If you’ve run into a string of bad luck and have had detrimental entries on your credit report, you might need to see a credit counseling service, a debt consolidation service, or both. If there are things on your credit report that you dispute, you can speak with a credit repair company. Before doing so, however, you should realize that no company, no matter how skilled or powerful, can do anything to remove legitimate negative items from your credit report. If you blew off a bill until it was charged off, for example, the resulting hit on your credit report will be there for seven years until it disappears.
In the State of Minnesota, you are entitled to see a copy of your credit report from any or all of the three chief credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The credit bureaus are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for such a request. If, however, you have been turned down for credit for any reason during the preceding 30 days, the bureaus must help you interpret the items on your credit report at no charge.
Companies that offer credit repair services sometimes also offer credit counseling or debt consolidation. They are required by law to put forth their absolute best effort at helping you with all aspects of your credit within that law. As stated, if the things on your credit report are legitimate, they cannot be removed or “fixed.” Any company that promises you that is breaking the law. If such is the case, the company is scamming you.
Companies cannot promise other things that are beyond their purview. Doing so constitutes fraud in Minnesota and, in many cases, also at the federal level. Companies must also provide you with both a written contract and a written outline of all services they provide and everything to which you’re entitled under the law. After you hire the company, it must keep copies of both for two years. You also have the right to cancel any contract within five working days of having signed it.
If you suspect a credit repair company has not lived up to its end of any contract or bargain that you have negotiated with it, you have the option of filing suit against the company. This does not cover mistakes made in good faith.
In the State of Minnesota, even if there are negative things on your credit report that seem legitimate, you are still allowed to send each credit bureau a brief statement and accompanying documentation as to why you think a particular entry is not legitimate. Under Minnesota law, the bureau must include your statement and documentation with any report that any business or other third party requests about you.
Lastly, in Minnesota, credit repair companies and other credit service organizations are not allowed to extend credit to any of their customers. It’s also against regulations for banks or other lending institutions to be in the credit repair business because it constitutes a conflict of interest.