11 Easy Ways to Spot a Get Out of Debt Scam
Have debt worries? Here is how to avoid being swindled.
Credit repair can raise your credit score in as little as 30 days.
Credit and debt go hand in hand. If you’ve faced challenges with debt, then it’s probably affected your credit, too. In many cases, you need credit repair to correct mistakes and errors in your credit report that you may have picked up along the way while getting out of debt. Just by removing these errors, you can raise your credit score instantly with each successful dispute. There are a few ways to repair your credit and a few things you should know before you get started.
Credit repair refers to the process of disputing mistakes and errors in your credit reports. Each credit bureau maintains their own proprietary version of your credit report. They strive to maintain accurate information, but errors can occur. Credit repair is the process you use to correct those errors by submitting a dispute to the credit bureau that issued that report. If the information cannot be verified within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove the item you disputed.
Credit reporting started in the 1960s in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Small local agencies kept profiles on consumers to track their borrowing and debt repayment habits. Local banks used this information to help them during underwriting, to decide if a person should be approved for a new loan.
In 1970, Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This law protected the rights of consumers and guaranteed the right to a fair and accurate credit report. Part of that protection was the right to dispute information that the consumer found inaccurate. Thus, credit repair was born.
Over the next decade, credit reporting agencies went from localized companies to the nationwide credit reporting agencies we know today. Almost all lenders and creditors go through the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to get consumer credit reports. That’s good for consumers because it means they only need to worry about three credit reports. As long as you review those three reports regularly and make sure they’re error-free, you can present the best possible credit profile when someone checks your credit.
Credit repair allows you to correct negative items in your credit report that could be hurting your credit score. If you’ve been working to get out of debt, there are a wide range of errors it can potentially create.
Credit repair does not give you a way of removing negative information that’s accurate and verifiable. So, this isn’t a magic bullet that can guarantee you a clean credit report with no negative items. If a negative item can be verified by the creditor or lender, then credit repair can’t help you remove it.
But mistakes and errors happen in credit reporting. In fact, they happen more often than you might think, especially when you face challenges with debt.
It’s worth noting here that credit repair is not guaranteed to raise your credit score. First, if there’s nothing to correct in your credit report, then credit repair can’t help you. In addition, credit repair is intended to fix your credit report. Any positive change in your credit score that results is really a happy side effect of correcting your report.
In many cases, people who have errors in their credit reports that they correct see their scores improve. However, the amount your score increases varied based on:
But for people who’ve recently face debt problems, the potential credit score boost from credit repair can be huge. It just depends on your unique financial situation.
There are a few different ways to repair your credit. Which path you choose depends on:
The more mistakes that you need to correct, the more potential it has to boost your credit score. If you have more than few mistakes to correct, it could be worth the money you spend on a professional credit repair service. The money you save through lower interest rates long-term may justify a little money spent now.
However, it is possible to repair your credit on your own for free. That’s also part of the rights protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Just be warned that do-it-yourself results can vary, even if you think you know what you’re doing.
Still, whether you use the free credit repair process or work with a credit repair company, the steps to repair your credit are basically the same.
If you go through the credit repair process for free, you do all of the above steps on your own. Here’s what your part of the process will look like in practice:
It’s important to note that there’s a certain art to do-it-yourself credit repair. So, if you decide to repair your credit on your own, you’re going to need some additional guidance. Debt.com provides full instructions and tips on how to repair your credit successfully in our Free Guide for Repairing Your Credit.
Although you can repair your credit on your own, we don’t recommend it. If you have the funds to pay a professional credit repair service, you should use one. You’re more likely to get the results you want and it’s going to be far less hassle. So, just like people opt to hire professionals to manage their retirement funds or to buy or sell their home, we recommend you opt for professional credit repair, too.
Here’s how professional credit repair services work:
There is one other path through the credit repair process that often gets billed as a “happy medium.” Credit repair software claims to reduce the hassle of free credit repair and avoid the higher cost of a “concierge” credit repair service. Credit repair software has a one-time cost that generally ranges from $30-$399. They generally give you a nice dashboard to track disputes and template letters to use so you can file them.
But make no mistake, this doesn’t do any of work for you. You still need to identify potential errors in your reports. You enter them into the software and then tell it when you file a dispute (in other words, the software isn’t connected to the online dispute portals for the credit bureaus). So, this is basically a high-tech way to track progress.
As far as templates go, there are plenty of free credit repair letter templates online. Debt.com offers a free credit repair template letter that you can use if you want to repair your credit on your own. Template letter archives just change a few words based on common situations. But if you aren’t confident about making disputes and how to word the important stuff (which is the stuff you must fill in with any templates), then all the templates in the world won’t help.
Top of the line software offers features like autofill templates. But the cost of this software is comparable to the cost of a credit repair service. This is why we recommend going straight for a service if you’re not confident about making disputes yourself. You can try the software, but you may still find yourself unsure about how to proceed. If you’re going to pay for credit repair, it’s best to get it right the first time!
|Step||Free Credit Repair||Credit Repair Software||Credit Repair Service|
|1. Obtain your credit reports||Download them for free from annualcreditreport.com||Download them for free from annualcreditreport.com||Authorize credit repair company to obtain your reports; pay $15-$20 fee|
|2. Review your reports for errors||Note the errors so you can make your disputes||Enter errors you identify into software dashboard||Team reviews your reports for you and brings you their findings|
|3. Dispute errors to the credit bureaus||Send letters or submit disputes online and wait 30 days for a response||Note in your dashboard when you send disputes to track your progress||State-licensed attorney sends disputes on your behalf and keeps you updated|
One of the reasons that people are wary of credit repair companies – and credit repair, in general – is that the industry has a reputation for being scammy. It isn’t all that surprising. Scammers love to prey on people’s desperation. The more panicked you are about a situation, the easier it is to convince you to make a hasty decision.
That’s why so many scams revolve around consumer debt and credit problems. It’s not just credit repair. There are debt relief scams, debt settlement scams, credit score scams – the list just goes on and on. People are desperate to get out of debt and fix their credit, so they’ll jump at any opportunity presented.
One of the easiest ways to tell if a financial service is legit is to check with the BBB. If a company is A+ rated, then you can have more confidence that they will provide legitimate help. Unfortunately, this protection isn’t available with credit repair companies. The Better Business Bureau doesn’t rate any company whose primary service offering is credit repair.
The reason that the BBB gives is that they will not rate companies given the number of complaints received from the industry, as a whole. They don’t feel confident giving ratings, so they avoid the credit repair industry altogether.
No! And it’s bad that consumers think that credit repair is bad because of the scams. A few bad apples make it seem like the credit repair process, as a whole, is fraudulent. But credit repair is a federally protected consumer right. And if you avoid credit repair because you’re worried about scams, you could miss out on the chance to easily boost your score.
The solution is not to avoid credit repair entirely, or even to avoid professional credit repair services. You simply need to take extra steps to ensure the service you choose is legitimate. And you can do that even without a BBB rating.
Most companies offer a free evaluation to answer any questions you have. Use this to your advantage to get a feel for the company and make sure they’re the right fit. If you don’t get a good read, thank them for their time and say you need some time to decide. Then you can continue to research your options and talk to other companies. Don’t make a decision unless you feel comfortable.
And don’t worry. As long as you don’t authorize the company to get your credit reports, these initial consultations won’t affect your credit.
|DIY Credit Repair||Credit Repair Software||Credit Repair Services|
|Free||$30-$399||$15-$20 setup fee|
$80-$120 monthly fee
At Debt.com, it’s our mission to connect you with the services you need, right when you need them. We also want to help you avoid paying for services when you don’t need them to help you save money. So, we’ve developed this year-round credit repair plan to keep your credit profile squeaky clean 365 days a year.
There are also key times when you may want to use credit repair before you make key financing decisions. Always review your credit reports and repair your credit, as needed:
Making sure your credit is mortgage-ready is an essential first step in the home buying process. A few percentage points more in a mortgage interest rate can equal out to thousands over the life your loan. A lower interest rate can also lower your monthly payments. That means it’s in your best interest to make sure your credit is as clean as possible. You should review and repair your credit before you prequalify for a mortgage.
Getting approved at the right interest rate on a mortgage isn’t the only reason you should review and repair your credit regularly. We explain the twelve ways that credit repair makes it easier to get the right financing while saving money on everything from utilities to car insurance. Learn all the ways that fixing your credit can help you get to a better place financially.
Article last modified on May 30, 2019. Published by Debt.com, LLC
DISCLAIMER: Debt.com does not provide credit oriented services, but, upon request, acts as a locator service for BBB registered companies. Such credit report resolution specialists will not remove any derogatory information (defined as accurate negative information appearing on a Client’s credit report that actually belongs there), nor will such credit report resolution specialists assist you on improving your credit rating. Instead, as Credit Repair Organization Act compliant companies, such credit report resolution specialists will solely assist you in removing or correcting inaccurate information appearing on your credit reports. While Debt.com endeavors to connect individuals and families with appropriate professionals and resources, individual situations and results will vary from person to person. It is ultimately up to you to determine whether the companies that we may introduce you to are appropriate for your situation.
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