Credit repair companies are a rip-off

Figure carrying red debt sign

Beware of anyone who wants to "fix" your credit score for a fee -- often a hefty fee of $1,000 or more.

Some guy with an 800 line or an office between the check-cashing store and carryout pizza joint at your local strip mall can't do anything you can't do yourself.

They often claim to have a special relationship with the credit bureaus that allow them to have legitimate reports of unpaid bills or late payments deleted from your history.

But they don't. And they can't.

Some credit repair scams will challenge valid debts or late payments just so they'll be marked as "disputed" or temporarily removed from your credit history while the credit bureau investigates.

Another ploy is to send frivolous procedural challenges to creditors on the pretext that they'll forgive your debt and remove the unpaid bills from your credit history.

Nothing ever comes of that, but it makes it look like the credit repair company is working hard on your behalf. The longer they string you along, the more fees they hope you'll pay.

Suze Orman, the well-known personal finance author, is right when she says, "Credit repair is the biggest rip-off out there."

So keep your money and take advantage of our 7 smart moves to improve your credit score.

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