You may be curious to know the role of a credit repair specialist if you’re thinking of hiring a credit repair specialist to help clean up your credit report, or you may be considering becoming one yourself to help others repair their credit.
For those who need credit repair services, you can better understand whether hiring a specialist is in your best interest and determine which specialists are right for you. And if you’re interested in becoming a credit repair specialist, it’s important to understand the job so you can set yourself and your clients up for success.
What Credit Repair Specialists Do
Legitimate credit repair specialists work with consumers to clean up their credit reports and begin improving their credit.
Credit Repair Specialist Certifications
There are no specific professional or licensing requirements for credit repair specialists. This can make it hard to tell who’s legitimately qualified to work on your credit and who you should stay away from.
The current law for credit repair companies is designed to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by dishonest credit repair specialists and other credit repair businesses. The law outlines what credit repair specialists can and cannot do, but not who can and cannot perform credit repair services.
While there’s no law or governing body for credit repair specialists, there are professional organizations that educate and provide certifications that can help weed out non-qualified credit repair specialists. Look for a credit repair specialist who is certified by a non-profit organization like the Credit Consultants Association or the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education, not a credit repair software company.
Flexible Education Requirements
There are no education requirements to become a credit repair specialist, but a degree or experience in finance or a related field can be beneficial.
What Knowledge Should a Credit Repair Specialist Have?
A credit repair specialist should be knowledgeable in the laws affecting credit and credit repair. This includes:
- The Credit Repair Organizations Act
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
Credit repair specialists should also understand the government agencies involved in consumer rights—the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Credit repair specialists should be aware of their state’s credit repair laws and bond requirements for credit repair organizations and debt collectors.
State Limitations for Credit Repair
It is a misdemeanor to charge for credit repair services in the state of Georgia.
When looking for credit repair specialists, you'll find those that offer services online and locally. You can often find a list of approved counselors online. From there, check out potential agents with your local consumer protection agency and State Attorney General’s office. As a final step, as the agency for any free information they have about their services. You should be able to get free information without having to provide any details about your particular situation.
Independent vs. Employed Credit Repair Specialists
Some credit repair specialists may work with a credit repair company or a multi-level marketing business. If this is the case, it’s important to vet the organization in addition to the individual specialist you’re working with. In the case of those who work with multi-level marketing businesses, be aware that the person who signs you up may not be the person who works on your credit. In addition, with a credit repair MLM, you may be recruited to join the business and recruit others.
The Law for Credit Repair Specialists
The credit repair specialist may be subject to the Credit Reporting Organizations Act (a law that prevents credit repair companies from taking advantage of consumers). As well, they may be subject to the Telemarketing Sales Rule as well.
A credit repair specialist should charge you only after services have been performed for you. They should not guarantee specific results or promise that information will be removed from your credit report. Credit repair specialists are required by law to provide you with a written contract before performing any services on your behalf. They also should not advise you to not contact credit reporting companies directly.
They should make sure you’re aware of your rights to dispute information on your own for free. Credit repair specialists should give you a three-day waiting period during which you’re allowed to cancel your contract. They also should not ask you to waive any rights.
What Do Credit Repair Specialists Do
Credit repair specialists review your full credit reports from all three credit bureaus. They may ask you to bring in your credit report or they may use software to pull and monitor your credit report information. A knowledgeable credit repair specialist will scour your credit report looking for information that can be removed based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
What to Watch For
Reputable specialists will not recommend you dispute everything from your credit report just to see what falls off and what stays.
Credit repair specialists assist in the preparation of the appropriate letters to the credit bureaus and to debt collection agencies. These letters should be specific to your credit information, not blanket dispute letters that may be ignored by the credit bureaus. They may mail the letters on your behalf or provide the letters for you to mail.
Professional credit repair specialists can provide a variety of options for how to handle negative items on your credit report, give you the pros and cons of each, and help you decide the best way to proceed based on your circumstances and your long-term credit and financial goals. These options may include disputing, paying off, negotiating removal, settling, or waiting out the credit reporting time limit.
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