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Credit repair companies are popping up like whack a moles claiming they can raise your score and remove bad credit. As a good skeptic, you wonder whether these companies and their practices are legitimate. And you also may wonder, whether you can do it yourself. Good questions. I'm happiest when consumers are well informed and inquisitive.
With interest rates at historic lows – less than 4% for a 30 year fixed mortgage – the allure of refinancing is strong indeed. The catch. Excellent credit is required. And nowadays good credit carries a score of at least 720. And since we are just barely crawling out of the Great Recession, many people took a financial beating and are happy to hang onto their property at all let alone maintain a decent credit score.
“One important thing to know about credit scores is that these scores are not permanent. In a few years they may change by a huge amount. A perfect example is how the good credit rating for mortgages has changed since the recent recession. Two years ago, many mortgage lenders considered borrowers with a credit score of 650 to be prime borrowers. This means that these borrowers were allowed to get prime mortgage loans which had low interest. Amazingly, in a time span of just two years, what they considered to be a credit score for prime loans jumped to 750. The same can be said about the generally accepted good credit score.”
You didn't imagine it - they definitely moved the goal posts.
However, as consumers, there is nothing we can do about it. If you want the peace of mind and buying power that a good credit score will bring, you have to play by the lenders rules. Back to our questions:
How to tell if a credit repair company is legitimate:
The Federal Trade Commission posts the following on their site – www.ftc.gov -
“Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don’t believe these claims: they’re very likely signs of a scam. Indeed, attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, say they’ve never seen a legitimate credit repair operation making those claims.
'Credit problems? No problem!'
'We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!'
'We can erase your bad credit — 100% guaranteed.'
'Create a new credit identity — legally.'”
So be careful of overblown unrealistic promises. And beware of upfront fees. Under the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA), credit repair companies are required to explain:
Second Question -
Can you do it yourself? Is DIY credit repair possible or a good option?
Do it yourself credit repair is possible, and it is your right to do so. I am an advocate for pro se rights, the people's right to legal access, and the right to do it yourself. However, it depends on you – your comfortable level; the time you have available; and whether you are the type of person who will be diligent and persistent in a detail driven process.
The Federal Trade Commission's site explains step by step how to repair your own credit, along with other valuable information about how to protect yourself in the marketplace.
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