Most consumer advocates suggest that consumers not utilize credit repair clinics. With a "buyer beware" attitude, I approached Howard Dvorkin, the author of the book Credit Hell- How To Dig Out Of Debt and founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. I walked away from this interview with a very different perspective than I had prior to the interview.
It should be noted that any entry on your credit report can be challenged. However, negative items in your credit file can legally stay there for seven or ten years (depending on the type of information) as long as they are correct. Unfortunately, no one can wave a wand and make them go away.
I asked Howard his initial thoughts on credit repair clinics since in the past clinics have suggested they do have that wand and are wiling to use it...for a hefty price of course. His response interested me.
"Consumers can do everything a repair clinic can do. However, the credit repair clinic can do it quicker. For example, you need a fair indication of the law to do a good job. It may take the average consumer 40 or more hours just to get the legal basics for the specific laws that apply. Its like having your car worked on by an auto mechanic. You may know how to do the job, but they can do it more efficiently because they have the tools and experience."
"Historically credit repair clinics are known for outrageous fees, hard nose tactics and ridiculous prices. But not all agencies are the same. You simply have to be careful. Basically if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always go with a recommended source."
I asked about known illegal credit repair tactics, such as creating a bogus Employee Identification Number (EIN), and whether items removed from a credit file usually resurface after a period of time. Mr. Dvorkin seemed to indicate most of the bad apples in the industry have been shut down:
"Repair clinics that create an EIN in order to create a new credit file have mostly been closed down today. As far as reoccurrence of entries on a credit report, 15% might reopen."
Mr. Dvorkin also made an interesting comment regarding the future of the credit repair industry:
"Subprime lending today offers credit to consumers with poor credit reports. Therefore, there is less necessity for credit repair clinics to repair credit files. However, we are on the leading edge of the end of the economic boom we have been enjoying and subprime markets are the first casualties at such times. Therefore credit repair may once again become very important to the consumer."
Howard also pointed out that Consolidated Consumer Credit Counseling offers an extensive collection of related free articles and publications at their Learning Center. I visited there and was quite impressed with what I found. Be sure to peruse these resources and the Credit Information section of CardRatings.com prior to making any decisions regarding paid credit repair.
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