What you need to know about the Fair Credit Reporting Act

In a perfect world we would all have enough cash on hand to pay for everything we need up front. Obviously this is not reality and in one-way or another we all need credit. Whether it comes to financing a new car, buying a home or even simply having the basic necessities like water and power in your home, businesses will want to pull your credit to evaluated and be sure that you would make for a reliable customer. In the past, a consumer had very little control over how businesses would perceive them based upon their credit scores. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act we now have the power to understand, monitor, correct and control our credit information.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed to even the playing field between creditors and consumers. When consumers accept credit from a business, that consumer is essentially giving the business the power to make or break their credit history and affect all financial avenues of their life. We all make mistakes, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows us to manage and contain these mistakes. There are several different aspects of the Act but most importantly it gives consumers the power to control their financial past and future.

How do I know what information is being reported about me?
As of 2005 you have the ability to pull your credit information once a year at no cost and at no penalty to your credit score. To do this simply visit annualcreditscore.com and answer a few questions to have all of your current credit information displayed. Additionally any time that you apply for new credit or have any company, landlord or anyone else pull your credit report, you have the right to receive a copy of that report at no charge. As of currently a credit history is required to be shared, not a credit score; this you will typically have to pay for.

Is there anything I can do to fix wrong information?
If you receive your credit report and discover inaccurate or fraudulent information, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute these items. The quickest and most effective way to go about this is to submit a dispute letter to the company reporting the item as well as a letter to each of the three credit bureaus. These days, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are converting this process to an online system to speed up this process. According to these new laws, your concerns must be acknowledged and researched in a timely manner. Once the company in question acknowledges a mistake be sure to have an official letter on company letterhead sent to you for your records, and be sure to send copies to the three credit bureaus as well.

I made some credit mistakes in the past, will these stick with me forever?
Thankfully no! Every derogatory item has a maximum time it is allowed to appear on your credit report. The lifespan of a 30-day late payment is different from, say, a bankruptcy but they each do have a specific timeline they are able to affect your score. Be sure to check the laws in your state as the timelines differ depending upon where you live. As soon as these derogatory items expire, be sure to have them removed. It’s your right!

Can just anyone look up my information?
Absolutely not. Your information is yours and only you have the right to share it with others. Your credit report will tell you each and every inquiry made on your credit report as each inquiry has the capacity to hurt your score a few points at a time. If you see any suspicious items on there, be sure to inquire as well. The Fair Credit Reporting Act also has given you the right to “opt out” of those obnoxious “pre-approved” credit offers that clog your mailbox.

 

 Be sure to visit www.ftc.gov/credit for more information on how to protect your credit score and for more information about the timeline for derogatory items on your credit report. Call Praxis Credit Consulting for your free consult go over how this will effect you.

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Fair Debt Collections Practice Act: Your Safeguard Against Creditors

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, also known as the FDCPA, is the consumer’s best safeguard against the harassing pastime of collection agencies. This act was passed by Congress to outline just how collection companies are allowed to treat their clients and holds them responsible if these guidelines are broken. Collection agencies have no right to make harassing phone calls or act like a mobsters loan shark; as a consumer in the United States you have rights.

What are the limitations of creditors under the FDCPA?

  • Creditors are not allowed to call at inappropriate hours. They may only make calls to you between the hours of 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM in your time zone.
  • They are not allowed to call your workplace if your workplace does not allow personal phone calls. Creditors do not have the right to put your job in jeopardy.
  • They may not send deceptive letters to you that appear to be a court document or any other official document.
  • Using offensive or inappropriate language is absolutely forbidden; doing so may be considered harassment.
  • They must file documents in courts within your vicinity. They are not allowed to force you to travel to handle this ordeal
  • Absolutely no threats are permitted. They are not allowed to lead you to believe you will be arrested, or charged exorbitant interest rates you did not previously agree to.

What can I do if a Creditor breaks one of these rules?
Take action! You may owe these creditors money but they have absolutely no right to treat you like a villain. If any one or more of these rules are broken you should report the company and employee if you are able to get a name. You have the right to file a lawsuit against these companies and have the right to sue for damages related to these violations as well as an additional $1000.00, as well as lawyer and court fees if the court finds in your favor.

Who do I contact?
There are a few different agencies that you may contact. Start with the Attorney Generals office in your state. You may also have luck with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There is also a newly formed Consumer Protection Bureau that has jurisdiction over these sorts of cases as well. 

 

There are a few different agencies that you may contact. Start with the Attorney Generals office in your state. You may also have luck with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There is also a newly formed Consumer Protection Bureau that has jurisdiction over these sorts of cases as well.

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I Didn’t Know There was a Fair Credit Billing Act!

2010 brought about a flood of new consumer protection acts complete with the Fair Credit Billing Act. Have you ever taken a look at your credit card bill and been shocked at your balance only to find out you were billed twice or three times for an item or transaction? Well this is where this Act comes into place. Before this act you were at the mercy of the credit company to take your word that you were overbilled and hoped that they would fix the problem. Now there are official steps you can take to ensure you aren’t overbilled at the mercy of these companies. 

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What does that Equal Credit Opportunity Logo Really Mean?

Think of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) as a sort of a civil rights act for credit. Creditors are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance. This means they are not able to deny, grant or provide different terms based upon those factors. You probably have noticed that various applications may ask these types of questions, but they are not allowed to make a credit decision based upon this information; this information is likely used for marketing or other unrelated reasons. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act includes all credit companies including department store cards, mortgage companies, real estate companies, banks, small loan companies and credit unions.

Credit Companies may NOT:

 

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The State of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau

Thanks to such financial catastrophes as Enron, the recent real estate market collapse, and the overall lack of consumer confidence, Americans have cried out for a voice in the drowning noise of big business and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act has answered the call.Officially named the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, it called for the formation of an entirely unprecedented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to do just that; protect consumers.

 

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What is the Credit Repair Organizations Act?

The Credit Repair Organizations Act is a relatively new piece of legislature that is intended to protect consumers from predatory practices of companies masquerading as advocates for those struggling with debt.I wouldn’t go as far to officially call these guys con artists, but they absolutely have put an ugly black eye on the credit consulting industry.The prevalence of these detestable organizations called for the Federal Trade Commission to thankfully put into effect the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

 

 

What are the rules of the Credit Repair Organizations Act?

 

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