How to recognize credit repair scams

By Charlestien Harris

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided a bit, I’ve noticed a surge in credit repair ads on social media and in other media. It’s very important to remember that thieves are out to get whatever they can get when it comes to cashing in on the average consumer’s fear of financial disaster.

It is my desire to help shed light on these pop-up businesses that fly by night and quick-result credit repair programs that attempt to lure the unsuspecting consumer into a sense of false security.

Charlestien Harris

These quick credit repair programs often use deceptive tactics to get the consumer’s attention to promote a service that is likely expensive and inefficient. The fact is, no one can remove EXACT information from your credit report, not even you.

So why pay for letters you can find on the internet or for someone to try to delete information from your credit report? The result is left with the same credit report, and you have no more money that you could have used to pay off your debt or another bill.

Here are six tips from the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) on how to tell if a company is providing legitimate services or making promises it can’t keep:

  1. The company or program wants you to pay for credit repair services before providing services. Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot ask you to pay until they have completed the services they promised.
  1. The company or program does not tell you about your rights and what you can do for yourself for FREE.
  1. The company or program recommends that you do not contact any of the national credit reporting companies directly.
  1. The company or program tells you that they can get rid of negative credit information on your credit report, even if that information is accurate and up to date.

*Note: Payment history is thirty-five percent of your credit score and your score is a numerical calculation of the information compiled in this report.

  1. The company or program suggests you try inventing a “new” credit identity and credit report by requesting an EIN (employer identification number) to use instead of your security number social.

*Note: If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you also risk getting in trouble with the law. It is a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, misrepresent your SSN, or obtain an EIN under false pretences.

  1. The company or program advises you to challenge all information in your credit file, regardless of its accuracy or the status of the updated information reported.

As a consumer, you have the legal right to request a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. You are entitled to a free report if a company takes “adverse action” against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment. You must request your report within 60 days of receiving the Notice of Action.

You are also entitled to one free report per year if you are unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days, or if your report is inaccurate due to fraud, including identity theft.

Before going to a “quick fix company,” consider contacting a HUD-approved counseling agency that can advise you on consumer issues as well as debt repayment, credit use, and management. money. If you need more information, email me at charlestien.harris@southernpartners.org or call me at 662-624-5776.

Until next week, stay financially fit!

Charlestien Harris is a financial contributor to DeSoto County News. She is a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles appear in a number of publications in the region. You’ll see his columns weekly on the DeSoto County News website and on our social media channels.

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