Getting your credit in order is an important part of managing your personal finances. If you’re facing a less-than-perfect credit history, it might be tempting to call credit repair companies — but that’s not the best next step. Here’s everything you need to know about credit repair companies, whether they’re worth it, and how to repair your own credit.
What is a credit repair company?
Credit repair companies are organizations that claim to help consumers improve their credit in exchange for a fee. These work with credit bureaus and creditors on your behalf to remove mistakes from your credit report. While many of these companies are scams, there are legitimate credit repair companies.
That said, you can do everything credit repair companies do on your own and avoid paying costly monthly fees.
How do credit repair companies work?
Credit repair companies work on your behalf to remove negative marks from your credit report. There are a couple strategies they use to accomplish this:
- Challenging the negative marks on your credit report, with the goal of getting credit bureaus to remove them.
- Asking creditors to verify negative marks. If a creditor fails to provide verification, it has to stop reporting those marks.
You can do both of these things on your own. You don’t need to pay credit repair companies for these services.
Most credit repair companies charge a monthly fee and offer several packages that range from basic to advanced. More expensive tiers offer things like credit monitoring and credit score analysis. They may also send cease and desist letters to debt collectors on your behalf. Again, these are all things you can do yourself.
What to watch out for with credit repair services
The world is rife with credit card scams and credit repair scams. Scammers tend to target people in financially vulnerable positions. Proceed with caution, and avoid credit repair services that:
- Tell you to avoid contacting credit bureaus directly
- Ask you to pay a fee upfront before they’ve done any work
- Insist on disputing information on your credit report that you know is accurate
- Promise quick credit repair or instant results
- Claim they can give you a clean slate, new identity, or alternative Social Security number
- Tell you to lie or knowingly provide false information
- Don’t explain what your legal rights are
Be sure to ask questions before signing up for any credit repair services. If you don’t get clear answers, that’s a red flag. Even if a service is legitimate, consider whether it’s worth paying for something you could do on your own.
How can I repair my credit myself?
It’s completely possible to repair your credit without paying credit repair companies. In many cases, it’s preferable to rebuild credit on your own. Here’s how.
Pull your credit report with all three credit bureaus
You’re legally entitled to one free credit report each year from all three of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). You can access these at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your credit report will help you understand why your credit is low. Also, you might spot errors that are dragging your score down.
Dispute any incorrect information
If you find errors on your credit report, you’ll want to get them removed.
You can file a dispute online with each credit bureau, or you can send them a letter of dispute. They might ask you for additional supporting information or documents as they investigate your claim.
If the credit bureau approves your dispute and removes the false information, you should see a credit score boost.
Pay off credit card debt, especially high balances
Average household debt hit $14.35 trillion in 2020, so if you’re carrying a credit card balance, you’re not alone. However, paying down those balances is one of the best ways to increase your credit score.
Not only will this help you improve your payment history, but it will also improve your credit utilization rate, which is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score. Here’s how you find your credit utilization rate: Add up all of the credit card debt you owe, and then add up your credit limits across all of the credit cards you have open. Divide your overall debt by your overall credit limit, and you’ll get your credit utilization rate.
In other words, this number is the percentage of your overall available credit you’re actually using, and it should stay below 30%. This is why paying off high balances that are bumping up against your credit limit can significantly and quickly improve your credit.
Build a history of on-time payments
If you’re not currently paying off debt, finding another way to build up a positive payment history can help build your credit back up.
Using a low-limit credit card a few times each month and paying off your balance in full before the due date is an effective way to do this. Just make sure to avoid carrying a balance. If the temptation to overspend and fall back into debt is too strong, it might be best to hold off on this step.
If you can’t qualify for a regular credit card, try this method with a credit card for bad credit.
Keep old accounts open
Your average age of accounts is an important factor in determining your credit score, so having older credit accounts on your credit history is beneficial.
If you’ve paid off old credit cards and don’t plan to use them anymore, and they don’t charge annual fees, keep those credit cards open. This is especially important if you’ve had them for a while.
Wait for negative marks to fall off your credit history
If you have some accurate negative marks dragging down your score, such as late payments or collections, the best you can do is wait for them to fall off of your credit report.
The good news: Nothing lasts forever when it comes to your credit. Both late payments and debt collections fall off your credit report after seven years. Bankruptcies are removed from your report in either seven or 10 years.
Monitor your credit
As you work to repair your credit, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit score. Both credit scoring agency FICO® and the credit bureaus offer credit monitoring services for a monthly fee. This fee is far lower than what credit repair companies charge.
There are also plenty of credit cards that offer your credit score for free. Keeping track of your credit score as you work on repairing your credit will help you monitor your progress and give you a sense of which of your actions are most effective.
How long does credit repair take?
Credit repair can take anywhere from a few months to several years. The time it takes depends on your individual situation. Credit repair companies that guarantee fast credit repair or promise they can fix your credit within a set timeline are most likely scams.
If the only negative marks on your credit report are errors that can be successfully disputed and removed, you’ll likely see an improvement in your credit score pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you have late payments, collections accounts, and other similar negative marks, it will take some time and a lot of diligence to rebuild your credit.
Are there legitimate credit repair companies?
Some credit repair companies are legitimate, but be sure to check credit repair reviews before agreeing to work with anyone. The best credit repair companies work with you to help you repair and rebuild your credit the old-fashioned way.
However, any work they do on your behalf is work you could do yourself. You’re paying for the convenience of not having to do as much of the legwork, and there’s no guarantee your credit will actually improve.
How much do credit repair companies charge?
You’re probably wondering, “How much does credit repair cost?” The fees for credit repair companies vary, but they often start at around $80 to $90 per month for basic services. Fees go up from there if you choose more advanced tiers.
You might find advertisements for free credit repair companies, but this usually just means you’ll get a brief consultation for free. They’ll start charging you once they begin to perform credit repair services.
Improving your credit score without credit repair
Considering how costly credit repair companies can be, it’s definitely worth it to improve your credit score without a credit repair service. Self credit repair involves checking your credit, disputing any errors, and working hard to pay off debt and build a history of on-time payments.
Credit repair scams to avoid
Beware of any credit repair companies that make unreasonable promises. These might include promises to:
- Erase negative marks from your credit report
- Improve your score by a certain number of points
- Accomplish quick credit repair within a certain time frame
Avoid paying credit repair companies upfront and instead opt for services that do the work to improve your credit before taking payment. Any credit repair companies that ask you to lie or furnish false information in a credit dispute or application for credit should also be avoided.
Lashonda Nesmith Jackson, Bryan Braddock to speak at hip hop rally Saturday | Local News
FLORENCE, S.C. — Two candidates running for Florence City Council will speak at an event scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Lashonda Nesmith Jackson, one of five candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the District 1 special election, and Bryan Braddock, one of four Republicans running in the District 3 special election, will speak at the Stop the Violence Hip Hop Rally.
The rally is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Northwest Community Park, located at 801 Clement St in Florence. It will also feature music, a clinic on expungements and pardons, a credit repair service and free food.
California Announces Plans for Reviewing Consumer Complaints
California’s Consumer Financial Protection Law is in effect and the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced plans for reviewing consumer complaints in its monthly bulletin for January.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (AB 1864), which creates a state consumer protection agency before the end of the state’s 2020 legislative session. The law also expands the state’s power to target unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices by financial service providers, ACA International previously reported.
Effective immediately, according to the DFPI bulletin, it will “review and investigate consumer complaints against previously unregulated financial products and services, including debt collectors, credit repair and consumer credit reporting agencies, debt relief companies, rent to own contractors, private school financing, and more.”
Under the consumer financial protection law, the DFPI will also:
- Significantly expand the state’s consumer protection capacity by adding dozens of investigators and attorneys to supervise financial institutions.
- Create a team to monitor markets to proactively identify emerging risks to consumers.
- Create a team dedicated to consumer education and outreach, listening and responding to consumers in specific communities, including veterans, immigrants and older Californians.
- Create a new Office of Financial Technology and Innovation, which will cultivate financial technology to serve consumers.
This spring, the DFPI will launch a statewide campaign to educate California consumers on how the department can support and protect consumers, according to its bulletin.
Licensing Requirements in the Works
Under a law passed last year, California is now one of 35 states to require a license for debt collection. Agencies have one year to apply.
The Debt Collection Licensing Act (SB 908), from California State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, was signed into law by Newsom in September 2020.
It was welcome news for the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry and ACA that the governor approved both these measures, allowing for a separate licensing process outside of the DFPI.
With the governor’s signature on the licensing bill, the commissioner of the Department of Business oversight shall take all actions necessary to prepare to be able to fully enforce the licensing and regulatory provisions of this division, including, but not limited to, adoption of all necessary regulations by Jan. 1, 2022.
The California Association of Collectors (CAC) advocated to ensure workable options for consumers and the ARM industry in the licensing bill. And the Collectors Insurance Agency (CIA) licensing team had a seat at the table to negotiate the best licensing legislation possible for the ARM industry.
While a license will not be required until 2022, the state has indicated the application and its checklist should be submitted as soon as they are live in 2021. The law permits the state to use the electronic Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) for the licensing process. There will also be a bonding requirement as part of the licensing process.
License applications will be due by Dec. 31, 2021, and the DFPI expects to begin the licensing process in late summer or fall next year. Debt collectors that apply for a license before the deadline next year would be allowed to operate pending the approval or denial of the application.
Under the law, the DFPI will also appoint a seven-member Debt Collection Advisory committee.
Even though the application is not available yet, ACA members and ARM industry professionals can contact the CIA licensing team to be added to the Licensing Service List. When the application and list of requirements is available, the team will provide more information on the service.
For more information on how the ACA licensing staff can assist with your licensing application completion needs in California as well as other states, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (952) 926-6547.
Industry Disruptor Curtis Ray Launches Retirement Planning and Saving Service, MPI™ UNLIMITED
GILBERT, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Curtis Ray, retirement planning expert and creator of the patent-pending Maximum Premium Indexing (MPI™) Plan, announced today his newest company, MPI™ UNLIMITED. The company’s proprietary technology utilizes the security guarantee of permanent life insurance, the growth potential of the stock market and the power of compound interest to provide enhanced retirement income, tax-free.
“I am thrilled to announce the official launch of MPI™ UNLIMITED,” said Ray. “After years of research in the financial planning space, I realized that traditional strategies, like the 401(k) and IRA, are not providing enough income throughout retirement years. I’m looking forward to teaching hardworking people, from all walks of life, how to utilize secure compound interest to maximize their savings and achieve their dream retirement. Always Be Compounding!”
The MPI™ plan is an advanced cash-value life insurance plan specifically designed as a max-funded, increasing death benefit contract. The plan provides holistic benefits to clients which include mitigation against market risk, enhanced compound interest returns, increased retirement income, tax-free distribution and more.
Ray’s passion for retirement planning goes beyond MPI™ UNLIMITED; a best-selling author, Ray tackled the challenges of consistent underperformance in the current retirement planning industry in his 2018 book Everyone Ends Up Poor. In his most recent book, The Lost Science of Compound Interest, Ray deconstructs the phenomenon of compound interest, teaching readers to harness its power through small and simple actions.
“Learning about MPI™ and compound interest has been one of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my life. I have a master’s degree in engineering, yet I have never seen anything like this before,” said Angie Merget, Financial Engineer and MPI™ UNLIMITED client. “Taking the time to understand MPI™ is without a doubt the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.”
The purpose of MPI™ UNLIMITED is to provide services focused on the phenomenon of compounding. Within the next five years, Ray plans to expand their offerings into mortgage, credit repair, personal tax filing and other financial services to give every American the best path to financial freedom.
To learn more about MPI™ UNLIMITED and its retirement planning options, visit www.mympi.com.
About MPI™ UNLIMITED
Founded in 2020 by Curtis Ray, MPI™ UNLIMITED works to provide simplified financial education that addresses complex money topics, so that the public can understand and implement the full potential of Secure Compound Interest in their life. Ray, best-selling author and MPI™ UNLIMITED’s CEO, invented and developed the patent pending MPI™ (Maximum Premium Indexing) Secure Compound Interest Account, in order to help people maximize their retirement savings.
SOURCE MPI UNLIMITED
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