By Je’Don Holloway Talley For the Birmingham Times
Coming out of Alabama State University (ASU) in 2013, Ebony Burroughs was like many college graduates—saddled with student loans and a low credit score. But she found a way to up her credit score and benefit others.
“I obtained a lot of debt in college, so I wanted to help others searching for ways to improve their financial situation succeed,” she said.
Burroughs, 32, a Birmingham-based credit-repair specialist is in the business of getting clients to improve from a “very poor” to an “excellent” credit score. When she repaired her own credit, she was able to acquire low-interest rates on her car and become prequalified for homeownership with the good income she earned at the time. Burroughs then realized that her “desire to help people could be fulfilled not only in the medical field [as an occupational therapist] but also in the financial industry.”
Her home-based business, Solutions 1st Credit Repair, works with clients to establish a budget to pay down existing debt, secure approval for home and car loans, and remove negative items from their credit reports, such as late payments, collections accounts, medical bills, child support, repossessions, and evictions.
“We can also help clients avoid bankruptcy and those currently going through [it],” Burroughs said. “We help identify your net worth by recognizing your assets versus your liabilities; we do credit monitoring and building; we offer identity-theft services; and we [help with the] establishment of wills, trusts, and power of attorney.”
Credit Score Basics
Burroughs explained that credit scores are composed differently and involve multiple factors.
“I had a client who started at a [very poor score of] 530, but even though the negative items were removed, her credit score didn’t improve because she had no positive lines of credit or credit history, which is 35 percent of your credit score,” she said. “Once she got a secured credit card, [which reports every 30 days] and made on-time payments for six months, her credit score jumped to a 780 out of 850, [excellent], because she then had a history that lenders could use to determine her creditworthiness.”
Burroughs shows people how to leverage the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1971, a law created to require consumer reporting agencies to adopt reasonable procedures in a manner that is fair and equitable to the consumer, to their benefit.
“We do a hard pull on credit reports from [the three major credit bureaus]—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—so we can dispute every negative item at one time under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. … Disputing all negatives at one time will give you a quicker turnaround [on your results].”
“Meet Clients Anytime”
The Fairfield native and Fairfield Preparatory High School grad attended ASU in Montgomery, Ala., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 and a master’s degree in occupational therapy in 2013. She worked in her field for five years before venturing into the credit-repair industry.
The wife and mother of two studied online at Financial Education Services, based in Farmington, Mich., and became a certified credit-repair specialist before launching her company, through which she conducts credit-repair seminars and “will meet clients anytime and anywhere they’re available,” Burroughs said.
“I conduct a lot of my first consultations through my website and [the web-based video conferencing tool] Zoom. … It’s really up to the client. I’ll even meet with you at your home.”
Burroughs’s company has benefited nearly 300 people throughout the Southeast and even as far away as Baltimore, Md., to restore credit. Birmingham is the prime location for her program because, she said, “Alabama has one of the lowest credit scores in the U.S., with an average credit score of 683. This leaves a lot of room to help those in my community become creditworthy and also eligible to purchase a home.”
The ASU grad explained that a typical credit-restoration period lasts between six and eight months: “The score depends on what’s on [the client’s] credit report and their debt-to-income ratio, whether they carry high balances on credit cards and pay their bills on time.”
One of her notable successes was with a married couple “who worked diligently as a team to improve their credit,” Burroughs said. “After only six months, they were able to purchase a home with a low down payment because they paid down their credit card debt to 30 percent of the credit limit, utilizing our budgeting and debt-pay-off tools. Not only that, but they were able to earn extra income by becoming credit-repair specialists and are now able to [contribute more to] their financial futures.”
To learn more about Ebony Burroughs and Solutions 1st Credit Repair services, visit www.solutions1stcreditrepair.com; you also can follow her on Instagram @ebony_burroughs_ and Facebook @Solutions 1st Credit Repair.
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