Q: I am thinking of purchasing a property within the next year and I need to fix my credit. How can I tell if a credit repair company is legitimate?
A: This is a great question. When it comes to professional services, most people find that getting a referral from a friend or relative is usually the best place to start. Unfortunately, the majority of people who have credit issues do not acknowledge or advertise it to those they know. The next best referral source would be a realtor or banker, since they deal with credit reports/scores and will usually know of at least one reputable firm. After almost twenty five years in the credit repair industry, I have found that a good credit repair company will give you a thorough credit analysis and find out what your goals are before they decide they can help you. Once they review your credit, they should be able to give you a reasonable idea of what they think they can do based on their experience and expertise. Remember, BY LAW, they are not allowed to guarantee results. It is always smart to check their references and review their testimonials. Asking questions, finding out how long they have been in business, and searching the internet to get more information about the company is a great way to learn about their reputation and credit expert contributions.
Here are a few red flags to help you sort out some of the companies to walk away from:
- They tell you they can help you without a thorough review of your credit and knowledge of your goals.
- They offer to pull your tri-merged credit report without letting you know it will reduce your credit score.
- They ask you to sign any forms before you hire them.
- They are very aggressive and pressure you to start the process.
- They promise or guarantee results.
- They have generic websites and do not publicly list the names of the executives or employees.
- They outsource credit repair services to third parties.
- They bill for credit repair in advance of performing services.