The Myths of Credit Repair
By Bradley Conway
Let me start out by saying this: “Credit repair companies are a scam.”
Yes, I know it’s something that seems like a good idea. Yes, I know some people are desperate to repair their credit. That’s exactly what they’re counting on. The truth is that no company can help you with this. The only solution is time.
Let’s go over some of the things you can do to help yourself.
1. Get a copy your credit reports. Don’t fall for the trick sites like Free Credit Report.com. It’s not really free. You’re required to sign up for a service that they charge you for every month. Instead go to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the site the government sponsors so you can get each of your credit reports for free once every 12 months.
2. Check the reports for fraudulent activity. Take a look at everything on each report. Make sure all of the things listed are yours. If there’s something fishy, go to the credit bureau’s site and find out where to send a letter so you can dispute the fraudulent items. Just write a letter stating that you’re disputing the following items and list the items that don’t belong to you. They are then required to remove the item, at least temporarily, and the company that owns the debt will have 30 days to validate the debt. If they can’t, or there are signs of fraud, it may be permanently removed from the report. Make sure you do this with all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
3. The statute of limitations. After checking for fraudulent activity on your account, move on to the items that are actually yours. If you have some delinquent accounts, try and figure out when the last time you made a payment was. If you have any accounts that were last paid on over 4 years ago, you can note that the statute of limitations has run and that company can no longer take any legal actions against you on that debt. If a company tries to sue you on one of these, go to an attorney immediately. They can get this easily thrown out and there are major penalties for anyone suing on a debt that has been delinquent for more than 4 years. If you have anything that has been negatively affecting your credit report for more than 7 years, you can write the credit bureau and have them remove it. These items may only remain on your credit report for 7 years, after which, they must legally be removed.
4. Don’t make any agreements to pay old debts. If your debt has passed the statute of limitations, you can tell the company trying to collect to not ever contact you again. There is nothing they can do unless you agree to revive the debt, then you’ll have to start over again. I don’t care how much of a good Samaritan you are, don’t promise to give them any money. You’ve paid your debt by having them affect your credit. Just be happy you’re free.
5. Don’t ignore a lawsuit. If you do happen to get sued by someone who has a debt that has been delinquent for less than four years, do not ignore it. You should respond to the suit or find a lawyer to do it for you. If you never show up or answer the suit, the creditor can get a default judgment. If they get a judgment, it will stay on your credit report for 10 years. It can also be renewed in 10 year intervals and may never go away. It’s best to at least try fighting it.
I hope this helps. Please remember that CREDIT REPAIR COMPANIES ARE A MYTH. They are formed to take your money, nothing more.