CAN THOSE “CREDIT REPAIR COMPANIES” REALLY GET
BAD STUFF OFF MY CREDIT REPORT?
So you have had some problems with getting things paid off in the past and there’s some bad stuff reported on your credit report. Or maybe you have completed your bankruptcy case and you got a letter in the mail from a company claiming that they can get that bankruptcy case and the other negative credit information off of your credit report. Hmmm, sounds interesting, right?
Your bankruptcy attorney told you that negative information can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years and that your bankruptcy case will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. But this letter from the company claiming they can clean the bad things off your credit report is on nice stationary and looks expensive, what’s the story the real story on this credit repair companies?
Well, your bankruptcy attorney told you the truth! Remember the old adage that, “What sounds to good to be true probably isn’t?” That applies here.
You are not helpless before the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Trans Union, Equifax). Your Federal Government has enacted legislation to try to protect you and to give you some tools if your credit report is wrong. The legislation is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Act, among many other things, gives you the right to dispute any information in your credit report that is incomplete or inaccurate.
Now here is how those “Credit Repair Companies” try to “game the system” and get adverse information off of your credit report.
When you want to dispute inaccurate or incomplete information that appears on your credit report, you send a letter advising of the inaccuracy to each credit reporting agency that carries the disputed information. Once the reporting agency receives your letter, it must investigate the accounts you dispute and record on your credit report the current status of the information you dispute or delete it within 30 days. If the credit reporting agency cannot verify the information that you have disputed, the information must be removed from your credit report. If the investigation finds that the information is inaccurate or incomplete, the agency must modify the information to make it accurate or remove it.
So here is the game the “Credit Repair Companies” play: They send in letters to the credit reporting agencies disputing all adverse information on your credit report. If the reporting agencies verify that the information on your credit report is accurate, the information is updated and nothing is stricken from your credit report. So, if that happens, the credit repair company sends out another letter and another letter and another letter disputing the debt. You get the picture. Their hope is that at some point someone fails to get the verification done in time or the reporting agency simply gets tired of verifying the information over and over again and it comes off of your credit report. Some agencies may simply remove an item without investigating if rechecking the item is more trouble than it appears to be worth.
The credit repair company then sends you a copy of your “clean” credit report and asks you to refer them more clients. Wow, great, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that your credit report is updated approximately every 30 to 90 days. When it is updated it is more than likely that the negative information taken off, will come back.
The second problem is that you have paid a company to make fraudulent statements to the credit reporting agency on your behalf. Now you probably won’t get in trouble for doing it, but we all have a moral compass that we carry around. And if you want to play this game, why would you pay someone to do it for you? You could do it yourself for the cost of postage because it costs nothing to request the investigations.
I’ll post some information on how to properly dispute incomplete and inaccurate information in the near future if you really do have some information on your credit report that is incomplete or inaccurate that you need fixed or removed.
Bruce C. Truesdale, New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyer