Connect with us

Credit Repair Companies

FTC Settles with Credit Repair Company for Piggybacking, Upfront Fees | Weiner Brodsky Kider PC

Published

on

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC (“JD Supra” or “we,” “us,” or “our“) collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our “Website“) who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our “Services“). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the “My Account” dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account (“Registration Data“), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users’ movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our “Cookies Guide” page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook’s “Like” or Twitter’s “Tweet” button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network’s privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals’ personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at privacy@jdsupra.com.

Children’s Information


Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra’s principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another’s rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the “Your Rights” section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.

  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:


Privacy Officer

JD Supra, LLC

10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300

Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the “My Account” dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use “automatic decision making” or “profiling” as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the “How We Share Your Data” Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:


Privacy Officer

JD Supra, LLC

10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300

Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com. We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the “My Account” dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

As with many websites, JD Supra’s website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our “Website“) and our services (such as our email article digests)(our “Services“) use a standard technology called a “cookie” and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user’s login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user’s profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • Session cookies” – These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • Persistent cookies” – These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • Web Beacons/Pixels” – Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot – For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic – For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics – For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the “Like,” “Tweet,” or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It’s also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser’s “Help” function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Credit Repair Companies

Credit Repair Review Methodology

Published

on

When it comes to managing your finances, thoroughly researching any company you work with is of the utmost importance. This couldn’t be truer than with credit repair companies.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), credit repair scams are incredibly common. There have been several recorded cases of criminals setting up false credit repair schemes designed to steal Social Security numbers, and some completely legitimate companies have been accused of violating consumer rights by charging illegal fees and making false promises to customers.  Even those with a clean record often face high volumes of consumer complaints for a variety of reasons, such as overpriced services and failure to deliver results.

The FTC makes it clear that no credit repair company is authorized to perform any action you can’t do on your own for free. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re legally entitled to access your credit report for free once per year or if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. Additionally, the law dictates that you can dispute inaccuracies on your report and have negative information removed after a certain number of years. The FTC offers a clear, step-by-step guide on how to do this without paying a credit repair company.

At the end of the day, many people still choose to work with a credit repair company because they feel overwhelmed by the dispute process and are willing to pay for expert help. There are a number of ways in which credit repair companies can provide value, such as spotting errors on your report that you might otherwise miss. The FTC advises that reputable companies will also help you achieve long-term financial success that goes beyond your credit report by providing budgeting help and free educational materials.

So how do you tell a legitimate credit repair company from a scam? That’s the question we set out to answer in our series of credit repair reviews. We looked at some of the most popular companies and closely examined their services, pricing structures, and reputations to determine whether or not they offer value. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the methodology we used to evaluate each company and explain why each factor that we examined is important when dealing with credit repair.

Credit Repair Methodology

Credit repair is a complex service that involves many moving parts. What’s more, no two credit repair companies offer the exact same approach. To get a fair evaluation of each company we reviewed, we broke our scoring sheet down into five categories as listed below.

Within each category, we ranked each company on specific aspects of their service on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). We then took the weighted average of all scores according to the importance of each in deciding whether or not to work with a credit repair company. The percentages used to weigh each category are outlined in the following table.

Stability 2%
Reputation and Customer Satisfaction 11%
Customer Experience 7%
Services 30%
Costs and Fees 50%

In the end, each company received an overall rating from 1.0 to 5.0, with 5.0 being the best possible score and 1.0 being the worst.

The following sections will give a more detailed breakdown of the specific data points we used to evaluate credit repair companies in each category.

Evaluating Stability

Unlike other financial industries such as insurance, there is no authoritative body that rates the stability of credit repair companies. With this information unavailable, we used the next best measure of evaluating stability: number of years in business.

The number of years a credit repair organization has been in business is important because it demonstrates that the company has achieved long-term stability. Not only does this mean the company isn’t likely to go out of business before completing the services you paid for, it also means they’ve gained years (or even decades) of experience helping others in your situation. A credit repair company that has been around for a long time is likely to have earned enough respect from customers to continue attracting business.

Based on industry averages, we scored each company’s number of years in business using the following scale:

Excellent (5) More than 25 years in business
Great (4) Sixteen to 25 years in business
Good (3) Eleven to 15 years in business
Fair (2) Six to 10 years in business
Poor (1) Five or fewer years in business

Company Reputation and Customer Satisfaction

In credit repair, a company’s reputation says a lot about the type of experience it provides to customers. There are many channels for regulating authorities and consumers to file complaints about a credit repair company, both official and unofficial. We looked at complaint data from three of the most recognized third-party sources:

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints and actions
  • Better Business Bureau reviews
  • Google reviews

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Complaints and Actions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a government agency that acts as a consumer advocate in financial markets related to banks, loans, and credit. One of the CFPB’s core functions is to field complaints that result from unfair practices. Complaints are published in a database on the CFPB website that anyone can access.

While the CFPB doesn’t verify the specific facts in complaints, the bureau does refrain from publishing those that don’t meet strict criteria. If a credit repair company has accumulated many complaints, it’s usually a good sign that something in the business’s practices doesn’t sit well with consumers. The CFPB has the power to take enforcement action against the company if it investigates a complaint and finds that the law has been violated.

In reviewing each credit repair company, we looked up the number of complaints they had received in the CFPB database and assigned a score based on the following ranges:

Excellent (5) No complaints within the past three years
Great (4) No complaints within the past year
Good (3) One to five complaints within the past year
Fair (2) Five to 10 complaints within the past year
Poor (1) Ten or more complaints within the past year or enforcement action

Better Business Bureau Reviews

Contrary to what many consumers believe, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is not an official government agency, but a private nonprofit that independently evaluates companies and fields customer complaints. The BBB allows companies to pay a fee for official accreditation and assigns ratings to all businesses, regardless of accreditation status.

In recent years, the validity of BBB ratings has been called into question by journalistic investigations that found discrepancies based on whether the business had paid for accreditation. Knowing this information, it’s important to take BBB ratings with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, we chose not to include BBB accreditation status or agency ratings into consideration when calculating companies’ overall score. However, we did include each company’s average customer review score. Customers can leave a review for businesses on the BBB website without filing a complaint, giving a score of 1 to 5 based on their experience with the company. We factored in these reviews based on the following point system:

Excellent (5) 5 stars
Great (4) 4 stars to less than 5 full stars
Good (3) 3 stars to less than 4 full stars
Fair (2) 2 stars to less than 3 full stars
Poor (1) Less than 2 full stars or no reviews

Google Reviews

A company’s Google profile is a common place for customers to go when they want to leave a review for a business they’ve interacted with. These reviews often appear when you search a company’s name using the Google search engine. Reviews consist of a star rating on a scale of 1 to 5 and an optional section for the customer to write a more detailed explanation of the score they gave.

In our methodology, Google reviews were assigned scores based on average star rating as follows:

Excellent (5) 5 stars
Great (4) 4 stars to less than 5 full stars
Good (3) 3 stars to less than 4 full stars
Fair (2) 2 stars to less than 3 full stars
Poor (1) Less than 2 full stars or no reviews

Customer Experience

A credit repair company’s dedication to customer experience is often a strong indicator of the quality of services they provide. When credit repair organizations don’t put enough effort into providing a good experience, customers tend to have difficulty contacting the company and getting updates on their case status. Since most credit repair services are now offered digitally, this generally means providing a helpful, easy-to-use website and virtual tools like an app or customer portal.

Taking all of this into account, we evaluated customer experience by looking into these three areas:

  • Website content
  • Website usability
  • Digital accessibility

Website Content

In the digital age, your first interaction with any company is often through its website. Credit repair companies use their websites to attract customers by providing information about their services and the benefits of credit repair. Unfortunately, not all companies are honest, and some publish inaccurate information that may mislead customers into thinking the company can do more than it really can.

While reviewing credit repair companies, we looked for three key items that illustrate the quality of information being presented:

  • Price disclosure
  • Online resources
  • FAQ page

Price Disclosure

One of the most common complaints about credit repair companies is that they aren’t upfront about their pricing, leading some customers to inadvertently accrue charges they weren’t aware of. Companies that value transparency should publish their pricing clearly online so that customers know exactly what they can expect to pay for services before they call.

For each credit repair company, we looked for pricing information on their website and assigned the following points:

Excellent (5) Price disclosed online
Poor (1) Price not disclosed online

Online Resources

A truly reputable credit repair company should approach fixing your credit as a multi-stage solution. In addition to disputing credit errors, the best companies will also provide resources that cover big-picture financial planning and debt management. Most companies that offer resources do so for free, demonstrating value to potential customers who are thinking about signing up for services.

We evaluated credit repair companies’ online resources based on this scale:

Excellent (5) Free app or interactive tool
Great (4) Free e-books and/or videos
Good (3) Blog
Fair (2) Basic information
Poor (1) None

FAQ Page

Credit repair can seem daunting for those who have never disputed an error on their report before. It’s completely normal to have questions about how the process works and what to expect along the way. To answer these questions transparently, credit repair companies should have an FAQ page that provides in-depth answers to questions not only about the credit repair process, but also the company’s specific practices such as pricing and policies.

Companies were given the following points depending on whether or not they had an FAQ page:

Excellent (5) Has an FAQ page
Poor (1) Does not have an FAQ page

Website Usability

The information included in a credit repair company’s website is important, but it won’t do you any good if you can’t locate it. We gave companies more points if they had dedicated resources to designing a responsive website that made it easy to find what you’re looking for.

We made our website usability analysis as objective as possible using these criteria:

Excellent (5) Intuitive design, interactive tools, easy to locate information
Great (4) Well-designed, highly informative but few tools
Good (3) Average design, includes useful information
Fair (2) Design lacking, information is difficult to find
Poor (1) Outdated design, poor experience, missing key information

Digital Accessibility

The technology available today enables companies to offer much more than just a website. We rewarded credit repair businesses for making additional technologies available that help customers more easily navigate the credit repair process. These technologies are:

  • Online customer portal
  • Mobile app
  • Web chat

Online Customer Portal

An online customer portal is a tool that customers can access using a username and password. Upon logging in, customers might find information such as important documents, dispute status, and updates from the credit repair specialist handling their case.

The credit repair companies we reviewed earned the following points for the presence or absence of a customer portal:

Excellent (5) Has an online customer portal
Poor (1) Does not have an online customer portal

Mobile App

Mobile apps are another trend in technology that make a big difference in the credit repair experience. Since most consumers spend more time on their phones than their computers throughout the day, a mobile app can make it easier to receive information and access resources.

Our rubric assigned points to companies with mobile apps using this scale:

Excellent (5) Has a mobile app
Poor (1) Does not have a mobile app

Web Chat

Not everyone wants to pick up the phone or wait for an email every time they have a question. Web chat is a convenient customer service channel that tends to be much faster and more efficient than traditional contact methods.

The companies we reviewed were rewarded for having a web chat as follows:

Excellent (5) Has a web chat
Poor (1) Does not have a web chat

Credit Repair Services

Credit repair isn’t a one-size-fits-all service. Most companies offer several different options which might include different credit repair options, tiered service levels, and additional non-credit repair offerings. To further explore the scope of services available, we broke them down into two main categories:

  • Credit repair service packages
  • Additional services offered

Credit Repair Service Packages

No two credit repair services are the same. Credit repair organizations often split their services into tiered packages that vary by the number or type of services included. For example, some companies may ask you to pay more for unlimited disputes per month, while others exclude services like credit monitoring from base packages but offer them in premium plans.

Some companies offer just one service package while others let customers choose from several different options. No matter how many choices a company makes available, not all of them include the same scope of services in their monthly fee.

To create a standardized method of evaluating credit repair service packages, we looked at data in three main areas:

  • Variety of service packages offered
  • Whether credit monitoring is offered
  • How many monthly disputes are included

Service Packages Offered

Every credit repair customer has a different set of needs. While some only have one or two minor errors to remove from their report, others require significant help with a major discrepancy. Ideally, a credit repair company will offer packages at various price points so that customers don’t overpay for a full-service option they don’t need.

The credit repair companies we reviewed were given points for the number of service packages they offered according to this scale:

Excellent (5) More than three service packages
Great (4) Two or three service packages
Good (3) Single service package

Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring is a type of service that tracks your credit report and notifies you if there are any significant changes you should know about. If you need credit repair services, chances are you should also enroll in credit monitoring so that you’re always up to date on changes to your report as they happen.

Unfortunately, not all credit repair companies include credit monitoring in their service packages. Some even make credit monitoring mandatory but require customers to pay an additional fee for this service, often through a third party.

We used the following points system to grade credit monitoring availability from each company:

Excellent (5) Credit monitoring included
Great (4) Additional charge
Good (3) Not offered or not disclosed

Monthly Disputes Included

Each time a credit repair company contacts a credit bureau on your behalf to contest inaccurate information, the company counts this as a dispute. Some credit repair companies place a limit on the number of disputes they’ll file on your behalf in a given month. If you have a lot of information to dispute on your report, this could mean it takes much longer than planned to have it all corrected.

Keep in mind that there are three major credit bureaus, each of which requires disputes to be filed separately. Credit repair companies almost always count disputes per credit bureau, even if the same information is being called into question. For example, if the same misspelling appears across all three of your credit reports, the credit repair company will count that as three individual disputes.

We looked at the number of disputes included per month with each credit repair company and rated them using this scale:

Excellent (5) Unlimited with all plans
Great (4) Unlimited with higher-tier plans
Good (3) Limited number of monthly disputes (>30)
Fair (2) Limited number of monthly disputes (<30)
Poor (1) None or not disclosed

Additional Services

As we’ve discussed, credit repair is often a single part of a much larger effort to repair your finances. This might involve debt management and/or refinancing your current loans, both of which are offered by certain credit repair companies. If a company offers this, you may find it easier to come up with a more comprehensive financial plan for your personal credit issues.

Oftentimes, credit repair services are required by someone’s business, which falls outside the scope of what credit repair companies offer to individuals. To meet this demand, some credit repair providers have additional services tailored to business owners who need help improving their business’s credit.

Companies were awarded a point if they offered the following additional services:

  • Debt management
  • Financing and loans
  • Business services

Costs and Fees

Costs and fees made up 50% of our overall weighted score when evaluating credit repair companies. This is because cost is one of the main pain points for credit repair customers who may already be in a difficult financial situation.

We evaluated the cost of credit repair services based on five key points:

  • Fee structure
  • Cost of services
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Discounts
  • Cancellation policy 

Fee Structure

There are generally three different types of fee structures with credit repair companies. Some ask for a one-time fee that covers the entire cost of all agreed upon services, no matter how long they take. Others charge customers by the month for the duration that it takes to address all disputes. However, some companies charge both a one-time fee to get started (often called a “discovery fee”) and a monthly fee as services continue.

Since customers tend to pay more when companies charge both types of fees, we graded fee structure using the following system:

Excellent (5) Either a one-time or monthly fee
Poor (1) Both a one-time and monthly fee or not disclosed

Cost of Services

Once a credit repair company’s fee structure has been determined, it all boils down to how much they charge for services. We gathered pricing information from all the companies we evaluated and compared them to one another, creating separate tiers for both one-time and monthly fees. 

One-Time Fees

Average one-time fees usually fall in the range of $51 to $100, although some companies charge more and others less. Points were assigned for pricing using this scale:

Excellent (5) $0
Great (4) $1 to $50
Good (3) $51 to $100
Fair (2) $101 and up
Poor (1) Not disclosed

Monthly Fees

Typical monthly fees we saw started between $71 and $90 for the most entry-level service package, although some are cheaper and others more expensive. Companies were rated based on the following price brackets:

Excellent (5) $0
Great (4) $1 to $70
Good (3) $71 to $90
Fair (2) $91 and up
Poor (1) Not disclosed

Money-Back Guarantee

There are certain claims that credit repair companies cannot legally make according to the Credit Repair Organizations Act. For example, companies can’t guarantee results in their marketing materials in order to attract customers. This is because there’s no way to completely guarantee a certain outcome from the credit dispute process, even if you hire a credit repair company.

However, some companies offer money-back guarantees if no results are seen within a certain period of time. This is essentially a way for the company to stand by their services and give customers their money back if no successful disputes are made.

We looked into the money-back guarantees advertised by each company we reviewed and gave points using these criteria:

Excellent (5) Results guaranteed within 30 days
Great (4) Results guaranteed within 31-60 days
Good (3) Results guaranteed within 61-90 days
Fair (2) Results guaranteed within 91+ days
Poor (1) No money back guarantee or not disclosed

Discounts

As with most services, some credit repair companies offer discounts to those who qualify. Discounts vary by company, but common ones include military discounts and reduced pricing for couples who sign up for services together.

Our credit repair review methodology rewarded the companies that offered discounts based on this points scale:

Excellent (5) Discounts available
Poor (1) No discounts available or not disclosed

Cancellation Policy

If you’re enrolled in credit repair services and want to cancel your monthly subscription, there are generally two factors to note. First, some companies charge a fee to those who cancel before a certain period of time has elapsed. Second, many require customers to give notice a specific number of days before their next billing period, typically 30. If a credit repair company has this type of policy, you may be charged for an additional month after you cancel.

By law, credit repair companies must allow customers to cancel and have all their fees refunded within the first three days of signing up for service. Since this is required of every company, no additional points were given to those that advertised this type of policy.

Our rating system gave points to companies based on how customer-friendly they made their cancellation policy. Points were assigned using the following guide: 

Excellent (5) No cancellation fee or notice required
Great (4) No cancellation fee, notice required
Good (3) Cancellation fee, no notice required
Fair (2) Cancellation fee and notice required
Poor (1) Legal minimum (first three days) or not disclosed

Shopping for Credit Repair Companies

No consumer financial industry is immune to pitfalls, but credit repair is particularly known for being rife with scams. While there are plenty of respectable credit repair companies, you should use extreme care when shopping for a service provider.

The FTC maintains up-to-date information regarding the credit repair industry on its website, including specific warnings as potential scams come to light. The agency recommends avoiding companies that show any of these five red flags:

  • Asking for payment before any work has been performed
  • Instructing you not to contact the credit bureaus
  • Suggesting that you dispute information you know to be accurate
  • Telling you to provide false information to a lender or financial institution
  • Failing to explain your legal rights during the credit repair process

When dealing with a credit repair company, you are entitled to certain rights outlined by the Credit Repair Organization Act. The company should provide a written contract up front that includes the following information:

  • The full cost you will pay
  • How long services will take
  • Any guarantees the company offers
  • A clause entitling you to cancellation and a full refund within three days

If a credit repair company doesn’t meet the above guidelines, the safest bet is to walk away and look for a more reputable organization. However, if you’ve already paid and are unhappy with the services provided, you can file a complaint with the FTC.

Take the Next Step to Invest

×

The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation.

Source link

Continue Reading

Credit Repair Companies

Sky Blue Credit Repair Review

Published

on

Just getting started with credit repair and not sure what type of service you need? If so, Sky Blue Credit may be a good place to start. The company’s flexible credit repair service can be tailored to meet the needs of those preparing to buy a home, facing debt collectors, or simply trying to rebuild their credit score. But as with all credit repair companies, there are a few drawbacks to consider, too. Our review lays out all the pros and cons to help you decide whether Sky Blue Credit is the right credit repair choice.


Pros Explained

  • Simple cost structure: Sky Blue Credit charges a $79 setup fee and an additional $79 for each month of service.
  • Tailored services: The single service plan covers optional services like mortgage preparation and debt settlement consultations.
  • Offers a 90-day guarantee: If you aren’t happy with the service you receive from Sky Blue, the company will refund all fees paid within the first 90 days.
  • Easy to pause or cancel membership: Pause or cancel your membership in seconds through the Sky Blue Credit membership portal, by email, or over the phone.

Cons Explained

  • Limited monthly disputes: Sky Blue Credit will only send 15 disputes per month, or five per credit bureau. Many competitors offer unlimited disputes.
  • Lacks online resources: The company doesn’t provide a library of free educational resources as offered by some other credit repair companies.
  • Doesn’t offer credit monitoring: If you’re interested in ongoing credit monitoring, you’ll need to sign up through a third party.
  • No free consultation: Initial consultation costs are included in Sky Blue Credit’s $79 setup fee. The gold standard in credit repair is to offer an initial consultation for free.

Types of Services

It’s fairly common for credit repair companies to offer multiple tiers of service packages, selling premium services at a higher monthly cost. Sky Blue Credit offers just one. However, this single plan is more flexible than most, covering a broad scope of services that can be personalized to suit individual needs.

Professional Credit Analysis

One of the main benefits of working with a credit repair company is having an expert set of eyes check your credit report for potential discrepancies. A seasoned credit repair professional may be able to spot errors you would have otherwise missed. Sky Blue provides a detailed analysis of each credit report upon signup.

Credit Disputes

Once Sky Blue Credit has gone through your credit reports, the company begins sending disputes to the credit bureaus on your behalf. Up to 15 disputes, or five per bureau, are included with each month’s membership fee.

Score Rebuilding

In reviewing your credit, Sky Blue Credit will offer suggestions for steps you can take to improve your credit score. This may include prioritizing paying off certain balances or opening a secured credit card. The company will also work with you to form a long-term credit rebuilding plan.


Optional Add-Ons

Since Sky Blue Credit’s service package is all-inclusive, there aren’t any paid upgrades to mention. However, the monthly membership fee does cover a list of services the company considers optional as they’re only applicable to a handful of specific cases.

Debt Validation

If you’ve received a letter from a collections agency for a debt you believe is erroneous, Sky Blue Credit will help you navigate the debt validation process by asking the agency to provide proof of the amount owed.

Goodwill Letters

In some cases, goodwill letters can be sent to ask creditors to remove an accurate derogatory mark from your report. Sky Blue Credit advises that these letters are useful if the event (such as a late payment) was a one-time occurrence and you’ve been making payments on time for at least six months since.

Cease and Desist Letters

Sky Blue Credit customers who have been inundated with debt collection calls can ask the company to send cease and desist letters to stop communications. However, the company notes, this is only used as a last resort as it may trigger a lawsuit from the collection agency.

Debt Settlement Consultations

While Sky Blue Credit isn’t a debt settlement company, customers can ask for advice regarding the possibility of negotiating a reduced payoff amount with the creditor.

Mortgage Preparation

If you’re fixing your credit in preparation to purchase a home, Sky Blue Credit specializes in mortgage lender requirements and will adjust your credit repair strategy according to your timeline.


Customer Service

The best way to get in touch with Sky Blue Credit is by phone or email. Note that phone lines are only open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. EST, hours that might be inconvenient for busy professionals. Sky Blue doesn’t offer live webchat or a smartphone app, although customers can manage their account by logging into an online portal.


Company Reputation

To gauge the reputation of credit repair companies, we often turn to the complaint database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Sky Blue Credit has been named in two complaints in the past three years, both related to customer service issues. The CFPB notes that both complaints were closed in a timely manner.

Sky Blue Credit also has a profile with the Better Business Bureau, although the company isn’t accredited and has a rating of C-. Despite this, customer reviews on the website average an impressive 4.5 stars. Sky Blue also maintains a 4.3-star rating on Google.

If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.


Contract Duration

Customers who sign up with Sky Blue Credit are not subject to any long-term contracts. The company’s cancellation policy is among the most customer-friendly in the industry. Memberships can be canceled at any time by logging into the online portal, calling the customer service phone line, or sending an email. There are no fees associated with canceling.

If you need a break from paying membership fees but don’t want to cancel entirely, Sky Blue Credit lets you pause service at any time and pick things back up when you’re ready. By taking advantage of this option, you won’t have to pay another $79 setup fee when you resume service.


Cost

Sky Blue Credit’s cost structure is fairly straightforward. Customers pay a $79 upfront fee for the initial setup and consultation process. There’s also a $79 membership fee for each month of service. Both fees are right around average for the credit repair industry.

If you’re not happy with your service for any reason, Sky Blue Credit will refund all fees paid within the first 90 days.

Sky Blue Credit’s money-back guarantee sets the company apart from competitors as it doesn’t depend on a specific outcome. Most companies only offer a refund if no successful disputes have been made within a certain period of time.


The Competition: Sky Blue Credit vs. Ovation Credit Services by Lending Tree

There’s a lot of competition in the credit repair industry, so we compared Sky Blue Credit to longstanding rival Ovation Credit Services by Lending Tree to see which offers better value. Ovation prices its base package in the same range as Sky Blue Credit’s sole offering, although the company also makes a premium membership available with unlimited credit disputes and TransUnion credit monitoring.

But Ovation also provides members with comprehensive educational tools designed to empower them to take control over their own credit, resources that Sky Blue Credit doesn’t come close to matching. For this reason, we’d pick Ovation Credit Services by Lending Tree as the better value.


Source link

Continue Reading

Credit Repair Companies

Credit Repair Company Earns Top Ranking from TopConsumerReviews.com

Published

on

News Image

When it comes to top-notch customer service, affordable pricing, and effectiveness, no one does Credit Repair better than Sky Blue

TopConsumerReviews.com once again awarded their highest ranking to Sky Blue Credit Repair, an industry leader among providers of Credit Repair services.

American consumers are starting to catch on: having a good credit history, leading to a good credit score, can make all the difference when it comes to getting the financial stability and life satisfaction they want. Whether that’s to qualify for a lower home mortgage rate, get accepted as a tenant, or secure a student loan, a higher credit score equals more opportunity. But, for people who haven’t had a great track record with credit – late payments, overspending, and so on – it often requires the use of a reputable Credit Repair service to get moving in the right direction again. These services partner with consumers to clean up negative marks on their credit history, advocating on behalf of their clients as they work with creditors and credit bureaus as well as with collection agencies. And, the most reputable Credit Repair services work hand-in-hand with customers to design a plan that will maintain those positive financial decisions in the future.

“When it comes to top-notch customer service, affordable pricing, and effectiveness, no one does Credit Repair better than Sky Blue,” according to Brian Dolezal of TopConsumerReviews.com, LLC. “The company promises a ‘happy, stress-free experience’, and who doesn’t want that when dealing with something as sensitive and potentially stressful as Credit Repair? The process is very simple, starting with a free initial review and consultation with a Sky Blue representative. Once signed up as a customer, you submit your credit report and let Sky Blue get to work for you, disputing at least 5 items per credit bureau every 35 days. Plus, in the first 90 days of your membership, you can take advantage of a condition-free guarantee: cancel for any reason and get a full refund of any fees paid to date. Customers continue to praise Sky Blue for their knowledgeable, friendly service – and for their effectiveness in making bad credit better. For all of these reasons, Sky Blue continues to come in first place among Credit Repair services in 2019.”

To find out more about Sky Blue and other Credit Repair services, including reviews and comparison rankings, please visit the Credit Repair Services category of TopConsumerReviews.com at https://www.topconsumerreviews.com/credit-repair.

About Sky Blue

Sky Blue Credit is dedicated to credit repair, focusing solely on helping customers reaching their credit goals through repair and restoration services since 1989. They pride themselves on speed, disputing 15 items every 35 days, as well as giving intelligent guidance with respect to optimizing customers’ credit scores.

About TopConsumerReviews.com

TopConsumerReviews.com is a leading provider of reviews and rankings for thousands of consumer products and services. From Credit Repair to Debt Relief and Personal Loans, TopConsumerReviews.com delivers in-depth product evaluations in order to make purchasing decisions easier.

Share article on social media or email:

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending