There are a few companies who claim to help you begin to rebuild your credit. I have a ton of late payments, etc. Is there a company that in your experience will truly help me as I go along the path of rebuilding?
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Good morning @Wilhelmina Brantley! Unfortunately, time is the only thing that can heal negative information on your credit reports. Late payments stay on your reports for seven years, but they do the most damage in the first two. No credit repair company can have accurate negative info removed from your reports — and it's a HUGE red flag if they tell you they can.
If you need help, I'd recommend credit counseling through a nonprofit agency. You can find one through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling: https://www.nfcc.org/. They can help you make a budget and also work with your credit card companies to negotiate a more reasonable payment plan. All that said, you can negotiate a payment plan with your credit card companies yourself. But that can be overwhelming for a lot of people. You're not committing to anything when you meet with a counselor (and usually it's either free or low cost), so it's worth it to see what your options are.
Hi @Wilhelmina Brantley! There are lots of different credit counselors out there, and there are several things to look for when choosing one that fits best for your needs. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Accreditations and certifications: This is a great start to verifying that the agency you’re working with is a reputable agency. Most legitimate credit repair agencies are nonprofit, so be wary of any companies that are for-profit and claim to be a credit counseling agency. Most nonprofit agencies are members of either the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Financial Counseling Association of America. Both of these groups have certain requirements and standards that ensure a certain level of education among their counselors.
Nonprofit may not mean free: While some organizations provide free services, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, (FTC), a nonprofit business structure doesn’t mean that the services provided are free. It’s important to research credit counselors and ask the right questions. The FTC site lists the type of questions you should ask such as: What type of services do you offer? What are your fees? Are you licensed to offer your services in my state?
Access: Another thing to consider is how you’d like the agency to contact you — would you prefer to receive services over the phone, in person (which, at this time, may not be possible), or online? While many agencies are accredited in all 50 states to provide services over the phone, many only offer in person counseling in select locations (however, due to the current situation with the coronavirus, this may not be possible at this time).
You can learn more about finding the right credit counselor here.