My husband and I would like to purchase a home in the next 2 years or so. As it stands right now, I have the good credit (short but thick positive file, 700-range FICO) but lower and harder to verify income (I am a freelance writer), while he has higher income but poor credit. Combined, we make around $70k a year. His FICO scores right now are sitting right at 600 on EX and EQ, 580 on TU. I finally decided to dive in and see what I could do to repair his at least a little bit; it would be nice if he could at least get a real credit card and close or sock-drawer the collection of predatory ones (Indigo, First Premier, etc.) he has right now. And of course it would be even nicer if we could actually get a mortgage before we're old.
We live in Texas. We are both members of PenFed and NFCU. PenFed has been very generous to me already. I have a lot of inquiries right now and am waiting for some to fall off before I apply for credit with Navy. Neither is interested in working with him right now, although I wonder if we might be able to refinance his car in a little while with one or the other (he is paying 18% interest with Santander).
I suspect his scores are about to jump a little bit -- he has a whole collection of $300-limit cards that were maxed out, and I moved them all over to a high-limit credit card of my own to pay them off. I also added him as an AU on a few of my $0-balance cards, and they're reporting already and helping his utilization a lot. Once the payoffs report (I just did that last week), he should see a nice bump; he'll probably move out of sub-subprime land into subprime land. :) His history for the past two years is mostly positive with high utilization but perfect payments apart from one medical collection. Mine is positive with low utilization and perfect payments.
I got copies of his full reports, and I have already started disputes to get old addresses (and a handful of wrong addresses) and phone numbers removed. His EX is showing a second Social Security number that he does not recognize -- he has a joint car loan with his late father and a joint credit card with his late wife, but he says this is not either of their numbers. What else could it be? (Anyone trying to steal his identity is barking up the wrong tree; however, he was involved with a very shady character relatively recently, so that's a possibility.) Obviously I am going to have him call EX on that promptly.
There are seven total derogatory items showing on his reports -- 7 on TU, 5 on EX, and 4 on EQ. I think my first step is WhyChat's HIPAA method for his recent (valid) medical collection; we're prepared to settle or pay that. I'm just having trouble figuring out a roadmap after that because honestly, this is a little overwhelming to me, and a bunch of it is still in SOL, so I don't particularly want to poke them until we're ready to pay if needed, and we'll need a few months to prepare to pay any of these.
1. Midwest Recovery Systems - TU, EX
Medical bill, placed for collection 8/27/18
This is probably valid. He visited the ER in early 2017 and his insurance had lapsed. He never paid. The amount sounds reasonable. I'm going to use WhyChat's method to take care of this one as soon as his address disputes are complete. We're prepared to pay or settle.
2. Thunderbird Auto Finance - TU, EQ
Last payment 7/18/17
$18,192 Repossession - TU
$14,423 Repossession - EQ
This was a voluntary repo. The $14k amount sounds accurate or close; the $18k amount sounds too high. For several years, he was driving for a living, and he made a habit of surrendering cars and buying new ones on increasingly bad terms. What should I do? Still in SOL.
3. D and D Acceptance - TU
Last payment 11/6/17
$0 Paid repossession
Another voluntary repo. Is this actively hurting or will it be fairly neutral as it ages?
4. National Credit Systems
Placed for collection 7/1/16
This is linked to an old apartment where he did in fact live, but the dollar amount is obscene. He had completed his lease and moved to month-to-month, and there was a 1.5-month deposit (would have been around $1,500) on the apartment. There is no way there was $4,000 of damage done to that apartment and there was no lease to buy out. His date of delinquency on that apartment would have been around 4/16, so it's still in SOL but he's pretty confident it's wrong. Should we let it age, or should we dispute it now?
5. Frost Bank - TU, EX, EQ
Last payment 3/10/2016
$0 Paid charge-off - TU, EQ
Paid, $986 charged off - EX
Either I am misunderstanding the reporting or Experian is reporting this wrong. This was an overdrawn checking account, and it was paid in full. He still banks with Frost; I am thinking he could try a goodwill letter but otherwise leave it alone? Is there anything else to be done?
6. AcceptanceNOW - TU, EX, EQ
Last payment 1/23/2016
$2,966 Charged off
This was a big purchase at Conn's and he's pretty confident it's accurate or close. AcceptanceNOW was the original creditor and this does not appear to have been sold to a CA or JDB. Again, still in SOL. Here's the kicker on this one: This was for a ridiculous TV and sound system, which his roommate, who is presently in prison on robbery charges, stole and sold. (No, he did not file a police report -- dunno if he wasn't thinking or was too afraid of his roommate at the time to do so.) So we do not have the items -- if we did, we could probably recoup some of the money and pay this off. As it stands, it's looking like a very expensive lesson for him on several different subjects -- predatory lending, shifty acquaintances, personal responsibility, etc. My feeling is we should settle or pay this, but my understanding is that will reset the reporting clock, right? That doesn't seem ideal. What's the best way to work with this -- i.e., what will have the most positive impact on his score and be easiest to work with going forward?
7. Wells Fargo Dealer Services - TU, EX, EQ
Last payment 1/29/13
Shows $0, paid repossession on TU
Shows $8,246 repossession on EX
Shows $0 charge-off on EQ
Joint car loan with his late father. This was another voluntary repo and it's almost obsolete; I'm inclined to just leave it alone.
I might just be freaking out over nothing and all this really needs is time, but his credit reports truly make me uncomfortable -- in the past, I've had the occasional collection show up when I moved and missed a utility bill, but this is so many accounts and so much money that it really concerns me. It concerns me even more because I know it's mostly valid, and I'm worried we're never going to be able to get into a house -- adding it all up is kind of a shock to my system. I have $4,200 in revolving credit card debt at 0% and $2,300 in loans; he has a $15,800 car note and $620 in loans. We can easily manage our expenses while saving, but I just don't feel great about our immediate future. Around nine months ago, we paid cash for a fifth wheel and we've been parked full-time in an RV park while we try to pay down debt, save, and get ahead to get into a home. I love my tiny house, but I sure don't want to be stuck in it indefinitely while I pay rent to someone else for a teeny little parcel of land. Do you have any advice or ideas for what we should do next?