You see the advertisements on television and on the radio, but the FTC says that most credit repair services are illegal.
Your money and especially your credit are valuable to you. Your credit is your “financial trustworthiness.”It is the most important factor that lenders consider when considering if they should lend you money for a car, a house or to open a credit card account.
The better your credit, the more likely you are to receive that loan, but if your history isn’t good, don’t get sucked into mainstream advertisements promising to repair your credit.
Whether on TV, the internet or on the radio, we’ve heard their claims before,
“We can erase your bad credit — 100% guaranteed” or “Credit problems? No problem,” they say.
Don’t jump too quickly however; there could in fact be a problem. No matter what they say, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) there is no quick fix for creditworthiness. The FTC says that no one can remove accurate negative information from your credit report because it’s illegal!
Don’t let someone walk away with your money when you’re left with broken promises. The FTC suggests the following tips to tell if a “credit repair” company is trying to scam you:
—The company wants you to pay for credit repair services before they provide any services. Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.
—The company doesn’t tell you your rights and what you can do for yourself for free.
—The company recommends that you do not contact any of the three major national credit reporting companies directly.
—The company tells you they can get rid of most or all the negative credit information in your credit report, even if that information is accurate and current.
—The company suggests that you try to invent a “new” credit identity — and then, a new credit report — by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number.
—The company advises you to dispute all the information in your credit report, regardless of its accuracy or timeliness.
You may be desperate for help, but don’t get yourself in trouble. Legally it’s a federal crime to use the mail, telephone or internet to apply for credits and provide false information. If you follow illegal advice and commit crime, you could fall onto this sinking ship.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. If you have bad credit and need help now, the FTC suggests that it may be worthwhile to contact your creditors informally to discuss their credit standards.
Not sure what your credit is? If you ask for it, consumer reporting companies such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months.
If your credit is not bad, it’s still a good idea to review your report to ensure that your information is accurate, complete and up to date.
To learn how to improve your credit worthiness and for low to no-cost help visit www.ftc.gov/credit .
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)