to start taking steps to build credit while you’re getting items removed through credit repair. So, stay on top of your payments to create a positive payment history and take steps to reduce your credit card debt load so your credit utilization ratio is as low as possible.
This one-two punch of credit correction is how you go from a bad credit score to a good one. But you have to be patient. If you’re working towards a major goal like a new home, give yourself at least six months to a year to improve. This will ensure you have time to get the credit you need before you apply.
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A Basic Timetable of the Credit Repair Process
|Credit Repair Step||Estimated Time to Completion|
|Step 1: Download your credit reports||Half an hour|
|Step 2: Review your reports for errors||1-2 hours, depending on familiarity with credit reports|
|Step 3: Draft dispute letters and gather documentation||A few hours to up to a week, depending on your records|
|Step 4: Await a response||Up to 30 days maximum per dispute|
|Total time required||1-6 months, depending on the number of disputes you need to make|
Keep in mind that if you hire a credit repair service, the timetable is still the same, in total. However, most of the actual work occurs behind the scenes:
- You have an initial consultation that lasts about 30 minutes, where you authorize the company to pull your credit reports and make disputes on your behalf.
- They do steps 2-4 for you, calling you for information or documentation as needed.
- They keep you informed of their progress along the way and let you know as each dispute gets resolved.
The process still takes anywhere from 1-6 months, depending on the number of disputes you need to make. The average consumer usually completes the credit repair process in about 3-6 months, but it can be less if your reports only have a few errors to correct.
Want to know more about the credit repair process before you decide?
Debt.com has put together a comprehensive Credit Repair Process Guide so you can understand what it is, how it works and the three different options you have for repair. We tell you everything you need to know to decide on the best way to repair your credit. If you still have questions, head over to our Ask the Expert section to get the answers you need from our panel of experts.
Need to repair your credit fast? Let Debt.com match you with an accredited credit repair service so you can clean up your credit reports without delay.
Article last modified on April 20, 2021. Published by Debt.com, LLC