What Does a Credit Repair Attorney Do?
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released the results of a study that found that 5% of consumers had errors on at least one of their three major credit reports. Error or not, these mistakes lower your credit score, which can lead to higher interest rates, paying more over the life of a loan, or being denied credit altogether.
In simpler times, correcting one of these errors entailed little more than spinning the rotary dial on your telephone, chatting with someone at a local call center, and thanking them for the help. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to read horror stories about just how hard it is to get inaccuracies removed from your credit reports. For instance, in 2013, an Oregon woman won a lawsuit against a credit bureau after trying unsuccessfully for two years to have inaccuracies corrected, including her birthday and social security number.
While it should be easy to do, correcting your credit report or repairing the damage errors have caused is often a time-consuming and complex lesson in frustration. But given the importance of your credit score (which may make or break your ability to find a home loan or even get a job), you can't afford to ignore it. In situations like these, you may need the help of a qualified credit repair attorney.
What Is Credit Repair?
Credit repair is the process you use to challenge questionable negative entries on your credit report. These types of entries may be inaccurate, misleading, unverifiable, or otherwise flawed. Despite their inaccuracy, your score will dip as a result: a 2014 report from ConsumersUnion stated that an erroneous 30-day bank card delinquency on your credit report could lead to a 100-point drop in your credit score. The goal of credit repair is to clean-up your reports and ultimately improve your score.
What Does a Credit Repair Attorney Do?
Credit repair attorneys perform a number of services aimed at repairing your credit, including:
- Reviewing your credit reports to evaluate potential errors or ways to improve your score
- Negotiating with credit reporting agencies to remove negative items from your credit report, such as late payments, chargeoffs and foreclosures
- Negotiating settlement amounts with your creditors
- Representing you in court if a creditor sues you
Although you can do most of the same things a credit repair attorney can do (in other words, you don't have to be a lawyer to repair your credit), it may be difficult. In addition to persistence and time, repairing your credit will likely require, at the least, making a series of phone calls and sending correspondence to credit bureaus. An experienced credit repair attorney has attained a level of expertise by repeatedly dealing with credit bureaus and understanding consumer rights and can then use that expertise on your behalf to provide you with the convenience (for a fee) of repairing your credit with less frustration to you, and hopefully better results, than if you did it yourself.
To find out more about repairing your credit by yourself, click here.
Are there any Relevant Laws I Should Know About?
If you hire a credit repair attorney, a topic of discussion may be your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a federal law that regulates how credit bureaus use your information. Among other things, the FCRA limits who may view your credit reports and under what circumstances they may be viewed. The Act also provides you with the right to correct erroneous information. Individual states may also have their own consumer protection laws, which may provide additional rights. If you have any questions about how your state handles consumer protection, check your state's law or contact a credit repair attorney.
How Do I Avoid Scams and Unqualified Credit Repair Services?
There are lots of reputable credit repair attorneys out there. There are also lots of companies offering credit repair services that may not be very scrupulous. According to the FTC, you may have encountered a credit repair scam if the credit repair company:
- Insists on being paid before they do any work;
- Offers to sell you a new social security number;
- Fails to explain your legal rights when they discuss the services they can provide; or
- Advises you to falsify or omit information on a loan or credit application.
You may be held liable for taking any illegal actions, even if they were done on your behalf by a scam company. To find a qualified credit repair attorney, click here.