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The best credit repair services set realistic expectations, while taking much of the drudgery out of fixing your credit score. While none of them can perform magic, the best credit repair services can help improve your credit score.

There are hundreds of companies offering credit repair services, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, most of them qualify as scams. Anyone claiming they can simply erase bad credit, or guarantee to raise your credit score, should be considered suspect.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can’t remove accurate and timely negative information legally from a credit report. Even though many of these companies will suggest you dispute all negative entries on your credit report, you do so at your own risk. In most cases, this is illegal, even if you are following their advice.

The best credit repair services will not try to charge you to get your credit reports. By law, everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) once every twelve months.

Much of what these companies do are things you can do yourself, however they can often help inform those who may not be aware of all their options. Taking on some of these tasks can help lower fees, or you can chose to do the whole thing yourself.

It is important to differentiate between credit repair services and “debt consolidators”. A debt consolidator does not try to fix your credit, but rather works to help you bring your outstanding debt under control.

This is done by contacting your creditors on your behalf, and negotiating a ’settlement’ agreement, often a fraction of the actual outstanding debt. Then they combine these amounts. You in turn pay a single amount each month to the company, who then sends a portion to each creditor.

The best credit repair services won’t help much if the factors that led to credit problems don’t change. Further, they don’t provide the kind of “bailout” that erases bad debt like filing bankruptcy will. That being said, what they can do is help you to get your feet back on the ground and help set you on the road to improving your credit score, and in turn your whole financial future.

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