To hear Steve Weisman tell it, credit repair is part police work and part legal expertise.
“Legitimate credit repair companies,” Weisman says, “are knowledgeable about finding mistakes in credit reports and knowing how to provide evidence sufficient to persuade the credit reporting agencies to remove such false information.”
While it may not qualify as an episode on NCIS, Weisman, who is a noted lawyer, college professor, and one of the country’s leading experts in cybersecurity, identity theft and scams, paints a picture of a process not unlike a criminal investigation. In this case, the “crime” involves damage to you and your credit caused by false information.
Weisman, author of 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity and Your Credit, agreed to an exclusive interview with Investopedia on the subject of credit repair including how to find and hire the right credit repair agency or even whether to attempt to repair your credit on your own.
Defining Credit Repair
Investopedia: Let’s start with the basics. What, exactly, is credit repair?
Weisman: Credit repair is the process by which incorrect negative information on your credit report is removed from your credit report which will result in your credit score going up. A poor credit score can affect your ability to get a loan, rent an apartment, get a job, purchase insurance and more.
It is important to emphasize that no credit repair agency can legally remove accurate negative information from your credit report although there are a number of companies that attempt to do that. By law negative information stays on your credit report for seven years and bankruptcies for ten years.
Investopedia: Is this something credit repair companies only can do or can people repair their credit by removing incorrect information themselves?
Weisman: Credit repair companies help people get inaccurate information removed from their credit reports. They have no more power or authority to do that than individual people do, but some people prefer to have credit repair companies do the work for them.
Initiating Credit Repair
Investopedia: How does the credit repair process start? How do you know you may even be a candidate for credit repair?
Weisman: If you get your credit score and it is not particularly good, you can hire a credit repair company to go through your credit report to determine what was the cause for the low score.
Credit Repair versus Credit Counseling
Investopedia: We often see ads on TV for credit counseling. Is that the same as credit repair or different?
Weisman: Different. Credit counseling agencies attempt to negotiate plans with your creditors to accept reduced payments. Some of these companies are partially funded by the credit card companies themselves who see this as a win-win situation for their customers and themselves.
However, these credit counseling agencies are not credit repair companies. Credit repair companies work for their individual clients who hire them to correct their credit reports and thereby enhance their credit scores.
Investopedia: So, do credit repair companies ever offer credit counseling or vice versa?
Weisman: Credit repair companies do not generally provide credit counseling and vice versa. They each perform separate services.
The Effectiveness of Credit Repair
Investopedia: Does credit repair really work? In other words, are credit repair companies effective at what they do?
Weisman: Legitimate credit repair companies can do a good job of working with the major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, to remove false negative information from your credit report and consequently increase your credit score.
Many credit reports have mistaken information that can reduce your credit score. Among the mistaken information that commonly appears on credit reports are accounts that are behind in payment that do not belong to you, bankruptcies of other people with similar names, misspellings of names that result in someone else’s negative information appearing on your report, negative information that is more than seven years old and debts that cannot be validated and verified.
Investopedia: Do credit repair companies only work with credit reporting agencies or do they sometimes work with creditors or others in the chain?
Weisman: While generally credit repair companies primarily work with credit reporting agencies, they also may work directly with creditors in order to have the creditors change what they report to the credit reporting bureaus. Credit repair companies may work extensively with creditors in order to induce them into correcting inaccurate information reported to the credit reporting bureaus or to negotiate a settlement with the creditor by which the creditor reports to the credit reporting bureaus that particular debts have been paid satisfactorily.
Credit Repair Timeline and Cost
Investopedia: Once the process of credit repair starts, how long does it generally take?
Weisman: How long credit repair takes depends on how much needs to be corrected and how promptly the credit reporting agencies respond to requests to correct the reports.
The law requires credit reporting agencies to investigate claims of mistakes and respond within 30 days of receiving notice by someone trying to fix their credit report, however, sometimes this time period can be extended if the credit reporting agencies require more information or documentation to complete their investigation. It is not unusual for credit repair to take many months to be completed.
Investopedia: What’s the cost of using a credit repair company?
Weisman: Legitimate credit repair companies will typically charge monthly fees of between $79 and $129 and some charge a set- up fee.
Evaluation and Regulation Credit Repair Companies
Investopedia: Who regulates credit repair companies and how does a consumer know if a particular credit repair company is legit?
Weisman: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates credit repair companies and is the place consumers should go if they have a problem with a credit repair company. In order to determine if a credit repair company is legitimate, you should check with the FTC to see if any complaints or legal actions have been made against them.
Investopedia: What about legislation or laws that protect people from scam credit repair companies?
Weisman: The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) requires credit repair companies to provide you with a written contract that details the services they will perform for you and explain your rights under the law, notify you of a three day right to cancel your contract with the credit repair company, inform you of how long it will take to perform their services and explain in detail the total cost to you.
Most importantly, they cannot charge you before they have completed their services. This is the biggest indication of a scam credit repair company. The scammers generally charge large upfront fees before they perform any services.
Investopedia: Is there anything else about the CROA guidelines people should know?
Weisman: The CROA also provides you with the right to sue in federal court a credit repair company that violates the law and obtain not just compensatory damages (money to compensate you for your losses), but also punitive damages (money to punish and deter the scammers from harming other people).
The End of the Process
Investopedia: How can you tell that your credit has been repaired?
Weisman: You can determine if your credit has been repaired by checking your credit reports and credit scores with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, however, you should regularly follow up checking your credit report and credit scores because sometimes inaccurate information that harms your credit score is removed after being disputed, but reappears on your credit report thereby lowering your score later.
Alternatives to Hiring a Credit Repair Company
Investopedia: Are there alternatives to using a credit repair company?
Weisman: The alternative to using a credit repair company is to do it yourself. Again it is important to note that a credit repair service cannot do anything that you cannot do for yourself.
Some people, however, prefer to have the work done for them rather than do it themselves particularly if they are unfamiliar with the process.
Common Misunderstandings About Credit Repair
Investopedia: What do you think are some common misunderstandings people have about credit repair?
Weisman: I believe that the most misunderstood aspect of the credit repair industry is (the belief) that true negative information can be legitimately removed from your report.
People also believe credit repair companies have more power to take actions to remove negative information from credit reports than individual consumers do. Finally, I don’t think people appreciate how much mistaken information commonly appears on credit reports.
Investopedia: Given all that, are there things credit repair companies do noticeably better than their clients can do on their own?
Weisman: Yes. Legitimate credit repair companies are knowledgeable about finding mistakes in credit reports and knowing how to provide evidence sufficient to persuade the credit reporting agencies to remove such false information.
Investopedia: What should people know about credit repair that we didn’t ask?
Weisman: Credit repair is a process that should continue. Even after your credit report has been corrected and your score increased, you should regularly review your credit reports at each of the three credit reporting agencies and check your credit scores regularly so that if a problem arises, you can deal with it in a timely fashion rather than having to deal with it in an emergency such as you have applied for a loan and just learned that your credit score is low.
How to Get Help with My Credit?
A low credit score does not only make loans costly or inaccessible. It may affect your employment, and even prevent you from renting the best apartment. As an indicator of creditworthiness, it is checked by lenders, insurers, employers, and landlords. If the total is far from perfect, there are several ways to fix it. The best repair companies will do it on your behalf.
Why Scores Go Down
In the US, the most popular scoring systems are FICO and VantageScore. They use a similar combination of factors to assess data on credit reports. Three major bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — document your payments and all events related to borrowing. For example, the three most important elements for FICO are:
- history of payments (35%);
- the total amount of debt (30%);
- age of credit history (15%).
From this, you can deduce the conditions for the best scores. You need to have an impeccable record without missed or late payments, and the total amount of debt should be as low as possible. The longer your history — the better. You may also raise the score by using more credit products (credit mix accounts for 10%) and opening new accounts (10%).
Do You Need Repair?
This term refers to the correction of official records. Today, affordable credit repair services help you clean the reports fast. These measures are not always necessary. The accuracy of the records determines whether you need repair. You may need to rebuild your history, not fix it. For example, you will see the credit score go up after paying debt.
Every year, you may request a copy of your reports. There is no need to contact the agencies individually. Until April 20, 2022, www.annualcreditreport.com allows you to get them for free once a week.
If the documents are accurate, there is nothing to fix. However, you may still raise the score by rebuilding your credit history. There are several ways to do this, such as:
- Increasing limits on credit cards or paying off the balances (this lowers the credit utilization ratio);
- Getting a new credit card (to bring down the same indicator);
- Taking out new loans and paying back diligently;
- Adding more data to your reports through Experian Boost, and more.
How Repair Works
Mistakes on official reports are not uncommon. You may find errors in spelling or completely false entries, such as judgments, evictions, or bankruptcies. These derogatories will tarnish your records for a long time. Most negative entries affect the score for 7 years, and some bankruptcies influence it for a decade, depending on the chapter.
Every consumer has a right to dispute such errors on their own. This is a challenging and lengthy process. Not only should you navigate consumer credit laws. It is necessary to liaise with bureaus, lenders, and collectors. Communication involves formal letters of specific formats. If you lack the expertise, a credit repair company is your best bet.
Overview of Professional Services
These providers have teams of weathered experts. They will collect your data, identify the most damaging mistakes and have them removed. This process involves four key stages and takes several months on average. The company will:
- collect your reports from all major bureaus;
- scrutinize the documents to identify inaccuracies;
- develop a strategy to fix the score as quickly as possible;
- collect evidence to prove that the items are false;
- send formal dispute letters to credit bureaus to have the mistakes deleted.
Most providers offer different tiers of services. The cheapest packages include five disputes per billing cycle on average. The core services are analysis and disputes. In addition, you may access score monitoring tools, personal budgeting apps, identity theft protection, and other extras.
On average, repair takes between 2 and 6 months. This depends on the number of mistakes you want to eradicate. The more derogatories — the longer you (or your hired experts) need to collect the evidence and initiate the disputes.
How to Find a Reliable Provider
In the United States, credit repair is a big industry. Dozens of companies offer to raise your total quickly, but choosing the right one is tricky. Pay attention to the following:
- reputation and BBB rating;
- range of services;
- money-back guarantee.
Your provider may or may not be accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Still, this platform offers crucial insights (e.g., the number of complaints in the past 3 years and any pending lawsuits). Feedback is also available on sites like www.consumeraffairs.com and TrustPilot. In addition, check expert reviews from reputable sources like Investopedia.
In terms of pricing, learn about the ‘first work fee’, or ‘setup fee’. It is paid upfront. Subsequently, the company will charge you every month as long as you need its services. On average, you may pay between $79 and $129 per cycle.
Pay close attention to the refund policy. Some companies will not return your money even if they fail to delete a single item from the records. At the same time, there are unconditional policies. These allow you to get a refund for any reason within the first 90 days.
You need convenient access to progress tracking. Most providers allow you to check the status of your case on their web portal. The biggest companies have proprietary apps. You may reach their office by phone on any weekday, and support is also available during shorter weekend hours.
If you need help with repair, choose trusted providers in your area. Check their reputation, legal status, and feedback from customers. Beware of scammers. With professional assistance, you may see the first results in just over a month.
La Reyna Del Credito Helping People Defeat the Financial System by Improving Their Credit Scores
Financial freedom is somewhat an alien word where Ivonne Arvizu comes from, and she made a solemn promise to make it happen for herself and as many others as possible. With a work rate that has cut across different clients with varying professions such as medicine, entertainment, business, legal, real estate, financial professionals, police officers, and thousands of other people who needed credit report at one time or the other, Ivonne Arvizu has created a strong impression about La Reyna Del Credito. Ivonne acquired her credit repair knowledge a long time before she established her credit repair company, and she started helping people fix their credit while she worked at a bank. The bank was against her offering such services due to a conflict of interest. Ivonne, not willing to let herself get tied down in some banking bureaucracy she didn’t agree with, resigned from the bank and made her company into a full-fledged, official credit repair business.
Ivonne Arvizu has always been about excellence and flying the flag high all her life. Despite coming from a humble background and a poor family that never fulfilled the American dream, Ivonne set out to make a difference. She became a homeowner at the age of 20 and has dedicated more than 18 years of her life helping the Latino community elevate its financial status. Ivonne has been featured in Spanish programs on television networks like Telemundo, Univision, Radio Nueva Vida, Radio Inspiracion, and other broadcast services educating the public about financial freedom. Through La Reyna Del Credito, Ivonne is changing lives and shaking things up in the financial world.
La Reyna Del Credito was established on the premise of “Life happens, and anyone can get into a bad credit situation.” In Ivonne’s words, “Nobody ever hopes to have bad credit. It just happens, and it does not discriminate. There are so many variables that cause people to have bad credit and fortunately for them, ‘La Reyna del Credito’ exists.” Beyond fixing bad credit scores, La Reyna Del Credito helps people get their mortgage credit within days so they can buy their dream homes without stress. The company established a FICO program that ensures this guarantee, and it has boosted La Reyna Del Credito’s credibility in the Latino community.
La Reyna Del Credito has proven to be a game-changer for the Latino community and has pushed its members to focus on becoming more financially stable in their retirement age. With more than 1,087 real estate deals closed in 2018 alone and a money-back guarantee on all credit fixes if the company does not deliver the score, La Reyna Del Credito has given people more confidence in its services as it continues to deliver excellent results. The bulk of the company’s clients are Spanish-speaking Latinos who migrated to the United States without knowledge of how credit scores work, and they need guidance. Ivonne Arvizu has built something outstanding, and she’s willing to see it through till she has fixed the finances of hundreds of thousands of people.
Learn more about La Reyna Del Credito on the company’s official website.
Improve Your Credit Score with a Credit Repair Company
Securing a loan for your home or business investment can turn out to be quite overwhelming for individuals and businesses out there. People with poor credit scores often struggle with their loan applications, as it gets a bit challenging to have your loan application approved at a low interest. In fact, a credit score happens to be the first thing a bank or a financial institution is likely to notice when reviewing your loan application.
Sometimes, simple things such as late payments and irregular bill payments can lower your credit score significantly. Even if you manage to find a private lender who’s willing to approve your loan application, there is a good chance they will charge you a high interest for the loan.
Why Do I Need to Hire a Credit Repair Company?
It isn’t always your utility bills or debt payments that lower your credit rankings, but sometimes, you might end up with a bad credit score because of a small error on your credit report. Regardless of the complexity of the issue you are facing, you can’t deal with the problem on your own. It is important that you seek help from a credit repair company to look into the matter and fix the issue quickly. As the name suggests, the credit repair company is in charge of fixing the errors in your credit report and removing the items that might be lowering your credit score. This includes charge-offs, late payments, liens, debt collections, and so on.
With a large number of credit repairing companies claiming to offer high-quality and cost-effective services, the decision of choosing the most reliable company could be a little overwhelming. Each company offers a set of unique services that are designed to improve your credit score in different ways. You might have to apply for a loan to finance emergency health requirements, your dream home, a startup, business capital, child’s education, and other requirements. Here are a few other reasons why you must hire a credit repair company:
· Fix Inaccuracies on Your Credit Reports
Research shows that more than half the population of the United States report inaccuracies and unnecessary errors in their credit reports every year. These errors occur due to the miscalculation is wrong information. As mentioned earlier, it isn’t always your debts and late payments that affect your credit rankings.
Sometimes, small errors in the report could have a profound impact on your credit score. It is, therefore, important for businesses and individuals to get their credit reports reviewed once in a while. Only a credit repair company has the expertise and skills it requires for reviewing the credit reports thoroughly and fixing the errors. The sooner you get these errors fixed, the faster you will be able to apply for a home loan.
· Job Opportunities
Many reputable companies ask applicants to attach a copy of their credit reports with the job application so that they know their staff is trustworthy. A good credit score increases your chances of getting hired by a reputable company.
· Insurance Policies
You can’t secure the best and low-priced insurance policy with a bad credit score. It’s important to work on your credit score to get the best deals on insurance policies. That’s because a majority of insurance providers offer insurance plans based on your credit reports. A reliable credit repair company will help fix your credit score, saving you a significant amount of money on an insurance policy.
Best Credit Repair Companies
There is no denying that good credit repair companies can help improve your credit reports by erasing the negative items and fixing the inaccuracies. Here are a few popular credit repair companies you can count on for premium services.
· Credit Saint: With more than 10 years of experience in this industry, Credit Saint tops our list of the best credit repair company. The Better Business Bureau has rated it A+ for the variety of services it offers. The company has undoubtedly improved the credit rating of a large number of customers successfully over the past few years. It reviews your FICO credit score, evaluates the negative items, and fixes the damaged credit score.
· Sky Blue Credit: If the price and quality of the services are your main concerns, Sky Blue Credit is your best bet. The company has kept a fixed price, which is $79 a month, for an extensive range of credit repair services.
· The Credit Pros: With over 200,000 customers based across different parts of the world, The Credit Pros is a 12-year old company that has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. You can enroll in its monthly plan that costs a flat fee of $49 or choose the prosperity package – whatever fits your preference and budget.
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