Credit repair services are abundant if you do a quick google search. According to credit bureau Experian, almost a third of Americans suffer from poor credit. If you are facing financial difficulty and your credit score has taken a hit, you need to take some deliberate steps toward credit repair. There are several ways you can do this, but the sooner you start the credit repair process, the better off you’ll be.
Why Credit Repair Is Needed
Whenever you have bad credit, you can expect it to cost you in many ways. This is especially true if you get behind in your payments. Not keeping up with your payments means that you will be paying more each month in late fees and extra interest. Not to mention it will take you that much longer to pay off your debt. Furthermore, you will probably be placed into a higher interest bracket, making it even harder to reduce your overall debt.
In addition, anytime you apply for new credit, you will be issued a higher interest rate, which means that you are paying more each month than those people who have good credit. By restoring your credit score to a higher level, you can get better interest rates on credit cards, loans, and even on a mortgage. Starting the credit repair process can be overwhelming, but the most important part is that you get started.
You Could Perform Your Own Credit Repair
One thing that some credit repair services will not tell you is that you could perform your own credit repair. The truth is, that no matter who does it, it will take time to get your credit back in good shape. Keep in mind though, if you do decide to take on the credit repair process yourself, you will have to be very diligent about each step. For this reason, people often opt for hiring a credit repair company.
They right credit repair service will have the expertise and patience to properly handle getting your credit back on track. Either way, being consistently on-time with your payments and always paying at least the minimum amount is necessary. These two elements carry the largest weight with the major credit score companies.
Review Your Credit Report
Reviewing your credit report is essential and should be the first thing you do. Every year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each credit reporting company. After you get a copy of your credit report, you need to look it over and check to see if there are any mistakes on your report. If you do find any mistakes, immediately contact your creditor to notify them of the mistake. If corrected, you can expect your credit score to go up.
How Credit Repair Companies Usually Work
When you contact a credit repair company, they will usually ask you for all of your credit card bills. This will give them an idea of your overall debt along with the creditors you are dealing with. As a first step, an attempt will be made to negotiate some form of debt forgiveness or payment reduction. Pro tip: Only the creditor can reduce the amount you owe. If the credit repair company tells you they can slash your debt by a certain percentage, beware.
A monthly payment will usually be made to the credit repair company. From this payment, the company will make payments to your creditors each month, and a fee for the services will also be subtracted from that amount.
Things to Watch Out for
The first thing you need to be aware of is that some credit repair companies or online offers are scams. This means you need to read the details carefully before paying for any credit repair services. Be very leery of any company that promises to erase all your debt and restore your credit right away. Find out all costs involved and compare them with other credit repair companies.
Here are some other things to be on the lookout for:
- They don’t provide a contract. All reputable companies are required to give you a written contract that lists your cancellation rights as a consumer.
- They “guarantee” you something. Nothing is guaranteed to happen. All they can do is try.
- They have complaints against them. Check the CFPB complaint database along with your state’s corporate commission offices and your attorney general. Also check the state where the company has their headquarters.
- They tell you they can remove negative information that is real. Stay away from anyone saying they will do something illegal for you.
- They tell you to lie. Any business that asks you to provide inaccurate information about your credit report is breaking the law. Stay away.
- Suggest you create a new credit profile with a false identity. Not as common of a practice but definitely do not do business with a company that suggests this.
Things to look for
We just listed what you want to stay away from. Here is what you want to look for in a reputable credit repair company.
- They offer you a free consultation. A good credit repair company will take a look at your report and give you a honest picture of what they can and can’t do for you.
- They have a positive track record. The longer a company has been in business the better. If they have been in business at least five years, this means they have been abiding by the FTC rules and are legitimate. Also be sure to ask them if they have handled a situation similar to yours with a positive outcome.
- They have an attorney on staff. If they are owned by an attorney or have one working for them, chances are they are operating legally.
- They are clear about your options. If they don’t feel they can help your specific situation, you should expect that they can at least provide you with what other avenues you might be able to try.
- They are in line with local laws. Every business you contact should be licensed, bonded and insured.