Home > 2014 > Credit 101

The Rules of Credit Repair

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 2 Comments

There are no shortcuts to building great credit: Everyone starts with nothing, and if your credit score tumbles at some point, it takes time, patience and planning to recover.

That doesn’t mean you have to figure it out by yourself, though you certainly can. If you have poor credit, want to improve it and don’t know the best way to proceed, you can enlist the help of a credit repair company to assist you on your way to a better credit standing. Before you seek help from a credit repair company, however, there are several important things to consider:

1. Know What to Expect

Credit repair companies are there to help you improve your credit score — anything they can do, you can do for yourself. These companies essentially do the legwork for you in asking credit reporting agencies to investigate potentially inaccurate information on your credit reports, but you can probably take care of the disputing process on your own.

It’s more important that you know what credit repair companies cannot do: They cannot have accurate information removed from your credit reports, even if it’s negative. Only time can make those blemishes fade. The Federal Trade Commission oversees these companies through the Credit Repair Organization Act, which makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you or charge you before they’ve completed their services.

2. Understand Your Rights

If you decide to hire a credit repair company, get everything in writing. The written contract should outline your legal rights and details of the services the company will provide. You can cancel the services within three days without charge, and the company must tell you how long it should take to get results and how much it will cost at the end. Any guarantees must also be in writing.

If the company fails to follow through on its promises, you can sue it for your losses, seek punitive damages for its violation of the law or join a class-action lawsuit against the company.

3. Accept the Challenges Ahead

Paying someone to help you improve your credit doesn’t necessarily give you an advantage over someone who goes the DIY route. You can’t buy your way to a better credit score. Negative information (unless it’s inaccurate, in which case you should dispute it) will remain on your credit report for several years, and it’s up to you to work on establishing a more recent, positive credit history. As negative trade lines age, they’ll have less of an impact on your credit score.

If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your credit score, there are a bunch of tools available with a free Credit.com account that assess your individual credit situation and identify goals you can set to raise your score in the future. There may be no shortcuts to better credit, but having a plan will get you there faster than no plan at all.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: Tom Schmucker

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Yes, he does. You may also want to consider some other (less costly) ways to help boost his scores so that he won’t need a co-signer next time. This post has some ideas:
    How to Give Your Kid a Good Credit Score

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    No it doesn’t sound like it is legal. Collection accounts may only be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor and collection agencies are supposed to report that original date of delinquency. You can dispute this with the credit reporting agency that is reporting it if it is indeed too old.

    Another thought: Have you talked with a consumer law attorney? You may be able to sue the collection agency at no cost (they would have to pay your attorney’s fees if they are breaking federal law) and may be entitled to damages. You can find one at the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Another option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team