Recession-hammered homeowners’ credit scores are on the decline across the country, say scoring industry experts, and that makes more consumers vulnerable to scams that purport to erase delinquencies, judgments, foreclosures and other problems from files at the three national credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
What sort of scams? A Federal Trade Commission settlement in early September with a Florida “credit repair” company provides a fresh example. The FTC’s complaint against Clean Credit Report Services Inc. of North Miami alleged that the firm promised clients it could boost their credit scores dramatically and quickly — even if the derogatory information in their files was accurate and current.
In national radio advertisements, plus Internet and TV pitches, Clean Credit said it could make records of “late payments, collection accounts, charge-offs, repossessions and bankruptcies” simply disappear from credit files, according to the FTC’s complaint.
Lower scores, in turn, are preventing many homeowners from qualifying for new or refinanced mortgages under toughened underwriting standards imposed by lenders and investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The takeaway here for anyone with depressed credit scores who nonetheless is seeking a mortgage: Don’t believe claims of credit-repair operators who say they can perform miracles on your credit files, boosting your scores overnight and keeping them that way permanently. They can’t. If the delinquencies and other derogatory information in your files are accurate and current, the only way to boost your scores is to reverse your previous credit behavior and make responsible use of your credit accounts over time.
Finally, never pay money upfront. Not only are demands for advance fees for credit-repair red flags for scam operations, they’re also blatant violations of federal law.
Read the full story at: Washington Post