You may want to learn about credit repair certification and how businesses get certified prior to pursuing the credit repair route. Some businesses just don’t benefit from a strong economy. As you might guess, those who offer credit repair services are among those who take a hit when the economy rises. With more people working and wages rising after a decade of economic growth, the demand for credit repair just isn’t as strong as it was ten years ago. According to IBISWorld, the business tracking service, the credit repair industry has declined an average of 7.1 percent annually from 2014 through 2019. The number of companies in the business and employment rates have also declined.
However, it’s still a $3 billion a year business, so don’t feel too concerned about the industry overall. When the economy slips, as it will eventually do, demand will return and more players will get back into the field.
In Need of Credit Repair?
Of course, if you’re in need of credit repair right now, the overall health of the industry isn’t really of much concern to you. You’ll still have plenty of options to find assistance with your credit problems.
That same IBISWorld report showed that there are still more 80,000 businesses offering credit repair services, and they collectively employ more than 86,000 people.
One factor, beyond a growing economy, that has affected the industry is the increasing number of online resources that allow consumers to self-direct their credit improvement efforts. Consumers have more access to their credit reports, and, if the issues are not too complicated, they can invest a little time and make the repairs themselves.
Many communities also have non-profit credit counseling services that help consumers get back on their feet financially at little or no cost.
In Need of Professional Help?
Maybe you feel you are beyond the point of helping yourself or you don’t have access to a non-profit service. Then it can be helpful to start looking for a professional who can help with your credit repair. However, you need to learn what to look for.
First, search for a business that is certified in credit repair. There is no requirement for credit repair certification to work in the industry. Any Tom, Dick or Mary can hang out a shingle and say they offer credit repair. But businesses that make the commitment to obtain credit repair certification are showing their dedication to clients.
Those numbers we mentioned earlier on the credit repair industry (80,000 businesses with only 86,000 employees) indicate that most of these businesses are one-person shops providing personal service to their clients. Not all of these offices will have credit repair certification.
On the other hand, many workers in other fields also hold credit repair certification. These people work in banks and credit unions, law offices, accounting offices, real estate, auto lending services, military branches, and more.
What’s Involved in Credit Repair Certification?
Different agencies in the United States provide certification services, so it’s also good to understand where your prospective repair service provider received certification. The Institute of Consumer Financial Education’s Certified Consumer Repair Specialist program has been recognized by many national organizations for offering continuing education credits for their members. Also, the Credit Consultants Association has offered training in a broad array of consumer credit issues since 1986.
To meet the standards of these and other certification programs, credit consultants must learn about the three acts that govern consumer protection: the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).
Then, consultants are trained in how to obtain and review credit reports from the three major credit-reporting companies. They learn to spot mistakes and inconsistencies that could be affecting your credit. They also are trained in how to dispute and remove items from your credit report.
The consultants must pass an examination, normally with a score between 70 percent and 80 percent, in order to obtain certification. Certifications also have to be renewed every year or two, which ensures that the consumer advocates stay current on laws and regulations.
Finding Your Credit Repair Specialist
Beyond checking for certification, you may also want to know a few other things about someone you might hire to help improve your credit.
First, credit repair specialists are prohibited under CROA from charging an up-front fee for credit repair. Instead, reputable companies may charge a monthly fee with provisos about what services they provide on a monthly basis. For example, your monthly contract might say they will dispute five items per month. You normally can expect them to take three to six months to complete your credit repairs.
You also can choose to work with a credit counselor to build a better credit score and go beyond the repair process. This is the way you can learn long-term financial strategies to keep yourself from returning to bad practices once you’ve cleaned up your credit issues.