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Interview: Financial advisor discusses consumer credit repair

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After a year of losing jobs and revenue during the global pandemic, many people are looking for holistic consumer credit repair.

Last year alone, 67% of the complaints that came into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were about credit reporting.

The American Association of Consumer Credit Professionals said it’s stepping into the breach, re-constituting itself as a trade association and advocacy group to better help those holding debt and demand different policies out of Washington.

Liz Shrum, the senior advisor of the American Association of Consumer Credit Professionals, joined Sonseeahray to discuss the issue.

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Can you get a better rate even with bad credit?

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If you would like to refinance your current home loan but lack the credit score to snag a low rate, this article is for you. Here, we’ll suggest ways you can improve your current interest rate, even if your credit is less than perfect.

Can you refinance your mortgage with bad credit?

The short answer is maybe. It’s certainly not out of the question. If you’re looking for a conventional refinance, you’ll likely need a credit score of 620 or higher. Don’t let that discourage you if you’re not quite there, though. A mortgage lender will also consider factors like how much you earn and your cash reserves (to determine whether you can cover financial emergencies). Even if your credit score is low, a lender may be willing to take the risk as long as other aspects of your application are strong.

But first, you need to know where to start.

Speak with your current lender

Let your current lender know that you’d like to refinance and find out if it offers options that will work for you. The best thing about working with your current lender is that it knows your mortgage file and can quickly determine whether you’d qualify for any of their refinance programs, even with bad credit.

Your current lender may help by changing your loan terms. For example, it may be willing to refinance your loan to a longer term. You’d end up paying more in total interest over the life of the loan if you extend it, but it will lower your payments and, hopefully, give your budget a little breathing room.

Also, if you’re still carrying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your loan because you put less than 20% down when you purchased the property, find out how close you are to hitting the 20% equity mark. Once you have 20% equity in the property, your mortgage lender will drop PMI. Here’s how that works:

  • Get your home appraised. A home appraisal typically runs between $300 and $450. You have to pay for the appraisal, but it could take as little as two months to recoup the cost once PMI is dropped.
  • Figure out how much you still owe. Let’s say the appraisal comes in at $325,000, and you currently owe $250,000. That means you owe less than 80% of what the home is worth (giving you more than 20% equity) and are eligible to drop PMI. ($250,000 ÷ $325,000 = 0.769, or just shy of 77%).
  • Ask your lender to drop PMI. Provide your mortgage company with the appraisal and a written request to drop your PMI payments.

Seek a government-backed loan

Government-backed loans — like FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages — are designed for everyday people who may not have much cash to get into a home. Though regular mortgage lenders distribute them, these loans are backed by the U.S. government. Lenders know that if you default on the loan, the government will make them whole. Simply put, if you want to refinance but your credit score is nothing to write home about, a government-backed loan may be your best option. While these loans do have minimum credit qualifications, they are typically lower than a traditional mortgage.

FHA

If you currently have an FHA mortgage, the FHA streamline option allows you to refinance without a credit check or income verification. The catch is that your mortgage must be current. If you’re hoping to switch from a conventional loan to FHA, you’ll need to undergo the typical credit check.

VA

Loans backed by the Veterans Administration are for active and former military members and their families. Although you will likely need a credit score of at least 620 to qualify (depending on the lender), a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (VA IRRRL) allows you to refinance an existing VA loan as long as you’ve made at least the last 12 payments on time. (This requirement varies by lender.) Lenders may also have guidelines regarding how long you’ve held your current mortgage. Unfortunately, there is no cash-out option available with a VA IRRRL.

USDA

Home buyers with an income of up to 115% of the median income for the area where they hope to buy (or refinance) a property may be eligible for a USDA loan. The home in question must be located in an area designated as USDA eligible.

If you have a current USDA loan, their streamlined assist program lets you refinance without a credit check. You qualify as long as you’ve made the last 12 months’ worth of payments.

Add a cosigner

Though we’re putting this option out there for your consideration, convincing a cosigner to refinance a mortgage is not as simple as it sounds. Not only do you have to talk someone into taking responsibility for your mortgage if you miss payments, but some lenders want the cosigner to be on the title of the home. In addition, if your credit score is very low, a cosigner may not help. That’s because mortgage lenders use the lowest median credit score between you. No matter how high your cosigner’s credit scores are from the big three credit reporting agencies, the lender will be more interested in your median score. Let’s say your three scores are 600, 590, and 580. It’s that middle score (590) they’ll use to make a credit decision.

That said, if your median score is right on the cusp of the lender’s minimum required score, having a cosigner with excellent credit may be enough to inspire the lender to refinance your mortgage. For example, if the minimum required score is 660, and your median score is 650, you may have a shot.

There’s no credit score so low that it can’t be rehabilitated. So as you work through your refinancing options, take steps to raise your credit score. You might not be able to do it overnight, but you can do it.In the meantime, if you’re not sure where to get started, look at the best mortgage lenders for bad credit. They can point you in the right direction.

A historic opportunity to potentially save thousands on your mortgage

Offer from the Motley Fool: Chances are, interest rates won’t stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. That’s why taking action today is crucial, whether you’re wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase. 

Our expert recommends this company to find a low rate – and in fact he used them himself to refi (twice!). Click here to learn more and see your rate.

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Best Credit Repair Companies: Top 7 Services To Repair Credit Fast

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If you’re looking to improve your credit score or fix errors on your credit report, hiring a good credit repair company to handle the process for you is a wise decision. The best credit repair companies work on your behalf with the major credit bureaus to remove negative items that are hurting your credit score such as charge-offs, late payments, debt collections, and bankruptcies.

To help you find the best credit repair service for your needs, we’ve reviewed the top credit repair companies on factors such as effectiveness, credit repair reviews, speed of results, company reputation, and price.

If you’re ready to repair your credit and save thousands of dollars per year in interest, here are our top picks for the best credit repair companies of 2021:

The 7 Best Credit Repair Companies of 2021

#1 Credit Saint: Best Company Overall

Credit Saint is our top choice for the best credit repair company of 2021. Credit Saint has had an outstanding A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau for over 10 years and has helped thousands of customers successfully improve their credit scores.

Credit Saint starts by offering you a free consultation to go over your FICO credit score and to identify negative items that are damaging your credit. Once problem areas have been identified, Credit Saint will send challenges to all 3 credit bureaus on your behalf in an attempt to remove inaccurate information from your credit report.

Credit Saint can help remove questionable negative items such as:

  • Collections
  • Late Payments
  • Bankruptcies
  • Repossessions
  • Liens
  • Foreclosures
  • Judgements
  • Credit Inquiries

Credit Saint is one of the most aggressive credit repair companies (which is a good thing) but they understand that one size does not fit all. Credit Saint has 3 different service packages to choose from, depending on your credit repair needs.

The Credit Polish package includes challenges to the 3 major credit bureaus, free score analysis, a credit score tracker, and 5 challenges of negative items per dispute cycle.

The Credit Remodel package includes everything in the Credit Polish package but also includes inquiry targeting, on-going credit monitoring through Experian, and 10 negative item disputes per cycle.

The Clean Slate package is the most aggressive option available. It includes everything in the above packages, but also comes with sending Cease & Desist letters on your behalf as well as challenging an unlimited number of inaccurate items on your report.

Overall, Credit Saint offers the best bang for your buck among all credit repair agencies we’ve reviewed. Their A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau is the best in the credit repair industry and they also offer a 90-day money back guarantee for their services. If you want a free credit consultation to see if they can help, you can talk to one of their credit pros for free without any obligation.

  • Free Credit Consultation
  • A+ Better Business Bureau Rating For Over 10 Years
  • Online Dashboard To Monitor Progress in Real-Time
  • 3 Different Credit Repair Services To Choose From
  • 90-Day Money Back Guarantee

Click Here To Visit The Credit Saint Website For More Information

#2 Lexington Law: Most Experienced Credit Repair Specialist

Lexington Law is the most experienced credit repair company in the United States with over 10,000,000 negative items removed from their clients’ credit reports in just 2017 alone.

Lexington Law is a company with a team of paralegals and lawyers that use specific laws to protect your credit from situations that may be out of your control. This credit repair company can help you if your credit score has been negatively affected by:

  • Identity Theft
  • Divorce
  • Military Service
  • Student Debt
  • Medical Bills

Lexington Law first works by obtaining a copy of your credit reports and then analyzes them for negative items that are harming your score. Their law firm will then send disputes on your behalf to challenge inaccurate items. They’ll provide you with an online dashboard, so you’ll have access to your progress every step of the way as well as solutions that can help you repair your credit even faster.

Lexington Law provides 3 different credit repair packages to choose from, depending on your needs. Price ranges from $89.95 to $129.95.

The Concord standard service is their basic package with prices starting at $89.95 per month. This includes challenging harmful items with the 3 credit bureaus as well as your creditors.

The Concord premier package includes everything in the standard service as well as score analysis, TransUnion alerts, and removing hard inquiries. This option costs $109.95 per month and is their intermediate service.

PremierPlus is their top of the line credit repair service that includes everything in the above packages as well as cease and desist letters, FICO score tracker, identity theft protection, and a suite of personal finance tools. This is their most powerful package at a price point of $129.95 per month.

Overall, Lexington Law is one of the most experienced credit repair agencies that you’ll find. They’re a little more expensive than other credit repair companies, but their quality of work is unmatched.

  • Get Help With Late Payments, Charge Offs, Collections, Foreclosures, & More
  • Ranked #1 Credit Repair Company By Many Independent Review Sites
  • Over 56 Million Removals Since 2004
  • Over 500,000 Active Clients

Click Here To Visit The Lexington Law Website For More Information

#3 Sky Blue Credit: Top Company for Cheap Credit Repair

Sky Blue Credit is the best credit repair company if you’re looking for transparent pricing and excellent value. Rather than offering multiple credit repair options and service levels to choose from (which can be overwhelming), Sky Blue Credit offers all of its services for a flat-rate of $79 per month.

Sky Blue Credit Repair disputes 15 items on your credit report (5 items per bureau) every 35 days. This is a great value compared to credit repair companies that only dispute items every 45 to 60 days, charging you monthly fees during the process.

Once you sign up with Sky Blue Credit, you’ll be provided a detailed analysis of your credit history including any hard-to-spot errors that could be harming you. Once problems are identified, the Sky Blue credit pros will send customized disputes on your behalf. They also will send re-dispute letters if necessary, to maximize their chances of success. They also check on the statue of limitation for any debt you have as well.

Sky Blue offers their services free of charge for the first 6 days while they gather your reports and also offers an impressive 90-day money back guarantee. If you’re looking for the top credit repair services while on a budget, Sky Blue Credit is a great option to consider.

  • Clean Up Errors on Your Credit Report
  • All Services Included For One Low Monthly Rate
  • No First Work Fee and No Charge For The First 6 Days
  • 90-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • No Contracts – Cancel Service At Any Time

Click Here To Visit The Sky Blue Credit Website For More Information

#4 CreditRepair.com: Best for Free Credit Score Analysis

CreditRepair.com is one of the top credit repair companies for challenging inaccurate information on your credit report. This company has been around since 2012 and has removed over 1,800,000 harmful items from their clients’ credit reports since 2012.

When you sign up with CreditRepair.com, they’ll immediately retrieve your credit report and analyze it to find items that may be invalid, inaccurate, or misleading. They will then build you a personalized credit repair plan to not only remove negative items that are hurting your score, but also provide a strategy for rebuilding positive credit.

After thoroughly analyzing your credit reports, CreditRepair.com will begin challenging the negative items that are likely having the biggest impact on your score. They have several different methods for repairing your credit including debt validation letters and goodwill letters.

CreditRepair.com offers 3 different credit repair packages depending on your needs.

Direct – This is their entry-level package and includes up to 15 negative items challenged per month, and 3 creditor disputes per month. This plan costs $69.95, which is one of the lowest monthly fees in the credit repair industry. This plan is recommended for those with only a handful of negative items.

Standard – This package includes everything above plus cease & desist letters to creditors, quarterly credit score analysis, hard inquiry challenging, and 24/7 credit monitoring. This package is $99.95 per month.

Advanced – This is their most comprehensive credit repair plan and includes up to 19 negative item challenges per month and 6 creditor disputes per month. Additionally, you’ll also receive your monthly FICO score, ID theft protection, $1 million in identity theft insurance, and an array of personal finance tools. The advanced plan is just $119.95 per month, which is a pretty good value considering everything that’s included.

Overall, CreditRepair.com is one of the best options when it comes to credit repair. They have the top-rated credit repair app in the industry, which is available for both Android and iPhones.

  • 50% off setup fee if you sign up with a friend or family member
  • Aggressive credit repair process that gets results
  • 3 unique credit repair programs to choose from
  • Free consultation with credit score analysis
  • 15+ challenges per month

Click Here To Visit The CreditRepair.com Website For More Information

#5 The Credit Pros: Best for Fast Credit Repair

The Credit Pros is a fast-growing credit repair agency that has been in business for over 12 years and is trusted by over 200,000 clients nationwide. They maintain an A+ BBB rating and are consistently rated as one of the best credit repair services by many independent review sites.

The Credit Pros offer 3 different credit repair packages to meet the needs of all clients. Whether you’re looking for credit score monitoring or a full-fledged credit repair service, you’re likely to find a plan that meets your needs and budget.  Here are the 3 packages that are offered by The Credit Pros.

The Money Management package is their entry-level plan that starts at just $49 per month. It includes Transunion credit monitoring, identity and dark web monitoring, as well as CashRules finance manager. The CashRules finance manager offers the ability to integrate your banks, set budgets, get alerts, and easily track transactions.

The Prosperity Package is $119 per month and should fit the needs of most credit repair clients. It includes everything in the Money Management package, but also offers 3-bureau credit repair. The AI-driven credit repair process includes:

  • Cease and desist letters to collection agencies (to stop harassment)
  • Debt validation letters to creditors
  • Goodwill letters to creditors
  • Unlimited dispute letters
  • One-on-One Action Plan With a Certified FICO professional

The Success Package is $149 per month and includes everything above + a guaranteed $1,500 line of credit. With the credit line, they report directly to Experian and Transunion, so you can improve your credit scores faster.

If you’re not sure what plan is right for you or if you have questions about your credit, you can request a free, no-obligation consultation to see if they can help.

Overall, The Credit Pros is one of the best options when it comes to hiring a credit repair agency. With unlimited disputes, 24/7 access to client portals, and identity theft protection with every plan, you can’t go wrong with The Credit Pros.

  • AI-Driven Credit Repair Technology
  • Quick Credit Repair For Expedited Results
  • A+ Better Business Bureau Rating
  • Credit Monitoring Is Included At No Additional Cost
  • One-on-One Action Plan With Certified FICO Specialist
  • Monthly Plan With Unlimited Dispute Letters Available
  • Free Consultation With A Credit Repair Specialist

Click Here To Visit The Credit Pros Website For More Information

#6 The Credit People: Best Service Guarantee

The Credit People is one of the top credit repair companies of 2021. This company has been in business for over 15 years, offering both monthly pay-as-you-go and six month flat-rate service plans.

The Credit People markets itself for unbeatable customer satisfaction and has earned features in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and SmartMoney.

The Credit People says that it can improve your credit score by 53 to 187 points. It’s important to note that these figures are estimates because credit repair companies cannot guarantee their services. (More on this in a moment.) The company also has had nearly 1.5 million negative items removed from credit reports since 2004.

The best overall company for repair speed has an equally impressive pedigree for quality. According to The Credit People website, lenders approved 71% of its users for home loans, and 78% secured auto loans. Its average customer saw a 32% improvement in their credit score after joining.

Some of the other perks of joining The Credit People include:

  • 24/7 account access
  • Unlimited disputes
  • Debt and inquiry validation
  • FCRA certification
  • Toll-free customer support

The company charges an annual fee of $419 rather than a monthly one, making it cheaper than other credit repair services. You can try The Credit People for one week for $19 to see if you like it. The company also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Click Here To Visit The Credit People Website For More Information

#7 Ovation Credit Services: Reputable Credit Fixer With Good Reviews

More than 120,000 people have already improved their credit score, thanks to Ovation Credit Services. This credit clean up company has made a name for itself with cost-effective results and outstanding customer support. Ovation Credit Services takes pride in building personal relationships with its customers and finding customized solutions to improve their credit reports.

All clients receive a free consultation during their initial appointment. The meeting gives case advisors a chance to review someone’s credit history and determine the appropriate credit cleaning services. Its site states that a quarter of people have at least one error on their credit report, and more than half have outdated information.

After you sign up to get started with Ovation Credit Services, your advisor will file disputes on your behalf. That can involve writing goodwill letters or contesting late payments with creditors. Ovation Credit works with credit reporting bureaus to make sure you have an accurate credit score.

This credit repair company has a first work fee of $89 for its basic package. After the first month, the work fees drop to $79 per month. Ovation Credit Services has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+ and a 4.3 rating on TrustPilot.

How Do Credit Repair Companies Work?

Credit repair companies start the process by helping you request a copy of your credit report with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. An experienced credit professional will then examine your credit report for negative items that could be hurting your credit score such as:

  • Late Payments
  • Bankruptcies
  • Charge-offs
  • Hard Inquiries
  • Judgements
  • Foreclosures
  • Debt Collections

After reviewing the derogatory items on your credit report, the company will start working with your creditors and the credit bureaus on your behalf.

Credit restoration services employ a variety of tactics to get harmful items removed from your credit report including:

  • Goodwill letters to your creditors
  • Requests to validate information
  • Dispute letters for inaccurate information
  • Cease-and-desist letters to stop harassment from debt collectors

Good credit help companies will also work with you to build positive credit history and provide tips to help optimize your credit score.

How We Chose The Best Credit Repair Companies

Credit Repair Reviews and Complaints

When it comes to the credit repair industry, a company’s reputation is everything. In order to find the best credit repair companies, we took a look at reviews and complaints from a variety of sources including:

  • Google reviews
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints
  • Yelp

The Better Business Bureau rates and reviews most credit repair companies, providing a letter grade between A+ and F. Just as in high school, the higher the grade, the better. The Better Business Bureau gives A+ ratings to credit repair agencies that exercise ethical business practices, and it makes good-faith efforts to resolve customer concerns. Consider it a red flag if a credit repair agency has an F rating.

First-Work Fees

For each credit repair service we reviewed, we took into consideration each company’s first-work fees. First-work fees go by many names, including advance fees, discovery fees, and setup fees. Whatever you call them, they serve the same purpose.

The Credit Repair Organization Act requires that credit repair companies do not charge for credit repair services until after work has been completed. This rule has been put in place to protect consumers against fraudulent credit repair companies that charge an exorbitant setup fee and then fail to provide the agreed-upon credit repair services.  

In order to abide by these new regulations, credit repair companies charge first-work fees. First-work fees are usually billed about 7 days after you sign up with a credit repair company and after the first-stage of work has been completed.

Credit Repair Services Offered

In order to find the best credit repair company, we took into consideration the credit repair services and packages offered. Credit repair shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. The best companies should offer a variety of credit repair options, depending on the level of service you need. 

Many credit repair companies have tiered packages that vary by the number of services included. For example, some credit fixers offer unlimited disputes per month while others offer credit monitoring or identity theft protection in their premium plans.

When evaluating the best credit repair companies, we took into consideration the following:

  • Credit repair packages offered
  • Monthly price
  • Whether credit monitoring is included
  • Number of credit disputes per month

Number of Credit Disputes Per Billing Cycle

One of the most important things you need to consider when hiring a credit fixing service is the number of monthly credit disputes included. Every time a credit repair company challenges a negative item on your credit report, it counts as a dispute. 

Some reputable credit repair companies like The Credit Pros offer unlimited disputes per billing cycle, while other companies like Sky Blue Credit offer 15 disputes every 35 days. The number of monthly credit disputes will often depend on the credit repair package you choose.

An important thing to keep in mind is that a dispute has to be filed separately for each of the three major credit bureaus. So if you have a credit reporting error on all three credit bureaus, that will count as three separate disputes. 

Additional Services

The best credit repair companies often offer additional services that help improve your financial well-being. These additional services may include credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, bill reminders, personal finance tools, credit repair software, and more.

Some credit repair companies also offer other financial services such as debt management or loan refinancing. When evaluating reputable credit repair services, we gave extra points to companies that provided credit monitoring and other financial tools.

Money-Back Guarantee

When evaluating the top credit repair services, we took into consideration the guarantee (if any) made by each company. According to the Credit Repair Organizations Act, companies aren’t allowed to guarantee results in order to acquire new clients. However, some good credit repair companies offer a money-back guarantee if results aren’t seen by a certain period of time.

For example, Credit Saint offers a money-back guarantee if they are unable to delete any questionable items from your credit report within 90 days. Other credit repair companies like AMB Credit Consultants don’t offer a money-back guarantee at all.

We believe that legitimate credit repair companies should offer a money-back guarantee if no successful disputes are made within a reasonable amount of time.

Cancellation Policy

The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) requires companies to tell the truth about their products and services. That includes providing customers with a mandatory cancellation period. Consumers have the right to cancel their credit repair services for free within the first three days.

When a company charges you, it must have already delivered its promised services. This process does not work the other way. If you believe you’re the victim of a scam, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Fees and Costs

One of the biggest criteria we used when evaluating credit repair companies was their pricing structure and fees. Some legitimate credit repair companies such as Pyramid Credit Repair offer all of their services for a flat-rate of $99 per month, while other companies such as The Credit Pros offer several pricing plans depending on your needs and budget.

We evaluated each credit restoration company on the following factors:

  • First-work fees
  • Monthly fees
  • Credit repair packages offered
  • Discounts for couples

Are Credit Repair Companies Worth It?

Credit repair companies are worth it when a bad credit score is preventing you from qualifying for a loan or is causing you to pay a high interest rate. 

Although you can repair your own credit, it is a very time-consuming process. The best credit repair companies take the burden off your shoulders by handling the whole process from A-to-Z. They’ll help you gather credit reports, identify negative items, and work with your creditors on your behalf.

When you consider how many hours of time you will save and the fact that most credit repair companies only charge $79-$129 per month on average, it is definitely worth it.

How Much Does Hiring A Credit Repair Company Cost?

Most credit repair companies charge a monthly fee between $79 and $129. You may also pay a first-work fee on top of the flat monthly rate. The credit repair service usually takes several months to work but can last a year. For example, Pyramid Credit Repair charges $99 per month, which falls in line with the industry average. Pyramid Credit Repair also has a couples plan that is $198 per month.

You can buy credit repair software that cuts down the time to navigate credit reports and bureaus. Some companies have a freemium, where you can download the essential software and pay for exclusive features. Most credit repair software costs between $40 and $400, including our favorite, Turbo Score Home.

Do Legitimate Credit Repair Services Guarantee Results?

No, even the best credit repair service can’t guarantee results. Consider it a red flag if a company says that they can increase your credit score by a specific amount or achieve gains in a particular time. There are too many variables at play to make promises.

Some companies may provide you with an estimate for certain milestones. If you have minimal negative marks and a brief credit history, a company may estimate a 100-point boost in the first six months. Note that the company hasn’t promised to increase your credit score by 100 points in that time.

How To Avoid Credit Repair Scams

The federal government passed the Credit Repair Organizations Act in 1968. The statute prohibits credit repair companies from making false or misleading statements about their products or services. Any companies that offer credit repair services must provide contracts in writing and give consumers a chance to cancel the arrangement within 3 days of signing up.

Credit repair companies cannot accept payment until they finish the services. Because it takes up to six months to repair credit, you can theoretically wait that long before paying, too. Many companies such as Credit Versio use a setup fee (first work fee) and monthly payment structure to circumvent this rule.

Being a smart consumer means knowing your rights. The Fair Credit Reporting Act lets you dispute any errors for free. You do not have to pay a company for this service, though it helps to have a credit professional on your side.

Exercise skepticism if the credit companies can’t give you a straight answer or if they provide misleading information. For instance, you should avoid any credit repair companies that tell you to avoid contacting the nationwide credit monitoring bureaus. Don’t let the company misrepresent your information by creating a new identity and credit report with your Social Security Number, either. Make sure they safeguard your privacy.

How Do Credit Repair Companies Get Items Removed?

Every legitimate credit repair company has its own unique methods for repairing your credit. Here are some of the most common methods credit improvement services use to fix your credit.

Goodwill Letters To Your Creditors

Most companies in the credit repair industry use creditor goodwill letters in an attempt to remove negative items from your credit reports. Goodwill letters are essentially letters that are sent to your creditors, nicely asking them to remove negative items that they reported to the credit reporting agencies. Goodwill letters sent to your creditors don’t always work, but they work more often than you’d think.

Cease and Desist Letters To Debt Collectors

Cease and desist letters are letters sent to your creditors or a debt collection agency, requesting that they stop contacting you regarding your debt. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you demand a credit collection agency to stop contacting you, they must abide. Not every company offers these services, but many credit repair companies do.

Debt Validation Letters

Challenge validation letters are sent to debt collection agencies or your creditors, requesting proof that your debt is valid or within the statute of limitations. If a creditor can’t prove that your debt is valid, the debt must be removed from your credit scores.

Fix Inaccurate Information

Once you’ve signed up with the best credit repair company, you’ll be assigned a personal case advisor. They will work with you to go through your credit reports, looking for inaccurate data and questionable items that can be disputed. This is especially useful if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

Negative Item Challenges

You have the right to dispute any questionable items on your credit reports that you disagree with.  By law, the three major credit bureaus have up to 30 days to respond to your challenge from the time they receive your dispute letter. Before you sign up with a reputable credit repair company, make sure you pay attention to how many disputes you are allowed to file per billing cycle. Some companies offer unlimited disputes, while offering a limited number of challenges per month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the most aggressive credit repair company?

The most aggressive credit repair company is Credit Saint. Their Clean Slate package offers unlimited challenges to the 3 major credit bureaus, score tracker, inquiry targeting, and creditor interventions.

Is it worth paying someone to fix your credit?

Yes, it is definitely worth it to pay someone to repair your credit. Although you can dispute items on your credit report by yourself, it can be a very frustrating process, especially if you’ve never done it before. A better credit score will save you hundreds of dollars per year in lower interest.

How to fix your own credit?

You can definitely take the DIY approach to credit repair, but it will take a lot of time and patience. This process involves writing dispute letters to your creditors and the credit reporting agencies. By law, the credit bureaus are obligated to investigate your claim within 30 days.

What is a credit bureau?

A credit bureau is a company that exists for the purpose of tracking credit scores and credit history. Credit bureaus provide this information to creditors and lenders to help them make important lending decisions.

What is credit repair?

Credit repair is the process of removing negative items on a credit report that negatively impact a credit score. Credit repair is often used to dispute negative items on a credit report such as late payments, hard inquiries, and charge-offs.

Why is credit repair important?

A large number of employers look at the credit information of applicants when making hiring decisions. People with a bad credit score could potentially lose out on their dream job. Additionally, a bad credit score can result in paying more interest on personal loans and mortgages.

How to maintain a good credit score?

You can maintain a good credit score by making payments on-time, limiting the amount of credit used, establishing different types of credit, and paying off debt.

How to find the right credit repair company?

In order to find the right credit repair company for you, look for companies that are BBB accredited, offer a free consultation, include free credit reports, and have a reasonable monthly fee.

The reviews and statements published here are those of the sponsor and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or views of Observer.

The Best Credit Repair Companies of 2021

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How You Can Get There – Forbes Advisor

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If you want a credit score that’s well above average, aim for an 800 credit score. Although this score isn’t the highest credit score possible, it puts you in the highest credit score range available for the FICO credit scoring model. Borrowers in this credit score range typically pose the least amount of risk to lenders.

Because of this, if a lender approves you, you’ll likely have a better chance of securing the most favorable terms, such as the lowest interest rate available. Forbes Advisor will teach you what it means to have an 800 credit score, how you can get there and the benefits that come along with it.

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What Does It Mean to Have an 800 Credit Score?

When you have a credit score of 800, your score is better than a good credit score. According to the most popular VantageScore and FICO credit scoring models, it’s an excellent or exceptional credit score. As of April 2018, only 21.8% of Americans had a score that was at least 800, according to a FICO report.

To score this high, you must do an outstanding job of managing your credit. This means you likely have a long credit history, perfect payment history, a good credit mix and only use a small percentage of your total credit limit. Based on your excellent credit history and good credit habits, a lender will consider you less likely to default on a loan than applicants who have lower credit scores.

How to Get an 800 Credit Score

While there’s no guarantee your score will reach 800, applying these tips could help you improve your score.

1. Build or Rebuild Your Credit History

Since the length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score, negative, minimal or no credit history can stop you from reaching an 800 credit score. To solve this problem, focus on building your credit. You can do this by taking out a credit-builder loan or applying for your first credit card.

A credit-builder loan is a personal loan that’s designed to help you add positive payment history to your credit report. Unlike a traditional personal loan, a lender doesn’t directly deposit a lump sum of money into your account. Instead, it sets aside money in a savings account or certificate of deposit account (CD), and you gain access to the funds after repaying the loan.

Using a credit card responsibly is another way to build your credit history. If you don’t qualify for or don’t want to use a traditional credit card, you can apply for a secured credit card instead. When you take out a secured card, you’ll be required to make a cash deposit that’s held in a collateral account, which is equal to your credit limit.

2. Pay Your Bills on Time

Your payment history is the most important credit score factor—it accounts for 35% of your FICO score. Because of this, you should aim to never miss a payment. If your bills become 30 days past due, your creditors can report this to the credit bureaus. Once your credit report lists a late payment, it can cause serious damage to your credit score. To avoid paying your bills late, use a spreadsheet to keep track of your due dates or enroll in autopay.

Most people who have 800 credit scores or higher pay off their balances in full each month, according to FICO.

3. Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate Low

The second most important credit score factor behind payment history is your credit utilization ratio—it accounts for 30% of your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio measures the amount of credit you use vs. your total credit limit. If your total credit limit is $10,000, aim to use no more than 30% of it—$3,000. To boost your credit score, keep your ratio closer to 0%, if possible.

4. Review Your Credit Score and Credit Reports

To keep track of your progress, monitor your credit score and credit reports. You can check your credit score for free by using a free credit scoring website. Some of these websites will even offer you recommendations on how to improve your credit score.

Since your credit score is based on the information listed on your credit reports, review them to ensure each one doesn’t contain inaccurate negative information, such as late payments or collection accounts. Even if you pay your bills on time, a credit reporting mistake can happen. You can view all three of your reports for free weekly through April 20, 2022 by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you find an error listed on one of your reports, file a dispute with each credit bureau that has it listed to remove it.

Benefits of an 800 Credit Score

A credit score of at least 800 comes with several benefits, including easier loan approvals, lower rates, better credit card offers and lower insurance premiums.

Better Loan Approval Odds

When you apply for a mortgage, personal loan or private student loan, you won’t have to worry about meeting a lender’s minimum credit score requirements with a score of 800. As long as you meet other loan requirements, such as income and debt, the lender will likely approve your application.

Lower Interest Rates

An 800 credit score will typically land you the best interest rate available if you’re approved for a loan. For example, you may qualify for a 0% financing deal on a new car or a lower mortgage or personal loan rate. This can save you thousands of dollars in interest during your lifetime.

Better Credit Card Offers

High-qualified borrowers with credit scores of at least 800 can qualify for the best 0% APR credit cards. These cards come with interest-free periods that last for up to 21 months on balance transfers and purchases. As long as you repay the balance in full before the promotional period expires, you can avoid interest payments.

Additionally, you’ll likely qualify for some of the best travel credit cards. Some of these cards come with generous travel bonuses after you reach their minimum spending requirements.

Lower Insurance Premiums

When you apply for insurance, some insurance providers factor in your credit score when calculating your insurance premium. If you live in a state that allows credit-based insurance, an 800 credit score could get you a discount on your homeowners insurance or auto insurance premiums.

For example, you may save more than $1,500 in auto insurance premiums if you have an excellent credit score versus a bad credit score (below 580), according to an auto insurance study by The Zebra.

How to Maintain an 800 Credit Score

Once you achieve an 800 credit score, your work is far from finished. Your credit score isn’t set in stone—it fluctuates based on the factors we discussed above. If you want to keep your score in the highest credit score range possible, you’ll have to continue practicing good credit habits. This means monitoring your credit score and reports often, keeping your credit utilization low and paying your bills on time.

Raise Your FICO® Score Instantly with Experian Boost™

Experian can help raise your FICO® Score based on bill payment like your phone, utilities and popular streaming services. Results may vary. See site for more details.

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