CreditZap, a credit repair company in LaCrosse in LaPorte County, is eyeing office space in Valparaiso, where it hopes to hire 10 to 15 more employees at a new headquarters.
Michael Gill founded the company last year after he was able to remove an unfavorable item from his credit report in just four days while applying for a mortgage.
"I was told it would take 30 to 60 days for it to be gone from my credit report," he said. "I was able to secure my mortgage and realized it was something I was good at, a strength I had."
CreditZap has assisted more than 300 clients over the past year, typically within a few months, Gill said. The firm tries to get people's credit in shape so they can qualify for mortgages, auto loans, and lower interest rates.
Getting referrals from local real estate agents and car dealerships, CreditZap helps clients resolve any credit issues related to medical bills, student loans or other debt. It partners with lenders to offer debt consolidation plans.
"Ultimately, we work to get the negative aspects off the report," he said. "We counsel them on how they can pay their bills and get them back on track with payments. A lot is the result of indulgence. We separate what they want from what they need."
The consulting firm charges customers fees including a $149.99 startup charge and $89 per month. It offers pro bono assistance to low-income residents who aren't able to afford it.
CreditZap serves roughly a 100-mile area that includes Northwest Indiana, Chicago and suburbs, and southwest Michigan. Its consultants travel to meet clients at their homes or public places like libraries, coffee shops and restaurants like Martini's in Valparaiso.
It is focused on the local market in an industry dominated by national firms that conduct more of the business online and through phone calls.
"We don't want to just be a voice through the telephone," Gill said. "We want to meet with people to understand their problems. You're able to connect more with people face-to-face and reassure them."
CreditZap works to help clients with bad money habits and to resolve issues with credit reporting agencies like missed payments, increasingly with student loan debt, Gill said.
"Credit's everything in this day and age," he said. "You need it for a mortgage, for a car."
For more information, visit creditzap.org, call 219-465-8741 or visit Facebook/creditzap.