Every day we make decisions that have the potential to be life-changing. Many of our financial decisions can also have a drastic effect on the health of our credit. Good decisions will lead to a balanced credit report, a high credit score, and a general ability to secure additional credit when you need it. However, poor spending habits, numerous credit cards, and other decisions can result in poor credit, high-interest rates, and even denials when you apply for various forms of loans. If you are someone who has made regrettable decisions that have led to poor credit ratings, there is help available. Working with an Illinois-based credit repair company can help turn your credit from down in the pits into a healthy credit report that will land you the loans you desire.
Illinois is not an expensive state to live in, compared to many other US states. It has a very close to average cost of living, and credit card debt averages have followed suit by being 2 dollars lower than the national average at $5,191.
Credit scores in Illinois follow the same trend, with the average credit score being 719, just 5 points above the national average. While this is a solid credit score, it also only represents the statewide average. The unfortunate truth is that there are many people that have a much lower credit score and are in need of help to build it back up again. Part of that process might involve credit repair, if you’re in a situation where your credit score is being impacted by inaccurate credit entries or fraud.
In Illinois, the Credit Services Organizations Act (815 ILCS 605/) deals with credit repair organizations that interact with customers within the state. The major hallmarks of this law are the requirements that credit repair companies need:
All credit repair companies operating in the US are required to adhere to the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). This law gives guidance to how credit repair companies can charge for their services, the disclosures they need to make to customers ahead of time, and how contracts should be worded, among other things. These laws work with local state laws as a foundation for how these companies can serve their customers.
No, a lawyer is not necessary for credit repair in Illinois. It’s quite common for lawyers and law firms to offer credit repair if they already operate in the consumer finance space, but it’s not a necessity for you to work with a lawyer. You can choose to work with any legitimate credit repair company you feel comfortable with. Technically, you can even do it yourself, but you may get stuck and end up calling a company anyway, so it’s often better to skip the hassle and just start out with a trustworthy company!
The basics for the credit repair process in Illinois are as follows:
You should already be checking your credit report on occasion to make sure it’s accurate. If you’re not already in the habit, it’s time to start! The 3 major credit bureaus in the US are legally obligated to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months, upon request. Make a request to each one to pick up all of your credit reports. These make up the total information that goes into your credit score.
Take some time to look through each credit report. They include around 7 years of information related to your credit, such as your credit payment history on loans or credit cards. Mistakes on credit reports are not uncommon. They can be innocent mistakes like a payment that’s marked unpaid erroneously, or they can be malicious as is the case with credit fraud.
If you find mistakes on your credit reports, it’s time to contact the credit bureaus and bring those mistakes to their attention. This is done through a dispute letter that provides information about the mistake and details to act as proof that the information is inaccurate. Disputing an inaccurate entry can take a lot of time and usually involves a lot of follow up communication with each credit bureau that has the inaccurate information recorded.
Note: You cannot dispute legitimate negative entries to have them removed from your credit report. This process is only for inaccurate transactions. While it sounds like a simple process, there’s usually a hefty screening process to ensure that only truly inaccurate entries are removed. A credit repair company can help you navigate the process and avoid delays wherever possible.
Knowing you have less than good credit and knowing your actual score are very different. It is important to know your numerical score as well as what items on your report are causing it to drop. Once you know your score, you can take steps to correct mistakes and improve negative marks that are resulting in low numbers. You can request a credit report on your own or you can have a credit repair agency here in Illinois request a copy on your behalf.
When you are mired in debt, your credit score suffers the most. Late payments, collection, and judgments all bring your score down and affect your ability to secure additional financing. In some cases, a poor credit score can even limit your ability to get a good job. Many employers like to see that you are responsible in your personal life and thus will be responsible on the job, poor finance management in their minds directly translates to poor ability to manage work-related tasks. Starting and completing an Illinois-based credit repair program will remove the negative marks on your credit report which in turn will allow your score to gradually improve.
There are plenty of websites that offer credit repair, but the process of actually achieving results is not so simple. If you are not sure if credit repair is right for your situation or if you just want to know how they can help, get a no-cost consultation. A legitimate credit repair company will be happy to take a look at your credit report and let you know if they are able to help you achieve your 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.
In addition to helping you remove negative marks on your credit report, many credit repair services will also offer credit counseling. This is important because it will help safeguard your score going forward and teach you to make better choices to avoid ending up in the same place later down the line. Some companies offer a weekly or bi-weekly credit management class while others may assign a dedicated counselor to your case to create a customized lesson plan that meets your specific needs. Keep in mind that not only does credit repair take time, learning proper money management habits takes time as well.
For every two companies out there that offer legitimate credit repair services, there is double the amount that is simply scams. Companies that tell you they can wipe your credit clean for a single high fee and those that offer a privacy security credit number are also scams. Not only do these services not work, but many of the things they tell you to do are also actually illegal. Keep in mind that credit repair takes time, at least 3 months but could be six months before you see big changes and as long as a year before your credit score is fully rebuilt. A legitimate credit repair company will do many of the same things you can do on your own, just more efficiently and quicker than you would if you did them yourself. Credit repair is not free but reputable companies will provide a clear pricing model that is easy to understand and also affordable. Their goal is to help you rebuild your credit while also getting paid a fair wage for their services.
If your credit score is being falsely dragged down by inaccurate entries on a credit report, you can see a huge improvement just by going through the credit repair process. It doesn’t help everyone, but for anyone with inaccurate credit entries, this can mean a lifechanging adjustment to your credit score once the erroneous information is wiped away.
Credit repair is a service that’s charged on a monthly basis because it can take a while to finish the process. The average cost per month is $99 - $129 in Illinois, with the occasional setup fee charged in the beginning of the contract period by most companies. This range is just an average, but you can find many services charging between $89 - $199, depending on the level of service they provide.
In most US states, including Illinois, credit repair can take between 3 – 6 months, but it’s not a constantly ongoing process. There are starts and stops and a lot of delays that happen in between submitting your dispute letter and finally getting false entries removed from your credit report.
While Chicago is by far the largest city in Illinois and likely has the most options for local credit repair, there are no restrictions on who can or cannot access credit repair in the state. From larger cities like Aurora or Joliet to smaller cities like Burr Ridge, Manteno, or Gillespie, you can get service from reliable credit repair companies anywhere in the state.