This year, I brought my 18-year old truck to the shop for repair. With close to 400,000 km of faithful service, I just wanted my mechanic to tighten a squeaky belt. Sometime mid-morning, my mechanic called with sad news. “I won’t tighten the belt,” he told me. “I know you love your truck, but it’s time to let it go.” I was hoping for an easy fix — I thought that for a few dollars and a twist of a wrench, I would get another 100,000 km — but it needed a lot more work than I had anticipated.
Many people also take this approach with their credit. They think that they can simply hire a specialist to fix their credit history — not realizing all that is involved in the process. I have seen websites and advertisements that make these claims, implying that, with little to no effort on your part, they can repair your credit. However, according to Credit Reports Canada, these kinds of offers to fix or remove items from your credit report are often signs of a scam.
Understand What “Credit Repair” Means to You
Credit repair or credit rebuilding takes time, hard work, and dedication. Canada has the Credit Reporting and Consumer Protection Acts, which are used to guide credit repair services and to ensure these organizations meet certain obligations.
There are certain steps involved when repairing your credit. For example, you can:
- Access, review and analyze your credit report
- Dispute errors with your creditors directly
- Monitor your credit report for any updates or changes resulting from addressing any inaccuracies
If you decide to go through a third-party agency to help you rebuild your credit, rather than handling it on your own, you must be careful. While there are legitimate, reputable services that can help you rebuild your credit, there also are many (many) organizations that have ulterior motives and thrive on all the confusion and misinformation around credit building and credit repair. Don’t fall victim to a credit repair scam!
Beware of False Promises
Remember the old adage: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, if you have credit problems and are looking for help, you should know about:
- Misleading advertising, so you don’t become a victim
- The processes you will need to follow to restore a clean credit report
Misleading advertisements that claim to “repair” your credit can operate in several ways. One company may offer to help “clean up” your credit report by portraying itself like a service that fights traffic tickets, boldly claiming, “We fight for you!” They might even claim they hire former credit reporting staff and use aggressive advocacy. However, the truth is that no team of professionals can change, clean or fight to correct an accurate credit report. Instead, you end up buying an expensive subscription to a service that you don’t really need and that won’t repair your credit report.
Remember, New Debt Is a “No-No”
Some companies, under the false promise of fixing your credit score, are just looking to issue you another credit card. While the responsible use of a new card can help you establish a positive credit history, many people instead just wind up incurring new debt.
Understanding misleading advertising can help you avoid expensive subscription services and prevent you from falling further into debt. For most of us, the best way to “fix” our credit report is to pay off outstanding debt.
There are circumstances where you can fix errors in your credit report. Errors can include incorrect personal information, payments shown as late that you made on time, or accounts, loans and outstanding bills that don’t belong to you.
Be Willing To Put In The Time (It’s Worth It)
You will need to follow a process for addressing incorrect information on your credit report, and it all starts with you gathering your records and receipts in one place. Next, you will need to contact the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) and complete their process for correcting inaccurate information on your credit report. You can also contact your creditors directly regarding any errors related to the accounts you have with them.
If your creditors respond favourably, you will need to ask them to contact the credit bureaus to correct the inaccurate information. In some cases, this process can be lengthy and requires some patience and diligence. Learn more about how to check and correct errors in your credit report.
In conclusion, beware of companies that promise an instant fix for your credit report issues. Some things can’t be fixed — they need to be rebuilt and repaired over time. While there’s not much hope for my truck, your credit report can always be improved and your credit rebuilt with the right help.
If you are interested in rebuilding your credit score, you can get free help from Credit Canada. We offer free credit building counselling sessions. We'll help you learn how to monitor your credit, set credit score goals, and successfully address debt, all while receiving ongoing support and guidance from a real credit expert.