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What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Q. A friend recently told me about a new type of credit repair service where I can get a zero-interest credit card to repay my debt. Is this kind of offer legit?

A. Credit repair companies often make big promises, but the truth is that they generally can’t do anything for you that you cannot do for yourself.  In the offer you’re referring to, a credit repair company simply looks for zero-interest cards with credit card companies and then presents you with those options. This might sound good, but if a credit repair company can get you a zero-interest credit card, so can you. In other words, you don’t need to pay for this service.

What’s more, credit repair services can put you further in debt. I recently reviewed an agreement from a credit repair service that provided an individual with a twelve-month, zero-interest credit card. On the phone, the salesperson outlined a compelling offer, but it turned out that the details of the agreement weren’t exactly as he had stated. In fact, the credit repair company charged the consumer $1500 for procuring the new credit card. 

To make matters worse, the credit repair company divided the $1500 fee between two of the consumer’s existing credit cards. In turn, the consumer exceeded the credit limit on one of his cards, which led to additional fees and interest. As this consumer learned the hard way, borrowing to get out of debt, or trading one debt for another, rarely brings success. In fact, in most every case, this only compounds a person’s financial problems. It would have been much wiser for the consumer to have taken the money he spent on credit repair services and apply it to his existing debt instead. 

The agreement from this particular credit repair service stated, “Nothing in this agreement shall be construed as a promise or guarantee about the outcome of the service.”  This kind of disclosure should serve as a red flag for consumers. Never feel pressured to sign any kind of an agreement. If you don’t understand a contract, have a credit counselor or a bank or credit union loan officer review it with you. 

What’s more, I encourage you to check the history and legitimacy of any credit repair company you’re considering. Check the Better Business Bureau report for the company in the state they are located. If you’ve already had dealings with a credit repair company and feel that the company used dishonest or misleading tactics, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and report your problem to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.