Maybe you’ve heard about credit repair companies and are wondering if they can help? Be careful:
many are scams. Is the information on your credit report correct or just not so good? Please take
note: No one promising to repair your credit can legally remove information if it’s both accurate
and current. But there are steps you can take to fix mistakes and improve your credit. Here’s what
you need to know about fixing your credit.
• Your Credit History
• Your Free Credit Reports
• Credit Repair
• What To Do If You Paid A Scammer
Your Credit History
Your credit report has information about whether you pay your bills on time what loans and credit
cards you have, and the amounts you owe whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy The more positive
information you have in your credit report, like timely payments and low credit card balances, the
better your credit will be.
Find out what your credit history looks like by checking your credit report. The strength of your
credit history also affects how much you’ll have to pay to borrow money. If there’s a lot of negative
information in your report, you might have to pay more in interest.
Most negative information will stay on your report for seven years, and bankruptcy information will
stay on for 10 years. Companies that promise to repair your credit can’t remove truthful
information — it takes time to go away. There are exceptions. In certain situations — like when
you’re being considered for a job paying more than $75,000 a year, or you’re trying to get a loan or
insurance valued at more than $150,000 — a credit bureau may include older negative information
on your report that wouldn’t show up otherwise.
Your Free Credit Reports
Consider getting your reports at least once a year. You can get your free reports from each of the
credit bureaus at once, or you can spread them out throughout the year. Each of the national credit
bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — is required to give you a free copy of your credit
report once every 12 months if you ask for it at AnnualCreditReport.com, or by calling 1-877-322-8228
- Otherwise, a credit bureau may charge you a reasonable amount for another copy of your
report within a 12-month period.
Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way
to keep an eye on whether the information in your reports is accurate and complete. But since
each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in one credit
bureau’s report may not be completely the same as information in your reports from the other two
You’re also entitled to another free report each year if
you’re unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days
you’re on public assistance, like welfare
your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft
If you think someone might be using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or
make purchases, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and get a personalized recovery plan.
Be sure to check your reports before you apply for credit, a loan, insurance, or a job. If you find
mistakes in your credit report, contact the credit bureaus and the business that supplied the
information to get the mistakes removed from your report.
- Credit Repair
People hire credit repair companies to help them investigate mistakes on their credit reports. But
credit repair companies can’t remove negative information that’s accurate and timely from your credit report.
Anything a credit repair company can do legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. Only
time and a plan to repay debt will fix your credit. You can improve your credit by showing over
time that you can pay your debts on time.
Are there rules for credit repair companies?
It’s illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you, or charge you before
they help you. Credit repair companies also must explain your legal rights in a written contract that
also details the services they’ll perform your three-day right to cancel without any charge, and give
you a written cancellation form how long it will take to get results the total cost you’ll pay any
results they guarantee.
How do I know if I’m dealing with a credit repair scam?
Here’s how to know if you’re dealing with a scammy credit repair scam company:
Scammers insist you pay them before they help you.
Scammers tell you not to contact the credit bureaus directly.
Scammers tell you to dispute information in your credit report you know is accurate.
Scammers tell you to lie on your applications for credit or a loan.
Scammers don’t explain your legal rights when they tell you what they can do for you.
These are not just bad ideas, they’re also scams — and they’ll hurt your credit if you buy into the scam. If a company promises to create a new credit identity or hide your bad credit history or bankruptcy, that’s also a scam. These companies often use stolen Social Security numbers, or they get people to apply for Employer Identifications Numbers (EINs) from the IRS under false pretenses. They do that to create new credit reports. If you use a number apart from your own to apply for credit, you won’t get it. And you could face fines or prison.