Updated: Oct 19, 2019
1. Get a copy for your free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com. You can also use Credit Karma (free), Scoresense (with paid subscription), or any specific credit bureau site such as Experian, Transunion, or Equifax (with paid subscription). There are a number of credit monitoring sites, so you have plenty to choose from.
2. Check for errors and dispute them.
3. Pay off balances of charge offs. Pay what you can, preferably accounts with higher balances if you can afford it. However, if you do not have the means to do this, pay the smaller balances.
4. Apply for a secured card or two. Discover offers a great secured card, but you should also consider cards that don't run your credit. The benefit of obtaining a secured card from a creditor that doesn't check your credit is that you won't have to worry about the impact of a hard inquiry on your credit while you're trying to build your credit score. Open Sky offers secured cards without a hard pull on your credit.
5. Dispute collections with personalized validation letters. Of course a deletion is what you should be trying to obtain for negative accounts. However, many companies will not do this. Asking for validation of account details, balances, etc. can often lead to a deletion since many collectors do not have ALL of this data.
6. Send dispute letters to all three major credit bureaus. Send these letters certified. Creditors will have 30 days to respond to your dispute. If they fail to respond, the account will be deleted from your credit report. Also, there is a chance that they might respond and opt to delete the account from your report.
7. Keep balances low. You definitely want to keep your balances below 30%, but under 10% is more ideal. (This did wonders for my credit, especially over the course of a few months).
8. Think you have a legitimate argument against a creditor/collector? File a claim with the Better Business Bureau. Don't sleep on the BBB. They get results a lot faster than the 30 days required when filing a dispute through the credit bureaus.
REMEMBER THIS: There are a few a things impacting your credit
* Payment History impacts 35% of your FICO Score
* Amount of Debt impacts 30% of your score
* Credit History Length accounts for 15%
* Amount of New Debt accounts for 10%
* Mixture of Credit (installments, loans, mortgages) accounts for 10%
As you can see, your payment history and amount of debt impact a big portion of your credit score, so you should work on those and regularly monitor your credit for any significant changes.