If you have poor credit and have been inundated with targeted ads proposing promises of financial freedom, credit repair may be finding its way to the top of your list of priorities.
The concept of credit repair is often associated with credit repair companies. Although, at first glance, working with a credit repair company may appear to be a simple solution if you have bad credit and are in need of credit restoration, however, you should know from the get-go that when it comes to working with credit repair companies, fraud and scams aren’t a rarity to run into.
Though this is true, you need not feel helpless or overly intimidated—you can be in complete control of your credit repair, even when considering working with a credit repair company when you commit to doing some necessary research and being aware of what to look out for.
How Can I Tell If My Credit Needs Repair?
Has bad credit history been an ongoing issue for you? Are you not sure where your credit stands, but you have your suspicions that your credit isn’t looking great and the thought of even peeking at your credit reports leaves you cringing?
Credit repair may be necessary for you.
If you’re on the fence, below is a list of 8 signs to look for within your situation to know whether or not you require credit repair.
8 Stand-out Signs Your Credit Needs Repair:
- Your credit card application has been denied
- Debt collectors are contacting you
- Your interest rates keep climbing
- Landlords deny your rental applications
- You can’t land a job due to your poor credit reports
- You have a low credit score
- Your utility bills have to be listed in someone else’s name
- Multiple credit card issuers are closing your credit cards
If you fit the mold with any or many of these signs or have repeated late payments on your bills, there’s a strong chance you are desperately in need of credit repair.
Pro tip: Proactive measures, such as occasionally examining your credit file, can help you catch any errors within your credit reports before they negatively impact your credit score. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to pull your credit report for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Once you receive your free credit reports, examine them throughly to understand what areas need attention.
What Is A Credit Repair Company?
A credit repair company is an organization that offers services to improve your credit in exchange for a fee.
In an effort to repair your credit, credit repair companies analyze your credit reports and argue inaccuracies found within your reports with credit bureaus and creditors. The credit repair company will work on your behalf to have these errors removed from your reports, which will help to restore your credit.
Credit repair companies have the expertise and experience to take on credit issues that could be challenging to resolve on your own. However, it is important that you understand that working with a credit repair company is not your only option. Anything that a credit repair company can do for you can also be done for yourself; and for free.
That being said, handling the credit repair process on your own is no easy task, but it can be done so long as you educate yourself and do your homework and have some essential resources within your reach.
How Do Credit Repair Companies Work?
In short, credit repair companies typically request and review your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), implement and execute a plan to fix any errors, and offer guidance on how to improve your credit score further.
When examining your credit reports, credit repair companies search for inaccuracies found within your reports that negatively affect your score.
Once they find errors that call for dispute, they then contact the major credit bureaus or send a dispute letter to resolve and remove any errors they can, such as inaccurate or duplicate accounts, false inquiries, charge-offs, tax liens, etc.
Possessing these disputed information on your credit reports can undoubtedly reflect poorly on your credit score, so having them removed is critical to repair and restore your credit score.
Credit repair companies can save you a significant amount of time and energy and assure you that you’re covering all your bases and doing everything correctly by helping you identify and collect all information needed to repair your credit score.
This is a major advantage of working with a credit repair company rather than doing it on your own—because if you choose to put in a dispute with the credit bureaus on your own, you may get denied for not providing all information needed to prove your case and resolve your credit issues.
Along with collecting all essential information needed for submitting a dispute, credit repair companies also take on the responsibility of carrying out any actions that may be required, such as sending letters to dispute errors made on your credit reports, requesting to validate information, and cease-and-desist correspondences to debt collectors on your behalf.
How Long Does Credit Repair take?
Ultimately, the time it takes to experience noticeable results from credit repair varies depending on your initial credit score, current financial situation, and several other factors.
As a ballpark estimate, resolving all of your disputes from start to finish can take anywhere from three to six months. However, this estimation is contingent on the severity of your case—depending on your situation, repairing your credit could take more or less time.
Typically, the credit bureau has 30 days after initially receiving your credit report dispute to inspect and verify information. However, there is a chance it can take longer depending on your circumstances.
How Much Do Credit Repair Companies Cost?
The cost can vary from a one-time fee to a per-item fee for every negative error the company removes from your credit reports and even to a monthly fee, which can cost up to $150 per month or more.
The total cost to restore your credit score will also vary depending on several aspects, such as the severity of your case, where you reside, and what services you require.
How to Avoid Credit Repair Scams
Before making any agreements with any credit repair company, it is important that you dive in with a ‘buyer beware’ approach.
To help avoid being scammed, researching any credit repair company before making any commitments to work with it is critical.
As with anything else of the sort, you should be on the lookout for potential scammers and be hesitant if anything sounds too good to be true.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
- Companies are asking for payment upfront
- Companies guarantee increases to your credit score
- Companies unable to provide complete and accurate information and answers to your questions
- Companies that advise you to create a new ‘credit identity’ by means of misrepresenting information—which is very much so illegal
- Companies making promises that appear too good to be true
If your gut instincts question the legitimacy of the credit repair company you’re investigating, it’s likely in your best interest to look for help elsewhere.
Luckily, if you choose to use a credit repair company, you are protected under the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA), which regulates how these companies are able to function.
Some significant protocols include:
- Consumers cannot be charged any fee for services that have not been entirely carried out
- Consumers are guaranteed three business days to cancel a contract without being charged
- Companies cannot guarantee the removal of information from your credit reports
- Companies cannot advise you to change your identity or make fabricated statements
Prior to signing any contract with a credit repair company, double-check that they follow the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) regulations and keep an eye out for any red flags. If the credit repair company you’re considering follows the CROA protocols and you don’t notice any red flags, it’s a pretty safe bet that the company is legit.
However, if this all holds true for you and you are still skeptical, you can always look for company testimonials and read reviews to see their success with past clients.
We rely on reviews when searching for the best restaurants to try in a new or unfamiliar area. Why not treat credit repair the same way!?
Credit Repair Companies to Consider
If you are seriously considering using a credit repair company to fix your bad credit, we recommend a few companies. We believe these are the best credit repair companies in the market and are trusted companies with high ratings from customers and the Better Business Bureau.
Credit Saint is a credit repair company that has been in business since 2004. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have helped remove charge-offs and other negative items from people’s credit reports.
Credit Saint offers a wide variety of services to help you fix most derogatory marks on your credit report, such as late payment, charge-offs, and other services.
They can help you with credit counseling, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection. With affordable monthly payments and packages, you can find the solution that works best for you.
Credit Saint has a high customer satisfaction rate and offers a 90-day money-back guarantee on all their services.
Blue Sky Credit Repair
Sky Blue Credit Repair is another credit repair company that has been in business since 1989. They have an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and have high customer satisfaction.
Like Credit Saint, Sky Blue Credit Repair can help you remove a charge-off and any other delinquent credit accounts from your credit report. They also offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee on all of their services.
Both Credit Saint and Sky Blue Credit are reputable credit repair companies with a long history of helping people repair their credit and offer a free consultation call.
If you’re struggling to remove a charge-off from your credit report, hiring one of these professionals may be the best step for you. However, like with any service, it’s a good idea to conduct your due diligence to ensure these services are right for you.
Wrapping It Up
Legitimate credit repair companies can see to it that incorrect information is removed for your credit reports so that it doesn’t harm your credit score.
Remember, though, that credit repair companies aren’t doing any magical tricks to achieve this that you couldn’t do for yourself—for free—if you’re committed to putting in the time and effort that it takes.
Though this is true, there certainly are advantages to using a legitimate credit repair company. With the help of a genuine credit repair company, you can expect to learn how to manage your credit, get help from experienced, proficient professionals, and ultimately save yourself the time and energy that you would otherwise exert trying to repair your credit on your own.
Remember that whether you choose the path of putting your trust in a credit repair company to have negative, falsified information removed from your credit reports, or you choose to clean up your credit on your own, there is no guarantee that it will improve your credit score.
If the credit repair process seems too overwhelming and time-consuming to undertake on your own, and you do wish to work with a credit repair company, remember to be on the lookout for any red flag when considering a credit repair company.
Unfortunately, in the credit repair industry fraud and scams are not a rare occurrence for these types of companies and services, so play defense, do your homework, and don’t let your guard down.
If you are experiencing a poor credit score due to credit problems, the best ways to solve these problems is to assess your financial situation, and research if a credit repair company is right for you.