Credit Repair FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Credit Repair

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What is credit repair?

Credit repair services use the laws around credit reporting to contest derogatory items on your credit report. They are most effective at removing errors or misinformation from your credit report, but can also be used to find derogatory information that can easily be removed because it violates the rules and regulations around credit reporting. Credit repair services will send legal documents contesting the information on your behalf to the credit bureaus. If the bureaus cannot authenticate the information, it will be removed from your credit report.

How can credit repair raise my credit score?

Derogatory or negative items on your credit report can bring your score down. This includes late payments, accounts that are in collections, charge offs, bankruptcy and more. Credit repair works to get inaccurate or erroneous items removed from your credit report, which could raise your score.

Is credit repair a scam?

There are some credit repair companies that are not completely honest or reliable about what they advertise. The Federal Trade Commission has strict rules around credit repair that must be strictly followed.

The term credit repair is even somewhat confusing, since what credit repair actually does is contest certain derogatory items on your credit report. The only way those items can be removed is if they are an error or cannot be confirmed with the lender, so if all of the derogatory items on your credit report are accurate, then credit report services won't be of much help to you.

The top credit repair services that we review (Lexington Law, Ovation and SkyBlue) all adhere to the FTC rules around credit repair.

Will credit repair work for me?

Credit repair works differently for everyone. How effective it is depends on your individual credit report. If you have a lot of derogatory items that can easily be contested or removed from your report, then credit repair will be a great help to you. If you only have a few major issues with your credit report that might be hard to contest, credit repair may not get you the results you are expecting. Each credit report is different, so how much credit repair can help can vary widely.

Can I cancel at any time?

All of the credit repair services that we review allow you to cancel your service at any time. If you are canceling after the company has already completed the agreed upon work for that month, you will need to pay that month's payment.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was enacted in the early 1970s, basically regulates the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). The FCRA dictates who can gain access to your credit report, restricts how long something can stay on your credit report (usually 7 years, or 10 years for bankruptcy), and ensures that every customer can gain access to their credit report for a reasonable price.

The part of the FCRA that most affects credit repair is the rules around how and what credit companies report to the credit bureaus, as well as how that information can be disputed. It allows consumers to contest any information on their credit report, and the credit bureaus must investigate that information within 30 days to determine its authenticity. If they can't authenticate the information, it must be removed from your credit report. Credit repair services use these rules to contest negative information on your credit report in hopes of getting it removed.

Why do I have to pull my own credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (Section 604) actually prohibits credit repair services from pulling your credit report for you. No third party can have access to your credit report without "permissible purposes" such as determination of credit worthiness, underwriting of insurance, and employment screening.

Is credit report monitoring included in the cost of credit repair?

Most credit repair services offer credit report monitoring as a feature of their higher-priced packages. Some companies, like CreditRepair.com, include credit report monitoring in their standard price, although that standard price is equal to the price of most of the higher-priced packages from the other credit repair services.

Is there a couples or household discount for credit repair?

Yes, all of the top-rated credit repair services offer a couples discount. Lexington Law offers $50 off one of the sign ups. Ovation offers a flat 20% off any of the packages that the couple chooses. The best discount is from Sky Blue, which offers a 50% discount for couples.

Do I need a copy of my credit report to use credit repair services?

All of the credit repair services that we review require you to provide your credit report. Some services only work with certain credit report monitoring services, while some, like Ovation, let you pick where you get your report from.

How did NextAdvisor review these services?

We did research on each company before testing them out, including checking out their Better Business Bureau rating and any customer complaints against each company. We then checked out each site and tested all of the features on each site. We called each service to go through the initial free consultations and tested each company's customer service with questions via email, chat and phone, where applicable. We ranked the services based on pricing, services offered, reliability and customer service. We did not sign up for any of the services as the results each service delivers are based on each individual's credit report.

Top Credit Repair

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Bottom line: An actual law firm that specializes in credit repair law; organized, easy-to-use and reputable; identity theft protection insurance; friends and household discount
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Bottom line: Simple, affordable credit repair service; couple's discount; stellar customer service
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Bottom line: A great all-around service with extra, personalized features; couple's discount; military discount; senior discount
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Bottom line: TransUnion credit report monitoring; couple's discount; no money-back guarantee
Rating:

Bottom line: Pricey compared to other credit repair services; good for those who want per-item pricing; mediocre customer service

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