An individual’s credit rating is composed of several factors. Some of these factors are given more weight than others, but among the most significant are your history of payments, specifically, how many times you have been late and for how long. How much credit you have available versus how much debt you have and the length of time you have had credit are also important. What affects your credit rating the most will be the negative marks on your credit report. There are four common negative marks that will bring your score down the most. 

The following is a quick explanation of these four sources of negative marks, and a basic strategy of how to remove them. 

Your property went through foreclosure
This is not simply a process that a person is going through, but refers to the foreclosure process being completed. The bank has taken legal possession of your house, and you are no longer involved with it. This will be shown on your credit report and will bring your score down substantially.

An account was sent to collections
This means that your creditor has turned your account over to a professional debt collector, and they are now attempting to get you to pay the debt. This means that your creditor has written off your debt as bad, and they will report this to the credit bureaus.

A lien has been placed on your property
If you have any property that was used as security for a debt and a lien has been placed on it, this will be noted on your credit report. The lien may also be for taxes owed to the state or federal government. This type of negative mark can stay on your report a long time, or at least until the debt has been settled. 

Civil judgments
Many people are not aware of this, but a civil judgment that is still outstanding can appear on your credit report. These judgments represent a debt that is owed from legal proceedings in a civil court. 

The fastest way to get your score higher is to have a negative mark removed; however, a negative mark can only be removed if it is inaccurate. It is important to look at your credit reports at least once a year to make sure there are no inaccuracies. If a mistake has been found, then you can write a letter to the specific bureau that lists the inaccurate information explaining the issue. They must respond to your inquiry within 30 days. 

If a negative mark is accurate, over time the negative mark will be dropped from your report. Most negative marks will last less than seven years. During this time you can build up your credit by making your payments on time.