Before beginning a full-scale attack on one's bad credit and repair of a negative credit report the person must first address each of the negative items and resolve them. Resolution may take many forms, which we will explore here. From a credit repair standpoint the significant starting point is "closing the book" on each of the bad credit items on the credit report. A horrible but old and closed bad credit item most often gets viewed better than an open current bad credit item. Believe it or not, a viable resolution method turns out to be a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In this context the bankruptcy paves the way to the first step of credit repair by putting an end to the old bad credit items. While bankruptcy adds it's own significantly terrible credit reporting item, bankruptcy by definition will be "resolved" when the case ends. In the early stages of bad a credit incident the easiest and best solution can be catching up on a payment. As with many of the circumstances we will discuss the prior late payment will still appear on the credit report. The important point being discussed in this section is resolving the initial issue. Catching up on a past due payment constitutes resolution. When payments continue delinquent for a long enough time catching up may become out of reach. Negotiating a payment plan with the creditor either directly or with the aid of a credit counselor constitutes resolution of the item for credit repair purposes. Settlement of a debt, even at a fraction of the original amount due, means resolution.
Eventually banks charge off unpaid debt balances. A charge off does not mean that a forgiveness of debt occurs, it only indicates the creditor has made an accounting notation that they do not believe that the debt will ever be repaid. A charge off represents a significant black mark on one's credit report. Charge offs can be noted in several ways. A charge off which is unresolved appears as such on a credit report. Charge offs can be resolved the same as any other debt by either paying them in full, paying them at a discount, making a payment over time or filing a bankruptcy. Aside from the obvious downside of a charge off in that it paints the debtor in a very poor light, an open unpaid charge off indicates to a potential creditor reading your report, not only was there financial trouble at one time but further more that the debtor has not made any effort to deal with the problems. A bankruptcy is certainly not a favorite resolution by the creditors but it shows that the debtors have recognized there is a problem and has taken some action. In terms of a credit report a bankruptcy is not a clean slate. A bankruptcy remains a nasty item on one's credit report as long as ten years. On the positive side, however, the bankruptcy is a clear time or "line in the sand", from which the debtor can begin to rebuild. With open unresolved charge offs there is no such point in time where rebuilding can start. Open unresolved charge offs remaining glaring poor credit cavities on ones credit report.
To convert this concept into terminology in the medical or financial industry, the first step is to "stop the bleeding". Many people look at their financial picture and think they must cure the entire situation in one huge step. Most times this is neither something an individual with limited resources has the ability to do nor something anyone with unlimited resources could achieve. The debt and credit resolution process takes several steps. One does not go to a hospital with a gaping wound and expect to walk out perfectly cured the same evening. In the first step the doctor stops the bleeding then, as we will see, there must be time for healing of the wound itself followed by an inevitable scar and perhaps in time fading of the scar itself or cosmetic surgery.
From here we need to back up a few steps and to understand more about what got you to this point, what capabilities you have to set things in another direction and then figure the best route forward.