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The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA)
by Jeanette Joy Fisher
If you have negative information in your credit file, as reflected by the Big Three reporting companies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, proves to be accurate, there is little you can do about it. Only the passage of time will guarantee that infor
If you have negative information in your credit file, as reflected by the Big Three reporting companies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, proves to be accurate, there is little you can do about it. Only the passage of time will guarantee that information's ultimate removal from your file. The reporting companies will generally list negative credit information for seven years, and bankruptcy information will remain on your report for ten years. The time limits generally begin being counted from the time the event initially took place.

There are other limitations, as well, such as unpaid judgments against you. Those can be reported in your credit file either for seven years or until the statute of limitations for that particular type of judgment expires, whichever is longer. However, there are no limitations as to how long criminal convictions may be listed. The same is true for information that was reported due to your applying for employment that would pay more than $75,000 a year, or because you've applied for credit or life insurance in excess of $150,000.

If you decide to seek professional help, the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) has clearly detailed your rights as a consumer. You must be given a copy of the booklet "Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law" BEFORE you sign any legal contract with an organization. Your contract must be in writing, and must clearly spell out all your rights and obligations. Of course, it's then your duty as a diligent consumer to read all the documents you're given, and then to ask questions if they contain anything you don't understand BEFORE you sign.

The CROA contains a number of quite specific provisions designed to protect consumers. The most obvious provision is that no credit repair company can make deliberately false or misleading claims about the services they're capable of providing to their clients.

There are a number of specific points that must be clearly addressed in a contract with a credit repair company. The company's name, address, and contact information must be included, the contract must specify the total cost for their services, as well as a detailed description of the services they'll perform in order to earn those fees. The time frame for the work's completion must also be clearly specified, as well as any guarantees they may offer for their services.

You can't be charged up front for a credit repair companys services, and you can't be required to pay until they've performed all the services they initially promised you in the written contract. Credit repair companies are also prohibited from performing any services in your behalf until you have signed a written contract and then have been given a three-day waiting period. At any time during those three days, you have the right to cancel your contract with a credit repair company without being required to pay any fees.

Don't let your difficult financial situation blind you to your rights under the CROA. You have specific rights when it comes to dealing with credit repair companies. Insist on them.

Copyright Jeanette J. Fisher

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