Before deciding who is the best credit repair company for your specific needs, you must understand what credit repair is, what it can and cannot do, and the different types of services you’ll encounter when shopping around.
So, let’s get into it…
What is Credit Repair?
Credit repair is just like it sounds. You’re trying to “fix” or repair negative information on your credit report.
Some people think (thanks to misinformation on the internet and some shady characters in the industry) it means you might be able to erase the negative information with a magic dispute letter that quotes a couple of laws from the FCRA. I promise that’s not the case, and potentially even illegal.
With that said, you have the right to question items on your credit report that you don’t recognize or think are misleading, inaccurate, or unverifiable. If they are not verified in a specific timeframe, they should come off your credit report.
Is credit repair legal?
Yes, credit repair is legal in all states. Legitimate credit repair companies are protected by federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that credit bureaus provide fair and accurate information about your credit.
If you find inaccurate information in your report, you’re entitled to have the item investigated whether you do it yourself or hire a credit repair company.
Additionally, the government also passed the Credit Repair Organizations Act. This law governs how credit repair organizations conduct business, including how they advertise and their fee structure.
How does credit repair work?
The actual credit repair process varies from company to company, but if you do any amount of research, you’re going to find they all pretty much operate the same (more or less)
They’ll point out the negative information on your credit report
They’ll send a dispute letter to the credit bureaus
The credit bureaus either verify it or don’t. If they do, the item stays on your credit report. If they don’t, it will likely come off.
Sounds simple right? And that’s the very reason most places like the BBB, government, etc. all say “you don’t need a credit repair company, you can do this on your own” And in the context of the above scenario, I’d agree completely. You don’t need to pay a company, you can do this on your own” in the context of the above scenario, I’d agree completely. You don’t need to pay a company to send a dispute letter for you. Download one yourself and save money. Free Credit Dispute Letter Download
Why hire a credit repair company?
If you find the right company, one willing to put in the work and do the job right, there’s a lot a legitimate credit repair company can do for you.
• They may be able to work out reduced payment arrangements for accurate accounts that were verified
• They can try and negotiate pay for deletes with some collection accounts
• They can try and negotiate goodwill negotiations with creditors
• They can help you establish new credit to start building the positive side of your report.
Why don’t more credit repair companies offer these services?
It comes down to credit repair software. Credit repair software is the backbone of this industry. It will automatically import all the negative items from your credit report, and with a click of a button, the company can print dispute letters for everything negative.
Essentially, you’re paying for somebody to come in and stuff envelopes for you. The process can vary from agency to agency, but that’s all we’ve ever seen.
It’s fast, cheap, and easy. That allows credit restoration companies to handle a lot of clients and pay for low-level staff.
From a profitability point of view, it makes sense. If you’re the consumer, it’s questionable whether that type of service is worth it.
There are also some potential dangers in blindly disputing anything negative.
Potential Dangers of the dispute everything negative
Statute issues: Each state has its own statute of limitations regarding collections. Meaning the amount of time, they have to take legal action against you to recover their money.
In Texas for example, currently, it’s 4 years–Rhode Island its 10 years
Let’s say for example I live in Texas and have a collection that’s 4.2 years old, and I dispute it. I don’t have to worry about anything negative happening to me by disputing it because it’s past the state statute. In fact, I have a lot of leverage because it is past.
On the other hand, if I lived in Rhode Island and disputed that same debt, it’s very possible that the collector is going to run right to court and try and get a judgment against me.
Home Loan Approvals We get a lot of people trying to clean up their credit because they’re trying to buy a home. That’s important to know because many lenders will not approve you for a home loan if you currently have items in dispute.
If buying a home soon is your goal, this is something that must be discussed and planned for. The last thing you want to do is apply for a home loan and be denied because you’ve got a bunch of items in dispute.
Services they offer.
We’ve just discussed that unless you have some minor stuff like late pays, name variances, etc. You might need more than just basic credit bureau disputes. If say for example a collection or repossession comes back verified and cannot be deleted, your service is done-you wasted your money.
If on the other hand, you work with a company that will try and negotiate reduced payment arrangements and pay for deletes, you’re still in the fight, if the credit bureau disputes didn’t work.
These types of arrangements are legal, effective and the only way to legitimately deal with accurate and verified accounts.
What about Credit Repair Services BBB Reports?
I’ve got two big problems with the BBB and the way they run their organization.
First Problem: You’d think the BBB would have a standardized way of accepting members. They do not. Each county decides who can and who cannot join.
For example. Parts of Florida will let credit repair companies join the BBB and become accredited. However, In San Diego and Texas where we’re located, the BBB does not allow credit repair services to join… period!
As you can imagine, that puts some companies at a big disadvantage right off the bat. There are a lot of consumers who will only do business with BBB-accredited members.
Second Problem: Their Rating System. The BBB rates companies (whether you’re a member or not) on an A-F scale. To keep an “A” rating, all a company must do is respond to BBB complaints (at least from our experience)
We know a company (unrelated to credit repair) that got a complaint and responded by saying (customer is lying). No more, no less. And since he responded, the BBB was satisfied and it didn’t harm the company’s rating in any way.
How the BBB can help in choosing a credit repair service
Whether a company is an accredited member or not, people can still file complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau, and the complaints will be publicly available.
So, it’s worth checking the complaints just to see how many they have. Anything more than 2 or 3 in the last couple of years would be a red flag to me personally.
What about Credit Repair Review Sites?
I’m sure you’ve seen them
“Reviews of the top 10 credit repair companies”
“Our reviews of the Top-rated Credit Repair Services”
“Best credit repair companies 2022”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you already know these are not reviews, these are paid advertisements.
We inquired about one last month just to see if the industry has changed since we started back in 2004. It has not, it’s worse.
The process was simple:
If we wanted to be ranked 5th best company. It cost $$
If we wanted to be ranked 4th best company it was $$$
If we wanted to be ranked the 3rd best credit repair company it was $$$$$
And those are the legitimate “fake review sites”. The bad ones will write bad reviews about you themselves and then say you can remove them if you advertise with them.
Horrible industry, I hope both the FTC and Google crack down on this garbage.
Meh… this one takes a bit of common sense. Some may be real, some may not. But I always take them with a grain of salt anytime I’m making a purchase. There are plenty of services out there that will write reviews for you.
Here’s a screenshot of a couple I saw yesterday.
Are you a company that needs reviews?
No problem, you can buy fake reviews here. But seriously, don’t do it.
How much experience does the company have?
You’re going to see a lot of services claiming in business 20 years etc. If you go to Whois you’re going to find some of their sites have been around only a year or two. Who knows, maybe they changed websites or something, but it’s something I like to consider.
I suspect you’re going to find information on WHOIS that doesn’t line up with the claims on their websites.
ProTip: Go to whois and see if the website purchase date lines up with the “years in business they claim” on their site
How personalized (and safe) is the service?
Things I’d look for in a legitimate credit repair service:
• Will assign you a personal credit coach who is the only one with access to your file
• Will look at statutes, and your goals, consider whether you’re buying a home, trying to get a security clearance, or just general clean up
• Will offer more than just disputes. Will offer debt settlement, pay for deletions, and deal with collectors and original creditors in addition to the credit bureaus
• Will have no or very few BBB complaints
• Will have WHOIS information confirming their experience claims on their website
Things I’d ignore, or give little weight to
• 3rd. party Reviews
• BBB accreditation
• Credit bureau disputes only
So, who has the Best Credit Repair Service?
Well, we can’t answer that. It really comes down to having the best service for your needs. If you have some basic low-hanging fruit, maybe go with the cheapest.
If you have specific goals, time frames, or situations you feel warrant a little more, then I suggest you get a free consultation from every company you’re suggesting.
We’ve created this Free Credit Repair Company Checklist for you to use when shopping around.