Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Credit Cards

Because of my bad credit, I recently contacted a credit repair company. They claim that, for a fee, they can clean up my entire credit record. Is that true and, if so, how can they do it?

In today's society, where credit cards have become as commonplace as cash, credit purchases have become more and more popular. This means that a greater number of consumers are being plagued with credit problems and bad credit histories. With this surge of bad credit comes the credit repair companies, promising to undo the damage the borrowers have done.

These credit services businesses often make promises to the consumer that they can clean up or repair the consumer's bad credit record for a fee. What these companies do not tell the consumer is that only outdated or incorrect items may be deleted from his/her credit history. The fact is, consumers can do that themselves. They will also promise to obtain credit cards or other extensions of credit for those with blemished credit histories, or with no credit history at all.

Another problem associated with some credit repair companies is the fact that they are transient, operating out of temporary offices or through post office boxes. Many charge the consumer in advance for their services. When the consumer realizes that little or nothing has been done to fix the consumer's credit, the company has often closed or left town, leaving no trace.

The Virginia Credit Services Businesses Act requires credit service companies to register and post a bond with the State Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA). This allows DCA to identify those credit repair businesses operating within the State, and to verify if the businesses are, in fact, disclosing the required information to consumers.

In addition to companies promising consumers they will improve or obtain an extension of credit, the Act also covers companies charging money simply for referring a consumer to another institution for credit. It is illegal for credit repair businesses to charge for this referral if the credit that would be extended is under the same terms as those available to the general public. Exempt from this law are financial institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC), licensed real estate brokers, lawyers, consumer reporting agencies, certain nonprofit organizations and broker-dealers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Companies also are prohibited by law from making any misleading or untrue statements to creditors or consumer reporting agencies regarding a customer's credit worthiness. The business must provide each potential customer with a written information statement outlining the consumer's rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and giving a complete and detailed description of the services to be performed by the credit services business and the amount due.

Credit Services Businesses contracts must contain a three-day cancellation clause. Under the Act, the credit repair company cannot charge or receive any money until their services have been performed in full.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to obtain whatever information is in their credit file. If a consumer has been denied credit, the creditor is obligated to disclose the name and address of the credit bureau from which they received the information. The bureau will give the consumer a report on his/her file free of charge if the inquiry is made within thirty days of the credit denial. Consumers can contact the credit bureau if any of the file's contents appear to be inaccurate or incomplete. The credit bureau is required by law to reinvestigate any information on a consumer's credit record that he/she disputes. If the information is proven incorrect, it must be deleted from the file. If the facts are true, however, nothing can be done to have them removed from the record. Most negative information, such as late payment on bills, can be kept on file for seven years. A bankruptcy will remain on record for ten years. Time is often the only way to cure a bad credit history.

Honest Credit Restoration:
Credit Restoration Associates
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