In a Nutshell: Consumers with credit issues often turn to credit repair as a means of raising their score — but repair is only half the battle. That’s why Credit Saint goes beyond just disputing harmful items in credit histories to provide consumers with the resources to maintain high ratings. The company creates personalized cases for each dispute and leverages its resources and reputation to challenge negative marks from a client’s report. And its credit restoration process incorporates financial education resources to teach consumers how to manage their credit and secure their economic well-being.
Natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods, can not only cause lasting physical and emotional damage but can also have a substantial financial impact. Studies from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and The Urban Institute reveal the additional havoc they can wreak on financial wellness — and credit scores in particular.
Smaller disasters can have an even more dramatic financial impact because they don’t often result in the influx of emergency relief funding reserved for states of emergency. And victims of those natural disasters may face plummeting credit scores due to the sudden repair costs incurred by damage. That can even prevent them from qualifying for the credit they need to rebuild their lives and move forward.
But those weather events are just one of the many paths to credit woes for people across the U.S. Other situations may include unexpected medical expenses, car repairs, or the loss of a job that can lead to a lower score. Credit repair is a tool that may help consumers in those situations by allowing them to dispute inaccurate, obsolete, and unverifiable items from their histories.
But an improved score won’t last long unless consumers know how to keep their high rating. That’s why Credit Saint was founded to both help restore credit and provide the information that clients need to achieve — and maintain — a positive credit history.
“Credit Saint is a credit repair company, but we call it credit restoration because we do more than just challenge the damage in your history,” said Ross LaPietra, CEO of Credit Saint. “We want you to understand your credit. We want you to know how creditors are looking at you and how to deal with building credit.”
And Credit Saint’s confidence in providing those results to its customers is evident in its money-back guarantee. If clients don’t see results within 90 days, Credit Saint will refund their full fee.
That guarantee is based on the company’s work ethic and expertise in getting consumers the results that matter: a higher credit score now and preparation to carry it into the future.
A Company that Prides Itself on Integrity and Honesty
In the mid-2000s, LaPietra ran a mortgage company and was approached by various credit repair companies seeking to establish partnerships. But LaPietra and his staff weren’t satisfied with how those agencies conducted business, so he refused to refer clients to companies that he didn’t think had their best interest at heart.
“A lot of companies want to get you in and keep you in, but our programs are set up differently,” LaPietra said.
Credit Saint won’t take every applicant for credit restoration. The company only works with people who fit the conditions furnished by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This legislation obligates credit bureaus to ensure each consumer’s credit history is verified and accurate, and to provide the means for consumers to challenge false and damaging information. It does not allow for the removal of information that has been acknowledged as true and without error.
“If you certify it to be accurate and verifiable, it’s off the table as far as we’re concerned,” LaPietra said. “Could you challenge it yourself? Sure. But if it’s confirmed that you agree with an item and you just don’t want it in your history, we’re not going to challenge it. It doesn’t help the fabric of the U.S. economy to challenge items that people are certifying to be accurate.”
This policy helps safeguard Credit Saint’s reputation as well as the integrity of the economy as a whole. But just as importantly, it teaches a valuable lesson about financial responsibility that can benefit consumers in the future.
A Detail-Oriented Approach Yields Greater Results
The first step in the credit restoration process is to discuss each item the client wishes to challenge, individually. More than just listing grievances, Credit Saint takes a deep dive into the story of the issue being disputed, and in as much detail as possible.
If the client’s situation fits the criteria the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Credit Saint will build an individual custom argument for the item to be expunged. And Credit Saint offers three packages that range in volume of challenge categories.
“Credit Saint tailors the argument to the individual and disputes issues with the client’s true story. Then we send that to the credit bureaus to provide a response based on the facts of the situation.” — Ross LaPietra, Credit Saint CEO
“If we can take the information from the story of what took place in your life and it fits within the actual law, then there’s an argument,” LaPietra said. “If we can’t, we’ll tell you that.”
Consumers can take these steps on their own, but normal dispute procedures often give them a set list of predetermined options. Those options don’t necessarily account for — or accurately reflect — the details of particular circumstances and the nature of the dispute.
“You don’t get to tell your story that way,” LaPietra said. “Credit Saint tailors the argument to an individual and challenges issues with the client’s true story. Then we send that in to the credit bureaus to provide a response based on the facts of the situation. And that pearl of truth is how you win.”
Education: The Difference Between Repair and Restoration
Credit repair is the process of challenging questionable, negative information in an individual’s credit history.
Credit Saint takes its clients through the repair process, but the company prides itself on going further. Its mission of credit restoration is focused on a larger goal than a simple quick fix. The company provides educational resources on financial topics, including how credit actually functions in the market and how clients can maintain control of their score.
Other guides offer information on sticking to a budget, paying bills on time, knowing which credit cards are most beneficial, and spotting predatory sales pitches.
“You’re applying the principles to your credit lifestyle to be in the driver’s seat — with or without credit repair,” LaPietra said. “One bad decision can undo 10 good decisions when it comes to dealing with your credit.”
For example, let’s say you need to get a new car, and you qualify for financing. You only need something practical, but as soon as you step onto the lot, a salesman tries to upsell you to something flashy and expensive.
You’ve put in the time and effort to improve your credit score so that you qualify for a loan to get that sports car or top-end SUV — but should you? The purpose of Credit Saint’s services is to help you qualify, yes, but at the same time to provide you with the knowledge to make an informed, practical purchasing decision.
Responsible Habits Enable Consumers to Maintain Positive Credit Scores
Whether a negative mark on a credit report is incurred through a natural disaster or some other unfortunate event, a continued history of timely payments and responsible financial behavior can drastically improve a consumer’s credit score.
“Everything that’s wrong in your report will hurt you less every month after it happens. And the best thing to do is to pay your bills on time going forward,” LaPietra said. “Your credit report will, like any other wound, heal over time. It’s not the end of the world to have damage in your credit history as long as you’re making the right decisions going forward.”
To help consumers make those decisions and establish a positive record, Credit Saint contacts each of its clients every month. This check-in ensures the client understands what’s happening in the credit repair process and, just as importantly, that they’re following the credit restoration program. The company is planning to transition to a text-based check-in system to keep the process streamlined while continuing to support clients and gather feedback.
“Everything is checked and then rechecked,” LaPietra said. “People are trained and retrained — all based on the feedback, to make us better at customer service.”
Credit repair is a consumer service, and one that can be pivotal for re-establishing financial well-being. When seeking such a service, it’s important to scrutinize each company and understand exactly what they do.
Credit Saint’s quality is reflected in its A+ Better Business Bureau rating, which is a good touchstone for the service clients can expect to receive.