March 15, 2012 | By: Phil Brown

If it sounds too good to be true . . .

Being that March is Fraud Prevention Month it is definitely beneficial to know when something is too good to be true.

A friend of mine had left me half a dozen messages the other day. When I finally reached him, he told me he had made the contact of a “lifetime”. He said that he had met the contact of his dreams and wanted my thoughts.

When I asked him what the contact was for -- shopping for concert tickets, maybe a travel agent or a contact to a good restaurant, he said that he had met someone that offers “credit repair”. This person offered to clean up his credit report of negative information. There was a catch of course. The person wanted $1,000 fee to do the work of removing all negative information through a private credit bureau contact. He said the money is part of their finder's fee and for the credit bureau person’s labour.

I told him this was simply a bad idea and that he could do the legwork himself. He could get his credit reports from Equifax and Transunion, and review the information to see if it is accurate.

If the information is not accurate he would need to contact the credit bureaus and find out how to have it corrected. More importantly he needs to put his request in writing. However, if the information reflects accuracy it would stay on record for six years. The longer the information remains depending on what the entries are, the easier it is to determine what it is and how it can be handled.

I advised him he would likely need to review his report every six months to familiarize himself with the information on the credit report.

There are resources that can make it easier to understand the language of a credit report. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a book called Understanding Your Credit Report and Score. It explains how to read a report, credit history and the factors of how a credit score is calculated. The best part of the book is that the information is free and can be downloaded from their website. It is a great education tool and definitely a good reference as the book is pretty current resource for information.

As well it is definitely good to review the websites of Equifax and Transunion. They can advise you what I.D. you will need to get your credit reports. And they can also tell you the time period you are required to wait when getting them mailed. The websites will also tell you if you dispute something on your report, how you can get it removed.

So when in doubt, it’s better to do some research and due diligence than be parted very harshly from your money.


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