All consumers now can obtain a free credit report once a year through the Federal Trade Commission at www.annualcreditreport.com. This can also be ordered toll-free at 1-877-322-8228.
Every day, there are companies nationwide that appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. For a fee, they promise to clean up your credit report so you can obtain a car loan, a home mortgage or even get a job. Unfortunately, many of these companies can't deliver. After paying these companies hundreds or thousands of dollars in upfront fees, these companies do nothing to improve your credit report and many simply vanish with your money.
The truth is, no one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law does, however, allow you to request a reinvestigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report anytime you've been denied credit within the last 30 days. You can also dispute mistakes or outdated items for free. Ask the credit reporting agency for a dispute form or submit your dispute in writing, along with any supporting documentation.
If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, your BBB suggests you beware of companies that:
-do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do -- legally -- for free
-recommend that you not contact a credit bureau directly
-want you to pay for credit repair services before any services are provided
-advise you to dispute all information in your credit report or take any action that seems illegal, such as creating a new credit identity by obtaining a federal employer identification number to use instead of a social security number. If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.
It's a federal crime to make false statements on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security Number and to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.
If you have a complaint about a credit repair clinic, contact your BBB, your state attorney general's office and the Federal Trade Commission.