By: Lance T. Denha, Esq.
For millions of Americans with poor credit, the idea of being able to fix their credit sounds almost too good to be true. You may wonder, “Is credit repair legal?” when you see credit repair companies advertising online or locally.
And it’s no wonder – with so many scam artists out there, it can seem as though credit repair is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. Credit repair is perfectly legal and more than that, it is your right and responsibility as a U.S. consumer. Everyone, no matter their income, current debts, or other financial issues, is legally entitled to a fair, accurate representation of the information that appears on their credit report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a piece of federal legislation enacted in 1970, outlines a number of rules regarding the way your credit file is communicated. First, it allows you access to your credit report at any time for a reasonable price, including at least one free copy from each credit bureau every 12 months. The FCRA also helps you by limiting who may access your credit report. They must have “permissible purpose” so that your report isn’t cluttered with multiple inquiries pulling down your credit score.
If you find any credit inquiry listed on your report that you did not explicitly authorize, it is your right to have it removed. Otherwise, each one could shave off a few points from your credit score while also raising a potential red flag to future creditors.
Here’s a good example of when a reputable credit repair service can help you do something you may not be able to accomplish yourself. If you have a collection account that’s been sold to a few different debt collectors, it may appear on your credit report multiple times. That information is accurate, but having that one debt dinging your credit score multiple times may not meet the fair standard in that Credit reports must be 100% accurate, entirely fair, and fully substantiated.
If you have items on your credit report that don’t meet the three standards, then you may want to consider credit repair via hiring a professional. As far as a timeline associated with potential removal to errors or negative items, since credit bureaus have to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days (there are a few exceptions that may extend this to 45 days), it’s a short timeline that can help consumers who want to buy a house, get a new car or open up a new credit card soon and don’t have the time to wait to build good credit in other ways.
Errors to credit reports are more common than you may think you can check your credit reports for errors by pulling them for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com, You can also view your credit report summary, updated every 30 days, on Credit.com. Checking your own credit reports and scores does not hurt your credit score in any way.