Credit Problems? No Problem!
Erase Bad Credit! 100% Guaranteed!
Remove Bankruptcy and Liens from Your Credit File!
If you are looking for a way out of your credit problems, do not
believe promises like these!
There is a brisk business among so-called "credit repair" companies
that charge from $50 to more than $1,000 to "fix" your credit report.
In many cases, these outfits take your money and do little or nothing
to improve your credit report. Often, they just vanish.
There are no quick or easy cures for a poor credit history. If a
credit repair company promises you it can clean up your credit
report, remember the following:
* Your credit history is maintained by private companies called
credit bureaus that collect information reported to them by banks,
mortgage companies, department stores, and other creditors.
* These credit bureaus can legally report accurate negative credit
information for seven years and bankruptcy information for ten years.
* Accurate items that are within the seven (or ten) year reporting
period cannot be erased from your credit record by companies
advertising "credit repair" services.
* If you have a poor credit history -- even if your past problems
were due to illness or unemployment -- time is the only thing that
will heal your credit report.
* The only information in your credit report that can be changed are
items that are actually wrong or beyond the seven (or ten) year
* If there are genuine mistakes or outdated items in your report,
you can fix them yourself.
In fact, you can do anything a credit repair company can do -- for
free or for only a few dollars.
What's in your credit report?
If you are having trouble getting credit, try checking your credit
report yourself. The credit report tells how you have managed your
credit in the past. Companies examine your credit report before
deciding whether to give you credit. When a company denies your
request for credit because of your credit report, it must tell you so
and identify the credit bureau that supplied the report.
Credit bureaus are required by law to share with you any information
they have on file about you. You can find out what is in your credit
report by taking the following steps:
* Contact local credit bureaus. You can find them listed in the
telephone Yellow Pages under "Credit Bureaus" or "Credit Reporting
Agencies." Your local bank or retailer also may be able to identify
* Ask for a copy of your credit report. There may be a fee of $5 to
$20, but if you have been denied credit within the past 30 days, your
credit report is free.
* Most credit bureaus will mail you a copy of your report. Under the
law, you also have the right to visit their offices to review your
credit report in person.
How to Correct Mistakes in Your Credit Report
Review your credit report for any mistakes or information more than
seven years old (ten years for bankruptcy). This information should
be deleted. If you do not understand something, ask. The credit
bureau is required by law to explain your report to you. If there are
mistakes, you can take the following actions:
* Notify the credit bureau of the problem and provide as much
information as you can about what is wrong with the report. The
bureau must, at no charge to you, reinvestigate the disputed
information. It then must correct any mistake or delete any
information it cannot verify. At your request, the bureau must send a
corrected copy of your report to anyone who received the incorrect
version within the past six months.
* Sometimes, it also is helpful to contact the creditor directly to
ensure that the creditor's records are correct.
* If these steps do not resolve matters, you can file a written
statement of up to 100 words with the credit bureau explaining your
side of the story. This explanation will be included in your credit
Spotting Credit Repair Scams
If you are tempted to contact a credit repair company for help, use
considerable caution. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a number
of state Attorneys General have sued credit repair companies for
falsely promising to remove bad information from credit reports.
Consider the following:
* Contact your state Attorney General, local Better Business Bureau,
and state or local consumer affairs agency to check out the credit
repair company. See if complaints have been lodged or legal actions
taken against the company.
* Be alert if you are told that accurate information will be changed
or erased or that only the credit repair company can remove old or
inaccurate information. Such claims are false.
* Be especially wary if you are asked for a large sum of money in
advance, before the credit repair company completes the job it
promises to do. Even a money-back guarantee will not protect you if
the company is dishonest.
Other Credit-Related Scams
Consumers searching for an easy way out of their credit problems are
susceptible to a wide range of credit-related scams in addition to
credit repair fraud. Some of these include:
Credit by Phone
Pay-per-call or "900-number" services have become a popular vehicle
for phony credit schemes. Television or print ads promise that
"guaranteed" credit or cash loans are only a phone call away.
Instead, the caller might receive a list of banks offering low-
interest credit cards or a booklet on how to establish credit. Such
calls can cost $50 or more, but consumers rarely end up getting
credit as a result.
Be aware that if you call "900" or "976" exchanges for information,
you will be charged for the call, even if you decide you do not want
what the company is promoting.
"Gold" or "Platinum" Cards
Beware of promotions for "gold" or "platinum" cards that promise to
get you credit and build your credit rating even if your credit
history is poor. Although they may sound like general purpose credit
cards, some of these "gold" or "platinum" cards only permit you to
buy merchandise from special catalogs and will not help you obtain
credit from other sources.
You also may find that ad for these cards direct you to call "900" or
"976" exchanges for more information. Remember that charges for these
calls add up quickly.
Checking Accounts Scams
Another scam involves your checking account number. It typically
begins with a postcard advertising easy credit approval or low credit
card interest rates. When consumers call, they are asked for their
checking account number, supposedly as part of a "verification
process." This number can be magnetically encoded on a draft, which
is forwarded to the consumer's bank. Sometimes banks pay out hundreds
of dollars from the consumer's account, not realizing that the
consumer never approved the withdrawal.
For your protection, never give out your checking account number or
credit card number unless you are certain that you are dealing with a
If You are Victimized
Many states have passed laws regulating credit repair companies. This
may help if you have lost money to credit repair scams.
Even if your state has no such law, you still may have legal rights
against the company. Plus, by reporting the incident, you can help
ensure that others are not victimized.
If you have had a problem with a credit repair company, do not be
embarrassed to report it or assume it is not worth your time. Contact
your local consumer protection agency or your Attorney General's
office in your state capital. Many Attorneys General have toll-free
consumer hotlines. Check with your local directory assistance.
You also may write: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission,
Washington, D.C. 20580. While the FTC does not handle individual
cases, it can act when it sees a pattern of possible law violations
Facts for Consumers from the Federal Trade Commission in cooperation
with the National Association of Attorneys General
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