Like many industries credit repair has its fair share of questionable practitioners. Unfortunately many people fall victim to these operators and end up paying large upfront fees based on empty promises. This usually ends with very dissatisfied people and impacts further on an already tarnished industry.
The negative stigma surrounding the credit repair industry has been caused by a relatively small group of companies. It is widely known that Veda Advantage currently has a negative view of our industry due to the behavior of these rouge companies. This is a great shame as credit repair when administered correctly is based on protecting people’s rights and helping them to recover from incorrect, faulty or misleading credit listings. In this sense the process of credit repair is very much in line with Veda’s goal of delivering a fair and reliable credit reporting platform.
Instead of being considered an ally, Veda currently views the credit repair industry as a problem and in stark contrast to their vision. This is regrettable as I know a number of credit repair companies including ourselves truly feel we are providing a valuable and much needed service to the general public, while doing all in our power to improve the process of credit reporting in Australia.
Although a number of reputable credit repair companies including Clean Credit would welcome sensible reform, it would seem that regulation may be some time off. It’s fair to say that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission have their hands full at the moment with the financial services sector and although I have little doubt they will eventually concentrate on the credit repair industry, reform seems unlikely for some time to come.
Given this the sensible approach is for the credit repair industry is to be proactive and self-regulate. To this end the Credit Repair Institute of Australasia has been formed and in my opinion represents a genuine attempt to clean up the credit repair industry and most importantly offer a level of protection for the consumer.
The Credit Repair Institute of Australasia insists that its members comply to a strict code of practice that has been specifically designed with consumer clarity and protection in mind. This includes how fees are charged , a point very much under the spotlight with Veda Advantage presently.
The Credit Repair Institute of Australasia Code of Practice states that their members must:
- Discharge their duties with the highest level of honesty and integrity.
- At all times act in the best interests of their client.
- Observe the rule and spirit of all Australian and State based laws.
- At all times keep information that has been provided by a client confidential and secure and only disclose information as required by law or as authorised by the consumer.
- Treat all clients with respect, courtesy and understanding.
- Disclose and take reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest, real or apparent.
- Not provide false or misleading information in response to a request for assistance from a potential client.
- At all times behave in a way that upholds the values and integrity of the CRIA and its members.
- Maintain an Internal Dispute Resolution Scheme.
- Never charge a consumer a fee, non-refundable or refundable, for credit repair if the member knows or suspects that there is little or no chance of the credit repair being successful unless the member has explained the risks of failure to the client and the client still wishes to engage the services of the member.
- Disclose all their costs prior to any commitment or payment for services by the client.
- Not advertise or promote in any misleading or deceptive way or contrary to this code of practice.
- Never charge a fee without prior realistic assessment of the client’s needs and circumstance.
- Never charge a client for providing assistance with the removal of any credit enquiry.
- Where applicable members must refund any amounts due to the client, whenever practicable, within five business days.
It is interesting that a number of credit repair companies have chosen not to become a member of the Credit Repair Institute of Australasia due to the fact they are not willing to comply with the code of practice. The question is why would any reputable credit repair company object to these principles? Perhaps these are the companies that Veda Advantage or any intending regulatory body should initially focus on.
When a consumer requires the services of a builder they will often select a gold licensed tradesman. In a simpler vain, the members of the Credit Repair Institute of Australasia hope that in time consumers in need of credit restoration services will recognize the level of clarity and protection this organization offers them and select a member on that basis.
On behalf of the members of the Credit Repair Institute of Australasia it is hoped that bodies such as Veda Advantage and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission will recognize this initiative as a genuine attempt to help restore the reputation of the credit repair industry and in turn provide protection to consumer.
You can learn more about the Credit Repair Institute of Australasia by visiting http://www.cria.net.au/
1300 015 210