By Lisa Lake
If you’re trying to clean up your credit, you’ll come across plenty of companies offering an easy fix. But any company promising instant results for a price is likely a scam. The FTC says Grand Teton is one of those companies. In its lawsuit, the FTC says Grand Teton tricked people into paying hundreds — even thousands — of dollars for so-called credit repair services.
Through websites, sales calls, convincing emails and text messages, the company allegedly promised to boost credit scores by removing all negative items, among other things, from customers’ credit reports — and also boost scores by adding the customer as an authorized user on other people’s credit cards. But people who signed up with Grand Teton didn’t see a significant change in their credit scores, despite paying hefty (and illegal) up-front fees. And, if consumers complained or tried to get their money back from their bank, Grand Teton allegedly threatened to slap them with lawsuits.
Here’s the thing about credit repair: There’s rarely an instant fix. To clean up your credit and protect yourself from credit scams:
- Get a free copy of your credit report. Review it carefully. Do you recognize all the accounts listed?
- If you find mistakes, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the information. They must delete inaccurate or incomplete information. You don’t have to pay anyone to do this for you — you can dispute inaccurate items on your credit report yourself, for free. There’s nothing a company could do for you that you couldn’t do yourself.
- Only time can correct negative, accurate information on your credit report. You can rebuild your credit by paying your bills on time, paying off debt and not creating new debt.
If you need help cleaning up your credit:
- Contact a legitimate credit counseling organization. Good credit counselors review your whole financial situation before they make a plan. They won’t promise to fix all your problems or ask you to pay in advance.
- Learn how to spot a credit repair scam. Does the company ask for money up front? Did they say not to contact the credit bureaus yourself? Or tell you to dispute accurate information on your credit report? If you said “yes” to any of those, stop right there. You’re probably dealing with a scam.
Lisa Lake is a consumer Education Specialist with the FTC