Credit Repair FAQs
WHAT IS A CREDIT SCORE?
A credit score is a number that reflects your risk level, as an individual, to a lender. The higher the number, the lower the risk will be to the lender. As you apply for increased credit or attempt to make a purchase, the lender will check your ability to pay back that loan. The more negative marks you have on your credit report, the less likely you will be granted the loan or purchase you requested.
WHAT IS A CREDIT REPORT AND WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
A credit report is a history of your use of credit and other personal information which gives lenders a snapshot of your credit history. Whether you are applying for a credit card, a car loan, a personal loan or a mortgage, lenders want to determine your credit risk level. In short, lenders want to know if they can rely on you to pay them back on time.
There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These agencies collect data and maintain records on millions of Americans and their bill payment histories. The reports tell lenders how much credit you’ve used, what types of credit you’ve used, how long you’ve had various accounts, and whether you pay your bills on time. Every year, billions of lending decisions are based upon the information in those reports. Your credit report and score strongly influences how much credit that will be made available to you and the terms you are offered by lenders. The speed you are approved for credit, the interest rates you get, and decisions about the amount of credit are all determined by the information found in your credit report.
WHAT’S IN YOUR CREDIT REPORT?
Although each credit reporting agency formats and reports this information differently, all credit reports contain basically the same categories of information. Identifying Information . Your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth and employment information are used to identify you. These factors are not used in credit scoring. Updates to this information come from information you supply to lenders. Trade Lines . These are your credit accounts. Lenders report on each account you have established with them. They report the type of account (bank card, auto loan, mortgage, etc.), the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history . Credit Inquiries . When you apply for a loan, you authorize your lender to ask for a copy of your credit report.
This is how inquiries appear on your credit report. The inquiries section contains a list of everyone who accessed your credit report within the last two years. The report you see lists both “voluntary” inquiries, initiated by your own requests for credit, and “involuntary” inquiries, such as when lenders order your report so as to make you a pre-approved credit offer in the mail. Public Record and Collection Items . Credit reporting agencies also collect public record information from state and county courts, and information on overdue debt from collection agencies. Public record information includes bankruptcies, foreclosures, law suits, wage attachments, liens and judgments.
HOW IS MY CREDIT SCORE CALCULATED?
The formula used to calculate your FICO score includes information based on several factors: 35% on your payment history 30% on the amount you currently owe lenders 15% on the length of your credit history 10% on the number of new credit accounts you’ve opened or applied for (fewer is better) 10% on the mix of credit accounts you have (mortgages, credit cards, installment loans, etc.)
HOW LONG DO NEGATIVE ITEMS STAY ON A CREDIT REPORT?
Negative credit accounts, or trade lines, can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years, and bankruptcies and other public records for up to 10 years. Inquiries on your credit report may remain for 2 years. These are the maximum times that are permitted by federal law for reporting agencies to show negative items; however, these times are not mandatory. At any time, a creditor or credit bureau may remove a derogatory remark from your credit report if the consumer requests an investigation into remarks that they feel are incorrect.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CANNOT BE REMOVED FROM A CREDIT REPORT?
No, all information reported by the credit bureaus are subject to the same laws and criteria. We may challenge on your behalf any items you request and the credit bureaus must investigate these items.
WHY DO THE CREDIT BUREAUS HAVE SEPARATE REPORTS FOR HUSBAND AND WIFE?
The credit bureaus collect information based on individual Social Security numbers.
DO ALL THREE CREDIT BUREAUS REPORT THE SAME INFORMATION?
Depending on which lender you go through will determine which credit bureau the item will appear on. It could be one, two or all three bureaus.
HOW DO MISTAKES GET ON MY CREDIT REPORT?
It is estimated that as many as 80% of credit files have errors. If your credit report contains errors, it is often because the report is incomplete, or contains information about someone else. This typically happens because:
- You applied for credit under different names (for example, Margaret Jones versus Margaret Jones-Smith)
- Someone made a clerical error in reading or entering name or address information from a hand-written application
- You gave an inaccurate Social Security number or the number was misread by the lender
- Loan or credit card information was inadvertently applied to the wrong account
Who Can Remove Items From My Credit Report?
Only the credit bureaus have the power to remove items from your credit report. But, as required by law, the credit bureaus must delete inaccurate, unverifiable, or outdated information.
IS CREDIT RESTORATION LEGAL?
Absolutely. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows anyone to dispute inaccurate items on their credit reports. There’s nothing we do that you cannot do yourself when it comes to fixing your credit situation. Individuals can restore their credit on their own but this can take time and a lot of knowledge when it comes to the credit laws. That’s why we are here to help since we have the experience and knowledge to get you the positive results.
HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE?
Everyone’s credit situation is completely different, so how long it takes for you to achieve your expected results depends on the number of derogatory credit items on your reports, your participation in getting credit reports to us, and the level of credit bureau cooperation. We will do our part, the auditing and creating dispute letters based on your reports, usually within 48 hours from the date we receive them. Most of the wait-time after is usually spent waiting for the credit bureaus or creditors to respond.
HOW MUCH WILL YOU INCREASE MY CREDIT SCORE?
Many of our clients have seen an increase of 100 points or more*; however, the actual amount will vary per customer. There are many factors that affect a credit score besides derogatory items. For example, the ability to pay down revolving debt, the type of credit you have, your length of credit history, even the number of inquiries on your credit file. It is especially important that no current accounts fall into a negative status.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
After you have completed the online enrollment documents, fax or email or mail your identification documents to our processing department. A list of required documents has been provided below : Social Security Verification (as required by the credit reporting agencies)
- Photocopy of your Social Security card
- Photocopy of your pay stub displaying your full Social Security number
- Photocopy of your W-2
- Photocopy of your health insurance card that contains your full Social Security number
Address Verification (as required by the credit reporting agencies)
- Clear copy of a current bill (utility, telephone, credit card, etc.) with your name and address clearly
- Clear copy of your driver’s license with current mailing address
Your dispute documents will be prepared and mailed to you upon receipt of your identification.
CAN I RESTORE MY OWN CREDIT?
Yes, you can. You can also represent yourself in a court of law, and do your own oil changes on your vehicles. We are a service company. Just as you are probably better at what you do than we would be, we are probably better at credit restoration than you would be. We offer experienced, professional help at very affordable rates for your convenience and benefit.
CAN YOU REMOVE A BANKRUPTCY OR FORECLOSURE?
Yes. If the listing is inaccurate, incomplete, misleading or unverifiable, it can be removed. The severity of bankruptcies, foreclosure, liens, etc. does not factor into their removal as much as you would believe. There are a number of elements, unrelated to severity, upon which such items can be successfully removed.
WILL THE CREDIT BUREAUS RESPOND TO ALL OF THE DISPUTES I SEND THEM?
The credit bureaus are required by law to respond to all correspondence. It is not uncommon for credit agencies to send letters stating they want more information, or that they will not re-verify an account. These types of responses are very common and customers should not be alarmed if they receive them. Customers must continue to send all correspondence they receive from the agencies to the processing center.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE THE CREDIT AGENCIES TO RESPOND AFTER I SEND THEM MY DISPUTE LETTER?
You will receive updated credit reports from all three credit bureaus after 30 to 45 days. At that time you will see what was deleted and will need to mail the originals to us so that we can continue working on the remaining items. You will actually know what was deleted before we do, which is why it is so important that you forward all credit bureau correspondence within a few days of receiving it. If the credit agency does not respond to your dispute letter, do not be alarmed, a new dispute letter will be generated when your file is reviewed by the processing center every 60 days.
WHEN I RECEIVE MY DISPUTE LETTER, CAN I MAKE CHANGES AND ADD INFORMATION?
Absolutely, any additional information that the customer would like to provide will help expedite the credit restoration process. Simply write on the dispute letter any changes or additional information you may have regarding any specific account, and forward it to the processing center. The processing center will make the necessary corrections on the dispute letter and forward the customer a revised copy to sign and send to the credit agencies. Remember, this is a partnership.
HOW CAN I CHECK MY PROGRESS?
You can log into your account at www.FESProtectionPlan.com and see any updates to your account based on the updated information sent to you by the credit reporting agencies that you have forwarded to us. Every 60 days, your file will be reviewed. Based on the documentation received from you, (credit report updates and letters from creditors) a new dispute will be generated and forwarded to you to review and sign. Along with the new dispute document, you will receive a status update report showing the progress and deletion of accounts to date.
HOW DOES MY CREDIT SCORE CHANGE IF I OPEN OR CLOSE CREDIT ACCOUNTS?
At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to close old credit accounts or open a host of new ones. But it’s not. More accounts can hurt, not help. Financial experts agree that you should not open multiple new accounts just to show a credit history. If you have had little credit in the past, build your credit history slowly. Open no more than one or two accounts initially. Also, don’t close your old accounts. A long credit history has a positive impact on your credit score. Having a large number of accounts in good standing with zero balances is a plus, not a negative.
IF I KEEP PAYING MY BILLS WILL THAT RAISE MY CREDIT SCORE?
Paying your bills on time should do nothing but help your credit score. Good payment histories will help clients who are trying to buy a home, refinance a home, or qualify for new credit. We often tell people that while we work on the past, you should be working on the future.
WHEN THE PROCESS IS COMPLETED WILL I BE APPROVED FOR A LOAN?
You should be in a much more favorable position as long as you meet several requirements of the credit grantor, such as a good credit history over the past 6-12 months, length of employment, debt ratio, length of time at current residence, and have amount of down payment, etc.
WHO DO I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
Customer Support representatives will handle all of your service needs. You can reach Customer Support Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm Eastern time by phone. you will be provided with a member service phone number, a special e-mail address and a fax number that goes directly to our Customer Support team.
September 14, 2015 by Dione Spiteri
Went off Yelp reviews and was naturally skeptical but they literally eliminated everything negative. I didn’t even think it was possible to do so in such a short time. Already referred a ton of people to them but thought a review would help others, too. You won’t be disappointed.
Dione Spiteri, Chicago, IL
March 3, 2016 by Craig Neal
Port Orange, FL
Love what FES has done for me! Over the last several years, my life has changed dramatically. When Dale & Shirley began assisting me with my credit repair, my score was terrible, mid 500’s.Now thanks to ERA Credit Services my score is now over 800. The power of great credit should NEVER be underestimated.