Sharon wrote “Maybe I missed it – but I was wondering if you had a blog post about fixing credit. Or could maybe write one about it. Here’s my situation.  I’m 28 years old, and was given a credit card at 19 and basically had to use it to buy food, and ended up defaulting on it because just buying my basics were beyond my means.”

So right now I’m paying off student loans for a degree I haven’t finished, and don’t want to.  I plan on going back to school, but I think it’s important for me to save up my first year’s tuition in the bank and have the last student loan paid off completely. I have a plan to get that paid off – but my problem is my credit score.

I also know it’s going to be important for me to build my credit back up, from my screw ups with a credit card that I never should have had, and getting rid of this student loan stuff.  I just picked up a cell phone on a monthly plan, before I always used pay as you go.  So I know that will help with credit.  Is there anything else I can do to build up my credit, so I can actually really start building the life that I want to have?

Also, I really like the blog, def. have it book marked now, and will be paying close attention. Thanks, Sharon

Ross replied:

Thanks for your note and your kind words of praise Sharon. I will help you through this but I need a bit more info. You say your credit report is bad – I’d like to see it – if you have a recent copy, perhaps you could scan and email to me or you could fax it to 416 661 5150

For anyone who feels their credit is in need of repair, accessing a copy of your current credit history is an absolutely necessary first step. Where things go from there depends on its contents.

You can go to www.equifax.ca and order your credit report online – you create a profile a username and a password – store that info somewhere you will use it for life.

Answer some identifying questions, and then order your report – I advise you order “Score Power” since they will include your score – it will cost $23.95 but can only be charged to a visa or mastercard issued in your name.

Another way is to get their address from their website, send in two pieces of ID and a written request to get a free report by mail – takes a few weeks, but will not give you a score.

Yet another way is to go to their office in North York at Yonge and Finch.

I do strongly recommend you get your report – you gotta know what it is you are addressing. You will see what lenders see when they consider your credit application.

What I do know is paying your student loan without mishaps so far is a very good thing for your credit history, and to a small degree a cell phone plan will contribute to your score.

If there is negative info in your report it must be in prior credit card usage as you hinted. Seeing that info will help me frame my response.

If your credit report is still not up to snuff in terms of being eligible for a normal credit card, I will likely advise you to arrange something called a “secured credit card”.

A card whose limit is secured by a deposit of your own money with the card issuer. (Sort of like a rent situation where you pay first and last month’s rent to protect the landlord)

Most, but not all, major chartered banks will offer their clients a secured credit card. If not in your case, other companies like www.capitalone.ca and www.hometrust.ca are two good companies who could be approached.

For anyone who feels their credit is in need of repair, accessing a copy of your current credit history is an absolutely necessary first step. Where things go from there depends on its contents. I have read and analyzed thousands such reports in my time, any of my readers may ask me for a free consultation to review their personal report for assessment and feedback.

So feel free to provide me additional information and I will help.

Tip of the Day

If the bank doesn’t want to speak with you… if alternate lenders are not interested… if all seems hopeless but selling your home isn’t an option… a private mortgage may be your only hope

— Money Matter № 168