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Tips to Improve Credit History

Mark Cappel
UpdatedApr 9, 2009

I am 41 years old. I have been married for 15 years. The reports say I've only had credit for a couple of years, what can I do?

My credit report says that I haven't had a very long credit history, I am 41 years old. I have been married for 15 years. The reports say I've only had credit for a couple of years. When I was first married I had some credit. I had a bankruptcy removed recently. Could it be that the slate was wiped clean? Would it benefit me to dispute the short length or should I just stick with the current report.

It is very possible that the bankruptcy you filed caused all of the debt which you had at the time to be reported as “derogatory” items, because they were likely all listed as “discharged in bankruptcy.” Because derogatory items can only appear on your credit report for seven years, and bankruptcies for only ten years, if you did not establish any new credit accounts from the time that you filed bankruptcy until a couple of years ago, when your credit history “started,” it is likely that all of your older credit items have been removed from your report, which meant that you were starting with a clean slate when you began recently to open new trade lines.

While you could dispute the fact that your older credit accounts are no longer appearing on your credit report, I do not know that it would do you any good. Assuming that these items were derogatory due to your bankruptcy filing, the credit bureaus would have been required by federal law (the Fair Credit Reporting Act) to remove those items from your reports seven years from the date of charge-off. The bureaus would likely respond to your dispute telling you that the items were removed in accordance with federal law, and that your credit reports will not be updated. Even if you could somehow convince the bureaus to reinstate your older accounts, I do not think that you would want accounts that were discharged in bankruptcy to appear in your credit profile, as they would likely reduce your credit score from its current level. The positive influence of a longer credit history would almost certainly not outweigh the negative pressure on your credit rating of several new derogatory items on your credit report.

Rather than worrying about the past, I encourage you to focus of building new, positive trade lines, and maintaining those accounts in a positive status, allowing you to build new positive credit for the future. There is little you can do about your past mistakes, but you can ensure a positive credit rating in the near future if you work diligently toward that goal. For example, if your credit score is too low to obtain a traditional credit card, you can open a secured credit card account, allowing you to begin the process of building a new credit history by making regular monthly payments on the account. Once your credit is good enough, you can open a regular credit card, though you should be careful to not incur more debt than you can afford to pay off each month; at most, you should make sure you do not carry more than 25% of your available credit as a balance. Carefully managing your credit usage should allow you to rebuild your credit profile and increase your credit score.

To learn more about credit, credit reports, and credit scoring, I encourage you to visit the Credit Resources page at I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to rebuild your credit score, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.