I’ve been working in credit repair for seven years, and let me tell you: it isn’t perfect.
Sometimes a client’s listing is removed quickly and everyone is happy. But sometimes we can’t help people. It’s as simple as that. And the client and broker are sorely disappointed.
Sometimes credit repair takes longer than expected (and sometimes it’s much shorter) and at the end of a long investigation that has been through the credit provider’s complaints system, and the Ombudsman’s complaints system, the answer is no, we cannot remove the listing – it was correctly placed.
Our longest case has run for two years and ended with a four-way conversation between the Ombudsman, our client, our advocate and a representative of the credit provider. Despite the length of the case, we didn’t charge an extra cent. In this case we got a yes, but sometimes even after all that work we get a no. In those cases, at least we know we did everything we could for the client.
Sometimes after a long and difficult investigation, we get the listing removed but the client is annoyed by the time it took and they missed out on the house they had fallen in love with. Sometimes in these cases the client says “I am not paying you” even when we have worked on the case, for months. That’s one of the emotionally hard things to deal with as an advocate.
It’s a very human experience.
But despite its downside, the difference our work can make when we do successfully negotiate for the removal of an incorrect listing or two (our highest is fifteen, based on irresponsible lending) is profound, and ripples positively through the client’s and their family’s lives. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) about the family members who lose sleep when a loved one is in financial strife, and who sleep soundly again when they are not.
With each case we work on, we give the client a percentage chance of success upfront that we think we can achieve (which incidentally is always lower than our actual hard data success rate), so the client has a realistic view of what to expect. We find it’s better to surprise than disappoint. Sometimes the harder we say the case will be, the more the client wants to give it a go and see what we can achieve. You never know what errors you will find until you get into a case.
In every case we work on, there is an advocate in your client’s corner who is invested in the success of the case. Every time we build a case, we incorporate the client’s story of what happened with the relevant legislation that credit providers must adhere to. We never quite know what we will find until we dig in deep. We cross all the 't's and dot all the 'i's looking for anomalies in the data, searching for the best angle, to get the best result for your client. Sometimes we cry in frustration when we don’t win or whoop with joy when we do. Sometimes we are angry when a case is not upheld, and sometimes we are immensely proud of what we achieve.
It’s a very human experience.
That’s the job of an advocate. The people who work for us do it because they want to make a difference – from the sales team to the advocates who work on the cases. We know it’s an imperfect solution at times, but our aim is to help as many people as we can to achieve financial freedom and low interest rates through fair credit reporting. And the only way we can find out if it’s fair is to investigate and see what is thrown up.
Rest assured, there are a few things we aim not to do. We won’t, to the best of our ability, leave a stone unturned in investigating a case. We won’t encourage people into high interest loans or debt agreements. We won’t send your client’s template letters and tell them to contact the credit providers and run the case themselves.
What we will do is investigate every adverse listing on a credit file that a client wants us to work on. We will make sure every adverse listing is correct by conducting a deep investigation, and if it’s not correct, we will argue for the removal of the listing. It’s as simple as that.
Dr Merrilyn Mansfield, consumer advocate, Princeville Credit Advocates
Dr Merrilyn Mansfield is a consumer advocate with Princeville Credit Advocates, and a theologian and historian. She is currently studying law. Dr Mansfield is fascinated with the credit reporting laws in Australia and the UK and works in both countries to implement these laws for the benefit of credit-impaired consumers and companies. Please call the Princeville team on 1300 936 363 or inquire at www.wemend.com.au for confidential assistance.
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