You see the ads everywhere, online, television, radio. FAST Credit Repair! Wipe Your Credit Report Clean! Eliminate Bad Debt From Your Credit Report! Can it be true?
For people with bad credit, finding an easy way to get out from under a heavy debt burden is very tempting. Creditors and collection bureaus are calling and demanding payment, at home and perhaps even at work. There just doesn’t seem to be a way out from under that heavy debt load.
The sad fact is that the “fast” credit repair offers are usually just scams – designed to take your money and result in no better credit than before. In some cases your credit score may deteriorate. And in the worst case scenario you may be committing fraud.
Some of the most common tactics are:
1. Claiming to “wipe your credit report clean”. This usually involves getting an employer ID, which the debtor then uses as their new identifying number when applying for credit. This is fraudulent and unethical. It’s easily discovered by creditors, who have access to prior addresses, employment, and other information – and are not just looking at a social security number.
Changing your name to avoid paying creditors or attempting to obtain a new social security number to create a new credit report is also fraudulent.
2. Claiming to get you immediate credit no matter how bad your credit score is. This too often involves getting a business line of credit based on an employer ID and not your personal social security number. The terms of these loans can be outrageous, if you even successfully qualify – many creditors still want you to see your personal credit.
3. Reducing the amount of your debt by 20, 30, 50% or more. The companies that agree to help you cut down your debt will often charge a huge fee for this service. Despite this, a debtor can often just do the same thing themselves for free by contacting credit card companies themselves. These companies will negotiate with your lenders and credit card companies on your behalf, but you can say the same things when you contact your creditors. Also while you might have lowered your debt, the amount you’re not paying will show up as a “charge off” – meaning the bank didn’t collect it. This is a big a black mark on your credit report as any.
Some debt settlement companies will negotiate with the creditors for a reduced loan balance and then collect the payment from the debtor for several months or years before paying off that reduced loan balance for the debtor. What these settlement companies don’t tell you is that while the debtor, that’s you, is paying the settlement company, the creditor can still file legal proceedings to collect the balance owed to them, the full amount, not just the negotiated new balance.
Be careful when applying for “fast” credit repair programs. It took months, even years for your credit score to fall. It will take months to repair it. Make your payments on time and start paying down your outstanding balances. It may take awhile but you can repair your credit score.