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Credit Repair Services vs. Repairing Your Own Credit

06/02/2015 04:50 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2016

Repairing your credit can be an uphill battle, but with the right strategy, it's possible to improve your credit health over time. The big question is whether you want to use a credit repair service to accomplish your credit repair goal or take this project on yourself. There are pros and cons to both approaches, but with the right facts in hand, you can make an informed decision that offers you the best personal option towards making your credit sound again.

Credit Repair Services: What You Should Know

There are a number of advantages to credit repair services that you should take into consideration. However, you should also be aware that many of these advantages are either overstated or falsely advertised. In the worst-case scenarios, credit repair services can actually turn out to be a scam that simply cost you money with little results.

However, there are established and reputable credit repair services out there, like Sky Blue Credit Repair or Lexington Law. Credit unions, universities, non-profit credit counseling services, and consumer protection agencies also may be able to offer credit repair services as well. These types of services can do the following for you:

  • The law requires that credit bureaus must be able to verify everything on your credit report. A credit repair service can help improve your credit score by removing negative aspects of your credit score if they can't actually be verified.
  • Credit repair services have ample experience with dealing with lenders, which means they may be able to negotiate with lenders to offer a better deal on repayments.
  • Credit repair services work well when you actually have an error on your credit report, such as if you suffered from identity theft that negatively impacted your credit score.

Remember that the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) is there to protect you when dealing with a credit repair service. For example, a credit repair service is legally prohibited from lying to you about the services they can provide and they're not permitted to charge you until they've completed their job. The repair service must also provide in writing how much their services will cost you in total and how long the company will need to deliver results.

If you are thinking of using a credit repair service, here are some of the most trusted services:

Best Money-Back Guarantee: Sky Blue Credit Repair

Sky Blue Credit Repair is not only one of the cheapest credit repair services, at $59/month, but it also provides a 90-day money-back guarantee, so if you aren't happy with the service, you can get your money back. Sky Blue also offers excellent customer service and has the highest rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Best Set of Features: Lexington Law Credit Repair

Lexington Law's basic service is also $59, but they also offer a more involved experience for $99. This offers extra efforts to raise your credit score, as well as monthly credit monitoring so you can see the progress first hand. Here is a good comparison between Lexington Law and Sky Blue Credit Repair.

Best Online Tools: CreditRepair.com

If you are looking to monitor your results yourself and are looking for easy-to-use online tools to help you track and monitor your credit progress, look into CreditRepair.com. They have the most up-to-date online tools to keep you informed about your credit repair process.

The Facts On Repairing Your Own Credit

You can accomplish most of the things that credit repair services do on your own for little to no money. For example, you're entitled to a free credit report from the major credit bureaus, which include Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, on an annual basis. You're also eligible for a free credit report if you're unemployed and have plans to search for a job within a period of 60 days or if you were subject to identity theft.

You can also dispute any errors featured in your credit report. Credit bureaus and the entity that originally reported the credit information are responsible for fixing these errors once you point them out.

To get this process started, you should send a written notification explaining the errors and copies of any documentation you have proving your claim. You should also think about listing or circling the specific errors within your credit report that should be investigated or corrected.

Credit bureaus are required under law to investigate your claims within 30 days, and then send you a written notification about the results of their investigation. If they rule in your favor, this will be reflected in your credit report.

It's important to understand that there are limits to what you can do to repair your credit. For example, if you have negative information that's accurate, it will remain on your record for seven years while any bankruptcy data will remain for 10 years.

Ultimately, the biggest disadvantage of repairing your own credit is the fact that you have to put a certain amount of effort into the process. However, the savings are often worth it for many.

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