When you first decided to find out more about repairing your credit and began reading through the basic info on the web, like random FICO blogs… How long did it take for your eyes to glaze over?
Yes, credit isn’t the most exciting topic. And when you suddenly realize how important it is — like when you apply for a home or auto loan — finding simple, straightforward answers about credit repair is can be frustrating and confusing.
That’s why we’re writing this article, to provide you the essentials you need to know in order to decide what to do about your credit.
So What Is Credit Repair, Anyway?
In the most basic sense, credit repair just means taking steps to address issues on your credit reports. Specifically, credit repair usually refers to the process of disputing items on your credit reports that may be negatively affecting your credit scores.
You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you find an error in your personal information, your account data, or anywhere on any of these credit reports, you have the legal right to dispute it.
You can file a formal dispute with the credit bureau online, via fax, or by snail mail. Your dispute needs to contain the account number and the details of the errors you believe you’ve found. It’s also best to include any supporting documentation you have.
While you can do all of this yourself for free, the odds are that you don’t have the time or know-how.
Furthermore, the credit bureaus are known to refuse to investigate legitimate disputes and use stall tactics to throw off consumers. Dealing with “stubborn” errors that the credit bureaus fail to correct or remove is a large part of what we handle for our clients.
What Sets Professional Credit Repair Apart?
You may have heard it said in news reports that credit repair companies can’t do anything for you that you could not do yourself. In nearly every case, the source for that claim will be one of the credit bureaus.
This is misleading. Professional credit repair leverages your consumer rights under Federal and state laws. While you have the legal right to dispute your own credit, a good credit professional will have spent years studying these laws and the best tactics for enforcing them on your behalf.
What many consumers don’t realize is that your credit reports are legally required to be 100% accurate and verifiable. And the burden of verifying every disputed item and detail of your credit history falls on the credit bureaus, not you.
What’s more, the credit bureaus use an automated system to process all of the disputes they receive, called eOSCAR. That’s right, your dispute probably won’t even be read by a person.
The credit bureaus’ system will “interpret” your dispute and assign it a code. It will then check your data against the code — not what you actually wrote — and decide what action to take if any.
Understanding this complex system, including its codes and reporting standards, is also a large part of a reputable credit repair professional’s job.
We look at your credit reports using both the law and the credit bureaus’ own standards and dispute potential errors with language designed to flag eOSCAR.
This gives you the maximum chance of successfully removing negative items from your credit.
What Is the Credit Repair Process?
Step one is always the same: get your credit reports from each of the credit bureaus.
Why all three? Each credit bureau has its own furnishers, that is, credit card companies, lenders, debt collectors, etc. There are often errors on one of your credit reports that aren’t on the others.
We then examine each of your credit reports in detail to identify any items that might be negatively impacting your credit scores and overall credit profile.
We aren’t just looking for errors, but rather, any potentially inaccurate, unverifiable data. If the credit bureaus aren’t able to verify the negative information, they are required by law to remove it.
But that’s not all. Even a credit item that’s reporting accurately may still not meet all of the legal requirements.
This is where a professional credit repair company can help tremendously. We check your negative items against all of the relevant regulations.
For example, the Fair Credit Billing Act regulates your original creditors while the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act governs collection agencies. There are also regulations specific to medical issues, military service, student loans, and more.
We then contact these furnishers directly and find out if there is a legal remedy for removing the negative information they’re reporting.
In the most stubborn instances, when there’s a clear case of inaccurate or unverified negative items that the credit bureaus simply refuse to remove, we employ advanced tactics. This can include citing specific regulations and legal language designed for maximum effect.
How Long Does Credit Repair Take?
Removing inaccurate information from your credit reports is one of the quickest ways you can improve your credit scores.
This is due to the fact that the credit bureaus are legally required to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days. Even with 15 days for mailing time, that’s still only 45 days.
If you’re only a few credit score points away from qualifying for a loan, it’s possible to quickly “boost” your credit in this way.
However, no credit repair company can say when your credit score will improve. Everyone’s credit history and issues are unique, and some are more complicated than others.
Furthermore, the effect of credit repair is cumulative. That is, each account can have a different effect on your credit score, some more than others. And having fewer negative accounts can, itself, improve your credit scores overall.
So, for the most dramatic effect, credit repair can take several months.
But don’t think of this is a drawback. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to take additional steps to build your positive credit while we work to remove negative, unverifiable items — strengthening your credit profile from both sides!
Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
DIY is always an option, which any reputable credit repair company will tell you. But the real question is whether handling your own credit repair is the best option for you.
If you have only one or two negative accounts, with obvious errors you can easily point out, attempting to dispute them on your own might work.
Write clear, concise disputes and include any documentation you have. Remember to check all three credit reports from the three major credit bureaus, and make sure to send separate letters to each credit bureau on whose report the errors appear.
You can submit your disputes online on each credit bureau’s website, but we highly discourage that, as you may waive your rights to sue the credit bureau in the event they fail or refuse to remove your errors.
However, if you’re unsure why certain accounts are reporting as negative, or whether they may be inaccurate, it’s likely that professional credit repair would be worth it in the long run.
Ask yourself how much time you have for research, writing, responding, mailing or faxing, etc. What are your goals, and are you certain how to reach them? Are you only 10 credit score points from your goal, or 100 or more?
All of these are things to consider when deciding whether professional credit repair is right for you.
Choosing the Right Credit Bureau
Everyone wants the most affordable service, but many people make the mistake of ignoring their better judgment and choosing a credit repair company with promises that are too good to be true.
That’s the number-one thing to keep in mind: if it sounds fishy or impossible, it probably is. In fact, it could even be illegal.
For instance, it’s against the law for credit repair companies to promise specific results within a set timeframe. So when you see ads promising a “100-point credit boost in 30 days or less,” you know to stay away.
Worse, many disreputable credit repair companies will promise to “reset” your credit, provide you a “new identity,” or “completely fix” your whole report — all for one upfront payment.
Every behavior in the above sentence is against the law. Legitimate credit repair is about improving your credit history, not hiding it or assuming a new identity.
The credit bureaus can be frustrating to deal with, but they aren’t stupid. Trying to create a “new” identity will always fail, and could come back on you with civil or even criminal penalties.
On the other hand, a reputable credit repair company will explain your consumer rights before any contract is signed. They will also tell you exactly what they can and cannot do for you.
The best credit professionals will take time and care to listen to your story, understand your financial and personal goals, and put their expertise to work advocating for you.
And that’s exactly what we promise to do.
We hope you now have a better understanding of credit repair, what your options are, and whether professional credit repair is right for you.
Of course, if you have any questions or would like to talk to a credit expert about your situation and options, we’re here to help! Just call or message us today.