Is DIY Credit Repair a Good Idea?
There is no shortage of products and services devoted to helping consumers improve their credit. Among them is credit repair, a for-profit service that promises consumers an opportunity to dramatically improve their credit as a way to attain additional lending, such as a home mortgage, personal loan, or vehicle loan. What credit repair companies don’t tell you is that the services they provide are all things consumers can do on their own. As long as you have patience and perseverance you can perform DIY credit repair. Let’s take a look at how it can work.
During the credit repair process, the credit repair company obtains copies of a consumer’s credit reports from the major credit reporting bureaus. They then look for negative entries, including bankruptcies, tax liens, charge-offs and other derogatory notations. The next part of the process involves the company disputing those negative entries on the consumer’s behalf. They will negotiate with the credit bureaus to have them removed.
Once the credit bureau is notified of the dispute, they have 30 days to do their own investigation to verify whether or not the negative entry is accurate. During the dispute period, the credit bureaus will usually remove the negative notation(s) from the credit report. This can result in a “cleaner” credit report and a higher credit score. But any improvements will be temporary if the negative entry is proven valid and returned to the credit report.
The credit bureaus may also decide a dispute is “frivolous” and opt not to investigate. Those negative entries will stay on the report.
You Can Do it Yourself
Although it can be time consuming, individual consumers can undertake the DIY credit repair process on their own. Anyone is allowed to obtain copies of their credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Once obtained, look for the same types of errors and negative entries the credit repair companies would. Keep your eye out for charge-offs, late payments, liens, etc.
If you find entries you believe are in error or invalid, you can begin the dispute and negotiation process. Review these tips for how to dispute entries on your credit report.
Be aware that DIY credit repair will take time and effort, including accurate record keeping and making repeated phone calls to creditors and credit bureaus. Don’t expect results overnight. And don’t count on any positive changes to your credit being permanent, unless you can prove your claims the negative entries are erroneous.
Think Long Term
The truth is, there’s no quick fix or miracle solution to improving credit. Real, sustained improvement takes time, effort and discipline. Lowering your credit utilization rate, making more than minimum payments and paying on time, every month will have the most impact on your credit over time.
If you’re struggling to make payments or simply don’t know how to start taking control, credit counseling can help. Available as a self-directed online review or conducted over the phone with a certified counselor, it’s the start of a more stable financial future.