I recently received a question on Facebook about credit repair companies – are they legit? While this particular topic that falls outside the laws we oversee, I wanted to share what I learned with our blog readers.
For just a quick recap on the work we do, Consumer Protection BC oversees specific laws in British Columbia. While we don’t regulate the credit repair industry, we do look after BC’s debt collection and debt repayment laws and look after some aspects of credit reporting (such as who is allowed to see your credit report). More information about our involvement with BC’s debt and credit reporting industries is available on our website.
What is the difference between a credit report and a credit score?
So let’s dive in and talk about credit reports and credit scores. More detailed information about credit reports and credit scores is available on this page from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, but, at a high level,
- A credit report is a summary of your credit history, and
- A credit score is a number that’s calculated based on information in your credit report.
What is a “credit repair” company?
A “credit repair” company is a type of business that claims they can improve or repair your credit information for a fee. According to the Office of Consumer Affairs, it’s important to be cautious as “their ability to change the information in your credit file is no different than anyone else’s.” Only your creditors (the people you owe money to) are able to alter the information that’s on your credit report.
A few tips:
If you’re thinking about hiring a company to try and repair your credit, here are a few things to consider:
- Are they promising to do work you could do yourself? By law, you have credit reporting rights. For instance, you have the right to include a 100-word explanation on your credit report. This statement has to be included whenever your credit report is given out.
- Read the terms and conditions carefully. Before signing up with a credit repair company, it’s important to fully understand what you’re agreeing to. Is the company actually guaranteeing they’ll repair your credit, or are they saying they’ll try?
- Find out what happens if you cancel. If you decide to cancel your agreement, are you on the hook for all the charges and fees? Make sure you know your cancellation rights.