Good News – Bad News On Using A Credit Repair Firm
If you do a search on the term credit repair in Google, the first website that comes up in the natural listings is the Federal Trade Commission. And the first thing they discuss is that people should really do their own credit repair work. The reason why? Because of all the scam artists out there that profess to be an expert on credit repair and take advantage of many unsuspecting consumers. And they use every trick in the book to misrepresent the services they provide. The worst part of it (other than losing your hard earned money) is that they can actually do more damage to your credit score. There are a lot of very good and honest organizations that can help you repair your credit score.
Such as local civic organizations, churches, and legitimate non-profit agencies that will guide you through the maze. Our credit system has a lot of zigs and zags and it can be confusing to someone not familiar with the terms and laws that govern the industry. And it does require some diligent effort on the consumer’s part. And these days there are way too many companies that grant credit just to make a sale and ignore the fact that the consumer may be soon overwhelmed by the debt. So it’s a lot easier to get into trouble than get out.
Why is good credit so important? Because your credit score (and other considerations) will determine the interest rate you are charged for any loans. It can mean the difference in 3+ interest points (on a new car the good credit rate is around 8% so if you have a low score that could mean up to 12%). Insurance companies and employers are even starting to use credit score to determine rates and job offers. If you have a low score even car insurance can cost more. And you may not get that great job offer either. Credit repair companies that make unrealistic claims, ones that are too good to be true, often are just taking advantage of the general lack of knowledge of most consumers. It got so bad a few years ago that congress passed an updated bill to help control the madness. Not that I’m in favor of too much government but in this case they did help the consumer. Anyone who gives you a 100% guarantee to eliminate bad credit, remove a bankruptcy, liens, and judgements are not being honest. Any company that offers to make you a new credit file, give you a new identity, or asks you to apply for a new social security number is not doing you any favor and can land you in jail.
The good news is that you can improve your credit score, and in most cases sooner than you think. And all you have to do to start is learn a little bit about the credit system and how it works. Making the decision to start is the first step. In order to get an accurate appraisal of your current credit score, you have the right to request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) each year. You can find out how by going to www.ftc.gov/credit or call 1-877-322-8228 and ask for information. The next thing to do is take an accurate look at what you owe, current status of payments, and what income you have to work with. Once you have a good picture of the current debts, make a realistic monthly budget. Getting the facts straight help you come up with a good plan.
The Federal Trade Commission website above has very easy to understand instructions on how to address incorrect information, how to contact the credit bureaus, and what can be challenged on your credit report. Take you time and read over the material. You may well have incorrect information on your credit report that can be removed. You can also contact creditors to work out a viable payment plan and arrangements to get you back in good standing. Most companies are more than willing to work with you. One word of caution though, if you are dealing with a collection agency, be careful. Most collection companies work on a percentage basis, and if you don’t keep an open eye on them they can take advantage of you. To get the real scoop on what they can and can not do go to this website of the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.
htm Depending on the individual situation, most consumers can improve upon their credit score in as short as 30-60 days. I’ve seen people get back in the high 600s or low 700s in 12-15 months which is very good. Since your credit score can dictate the interest rate on any large purchase, I would wait until I have a good score (it can mean 1000’s of dollars over the period of the loan or purchase agreement).