Have you ever had that moment when you realize that a DIY job wasn’t worth the effort? That moment when you realize that life would’ve been so much easier if you’d just hired a professional? It happens more often than you might think when it comes to personal finance. Many financial processes can be accomplished on your own. However, the results may not live up to your expectations. That’s often the case with DIY credit repair.
While it’s possible to repair your credit for free on your own, you may not have as much success as a credit repair professional. Unless you have experience making disputes and know how to avoid common pitfalls, you could have trouble. A failed credit repair effort won’t damage your credit further, but you won’t be able to remove the disputed item. A badly handled credit dispute can mean that a mistake on your credit report remains, even if you had a valid argument.
The following account is a true story from one of Debt.com’s employees who tried to repair their credit on their own. The employee has worked for Debt.com for five years and is a certified debt management professional. As such, she assumed she had the knowledge and expertise to handle DIY credit repair on her own. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way she expected…
The first part of DIY credit repair went as planned
“We decided to review our credit reports because we were getting married and wanted to buy a new home so we could move out of his condo. We downloaded our credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com. It took about 15 minutes to download my three reports and another 15 for my fiancé.”
“Then we reviewed our reports to see if there were any errors. Mine was error-free, but my fiancé had three late payments on the condo mortgage that he knew he’d made on time. We looked at his online banking transactions and sure enough, it showed that the automatic payment had been made all three times.”
“I assumed it would be pretty easy to get the mistakes corrected. I’d just go through the free credit repair process that I’ve written about dozens of times. I had proof in the form of monthly bank statements to show he made those payments on time. So, I didn’t think we’d have any trouble. I was totally unprepared for what happened next.”
The mistakes weren’t as easy to correct as they appeared
“We got the same response back from all three credit bureaus. The late payments were verified by the mortgage lender, so the negative items would remain as-is. I called one of the bureaus to get clarification. They said the mortgage lender could verify the payment was missed and that we’d have to call the lender.”
“After much back and forth with the lender, we finally figured out what happened. Basically, the HOA for the condo was supposed to pay our flood insurance. But they’d failed to send the documentation for the flood insurance to the mortgage lender. So, my fiancé had been assessed higher payments on three different occasions for the same administrative mistake.”
“Since he had AutoPay set up for his mortgage payments, he’d never bothered checking his monthly statements. So, he never knew he’d been assessed a higher amount. As a result, even though he made the payment, the lender had reported to the credit bureaus that those three payments were not made in full.”
“Eventually, our condo association had sent in the flood insurance information and so the clerical mistake was corrected. Thus, my fiancé wasn’t even aware all of this occurred until we checked his credit reports. But since the lender had already reported the “missed” payments to the credit bureaus, the damage was done.”
Two months of arguing yielded nothing but wasted time
“We spent two months arguing back and forth with both the lender and the credit bureaus. It was crazy to me that bad, lazy administration by our frankly awful condo association had resulted in credit damage for my fiancé. It was equally ludicrous that even with all the proof that I had, getting the item removed proved impossible.”
“Somewhere in the course of this fight, one representative from one of the credit bureaus explained that part of the problem was the way we’d worded the dispute. They basically indicated that if we’d just worded the dispute differently, we might have gotten a better result. We said the payments were made on time. What we needed to say was that an incorrect payment amount had been assessed by the lender. Unfortunately, the dispute had been made and the information was verified, so we couldn’t go back and word the dispute differently. The damage was done and there didn’t seem to be anything we could do to fix it.”
“I can’t tell you how frustrating it was that I knew everything I supposedly needed to know to make DIY credit repair work. And yet I couldn’t get things that were clearly mistakes corrected. We ended up putting the mortgage in my name only to avoid paying a higher rate because of the damage to his credit. We took other actions to help him build credit and eventually the penalties expired. But I can say sincerely, I would never try DIY credit repair again. If I find mistakes in the future, I’m hiring an expert to dispute them.”
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Why DIY credit repair fails where credit repair services succeed
The trouble with DIY credit repair is exactly what our staff member encountered. You must word disputes correctly if you want to have negative items removed. Failure to word a dispute properly leads to exactly what was encountered – the annoyance of not being able to correct a mistake. You might be right, but if your disputed was worded wrong then it doesn’t matter.
That’s why we recommend using a professional credit repair service. These companies have licensed attorneys on staff and experts who know how to properly frame credit disputes. So, you’re less likely to have a dispute rejected. Getting erroneous negative items removed can be crucial, especially if you’re buying a home or taking out another type of loan. Just a few percentage-points difference in APR can stack up to thousands of dollars in added interest charges. It’s worth the money you spend to pay for professional credit repair to save money when you need new financing.
Getting the tools that can make DIY credit repair more effective
If you’re working to repair your credit on your own, then you may want to consider tools that can make the process easier. Some paid credit monitoring tools, such as SmartCredit®, provide built-in features that can facilitate credit report disputes.
SmartCredit’s Smart Credit Report® automatically flags information that could potentially contribute to a lower score. It helps you understand the impact of the item on your score. Then it provides action buttons that walk you through the process to dispute these items directly with the creditor.
The action buttons come with pre-approved messages to make disputes correctly. These messages are designed by experts and worded in a way that’s most likely to get the results that you want.
Article last modified on November 22, 2022. Published by Debt.com, LLC