Debt Recovery Services
REPAIR YOUR CREDIT REPORT
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Total Credit Solutions is here to help you meet your credit score goals. No matter your credit history and financial standing, our credit repair services are designed to help you improve your credit score.
We’re here to represent credit victims that are subjected to inaccurate, unfair or unverified negative items on credit reports. Total Credit Solutions has helped remove 10-million negative items in 2017 alone.
Negative items could be keeping you from getting a loan or costing you thousands of dollars in higher interest payments. Total Credit Solutions works with you, leveraging your legal rights to address the questionable negative items actively hurting your reports.
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What is credit repair?
Credit repair involves fixing inaccurate, misleading, unverifiable, untimely, biased or incomplete information listed on your credit report. Errors on a credit report will add up to a low credit score that can prohibit you from taking out loans, getting a credit card or securing any form of lending. In order to fix these errors, credit reporting agencies require you to work through a series of formal dispute letters and complicated online disputing systems.
You can file disputes with the credit bureaus and your creditors, either by yourself or by using a credit repair service. Depending on how severe the damage is on credit reports, or how much inaccurate information there is, it may be easier to use a credit repair service than to work on your credit yourself because of how time consuming the process can be. There are different factors to consider when making this decision, but first, we’ll explore what credit repair services are and what they can and cannot do.
To make the disputing process easier, Total Credit Solutions will work with you to identify and dispute inaccuracies listed on your report. Our credit repair process spots issues quickly and our legal team will make sure your best interests are represented in the disputing process.
Is credit repair legal or a scam?
When thinking about repairing credit, a couple of commonly asked questions that may pop up are “can I really repair my credit?” “And is this even legal?” The answer to both of these questions is, yes, you can repair your credit and yes, it is legal. Credit reports often have errors in them. In a 2012 study, the FTC found that one in five credit reports contain errors. In many cases, these errors are detrimental to many people’s credit. There are laws in place that allow consumers to dispute accounts on their credit reports that are unfair, inaccurate, and unverified. Oftentimes, errors occur because of mistakes in reporting (there are millions of credit reports), or because of unfortunate circumstances such as identity theft.
What are credit repair services?
Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus defines credit repair services as “organizations that charge a fee, promising to remove negative information from your credit report.” Credit repair organizations are governed by the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) . Some parts of CROA include:
- Making guarantees of things outside its control: “Credit repair organizations may not make any untrue or misleading representations about their services (CROA § 404).” This means that credit repair organizations cannot guarantee results because whether or not a line item is removed is under the control of the creditors and the credit bureaus.
- Charging in advance for work not yet completed: “Credit repair organizations may not require payment until they have rendered services. They may only collect payment after the promised services have been performed (CROA § 404).” Credit repair organizations cannot charge any upfront fees – the services must be completed first. People who sign up for credit repair services also have to be given a chance to change their minds about using these services with no penalty to themselves. In other words, they cannot be charged for canceling within a certain number of days.
- Suggesting that you cannot do credit repair on your own: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you have the right to dispute inaccuracies on your credit reports. Credit repair organizations can do the work on your behalf, but there is nothing you can’t do yourself. People may choose to sign up for these services because the process of repairing their own credit can be time-consuming, overwhelming, or difficult.
- Failing to provide you with a written contract: “Credit repair organizations are required to provide a written contract before services can be rendered. The contract must contain specific terms, such as the terms of conditions of payment, a description of the services to be performed, and a statement indicating the consumer’s right to cancel without penalty within three business days (CROA § 406).” If you don’t see a contract of any sort, then chances are, the company is a scam or practicing illegally. When you decide to sign up for credit repair, make sure you receive a written contract, and that you keep it on file for your records.
- Suggesting creating a new or altered identity so you can start new with your credit: “It is illegal to create a new credit profile (for example, by obtaining a new social security number or other identifiers) to hide past negative history (CROA § 404).” Creating a new file or altering an identity is highly unethical and illegal. Any company that is offering to give you a “clean slate” is engaging in practices that can get you in trouble.
Basically, credit repair services like Total Credit Solutions will examine your credit reports and help you with disputing items that are unfair, inaccurate, and unverified in order to help you improve have a fair and accurate credit report. The credit repair process can take time. Any company that promises to fix your credit quickly or makes any type of guarantees doesn’t follow CROA and is likely a scam.
How we fix your credit
1. Credit report analysis
We obtain your credit report from the three major credit bureaus; TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and collect information on your full credit history. Targeting negative items that are affecting your credit score, our team then creates a disputing plan.
2. Credit disputing
The attorney and paralegal team assigned to your case reviews your negative items and drafts and sends the appropriate dispute correspondence to the creditors or credit bureaus. Total Credit Solutions team practices care for each item to ensure the best method of removal is matched to your negative item.
3. Dispute escalating
If a negative item requires more care or correspondence to remove, the dispute is escalated to include legal representation. Sourcing a series of laws including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we ensure your credit rights are accurately represented.
4. Credit score analysis and mentoring
Through the online portal and app, we offer 24/7 access to full credit score analyses’ and mentoring. With over 27+ years of experience in the industry, our team has developed resources for personal finance education and overall positive lending practices.
The laws of credit repair
Aside from CROA, there are other laws that the government has put in place to help consumers with credit repair. These laws were implemented to make sure that credit reports are fair and to also make sure that debt collection practices are reasonable. These two laws are most important to understand when repairing your credit.
- You must be informed when your credit file has been used against you (such as a denial for a loan or credit application).
- Permission must be granted prior to your credit information being provided to someone other than yourself, such as a lender or employer.
- You are allowed access to your credit reports once every 12 months for free.
- Credit bureaus must look into disputes in a reasonable amount of time, which is about 30 days.
- How long negative information can be reported is regulated. The maximum for most negative accounts is seven years, although in some cases, such as certain types of bankruptcies, accounts can be reported for up to ten years.
2. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): Established in 2010, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits how a creditor may contact you and collect debt. According to the law:
“There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.”
In order to combat these things, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has implemented the following under the FDCPA:
- Debt collectors cannot contact you by phone if you request it. They also cannot contact you before 8:00 AM and after 9:00 PM.
- Debt collectors cannot contact your employer if you ask them to stop
- Debt collectors cannot contact you directly if you are represented by an attorney.
- Debt collectors cannot lie to you about who they are or mis-represent themselves.
- When calling to collect a debt, debt collectors cannot make threats, scream, use profanity, or use violence. For example, they cannot threaten to call the police or put you in prison. They also cannot threaten to sue you unless they actually intend to do so.
- Debt collectors cannot inform family members about your debt. They may ask how to contact you, but they cannot reveal any details of the debt including the balance, what it is for, and etc.
- Debt collectors cannot demand you make payment if you have initiated the debt validation process or if the debt cannot be validated.
Tips for repairing your credit
Aside from removing inaccurate negative information on your credit reports, there are ways to repair your credit. This means building positive credit by using your credit cards responsibly and paying your debts on time. Here are some ways that you can improve your credit:
1. Lower your credit utilization ratio: Your credit utilization ratio is how much credit you have available on your revolving accounts (credit cards) vs. how much credit you’re actually using. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit limit and currently have a balance of $500, then your utilization ratio would be 50%. Experts advise that keeping your utilization ratio under 30% is ideal, but the lower it is, the better your score is likely to be. Paying down balances can go a long way in helping you improve your score.
2. Request a limit increase on credit cards: If paying down debt is too difficult, then requesting a credit limit increase can help you decrease your credit utilization ratio. For example, if your $1,000 credit limit increases to $2,000, then your $500 balance now gives you a 20% utilization ratio. If your account is in good standing, and your credit score is high enough, then you may be able to get an increase in your limit.
3. Become an authorized user: If you’re not able to qualify for a credit card on your own, then becoming an authorized user can be helpful. Many creditors (but not all of them) report authorized users. You can ask a trusted friend or family member with good credit to make you an authorized user on a credit card and if the creditor reports authorized users, their good credit history will be reflected on your credit reports.
4. Consolidate: If you have a lot of credit card debt that may seem difficult to pay off, you can try consolidating, either by taking out a loan, which typically offers lower interest rates, or going to a debt consolidation company. Debt consolidation companies may impact your credit however, so before using one, make sure you understand how services will impact you.
5. Be patient: When it comes to repairing or building credit, it takes time. If you have a long credit history, you’re likely to have a higher score. When lenders see this and your history is positive, they may be more inclined to lend to you. You may be doing everything “right” but may still see something lacking in your credit score. Remember, it takes time to build or repair credit, so be patient.
What’s the cost of credit repair?
When you’ve decided to fix your credit, there are different costs to weigh. Are you willing to adjust your budget to pay for credit repair services? Or would you rather save money and spend time disputing items on your credit reports in order to save? Either way, there’s usually some kind of cost involved with repairing credit.
To begin disputing accounts on your credit reports, you need to take the time to go through each of them in order to know what errors are actually there. It’s a good idea to review all three (Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax) because the same information isn’t always included on all three credit reports. Your reports can also be difficult to understand, especially if you don’t have much experience with credit.
Once you’ve gone through your reports and identified what information needs to be addressed, you need to submit a letter or a statement, along with any supporting documentation you may have to the creditor or credit bureaus, which equals more legwork and more time. Also, if you don’t understand credit repair laws, then this can make disputing more time-consuming and more complicated. When you send off your disputes, you’ll want to make sure to keep records of what you sent.
Maybe your dispute letter wasn’t effective and you find that the information wasn’t removed from your credit report. Or maybe you forgot to include an important piece of documentation with your dispute. Now you have to start all over again. Mistakes like this can end up costing you more time, which is something that many of us don’t have a lot of. At that point, the dispute process may seem like it’s a hassle, and you have to re-think your strategy. Also, if you’re trying to apply for credit sometime in the near future, you may have to put it off until a later time.
If you decide to try a credit repair service, rather than giving up time, you’re spending money. Doing this can put a strain on a tight budget, and is even more difficult if you’re trying to get out of debt – a situation many people find themselves in. For some people, spending the money on credit repair may be too costly, so they prefer to do it themselves.
Total Credit Solutions and Credit Repair – Why Choose Us?
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me Fix My Credit?
With all the laws that govern credit and credit reporting, you may ask the question “do I need an attorney to help me fix my credit?” The answer to this is no, but using a law firm’s services like Total Credit Solutions, may prove useful in helping you. We have attorneys and paralegals familiar with these laws who are available to assist clients throughout the credit repair process. Not only that, but it’s convenient because we send out letters on your behalf and let you monitor your case online 24/7. We have over a decade of experience helping hundreds of thousands of clients and have seen millions of removals from their credit reports. We also make sure that we strictly adhere to CROA so that we can maintain a high ethical standard.
At Total Credit Solutions, we understand that everyone’s case is different – no two credit reports are the same. We customize our clients’ cases based on their life circumstances. We also offer different service levels based on what our clients’ needs are. Our most popular and comprehensive service level is Premier Plus which offers FICO Score tracking and analysis, tools to protect and manage your identity and finances, and additional legal interventions for abusive third-party debt collectors. For those clients who have already completed their credit repair journey, we offer services to help them continue monitoring their credit. We also have everything in between. In order to learn more about our credit repair services and get a free credit report consultation, call now.
TRUSTED LEADERS IN CREDIT REPAIR FOR A REASON
Call now for a FREE personalized credit consultation