Beware of Enticing Offers to Fix Your Credit Report
"The credit you always dreamed of."
"If we fail to remove any negative credit from your reports, we'll give you a refund plus $100."
"80 percent of the derogatory information is deleted off your credit report within...three months."
The offers to repair a person' credit are tempting--so much so that 2 million Americans fall for them every year. And they shouldn't.
Year after year, law enforcement officials warn consumers to steer clear of credit-repair shops that promise to remove negative information from credit reports, even accurate information. And they did so again yesterday as federal and state officials announced a crackdown on 20 credit-repair operations.
"Credit repair promoters generally charge hundreds of dollars, but don't deliver on their claims," said Eileen Harrington, the Federal Trade Commission's deputy director of the agency's consumer-protection division. "The fact is, they can't. No one can legally remove accurate and timely information from your credit report. ... There is absolutely no reason to pay for credit repair--ever."
The FTC says people who fall for these scams are in "credit despair." To avoid it, they say consumers should avoid any company that:
- * Wants you to pay for credit repair services before providing any services. It is against the law.
* Tells you not to contact a credit reporting company directly.
* Advises you to dispute all of the information in your credit report.
* Suggests creating a "new" credit identity--and then, a new credit report--by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number. That is against the law. If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you also may be subject to prosecution.
You can repair your credit on your own, the FTC says. It usually takes time and a conscious effort--and sometimes a debt-repayment plan set up by a reputable credit counselor. (Learn how to find a good one here.) The first step is to order a free credit report.
February 3, 2006; 8:40 AM ET
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