In today’s world of identity theft and other scams, many people find themselves with less than perfect credit. When this happens, not only can it be difficult to obtain loans for homes and cars, but it can also lead to years of frustration. Unfortunately, as credit problems become common for more people, the number of credit repair scams has risen. And for those in desperate need of good credit, they often fall for these scams. If you are looking to fix your credit and don’t want to be taken in by the latest scam, here are some things to look for as well as smart ways to repair your credit.
Identifying a Credit Repair Scam
If a person or company asks for money before they do anything to help you, chances are it’s a scam. To make sure, ask for references or contact the Better Business Bureau.
Absence of a Physical Location
Along with asking for upfront money, any company that does not have a physical office that you can visit is probably a scam. With any legitimate credit repair business, it will certainly have an office location where you can talk to people face-to-face.
Questionable Legal Advice
In many credit scams, the company will try to convince you to not contact any of the leading credit bureaus yourself, and in most cases will also want you to pay them in order to receive information about your legal rights.
Conducting Illegal Activity
A major red flag that you’re in the midst of a credit repair scam is if the company is giving you advice on how to conduct illegal activity, such as misleading the Social Security Administration to get a new Social Security number so that you can create a new credit history. If this happens, not only should you run away as fast as possible, but also contact the Better Business Bureau right away.
What To Do If I Am A Victim
If you are victimized by a scam, you have several options. Along with contacting the BBB, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and any other state or federal consumer complaint agencies.
Take Advantage of the Credit Repair Organization Act
Put in place to protect consumers, the CROA states if you’ve signed a contract with a credit repair company, it should spell out certain stipulations, including:
1. Total fees
2. Services they will provide
3. Any Guarantees
4. Company name, address, phone number
Along with this, you have 72 hours to cancel any contract you may have signed with a company, so be sure to check their reputation before signing on the dotted line.
Repairing Your Own Credit
If you choose to go it alone, it’s possible to do so. For starters, contact the three major credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian, and the TransUnion. You’re entitled to one free credit report each year, but get a report from each bureau. Review them carefully, and dispute any errors you find. To obtain your free credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228.