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::December Edition::

Welcome to the December edition of Financial Friday, Oklahoma Money Matters’ online personal finance question and answer forum. This month, we're answering a question about using credit repair services.


I was laid off last year and my credit suffered because of several missed payments and the increasing debt during that time. I've been seeing ads about credit repair companies. Can they actually help fix my credit, or is it a scam?

If you're trying to pay off debt and improve your credit score, working with a credit repair service for assistance may be tempting. These companies specialize in enhancing your credit standing by challenging outdated or inaccurate information on your credit reports and, often, negotiating with your creditors on your behalf. Credit repair services typically come at a cost however, and it usually takes several months to see much progress. Reputable credit repair services scrutinize your credit reports for inaccurate information and initiate disputes on your behalf. 

Credit repair services can address various errors, including:
  • Accounts that do not belong to you.
  • Bankruptcy or legal actions that are not associated with you.
  • Misspellings that might mix in negative entries for someone with a similar name or prevent positive entries from being reported accurately.
  • Negative marks that are too old to be included.
  • Debts that cannot be validated or verified.

While reputable credit repair companies offer legitimate services, the industry also has some bad apples. Therefore, it's essential to carefully vet any company you're considering. So, if you choose to hire one, it's necessary to investigate the companies you may want to work with. Consider these tips when deciding if a company is right for you:

  • What do they provide? Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, companies offering credit repair services must provide you with a clear breakdown of costs and an estimate of the time it will take to achieve results. Additionally, they must allow you three business days to cancel their services without incurring charges. A reputable company should also guide you in managing your existing credit accounts to prevent further damage. Importantly, trustworthy firms will not make any guarantees or encourage dishonest practices.
  • What does it cost? Credit repair services usually charge a monthly fee, varying significantly on the service they’re providing. There may also be an initial setup fee to get started. Some companies offer tiered packages with additional services like credit monitoring or access to credit scores at higher pricing levels.
  • Can I do it myself? Most services a credit repair company offers to do for you, you can do yourself if you know where to begin. It's easy to get started by obtaining your credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — using You’re entitled to a free report once every 12 months from all three bureaus. 

Then, follow these steps:

  • Dispute any errors on your credit reports directly with the credit bureaus. Each bureau offers an online dispute process, often the quickest way to address issues.
  • Identify information that is accurate, but unverifiable. Unsubstantiated information must be removed, though it may be reinstated if verified later. For instance, a debt to a retailer, now out of business, could only be considered verifiable if a collection agency can prove ownership.
  • Work on improving your payment history. Your payment history is the most influential factor affecting your credit score. Timely payments are essential for a higher score.
  • Reduce your credit utilization ratio. The credit utilization ratio is the percentage of a borrower’s available credit limit that is currently being used. A lower ratio is better for your credit score. 

Whether you opt for self-guided credit repair or hire a company to assist you, it is wise to have a long-term plan for managing and maintaining your credit going forward. Visit the National Federation of Credit Counselors at to find a not-for-profit agency in your area.

For more resources to help you in your personal finance journey, check out our resources at

As always, if you have money-saving tips you’d like to share, send us an email at or submit a personal finance question for a future edition of Financial Friday.

Thanks for participating in Financial Friday. It's never too late to take control of your financial future!

The OKMM Team

Financial Friday is a service of Oklahoma Money Matters, the financial literacy initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

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