Tracey-Gamlen-credit-alliancesIn light of the recent raid of a well-known credit repair company in southern Minnesota, I have decided my first blog would consist of the most important information a person should know when choosing a credit repair or credit services company. With lending becoming more discretionary and low interest rates being handed out to fewer people all of the time, this could be a very important and money saving decision for you to make.

Unfortunately, this industry has been a disappointment to many consumers leaving them with a hopeless feeling. With business licensing that consists of paying $1,000.00 to the state with no further education or certifications required, it has inadvertently attracted some individuals that simply read a couple of articles about credit and download their form letters to open up shop. The results have proven to be horrific and leave consumers in worse shape than they were to begin with. While I believe that people are basically well intended, they fail to recognize that a LOT has changed and continues to change in the world of credit.

Here are a few tell tale warning signs that you might be choosing the wrong credit repair or credit services company.

Their strategy consists of sending out mass disputes to the credit bureaus. This is a method that leaves a flurry of dispute statements on your credit report. Depending on what your credit goals consist of, you should be aware that loan officers and lenders in most cases can’t issue a loan unless these statements are removed. It is a time consuming process because the bureaus are overwhelmed with these practices and many of the letters don’t get a response even after several attempts.

You are set up on a long term payment plan. Companies such as the big online kahunas and mass marketers, tempt you by their low monthly cost. When you add it up over a 12-24 month period of time, it ends up being a considerably expensive option. Even more than that, there is no incentive to finish your file in a timely fashion. Why would they if they can keep collecting your monthly payment?

They ask for all of the money up front. Minnesota requires that work be performed prior to the collection of any funds from you the consumer. If a company asks for all of the money up front, simply do not choose that route and move on.

The contract is very vague and lacks commitment. If they are not guaranteeing the work that will be completed or focus mostly about providing “credit education”, this is a way to protect their liability and obligation to you as a consumer. It also speaks to their ability to complete the job at hand. You want the company to be very well versed in negotiating and handling accounts that end up being legally validated. Make sure to state your expectations and get an outline of what they are agreeing to complete for you specifically in writing.

You are assigned login information to a portal for updates on your file. Now you are officially a number in their system and will more than likely never hear from the person that “sold you” on the services again. Although these fancy computer programs might look impressive, it is a sign that they are going for mass production and not excellent customer service. Ask the person that you meet with if they will be completing your file from beginning to end. In my experience, this is the only way to receive a high level of accountability. For some reason, there seems to be a substantial amount of information and promises that get lost in translation from sales to execution.

As you embark upon your journey to excellent credit, trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it more than likely is. Consider carefully all of the information provided to you as you sift through the possibilities after all, time is money. With employers, insurance companies and all of the credit applications out there demanding an acceptable score, it can be downright debilitating and very costly not to have one. Instead of being overwhelmed, I hope you feel a bit more empowered after reading these tips and in the end, you find a good fit for you.

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