Don't go into 2017 making financial mistakes. Give yourself the gift of financial freedom.

Today marks the official start of a syndrome I like to call Procrastinator’s Panic. There’s now less than one week until Christmas, and you can almost sense the desperation of those last-minute holiday shoppers.

If you’ve already finished your holiday shopping, then I’d like to ask you to look for one more gift — for yourself. Let’s call it the gift of financial freedom. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can do for yourself…

Of course, nothing I said in the video above is controversial.  This, however, might be: You should also explore credit correction.

This is also known as credit repair, and it’s as useful as it is dangerous. To be clear: The concept itself isn’t dangerous. Sadly, though, there are scammers and schemers who prey upon people who can really benefit from this service.

So how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys? It’s actually not as hard as you think.

First, let’s define what credit correction is. To quote Debt.com’s report on What Is Credit Repair? (AKA “Credit Correction”)

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If you correct mistakes that often appear on your credit report, you can actually improve your credit score. That’s what credit repair services (or similar services by different names) do. They review your credit reports, identify errors and then do the legwork to dispute those errors with the credit bureaus.

These mistakes can drag down your credit score, which in turn can make it much more difficult to get a car loan or a mortgage — or even a credit card — at a decent interest rate. Over your lifetime, that can cost you literally tens of thousands of dollars.

You might wonder, “How many mistakes can there possibly be on my credit report?” When you consider you have three reports (one each with Equifax, Experian, Transunion) and the sheer amount of transactions that get added to those reports, it’s amazing there aren’t more errors.

The holidays can make it even worse. Think of the millions of Americans who are charging dozens of gifts to their credit cards. The more data going in, the more mistakes that come out.

So how do you check for, and correct, these errors? You can do it yourself, and Debt.com gives you a Step-By-Step Credit Repair Plan. Of course, this can be a little like doing your own taxes — and in this case, there’s no EZ form.

You can hire a company to find all the mistakes and then talk directly to the Big Three credit bureaus on your behalf. Finding the right one is crucial.

Debt.com tells you How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam. While there are five key elements, I believe No. 3 is the most important: “Look for legal representation.” While the world is full of classic lawyer jokes, this line is also a classic: “You never appreciate a lawyer until you need one.”

Debt.com partners with companies that offer many kinds of debt relief, from credit cards to student loans, but credit correction is one of the most important partnerships we offer. Why? Because all our partners must sign our Code of Ethics, and for credit correction, we only partner with law firms with many years of experience dealing with the credit bureaus.

So if you’ve already shopped for everyone else this holiday season, shop for yourself now — and for your future.

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Article last modified on May 23, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .