We unlock the truth behind free credit repair so you can avoid another bill.
In the world of finance, there are tons of things you pay someone to do even though you can do them for free on your own. From picking stocks and choosing index funds for your retirement to buying or selling a home, do-it-yourself cut costs significantly. Free credit repair is the same type of thing – you do the work on your own to avoid paying fees to a professional.
The instructions you find below allow you to repair your credit at absolutely no charge. In most cases, you do exactly the same work that a professional would handle on your behalf. But, instead of paying someone to file paperwork and handle any credit bureau phone calls, you do all that yourself.
Steps to take for really and truly free credit repair
Step 1: Download your reports with no strings attached
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that controls what shows up in your credit reports; it also determines who can see them. In addition, it mandates that every consumer is allowed one free copy of their credit report once every twelve months.
The government website where you download these free copies is www.annualcreditreport.com. Answer a few security questions and you can download your reports without any hidden charges each year. You can get one copy of each report from each of the three credit bureaus. Any other site that offers you free reports almost certainly has some strings attached.
Step 2: Review your reports yourself
Now that you have your reports, identify the issues that contribute to a lower credit score. That’s any negative item listed in your report. These will fall into two categories:
- Negative information caused by a bad action you were forced to take
- Negative information that’s incorrect – i.e. your account is in good standing, but your report says it isn’t
Legitimate negative information cannot be removed legally until the penalty expires. If you miss a payment, the negative item it creates falls off automatically after seven years. Before that, you’re stuck working around the penalty.
HOWEVER, credit repair deals with the second type of information – mistakes and errors that don’t belong in your report. Disputing incorrect information to have it removed is credit repair. That’s all the process is and that’s all a company does on your behalf. If you dispute these mistakes yourself, you repair your credit for free.
Fact: 1 in 20 credit reports contain an error that would decrease a consumer’s credit score by 25 points or more
Step 3: Dispute the mistakes yourself
Truly free credit repair means you dispute all these mistakes yourself online. You can dispute these mistakes via registered mail, return receipt requested, but that will incur mailing fees. If you use the online dispute portal for each credit bureau, you avoid all charges.
Here are helpful links to the dispute portal for each bureau:
In your dispute, be brief and concise. Tell them what the issue is and what should happen to correct it. Don’t tell them a story or try to provide additional “evidence” of your case unless they ask for it.
For instance, let’s say one of your accounts says you missed a payment on X date. You made that payment. In the dispute, you tell them the account, and then the month and year of the missed payment. Ask them to verify that you made the payment on time with the creditor. If they request it, provide copies of any documents that show you made a timely payment.
You don’t need to tell them that your car was broken, so you couldn’t get to the check cashing store. Instead, you called customer service and spoke to Lucy, who said she’d process it for you; but then clearly Lucy didn’t credit your account. You don’t score points for a sob story. In fact, the credit bureau may reject your dispute if you try to over-explain the situation.
Stick to the basics of what can or can’t be verified. If you wonder why we keep repeating that word “verified” it’s because that’s what matters to the bureaus. Even if an item is correct, if they can’t verify it then they must remove it.
Step 4: Make a plan to offset any other negative items
Once you dispute all of the mistakes, this is all you can gain through credit repair. After that, it’s just a matter of taking steps to build the best credit score possible. Make payments on time and keep your credit card debt low. These two factors make up about two-thirds of your credit score. Improving them goes a long way to offset the negative actions you took in the past.
So, what am I paying for with paid professional credit repair?
In general, you pay for two things:
- Less hassle and paperwork
- Experience making effective disputes
The first part of that is pretty obvious. If you don’t want to take the time to review your reports, file disputes and respond accordingly, you hire someone else. They do all the review and paperwork for you. Of course, they generally have to consult with you to figure out what’s an error and what’s legitimate. You may also still have to hunt down paperwork to prove the case. But, it does generally reduce your legwork during the repair process.
The second answer is a little harder to judge. As mentioned above, bureaus can reject disputes simply because they weren’t written the right way. If you worded something differently, it could lead to a rejection that would have been an approval. How you dispute information matters.
If you hire a state-licensed credit repair attorney, they have experience making disputes in your state. They understand state regulations that control credit repair where you live. They also know how to write dispute in a way that leads to penalty removal.
That’s what you pay for when you pay a good credit repair company. You want to work with a company that has a track record in making successful disputes. That’s why companies that tell you how many items they’ve removed are more legit that companies that guarantee they can improve your score by 100 points.
In any case, if you have time, it’s worth it to try and make disputes on your own to avoid added costs. However, if you have tons of disputes to make or they seem complex, you may choose to hire a professional.
Article last modified on July 20, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: The Truth about Free Credit Repair - AMP.