Credit InfoCenter — Free Credit Repair and Debt Settlement Information
How This Site Got Started
Written by: Kristy Welsh, former CEO and founder of CreditInfoCenter.com
When I formed my web-designing business, Web Nation, Inc. in 1995, there was absolutely no information on what made a web site successful. I needed to learn, and learn fast. And so I started Credit Info Center as an experiment to find out what worked to bring traffic to a site. After some trial and error, it was determined content was the key, and so I devoted the rest of my time and budget to this aspect.
It worked because my site got lots of traffic even though the site was pretty small. Since those beginnings, this site has come a long way with lots of information in a much more presentable fashion. The information presented here comes from research, letters from our readers, articles in the news media, and my own extensive experience in the mortgage industry. What makes up a credit history and score changes constantly (and consequently the methods of credit repair). Due to numerous changes in technology used by the credit bureaus and revisions in credit laws since this site started, we've undergone total re-writes in 1997 (FCRA changes), 1999 (changes in the FICO Scoring models), 2001 (took into account online credit reporting and monitoring; added the debt validation and debt settlement techniques), 2003 (FACT Act), and 2005 (FDCPA changes & Bankruptcy changes). In other words, what worked as far as credit repair in 1997 definitely does not work today! Here's the story in a nutshell.
A long time ago in a world without the internet far, far, away...
There lived in a ugly gray cubicle me, a mechanical engineer who thoroughly hated her job and found herself trained to do nothing else. One boring day, my manager informed me that our company was understaffed in the IT department. (No surprise - in those days this company of 1,000 people had an IT staff of 4 - which was normal.) I was asked: could I write an analysis program for a bearing design? My manager waived off the fact that I didn't know how to program. 'Oh and by the way, we need it done in a month,' he added. Well I learned to program in C, and actually had something working by the deadline. To my utter surprise and amazement, I loved it. I guess I shouldn't have been so amazed: I'm a Trekkie, prefer email to the phone and have lots of techno gadgets. Anyway, at the time, I never considered my new tasks a career switch; I worked at least half time with the typical boring mechanical engineering tasks (involving calculators, reports and useless meetings). Software just seemed like a fun new way to do engineering. After about 8 years, and after becoming disillusioned with the world of government contracting (I was laid off), I wanted to try something new. I left engineering behind, including software. Or so I thought.
From Software to Finance
During my period of unemployment, I went to refinance my house. And along with a loan application, the mortgage company persuaded me to become a loan officer. Why not, I thought. I learn fast. I like people. I filled out a job application. I forgot that the guy recruiting me was a salesman, and the reality of what he promised me might be a trifle less rosy. The pay, as promised, was good, but it was a 24-hour-a-day assignment to make the big bucks. And as a side bonus, everyone in the business is stressed out. You know the old Hierarchy of Needs pyramid which breaks up into layers, in order of importance, what people need the most? Well food and shelter are at the all-important bottom layer of the pyramid's foundation, and in the mortgage business you're messin' with a very primary need. The sanest people go berserk when it comes time to buy a house. I learned to calmly look an angry, screeching behemoth in the eye and say sympathetically, "I would feel the same way you do. You're right, this situation isn't fair. Let's do something about it."
And so I learned more about credit every day. I specialized in working with people who were mostly "B", "C", and "D" credit (they call it sub-prime these days). I learned to fix people's credit not only because I'm a nice person and I hate to see nice people get screwed, but also because my livelihood depended on closing loans. If a loan didn't close due to credit, I didn't get paid.
Putting It All Together
Anyway, after all that high-stress fun in the mortgage world, I decided to return to software. And just about the time I did, the Internet explosion happened. Perfect. Web Nation opened its first website, a subscription-viewing mortgage/real estate site. This site combined my two strengths: credit and software. We paid good money to get it looking as leading-edge as possible: lots of graphics, flashing signs, all the things that are now verboten in web page design. We were so proud! However, initial traffic was abysmal. We put our heads together. Pretty didn't cut it and we asked ourselves ~ what would drive up the traffic?
To increase traffic, I thought, why not publish what I knew about credit as an added "bonus"? Very little information was available to the general public. So my staff and I banged out the first 9 pages of what was to become Credit Info Center in 1995 over the course of a couple of weeks. Those pages were admittedly amaturish-looking and plain, but they brought in a little traffic. We added to our initial information by gathering ideas and excerpts from other credit websites, (most notably mix6.com by the perpetual rebel Michael Kielsky, Lexington Law Firms and the discussion boards at creditnet.com). But the biggest amount of information was accumulated due to answering your questions, initially through email and now exclusively through our own discussion boards. To date, we've have answered thousands of emails and letters about credit, and have spent over 12 years researching the topic. The site has grown from its original 9 pages to more than 300, and is being updated all the time to keep up with current events.
"Good Credit is Sexy" - The Book
The story of why I published "Good Credit is Sexy" goes like this: One day, I was having a drink in a bar and wound up talking to a scam-artist kind of guy. Most of what he said ran along the lines of "I roped the biggest cow in Texas", but he was pretty entertaining and I found myself telling him about my website. He immediately suggested publishing a book based on the site. "Why not?" he suggested. "You can use it as a cross-promotional tool for your site and also get your information into the hands of people who don't have access to the internet. Not everyone is on the Internet, you know." Of course, he also tried to talk me into investing in some kind of other scheme, on which I passed.
Why not publish a book? I thought the next day. Why not indeed! I began research on the project and called on a friend of mine who was a professional editor for help. While over at her house, kicking around ideas for what to call the book and what style to write it in, my friend's boyfriend shouted out, "Well, if you want it to sell, it's got to be about sex and the cover has to be red." And the rest is history.
Hope you enjoyed this little tale.
Former CEO and Founder of CreditInfoCenter.com