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John in interviewed on FOX and discusses the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2011

John is Interviewed by FOX and Discusses Results of Credit Report Accuracy Study

How Long Does a Bankruptcy Remain on a Credit Report?

John, I filed bankruptcy 7 years ago. I heard that bankruptcies have to be deleted after 7 years but it’s not. Are the credit bureaus breaking the law?

Answer, No the credit bureaus are not breaking the law. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can remain on your credit files for 10 years from the date filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies can remain on your credit files for 7 years from the date discharged, but no longer than 10 years. Chapter 13s take a few years to discharge so most of them stay on file for 10 years. Sorry, I know that’s not the answer you wanted.

Does Credit Repair Work?

John, I’ve got really bad credit. Some of it is my fault and some of it is my ex-husband’s fault. A friend of mine said I should pay for a credit repair company to get stuff off my credit files. Is that legal? Do they work?

Answer, If you listened to the credit reporting agencies and the Federal Trade Commission then you’d conclude that credit repair is a scam. In fact, I used share their opinion because I came from the industry and you get a little brainwashed. However, now that I’ve had a chance to see first hand just how poor of a job the credit bureaus do of maintaining fully correct data, my opinion has softened a bit. I still think some of them are dirt bags but to say the entire industry is a scam is an exaggeration.

Credit repair, despite some rumors, is not illegal. There are Federal and state laws that govern how credit repair organizations must operate in order to NOT be acting illegally. CROA (Credit Repair Organizations Act) is the big one. If the company is complying with CROA (you can look it up and review it, it’s not complicated) then that’s the first step to choosing a credit repair company. Also, if they guarantee they can have items removed or try to take money up front for their services, RUN! That’s illegal under CROA.

We know at least one of the credit bureaus sells credit reports to credit repair organizations so they’re being a little hypocritical calling the entire industry a scam. And I know that many of them are successful getting items removed from credit reports. If you believe what you see on the Internet then some of them have gotten millions of items removed over the years. And, even the FTC’s own annual compiling of complaints shows that credit repair generates a very small number as compared to ID theft, debt collectors, and yes, the credit bureaus.

I hope this has helped. As with any service provider, there are good ones and there are bad ones. Do your due diligence before signing up with anyone. Ask for complaints, ask for success metrics, ask for costs, and maybe even ask for references. Don’t worry about BBB ratings. Those have proven to be less about reality and more about coercing payment from companies who want a higher rating.

What’s a Good Credit Score?

John , I have a 670 FICO score. Is that good? What’s a good score to have? Beverly

Answer – Beverly, a 670 FICO score used to get you anything you wanted, about 5 years ago. Today it doesn’t get you much. 750 is the new “black” so you’ve got some work to do. Anything below 650 is currently considered subprime. There is no blanket answer to what’s a good score. But, a good score is any score that gets you approved at the best deal the lender or insurance company is offering. For some lenders that’s 700, for others it’s much higher. I’d work on getting your scores to at least 750 and then you won’t need to worry about good scores and bad scores. Good luck!! John

What’s a Credit Score? John’s SmartMoney Video Answer

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