You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail. You may even get calls from telemarketers offering credit repair services. They all make the same claims:
?Credit problems? No problem!?
?We can erase your bad credit ? 100% guaranteed.?
?Create a new credit identity ? legally.?
?We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!?
Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don?t believe these statements. Only time, a conscious effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit report.
This article explains how you can improve your creditworthiness and gives legitimate resources for low or no-cost help.
Every day, there are companies nationwide that appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. They promise, for a fee, to clean up your credit report so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job. The truth is, they can?t deliver. After you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, these companies do nothing to improve your credit report; most simply vanish with your money.
The Warning Signs
- If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, look for these tell-tale signs of a scam:
- Companies that want you to pay for credit repair services before they provide any services.
- Companies that do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do for yourself for free.
- Companies that recommend that you not contact a credit reporting company directly.
- Companies that suggest that you try to invent a ?new? credit identity ? and then, a new credit report ? by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number.
- Companies that advise you to dispute all information in your credit report or take any action that seems illegal, like creating a new credit identity. If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.
You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail or telephone to apply for credit and provide false information. Its a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security number, and to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.
Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):
You?re entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You?re also entitled to one free report a year if you?re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you?re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies ? Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ? are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
It takes time to re-establish your good credit. Don?t believe the claims of a quick solution. Use the system, follow the rules, pay your bills on time, check your credit report, and you will get yourself back on track.