What is Credit Repair?
Las Vegas credit repair strategies are frequently advertised in many media outlets, but it can be difficult for consumers to understand exactly what it is and why it matters. In general, credit repair refcers to any process where the information on one’s credit report is amended or removed to improve the credit rating. The simplest method of fixing your credit is to make regular payments, reduce outstanding debts and avoid any negative marks in the first place.
However, most people seeking credit repair solutions have already missed payments or defaulted on loans, and those negative events will be recorded on their report. If you have accurate, negative marks there is no legal obligation for credit agencies to remove them. There are also individuals who have found mistakes or inaccuracies in their report, a situation that requires a different approach. This article overview will detail the options available for restoration and how to decide whether to do it yourself or hire a company to help you.
There are very good reasons to seek a specialized solution including:
- Ease of obtaining new credit cards
- Qualifying for home or auto loans
- Applying for new employment
- Leasing an apartment
Your score could impact the outcome of all of these areas, and for that reason is worth the effort to improve your score with a honest company near you.
What Types of Items Need to Be “Repaired”?
The most common types of negative marks on the report include:
- Late Payments/Delinquencies of 30 days or more (the longer the delinquency the more it affects the score)
- Charge-offs where the account goes unpaid and is closed
- Tax Liens
- Foreclosures of home loans
The last three are most difficult to remove since they are usually based on confirmed legal action, and of interest to most creditors. For example, a bankruptcy will stay on the credit report for up to 10 years. Late payments and delinquencies are where you may find potential errors that can be corrected, and where you will have the most success using the available options.
The first thing to consider is that not all offers to help you improve your score are legitimate. If you see an advertisement in Las Vegas that offers new identities, removal of bankruptcies or erasing judgments, then you should proceed with caution. They may not be outright scams but they could be promising more than is possible or legal. The bottom line to remember is that if information in your report is accurate and current, there is no legal obligation to remove it. However, there remain options for cleaning up the report and requesting removal of derogatory marks for improving the score.
The credit report is relied on by lenders, employers and landlords to determine your creditworthiness and habits around finances. For this reason, the agencies that generate the report want it to reflect accurate information, whether it is positive or negative. Without this attribute, scores would be useless and could quickly become irrelevant. So any promises to simply delete this information for you should be viewed with suspicion.
DIY vs. Local RePair Services
The advantage of doing the restoration yourself is that it is free, including the annual report that you can order from one of the three major agencies. The downside is the time that it takes, and effort of making contact with agencies and creditors. Not to mention, you hire professionals for other areas of your life- insurance agents, car repair shops, and more. If you have a lot of time, and are willing to go to the trouble then it is possible to work on it without help, and it may make you appreciate how easily a score is affected by your financial habits.
However, people with full time jobs or family responsibilities may find that it is better to use a reputable credit repair business based in Las Vegas, Nevada, instead of doing it themselves or using a free service. One advantage of using a credit repair company is that they handle credit reports every day and are familiar with which types of items can be more easily removed. Also, you have someone who is not emotionally involved handling the contacts with agencies and creditors, easing the stress of the process. No matter who does it, the basic strategies are the same for legal removal of items from the report.
1. Pay Off Existing Debts and Make Payments on Outstanding Acfcounts
While this may seem like an obvious step, many people overlook the impact of reducing the overall amount that they have available. Carrying excessive debt, even if monthly payments are made on time, can have a negative affect on the score. If there are credit cards that you are not using, it can be helpful to cancel those to reduce the amount of available monthly revolving line of credit.
2. Disputing Mistakes With Credit Reporting Agencies
You can obtain a free report from the three credit reporting agencies to check what items are listed. If you find a mistake or inaccuracy you can contact the agency directly and request that they investigate and remove the negative mark. This can take up to 30 days in some cases, and although the agencies have an obligation to investigate and remove inaccuracies there may be quicker ways available to amend the report.
3. Disputing Items With the Original Creditor
In some cases, it is simpler to contact the creditor that placed the mark on your report in the first place. This can be an effective approach if there is a real mistake and you continue to be a customer or debtor, since they will have an interest in remedying any mistake. They are not permitted to charge you for removal of inaccurate information, but some creditors may use the removal as leverage to get you to make payments or a settlement.
Even if the negative mark is accurate, there is the possibility that you can negotiate with them for removal of the mark, such as full or partial payment of a past due amount. This ‘pay for delete’ strategy only works if you have the money, but sometimes the creditor will take a settlement amount that is less just to have some form of resolution of the debt.
4. Use of Credit and Open Accounts
Have at least one open credit card account where you make regular payments. Maintaining too many accounts can negatively impact your score, however, it is a good idea to have at least on or two accounts that are open and paid on time. By maintaining good standing with one account you can improve the score and also prove that you take responsibility for your financial situation.
5. Waiting for Items to Be Removed Automatically
By far the best strategy for repair is the passage of time. Negative marks should only stay on a report for seven years, but after a year or two the item will have less impact on the overall score. This is especially true if you have more recent positive items such as new loans or credit accounts that are current. For this reason, you should monitor your credit account to make sure that negative marks are actually removed at the end of the time period, and if not then you should contact the agency for removal.
Evaluating and Choosing Legitimate Credit Repair Companies
If you decide to use a credit repair company then you have to make a selection of which company to use. There may be differences in fee structures and services so it is worth investigating several firms before deciding. As mentioned, it is probably best to avoid those that make outrageous claims that seem too good to be true. The rules around removal of credit items are well established and hard to legally circumvent.
A reputable company will tell you what types of items can be removed, the time frame, and how much they will charge. They should also be able to tell you which items on your credit report cannot be easily removed, and how long they will have an impact on your credit score.
Credit Repair Organizations Act
The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) regulates the industry within the regulatory power of the Federal Trade Commission and sets standards for how credit repair firms can communicate and conduct business.
In general, under CROA firms must explain:
- What your legal rights are in a written contract that also details their services
- That you have a three day right to cancel without any charge
- Estimates of how long it will take to get results
- The total cost you will pay for the described services
- Any guarantees that are made by the firm for an outcome
How Long Does It Take?
Agencies must investigate any items in dispute within 30 days. If you have multiple items then it may take longer to get some kind of resolution. Creditors are not bound by a strict timeline, but cannot delay investigating a claim of inaccuracies just to attempt to obtain payment.
Special Considerations for Businesses
Solutions for businesses carry unique challenges. Of course, all of the tactics outlined above can be used just as easily by a business that is looking to improve its rating. Due to the fact that a business credit score is computed differently, there are additional strategies available as well. One of the key factors that is used to arrive at a business credit score are the reports made by suppliers for payment on accounts receivables. This element alone can form the basis for the rating, and it is possible that some of those marks are either inaccurate or have been remedied with payment.
New Separate Business Identity
Unlike individuals, it is a common practice for businesses to reorganize using a new business name and tax identification numbers, and it is completely legal. This is especially true for corporations or LLCs, which have an identity and financial status that is separate from the owners. If a business has financial difficulty with creditors or suppliers, the report would reflect that. If the owners decide to dissolve the enterprise and begin a related one, the new business identity would be starting with a clean slate. However, they may face some difficulty obtaining credit until the business has established itself as a financially sound enterprise.
Establishing Relationships With Suppliers
Since the most important part of a business credit score may be payment on open supplier accounts, it is helpful to have established relationships with several suppliers. In this way you can quickly create a record of on-time payments that will be reflected in the rating. Anyone who pulls your report will see the positive payment history and feel more confident to extend financing. This also can be helpful in ‘factoring’ strategies where accounts receivables are used as collateral for a loan.
Credit repair is a legitimate method of improving your credit score by either removing inaccurate information or negotiating with creditors for removal in accurate, but negative marks. You can either do it yourself or engage the services of a credit repair firm, depending on your time and circumstances. Credit repair companies will charge you a fee, but if you don’t have time and need the help then it can be a good option.
This is not an instant remedy for a poor credit history, but the effort can be worth it if coupled with sound financial planning and debt payment. Over time, your credit score will improve using the strategies described, and you will be rewarded with a higher credit score that can be useful in obtaining new credit or employment.
Credit Repair Resources:
More detailed information on Credit Repair Companies in Las Vegas here:
Repairing credit is rarely quick or easy. Your damaged score may have come through identity theft, an unavoidable financial catastrophe, or a bureau screw-up but it is still up to you to clean it up and return your name to the good graces. Sometimes even not-so-bad scores needs a tweak or two to get that crucial rating above the magic number that determines who gets a mortgage these days.
Whether you need to fix a heavily damaged score or just find and fix a small problem, the process can be both enormously time consuming and frustrating. It entails identifying and removing or correcting the source of the problem, writing letters of dispute to creditors and bureaus, following up and probably writing them again (and again?) while frequently checking the information on file with three major reporting bureaus .
You probably already know that just having bad credit is a very costly situation. Unfortunately repairing it is expensive as well. While federal law guarantees you one free credit report a year from each of the three major reporting bureaus, restoring your score requires nearly monthly reviews, and subsequent reports are definitely not free. Neither is the time it will take you to learn the restoration process, pull and check reports, and write and follow up on the letters of dispute.
Related article on Las Vegas bankruptcy here.
There are companies that will do this for you, and while their effort and its success will be limited by the severity and duration of your credit problems, a good one can save you a lot of time, even more aggravation, and perhaps money as well.
But the caveat is in the words “good one.” Bad credit repair companies have brought disfavor on the industry; some overcharge, many underperform, and a few run out and out scams. Newer laws have given state and federal agents power to shut down the worst companies and fine or even jail some of their officers but there are still a few bad actors out there. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency point to some red flags; a reputable company would never:
- Demand payment before providing a service. (This actually violates federal law)
- Insist the customer never contact a credit reporting bureau directly.
- Claim it can eliminate negative information even if it is accurate
- Recommend creating a new identity and credit history through use of a Federal Employee Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number.
- Suggest submitting false information on applications
- Fail to explain the customer’s legal rights
Of course avoiding a bad company is not the same as finding a good company but there is help there as well. One resource is websites that review local businesses. Beware those that are pretty clearly doing nothing more than running paid ads for their top picks (hint: they provide phone numbers, links, and lavish praise for a clearly fake review). We did however find several that appeared to be rating companies on a consistent set of standards and providing unbiased information. These review sites could serve as a starting point for your search.
The following are characteristics to look for in a company in Las Vegas or Henderson, NV.
- Cost. We found there was commonly a set-up fee. This ranged from $500 to $1999 among those we examined. Monthly fees were anywhere from the $190 to $500 range. Some change a flat fee for a set period (perhaps six months) of service.
- Services. What services do they provide? Are they all available to every client? Are there different levels of service or any hidden fees?
- History. Is the company new or has it established some credibility? Is it registered with the Better Business Bureau? Have a business license and if so, where?
Most important of all, can they deliver what they promise? They may have an impressive sounding “system” but does it work? Are there statistics on their success rate with other clients? Testimonials? Do they offer any type of guarantee – especially one that gives you your money back if they fail? How easily can you verify what they have done for you?
The Federal Trade Commission also advises that legitimate companies must abide by the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act. It requires that they:
- Provide consumers with a written contract detailing their legal rights and the services the company will perform on their behalf
- Inform the consumers about how long it will take for results, the total cost, and any guarantees that are available.
- Tell clients they have three business days in which to cancel the contract without change.
And there is recourse if a company does not live up to their promises. Consumers can report them to the FTC on the agency’s website. They also have the right to sue in federal court for violations of the Credit Repair Organization Act. Suits can ask for the larger of actual losses or a return of payments and can seek punitive damages as well. Some states also have laws regulating credit repair companies. Your state’s Office of the state Attorney General will have additional information.
Please note, creditprofessor.org is not a professional. If you need legal, business, tax, insurance, or other professional advice, please contact a qualified professional. Thank you for reading.