I have crummy credit. Should I hire a credit repair service?

Has your credit score taken a hit in the last few years? Is your credit score creating obstacles in obtaining a car loan or mortgage?

If so, and you think you need credit repair services, I can’t help you. And you should be wary of any company or person who says they can repair your credit. Credit repair usually involves accurate information on a credit report, and attempts to trick the credit reporting bureaus into believing these accurate entries are wrong so that they change them.

Recently, the CFPB sued a credit repair company called Prime Marketing Holdings, LLC for doing a number of bad things to consumers:

  • Charging up front, advance fees to challenge entries on a credit report (this is illegal)
  • Representing that they could get your credit report fixed in a short amount of time (this is an unsubstantiated claim, which is misleading, and therefore illegal)
  • They also claimed to be able to boost your credit score by a significant margin and remove virtually all negative information from your credit score (also misleading)
  • Charged monthly fees to consumers that were not disclosed in sales calls
  • They advertised a “money back guarantee” that sounded good, but in fact, was essentially useless for consumers in practice because of all the conditions on being able to use it (all that “fine print” stuff)

Remember:

  • You don’t have to pay for a credit report – you get a free one each year through www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Credit repair does not happen over night. It takes time and patience for negative entries to drop off.
  • If there is a genuine problem or mistake on your credit report, you can dispute it and get it fixed. You don’t have to use a credit repair company to do that.

 

Credit Repair vs. Consumer Protection

I think it’s important to provide a friendly public service announcement to explain the difference between “credit repair” and “consumer protection.”

 

I do not provide credit repair services as an attorney. I assist people in correcting mistakes or incomplete information on their credit reports. The difference?

 

Credit repair is an industry in which someone who has something completely accurate on their credit report pays someone else to try to trick the credit bureaus or agencies into changing or deleting accurate information.

 

Here’s an example:

 

Joe takes out a car loan with a credit union. Joe falls on hard times and can’t make his car payments, and the credit union takes the car back. Accordingly, and unsurprisingly, his late or unpaid car payments show up as a blip on his credit report, as well as the repossession.

 

Joe gets his financial house in order, and wants to refinance his mortgage, but can’t because of the blip on his credit report. In order to “clean” his credit report, Joe finds a credit repair outfit who will send bogus letters to credit agencies questioning whether that blip is actually Joe’s, or some other maneuver to lead these agencies into removing the “questionable” account.

 

I would not represent Joe. His credit report was accurate, he just wanted it “cleaned.”

 

Here’s how Joe would become a client: if the car loan belonged to Joe Jr (Joe’s son), but the account ended up on Joe Sr’s credit report. That is an inaccurate entry on Joe Sr’s credit report and is a violation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The other big difference between a credit repair agency and a consumer protection attorney? A consumer protection attorney will not charge you fees for a legitimate case.