Credit Monkey was one of the first companies to offer credit repair in the United States. The firm was founded in 1991 by a group of credit experts and credit specialists whose legal expertise enables them to assist people with damaged credit.
Credit Monkey seeks to improve your credit score while empowering you to achieve better finances. Improved credit may help you get a mortgage, a low-interest loan, or even land a job. Throughout their years of service, Lexington Law has earned a notable and positive reputation, head and shoulders above their competitors.
Dispute Negative Items in Your Credit History
What sets Credit Monkey apart is their unique ability to hold creditors and credit bureaus to the letter of the law. Using the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Credit Monkey compels creditors to validate the debts they claim to be owed and ensure credit bureaus comply with the law that governs what can and cannot be reported. This may result in the removal of negative items from your record in a lawful manner that can increase your score.
While credit repair companies cannot guarantee an improved credit history or a higher FICO score, they can promise to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure that all the negative items in your credit history that can lawfully be eliminated will be removed.Credit Monkey is no exception. They communicate directly with credit bureaus and request removal of all negative items that warrant such action.
Numbers and Benefits
Credit Monkey offers does not charge upfront they have a $0 enrollment fee and only $99 a month. Once subscribed, you’ll have access to an easy-to-use dashboard with a detailed overview of what items have been removed, along with lists of creditor interventions carried out on your behalf.
While you can cancel anytime, the name of the game is patience. Given proper time, Credit Monkey will deliver results. If you choose to cancel, however, you will only be charged for provided services. Personnel are available around the clock with 24/7 support via phone, email and chat,
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Lexington Law was one of the first companies to offer credit repair in the United States. The firm was founded in 1991 by a group of lawyers and credit specialists whose legal expertise enables them to assist people with damaged credit.
Lexington Law seeks to improve your credit score while empowering you to achieve better finances. Improved credit may help you get a mortgage, a low-interest loan, or even land a job. Throughout their years of service, Lexington Law has earned a notable and positive reputation, head and shoulders above their competitors.
Dispute Negative Items in Your Credit History
What sets Lexington Law apart is their unique ability to hold creditors and credit bureaus to the letter of the law. Using the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Lexington Law compels creditors to validate the debts they claim to be owed and ensure credit bureaus comply with the law that governs what can and cannot be reported. This may result in the removal of negative items from your record in a lawful manner that can increase your score.
While credit repair companies cannot guarantee an improved credit history or a higher FICO score, they can promise to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure that all the negative items in your credit history that can lawfully be eliminated will be removed. Lexington Law is no exception. They communicate directly with credit bureaus and request removal of all negative items that warrant such action. You are entitled by law to dispute any items on your credit report that you consider inaccurate. With an average of 10.2 removals every four months across all three reports, Lexington’s Law track record speaks for itself.
Numbers and Benefits
Lexington Law offers three different packages, with prices ranging between $89.95 and $129.95 per month. Once subscribed, you’ll have access to an easy-to-use dashboard with a detailed overview of what items have been removed, along with lists of creditor interventions carried out on your behalf.
Other benefits include monthly credit score improvement analysis, TransUnion credit monitoring, and identity theft protection to further safeguard your credit against bad actors. All three packages offer different services, so we urge you to closely evaluate your credit needs before choosing.
While you can cancel anytime, the name of the game is patience. Given proper time, Lexington Law will deliver results. If you choose to cancel, however, you will only be charged for provided services. Personnel are available around the clock with 24/7 support via phone, email and chat. Read Full Review. VISIT SITE
Best for Service Customization
Credit Saint claims to provide one of the most aggressive credit repair services available. Each consumer has different goals and needs, so Credit Saint has developed three different packages in an effort to cover all bases: Credit Polish, Credit Remodel, and Clean Slate. Each of these packages has varying degrees of company intervention designed to bring about results. All three packages offer just about the same services, but the most notable difference is the types of negative marks they will challenge on your behalf. Clean Slate has the longer list which includes bankruptcies and repossessions.
First work fees are the amount charged after the first intervention has been carried out. Credit Saint’s first work fees range between $99.99 and $195. Monthly fees thereafter range between $79.99 and $119.99. Even though their first work fees are higher than those charged by most companies, if no deletions are performed on your credit report in 90 days, you will receive a full refund.
Your Own Credit Team
A team of credit advisors is assigned to each case. You’ll be able to contact them directly. Each time you reach out, you will speak to the same people in order to nurture trust and provide a sense of continuity. Furthermore, the team will also contact you from time to time to make sure you’re still on the right track to reaching and maintaining a good credit score.
Other Credit Repair Benefits
When accessing your online account, you’ll see how the process is moving along with regular progress reports and full analysis. You’ll also learn the ins and outs to avoid relapsing into bad credit in the future. Credit Saint wants to provide you with the understanding you’ll need to go forward and to generate month after month of positive credit history.
Credit Saint also offers a free phone consultation with their associates. This benefit is available to you even before signing on, so you can get a taste of what Credit Saint has to offer before you decide to employ their services. Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
Best for Credit Monitoring
Not only does CreditRepair.com speak to creditors on your behalf, they also offer tools to help you establish a healthier financial lifestyle. The tools placed at your disposal let you closely monitor your credit activity. With credit score tracking, email alerts, TransUnion monitoring, and notifications on their mobile app, CreditRepair.com will help you follow the credit repair process.
Their services cost $99.95 a month, plus a one-time fee of $14.95 to pull your reports. Yes, the monthly fee is somewhat pricey, but our research indicates that CreditRepair.com can deliver results. The average member uses the service for six months, with most reporting increases of 40 points in four months. Customers are not bound by any form of long-term contracts and can cancel anytime.
CreditRepair.com is known for maintaining open communication with consumers throughout the credit repair process. Mobile app and customizable text message alerts are available to keep you apprised of the process as it plays out. You will have easy access to your score via browser or app. Their call center for members is open until midnight EST during the week and 7 pm on Saturdays.
A Unique Process
CreditRepair.com uses a three part process. The first part consists of deep analysis of your credit report and a search for all negative items that may be disputed. This helps the company focus their energy on a strategy suited to your specific needs.
The second step involves challenging credit bureaus and financial institutions about the accuracy of these items. This process includes regular follow-ups to ensure that negative items are removed. Credit bureaus are then contacted to confirm that changes were actually made to your records.
The third and final step takes place after all disputes have been resolved. CreditRepair.com evaluates your credit score for improvements. Then they provide helpful tools so you can stay connected online or through the mobile app and see the progress you’re making toward your financial goals. In time, this process may result in your new and improved credit score.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In May 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed suit against Lexington Law, CreditRepair.com and related firms. The suit alleges that the companies illegally requested and received payment of prohibited upfront fees for their credit repair services and that they made deceptive representations in their marketing. Both companies deny these allegations and maintain that the rules they’re accused of violating are obsolete and have not been enforced against or interpreted to apply to the credit repair industry. The court has not yet ruled on the issues of fact and law presented by this case.Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
For thirty years, Sky Blue Credit has offered credit repair services that include debt validation, goodwill and cease & desist letters. They offer a 90-day guarantee without conditions. Also, consumers can pause and resume membership whenever they see fit. Moreover, they claim to dispute 15 items (5 items per bureau) every 35 days.Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
THE CREDIT PEOPLE REVIEW
Best for Hands-On Approach
The Credit People claim to have pioneered a hands-on method that goes further than traditional disputes and interventions. While you’re subscribed to their service, they’ll provide credit check assistance and make sure you receive an updated report from one of the credit bureaus.
Service begins for just $19, the lowest starting fee we’ve encountered. Thereafter, the monthly fee is $79. They also offer a six-month flat rate plan for $419. Consumers can cancel anytime. Also, according to their website, they are the only company that gets credit reports without billing them to consumers.
After signing up, you receive access to a personal online dashboard to see all three credit scores in detail. You’ll have 24-hour access to this dashboard to view the progress of your credit as well as any updates. Also, if you’re in need of more personal service, they offer one-on-one assistance. Email and phone support are also available.
Let the Work Do the Talking
Unlike so many other credit repair companies, The Credit People’s site does not specify averages in terms of negative item removals and score increases. However, they do promise to get you the best possible results. If for any reason you’re not satisfied, cancel and you won’t be charged for that month of service. With the flat-rate plan, you will be refunded the entire amount only if no removals are achieved at the end of the six-month period.Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
PYRAMID CREDIT REPAIR REVIEW
Pyramid Credit Repair claim that, on average, their work will yield results in 45 to 60 days. For couples seeking credit repair, Pyramid offers a 50% discount on their services. Their 90-day warranty can be applied if you’re not satisfied. Most companies’ refund policies are tied to negative item removals. While this warranty is a good selling point, Pyramid Credit Repair is not available in all 50 states.Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
Here’s a Glimpse
Ovation’s Identity Optimization Program is designed to considerably reduce the probability of identity fraud. If your identity is stolen, however, Ovation offers custom disputes to correct identity theft issues. They also provide access to a personal case management website where you’ll receive 24/7 updates with responses and results. If no results are delivered by month’s end, you will not be charged for service.Read Full ReviewVISIT SITE
MORE INSIGHT INTO OUR METHODOLOGY
To provide you with the most accurate information available, our team of editors and experts conducted more than 200 hours of research, vetted nine companies, picked four as their top favorites and three others as second-tier favorites, ranking them against four points of comparison. Furthermore, our team interviewed legal experts in the field of Credit Repair, as well as a handful of consumers with firsthand experience.
All credit repair companies offer a wide range of packages, suited to any consumer’s particular needs. Since you’re going to invest your hard-earned dollars, we encourage you to consider every aspect of these plans before signing on. While some companies only charge when results come in, most of them have a monthly fee system in place.
There’s a popular notion among consumers that credit repair can be expensive. The important question to ask yourself is how badly do you need to have your credit repaired? Will the price you pay now be an investment in a future where you can save a lot more?
Things move slowly in credit repair. A letter is sent to the credit bureaus to dispute any inaccurate items on your report. Once the letter is received, they have 30 days to respond to your dispute. This may be the start of various 30-day waiting periods. One of the complaints most expressed by consumers is the long duration of the process. Naturally, there’s cause for concern when you’re subscribed to a service that bills you every month. But to be fair, credit repair does not occur overnight.
“Consumers have expectations that are too high, because they are not aware of how the process works,” one credit expert told us. “Your credit cannot be repaired in a few days. I find myself having to carefully explain the process, because some believe that two or three months are enough.”
We cannot stress enough the importance of managing your expectations. No company can make guarantees, they can only promise to work hard on your behalf. Some companies have more success than others, as our research shows. Also, if any negative items on your credit report are timely and accurate, even the best credit repair company may not be able to have them removed.
Every company has different methods for approaching lenders and creditors to improve your credit score. For the most part, a specialist will go over your report carefully, looking for items that may be disputed and/or removed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA is federal legislation that protects consumers from the inclusion of inaccurate information on their credit reports.
While much of the world communicates electronically, the credit repair industry still communicates with creditors to a great extent by conventional postal delivery. Typically, a credit repair company will send letters to creditors and ask them to affirm the validity of the debt. If the creditor is unable to comply, the item may be removed from your credit history.
In other situations, companies may send goodwill letters to creditors. The goal of these letters is the removal of an uncharacteristic one-time human mistake. Maybe you missed a payment or were late. A goodwill letter will attempt to appeal to the notion that no one is perfect and possibly result in the removal of your misstep.
Your credit score and the number and type of negative marks on your report will determine the kind of credit repair service you’ll need. Companies that offer various levels of intervention, high numbers of disputes per month, and credit bureau monitoring were ranked higher.
Many credit repair companies boast of great track records. However, many of these claims need to be taken with a grain of salt. Sure, it’s easy to state that you’ve helped “thousands of people,” but what’s your success rate? Where are the percentages?
Do not be swayed by grandiose remarks on a landing page. Dig deeper until you find a company with a proven record of tending to needs similar to your own.
HELPFUL INFORMATION ABOUT CREDIT REPAIR COMPANIES
GOOD CREDIT ENABLES YOU TO MAKE MAJOR LIFE PURCHASES
Were you denied a car loan? Having a hard time getting a low interest rate on your mortgage? A healthy credit score is highly beneficial for big purchases. If your bad credit is getting in the way, fixing it can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that there’s a way back from a bad credit report. Sometimes a denial is all the motivation you’ll need to take the next step. As a credit expert pointed out to us, “Most of our clients request credit repair service after being denied a loan or a credit card.”
Ninety percent of lenders will take a look at one of your scores as tabulated by the Fair Issac Corporation (FICO) before approving anything. FICO analyzes your consumer credit report from the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and assigns you an official score for each.
Sure, there are hundreds of websites offering free credit scores. But the fact remains that many of these use a different scoring model than FICO. This is the reason why the score you get online doesn’t always correspond with the score being used by the lender you may be dealing with.
SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS CREDIT REPAIR?
Credit repair is the process of attempting to remove negative items from a person’s credit history. These removals may result in a better credit score. A company that offers this service will go to bat for you in an effort to improve your credit through proven methods and accepted industry practices.
A credit repair company will get your report from the three bureaus to identify negative items and work to have them removed. These items are weighing your score down. The process involves disputing some of these items, sending letters on your behalf and even engaging creditors in conversation to negotiate the removal process.
HOW DOES CREDIT REPAIR WORK?
As negative items are removed from your report, your credit score will begin to increase in time. Credit repair is a tedious process that will require patience. In the end, you are investing in a healthy financial future. While you may spend several hundred dollars on a credit repair effort, you will save lots more over time with lower interest rates resulting from an improved credit score. Here are some examples of the potential savings you can realize with a better credit history:
|Higher FICO Scores = Lower Payments:Monthly Payments for Total Interest Paid Over the Life of a 30-Year Fixed $150,000 Mortgage|
|FICO Score||APR||Monthly Payment||Total Interest Paid|
|The Cash Benefits After Credit Score Improvement:Approximate Savings in Interest Paid Over the Life of a 30-Year Fixed $150,000 Mortgage|
|Your old FICO Score||Improved to 640-659||Improved to 660-679||Improved to 680-699||Improved to 700-759||Improved to 760-850|
WHAT CREDIT REPAIR COMPANY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
This all depends on your needs, how much work your credit requires, and of course, your budget. Many companies offer a wide range of packages. Before you decide, consider the following:
- What they offer: Make sure you’re not paying for things you don’t need. When dealing with package deals, it’s easy to get lured into paying for services you will never receive.
- Reputation: Read plenty of reviews, but keep in mind that more comments in the credit repair industry are motivated by bad experiences than by good ones. Get insight from reputable online outlets.
- Cancellation policy: Can you cancel at any time? Are there any penalties?
DAMAGE TO YOUR CREDIT HISTORY
HOW DID YOUR SCORE GET SO LOW?
Were you surprised to learn your credit was in bad shape? You’re not alone. A variety of factors can affect your credit score, causing it to take a dive. Some may be your own fault, while others may be the product of circumstances beyond your control.
Nearly 60 million Americans have been victims of identity theft, according to an online survey from 2018. We’re all constantly exposed to identify theft and the worst part is you may not even notice you’ve been a victim until much later. By that point, the damage to your credit score is done, debt collectors are calling, and you’re left to pick up the pieces.
Potential lenders will always look at your payment history when reviewing your credit report. Late payments considerably affect your score while telling lenders you pose a risk most are unwilling to take. Something that seems as insignificant as one single late payment can depress your score and remain on your report for seven years.
OPENING TOO MANY CREDIT CARDS
The phone rings and it’s a well-known credit card company offering you thousands of dollars in credit. Sound good? Well, of course it does. They called you, after all. The problem with taking up too much credit at once is that your credit score will likely go down. Just because you can take on more credit, doesn’t mean you should.
Keep in mind that available credit can be good, if you keep your cards at 30% utilization or lower. Using up a lot of your credit, on the other hand, won’t do your score any favors. Further, it’s better to spread your debt out over several different lenders than to max out your credit limit with one while keeping the others near zero. If you have a tendency to rack up debt, a good choice is to limit the number of credit cards you have.
Negative items can be the result of bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, late payments, accounts assigned to collection agencies, among others. If any of them show up on your credit report, your score will be affected. These can stay on your report for years before you realize the damage they’ve done to your credit.
HARD PULL CREDIT CHECKS
You can check your credit online and it won’t affect your score. When a creditor runs a check, however, it will certainly affect it. Inquiring yourself is considered a “soft pull.” When a creditor does it with the intention of deciding whether to approve a loan or a line of credit requested by you, this will have an effect on your overall score. This kind of check is called a “hard pull” and will remain on your record for two years.
Clearly, Jane was none too pleased to learn her credit score.
WHAT ARE THE UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF BAD CREDIT?
HIGHER INSURANCE RATES
Some insurance rates have a tendency to go up with bad credit. Most notably, auto and home insurance. For example, a driver with a poor credit score may pay an average of 71% more than a driver with good credit. That’s an extra $1,000 a year. Similarly, a homeowner with bad credit will likely pay twice as much in home insurance.
All these numbers may vary from state to state, but the fact remains that once you are seen as a high-risk consumer, your rates will go up to compensate for the risk you represent.
HARM TO JOB AND HOUSING PROSPECTS
With bad credit, future employment opportunities begin to look scarce. Especially if you’re trying to get a job in finance. Few employers would trust you with money when your credit score reflects so poorly on your ability to properly handle your own finances. Studies indicate that as many as 1 in 10 job seekers have been denied a new position based on a credit check. However, if an employer decides not to hire you based on your financial situation, you have to be informed.
Likewise, if you’re trying to rent a place, your new landlord will likely run a credit check to make an assessment of your financial standing. If your numbers indicate you have bad credit, your rental application could be denied.
BASIC LIFE ACHIEVEMENTS IN JEOPARDY
Leasing a car, cosigning a loan for one of your kids, buying a house…all of these require credit checks. When your numbers don’t look good, your chances of reaching these milestones don’t look good either.
You may still be able to get a loan despite your poor credit, but you’ll have to pay significantly higher interest rates.
One credit repair customer we talked to, Alexis Rodríguez, was about to buy his first home in Florida when he encountered a similar situation: “I had an outstanding debt with a cable service provider that I wasn’t even aware of, but it had affected my score. My mortgage was already approved but the monthly payment was very high. So, the realtor suggested I work with a credit repair specialist.”
Alexis Rodríguez worked with a credit repair specialist.
A STRAIN ON PERSONAL RELATIONS
A 2017 survey determined that over 40% of adults might take a person’s credit score into account before deciding to pursue a relationship with them. When dating a person with bad credit, you may come to see their finances as an indication of deeper troubles.
Should you decide to marry, bad credit will affect your chances of getting a low interest mortgage, among other potential complications. Marriage counselors note that in a solid relationship, each person serves as a kind of “emergency bank” for the other, but if one person has poor credit, this may make it difficult for them to come to the aid of his or her spouse. Also, studies have shown that financial disagreements are the leading cause of divorce.
Bad credit brings along a wide array of troubles that can affect your quality of life. And yet, there are solutions. Read on to see what you can expect from credit repair
WHAT TO EXPECT GOING FORWARD WITH A CREDIT REPAIR COMPANY
When you’re trying to improve your credit history, you’ll encounter lots of goodwill and a genuine desire to help you overcome financial obstacles and achieve your goals. Still, just like any other industry, the credit repair business includes some people who may take advantage of your despair and lack of knowledge. According to one credit repair expert, “With the rise in credit repair fraud, the biggest challenge facing our industry is earning the trust of consumers.”
We don’t want you to become another sad statistic, so let’s talk about the tools you’ll need to avoid that.
THE DANGERS OF SCAMS
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a notice in 2016 specifying that more than half of consumers who submitted complaints chose the issue “fraud or scam” to describe their situation.
Like any other business, the credit repair industry has its bad actors, so you must always keep an eye out to avoid falling prey to them. Clicking on the wrong link, providing credit card information to an unsafe website, or giving your Social Security number without careful consideration–these may result in identity theft or credit card fraud.
Beware of credit repair companies that overpromise. Credit repair does not happen overnight. Any organization promising an unrealistic turnaround should be viewed with skepticism. The same goes for companies requesting up-front payments without delivering results, offering a new credit identity, or bogus money-back guarantees without specifying conditions. Some companies even go so far as to promise to remove negative items that are correct. A dispute of this nature cannot be guaranteed and chances of the item being removed are slim at best.
If you’re not sure about a company, don’t sign up with them. Research some more and always be vigilant of potential warning signs. The right choice will be worth the wait.
It should be said, though, that some of the cries of “fraud! scam!” may come from consumers who have unrealistic expectations about the credit repair process. A doctor isn’t running a scam if she treats but does not cure you. A lawyer isn’t engaging in fraud if he represents you to the best of his ability but doesn’t get you the justice you think you deserve. In the same way, a credit repair specialist isn’t necessarily ripping you off if she makes every legal effort to remove negative items from your credit history but doesn’t succeed. There are NO guarantees in this business, other than the promise that a credit repair company will work to the best of its ability. Sometimes that results in an improved FICO score; sometimes it doesn’t. Keep this in mind as you read the consumer comments about a particular credit repair company.
With proper information at hand, you can make well-informed decisions concerning Credit Repair. There are systems in place to protect you and your interests. Know your rights before you employ the services of any person or company offering to help you with your credit.
One of the safeguards against having a company take advantage of you is the Credit Repair Organizations Act. This law “prohibits deceptive practices by credit repair organizations.” Additionally, the law bars companies from requiring up-front payment, requires all contracts to be in writing, and provides you with certain cancellation rights. If you come across any credit repair company not complying with this law, we advise you walk away and consider another organization for your needs.
As stated in the Free Credit Report Act (FCRA), you are entitled to one credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months. Some people request one of the reports every four months in order to have year-round monitoring. To order your reports, visit annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports.