Thoughts on credit repair

17 Replies

I've read a few posts regarding credit repair. I went into a bit of debt while in college. I was hoping to hear others' perspective on paying for credit repair. For one, I do not know the costs of what it would take to get my credit score to where I want but in general is this service overpriced? Is it worth paying the money rather than make calls regarding disputes? I would love to hear of someone who went that route and their retrospective look at the issue.

Jarred:
It really depends on what you're trying to clean up and how hard you're willing to work at it (if you wish to do it yourself). I have had erroneous things fixed on my credit report multiple times and it's a big hassle. It's amazing how easily an unscrupulous company can totally destroy a person's credit without merit. If you care to post more details on your situation, I'd be happy to try and give you some of my ideas.

From what I understand about the whole process, a lot of those companies are just going to shotgun out disputes and temporarily raise your credit score. Not all companies do this, but I've heard that many do...

The majority of what a credit repair agency will do is just give you a few tips that can be found free on the internet, and maybe check in with you on regular intervals to make sure you're still on track. In reality, if you have the discipline to create a plan and stick to it, you really don't need to pay a company. An example is when I purchase my condo after college, my mortgage broker showed me my credit report and essentially said pay this off first, get a secured credit card, and use the cards while paying them off quickly. Sure enough, I got another 50 pts (didn't make a difference for the finance rate on the mortgage, but may have been a factor in my really cheap auto loan).

A site that I've used that may not be 100% accurate but gives you a good idea is Credit Karma (free). They monitor your credit score and give you a break down of your revolving accounts and also shows you what sill happen if you add more debt or pay off so much, or get another line of credit, etc...

If you feel that you truly do have errors on your credit report and think you will need to dispute, you might want to pay for professional help with that, although I'm sure it can be done on your own. I would wait to see if anyone else chimes in with advice on that aspect - never dealt with it personally.

Credit Karma ... is semi accurate try this www.quizzle.com please note I am not recommending their credit services but the score look up is from experian. Free every 6 months. Open a card rotate bills through - don't think of it as a card - just keep paying them automatically.

Ed:
Thanks for the reply. Sorry it took so long to respond I had some trouble with but Josh fixed it for me. Anyways, I plan on calling these companies myself and pestering them rather than paying outsiders to do the same. Did you contact the 3 major reporting agencies to get your data? Or did you choose to use a particular website such as freecreditreport?

Dennis:
Again, thanks for the reply. I believe I have a better understanding of how to monitor my credit score now. What exactly does a secured credit card do? I just do not understand the purpose of using one of these rather than a regular one, but you are not the first to recommend me to use this method.

Here is a to the point video. It's setting the card to automatic draw from an account so you always pay off your balance - obviously you have to be aware how much is in that account but it's great for keeping that prioritized. Also automatically pay bills from this card such as calling our cable company to set it up under this card or selecting auto bill pay online. Then the card pays via the bank account each month. Two different things automatic bill pay for the bills themselves which you put on the card - and automatic payment of the balance on cards setup to automatically payoff the balance from the bank account.

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Sorry guys, but the link is chocked full of advertising.

What it says to do is to set up automatic debit of your payment from your bank account. He recommends contacting the credit card company to do this. Personally, I'd use online bill pay to have my bank send the payment. In either case the underlying thought is to actually pay at least the minimum payment on time. And that is absolutely correct. Never, ever pay a credit card bill late even by one day. Now, strictly speaking, that won't directly affect your credit score because companies only report once you're 30 days late. But one or two late payments, even one day late or one dollar short and the company will stick you with a penalty rate. Often close to 29%.

Jarred, Don't pay a service and don't pay a site for your credit report. I believe the IRS webpage has a link (make sure you go to a .gov site for the IRS) to screen your credit once a year for free. See exactly what's reported, and research online for free the fastest way to fix it. I've found that even without late payments, they can drop your credit score for silly things like moving more than every 2 years. Just found out they'd rather you have 2 or 3 credit cards with under 30% of credit limit balance than have just 1 credit card with over 50% balance, even if it's paid down a lot.

Http://annualcreditreport.com is a free once a year report from all 3 companies. It sends you to each of the 3 companies' websites through a back door that's free to pull a full report once a year. Two of the 3 let you dispute easily fron the website.

Jarred, we can't really tell what needs to be "repaired". You've only said you have quite a bit of student loan debt.

If student loan debt is your problem, calling to make disputes won't help your credit - unless you have erroneous info on your credit report also. The only way to improve your credit regarding student loan debt is to pay them down and pay them on time. The great thing about student loans, though, is that they are very forgiving. If you think you will be late, they usually have around 5 or so ways to qualify you for a payment forbearance for one to several months. This will keep late payment strikes off your credit. But ultimately, you need to pay student loan debts off because they count against your debt to income ratio. I have substantial student loan debt myself, but still have good enough credit to qualify for decent interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc. I have heard from several creditors (including mortgage and car loans) that properly maintained student loan debt tends to have the least negative impact on your credit as compared to any other type of debt.

One strategy I would recommend regarding student loans is to NOT consolidate them unless you will realize SUBSTANTIAL savings on interest. If you consolidate, you have the entire payment counting against your debt to income ratio the entire time you owe on the loan even if you make extra payments. If you leave your student loans un-consolidated, you can make your extra principal payments to one loan at a time until they are paid off one by one. By doing this, you are not only saving on interest by paying extra principal, you are also improving your debt to income ratio as you go along, even if you don't have all the loans paid off. This means you have more opportunities to borrow for investments sooner.

For example, let’s say you have a 650/month total student loan debt. And let’s say if you consolidated you have 600/month payments. You pay extra and are able to pay off in say, 5 years instead of 10. That is 5 years of not being able to qualify for 650/ month toward a mortgage. This could be critical depending on your income level.

On the other hand, let’s say you don't consolidate. It is a little more expensive and you might have 4 different lenders. But in this case, you could pay extra and have 2 of those 4 lenders paid off in 2 years. Now you have improved your debt to income ratio 275/month (as compared to the consolidated scenario) three years sooner and still be on track to have the whole thing paid off in about 5 or 6 years.

Obviously, the numbers above are rough and general and highly dependent upon your behavior. You will have to crunch the numbers yourself to see what makes sense.

Updated almost 10 years ago

I meant to say debt from school, as you it was not explicit that your debt was comprised soley or even in part of student loan debt...

Originally posted by Brian Hoyt:

Obviously, the numbers above are rough and general and highly dependent upon your behavior.

This sentence makes me laugh. It's incredibly true, but sounds like something I'd say to my kids :-)

Jarred, disputing through the bureaus is 99.9% of the time, a total waste. They could totally care less about accuracy and for that matter, helping consumers right wrongs imposed on them by any creditor. Been there and tried that and failed. You have to go directlyto the creditor, who will often try and pass you off on to the collection agency (if one is involved). Sometimes I have emailed a ceo, called the office of the president, written letters to senior executives, and rarely, you can get help from the "no men" stooges at the lower levels of customer service. The angle you play is unique to the situation and creditor. Without some slight details which remain lacking, that's about the most I can tell you at this point.
A key thing to remember is that the most current activity is the most significant, either good or bad, as it pertains to your score.
A good point was made, in favor of chopping down some smaller student loans to improve your dti as opposed to consolodating

Originally posted by Ed O.:
Jarred, disputing through the bureaus is 99.9% of the time, a total waste. They could totally care less about accuracy and for that matter, helping consumers right wrongs imposed on them by any creditor. Been there and tried that and failed. You have to go directlyto the creditor, who will often try and pass you off on to the collection agency (if one is involved).

Learning this the hard way. Mortgage lender gave me copy of a my credit report showing a bank line of credit from 1984!!! that I've never had, has never been on my report before, and I've seen my report frequently over the last few years. I called the bank, they told me it was a mistake but I needed to dispute it through the bureaus. Disputed with all 3, Transunion just completed their investigation and didn't remove it. So call the bank back twice, and they assure me that I am not a co-signor or in any way associated with that account, but instead of just saying, Sorry, we'll fix it right away, they say I must formally dispute it, mail in credit report with full account number (Thankfully, my lender gave it to me as the annual one only lists partial numbers.) and documentation? How do you document that you've never cosigned someone else's credit line from 1984? Hoping a letter is sufficient. What a PITA. In the meantime, this guy is at his limit on his line of credit and it's dropped my score. Ugh.

@lynnm

Lynn, if you want to tell me who the lender is, I can probably steer you in the direction of a more swift resolution. I have succeeded about 10 times in getting errors and negative info off my report and my wife's report, often at a quick pace. The only time I failed was when I was foolish and willing to accept no for an answer years ago. It all depends on who you talk to and how you carry yourself, as well as your ability to refuse to accept no. If you don't want to put the info out, feel free to pm me.

I talked to a no guarantee service that wanted 1k for inquires and 1 negative item (for removal).

I got the negative off with about 30 minutes worth of my time.

Same offer to anyone else that needs negative info off their credit report. The less valid the info, the easier it generally is.

I still have not figured out inquires yet. Anyone got the inside scoop on them?

Ed, Thanks! I, too, can be tenacious, although this is the first time I've had to deal with something like this. Sounds like it happens to you a lot.

It's Navy Federal, just didn't know if it was proper to say. I just mailed a letter, copies of the credit record from my lender, and transunion response to NFCU's dispute center. I also asked the rep to send a letter to me stating I am not associated with that account number, even if she can't list the account holder's name. She spoke to her supervisor and they agreed that would be okay.

It's very frustrating that a bank can mistakenly put a record on your credit report, agree that it's not your account, yet can't just remove it immediately. Instead, I have to produce reports and write letters and certify mailing to submit it to their own dispute center, even though they agree, no dispute from them, that it's not my account. Mind-boggling. If you can think of any other steps I should be taking, please let me know. I've always had great credit and to think it can be hurt by an account that's not even mine is upsetting me.

Also, FREE FUN FACT for those of you applying for a mortgage: My lender tells me that disputing a report while in the process of obtaining a mortgage can undermine the process as automatic underwriting won't look at a disputed report and manual underwriting can be less than successful. He told me this After I disputed it, unfortunately, but hopefully will be resolved quickly.

you can't remove inquiries from Experian, on Trans Union you can by pulling your credit report through www.smartcredit.com repeatedly,,on equifax you can remove all hard inquiries except mortgage inquiries by pulling that report repeatedly.

I hope the credit people dont' read this board,,on another board you sort of have to speak in code about "bumping", which is what you are doing,,the credit bureaus only give so much space for inquiries on your report,,,if you load it up with "soft" inquiries (like pulling your own credit), you will drop them off,,,but it takes a couple of months to get results.

All 'soft' inquiries don't count,,you have to know which ones will,,but smartcredit works for TU and equifax itself works for equifax.

What ever you do, never make any reference to what your doing to the credit bureau,,don't call and ask "when are my inquiries going to drop off",,,you will only cause yourself massive problems,,they don't want anyone to know it exist

make sense?

You definitely want to get started by pulling current copies of your credit report from all 3 bureaus. For the most part you can do get these for free. You're entitled to one free report per year directly from each of the bureaus. But there are also sites where you can pull a "tri-merge" report. Which is basically all 3 reports together versus getting them individually from the direct credit bureaus. Once you've got a thorough list of everything on all 3 of your reports, then you can start your plan of attack. I've done it a combination of ways. I've been able to successfully get "some" things removed by directly disputing with the bureaus. But once I had removed as much as I could on my own, there did come a point where the bureaus were no longer responding to my disputes. I know that this is technically illegal for them to do. But they do it!! I received letters back from them telling me that they were refusing to investigate my disputed items. Hard to believe right?? But in any event, I did have to start working with others that specialize in credit repair to help me remove the remaining items. All I can say is do your research because there are a lot of scammers out there. Do searches on the internet and try to find "reputable" companies. I kind of stuck to pursuing companies where I can continue to work on it myself. It's a lot cheaper than paying someone to do it. Here's a site that offers a 60 day money back guarantee so you might want to check them out:

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Good Luck!!