This Prevent Loan Scams feature is an ongoing project covering the nation’s best credit repair companies. We call on the experience of consumer finance experts, consumer reviews, and intensive research to determine who you can trust with your credit repair process.
Bad credit is like brain freeze after eating ice cream: it can happen to anyone. And like brain freeze, bad credit creeps up when you’re planning to make a life change, like buy a house or start a business.
Credit repair agencies exist to help people improve their credit. But for every reputable credit repair agency is a disreputable one.
In this article we review what a credit repair agency is, steps you can take to repair your own credit, how to avoid scams and how to protect yourself. We also review five of the top credit repair agencies in the United States.
Top Credit Repair Companies
- Lexington Law Review
- Sky Blue Review
- CreditRepair.com Review
- The Credit People Review
- The Credit Pros Review
- Ovation Credit Review
- Landmark Credit Repair Review
- American Credit Repair Review
- Repair My Credit Now Review
- 360 Credit Consulting Review
- 700 Credit Repair Review
- Veracity Credit Consultants Review
What is a Credit Repair Agency?
Credit repair is a term used to describe a proactive approach to improving a personal credit score and report. This can include activities like contacting credit agencies about mistakes on a report.
A credit repair agency does the work on behalf of customers to improve a credit score and report.
Credit repair is also considered learning how to practice using credit well. This aspect of credit repair involves education and consistent practice.
Credit repair agencies also provide educational services in addition to reaching out to credit bureaus for their customers.
Why Hire a Credit Repair Agency?
Time & Convenience
Even if you know how to repair your credit yourself, you may need to get in touch with an agency for help.
The first reason to hire an agency to repair your credit is time and convenience. Just because you can do your own credit repair doesn’t mean you have the time to. Everyone seems to have a hundred items on their daily to-do list, adding ‘repair credit’ to that list is a scary thought for most.
This doesn’t mean that you can put your credit repair in the hands of an agency and forget it. We recommend getting familiar with how these agencies work so that you’re educated on what their process will be and what your role is.
Expertise & Experience
Credit repair agencies make it their business to do credit repair. The reputable agencies have teams of professionals who know the laws and standard procedures.
For someone who has no experience dealing with bureaus, creditors and potential legal issues, a credit repair agency can be the best solution.
Before doing your own credit repair you will have to figure out what you need to do and how to do it. If you don’t have the time for that (see above), hiring a credit repair agency might be a logical step.
When you hire an agency to help you repair your credit they will usually be happy to give you the information you need to help you keep your credit in good standing. Instead of hunting around the internet for information, you’ll have a resource you can go to for answers to your questions.
More Than Credit Repair
Some agencies offer other services, such as goodwill letters and legal services.
Issues with a credit report or score are not isolated. Looking for an apartment, buying a home, getting a new job or applying for a loan are all examples of times when credit scores and reports are necessary.
Depending on the kind of help you need, you may want to consider an agency that can assist in another area while they’re helping you repair your credit.
What to Consider Before Hiring an Agency
There’s not much that a credit repair agency can guarantee to you, as a customer. Even though you might commit to paying their fees, remember that you’re paying for a service, not a guarantee.
The truth is no one can promise to completely repair your credit. If your credit score does change, chances are the change will not be dramatic.
A report published in 2013 by the FTC on the U.S. credit reporting industry found that after fixing errors on a credit report, one in 20 consumers had their score go up by more than 25 points.
The same report found that one in 250 consumers had their score go up by more than 100 points.
Before signing up with a credit repair agency think about what you want to get out of the relationship. The people you interact with are going to have information about you that is personal.
Make sure you’re not going in with unrealistic expectations and goals. If you end up disappointed, you’ll only be left feeling exposed, angry and with less money in your pocket.
YOUR UNIQUE CASE
It may be likely that something on your credit report is inaccurate. The FTC report on the credit reporting industry found that one in five consumers had errors on their report.
But there’s no way to tell exactly what these errors are: they could be serious or small, like inverse numbers in a zip code.
For minor errors, you could save the money you would spend to have an agency investigate on your behalf. You can get your reports and contact the bureaus yourself.
With this in mind, it’s important to think about why you want to hire a credit repair agency. If your identity was stolen or a family member used a credit card without your knowledge, you may feel more comfortable having experts handle your case rather than do it yourself.
Your Needs & Goals
Most credit repair agencies offer more than one service, even if they say ‘credit repair is all we do’. When you sign up they will ask if you also want to additional services, some at an extra cost to you, others for free.
Think about your basic needs and goals. Knowing what these are before signing up to pay a monthly fee will help you decide what you do and don’t need.
You may also want to think about some of the unique services offered by different credit repair agencies. If you’re applying for a new job or need help with a legal claim, consider one of the agencies that can offer assist in these areas.
The Top Credit Repair Agencies
If you’re going to start looking for professional help to improve your credit, a few names will show up over and over again in your search results.
We’ve compared the top credit repair agencies based on costs, as well as their ratings & overall standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
We’ve also compared the agencies based on what makes them different, and what we liked and didn’t like about their services.
There are a few similarities with the credit repair agencies we’ve researched here:
- None of the agencies will put you on a contract — you can cancel services at any time
- None of the agencies guarantee that they can raise your credit score within a certain amount of time, or by a certain number of points. Some mention the average time it takes for customers to see changes.
- Law firm that specializes in consumer advocacy
- Costs : $79.95 for cheapest package, other packages are $99.95 and $119.95 per month
- Charge a ‘first work fee’ after sign up (equal to the cost of the package chosen)
- BBB Rating: NR (no rating, not BBB accredited)
- Offers: Free credit repair consultation, family and friend discount
- Have offices in 19 states across the U.S.
Lexington Law is the most popular credit repair agency in the United States.
According to their BBB profile Lexington Law has been around since 1993. As a law firm, they have 24 lawyers working across 19 offices in the United States.
They also offer legal services, and help with family cases; for example, child custody and divorce. Lexington Law specializes in bankruptcy, and criminal defense cases.
They don’t make any guarantees for future results, but say on their website that on average customers see 10.2 removals on their credit reports in four months. In 2015, the firm removed over 7 million errors for clients.
The following a brief review of Lexington Law’s services. For a more in-depth look, see our full Lexington Law Review.
What We Like About Lexington Law
The advantage to being one of the well-known credit repair agencies in the United States is authority. Even though the company is not rated with the Better Business Bureau, they have a track record of success and are generally trusted.
Lexington Law also makes it a point to say in clear terms what they can and cannot do. Being transparent is invaluable in credit repair, and Lexington seems to know how to do that well.
We also like that Lexington offers legal services. Even though they are not nationwide, as a law firm they can provide expertise in areas beyond credit repair.
Lexington Law also maintains a blog and credit education section of their site that provides detailed, current information for free. This sends the message that they know what they’re doing, and are not simply talking the talk.
It also helps us to know there are real people behind Lexington Law who are ready and eager to help. Speaking of real people, Lexington is up front about where they’re located and even invite customers to visit their head office in Utah.
What We Don’t Like About Lexington Law
Even though they are generally considered one of the best credit repair agencies, Lexington Law still does not have a rating with the BBB. Other companies have good ratings with the agency, so this is one area in which Lexington could do better.
In addition, they have more complaints than positive reviews with the BBB. We can take into consideration that some of these negative reviews may be biased. At the time we checked, they had about 500 complaints and 100 reviews.
Lexington’s cheapest service level only offers two services: challenges to bureaus and communicating to creditors.
It’s fine to offer different service levels, but there’s a big difference between the lowest cost package and the mid and higher priced packages.
SKY BLUE CREDIT REPAIR
- Credit repair & restoration service
- Costs: $59 per month
- Charge a ‘Review / Setup Fee’ of $59, monthly fees start a month after the review fee is paid
- BBB Rating: A+ (not BBB accredited)
- Offers: Couples can join at $99 per month
- Require customers to buy a ‘3-bureau report’ to start services. Purchasing a monitoring service is an extra $29.95 per month.
For a more thorough take on the company, check out our Sky Blue Review.
Sky Blue emphasizes they do one thing and one thing only: credit repair. But they pride themselves on offering quality customer service.
The company started in 1989 and operates across the United States out of offices in Florida. Their services are simple, according to them, and based on our research it looks that way compared to Sky Blue’s competitors.
In addition to offering simplified services, Sky Blue makes it clear what they do once a client signs up. According to their site they send dispute letters to bureaus a week after a customer signs up.
Their strategy to achieve success with each client is to keep a schedule of disputing 15 items every 35 days. Because of this, they estimate customers should be able to see results within a few months, and note that the average customer is with them for six months.
What We Like About Sky Blue Credit Repair
There are some positive signs with Sky Blue Credit Repair: they have a good rating with the BBB and offer one simple service.
Offering one service is a good sign — it means they’re focused on what they do and getting to work as quickly as possible.
Their website also provides some clear information on what they do once a potential customer signs on to be a client.
Because they’re upfront with what they do, customers know exactly what they’re getting for their money.
Sky Blue is also upfront about what kind of timelines customers can expect. In the FAQ section of their site they say customers are usually on their plan for six months.
We also like Sky Blue’s money back guarantee: if a customer isn’t satisfied within 90 days, they’ll get their money back.
What We Don’t Like About Sky Blue Credit Repair
Sky Blue has about 30 reviews on BBB and the majority of them are positive. For a company that has been around since 1989 and is generally known for what they do, this may come across as suspicious.
Charging extra for credit monitoring, this means that their services could be $88.95 per month. They’re not completely transparent about how much customers could pay per month.
They leave it up to customers to get their credit bureau reports. While this is something you can do yourself for free, it’s the first step that could hold up the process of repairing your credit.
There are a few credit education resources on their site, but this information does not go as in-depth as it could. It’s possible that customers receive more resources if they’re paying for Sky Blue’s monthly service.
Even though they provide clear information on what they do, how long it takes and how they dispute issues on a customer’s credit report, they don’t state that each case is different. For example, they say customers should see initial results in a month, but don’t say that this depends on an individual credit report and profile.
- Costs: $99.95 per month
- Charge a one-time fee of $14.99 to retrieve credit report
- BBB Rating: D (not BBB accredited)
- Customers have access to: an online dashboard, score tracker and analysis, and TransUnion credit monitoring
- Offer a mobile app for Apple and Android devices
- Have two offices in Utah and one in Arizona, customer service hours are open seven days a week (for enrollment)
For a deeper look at the company, read our full CreditRepair.com review.
Despite the name, CreditRepair.com says they ‘are beyond one-time credit repair’. Behind the company is a point-of-view that places focus on a customer’s credit story, not just a score and report.
Part of their purpose is to change the relationship a customer has to credit, and empowering customers to make lasting changes.
They understand that credit is not about how much money you can borrow. They believe it’s everyone’s right to see their dreams come true, ‘increase their ability’, and have access to equal opportunities.
While they are confident they can help customers repair their credit, they believe that they change lives.
CreditRepair.com customers go through a simple three-step process once they sign up: check credit reports, challenge credit companies and bureaus and change, where customers should see results.
What We Like About CreditRepair.com
CreditRepair.com recognizes that their customers need empowerment, not a credit score boost. This demonstrates passion — they truly want to help.
It would be difficult to actually make sure that the information shown is accurate, but the CreditRepair.com dashboard is a nice feature that could give customers some important information on their credit profile that they can access at any time.
CreditRepair.com has one account plan, priced at $99.95 per month. They don’t charge extra for other services (other than a one-time $14.99 fee) or offer any other package options.
They’re upfront and honest about some of the key questions customers have about credit repair. The truth is there’s no way to tell how long it will take to repair credit, and there’s no way to tell how much a credit score can increase using their service; CreditRepair.com is honest about this.
Other nice points about CreditRepair.com: they maintain a blog that’s updated regularly and covers interesting, relevant topics. They also have profiles on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
What We Don’t Like About CreditRepair.com
CreditRepair.com recognizes customers are not just “cases” and that everyone has a story. They are not timid about showing that they recognize credit problems point to other issues.
But they have a disproportionately high number of negative reviews with BBB, and most of the complaints are the same: claims that the company moves too slow or doesn’t seem to be providing any of the services promised.
Like other companies, they make it a point to respond to complaints and offer a resolution on BBB. Considered with the company’s story, it helps to paint a more realistic picture, even if it may be slightly negative.
One of the complaints customers filed about CreditRepair.com was that they did not make it easy for customers to cancel their service.
We noticed that the hours of operation were slightly different for customers than it was for enrollment, suggesting that current customers receive less service than potential customers.
THE CREDIT PEOPLE
- Costs: $19 for a trial period of 7 days, $59 a month afterwards
- Offer a flat rate membership for six months at $299
- BBB Rating: C- (not BBB accredited)
- Offer a free credit consultation
- Get credit scores and reports from all bureaus for free / no extra charge
- Head office in Utah, founded in 2001
For Prevent Loan Scams’ full look at the company, read our in-depth The Credit People review here.
Out of the five credit repair agencies we looked at, The Credit People is one of the younger companies, and newer to the credit repair field (though they are not the youngest).
Similar to the other companies, The Credit People offer a no-obligation monthly account setup. They say that on average customers are on their credit repair program for 6 to 7 months.
For the price of the monthly fee The Credit People offer an account dashboard that gives customers the ability to track their credit report and score information.
Part of their service includes helping customers out with the life events that sometimes go beyond credit repair. They call their service ‘all inclusive’.
The Credit People offer a satisfaction guarantee — customers can cancel at any time and receive a refund if they are dissatisfied.
What We Like About The Credit People
The Credit People guarantee that if a customer is not satisfied, they will get their money for the current month back and (sometimes) even the previous month. From what we can tell, there’s no limit to this guarantee.
The Credit People’s simple price and service model is also a bonus. Customers know up front how much they’re paying and what they will be getting for their money.
Signing up with their membership also comes with free services that other agencies charge for. Customers get free credit reports and scores.
Their focus on raising credit scores is a positive as well. But based on their site they are still willing to ‘go above and beyond’ (though we’re not sure what that actually looks like in practice).
We like that The Credit People gives customers 24-hour online access to an account dashboard. Customers can track progress on their credit profile and see what work is being done on their file.
What We Don’t Like About The Credit People
There are a few minor things we don’t like about The Credit People; they don’t have many positive or negative reviews on the web and recently opened a file with the BBB.
The major problem with The Credit People is a flaw in how they’ve setup their online presence.
Notice something off about this url: ‘thecreditpeopel (dot) com’? If you go to that site, you’ll see that it looks like a login screen for thecreditpeople.com. That’s because it is: The Credit People’s customers sign in to their account at thecreditpeopel (dot) com.
This is a red flag to anyone who is familiar with online security. Often cyber criminals will set up false sites for banks and credit card companies and collect information from customers who don’t recognize they’re on the wrong site (known as ‘phishing’).
At thecreditpeopel.com, there’s no direct link back to thecreditpeople.com. There’s no information that says the page is actually linked back to the legitimate company.
THE CREDIT PROS
- Costs: ‘Pay for Results’ model, $179 for first payment, $50 per confirmed deletion per bureau
- 100% money back guarantee
- Offer a refund if within the first 90 days customers do not see removal of erroneous credit
- BBB Rating: A (BBB accredited)
- Business started in 2009, one office located in New Jersey
- Offer a couples first payment option of $279 and a free consultation
For a full look at the firm and its services, read our Credit Pros review.
Out of all the agencies we looked at, The Credit Pros offer the most straightforward information on their site.
Being one of the younger credit repair companies hasn’t stopped The Credit Pros from achieving some success as a business.
They have an ‘A’ rating and achieved accreditation with the BBB in 2011. Inc. Magazine recognized The Credit Pros as one of the 5000 fastest growing companies in the United States in 2016.
The business started because the founders (a lawyer and businessman) noticed consumers in the real estate market were not using the laws available that could help them improve their credit scores.
What We Like About The Credit Pros
As mentioned, The Credit Pros are the only credit repair agency that has achieved an ‘A’ rating with the BBB, and accreditation.
They’ve also achieved success outside of accreditation that lends support to their legitimacy and leadership in the industry. They were featured on CNN and in Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.
But as helpful as these achievements are to their reputation, they don’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to how they work.
We like that The Credit Pros offer a money back guarantee if customers do not see results in 90 days. They clearly outline what they can promise and what they cannot.
A lot of the services they offer are also offered by other agencies, but it’s clear that they stick to credit repair.
What We Don’t Like About The Credit Pros
The Credit Pros have a unique pricing structure as explained on their website. We didn’t notice any mention of monthly fees, just pricing based on how many removals the agency was able to get for customers.
However there are a view complaints filed with the BBB that mention monthly fees. This wouldn’t have seemed out of the ordinary if there was mention on their site of monthly fees for services.
A comment added by a representative at The Credit Pros in response to one of the complaints says that the company ‘bills in arrears’. This information should be clear on the website if it’s true.
Though they say they’ll provide customers the education they need to avoid problems with credit in the future, there isn’t much in the way of education offered via their website or online profiles.
It’s not completely clear how customers will know of changes on their credit reports. Based on the information provided we couldn’t tell if The Credit Pros get customer credit reports from the bureaus, or if customers are responsible for getting and reviewing their reports themselves.
Repairing Your Own Credit
If you want to find out how to repair your credit yourself, a simple online search will be a good place to start.
Some government agencies recommend you take steps to repair your own credit. The Federal Trade Commission that says, right on their website, you can potentially save your money instead of going to a credit repair agency.
Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs says: “No credit repair company can do anything you can’t do for yourself.”
An essential part of repairing your credit is educating yourself. This is the only way to ensure that once your credit is fixed, you have the tools to take control of your credit report and score.
Best of all, most sources you can use to find out about credit and credit repair are free — all you have to do is find them.
Spotting Credit Repair Scams
There’s a lot of ‘credit repair noise’ out there, and much of this is coming from companies promising results they cannot deliver.
Here are a few things that credit repair companies cannot do:
- Boost your credit score by a certain number of points
- Remove a negative report that is accurate
- Get you a loan without knowing the specifics of your case
- Guarantee your credit score will improve
- Tell you not to contact the credit bureaus yourself
- Give you a ‘new’ credit identity
The FTC offers a list and more details of what credit repair scams look like that is important to review.
A major sign that a credit repair service is a scam is when the agency demands payment before providing services. Each of the companies we researched approach payment differently, so be sure you know what you’re getting and when.
Lexington Law, for example, charges their first-work fee after customer’s sign up for ‘work initially completed’.
Key Tips for Hiring a Credit Repair Company
GO IN WITH A PLAN
Take a look at what you want for your future — the goals you want to achieve and why you want to achieve them. If you know you need help with applying for a new job or starting a business, look for an agency that can help you reach your goals.
Considering your expectations, turn your goals into a plan by using the ‘SMART’ acronym: plan goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based. This way you won’t pay a repair agency for years without seeing any results.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before signing up with a credit repair agency, you should know how to get your credit report for free.
Annualcreditreport.com is a free service backed by the FTC that will send you your credit report every 12 months. This is where your research starts — by knowing what is on your credit report.
Doing your research also means knowing your rights. The credit repair agency you choose is obligated to inform you, including your right to cancel credit repair services within three days of signing up.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE PAYING FOR
Don’t rely on the agency to repair your credit just because you’ve paid them. We touched on this before, but believe it’s worth repeating : educate yourself on what credit repair is and what the agency you hire is going to do to repair your credit.
With your goals in mind, separate what the agency is going to do and what you’re going to do. Ask the representative(s) working on your case to give you updates on the progress on your file.
IGNORE THE TESTIMONIALS ON THE COMPANY’S WEBSITE
As a company, publishing testimonials and case studies on the company website is important, but when it comes to credit repair we recommend completely ignoring the reviews the company posts on their site.
You want to get a fair and unbiased point of view on the company and their services. Looking at the BBB reviews is a good start, but if you’re considering a company, ask around and do your research before committing to a monthly program.
CONSIDER DOING IT YOURSELF
Before signing up with an agency, think about how much time and energy it would take for you to do your own credit repair. On average an agency can take three months to a year to help you improve your credit.
Looking at your report, score and goals, it might be possible for you to handle your credit repair in the same amount of time. If you try and run into any problems, or are unable to get the results you want, consider approaching an agency.
VERIFY REMOVALS FROM YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Credit bureaus have 30 days to verify a dispute sent to them. If the dispute is not verified after 30 days, it is removed from the report.
To a customer, it may look like their credit report has improved, even though the deleted record may be accurate.
Once the lender reports back to the bureau (which usually happens every 30 days), however, the disputed item is found to be valid and re-added to the customer’s report.
If you start working with a credit repair agency and notice items on your report are removed, ask the agency you’re working with what’s going on.
Pay close attention to what they say and what happens — particularly if you know that the deleted report is accurate.
Do I have to hire a company to repair my credit?
The short answer: No. In some cases you can repair your credit yourself.
Depending on what your credit profile looks like now and what your goals are, you could save a lot of money by not going with an agency.
Will paying off all my debt repair my credit?
Not necessarily. Paying off your debt will likely contribute to improving your credit report and score, but truly repairing your credit happens over time.
Rather than just paying off debt, consider a few different tactics that will help build your credit for the long term.
I saw an advertisement for a company that said my credit score can be increased for a low, one-time fee. Is this a scam?
Here’s where you have to take a close look at what the agency is promising and trust your gut.
If you’re wondering if the offer you’re looking at is a scam, that is a sign it might be. Are they promising to increase your score specifically or making a general claim about what they’ve been able to do in the past?
Sometimes the best rule to follow is the simplest: “Doubt means don’t” (Oprah Winfrey).
Before You Buy
Hiring a credit repair agency can help consumers rebuild credit that has been damaged because of a foreclosure or identity theft.
A reputable credit repair agency employs professionals who are experts in working with creditors and credit bureaus.
But credit repair does not have to be a complicated process, especially if you have a few errors on your report.
Before hiring a credit repair agency, know why you’re hiring them, what you want to get out of the service, your rights and your options.