Repairing your credit can be absolutely vital for your long-term financial success. This is because of the way credit scores are calculated: Financial mistakes or erroneous claims against your credit can create a series of long-term problems for your financial future. Fortunately, there are ways that you can repair your credit score for free. If you want, you can also look into hiring a credit repair firm, but there is an expense associated with this, and depending on the issue, this can cost a decent amount of money.

First, the free route. Make sure to get a free copy of your credit report. From there, you can review the report and see what negative marks you may have against you. This may include previous missed payments, late payments, delinquencies, or more. Once you have identified these potential issues, you can go about trying to repair them.

You can try to make these repairs yourself. Doing so involves reaching out to the credit reporting company, or the company that has charged you a debt, and explaining what happened. If the debt is legitimate, you can try to work out a repayment plan or see if the company may be willing to forgive a portion of the debt. If that is the case, you may be able to work something out that will result in the company in question removing the mark on your credit. This, in turn, will improve your credit score. If a claim against you is erroneous or fraudulent, be prepared to explain what happened and provide proof that you did not open the account in question. You may have to file a formal dispute claim, but if you have evidence to prove what went wrong, you should be able to resolve this issue.

If you are concerned about not doing this right, worried about the time it may take, or simply don’t have an interest in repairing your own credit, you may hire a credit repair company to do the work for you. If you hire a reputable company, they will have the expertise and experience to know who to contact and how to navigate the credit reporting bureau. This won’t preclude you from accessing any information on your own, but it may help you resolve an issue. 

The cost of these credit repair companies can vary. Credit repair is a for-profit business and a heavily regulated one, so you should understand that you will have to pay for these services. Fees vary. One estimate says that you can expect to pay between $19 and $149 a month for their work. Keep in mind that many scams do exist, and you should do your homework before hiring any company to do work on your behalf. Furthermore, remember, credit repair companies may be able to help you read your credit report and remove erroneous claims, but if there is a legitimate mark against you, the best they may be able to help you with is identifying a payment plan that can get you out of debt and allow for the issue in question to be resolved.