What is a Credit Lawyer and How Can They Help Me?
October 18, 2019
An FTC study found that millions of Americans have errors or unfair negative items on at least one of their three credit reports—errors that may wrongfully lower their credit score. Most of the time, it’s up to you to alert the credit bureaus of these errors. This process can take anywhere from a month to a few years, depending on your situation.
Credit lawyers can complete the process in potentially less time and with fewer mistakes than if you were to try to fix it yourself. Their knowledge in credit-related laws and experience dealing with the credit bureaus, debt collectors and other entities are all great qualities to have in your corner.
We put together this guide to outline everything you need to know before considering a credit lawyer. You can start from the beginning or jump to a specific question below.
What Does a Credit Lawyer Do?
We define a credit lawyer as a person knowledgeable in credit-related laws who works on your behalf to repair your credit.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the ways credit lawyers may be able to help you:
- Review your credit report for possible errors
- File credit disputes with the credit bureaus
- Communicate with creditors on your behalf
- Settle debt with collection companies
- Represent you in court
- Advise you on ways to improve your score
They’ll usually start by reviewing your credit reports and history to find any errors or misreported information. Then, a credit lawyer will gather the appropriate documentation and contact the relevant entities to verify, challenge and either correct or remove any misreported information.
Other steps a credit lawyer takes depend on your situation. The credit bureaus may remove the error if they believe the evidence provided is sufficient, or you may need to engage a few more times with the bureaus to make your case.
What Laws Should I Know?
You should get familiar with credit-related laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act to understand your rights.
Many of these laws were put in place to protect consumers and ensure they’re treated fairly. You can learn more about a few of these laws below.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act: This act grants you the right to access your credit reports, challenge inaccuracies and many other things involved in credit repair.
- Fair Credit Billing Act: This act protects you from unfair credit billing and allows you to dispute inaccurate charges with credit card issuers.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: This act limits how often debt collectors can contact debtors, protects you from harassment and grants several other rights to protect you from debt collectors.
- Credit Repair Organizations Act: This act protects you from unfair or deceptive advertising from credit repair organizations and holds these groups to a set of requirements they must follow.
What Are the Differences Between Using a Credit Lawyer and a Credit Repair Company?
A credit lawyer will typically only have experience from their previous legal cases. A credit repair company may have more diverse experience across a variety of credit-related issues.
As we’ve mentioned, credit lawyers are likely well-versed in the law and the steps you’ll need to take from a legal standpoint, but may not have experience with specific cases or certain steps if they haven’t handled something similar before.
Credit repair companies have staff trained to handle a variety of cases and normally take on multiple clients at once. However, not all credit repair agencies employ lawyers, so you may be working with someone who does not have a background in law.
Lexington Law employs lawyers, paralegals and other staff to bring you the best of both worlds with informed credit repair assistance. You can explore our firm profiles to see who we have on our team.
How Much Does a Credit Lawyer Cost?
Cedit lawyer costs vary greatly and can run anywhere from around $500 to $5,000 or more. Fees greatly depend on your situation, including the number of inaccuracies you have on your credit reports, what services the lawyer executes and many other factors.
When working with a credit lawyer, you should carefully read their contract to understand how much you’re paying and what services they’ll execute for you. You should also walk away if they demand payment upfront. According to the FTC, they’re not allowed to ask for payment before services are executed.
Using Nonprofit Organizations
You can seek help from nonprofit organizations if you’re unable to afford a credit lawyer. Many nonprofits offer services like credit counseling, budgeting workshops and other financial resources. They may also have volunteer lawyers available to help as well.
Nonprofits are sometimes limited based on their budget and availability of staff and volunteers, so you should ask about their process if you’re interested in taking this route.
Even if you’re planning to work with a nonprofit, you should still look at their reviews and do some research to ensure you’re working with a legitimate organization.
How Can I Avoid Scams?
You can avoid scams with credit lawyers by doing your research, knowing what questions to ask and becoming familiar with your legal rights.
Just like any service, you should check out the lawyer’s reviews and testimonials to see what you can expect when working with them. You can also check their records with their state bar association. Here are a few sites to research potential credit lawyers:
Next, you should come prepared with a list of questions and a mental note of warning signs when first consulting with each lawyer. Some questions include:
- What experience do you have working on credit-related cases with people in my situation?
- What services will you execute for me based on my situation?
- What will this cost me?
You should also watch for the following red flags:
- Asks you to pay upfront
- Encourages you to misrepresent your information
- Offers to sell you a social security number
- Doesn’t explain your legal rights, like that you’re able to repair your credit yourself
- Promises to deliver results in a specific time frame or at a specific point increase
- Claims they can remove correct information from your credit report
Finally, you should get familiar with the basics of some of the laws we mentioned earlier in the post. That way, you can quickly determine if the lawyer has the right experience and is knowledgeable enough to help you.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Fix My Credit Score?
No, you don’t need a lawyer to fix your credit score. You can do anything a credit lawyer can do, but your best option depends on a variety of things.
Credit lawyers likely have experience in many areas you may not have the time to learn. These include:
- Reviewing credit reports and dealing with credit bureaus and creditors
- Understanding credit laws and consumer rights
- Dedicating time throughout the day to call and send letters to creditors and the bureaus
Unless you can dedicate the time needed to learn and diligently work through everything, you might put yourself at risk of missing crucial details or otherwise making a costly mistake. For example, a credit bureau can deny your dispute if you don’t provide the correct or enough documentation.
This can cost you time, money and points on your score if you’re unable to resolve it. However, the best choice for you depends on your personal preferences, how much time and money you’re able to dedicate, and the complexity of your situation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Debt Settlement?
No, you do not need a lawyer for debt settlement. However, you may want to consider using a lawyer for the same reasons we mentioned above.
Working with a lawyer can give you the peace of mind that someone with the right experience and knowledge is on your side.
Lexington Law works with a network of lawyers who have years of experience working on credit-related cases. Give us a call today to learn more about our credit repair services and how our team of lawyers and paralegals can help you make informed decisions about repairing your credit.