Your credit report is vital to your financial health. Yet, one in five consumers may have an error on their credit report. Those errors could damage your credit and make it difficult to finance a car or purchase a home.
Fortunately, there are ways to have bad information removed from your credit report. For many consumers, the most efficient way to repair their credit is to hire a professional credit repair company.
Shopping today often includes reading the reviews. Examining credit repair reviews can lead you to helpful experts, but only if you know what to look for.
What Credit Repair Companies Do
Credit repair companies specialize in correcting errors and removing unsubstantiated negative reports from your credit history. The best credit repair companies clean up your credit reports at all three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
Credit repair companies offer fast credit repair compared to what you might be able to accomplish on your own. But there are limits to what they can do. And it's important to have realistic expectations.
A credit repair service starts by checking all three of your credit reports looking for issues. The kinds of issues they can remove from your reports include errors and misinformation, fraudulent or unsubstantiated claims, and outdated reports.
There are limits to how long information can remain on your report. The credit bureaus must remove all reports of late payments, loan defaults, and foreclosures after seven years. Bankruptcies can remain on your credit report for up to ten years. Part of credit repair is having outdated reports removed.
Legitimate credit repair companies can't give you a new financial identity. Any credit repair company that promises to do so should be suspect. There are scammers in the credit repair industry.
Understanding Credit Repair Reviews
One way consumers can educate themselves about companies and their services is by reading reviews. When it comes to credit repair reviews, there are a couple of different types. Both can be insightful, but neither is perfect.
Consumer-reported credit repair reviews are online ratings and reviews from customers. These are generally found on sights like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and others. They frequently include a one- to five-star rating system and customer comments.
The upside to consumer-reported reviews is that you can read about a customer's experience working with a particular company. A good star rating might be impressive. But reading about customer experiences can be more helpful when you're choosing a credit repair company.
The downside to these types of credit repair reviews is that they are unverified. As many as half the reviews on Google were not written by real customers. Companies have been known to write or buy fake reviews boosting their ratings or dragging down competitors' scores.
The second type are editor-written credit repair reviews found in magazines, financial publications, and blogs. This is where you will find reviews by experts. These experts are usually current and former industry professionals or journalists specializing in covering the industry they're reviewing.
The upside to editor-written credit repair reviews is that you are getting an educated opinion of a financial services expert. A good reviewer will have a solid understanding of consumer credit reporting and repair, including regulations and best practices.
Even in the case of a thorough editor-written review, the reviewer may not have actually tested and used the service themselves. But most responsible expert reviewers will consider data on customer experience in their evaluations.
The downside to an expert or editor-written credit repair review is that it's often just one person's opinion, albeit an expert opinion. Another downside is the potential that you're reading a paid review. A reputable publication will tell you if the company they are reviewing is an affiliate.
Review Red Flags
Whether you are reading consumer reviews or getting experts' opinions, there are some warning signs to watch for in credit repair reviews. Comments like these should raise a red flag.
All legitimate companies will have a mix of good and bad reviews. If a company only has five-star reviews, it's at least a little fishy. No one is that perfect.
Reviews that claim that the company was able to remove all the negative information from their report are suspicious. Accurate information can't be removed unless it's outdated.
A pattern of complaints about a company being slow to respond when customers call, text, or send an email asking for assistance should raise concern. You want a credit repair company that's responsive to you and ready to answer your questions.
Unanswered complaints on consumer review sites and business rating sites like the Better Business Bureau. Responding to consumer comments, both good and bad, demonstrates that a business cares about its customers and their satisfaction.
How to Avoid Credit Repair Scams
A legitimate credit repair service can help clean up your credit report by getting errors and some disputed items removed from your report. They should be able to work with all three credit bureaus. But they can't work miracles.
For instance, a credit repair company can't eliminate your current debts. You will still be obligated to pay those. They also can't erase legitimate negative reports like late payments, charge-offs, bankruptcies, or repossessions.
Unfortunately, there are some bad actors in the credit repair business. These companies promise fast credit repair and unattainable results. They use deceptive and sometimes illegal practices to lure customers.
Understanding your rights and the legal limits placed on credit repair companies can help you avoid these scams. No legitimate company can guarantee you'll have good credit after using their services, and they're required to tell you so.
Finding the Best Credit Repair Service
When you need credit repair help, you need an expert who is fair and honest. You need someone you can trust to get the job done. You want to work with one of the best credit repair companies.
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