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Credit repair services often tell you that they can clean up your credit report, removing the negative items from it. You should know, however, that there is very little they can do that you cannot do yourself. At most, they can save you the time and trouble of having to do your own credit repair. And because they have the experience of doing it, they will not make the mistakes that you could make, so they may get more effective results. It is up to you to determine whether that is worth the fees they demand.
There is no secret to getting negative information removed from your credit report. Its a matter of being persistent in disputing the negative items with the credit reporting agencies. But negative information that is verifiably true cannot be eliminated from your credit report until a certain amount of time has passed since the initial creation of the negative entry. A bankruptcy can be removed after 10 years. A tax lien can be removed seven years after it has been paid. All other negative items can be removed after seven years from the initial report.
Credit repair services may be able to get the negative information out of your report temporarily. If the credit reporting agency cannot verify an item within 60 days, it will have to strike the item from its report. But after five days have passed from the item?s removal, if the agency receives the same information from a creditor, it can reinsert the negative item on the report. This will have no effect upon your creditor. Therefore it is not enough to see negative items removed from your credit report. You should wait to see if there is any improvement on your credit score. If there is none, then it is possible that the credit repair firm is scamming you.
Before you hire a credit repair service, you should be clear on the fact that you can fix your credit on your own if you want to. In many cases, you can obtain your credit reports for free. The law allows you to get a free credit report once every 12 months from the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can order your free report at www.annualcreditreport.com (and no, you cannot get it free from www.freecreditreport.com despite what it might say). You can call or write credit reporting agencies to dispute items on your credit report.
Familiarize yourself with the laws that protect your rights. The Credit Repair Organizations Act prohibits credit repair firms from making false claims about their services, and compels them to inform you of all your rights and obligations before signing any contracts. They are also not allowed to extract a fee from you until they have performed the services. And up to five days after signing a contract for credit repair service, you have the right to terminate it without paying any fees.
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