Saturday, January 10, 2009
A Scathing, Expert Critique Of "Delete Bad Credit" By The Hawthorne Housing Director
Top Photo By John Hoff, Bottom By Jeff Skrenes
You might be asking yourself, "Why does Jeff Skrenes look so unhappy?" Well, right after Wednesday night's Hawthorne Housing Committee meeting, where some really great stuff got passed, we went to Broadway Pizza and in the lobby of the restaurant was...
...a rack of fliers promising to "delete bad credit."
Jeff found the fliers offensive to the point of pornographic. On and on he ranted about the big fat lies and misconceptions in the fliers--not to mention appalling grammar and spelling errors on their website, which he was--even at that moment--accessing via Blackberry.
My response was to shrug a lot, enjoy my hot french fries, and remind Jeff of the value of "aggressive, proactive recycling as a form of direct action" but Jeff wasn't going to let it go THAT easily.
In the second picture from the top, you can see how Jeff went all "red pencil English major" on the website for "Delete Bad Credit." And I thought I was bad!
Here's Jeff's criticisms of "Delete Bad Credit." Folks who want to urge Jeff not to hold back, but to really SAY WHAT HE'S THINKING can use the comments feature.
Ripping On "Delete Bad Credit"
So, (Jeff says) the other night at Broadway Pizza I saw this flier that I am holding in the picture, "Delete Bad Credit." Right away, this makes me suspicious because you can't simply "delete" bad credit, and that's a misconception that a lot of people have. In fact, there were sham operations several years ago that claimed to do that.
What these sham operations would do is simply send out dispute letters to the three major credit bureaus on EVERYTHING negative, even the ACCURATE negative information. The loophole is if a credit bureau does not verify disputed information in a "reasonable time," then the disputed information must be deleted.
Any credit repair professional worth their salt will therefore include the following phrase in a dispute letter: "I shall assume that thirty days constitutes a 'reasonable time' unless you immediately notify me otherwise."
So the way the scam works is the illegitimate company disputes everything, and then the accurate bad debt that isn't verified within 30 days comes off if they work hard enough at the technicalities.
(JNS asks: Couldn't people who knew this trick do it on their own?)
Suffice to say that's what I thought this "Delete Bad Credit" was referring to. While enjoying my Leine's Honeyweiss, I hopped on their website, dmcdeletebadcredit.com. First off, it's not clear from their homepage if they are pitching their services directly to consumers or to lenders of some sort who want someone else to clean up people's credit so that applicants can apply for a loan. Its opening sentence has a grammar error as well. Let's see who can spot it:
"Delete Bad Credit has high standards, strong work ethics, and knowledgeable enough to implement our experience to deliver a quality product."
Actually, there are two errors now that I break it down. Special thanks to my 11th grade English teacher for showing me how to diagram sentences. They should have said they ARE knowledgeable.
And if that's the case, they do not need the comma between the first two items since there are only two things they "have." Or...well, there are many ways to fix that sentence.
Then I went thorugh every section of this website. It's hastily put together and obviously didn't take long. In their next section, "References," there is at least one significant grammar, spelling, syntax or verb tense error in each of the testimonials. Most have two or three. The grand prize goes to Jerry Odem in Golden Valley, Minnesota for nineteen such errors.
(See second photo, above)
I can understand wanting to look authentic, or wanting to keep actual testimonials the way they were submitted, but this just looks ridiculous.
(JNS says: have you heard of their new program? Delete Bad Grammar Dot Com! Only $300 and they will go back and change all your English Comp grades to the grades you need and deserve! Get a great job in journalism! Woo that hot girl in the thick classes! What have you got to lose but your old grade point average?)
Speaking of "ridiculous,"one testimony says their credit score was in the low 500s, but after Delete Bad Credit removed "inquires" (their misspelling of "inquiries") their credit score was in the 700 range.
Getting a 50-80 point bump from inquiry removal is exceedingly good. A 200-point increase is virtually impossible. Questionable claims and nonsensical grammar continue throughout the website's other sections. Did I mention that one summary said this service will "delete old addresses?"
OLD ADDRESSES HAVE NO BEARING ON YOUR CREDIT SCORE.
Jeff Investigates Further From His Restaurant Both, While Drinking A Beer
But this wasn't enough for me. I called them up directly as well, using their phone number on the flier.
First, an automated voice told me I have contacted "EDR Mortage and Processing Center." If I want information about deleting bad credit, I am asked to press zero, which I do. A woman who did not even identify herself answered. I asked about their program for deleting bad credit and she said they had several packages, but their "basic" package is their "full-service package."
Now, wait a minute! Usually "basic" and "full service" are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
This "package" that apparently defies conventional thinking is dependent on what kind of letters need to be sent out. But you would sign a Power of Attorney to this company and then they would send out letters to get rid of inaccuracies.
I ask you, would you sign a POA over to these guys? Because, after reading their website, I sure as (expletive) wouldn't. The most benign reason I can think of for this modus operandi is they want to meet with you once, and never have to talk to you ever again, even if they do what they claim, until the work is done.
(JNS says: The least benign thing I can think of is they want to sell your house right out from under you and give you pennies from the proceeds)
Since the website also claims to address "slow pay," and given my concerns stated before about how these things can be scams, I asked about this specifically. Surprisingly, this was the one sensible thing she said. If a late payment was due to bank errors or processing times (a common issue, unfortunately) they would help get that reversed, but actual late payments would stay.
$300 Buys A Lot Of Pizza
Then we got to the part about money. There is a $50 fee to meet for a consultation (or, as one testimony put it, a "consiltation.") That fee is deducted from the total balance once you set up an agreement to work with them. Then it's $350 for the first ten creditors they address and an additional $50 after that.
I'm going to ask Broadway Pizza if they will remove these fliers. Maybe these guys are paying Broadway Pizza to have that display stand, maybe not. But since this type of service is FREE elsewhere RIGHT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, but Delete Bad Credit is charging a minimum of $300, that's $300 that a family no longer has to spend at Broadway Pizza.
Here are the agencies folks can contact:
NRRC, Neighborhood Housing Services, ACORN Housing, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Well, heck, I'll do it for free if somebody lives in Hawthorne or wants to buy a house in Hawthorne. Go to this website for your legally-entitled once-a-year free credit report:
You'll have to pay if you want scores, but the report is free.
And if you live in Hawthorne, or if you want to buy a house in Hawthorne, I personally will look at that report and do what I can for you. If the issues are extensive, however, I would refer you to folks who are trained specifically for this task who DO IT FOR FREE.
DO NOT PAY "DELETE BAD CREDIT" OR ANYBODY ELSE FOR THIS SERVICE. It is free and available to all, especially in our North Minneapolis neighborhoods!