If the information on your credit report is less than stellar, you might be tempted to respond to ads from credit repair companies that promise you a “new credit identity.” While you feel that this may seem like just what you need to get your credit back on track, dealing with these methods can put you smack in the middle of a federal crime. If you’re serious about improving your credit, start by booking a free credit counseling session with a DebtHelper certified credit counselor.
What You Should Know About Fixing Your Credit
How Can I Know If My Credit Is Good or Bad?
Your credit history can make your credit golden or otherwise. If you want to see what it looks like, you should check your credit report.
It shows what credit cards and loans you have, the amounts you owe, whether you pay your bills on time, or whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy. You’ll have better credit if the information on your credit report reads that you have low credit card balances and you make timely payments.
What Happens If My Credit Report Shows Negative Information?
Did you know that credit bureaus can sell the information to companies that use it to determine whether to give you credit, loan you cash, rent or sell you a home, or offer you insurance? If you’re a job seeker, employers can also use your credit report to determine if they should hire you.
If you need to borrow money from a lender, the strength of your credit history will also affect how much you’re going to have to pay. You may have to pay more in terms of interest if the lender sees a lot of negative information on your credit report.
How Long Will Negative Information Stay on My Credit Report?
In most cases, negative information stays on your credit report for about seven years. Moreover, bankruptcy information stays on for seven to ten years. Credit repair companies that promise to remove bad credit history or bankruptcy in a snap are not telling the whole truth.
How Do I Know If I’m Encountering Credit Repair Fraud?
The Federal Trade Commission reveals the warning signs of a credit repair scam. Don’t take the bait if you notice any of these red flags:
- They insist you pay them even before they perform their services.
- They tell you to dispute accurate information in your credit report.
- They advise you to avoid contacting the credit reporting companies directly.
- They recommend giving false information on your credit or loan applications.
- They don’t bother to explain your legal rights when they’re talking to you about the services they offer.
What Are My Credit Rights?
It’s illegal for credit repair companies to charge you before they do any work on your behalf or to lie to you about what they can do for you. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA), which requires credit repair companies to explain the following clearly:
- A written contract that shows your legal rights and the details of the services they’ll perform.
- Your right to cancel within three days without any charge.
- The length of time it takes to get results.
- The total cost you need to pay.
- Their guarantees.
Can Free Credit Counseling Help Me?
Credit counseling refers to the process of working with a certified credit counselor who may develop a plan to pay off your unsecured debts. Credit counselors can provide you with money management advice and set up a plan to simplify your repayment process so that you can get out of debt. They may recommend setting up a debt management plan to save you from having to file bankruptcy.
DebtHelper is an IRS-certified 501c3 nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to helping you get onto a plan to be debt-free. Our certified credit counselors are trained to read and review credit reports and provide helpful advice on boosting your creditworthiness. Schedule your free credit counseling session today!