When to Use a Credit Repair Service (and How to Find One)

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If your credit reports contain inaccurate or unverifiable negative items, it can severely damage your credit scores. This can make it difficult or impossible to get approved for loans, credit cards, rental housing, or even a job. The good news: When negative items on your credit reports are incorrect or unsubstantiated, you have the right to dispute them and have them removed. However, this process can be time consuming and complicated. That’s where credit repair services can help.

What credit repair companies do

Credit repair companies work on your behalf to dispute errors, outdated information, and unverifiable negative items with the credit bureaus and creditors or data furnishers reporting the information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit bureaus to investigate allegations of inaccurate or unverified information on a credit report. If the creditor cannot verify the negative item, it must be removed.

Here are some examples of negative items that may be able to be removed through credit repair efforts:

  • Late payments that are incorrect

  • Charge-offs and collections for debts you did not actually owe

  • Duplicate negative entries reported multiple times in error

  • Debts or negative items that are too old to be reported anymore (generally 6-7 years)

When to use a credit repair service

You may want to consider using a credit repair company if you have legitimate negative items on your credit reports that are bringing down your credit scores. This could include:

  • Multiple late payments that you did make, preventing credit score recovery

  • A high debt burden and maxed out credit cards hurting your credit utilization

  • Past delinquencies, charge-offs, repossessions or other major derogatory marks

While credit repair can’t truly erase accurate negative information, it can help remove incorrect data that should not be on your reports anymore.

How to use a credit repair service

When you sign up for a credit repair service, they will obtain copies of your credit reports from all three major bureaus. You will need to provide documentation to verify any disputes over information you allege is inaccurate. The credit repair company will analyze your full reports and advise on a plan for which items to dispute first for maximum impact.

From there, the repair process involves sending official disputes and documentation to challenge the negative reporting. Credit bureaus must then investigate and verify or remove items accordingly within 30-45 days. This dispute cycle continues until all inaccurate negatives have hopefully been eliminated.

In terms of costs, you might pay a one-time flat fee or pay for each derogatory mark the company removes from each of your reports. According to Credit Karma, this may start around $35 per deletion and could range to $750 or more. The company may also charge by the month, ranging from $50 to $130 or more.

Since credit repair scams are all too common, make sure you’re using a vetted service. Some top options to consider:

Again, be wary of any credit repair service asking for huge upfront fees—this could be a scam. Otherwise, professional credit repair assistance may be able to quickly improve your credit standing by correcting mistakes and removing invalid negative items weighing you down. And if you’re suffering because of a low credit score, you can take additional steps to boost your credit.

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