Credit is a way of life in America. Without good credit, you have to take your seat in the second-class section of our economy. But, if your credit is in shambles, you may not be willing to wait for seven years while your credit report repairs itself.
Is there anything you can do to speed your credit repair?
Many authorities, such as the news media, will tell you there is nothing you can do to repair your credit. Newspapers, magazines, and TV news journals all seem to be unanimous in discouraging you from making any effort to repair your credit before the seven year limit.
How do these journalists explain Lexington Law Firm? We have repaired over one hundred thousand negative items from individual consumer credit reports in the last two years. What about the thousands of Americans who have repaired their own credit? Why has the media repeatedly denied the possibility of repairing credit when substantial evidence points to the contrary? Who stands to gain from such a broad campaign of disinformation?
The giant credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus) have maintained a consistent public relations effort to dissuade you from repairing the information appearing on your credit reports. The credit bureaus are especially intent on steering you clear of "credit repair" companies that promise to help you repair your credit. The bureaus claim that these companies "cannot have accurate information removed from your credit report."
If you are like 70% of Americans that have less than perfect credit, you're sure to be interested in the truth about credit repair. If there were a legitimate alternative to seven years of credit denial, that alternative could mean early parole from the bad credit prison.
As the credit bureaus computerized their processes and greatly expanded their reach and influence in the late 1960s and early 1970s, consumer complaints began to pile up at the FTC and state attorney generals' offices. The credit reporting agencies quickly became huge bureaucracies second only in size to the federal government. Yet, the credit bureaus expressly served only the needs of their clients, the credit grantors.
Many consumers were negatively effected by the credit bureaus, but they had no way to correct or change their credit information. The American consumer lay completely at the mercy of the credit bureaus. The United States Congress enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1971 to insure that the credit bureaus investigate the credit items disputed by consumers. This federal law set procedural guidelines which gave the consumer the right to challenge the accuracy, validity, and verifiability of the credit listings appearing in their consumer credit report. It also required that the credit bureau repair any credit listing if it was inaccurate or could not be verified.
In theory, the FCRA charges the credit bureaus with responsibility to the consumer as well as the credit grantor. In reality, the credit bureaus resist, resent, and reject consumer disputes. The credit bureaus would rather be left alone to make a profit. And, each time a consumer challenges his credit, profit is lost.
The credit bureaus first defend their profits by erecting walls of stall tactics, including requests for more information, further clarification, and additional identification. The vast majority of consumers give up before they even receive copies of their credit reports. If a consumer manages to get a credit report, decipher the codified information, write a coherent dispute, and mail it, the bureaus may still find some reason to disregard the challenge. The entire dispute system is designed to frustrate and discourage the consumer.
Many consumers have the idea that the credit bureaus must complete their investigation within thirty days or be forced to remove all disputed information. They threaten to sue the credit bureaus if they don't conclude their investigation in time and repair their credit. In practice, such thinking is delusional. Nobody forces the credit bureaus to do anything.
However, if you manage to submit a valid dispute letter, and the credit bureau investigates your dispute, the chances of success are good - whether or not the negative listings are accurate! Accuracy actually has little to do with the deletion of negative items.
If a credit bureau cannot verify an item before completing its investigation, that item will be removed. Many creditor grantors are simply reluctant to take the time to verify the data. While the credit bureaus may be in the business of reporting credit histories, creditor grantors are not.
Many "credit repair" companies claim to remove negative credit with the flick of a wrist. Their advertisements make bold assertions and money'back guarantees; "Bankruptcy, tax liens, judgments, . . . no problem!! One hundred percent guaranteed!! Credit report 100% cleared in 30 days!!" Can they really make such sweeping guarantees?
While some credit repair companies are outright frauds, others are not frauds and they use the dispute process to obtain impressive results. In fact, they delete thousands of negative credit listings every day - regardless of whether or not the listings are technically accurate. In truth, credit repair fraud is less common today then five years ago. Vigorous regulatory sweeps by state and federal regulators have cleared away most of the illegitimate (and some of the legitimate) credit repair companies.
Unfortunately, it's risky to trust anyone to help you repair your credit. It is estimated that credit repair companies have bilked Americans out of more than fifty million dollars. The majority of credit repair companies were started by entrepreneurs with a penchant for marketing. Consumers have flocked to these "credit doctors" only to discover that their advertisements proved far more impressive than their results. Hiring a credit repair company is like playing Russian roulette. Many of them are effective and legitimate, but it is difficult to tell a rip-off from the real article.
Working within the credit bureau maze requires substantial background knowledge; knowledge it takes credit repair companies years to learn. In fact, U.S. District Court Judge J. Wexler entered the following legal opinion in the Federal Supplement. "Since allowing third parties to assist consumers will likely lead to the expedited correction of credit reports, it will further the purposes of the [Fair Credit Reporting] Acts."
So, can credit repair companies really guarantee results?
Not a chance! No credit repair company is so good that it can guarantee a specific outcome. It would be like a defense lawyer guaranteeing that the jury will find his client innocent. Guarantees are a sure sign of credit repair fraud. A warranty, where the credit repair company promises a refund if certain results don't occur, is a better, more realistic claim.
Not surprisingly, the credit bureaus have declared war against the credit repair companies and those selling instruction on how to do-it-yourself. The bureaus lambaste credit repair companies in the media and send anti-credit repair literature to anyone whom they suspect of using credit repair services. The bureaus unflinchingly deny that accurate information can be removed from a credit report.
Some time ago, a couple in the Northwestern United States, who were using the services of a legitimate credit repair company, received a scathing letter of reproach from their local credit bureau. The letter chastened them for relying on the "unethical" methods of credit repair, and pointed out how all their efforts had come to nothing. "As you can see," the letter chastened , "your credit reports remain unchanged." The couple was bewildered because almost all of their many negative credit listings, including a bankruptcy, had long since been deleted.
The simple truth is that you don't have to endure bad credit for seven to ten years. It is possible to repair your credit within a much shorter time.
However you decide to address your credit challenges, realize that regardless of what you may hear in the news media, thousands before you have sought help and repaired their credit. They can show you their homes, cars, and credit cards. Despite the newspaper articles, TV reports, and other credit bureau propaganda to the contrary, you can repair your credit.
Any credit repair consists of two phases: removing the negative listings from your credit report and adding new, positive listings.
Since just a couple of negative listings will earn a rejection from most creditors, repair of your negative credit should be the first priority. After bankruptcy, for example, the credit report will show many negative listings including the bankruptcy filing, discharge and numerous "included in bankruptcy" listings. While removing a bankruptcy from your credit report is no easy proposition, it is possible and definitely worth the effort. For more help, see Credit Repair.
It is important to note that you may be able to obtain much of the credit you need even without repairing your credit report.
Most home loan guidelines (including FHA guidelines) require that you have no negative credit appearing within the last two years. This means that you may have no late pays within the last two years and that any collection, lien or judgment has been paid more than two years ago. Even if you have some bad credit in the last two years, you can often find a mortgage amongst the "sub-prime" or "sub-A" lenders that will finance you even before you repair your credit. These loans will charge a higher interest rate and require more equity or a larger down payment before they will close. If you have good income and a reasonable debt to income ratio, a sub-prime loan may be the key to refinancing or getting a home while you repair your credit. In any case, if you are working on your credit repair, you may be able to refinance within a year at better terms.
Automotive financing will typically allow some negative credit before credit repair, but with less than optimal terms. If you have a few late pays, you may pay a little more in interest (but it adds up fast, to be sure.) If you have truly awful credit, you may still get an auto loan, but at very high rates (but you should definately repair your credit in the meantime.)
Standard rate credit cards seem to be the most difficult when it comes to credit that still needs credit repair. Most standard rate cards will reject you immediately for any negative credit whatsoever. Yet, there are many credit cards that work with bad credit and help you to repair your credit. Some require deposits and others require a significant annual fee. Most have low credit limits.
So, once your credit repair is underway, you can turn attention to adding positive credit. You may have to accept some of these less-than-standard credit options while you repair your credit. But, a word to the wise, there are many credit repair scams out there that prey upon the credit distressed. Even your local auto dealership may take advantage of your vulnerable position and your desire to repair your credit. Many phony credit card offers exist that allow you a card, but one that is only good for the company's limited line of merchandise. Mortgage brokers often hide exorbitant fees in loans to borrowers who need credit repair. It is not uncommon to charge credit repair customers four to eight "points" on a sub-prime mortgage loan. These points amount to tens of thousands of dollars that you must pay over the life of the loan. Make sure that you read the fine print and compare your mortgage, auto loan or credit card to the typical terms of regular financing if you are applying before your credit repair is complete.
With that said, there are many good options for repairing and rebuilding credit that you can find on the internet or at your local credit union.
Maybe you've recently finished repairing your credit or maybe you're young and haven't used credit yet. In either case, here are a few tricks to credit repair and building a positive credit history quickly and cheaply. Most times you start building some good credit in just a couple of weeks. But, beware, if you stack too many open accounts, or too many credit inquiries, you will be denied based on debt to income ratio and excessive credit inquiries.
If you know someone (like a good friend or parent) who has good credit, you can "borrow" their good credit listings and begin to repair your credit. This friend must have credit cards, and must trust you enough to allow you to become an "authorized user" on his or her credit cards. Just have your friend call the credit card company and request that you be placed on his card as an authorized user. A copy of the card will be sent and you may simply return it to your friend. Your credit file should soon show an open account with all of the positive history that your friend has created over the years with that credit card. A small footnote will sometimes show that you are an authorized user of that card. Remember, though, when a new credit grantor goes to review your file, he may insist that the balance on the card appear on your debt to income ratio. That shouldn't disqualify you for credit if your income is sufficient and you don't have an excess of debt on your file.
There are a number of good secured and unsecured credit cards that advertise on the internet. These cards are designed to help you to repair your credit. Understand, however, that secured credit cards will appear on your credit report as "secured" and will not necessarily repair your credit history as much as an unsecured card.
There are a number of creditors who are traditionally more accepting of those with little credit history or who are in credit repair. For example, many college credit unions will extend low limit credit cards to students without a credit history. Many department stores, such as Sears, will extend a credit line to encourage you to shop at that store, even if your credit repair isn't yet complete. Electronics stores, furniture stores and cosmetics shops are all usually open to extending credit to credit repair candidates.
As with any line of credit, you must make sure that you handle these new accounts responsibly. It is a temptation to use a department store credit card frivolously. Just remember that you have to pay back every dime, with interest.
Can you add good credit to your credit report by having another person add you as an authorized user to one of their credit cards?
When another person adds you to a credit card as an authorized user, the credit card company will typically place the account on your credit report as well, serving to help repair your credit. Often, the account will carry a note indicating that you are an authorized user rather than the primary cardholder. Even so, this serves to substantially improve your credit history.
On the other hand, the account will not typically show up with the entire account history, but will show only from the time you were added as an authorized user.
Beware: if the account goes delinquent, it may negatively effect your credit report and the credit card company may even attempt to recover payment from the authorized user. If this happens, your credit repair can slip even further behind. Click Here to Learn More about Credit Repair.