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If I could turn back the Credit-Repair Clock, I would avoid these mistakes: 1. Believing I knew a lot about credit repair, based on prior experiences, and moving forward without a deliberate plan; giving NO consideration to the very real possibility of making huge errors based on my insufficient knowledge. a. I had paid a CRO in the 90s to clean up my reports, which only contained very sophomoric blemishes in my early 20s. Their method seemed to be a cinch, so I believed I was a well-armed consumer; plus… b. I blundered through some DIY stuff in early years after I filed BK7 in 1999, having moderate success (read: luck.) c. Furthermore, I was truly the victim of family-instigated ID theft, and 2 of those issues were remedied with varying degrees of ease. Hence, I erroneously assumed that ANY repair would be fairly simple. (BEWARE: A LITTLE BIT OF KNOWLEDGE CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING) 2. Disputing all collections and COs as “not mine” via online method, ESPECIALLY without extensively researching the individual characteristics of each lender and TL. a. This prevented some targeted, weighty, VALID disputes from being processed by EX, as they routinely shoot down disputes as “previously investigated.” b. I woke up at least one very sticky OC in 2011 – about 4 years after it was charged off – who has continued to verify to the bitter end. If I’d researched initially, I’d have known this OC does NOT PFD or extend GW. I could have waited until it expires later this year, and they probably would not have updated this TL since 2010, when it was first reported. (CO was in 2007, so it’s obsolete in 6 months!) 3. Disputing all late payments (LP) as “never late” via online method. a. While this specific “Unintended Consequence” didn’t befall me, I know many folks who suffered a loss of lengthy otherwise-positive TLs that would have dropped the LPs in another year or two, and who may have had success with GW letters to the OC, instead. The same could have happened to me with two long student loan TLs that were sold to a new lender in 2011. I am now at the point where my AAOA is very valuable to me, and mistakes like this could have been costly! b. I flagged myself in one lender’s eyes (yup…Sallie Mae) as not being very credible, which turned my subsequent fight into an uphill battle. 4. Paying a small utility company CO from 2007 (see #2b) without doing any homework. I had the best intentions…and the most UNREALISTIC expectations. Here’s where I went wrong: a. I thought it would go down without a fight, like one of the ID-theft TLs (see #1c) did. You see, two weeks earlier, I paid a CO for $174 to Time Warner Cable, which had been opened without my knowledge by my niece (or more likely, by my sister for her daughter) in 2011. TWC told me I had 2 choices – fill out a fraud packet…or pay and “try” to get my money from my family member(s). The rep was very sympathetic and completely understood my hesitance to file a report on family. She assured me it was not an uncommon circumstance, and she confidently told me they would have the CA delete upon full payment. (Of course, I could just as easily be telling you how this one went south, too, since I didn’t get anything in writing. But as “dumb luck” would have it, this was easy to remedy – deleted within 3 weeks.) Which further led me to believe that the knowledge I already had was sufficient! Soooo… b. I paid TXU Energy for a tiny CO (this one was mine, not ID theft) from 2007, and TXU has refused to budge. I’ve tried it all – GW to execs, 623 method, Jack Attack, “not mine” online, PUC compliant…the ONLY relief I’ve gotten was from TU when they deleted 6 months early (TODAY) as obsolete! c. I should have used the money I paid TXU (plus all that postage) to pay one of the small medical collections I later paid through Why Chat’s HIPAA Program. d. TXU would probably NOT have updated my reports after 2010 (when they reported it) for a $53 CO. Instead, I have a fresh FICO ding for the change to $0 a year ago. 5. Launching attacks on medical collections, which were 80 percent of my derogs, without Why Chat’s help. a. I trusted my “limited” knowledge and believed they should be treated like any other TL from a CA. b. I had initial success with disputing these as “not mine” ONLINE, and 2 of the larger amounts (from 2011, still within SOL) were deleted from EX & EQ in January of 2013. c. Those 2 were later re-inserted by EQ. (They have always remained on TU; were never reinserted by EX.) d. When they reappeared, my limited knowledge was absent of the power of a valid re-insertion dispute, even though I actually have the original letter of deletion from EQ. (The CRA never notified me, and reinsertion was 10 months ago.) e. Guess which ones are my ONLY 2 REMAINING medical collections on EQ…? Yup. These. If I had READ READ READ READ READ before going off willy-nilly and doing things blindly, I could have at least capitalized on the initial stroke of luck I had, since they were properly deleted and then reinserted without notification! f. Consequently, I am still waiting for the HIPAA Process to be completed, which I should have done in the first place. g. If I had started there back in 2013-Q1, my EQ report would be MUCH better, with the only derog being paid and almost 7 years old from TXU (just like Experian is now.) And TU would be ABSOLUTELY CLEAN, since they just deleted TXU (see #4b) as obsolete. 6. Applying for a Cap1 card on December 17, 2013, out of sheer impatience and fear of rejection. a. On that day, my EX report was clean of all medical collections, and the only blemish that remains is the paid CO in #4 above. I froze EQ & TU, and I started out with a decent plan. b. I submitted about 6 apps – 3 were blocked b/c they tried to pull EQ or TU, which weren’t anywhere near clean enough; NFCU & Logix were not instant membership approval. So I got impatient and fearful, and I pulled the trigger on Cap1. c. The instant approval was a rush I hadn’t felt in a decade, and the $500 CL was only a mild disappointment. I reminded myself that I was starting out fresh again, and that I also burned them for about $5K in 2005. d. Within 7 days, I was a member of NFCU with a $14K cashRewards Visa; Logix approved me for a $2,500 Platinum Rewards MC and refinanced my car for 2.99 percent (down from 10 percent.) And I was stuck with a Cap1 Credit Steps MC with an annual fee and a $500 CL that will probably anchor my limits in the wrong direction for a long time. e. Hindsight is 20/20, and I believe Cap1 is a fantastic builder for MANY people – in fact, they were my first builder after my BK 15 years ago. I simply didn’t do enough research this time – more importantly, I didn’t “trust the process” – as I tested the waters to see where my first approval would land. I got antsy and impatient, and I wanted “something” TODAY. I remind myself of this daily, as I practice patience and strategy in planning my next spree. If you’ve read this far, then you may see yourself in one or more of these scenarios. If so…don’t despair. I’ve made a LOT of EXCELLENT moves along the way, too. Some were crazy twists of luck…others were carefully crafted Works of Art. And I continue to learn from each blunder I’ve made and every thread I read. BTW…I have a long way to go, due to the aforementioned three TLs still hurting my score and the infancy of the only 4 open revolvers in my file. But I have an AAOA ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 years, depending on the CRA. And the best indicator of progress is my EX FICO – close to 100 points gained in 5 exactly months. 10/31/2013 – BofA denial = 574 03/31/2014 – myFICO = 671 ETA: *Repair -- I hate when I make a typo in the thread title!