Once considered a positive step for people seeking to repair their credit, credit repair counseling has suffered from reports of deceptive actions by unscrupulous agencies. Credit counselors who have misled clients and abused the system have given credit counseling a bad name. Many experts now advice consumers to take control of their own credit repair process. They recommend against sharing personal financial information with a credit repair company, noting that this information may be misused in the future.
Most consumers do not understand that credit repair agencies can assist with debt reduction; they can do little to improve your current credit rating. A credit counselor is supposed to negotiate with your creditors to reduce your monthly payments and your total debt. You then make one monthly payment to the agency, which is supposed to forward the necessary funds to each of your creditors. If your credit counselor does not forward those payments, or sends them late, you will find yourself deeper in debt while your credit rating sinks even lower.
Some agencies have taken steps to make clients believe their credit rating is improving. A credit counseling agency might send a letter to a credit reporting agency disputing a negative trade-line, and demanding its removal until an investigation is completed. When the entry is deleted, the credit counselor sends the client the cleaned up report claiming success. Unfortunately, when no further information is forthcoming, the negative item will return, making any credit rating increase temporary.
If the information on your credit report is correct, no agency will be able to help you have it removed. Negative information stays on your report for 7 years; bankruptcy for 10. If you have concerns about the information on your credit reports, your best plan is to address those concerns directly with the credit reporting agency in question.
Despite the horror stories, there are some reputable credit counseling agencies out there. If you are considering a credit repair agency, do your research. Find one that is affiliated with national associations and has received positive reviews from other clients and independent reviewers. You can trust a reliable agency to work to remove negative items that are genuine errors from your credit report; anything more is unrealistic.