Frequently Asked Questions
Consumer Debt Relief Frequently Asked Questions
Consumer Credit Repair
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was written in 1970 as an amendment to the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The FCRA provides additional measures of consumer protection in the areas of fairness, accuracy, and privacy of the information collected by the credit bureaus. It also allows you to personally engage in credit repair and maintenance processes, verifying that the information in your credit report is correct.
A credit bureau – sometimes called a “consumer reporting agency” – is a business that collects relevant consumer information from creditors and courthouses, and then sells that information to interested parties such as potential lenders. Such information is sold in the form of a credit report. In the U.S., the three major credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Normally negative items will remain on your credit report for seven years, with the exception of bankruptcy (ten years). You may choose to dispute a negative item, but if it is accurate, the dispute will be rejected and the item will remain on your credit report. However, if the negative item violated consumer protection laws, it may be removed.
When an account is unpaid for more than 180 days, a creditor usually writes off the debt as a loss on their financial statements. This is known as a charge off. Once a debt is charged off, it is either transferred to an in-house collections department or sold to a third-party collection agency who will likely contact you in attempt to recoup the balance.
The time it takes to repair your credit is completely dependent upon your personal situation. Six months should be your guide if you have many issues with your credit report.
It is a common myth that negative items must remain on your credit report for a minimum number of years. In fact, there is no minimum time-frame. Creditors control the information they provide to the credit bureaus. They can also choose to remove negative items as well. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires all reported information to be fair, accurate, and substantiated. If these conditions are not met, the credit bureaus are required to remove it.
Credit Repair is actually the process of removing inaccurate, unfounded, out of date, false, and erroneous information from your credit report. Your credit report dictates your credit score. The 3 major credit bureaus collect information from lenders, creditors, and debt collectors and apply it to your credit report. Based on that information, your credit score is determined. This information could include the balances on loans or credit cards, credit inquiries, debt to income ratio, and most importantly, credit utilization (the percentage of debt you have to available credit)
This is determined by what your goal is. Perhaps you are trying to buy a house. If this is the case, you might want to get started at least 6-9 months before you plan on purchasing. If you plan on purchasing a car, then you might to get started in 2-3 months.
You have the ability to dispute any information on your credit report you deem as inaccurate, unfounded, or incorrect. However many consumers have tried doing this themselves only to find out that the process takes too long, is confusing, and full of challenges they deem too stressful to deal with themselves. A third-party credit repair company can take the burden of disputing off your hands and have the ability to speed up the process through their experience. Think of a third-party credit repair company like you would think of a Tax preparer, Legal Service, or even a plumber. You could probably do it yourself, but perhaps not with the same end results. We highly suggest that all of our clients and prospective clients take some time to learn about their credit, credit reports, as well as the process of repairing their own credit. You may feel doing it yourself is the better route for you and your situation.
A good credit score helps you obtain low interest rates and long term loans, like home loans or car loans. Lenders may charge high interest rates or impose undesirable repayment plans for you. Given the stakes and the consequences involved, it is clearly to your advantage to work toward recovering from a bad credit rating.
Credit Bureaus are companies that maintain records of your credit lines and performance. Records can go back for up to ten years, in the case of bankruptcy data. Creditors, banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions supply this information to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus then compile this data into your a credit report. A credit report has details of how you have managed credit in the past, so other lenders can judge your credit worthiness.
Most likely your credit report has errors.
The Federal Trade Commission reported in a study conducted in 2012 that 26% of the credit reports they analyzed had errors. Of those with errors, 5% who disputed these errors increased their credit scores at least 25 points. That is a significant change in a credit score.
You should not assume that your credit reports are completely accurate.
No. Your credit report is independent of your spouse. The same is true of your credit scores. However…
A lender will likely take into consideration both of your credit reports when deciding on a home mortgage, for example. If your credit report is bad and your spouse’s good you may find that the loan, if approved, has a higher interest rate than if both were good.
It certainly can. Many employers will do a credit check of a potential employee to determine the stability of the job candidate. For job positions that entail financial responsibility, it is most likely you would experience a credit report check.
When you are initially contacted by a debt collector regarding an unpaid debt, you have the right to request proof of the debt within 30 days of initial contact. This is called debt validation. Unless the debt collector can validate that you are responsible for the debt, they must stop all further collection efforts.
The debt validation letter from collector needs to include: 1) Proof the debt exists; 2) Proof that you are responsible for the debt; and 3) Proof that the debt collector has legal right to collect on the debt.