Credit Repair

Make a Plan, Improve Your Credit, Avoid Scams

Credit Repair

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Credit Repair


, 13th Edition

Clean up your credit, create a budget, and avoid overspending with this bestseller. You'll get sample letters to negotiate with creditors, forms to fix errors on your credit report, and more.  Learn how to:

  • get rid of errors in your credit report
  • negotiate with creditors
  • create a budget and make a plan to get out of debt

Includes all the forms you need to send to creditors and credit reporting agencies!


 "A solid, thorough, user-friendly resource accessible to anyone and everyone concerned about their credit rating." - Midwest Book Review

Available as part of the Nolo's Credit Repair Bundle

Product Details

Bad credit can get better

A bad credit report can prevent you from getting a mortgage, car loan, credit card, apartment or even a job. The sensible strategies in Credit Repair help you take control of your finances, clean up your credit report and rebuild your credit. Learn how to:

  • prioritize debts and create a budget
  • reduce debts and cut expenses
  • negotiate with creditors
  • correct credit report errors and remove old information
  • add positive information to your credit report
  • adopt strategies to rebuild your credit, and
  • avoid identity theft and credit repair scams.

Updates to the 13th edition of Credit Repair include the latest student loan repayment programs, new credit-building strategies, changes to the credit scoring of tax liens, medical debt, and civil judgments, identity theft reporting developments, and more.

 "A solid, thorough, user-friendly resource accessible to anyone and everyone concerned about their credit rating." - Midwest Book Review

“Credit Repair is full of suggestions for restoring your good credit name.” -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Can help you distinguish helpful credit repair counselors from scam artists.” -Los Angeles Times          

"A high quality, do-it-yourself approach….”  -REUTERS



Number of Pages
Included Forms

Forms and Letters

  • Form F-1 Request Credit Report
  • Form F-2 Request Reinvestigation
  • Form F-3 Request to Furnishing Creditor to Reinvestigate
  • Form F-4 Request Follow-Up After Reinvestigation
  • Form F-5 Request Removal of Incorrect Information by Creditor
  • Form F-6 Creditor Verification
  • Form F-7 Request Addition of Information Showing Stability
  • Form F-8 Request Addition of Account Histories
  • Form F-9 Monthly Income
  • Form F-10 Your Debts
  • Form F-11 Daily Expenses
  • Form F-12 Payments to Savings and Debt Reduction
  • Form F-13 Monthly Budget
  • Form F-14 Inform Creditor of Judgment Proof Status
  • Form F-15 Request Short Term Lower Payments
  • Form F-16 Request Long Term Lower Payments
  • Form F-17 Request to Pay Nothing Short-Term
  • Form F-18 Request to Pay Nothing Long-Term
  • Form F-19 Request Rewrite of Loan Terms
  • Form F-20 Offer (Delayed) Payment of Past Due Amounts
  • Form F-21 Offer (Reduced) Lump Sum Payment
  • Form F-22 Offer Payment Schedule to Pay Off (Reduced) Debt
  • Form F-23 Cashing Check Constitutes Payment in Full (Outside of California)
  • Form F-24 Cashing Check Constitutes Payment in Full—First Letter (California)
  • Form F-25 Cashing Check Constitutes Payment in Full—Second Letter (California)
  • Form F-26 Cashing Check Constitutes Release of All Claims
  • Form F-27 Offer to Give Secured Property Back
  • Form F-28 Request Direct Negotiation With Creditor
  • Form F-29 Request for Verification of Debt/Identity of Original Creditor/Return of Debt to Original Creditor
  • Form F-30 Complaint about Debt Collector Violation of Law
  • Form F-31 Debt Collector: Cease All Contact
  • Form F-32 Request for Basis of Unfavorable Credit Offer or Action
  • Form F-33 Identity Theft Dispute Letter for Existing Accounts
  • Form F-34 Identity Theft Dispute Letter for New Accounts
  • Form F-35 Notice of Billing Error Dispute on Credit Card Bill
  • Form F-36 Notice of Claim or Defense Dispute on Credit Card Bill
  • Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit
  • Annual Credit Report Request Form
  • FTC Law Enforcement Cover Letter 

About the Author

  • Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney

    Amy Loftsgordon is a legal editor at Nolo, focusing on foreclosure, collections, and debt management. She writes for several sites, including and She also edits, authors, and coauthors several Nolo books, including The Foreclosure Survival GuideCredit Repair, and Solve Your Money Troubles. Amy has worked in foreclosure and related areas since 2001, most recently on suits against mortgage servicers for non-compliance with federal servicing standards. She has also developed customized foreclosure-related training programs, audited completed foreclosures to determine if they were processed in accordance with state laws, and reviewed servicer records to uncover extensive credit reporting errors as part of a national settlement involving the mortgage industry. She received a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a law degree from the University of Denver, and is licensed to practice law in Colorado.

  • Cara O'Neill, Attorney

    Cara O'Neill is the bankruptcy and small claims legal editor at Nolo. She edits, authors, and coauthors several Nolo books, including How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy, Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court, Solve Your Money Troubles, Credit Repair, and The Foreclosure Survival Guide. She also writes for,,, and

    Before joining Nolo, Cara practiced for over 20 years as a civil and criminal trial lawyer, adding bankruptcy after the 2008 economic downturn. She also served as an administrative law judge mediating disputes between automotive manufacturers and dealers and taught undergraduate and graduate law courses as an adjunct professor. She earned her law degree in 1994 from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she served as a law review editor and graduated a member of the Order of the Barristers—an honor society recognizing excellence in courtroom advocacy. Cara maintains a bankruptcy practice in Roseville, California at the Law Office of Cara O’Neill.

    You can also find Cara at

Table of Contents

 Your Credit Repair Companion

1.  The Elements of Repairing Credit

2.  Credit Reports and Credit Scores: The Nuts and Bolts

  • How Creditors Evaluate Your Creditworthiness
  • Credit Reports and Credit Scores: What’s the Difference?
  • Your Credit Report
  • Getting Your Credit Report
  • What Is in a Credit Report?
  • Investigative Reports
  • Who Can Look at Your Credit Report
  • Your Credit Score: What It Is and Why It Matters
  • How Credit Scores Are Calculated
  • What Credit Score Do You Need to Get Credit?
  • Getting Your Credit Score

3.  The First Step to a Better Credit Score—Cleaning Up Your Credit Report

  • Common Errors in Credit Reports
  • Your Right to an Accurate Credit Report
  • Review Your Report for Errors and Incomplete or Prohibited Information
  • Dispute Incomplete and Inaccurate Information
  • Add an Explanatory Statement to Your Credit File
  • Add Positive Information to Your Credit Report
  • Check Your Credit Reports Often
  • Avoid Credit Repair Clinics

4.  Assess Your Financial Situation

  • How to Assess Your Financial Situation
  • Determining Your Credit Repair Options Based on Your Financial Situation

5.  Reducing Current Expenses and Debts

  • Cutting Expenses
  • Reducing Current Debt Obligations
  • Reducing Mortgage Debt
  • Filing for Bankruptcy

6.  Finding Money to Pay Your Debts

  • Ways to Raise Money
  • Options to Avoid

7.  Negotiating With Creditors and Debt Collectors

  • Prepare a Negotiating Plan
  • Negotiating With Creditors and Debt Collectors
  • Dealing With Debt Collectors
  • Tax Consequences of Forgiven Loans

8.  Getting Help to Negotiate and Manage Debts

  • Avoid Most Debt Relief Services
  • How Does a Debt Management Plan Work?
  • Debt Management Plans vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
  • Choosing a Good Credit Counseling Organization
  • After You’ve Chosen an Agency, Monitor Your Plan

9.  Building Positive Credit History

  • First Steps to Rebuilding Credit
  • Ways to Improve Your Credit History Without Getting New Credit
  • Next Steps to Rebuilding Credit—Getting New Credit
  • Putting It All Together: Preventing Future Financial Problems
  • Be on Guard for Credit Discrimination

10.  Choosing and Using Credit Cards

  • Choosing Credit Cards
  • Using Credit Cards: How to Protect Yourself

11.  Avoiding and Dealing With Identity Theft

  • The Crime of Identity Theft: The Scope of the Problem
  • What’s in a Stolen Name?
  • How Can an Identity Be Stolen?
  • How to Protect Yourself
  • Protecting Your Social Security Number
  • If Your Identity Is Stolen
  • Identity Theft Protection Products and Insurance

Sample Chapter

Chapter 1: The Elements of Repairing Credit

Credit repair is not a quick fix. If you are serious about improving your credit, you’ll have to make a commitment, and then follow the steps discussed in this book. Some of these steps require time and hard work to complete, others you can do fairly quickly. And for some, you may have to wait until your finances are under better control before you dive in. With each step, we walk you through the various options and warn you away from alternatives that might make your situation worse. And throughout the book, we provide sample letters and forms that you can send to creditors, debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, and others to aid in your credit repair efforts.

First steps: Learning about your credit report and assessing your financial situation (Chapters 2, 3, and 4). The first step in credit repair is to get a clear picture of your current financial situation and how it relates to your credit history. Start by understanding your credit reports and credit scores: what’s in them (and what’s not), how your credit reports control what’s in your credit scores, and what’s most important and what’s less so in credit scoring. Chapter 2 tells you how to get your reports and scores and how to review them. Chapter 3 tells you how to fix errors and other problems in your report, and how to add positive information, so that your report is as accurate and as complete as possible.

At this point, you must also analyze your current debts, income, and expenses, prioritize your debts and expenses, and start laying out a budget that will put them in balance. With this information, you can better determine what credit repair strategies to employ, or whether you need to take care of a financial emergency first. 

Next steps: Getting your income, debts, and expenses into balance (Chapters 5 and 6). Often the most important way to improve your credit is simple: Pay your bills on time. But it’s also one of the hardest things to do after financial problems have set you back. The next steps involve bringing your expenses and debts into balance with your income so that you can meet your debt obligations, and start saving some money. We look at ways to make major reductions in debts (including your mortgage) and other expenses and ways to find more money to pay down debts. You will also learn about other methods of dealing with debts such as foreclosure and bankruptcy—and how each will impact your credit history. As you explore these options, the book steers you away from the minefield of scammers ready to take your money and derail your credit repair efforts.

Paying and negotiating debts (Chapters 7 and 8). Whether you’re trying to reduce your debts enough to be able to pay current bills on time, or you are ready to tackle paying off debt, you will likely need to flex your negotiation muscles to achieve your goals. By negotiating with creditors and debt collectors, you may be able to settle debts, get better payment terms, and improve how your debts are reported to credit reporting agencies. In Chapter 7, you’ll learn how to set negotiation goals, ways to negotiate, how the debt collection business works, and what debt collectors can and cannot do.

If you want help in talking to creditors, or in setting up a debt repayment plan for all or most of your debts, Chapter 8 explains your options. You’ll also learn how to find legitimate credit counseling and debt relief services and how to avoid the rest. 

Stepping toward the future: Rebuilding and protecting your credit profile (Chapters 9, 10, and 11).At this point, we turn the corner and concentrate on how you can start to rebuild your credit. Chapter 9 recommends ways to build (or rebuild) your credit profile that don’t involve getting additional credit. And when you’re ready, it helps you figure out how to get and start using credit again, how the different choices may affect your credit history and credit score, and how to avoid credit discrimination. 

Because credit cards are a big part of rebuilding credit for many people, Chapter 10 provides information on how to choose and safely use credit cards and debit cards. Finally, Chapter 11 provides information on how to reduce the risk of identity theft or what to do if you become a victim, so you can keep your credit strong after all your hard work.  


This Book Comes With a Website

Nolo’s award-winning website has a page dedicated just to this book, where you can:

DOWNLOAD FORMS - All forms in this book are accessible online. After purchase, you can find a link to the URL in Appendix D.

KEEP UP TO DATE - When there are important changes to the information in this book, we will post updates

And that’s not all. contains thousands of articles on everyday legal and business issues, plus a plain-English law dictionary, all written by Nolo experts and available for free. You’ll also find more useful books, software, online services, and downloadable forms.

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