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"What Credit Repair Is Not and What Credit File Correction Is"

RELEASE: September 2002
CONTACT: Paul S. Richard, ICFE Executive Director

San Diego, CA. "The growth of the credit industry has been explosive as is the huge amounts of money scammed from consumers through various 'credit repair' schemes. Still, an alarming number of credit-starved
Americans are utilizing the services of these so called 'credit doctors,' despite federal and state laws rendering them essentially useless, in hopes of renewing their ability to, once again, engage in credit-based spending.

Consumers who paid in advance for 'credit repair' services have nowhere to turn for help, when they get less than advertised or expected results, because many of the companies were bogus and no longer exist," said Paul S. Richard - Executive Director of the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) based in San Diego, CA. The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers become better spenders, regular savers and wise users of credit. It also helps people avoid the credit repair scams and publishes, in English and Spanish, a Do-It-Yourself Credit File Correction Guide. It is a low cost ($10) help for consumer to correct legitimate mistakes they discover on their credit reports.

"A good trend is more consumers becoming aware of the importance of looking at their credit files, especially in light of the dramatic increase in identity thefts. Credit report reviews also educate on both the importance of credit ratings and protecting against identity theft. The reviews should be conducted annually for the average credit user, however, for active credit users - those paying on three or more credit cards and/or loans per month - their credit report should be reviewed semiannually," the ICFE advises.

If you need assistance in reviewing and/or understanding your credit report, seek out a "Certified Consumer Interviewer on the Fair Credit Reporting Act." These individuals are trained, tested and certified by the Consumer Data Industries Association (CDIA), formerly known as Associated Credit Bureaus. More often than not, you will find such an individual at the local offices of an accredited, nonprofit consumer credit counseling service (CCCS). Many CCCS offices make a credit report review service available year round for a small fee.

Consumers, and even some credit / debt counselors, however, are still very uncertain about what credit repair is and is not.

Credit repair IS more accurately called "credit (file) correction. Credit file correction is how you get someone else's information or accounts off of your own file, or how a reported account may be disputed, if the information is incorrect, and it is the method consumers use to communicate errors and other misinformation reported to the CRA's. Only mistakes and misinformation, i.e. someone else's account, a paid account reported as unpaid, etc. may be corrected on credit files. Negative items, including matters of public record such as a bankruptcy filing, a wage garnishment, tax liens, or other judgments, if they are true and correct, may remain on one's credit record until the statute of limitations expires, which is usually seven years, ten years if a bankruptcy. Other blemishes such as slow payments, delinquencies, missed payments, bounced checks, over limit fees and collection attempts reported therein, if they are true and correct, may also remain until the statute of limitations expires.

The do-it-yourself approach to correcting credit file mistakes is the best and most cost effective method.

Credit repair is NOT, however, obtaining a new "identity" or a "federal employer identification (FEI) number" to use in place of a Social Security on new credit applications. Credit repair is NOT sending mass mailings to credit reporting agencies disputing every negative item, including slow payments, missed payments, wage garnishments, tax liens, collection attempts and defaults, on one's credit record, hoping that so many letters are received at one time that some credit reporting agencies (CRAs) will miss the deadline to respond and the negatives will be removed by default. Credit repair is NOT deleting unpaid balancesor debts negotiated downwards (a/k/a charge-offs) or paid liens. Credit repair is NOT a means for obtaining new or additional credit, based on false or misleading information. Most credit repair activities, as described in this paragraph are NOT legal in most states.

It is negative items like late pays, bounced checks and missed payments, that most consumers, who fall prey to 'credit repair doctors,' desperately want to get off their credit reports. Unless there is a mistake, these negative items may be disputed, however, if found to be correct, they will remain.

For more information about the credit file correction process and a listing of the consumer's credit rights, or to learn more about ICFE's popular best selling "Do-It-yourself Credit File Correction Guide", (available in English and Spanish) or to download credit file requests forms, please visit the ICFE's Web page at:

To receive the same information by mail, please send $1 and a self-addressed, 60 cent stamped envelope to: ICFE Credit File Request Forms
PO Box 34070
San Diego, CA 92163.

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the ( web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: and  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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PO Box 34070
San Diego, Ca 92163
Paul S. Richard, Executive Director
Phone 619-239-1401

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