Credit repair is often portrayed as a dark art, but the concept is actually simple: once you learn the mass of relevant industry regulations, you discover the different buttons you need to push in different situations. So credit repair is actually a science, rather than an art.

That doesn’t mean you should bother learning the intricacies of credit repair – your time would be much more profitably spent doing your job or having fun with your family. But if you understand the basics of credit repair, you’ll become more skillful at managing your finances.

Here are five credit repair secrets that will allow you to understand your credit history and why it might be holding you back.

1. Only incorrect listings can be removed

There are two reasons you may have damaging listings on your credit file – they were either correctly placed or incorrectly placed.

Unfortunately, credit providers won’t remove accurate information from a credit file. But they will remove inaccurate information, provided you know how to work with them.

Takeaway: set realistic expectations about what can be achieved.

2. Credit repair can’t be done overnight

Removing incorrect listings is a process that takes weeks, not days.

While a good credit repair agency will move fast, they have to liaise with credit providers – and those providers can be big, bureaucratic organisations that operate at a slower pace.

Takeaway: have conservative timelines to repair your credit file.

3. Creditors are willing to negotiate

Credit providers often take a pragmatic attitude to debts, so they might be willing to offer your clients friendlier payment terms, or even cancel some of their debt.

This sort of informal negotiation spares the credit providers the hassle of chasing someone for money.

Takeaway: be reassured that all hope is not lost.

4. Part 9 Debt Agreements aren’t panaceas

Part 9 Debt Agreements are a formal renegotiation. Again, they usually involve credit providers accepting less money under a new repayment schedule.

This time, though, your clients’ name will be entered on the National Personal Insolvency Index and the agreement will be recorded on their credit file, severely damaging their borrowing prospects for at least five years.

Takeaway: remember there are downsides to Part 9 Debt Agreements.

5. Consumers can solve problems themselves

You may not realise you can do your own credit repair without engaging an agency.

True, you might find it complicated, stressful and time-consuming. But it won’t cost you a cent.

Takeaway: there is always the self-service option.

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About Dr Merrilyn Mansfield

Dr Merrilyn Mansfield is the lead adjudicator and researcher for Princeville Credit Advocates. She is fascinated with the consumer laws that relate to credit reporting and in advocating for a consumer’s right to a correct credit report. For more information email merri.m@princeville.com.au or call 1300 93 63 63.