What Do Legitimate Credit Repair Companies Do?
When you’re on the verge of purchasing a new house, car, or even a cell phone, only to be stopped because of bad credit, it can be frustrating to say the least. How do you recover from a low credit score quick enough that it doesn’t interfere with your life plans? Unfortunately, repairing your credit can be a long, difficult process, but it can be made a little easier with a credit repair company. After all, they are experts, and it is certainly less hassle than doing it yourself. But what do credit repair companies even do? How is their process any different than what you could do yourself?
Signs of Legitimate Companies
First, you need to differentiate scammy companies from legitimate ones. The best credit repair companies will follow the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which requires them to do the following:
- Disclose the total cost of their services.
- Only accept payment after fulfillment of contract.
- Give you three days to cancel your contract.
- Never advise you to commit credit fraud.
If any credit repair service doesn’t follow these rules, then they’re not a legitimate credit repair company. It is easy to see how some players in this industry could be running a scam; people who are willing to pay to improve their credit are often desperate for a quick fix. However, legitimate credit repair companies do exist, and they don’t have to resort to shady or misleading tactics to help you fix financial mistakes. So, how do they do it?
What Are You Paying For?
Enlisting the help of a credit repair company is a smart move for your future, but it’s only natural to wonder what you’re paying for. After all, you wouldn’t just pay a mechanic to “fix your car,” you’d want to know what they did to fix it, and how they spent the time you are being billed for, even if you don’t understand every step of the process. While the specific tactics that your credit repair company uses will depend partially on your unique situation, there are a few things almost always included as part of the repair process.
Reviewing Your Credit History
Credit repair companies will typically get your credit report from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. CreditRepair.com actually has a relationship with TransUnion, making both the acquisition and negotiation of your credit faster and smoother. Credit repair companies then compare the three credit reports and look for any discrepancies or errors. Because of the way that credit is calculated, you might have an error on one report and not another.
Disputing Reporting Mistakes
After analyzing your credit reports, they will decide how to best dispute any inaccurate charges. While you can use our letter templates to do it yourself, credit repair companies know exactly what sort of proof is needed to validate or contest a charge, as well as the laws surrounding credit reporting. Since complex legal issues are common when disputing charges, it helps to have some legal experts around, and that’s exactly the approach that Lexington Law, a credit repair company run by lawyers, takes. Especially if you’re the victim of identity theft, this specialized knowledge can really come in handy. It can be very difficult to prove a negative: that you didn’t buy those plane tickets, hotel rooms, or extravagant sports cars. Credit repair companies know how to work around that and advocate for you.
Additionally, credit repair companies know which charges are affecting your credit the most, and will try to tackle those issues first. Some debts are weighed differently than others, or others might be in violation of laws you didn’t even know existed (like the Fair Credit Billing Act.) This can help expedite the impact of repairing your credit, so you see the positive results a little sooner.
What Do They Provide that You Can’t Do Yourself?
Alright, besides knowledge and expertise, what do legitimate credit repair companies provide that you couldn’t do yourself? Although you shouldn’t underestimate the value of professional experience, you could theoretically take similar steps that a credit repair company would in disputing your credit, just as like you could fix your own plumbing or computer. Experts just tend to do a more thorough job from the outset.
However, many of the top credit repair companies like Creditrepair.com provide an interactive report of your credit progress. This helps you not only track their progress, but saves you from having to continuously request credit reports yourself. Additionally, they can provide you with identity theft protection, as well as education on how to best build your credit going forward. Some companies like the Credit Pros, will even find ways to remove a charge from public record entirely, whenever possible.
Everyone wants to know what they’re paying for. This is one area of life where surprises are not appreciated, especially when dealing with something as impactful as your credit score. Although it takes years to gain the working knowledge of a credit repair company, just knowing the basics of what they do can take a lot of the mystery out of the equation and help you feel a little more secure. You’ll feel a lot better with a solid credit score under your feet, but that’ll take time and expertise. However, a secure financial future is well worth the investment.
For more information on credit scores and how you can improve yours, visit the Fiscal Tiger credit score resource and learning center.
Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.
This post was updated May 4, 2018. It was originally published August 30, 2017.