Legitimate Credit Repair Services
A "good" company is a fairly subjective term. While good to one person may mean a company that offers the highest quality product and great service, no matter what the cost, to others, good may imply that the product does the job at a reasonable price. But for most consumers, whether the company is "good" starts with the question of whether it is a legitimate company that operates in an ethical manner and makes honest claims about what they can do for you. Finding a legitimate company to help you with your credit repair efforts can be confusing due to the overwhelming amount of information thrown at you on the Internet and the tempting claims of sketchy organizations offering to solve all your credit problems. So proceed with caution; as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces consumer protection law and is responsible for protecting you and me against unscrupulous companies that steal our business through false claims and, quite simply, by breaking the law. And unfortunately, it is so common that a federal law was passed to clearly outline how credit repair companies can operate. The Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) was passed to protect consumers and provide them with recourse if they are a victim of a dishonest credit repair company.
When researching credit repair services, there are some glaring red flags that should warn you to stay clear. According to the FTC, avoid credit repair companies that:
- Request Payment in Advance - Credit repair companies should not request payment prior to services being rendered. Under the CROA, these companies cannot require payment until they have completed the services promised.
- Do Not Disclose Your Consumer Rights - Legitimate credit repair companies will inform you that you have a right to order one free copy of your credit reports each year from each of the credit bureaus, and that you are able to dispute inaccurate or questionable items on your own. If a company does not alert you to this information, specifically in the form of a CROA required written disclosure titled "Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law", take your business elsewhere.
- Advocate Creating a New Identity - Some credit repair companies will actually go so far as to advise you to create a new credit identity by using an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in place of your Social Security number. This is a serious crime and if any credit repair company suggests this as an option, run the other way.
- Lie About Services They Can Provide - Beware of credit repair companies that guarantee to remove negative and accurate items, such as bankruptcies and foreclosures, from your credit reports. No one can guarantee that items will be removed, particularly if these items are true.
Just as there are many questionable credit repair services to avoid, there are also legitimate, ethical and honest credit repair companies to turn when you need help. Legitimate credit repair companies will work with you to dispute questionable, misleading, or inaccurate information on your credit reports and will use the legal tools available at their disposal to defend your rights.