By: Joanne Cavis, UGA Cooperative Extension
Got bad credit? Beware of companies that claim an ability to repair bad credit. No individual or business can do anything for you that you cannot do for yourself for free. Companies that claim they can fix your credit are just out for your money. In many cases, they will leave you worse off than you were before you contacted them.
The credit repair companies’ ads often target consumers in desperate situations. Believing these claims, consumers pay money for help they will never get. In some cases, they are encouraged to commit a crime by creating a new identity and using a federal identification number instead of a Social Security number linked to credit problems.
It is possible to repair your bad credit with serious effort, time and a good repayment plan. If you are unable to make at least the minimum payment on your credit cards, get help. A credit counseling agency can often negotiate better terms on your credit card debts that will make it easier to pay off what you owe more quickly.
Debt consolidation loans may reduce your monthly payment, but almost always increases the total amount you owe. Remember, if debt is your problem, borrowing is NOT the solution.
Sometimes self-help may be best. To improve your credit score, pay your bills on time and reduce the amount you owe. Check your credit report regularly for errors. Correct any errors by working first with the creditor. If that is not successful, work with the credit reporting agency.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free copy of your report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com for your first free report each year.
Georgia residents can obtain two additional free credit reports from each credit reporting agency by contacting the three national credit reporting agencies directly: Equifax (1.800.685.1111), Experian (1.888.397.3742), Transunion (1.800.916.8800).
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