There’s no doubt…it’s getting tougher to get the credit you deserve as a consumer. This problem is magnified if you have a less than perfect credit rating according to any one or all of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union).
Because of our economic situation, it’s tough to find a professional, reliable and trustworthy credit repair organization to help you navigate the huge bureaucracies and constantly changing credit repair laws. That’s where we come in.
We’ve prepared a guide for you, the consumer, to help you with the most critical piece to getting a big part of your financial life back:
Selecting a professional, reliable, and trustworthy credit repair organization (CRO) that gets results for you!
Let’s talk about:
6 definitive characteristics to look for in a top-notch credit repair organization, and what these characteristics mean for you as a consumer.
6 Definitive Characteristics Of A Top-Notch Professional Credit Repair Organization And
The 4 Red Flags You Need To Avoid
The credit repair industry has suffered in the media by means of a number of negative stereotypes. Some of these stereotypes are true for some “fly by night” CRO’s, but some are completely false.
The problem is rooted in the fact the credit repair industry was once a very secretive industry, and with little regulation. The “scam artists” in the industry, combined with some “loose cannons” (e.g. sales people that want to reach quota etc…) are the individuals that allowed these negative stereotypes to continue to gain steam.
Fast forward to today…
Now there are many more credit repair organizations that provide a legitimate and valuable service to clients that actually need their services (more on that in a moment). Following are several characteristics to look for in a top-notch credit repair organization:
1) They treat credit repair as a process, not an event.
The process of repairing one’s credit takes longer than sending a letter out to creditor and disputing items on your credit report. It involves responses from the creditor, and handling those responses in a timely and correct manner. In addition, more analysis and consultation is required over a period of time to ensure your results will be long-term.
This leads to one of the most important characteristics…
2) The professional CRO won’t help every person regardless of their situation…they have a qualification process in place to ensure they can get results.
Not everyone can qualify for the services of a true, professional credit repair organization.
Contrary to popular belief, if you don’t pay your current bills on time, you probably won’t qualify to have your credit repaired by a professional credit repair organization (CRO). It’s true that long-term credit repair services are much more effective for those people who had problems in the past and are looking to rebuild their financial lives, but are currently paying their bills. Contact your CRO for details.
Red Flag: So if a CRO (credit repair organization) is trying to “sell” you on using their services without asking you questions about your credit, payment history, and what led you to your current situation…ask them what they are doing to qualify you and ensure they can help you.
If they can’t answer that question…run fast and don’t look back.
3) The CRO will have a professional, two-way communication system in place. They will provide you an area on a website where you can login and view the progress of their efforts automatically.
Current technology has allowed for special software that lets a credit repair organization to automate the reporting of results for their clients. That’s you.
The CRO you select should be able to furnish you with a login to a website area where you can both communicate with them and be able to monitor the progress of your account step by step, day by day. With this technology, you won’t even have to call them to monitor your progress (obviously you should be able to pick up the phone and call them if necessary).
The communication system put in place by the CRO should provide you with complete contact information, mailing address, and easy to access instructions for “how to contact” them should the need arise.
4) The professional CRO doesn’t promise results. They don’t violate UDAP (Unfair and Deceptive Acts or Practices), and do not make false claims or show deceptive advertising.
Really, this boils down to basic integrity.
Any industry, let alone credit repair, shouldn’t be in the practice of over-hyped claims and under-delivered promises. But credit repair is a little different because of some negative stereotypes, and it’s regulated by the FTC pretty extensively.
Red Flag: The CRO you select won’t claim to be able to perform overnight miracles with your credit, nor will they promise the process will be simple and able to be completed within days. They also cannot guarantee 100% success. If they do make “too good to be true” guarantees or promises, run for the hills.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t as simple as sending letters to your creditors for $395.00 and increasing your credit score by 100 points.
This leads to our next characteristic of a professional CRO…
5) The professional credit repair organization will take as much time as necessary to completely explain everything to you up front so you know and are fully confident in what you’ll be doing.
When you enlist the services of a credit repair organization, you’re entering into a legal contract to pay for services rendered. The CRO is responsible to explain the entire arrangement you’re agreeing to in complete detail so you know exactly what services will be performed for what fee.
Red Flag: There is a federal law called CROA (Credit Repair Organizations Act) that prohibits collecting payment in advance in the following manner:
(b) Payment in Advance.–No credit repair organization may charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration for the performance of any service which the credit repair organization has agreed to perform for any consumer before such service is fully performed.
Full text of the law is here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/croa/croa.shtm
Granted, your State’s laws also affect this scenario, and your CRO will know how your State governs credit repair transactions.
If the CRO you’re considering demands upfront payment for their services before those services are performed…get out of Dodge.
Here is the most common approach for credit repair agreements that is both acceptable and helpful for you.
It is known as a continuing monthly fee agreement, where an initial agreement is reached…the CRO performs the services agreed to…then this is paid for by you…with a continuing monthly fee as part of the agreement to maintain your credit report and provide additional services.
Simply have the CRO explain to you which option they are using for your individual situation…and they will be happy to do so.
While explaining your contract to you, a professional CRO will also explain your right to cancel the contract, and what your rights are in doing so. Most will explain it several times during explanation.
And one last thing when it comes to the CRO fully explaining everything to you as a consumer…
You will be provided a copy of “Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law” by a top-notch CRO before any type of contractual agreement is reached.
It basically boils down to this…credit repair is a valuable service that has the potential of returning you financial power. But you need to know what you’re getting into as a consumer, so the CRO should be more than willing to explain it all to you in detail.
6) The CRO will operate their business in a professional way, according to laws and regulations set forth…and provide a legitimate service that adds value to the lives of its clients.
While this sounds simple on its surface, there are a few items that come into play here:
This isn’t a situation where a CRO should send a bunch of form written dispute letters to all of your creditors and “hope and pray” your credit improves (even if it does, that effect is usually temporary, not long-term). Credit repair is a process to be carried out by professionals who understand how to navigate the system properly.
Red Flag: If any CRO you’re considering offers to send a bunch of random dispute letters out for a one-time fee and claims that will bring you results…get in your car and drive away. This will only have a temporary effect on your credit (if any, the Bureaus have measures in place to stop this type of approach). These “fly by night” CRO’s usually leave you high and dry worse off than you were to begin with.
You absolutely can try and do this all yourself. In fact, a professional CRO will make sure that is an option for you.
We live in a world where access to information is almost unlimited. You can find anything you want to on the Internet. In fact, you can and should research credit repair for yourself.