People with bad credit histories are in a tough spot. Even if you?ve recently cleaned up your act, it can take a lot of time and work to get your credit score back to a workable place, and the process can get wearing fast?especially if you?re trying to get a small loan or mortgage. So if you have bad credit, and someone sends you a letter that says that they can have your credit score right as rain by the end of the week for just a small fee, you?ll probably sit up and pay attention.
Unfortunately, you?ll also probably be falling for a scam. Every day, companies send out fliers, letters and even make phone calls to people who are badly in debt, promising them that they can make their credit problems disappear. These companies offer different ways of doing this, some of which work, but only very temporarily (a day, at most), while others are just downright illegal. At the same time, they are taking money from people who need it the most.
The best rule of thumb on these things is, ?If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.? If you get a letter or a call that says something like, ?Bad credit? No problem!? or ?We can clean up your credit history instantly!? someone is probably trying to take advantage of you. These companies know that people who are in debt are frequently desperate and looking for a way out, and they exploit that desperation by offering services that they can?t really provide to people who can?t afford them. The cold hard truth is, the only way to clean up your credit is by hard, careful work that takes place over time. No one has a magic wand that can wave all of your overdue balances away.
But this doesn?t mean that there aren?t services out there that can help you. In fact, there are lots of not-for-profit debt counseling organizations out there who genuinely have the means of alleviating some of your debt?but to alleviate isn?t to make disappear. The consultants at these organizations can help you balance and manage your debt, and contact your credit card company to help reduce the amounts of your monthly payments, late fees and finance charges, and maybe even get you more time to pay your debt off. Don?t let scammers scare you away from legitimate help when it is available.
After that, there are many steps that you can make toward repairing your damaged credit. The first thing you have to do is get a look at your credit report. You can acquire it from any of the major credit-checking agencies for a small fee (less than $10), or may even qualify to get it for free, depending upon your circumstances (if you have been denied credit, for instance, you will be entitled to a free copy).
Next, you will need to carefully examine the report to check for any incorrect or out-of-date information, and tell your consumer reporting company what errors you think have been committed. Support your assertions by sending copies of documents that provide evidence of your claim. Once you have settled any disputes you have, you will have to start the dirty work of creating a manageable payment schedule for your debt. If you feel that you need it, contact a debt counseling organization for help. Gradually paying off your debt, and establishing good credit habits after you have paid it off, is the only way to get your financial situation back on track. It?s no magic bullet, but with time and work, it will have you back on your feet.
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