If you hold a joint credit account, have co-signed a loan or have authorized use of another person's credit, these items could affect your score if they appear on your credit report. It is important that joint account holders or authorized users understand that their credit behavior does affect the other joint account holder or main account holder. A credit account held solely in the name of your spouse, child or any other family member cannot impact your credit score. However, in community property states, all debt acquired during a marriage is considered a joint debt, regardless if the account is joint or in the name of an individual spouse.
First, go through your credit report to see exactly which of your accounts are showing in negative standing. You can get a free copy of your report at AnnualCreditReport.com. The credit reports should state whether the accounts are still with the original creditor or if they have been passed along to a collection agency. Once you know which accounts are in negative status, you should contact each one of the creditors/collection agents and explain your situation to them. Most of the time, they will demand all of the outstanding amount at once, but it is up to you to explain to them that your current financial condition will just not allow you to pay the money back in lump sum. The creditors will most likely agree for a payment arrangement.
Once agreed, you should insist upon a written document confirming the payment arrangement. Only agree to payment terms that you can afford. Once the account is paid off your credit should gradually start to improve. Keep checking your credit report on a regular basis to make sure that the account is reported as paid and closed. Most of the times the creditors do not update the credit bureaus with the status of the account.
Alternatively, you can use the services of a debt settlement firm to do the negotiation on your behalf. These professional firms can provide the experience and knowledge many consumers lack when trying to negotiate with their creditors on their own. If you would like a free consultation with one of Bills.com's pre-screened debt resolution firms, I encourage you to submit your contact information here: Debt Help.
I also encourage you to visit the Bills.com credit solutions page to read more about credit scoring and ways to improve your credit score.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.
Best of luck,