Repair Your Credit Report
* Credit counseling programs
* Avoiding common scams
* Repair your credit score on your own
* Learn how to aquire good credit ratings
You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail. You may even get calls from telemarketers offering credit repair services. They all make the same claims:
* “Credit problems? No problem!”
* “We can erase your bad credit — 100% guaranteed.”
* “Create a new credit identity — legally.”
* “We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your
credit file forever!”
Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don’t believe these statements. Only time, a conscious effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit report.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost.
The Warning Signs
If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, look for these tell-tale signs of a scam:
* companies that want you to pay for credit repair services before they provide any services.
* companies that do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do for yourself for free.
* companies that recommend that you not contact a credit reporting company directly.
* companies that suggest that you try to invent a “new” credit identity — and then, a new credit report — by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number.
* companies that advise you to dispute all information in your credit report or take any action that seems illegal, like creating a new credit identity. If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.
You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail or telephone to apply for credit and provide false information. It’s a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security number, and to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses. Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.
Just because you have a poor credit report doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get credit. Creditors set their own credit-granting standards and not all of them look at your credit history the same way. Some may look only at more recent years to evaluate you for credit, and they may grant credit if your bill-paying history has improved. It may be worthwhile to contact creditors informally to discuss their credit standards.