Ask 10 people to define credit repair and you will probably get 10 different answers. Even amongst financial experts, there are disagreements about what credit repair is.

So exactly what is credit repair?

People on the far end of the spectrum will tell you that credit repair is a myth. That it is snake oil peddled by con-artists trying to separate you from your money. They feel that a bad credit rating is something you have earned and will have to endure without recourse. According to them, the only way you can "repair" your credit is to wait for the negative items on your credit reports to naturally fall off.

Fortunately for people with bad credit, there is much more to the credit repair story than these naysayers want to believe. But this is not to say their advice is completely invalid. If your credit score is suffering, your credit will improve as the late payments, collections accounts, or liens naturally drop off your reports. Providing that new negative items are not added to your credit reports, time is absolutely an ally of the credit repair process.

Sitting and waiting, however, is not credit repair. There is much more you can do.

Those who have done their research on the credit reporting system and your rights as a consumer can tell you that repairing your credit can be a much more proactive activity than credit repair critics would have you believe. There are a number of things you can do right now to try removing the negative information in your credit reports.

Based on your rights under a variety of consumer protection statutes including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to dispute any items in your credit reports that you feel are inaccurate. And exactly what does inaccurate mean in this case? When dealing with your credit reports, inaccurate credit listings can include any items you feel are patently wrong as well as items that you feel are misleading, biased, incomplete, or unverifiable. As you can see, you have significant leeway when it comes to determining which items you believe should be listed on your credit reports.

The process of removing bad credit from your credit reports is a more accurate definition of credit repair, however, there is still more to be done. When most people think about repairing their credit, they think of increasing their credit score. In most cases, deleting bad credit will get you closer to this goal, but it might not get you all the way. Improving your credit score may be more than just getting rid of the bad, you may also need to add some of the good.

A more complete definition of credit repair includes not only the removal of bad credit, but the addition of good credit and the changes in lifestyle that will help you maintain your credit and continue working towards an 800 credit score.

Finally, the first step in achieving your credit goals may not have anything to do with the items currently on your credit reports. If you are falling behind in payments or facing bankruptcy, removing negative items from your credit reports is at best a temporary fix. You will need to take control of your finances through better budgeting, debt consolidation, or maybe with the help of professional counseling. It is only after you have stopped adding bad credit to your credit reports that you will be able to start improving them.

Because of this, you could extend the definition of credit repair to a much broader concept that also includes debt management. Credit repair could be thought of as a holistic effort that ultimately leads you to high credit worthiness and financial stability.

For more information about the credit system and about repairing your credit, the book Credit Revolution: Path of the Smart Consumer is an excellent resource. Written by three experts with years of experience in the credit repair field, Credit Revolution provides an easy to read yet extremely insightful guide to your credit.