Credit Repair? Avoid scams

Your credit history can determine whether you get a loan, get credit, insurance or a home. Some employers also may look at your credit history. A rule of thumb is if you have a good credit history, you will pay lower interest when borrowing money.

Guest Blogger Sandra McKinnon

If you have negative information in your credit history, most of it will stay on your credit report for seven years, and bankruptcy information will stay on for 10 years. That negative information, if it is true, cannot be removed. It simply takes time for it to go away.

A credit repair company can help you investigate mistakes on your credit report, but they cannot remove negative information. So, be on the lookout for a company that says they can.

If you choose to work with a credit repair company, do not pay before they help you. This could mean a scam. Other ways of knowing you may be dealing with a scam are if they tell you:

  • Not to contact the credit bureaus directly
  • To dispute information in your credit report you know is accurate
  • To lie on your applications for credit or a loan

If you think you may have been scammed by a credit repair company, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at and your state attorney general’s office. In Iowa, the Attorney General may be reached toll free 1-888-777-4590 or visit

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers information on how to seek help with problem credit. They also offer additional information on credit repair scams.

Sandra McKinnon is a Human Sciences specialist in Family Wellbeing with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, serving southwest Iowa.

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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Coupon Scams

It’s time to buy picnic supplies, watermelon, hotdogs, and buns for the 4th of July.  Shopping with a list and a coupon or two would lower the grocery bill. Maybe that is why the $80 HyVee coupon scam is circulating again.

The coupon looks authentic and so does the web page where you land to retrieve your big bargain. In a congratulatory invitation, victims are asked to answer a “customer survey” that gathers their name, birth date, telephone number, and email address.  Sharing a social media link is required, expanding the circle of individuals exposed to the scam.  The personal information is then used for other scams or sold to scam operations.

The Coupon Information Center lists on their counterfeit notification page over 19,000 fake coupons.  Fake coupons are more likely to offer free items or high dollar values. They are also common in bulk coupon sales offers. (Manufacturer’s state on most coupons that the sale of their coupon is a violation of use.)

It’s illegal to modify coupons or use them for products other than identified by the manufacturer.  “Limited offer: one per customer” means just that, using multiple email addresses to receive online offers or making photo copies is a violation of law.

Remind yourself when you see a coupon with a value of $80 of the old saying: “IF it’s too good to be true, it probably IS!”


Joyce Lash

Joyce Lash is a Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance who wants to keep you ahead of the curve on financial information.

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