Healthy credit is the best way to achieve your dreams of homeownership and in many cases, you may even need good credit to land your dream job. There are many life events that can lead to missed payments, overdrawn accounts, or even bankruptcy. While these issues will have a negative effect on your credit score, there is no reason why you should have to live with it forever. There are several ways to go about improving your credit score, some can be done on your own, but the best method is to hire a professional credit repair service to help rectify your negative entries. If you live in California, there are many credit repair options available to choose from.
California routinely sits right near the top of the list of most expensive US states to live in. The cost of living throughout the state is higher than the national average. Considering this, it’s no surprise that California has above average credit card debt, coming in at around $5,234 per person.
Despite the higher-than-average credit card debts, the average FICO credit score in California is 721, which is points above the national average. While this is a good average, the housing and rental markets in California demand only the best if you want to live comfortably. If you need to improve your credit score, a Californian credit repair company may be able to help increase your credit score by removing incorrect or fraudulent credit entries.
California has had state laws dealing with credit repair for decades. The Credit Services Act of 1984 (Civ Code 1789.10) is the main law impacting credit repair companies, but the newer Assembly Bill 1864 also touches on credit repair services. Together, these acts require that credit repair companies:
Along with state laws, the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) also applies to credit repair businesses in California. This is a federal law that includes provisions prohibiting companies offering credit repair to misrepresent themselves in any way, as well as dictating how written contracts should be presented to customers.
Although some lawyers in California do offer credit repair, there’s no requirement for a company or individual offering this service to be a law firm or to employ lawyers for this service. While you can technically even do this process yourself, it’s better to work with a credit repair service so it can be done in the shortest time without you having to follow up constantly on your own.
The process for credit repair in California happens in 3 steps:
Each credit bureau maintains their own records. Because of this, you need to get 3 separate credit reports to get a clear picture of everything that’s playing into your credit score. Request a credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus. You’re allowed 1 free report from each bureau every 12 months, but you can also request a report at any time at a cost if you have already gotten your free report within the last year.
Once your credit reports are in front of you, it’s time to carefully look them over and search for mistakes on the reports. A high percentage of credit reports have errors, so it’s worth looking closely at yours for anything that could be having a negative impact on your credit. Common mistakes include credit accounts erroneously included in the open accounts section of your report or transactions falsely attributed to you, especially for late or missed payments.
If any entries in your credit reports are inaccurate, you’re legally entitled to dispute those charges with the credit bureau to have them removed from your report. This part of the process takes time and usually involves a lot of follow up with the credit bureaus themselves. For each incorrect entry, you need to submit a dispute with each credit bureau that included that entry on their report. They will then have to investigate the information and respond to you, which may lead to some back and forth until the issue is finally settled.
Note: Although credit repair sounds easy, it’s a time-consuming process that can be very draining if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can do it on your own, but in this case, it might drag on even longer and you may not end up with the positive results you hope for at the end of it. Hearing the phone ring can become terrifying if you have bill collectors after you all the time. Instead of being fearful of the phone, take control of your finances and your life. Repairing your credit is difficult but important and a credit repair company is the best way to get it done with minimal hassle.
Hiring a California credit repair company will give you access to customized services that will help address your specific needs. For some people, their bad credit is not due to overdue bills, but rather old marks on their credit that are dragging their score down. For others, their problems may be too many open lines of credit that are not getting paid. If you are having trouble making ends meet and your score is suffering as a result, debt consolidation is one option to consider. This will help you reduce your interest charges, make payments on time, and start repairing your credit at the same time.
If you are working with a debt counselor, a consolidation arbitrator or a financial advisor, sit with them to create a budget that reflects your lifestyle, goals, and income barriers. Planning the amount, you have to pay for regular expenses as well as towards your credit card consolidation plan will help you save money as well as put some away for later use, such as retirement.
When you make your budget, leave a little wiggle room so you can still make smaller unexpected purchases so you don’t feel completely restricted. Also, put aside a certain amount of money every month for a night out or fun time with the family. This will allow you to bring a sense of normalcy back to your lives while you get your finances on track through your debt.
Credit repair agencies will monitor the changes to your credit as they work with you to rebuild your score. However, it is important to track your progress independently on a regular basis. It is normal for a credit score to change. Paying a bill or being late on a payment will cause changes that will trigger an increase or decrease in your score. With the number of frauds and identity theft cases increasing worldwide, it is also a good idea to check your report for anything that looks suspicious at least once every three months. Maintaining your credit repair schedule and making payments on time will help you track your improvements over time.
Most people who are dealing with credit problems also don’t have much to invest in services that may not work. Look for a credit repair agency that offers a clear pricing model and one that has been proven to deliver results. There are many legitimate companies that may charge upfront fees, but those that have excessive fees generally are not able to deliver on their promises. Also, customer support is critical in any business, including credit repair. Make sure that the company is highly responsive via email and over the phone when you need them. Keep in mind that fixing your credit will take some time, and in most cases, it will be at least 4-6 months before you see real changes in your score.
Bad credit is more common than you may realize. There are plenty of advertisements on TV and online offering credit repair services. Repairing credit takes time, skill, and effort and while it can help many, it does not work in all situations. If you are not sure if your issues can be corrected through a credit repair service, consider getting a free consultation first. There are many reputable credit repair agencies that offer no-obligation consultations. This will let them see what issues you have that need to be corrected and if they are able to help you reach your credit goals. If any credit repair company asks you to do something unethical or illegal, avoid them at all cost or you may end up with more problems than you started out with.
Credit scores rely heavily on payment histories. If there’s any incorrect information in your payment history, it can have a heavily negative impact on your credit score. Getting these incorrect entries removed from your credit report can have a significant positive impact on your credit score by simply allowing your good payment history to shine without the blemish of false missed or late payments.
On average, it cost between $99 - $199 per month to get credit repair service in California. Some companies will charge a one-time setup fee as well as the monthly fee, while others stick with just a monthly fee as long as services are being provided to you. The average fee for most credit repair services is around $149 per month in California.
Credit repair is a lengthy process. On average, it takes 3 – 6 months to complete the whole process in the Sunshine State, from the initial dispute to the eventual resolution. Credit bureaus have 30 days to respond once you submit a dispute, but the process usually won’t conclude after just these 30 days. It often takes much longer to get everything settled and for the entries to be removed from your credit report.
Credit repair is possible in every Californian city. It doesn’t matter how large or small the city is, any credit repair organization will still offer their services. From Los Angeles to Fresno, San Diego, or Oakland, large cities are likely to have a lot of options around every corner. However, residents of smaller towns and cities like Palo Alto, Morgan Hill, Muscoy, Hayfork, and Del Rey can still get reliable credit repair done by a credit repair firm located in California or anywhere else in the country.