Friday, December 08, 2006

How NOT TO repair your credit (and the ethics of blog ads)

This month, I rejected a LinkWorth ad for the first time. Actually, I rejected two, and for the same reason: they were for "credit repair" services. These services are at worst a scam to get access to your personal information, and at best a waste of time and money for vulnerable people. Anything they can do, people can do on their own to improve their credit. But if I run their links, that'll help them show up higher on the internet searches of people struggling with bad credit, instead of the resources people need to understand how to improve their credit. So instead of sending people in the wrong direction, I'll put in my piece to help connect people to the right information.

I'm not an expert on credit reports, credit scores, and/or credit repair, but here are some quick points:

  • Everyone has the right to dispute the accuracy of any entry on their credit report-- and if the creditor can't prove it's accurate, it has to be removed. You only have to send it to one credit bureau, and if it's unable to be verified, it'll come off all three. Credit repair services offer to write the letters, or charge you for templates, but really the letter doesn't have to be anything special and you can find examples all over the internet just by Googling "sample dispute letters," etc.
  • If a collection agency is trying to collect on your debts, you have the right to ask them for "validation"-- proof that the debt is yours. This time you'll want to look for "sample validation letters."
  • If you have unpaid accounts, you should feel free to try to negotiate them with the creditor/collection agency. You can offer to pay less than the full amount, and/or you can haggle over how they report it on your credit report (at the very least, they should call it "paid in full" even if you agreed to pay less than the total due... but you can also try to get them to take it off your report entirely after you pay). Make sure you get things in writing!
You can really learn a ton about credit repair online; just be careful you're reading reputable sources. Message boards are also great-- lots of people's advice and stratgies and perspective, including many who really know their stuff and will make sure that misinformation doesn't stand. One I've used in the past is CreditBoards.com. And if you really feel like you're in over your head, look for a trustworthy non-profit credit counseling service, whose job is to help you out, not rip you off.

What do you think? Either on the topic of credit repair specifically, and/or on whether you turn down some ads and why (or don't run any at all)? And do you have any good resources or tips to share on the topic of credit repair?

7 comments:

J.D. said...

I reject ads all the time. I do my best to weed out scammy Google ads (though, to be honest, I'm getting frustrated lately and giving up -- I may have to just pull Google ads from my site). I rejected a *very* high-paying credit card ad from FeedBurner. Why? Because I don't want to associate myself with the products/services I actively denounce on my site. It's a tough decision, but I feel like I need to stay consistent.

fin_indie said...

Great for you. I can very much appreciate taking a stand on these kinds of things. Besides, it gives me a good sense for who you are and why I want to read your blog.

Golbguru said...

I appreciate what you did. I don't think many people will do this for the want of more money. I hope all bloggers follow your example.

Mollysbrother said...

Fantastic post. Great to move this conversation out into the open.

I do run ads on my site and I am always updating my filter trying to weed out the ads that I think are unethical or flat out financially dangerous.

Too many people are looking for a quick fix to their debt problems and too many people out there don't know which programs to avoid.

moneymonk said...

I commend you on rejecting that ad.

I have seen blogs that talked about acquiring wealth and they have google ads on "How to get rich quick" or "payday loans"

I feel that is so tacky.

Kudos to you !!! for a good job.

ALEISH said...

There are many credit repair companies out there, disguising as help who are only after your money. So, be warned! Here are the Warning Signs of Credit Repair Rip-offs.

Hope this resource will be helpful to you readers and your blog too.

Anonymous said...

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