Frequently Asked Questions
What is a credit score?
Which credit score is my real one?
It is important to realize that 90% of lenders use FICO scores and that almost all of the scores you find online are NOT FICO SCORES. This doesn’t mean that the scores on sites like www.freecreditscore.com might not be useful in some way, but they certainly are not the scores lenders will see and use. Scoring systems like VantageScore might one day become the norm but as of now FICO scores can be considered your ‘real’ scores.
So where can you find your FICO scores? You can buy them at www.myFICO.com and www.equifax.com, but even with these scores there is a catch – these FICO scores are general scores while lenders will often use FICO scores tweaked to specific industries (automobile, mortgage, etc).
What does this mean? It means: first, don’t put too much confidence in online credit scores, and second, if you want to know your real credit scores you will have to go directly to a lender to find out what they are. But be careful, this will put a hard inquiry onto your credit reports and slightly lower your scores as a result!
Is credit repair legal?
You have to be careful, misinformation comes from all sides. Banks, credit bureaus, and creditors like people with bad credit because they make more money. Because of this they give the impression nothing legally and ethically can be done to work on your credit and that the system is fair as it stands. This of course is nonsense. The system is inaccurate, unfair and very misleading and there are specific legal and ethical steps you can take to improve your credit and raise your score.
On the other hand there are plenty of so-called credit repair companies willing to rip you off in a heartbeat. These companies promise to ‘clean your credit report’ or ‘completely remove all negative information’ or make other ridiculous claims. Be very careful who you work with and how they claim to ‘fix credit’.
Legitimate credit repair companies should not only comply with the Credit Repair Organizations Act and all relevant state laws, they should also make every effort to go above and beyond the minimum requirements to provide ethical and compliant services while charging for only for what actually gets done. Perform your due diligence and make sure the company you decide to work with is honest, ethical and legally compliant.
How should I pay for credit repair?
What does this mean? It means if a company charges upfront fees they are violating the federal law. You should avoid any such company and immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state attorney general.
If a company charges monthly fees you should ask each month for a detailed list of what exactly they are charging you for. Based on the legal time periods given in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act some months it is virtually impossible to actually get any work done. If this indeed is the case and no services have been performed then you should not be paying for anything. Therefore be sure to always ask exactly what you are paying for.
But more importantly it boils down to this – why pay guaranteed fees for non-guaranteed services? Let’s face it, there is no guarantee credit repair will work even in the most promising of situations. Then why pay for anything but results?
West Texas Credit Advisors charges an Analysis and Consultation fee to begin working with us, after that we ONLY charge after we delete or fix items on the credit reports. Our clients do not pay us for what actually gets done. We think you will agree this is the logical and fair way to charge for credit repair services.
It is a reality that many people are faced with the difficult task of credit repair. They may have found themselves overextended on their credit cards and have to repair some late payments and some bad decisions when it comes to credit history. Credit repair isn’t as difficult as many people might think. It takes time, but it can be done.
First, you need to obtain a copy of your credit report from either one or all three of the major credit reporting agencies. The “big three” are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They can be found quite easily on the Internet and will provide you with a copy of your credit report. The FACT Act that was passed by Congress back in 2001 allows all consumers one free copy of their credit report per year. For this, you will need to go to either www.annualcreditreport.com or www.mycreditkeeper.com.
Sometimes one of the agencies will provide you with the one report for free, but you are best off to go to one of these websites. However, if you are serious about credit repair, you will really need to obtain copies of all three credit reports. Creditors are not required to report to any of the agencies, and often they will just report to one. Having all three credit reports on hand will help you make repair to your credit more effectively and more thoroughly.
Once you have these reports in hand, go over them “with a fine tooth comb”. Check for any errors such as accounts that have been paid off but are still appearing as delinquent or accounts that you never opened or used in the first place. If you do find errors on your report, it is essential that you contact the credit bureau to make the correction if you want your credit repair efforts to be thorough.
After checking your credit report, the essential part of making repairs to your credit is to change the way you are using credit. That includes making all payments on time and not using credit the way you used to. While it’s true that it’s virtually impossible to go through life today without using credit, you can use it wisely and not end up in trouble down the line. Making repair to your credit is not a difficult task, but it does take time and patience. Truly what you need to do is simply take steps to evaluate your use of credit and then see where changes can be made. Then not only will your credit be repaired, your credit score will raise as well.
Debt Consolidation, Debt Management, and Credit Repair
When you find yourself in a situation where you need to make serious repair to your credit, a debt consolidation loan or a debt management program may be the way to go. Credit repair isn’t easy and going it on your own can be difficult, although not impossible.
That’s where debt consolidation companies and debt management companies can be invaluable when it comes to credit repair. A debt consolidation company can help you repair your credit by obtaining a lower-interest loan that will pay off your creditors and allow you to make just one payment to one company instead of several payments to several companies. They can also contact your creditors to get a lower payoff amount so that the final amount of the debt consolidation loan you’ll need to repair your credit could be lower.
A debt management company does much the same as a debt consolidation company when it comes to credit repair. They also obtain a loan to help consolidate your debts, but they also provide counseling services that will help you manage your debt and get you well on your way towards repairing your credit.
When you are looking for a debt consolidation or debt management company to help you repair your credit, there are a lot of things you need to look for.
First, check out their references and make sure they are on the “up and up”. Their reputation can say volumes about their true abilities to help you repair your credit. Check with the Better Business Bureau and see if they are registered with them and if any complaints have been filed against them. Do extensive research when it comes to finding a debt consolidation or debt management company.
Credit repair is very important to you and your life. Your credit score can mean the difference between getting a reliable vehicle or even owning your own home. That’s where these companies can help as making repair to your credit can be an overwhelming procedure. What a debt consolidation and debt management company will do is walk you through the credit repair process step by step and take some of the pressure off of you when it gets to be too much for you to handle. They will charge a fee for their services, but it is usually quite reasonable, and they will often work with you to make that payment over a period of time if you are in severe financial trouble.