If your credit is less than stellar, you may be tempted to explore credit repair companies. So, how do you know if credit repair companies really work? Before signing on the dotted line with any credit repair company, you should know a few facts first.

Some Credit Repair Companies are Unscrupulous

Some credit repair companies make promises to clients that cannot be legally fulfilled. For example, if a credit repair company ensures clients that they can remove negative entries from the client’s credit report, you can assume that the credit repair company is unscrupulous. A negative entry can only be removed if the entry is in error. If you find an error on your credit report, you can dispute the entry with the credit bureau in question. The debt funder has 30 days to respond back to the bureau, proving that the entry is valid. If the creditor does not respond, the entry is removed from the credit report.

- Jamming

Credit repair services that offer to remove negative entries from clients’ credit reports sometimes engage in a technique known as “jamming.” This technique involves sending bulk disputes in written form to the credit bureau, hoping that one or more will fail to get a response from the creditor within the alloted 30 day period. If a dispute is not addressed, indeed, the entry falls off of the report, but only temporarily.

- Why It Doesn’t Work!

Granted, the valid entry may be removed from your credit report for a short time, but creditors file reports with the credit reporting companies each month. When the entry is deemed valid within the following month or so, the entry reappears on your credit report. By then, the shady credit repair company has collected your money and sent you on your way. The simple answer to this problem is: Don’t fall for a sales pitch that a credit repair company can get negative items erased from your credit history. It is simply not true. If a company makes this claim, they are not being honest with you.

You can legally dispute an entry on your credit report if it is truly in error, but you cannot get entries that are correct and legal removed off of your report unless you work directly with the creditor. Even then, valid data that creditors send to the credit agencies is rarely changed, especially for accounts that have been charged off, unless the account in question is paid in full.

Effective Credit Repair Services

A reputable credit repair company will provide credit counseling and assistance with repairing your credit through legal means. The most important action you can take if you have a negative entry on your credit report is to work out payment with the creditor. Even if the negative entry is a charge off, when you pay off the account, the creditor will report the account as paid from the month following the payoff, and going forward. Even though full payment does not remove the original negative entry, your credit report will show that you went to the trouble of following up on the debt and paying it off. A credit repair company that assists you with accomplishing such tasks can help you improve your credit score over the course of a few months.

Dealing With Charge-Offs

You or your credit repair agent should contact the creditor if you have a charge-off on your credit report. Notify the debt funder that you are interested in paying off the charged-off account in exchange for having the negative entry removed from your credit report. The debtor will often agree to payment arrangements if you cannot pay the entire charged-off account.

One way to initiate negotiations with a creditor is for you or your credit repair representative to send a “Pay For Delete” letter. This type of letter extends a hand to the creditor, stating that you intend to pay the debt in full in exchange for removal of all references to the debt from your credit report. Request an answer in writing to your proposal within 15 days of receipt. If you come to an agreement with the creditor, pay the agreed-upon amount, then follow up with a second letter requesting the removal of the entry.

If you have already paid off a charged-off account, but the entry remains on your credit report, you or your credit repair agent can send a letter of goodwill requesting that the creditor remove the negative information from your report. Creditors are under no obligation to do so, but some may if a compelling case is made on your behalf.

A reputable credit repair company can be beneficial for assisting you with getting your credit in shape, but it will take some time. Don’t fall for ads or sales pitches that claim they can fix your credit in days or weeks. Do your due diligence and research credit repair companies before you engage their services.

The client experience depicted on this website is 100% factual, documented, and verifiable.Only the first name of the person depicted above has been changed to protect her identity.The average result of a Lexington Law client is 10.2 removals by month 4 across three credit bureau reports.We serve as an advertising agency for a third party. We are compensated when visitors take certain actions such as signing up for paid services.