SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Credit repair businesses advertise that they can repair a credit score, remove negative information or even legally create a new credit identity.

But don't believe these claims; they're likely a scam.

The truth is, there is no fast way to improve credit worthiness. Improving your credit takes time, a conscious effort and sticking to a personal debt repayment plan.

Credit repair agencies often target consumers with poor credit histories and tell them they will soon be able to get that home or auto loan. However, the truth is, accurate, negative information cannot be removed from a credit report.

After paying a company hundreds or thousands of dollars, people are left with the same credit report and even less money.

A company is up to no good if you encounter the following:

-The company wants payment for credit repair services before they provide any services. Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the services they promised.

-The company doesn't tell you your rights and what you can do yourself for free.

-The company recommends that you do not contact any of the three major national credit reporting companies directly.

-The company tells you that it can get rid of most or all your negative credit information in a credit report, even if that information is accurate and current.

-The company suggests that you try to invent a new credit identity and new credit report by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use, instead of a Social Security number.

-The company advises you to dispute all the information in a credit report, regardless of the information's accuracy or timeliness.

You may find yourself in legal hot water if you are following illegal advice and committing fraud. It's a federal crime to lie on a loan or a credit application, to misrepresent a Social Security number or to obtain an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.

No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from your credit report. However, the law provides you with a number of rights to dispute and correct inaccurate credit information on your own.

The attorneys at the Legal Assistance Office are available for consultation on legal assistance matters. They are located in Building 2037, Humphreys and Aleshire drives, Schofield Barracks. Attorneys are available for consultations, powers of attorneys, notarizations, walk-ins and appointments, Monday -Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday, 1-3 p.m.; and Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
For more information, call (808) 655-8607.

(Editor's Note: The Legal Assistance Office, Staff Judge Advocate, USAG-HI, submitted content for this article.)

Page last updated Thu December 9th, 2010 at 19:34