Choosing the Right Credit Repair Service
Are you thinking of hiring a credit repair service to help you clean up your credit report and improve your scores? Here are my thoughts on the matter!
Credit repair companies have a mixed reputation. Millions of people have experienced dramatic benefits from hiring professional services. On the other hand, many have been robbed, to put it bluntly. There are excellent reasons to hire a service, but you should know how to identify a good one and what tasks you should expect them to perform. Here are some key points that can help you choose a company that will deliver a positive experience.
Before selecting a credit repair company, pick up the phone and make a few calls. Most companies offer free initial consultations. Take advantage; this is your opportunity to make a careful and informed decision. Take some time before making your calls to think about your goals and issues. I suggest that you have a written list of questions in mind. Listen carefully to the company representative as they answer your questions. Are you comfortable? Trust yourself. If you are not happy with the conversation you should move on to another company.
Check the Better Business Bureau
Take a careful look at the Better Business Bureau records of the prospective companies on your list. A complaint or two should not rule anyone out, but a significant pattern of problems is a bad sign. You will also notice that complaints are categorized. If the majority of complaints are in a single category it may be an indication of the type of experience you will have. If the company offers a money back guarantee and you see complaints about their failure to refund money you might be right to question the integrity of the company.
Consider the Costs and Payment Options
Credit repair companies are governed by the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which is very specific about allowable fee structures. Credit repair companies are only allowed to charge after work has been performed. This is not to say that the entire process must be complete before they require payment. A typical and very compliant approach to billing is to charge a setup fee after the initial setup and consultation is complete, and then to bill monthly at the end of each month of service. Up- front fees are not allowed, so if you are asked to pay for the entire program in advance you should reconsider using that company.
There may be some very good new companies in the business, but unless you are very comfortable with their presentation and credentials you might be headed for a poor experience. Successful credit repair requires experience. There is quite a bit involved. On one hand, the effectiveness of the program depends on the company’s ability to deal with the credit bureaus, collectors, and creditors. Time brings finesse, and finesse brings results. In addition, over the years we have heard of many credit repair companies collapsing from their own inability to manage the work flow. Credit repair requires a unique ability to organize, track, and respond to correspondence. There is no substitute for experience.
The Breadth of Service
It is essential to choose a credit repair company that does more than send out letters to the credit bureaus on your behalf each month. The range of services that are needed to produce the best results include help in building new credit, debt validation services for those with active collections, statute of limitation research, the ability to escalate a dispute to a creditor level if appropriate, and FICO score optimization counseling. There are many credit repair services that are entirely software oriented and do nothing beyond sending letters. These services are fine for someone who is fully versed in all aspects of credit repair and only wants help sending letters to the bureaus, but if you want more comprehensive help you should look elsewhere.
Copyright © 2008 Edward White. All Content. All Rights Reserved.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ed White is a credit repair expert and financial consultant. In addition to his own private practice he consults for one of the nation’s leading credit repair services. Ed is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has a degree in economics.