“Do Credit Repair Companies Work?” (How it Works + 3 Best Services)

“Do Credit Repair Companies Work?” (How it Works + 3 Best Services)
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Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: April 5, 2017
BadCredit.org's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

While the traditional FICO credit score so ubiquitous today has only been around since 1989, Americans have had their personal and financial information aggregated into credit reports for over 100 years. In fact, the familiar credit bureau, Equifax, started collecting data as the Retail Credit Company in 1899. Despite how long they’ve been at it, however, the sheer scope of the credit bureaus’ databases means there are bound to be mistakes — and those mistakes can be costly for consumers.

One solution commonly recommended for dealing with credit report issues is credit repair. Unfortunately, it can seem that the complaints about credit repair are nearly as common as the endorsements. In the end, your credit repair experience will likely come down to research; credit repair can work for those who know what to expect from the process — and the company they choose to carry it out.

The Process | Types of Disputable Items | 3 Top Companies | How to Choose

How the Credit Repair Process Works

The credit repair process itself is fairly simple and generally consists of three main steps or stages. The initial stage, the consultation, involves procuring and evaluating your credit report to find potential items that may be successfully disputed. A number of credit repair agencies, such as Lexington Law, will offer a free consultation so you have an idea of what needs to be done before you spend a dime.

Once you sign up with an agency, the work begins — on their end. Credit repair professionals will work with your creditors and the credit bureaus to address each disputable item found during the evaluation of your credit reports.

In the case of a simple mistake, such as a misspelled name, this may involve a simple letter to the credit bureau to correct the misspelling. More complicated accounts may require a more involved investigation, as in instances where verification of a specific debt needs to be obtained.

The final stage of the credit repair process is the one that’s often the most onerous when trying to do it yourself: the follow-up. Depending on the types and number of disputes, this can mean a lot of letters, replies, and documents to track. The professionals will not only see that the mistakes are addressed by the creditors, but by the credit bureaus, ensuring your credit report reflects each and every successfully disputed account.

No matter how you choose to go about addressing your credit report issues, keep in mind that credit repair is not an overnight process — so be patient. The entire credit repair process can take anywhere from 30 days to six months or more, depending on the number and type of items you want to dispute.

The Most Common Disputable Items

It is important to realize that credit repair is not a fix-all solution to unmanageable credit card debt or other types of debt-related credit issues. Credit repair cannot make your legitimate debt disappear, remove correct account information, or other magic acts of credit restoration.

When it comes down to brass tacks, the credit repair process is simply intended as a way to fix inaccuracies on your credit report. Along that vein, there are four main types of information that can generally be addressed by credit repair.

Mistaken Information

One of the more innocuous of the credit report errors, simple mistakes on your credit report can equate to a big discrepancy with your credit score. For example, a comma in the wrong place might turn a 10% utilization rate into an 80% utilization rate, leading to a decreased credit score and increased interest rates.

Even a misspelled name can result in important credit accounts not being properly included in your credit report. This can have an impact on everything from your utilization rate to your average age of account or debt-type mix — all factors in calculating your credit score.

Outdated Information

As with the questionable milk on the top shelf of the refrigerator, the closed accounts on your credit report will usually have an expiration date. In general, old accounts should be removed from your credit report no more than seven years after the last date of contact.

Of course, as with any other type of inaccurate credit report information, expired or outdated information can escape notice and wreak havoc with your credit score. Having outdated information removed from your report often involves contacting both the creditors and the credit bureaus to obtain and provide proof that the item in question is legitimately expired.

Fraudulent Information

Finding fraudulent information on your credit report can be the scariest reason to need credit repair, as it is often a symptom of identity theft. Your very first step is to report the identity theft to any organization involved, including the companies where the fraud occurred, the credit bureaus, the FTC, and perhaps even the police department (depending on the situation).

If your credit report is the first indication you have of identity theft, you may already have a number of fraudulent accounts on your report, and some may have already made it into collections. Thankfully, creditors and collections agents alike must be able to prove that you actually owe the debt. If the debt cannot be verified, they must remove it from your record.

Unverifiable Information

The need for verification doesn’t only apply to fraudulent accounts, either. No matter its origination, all debts on your record must verifiable as belonging to you. If, for any reason, the creditor or collections agency cannot prove that you are the legal party responsible for the debt, they must strike the account entirely.

Our 3 Top-Rated Credit Repair Companies

While there are no legal or regulatory restrictions stopping people from handling the credit repair process themselves, the amount of patience and persistence needed may prove a more daunting hurdle. This can be especially true if you have a large number of disputes or are on a time crunch.

Enlisting the help of a professional credit repair company can turn a laborious process into a simple one — and, often, a more effective one. An experienced company may find items you didn’t even know qualified for dispute.

  • Free consultation: 1-855-200-2394
  • More than 500,000 clients served since 1991
  • Clients see 85% of negative items removed
  • More than 7.5 million item deletions last year
  • No contracts
  • Free credit score provided
  • Phone support from licensed paralegals 7 days a week
  • Click here for sign-up form, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.9

Overall Rating

Better Business Bureau In Business Since Monthly Cost Reputation Score
A+ 1991 $79 10/10
  • Free consultation: 1-855-200-2393
  • Average 40-point increase in Transunion credit score during first four months
  • Free access to your credit report summary
  • Three-step plan for checking, challenging and changing your credit report
  • Online tools to help clients track results
  • Click here for sign-up form, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Better Business Bureau In Business Since Monthly Cost Reputation Score
A+ 1997 $99 9.5/10

+See More Credit Repair Companies

Compare Your Options Before Choosing

Under the right circumstances, credit repair can work — and work well — to remove mistakes and other types of unverifiable information from your credit report. The key to having a positive credit repair experience lies in doing the research necessary to know what you can realistically expect from the process, and in finding a reputable credit repair company.

You may want to compare several companies before choosing one to ensure you get the best possible fit. This should include thoroughly exploring the companies’ websites and any literature they send. Make sure they are transparent with information about the specific services they offer and the rates they charge. You can also check out potential companies on the Better Business Bureau’s website and/or by checking with Consumer Affairs to get an idea of what type of experience other people have had with the company.

Though the credit bureaus have been around for decades, the sheer size of their databases — and the nature of human error — means there are bound to be mistakes, including innocent typos and more nefarious fraudulent accounts. Even seemingly innocuous mistakes can have costly credit score consequences, so whether you try to do it yourself or enlist a credit repair company to do it for you, it’s always best to address credit report errors as soon as possible.