You’ve heard about them, through robocalls or promotional mailers, maybe. Credit repair agencies that claim to be able to work magic on credit reports that have seen better days. You’re coming close to ponying up, but you’re watching every penny. So, you might wonder, can you fix your own credit — for free?
Yeah. You can. You “can” do a lot of things. But It’s only fair to look at the whole picture first.
Maybe you feel like you cannot take on one more, perhaps ongoing, task, yet you sorely need your credit cleaned up. You’ve put it off and put it off, and now the oft carried over “To Do” item is hanging over your head.
Perhaps you even have a big move coming up for which you need every credit point you can get. In any case, know this: you can handle any, and all, credit issues yourself, if you have the time, patience, and persistence.
What Do Credit Repair Agencies Do?
They advertise themselves as specializing in getting incorrect or unverifiable entries removed, for a fee, from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax credit reports.
However, credit repair agencies are frequently perceived to be companies that can get negative information magically deleted from your reports, even if they’re accurate. This is a misnomer, and that tact is hardly ever successful. It’s best to wait for the item to fall off your reports in due time. Think I’m wrong? See what is said about Lexington law.
Aren’t There Scam Companies?
While most repair companies are legit, there are some outfits out there that are preying on you and your cash. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, beware of companies that:
- Try to get you to pay up front, prior to any work being done on your behalf. That’s against the law, by the way. The federal Credit Repair Organizations Act dictates that credit repair agencies only seek payment when they’ve finished doing what they say in writing that they’re going to do. Watch out for companies that try to circumvent this by structuring monthly plans.
- Vow to have unfavorable removed items from your reports. As we’ve established, no company legitimately can tell you it can do this.
- Counsel you to dispute, regardless of accuracy or timeliness, every single item in your credit reports. This kind of company is just tossing everything out there and hoping something sticks.
- Neglect to, or tries to get around, telling you about your rights and what you can do for and by yourself at no charge. The fact is that, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, disputing credit report errors is a free legal right.
- Do not tell you that you have a decision-making grace period. Yes, you have three days after signing a contract with a credit repair agency in which to change your mind at no cost to you.
So, can you fix your own credit for free? Sure.
Whether you want to do so depends on your definition of “fix” as well as how much time you can devote to the task of getting items that are either unverifiable or incorrect deleted from your reports. You also must decide whether you want to spend the money.
If you have negative items that you hope your money can get erased, good luck. You’re better off either trying another financial strategy, paying the debt off, or waiting for time to do its thing.