Credit repair scams are widespread and many consumers don’t realize they can (and should!) try and fix credit reporting errors themselves. Watch out for companies that claim they can “guarantee results,” or “erase bad credit.” These companies often charge steep fees and make promises they can’t keep. Watch out for any credit repair company that demands fees before performing any work or tells you to dispute information that is correct. Even though it may seem unfair, if you do have a negative payment history, time and debt repayment will help raise your credit score over the years. You should watch out for companies that tell you to dispute 30, 60 or 90-day late payment records if those payments are accurately reported.
How can I fix my credit report myself?
- If you have applied for credit, a job or insurance, and you’ve been denied, you’re entitled to receive a free credit report. Make sure you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice you were denied.
- You’re also entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To order your report, visit annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.
- It is FREE to dispute mistakes or outdated items on your credit report. So once you receive your reports through either method above, review them and circle any problems. Then, write to the credit reporting company and the company who reported the information to tell them what the error is and why they should fix it. Because the credit reporting companies and the information reporter must provide accurate information, and must correct inaccurate or incomplete information, there is no reason to pay anyone to handle this dispute for you.
- The Federal Trade Commission has a sample letter you can use to help you write your dispute — https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report.
If I did use a credit repair company, how do I know if it’s legitimate?
- A credit repair company MUST tell you your legal rights in writing, exactly how much the repair services will cost, and how long the process will take.
- If you do sign a contract, you have a 3-day right to cancel it.
- Check out the Credit Repair Organizations Act or call an attorney. The Act bars companies from demanding advance payment and gives consumers the right to file a legal dispute if they have been defrauded.
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