Why You Shouldn’t Use a Hacker to Fix Your Credit Score

Originally posted Jan. 5, 2018 on Huffington Post

If you’ve spent some time on personal finance blogs and websites recently, you may have noticed an unusual trend among community members and forum posters: Everyone has a personal hacker story to share. And not the black-hat, identity-theft kind, either — no, they hired a hacker to fix their credit score, and 24 hours later these posters were the proud owners of gleaming 800-level FICO scores.

A sample comment goes something like this: “I’ve been reading a lot about this hacker and I decided to give him a try and he actually got the job done. I wanted to boost my credit score and clear my credit card debts because I read it was possible but I was ripped off by fake hackers. I almost gave up before giving this one a shot but I’m glad I contacted him. He cleared all my credit card debts and also boosted my credit score and helped me maintain it. This is incredible. Now I see why the whole internet is talking about him.” Then they leave an email address for you to reach out to.

A cheap credit repair option sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But you should think twice before hiring a hacker off the internet to fix your credit score, and here’s why.

You’ll be at major risk for identity theft

If you hurt your credit and you want to buy a house or car, you might be tempted to try to hire someone to hack into the credit bureaus and change a 4 into a 7 so you can get a good rate, no questions asked. Just email this ethical hacker, pay a couple hundred bucks and have everything polished up and good as new. No hard work, no struggle, just instant gratification.

But don’t assume it’s that easy. If you hire a hacker, you could be putting yourself at risk for identity theft.

Even assuming the hacker is who he says it is (a topic to discuss further down), think of the kind of information you’d have to turn over to him for him to do the job: Name, address, birthdate, account numbers, Social Security numbers. That’s a perfect recipe for someone who operates outside the law — as hackers do, even “ethical hackers” — to steal your identity and ruin your credit even further. They’d have all the information they’d need.

And there’s no way for you to protect yourself if something should go wrong with your transaction. It’s not like you can speak to his manager.

Even if you pay and the hacker helps you, there’s no guarantee a hacker won’t put your data up for sale on the black market anyway. You’re hiring a hacker because you don’t want to play by the rules — don’t be surprised if a hacker doesn’t want to play by the rules, either.

If it feels too good to be true, that’s because it is

Hiring a hacker might seem like a good idea, especially if it looks like other folks in your situation had also gotten desperate, tried this tactic and had good luck. If you take those anonymous comments and forum postings at face value, it seems too good to be true. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just email someone who could help get you out of this scrape you’re in? Someone who would do what you thought couldn’t be done, for the right price? Then you could put all this nastiness behind you. And if it worked for John Smith from Topeka, Kansas, why shouldn’t it work for you?

Because it didn’t work for John Smith from Topeka, Kansas.

Look more closely at those comments and posts. Notice the bad grammar and spelling. See how the same comment gets posted again and again, only the names are changed. A money back guarantee? How can they certify that? And what do you do when you want your money back … only no one ever answers you at that email address again?

Also consider this: Why would a hacker work for just a couple hundred dollars? If it takes three days to accomplish your request of hacking a credit bureau, that hacker would end up working for $5 or $10 an hour. That’s not lucrative for the hacker. And if a job is not lucrative for a hacker, it is unlikely that he will complete it.

Hack your credit score yourself

If you decide after all that hiring a hacker to fix your credit score is too risky, what should you do instead? Buckle down and hack your credit score yourself. It won’t be quick - but it won’t be risky, either, and you can count on the results.

You can do it. Here’s how.

  1. First, start by checking your current score. You are entitled to use a free service, such as annualcreditreport.com. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

  2. Look for errors that could be bringing your score down. They may not be common but errors do happen. Check each report to make sure that all of the information is accurate. If you find an error, tell the credit bureau immediately so you can dispute the information and get it taken care of. Clearly identify each item in your report you dispute. State the facts and explain why you dispute the information. Then request deletion or correction.

  3. Work on the the things that go into a good credit score. Work on putting money toward paying off your debt. Call your lender and work out a payment plan, if necessary. Also, don’t be afraid to call your credit card company and see if you can negotiate any dings on your report, especially if you have been working hard to stay current. Improve your credit optimization; you may be able to extend your credit limit, which would improve this ratio. Then leave the account open. That improves your ratio of debt to available credit. Length of history is also important, so it’s good to have “old” accounts. That means once you pay them off, keep them open — just don’t run up any more debt on that card! And lastly, pay everything on time. Use auto pay to help you do this.

  4. Hire a legitimate credit repair service: Even if you don’t have the time or energy to fix your credit yourself, there are legitimate credit repair companies that work within government regulations to help repair credit. How do you know if a credit repair company plays by the rules? The consumer protection bureau set up ground rules that all credit repair companies must follow in order to not be heavily fined or sued by the federal government, which include having an easy cancellation policy (which is why most services are month-to-month), not promising an increase in credit score and not taking money upfront before agreed-upon services have been performed each month. If you can find a company that abides by these rules, it is a legitimate credit repair company.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to repairing your credit. Think twice before hiring a hacker to try and fix your credit score when you have the tools you need in your own hands.