Millions of Americans have unfair credit scores. The calculation is skewed by reporting inaccuracies – errors in data accumulated by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Any national bureau can make mistakes, and it is the borrower’s right to demand correction.
This is known as credit repair, and there are several approaches to it. Which one is the best?
What is Credit Repair
The law allows every US citizen to challenge any items on their reports. Now, you may collect your records for free once a week (from April 20, 2022, this service will be provided once a year). Check the files for any negative information which looks suspicious. For example, you may see a late payment, an eviction, or even bankruptcy that never happened.
Identify any disputable items, collect evidence to disprove them, and send formal letters to the reporting agencies at fault. Alternatively, check the reviews on Lexington Law to see how to delegate the tasks to professionals.
When the bureau receives a claim, it has 30 days to conduct an internal investigation and provide a response. It may accept the changes, reject them, or ask for additional proof. In case of success, you will receive a free copy of the amended report. Your score will rise as soon as the negative events – derogatories – are deleted.
DIY or Professional?
Professionals who repair your credit spare you from the hassle of comparing three different histories, collecting evidence, and initiating formal disputes. This is a large industry, and its services are in high demand. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five Americans have mistakes on credit reports, and many of them resort to repair through delegation. The advantages are clear.
- Professionals are adept at analyzing and comparing data, so they can identify mistakes faster.
- Experts know how different derogatories affect the score, and they prioritize them accordingly for faster results.
- Your provider will collect as much evidence as possible to avoid redisputes.
- The team will handle all the stages in the process, while you will monitor the progress online — via an app or a web portal.
Successful repair requires extensive knowledge of consumer credit laws and formal disputes. Without assistance, the process may take longer. It is easy to collect the reports online (on www.annualcreditreport.com), but all the other stages are challenging for the average consumer. This makes professional repair a superior way to improve one’s score.
How to Choose a Company?
Not all repair companies can be trusted. Like in any industry, there are a few bad apples. To choose wisely, you should look at a combination of factors, including official BBB ratings, feedback from users, service packages, prices, and money-back policies. Only some providers will give a refund if they underperform. Usually, you can get your money back when no changes are made to your reports within the first 90 days.
In terms of cost, look for the best value for money. Typically, providers divide services into packages for moderate, intermediate, and advanced repair. If your case is simple – with only a few errors to remove – the cheapest package could suffice. The provider will also challenge a particular number of derogatories per billing cycle. Pay attention to the following:
The number of years in the industry may not tell you much about the quality of repair today. Past successes do not guarantee future success! Keep track of customer feedback on websites like Consumer Affairs. Check the BBB site, too — it shows the number of complaints over the past three years. The best providers are responsive to any feedback, both positive and negative.
All firms provide the basic repair package – the collection of information, analysis, and disputes. The number of challenges per billing cycle varies, as well as the add-ons. Premium packages may include plenty of extras like FICO tracker, identity theft protection, cease and desist letters, TransUnion alerts, etc. Choose the best value for money based on your needs — you do not have to pay for unnecessary services.
Reliable companies never keep you in the dark. They allow you to monitor the progress 24/7 through a web portal or an app. Do not settle for anything less. As a customer, you should also be able to reach the office by phone, at least on weekdays. Some firms also provide assistance during shorter hours on Saturdays.
4. Refund Policy
This is a major advantage, especially if the guarantee is unconditional. In most cases, however, it is voided by one correction on your reports. The guarantee spans the first 90 or 60 days of service. As credit repair is not a science, nobody can guarantee a particular score increase. With a refund policy, you are protected. Check customer feedback to see if the company follows its own rules and makes the payments.
The Bottom Line
The best way to fix an unfair credit score is to hire a team of professionals. This will save you a lot of time, as the process is complex. You will not have to write letters to your lender, open disputes with the bureaus, or contact collection agencies.