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This is why you should use a free credit lawyer when attempting to repair credit.

In addition to the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union), there are a lot of specialty credit reporting agencies as well.  Mr. Epps, for example, was denied the right to rent an apartment due to a credit report that the landlord pulled from one of these specialty agencies.  In this article from NJ.com, Mr. Epps is a veteran of the United States Navy with excellent credit who was looking for a place to live. He applied for an apartment and was declined because the credit reporting agency had reported him as a felon. Mr. Epps is no felon. Unfortunately, he decided to handle this matter on his own by calling the credit reporting agency that reported the bogus information. According to the story, the credit reporting agency acknowledged the mistake but refused to do anything about it. Mr. Epps has rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Here’s what he could have done:   sent a written dispute to the credit reporting agency providing all of his personal information and disputing the allegation that he’s a felon. In that dispute, he should put the credit reporting agency on notice that he was declined for an apartment lease because of its inappropriate credit report. When the credit reporting agency failed to update or correct information, he could a filed a lawsuit. Unfortunately, he took none of the steps. As a practical matter if he would have  filed that lawsuit  on his own against the credit reporting agency, their attorneys would have trounced on him. If you think that just because you’re in the right that you will win in court, then you’re living in a fantasy world. There’s a million ways to [...]

11th Circuit Takes a Swipe at creditors filing Proofs of Claim in Bankruptcy Court on Time Barred Debts

The 11th Circuit in Crawford v LVNV Funding is the first appellate court to rule that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) applies to debt collectors even when they file proofs of claim in a consumer’s bankruptcy proceeding. Mr. Crawford’s account with Heilig-Meyers Furniture Company was written off in 1999.  The Statute of Limitations expired on the enforcement of this debt in 2004.  The debt was purchased by LVNV Funding, a large buyer of consumer debt. In 2008, Mr. Crawford filed for bankruptcy and LVNV filed a proof of claim in Mr. Crawford’s bankruptcy, even though the statute had run several years earlier.  Crawford stood up to LVNV Funding and sued it under the FDCPA claiming that it was attempting to enforce a time barred debt.   The trial court sided with LVNV, but the 11th Circuit reversed it and found for Mr. Crawford. The Court of Appeals found that by filing a proof of claim on a time barred debt, that LVNV was violating 15 U.S.C. 1692e by using false, deceptive and misleading means in connection with the collection of a debt.  The court believed that LVNV knew that in order to have its claim challenged, that either the trustee or the debtor must challenge the claim.  However, in this case, no one challenged the claim.  Hence, by default LVNV would have its time barred debt paid by Mr. Crawford through his bankruptcy case.   Lessons learned:   Debt collectors, no matter how large or seemingly reputable, violate the FDCPA frequently. If you have filed bankruptcy or if you are being pursued by a debt collector, CHALLENGE THE DEBT.  Make sure that the debt is valid and is not time barred.  Mr. Crawford did [...]

THE SECURE ACT IS PENDING IN THE SENATE TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT RIGHTS UNDER THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT

Congress is considering a bill that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to the benefit of consumers.  Senate Bill 2224 called the stop here is in credit use in reporting act or the SECURE ACT, would provide new benefits to consumers when dealing with the credit reports as follows:   Allows you a free credit score in connection with your free annual credit report. This is huge presently you have no right to a free credit score. You simply have a right to get a copy of your credit report for free once a year by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. This bill would require the credit reporting agencies to give you your score for free once a year. You can purchase your credit score from the credit reporting agencies but presently you have no right to a free one. Just note, that the credit score you see is not the credit score the creditors are going to see when they receive reports about you. Injunctive relief. In layman’s terms this means you can get a court order directing the credit reporting agency to take certain actions on your credit report.  Presently, there is a rather large dispute as to whether courts have the ability to order credit reporting agencies to do anything. Plaintiffs’ attorneys believe that such right exists while defense attorneys of course have a different view. Many courts have been siding with defendants’ attorneys. This statutory amendment would explicitly give courts the ability to take such action on behalf of plaintiffs. Requires credit reporting agencies to forward all documents you sent to them in connection with your dispute. Presently when you dispute something with a credit reporting agency, it uses a system called [...]

Did 9th Circuit go too far holding collector liable for letters never received by consumer?

FACTS In Tourgeman v Collins Financial Services, et al No. 12-56783, the Plaintiff purchased a computer from Dell. He lived in Mexico at the time had the computer shipped to his parents’ house in California. The purchase was originated by a bank called CIT online bank. Dell merely serviced the loan but claimed that there was an unpaid debt. CIT charged off and sold the debt to Collins Financial Services. Collins transferred the debt to its affiliated collection agency Paragon Way. Paragon ultimately hired Nelson and Kennard, a law firm which sent its own dunning letters to Mr. Tourgeman. Nelson ultimately filed a lawsuit against Mr. Tourgeman which was subsequently dismissed. However it was during this litigation that he learned about the dunning letters that were sent to his parents address. TOURGEMAN’S  CLAIMS FOR VIOLATION OF THE FDCPA Mr. Tourgeman sued Collins, Paragon and Nelson for violation of his rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). He claimed that the demand letters and the lawsuit against him identified the wrong creditor and not CIT Online Bank. This is false and misleading and violates the FDCPA. He also claimed that the demand letter sent to him by the Nelson law firm had no meaningful involvement by any attorney. This violates the FDCPA provision prohibiting any communication that has the false representation or implication that it came from an attorney. The trial court dismissed Tourgeman’s claims via summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit however reversed that dismissal and in fact ordered judgment in his favor. On appeal, Tourgeman claimed that the defendants falsely identify the original creditor. They had identified American Investment Bank when in actuality it was CIT Online Bank that originated loans. TOURGEMAN NEVER [...]

How to avoid becoming a tax identity theft victim

The lawyers at Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers have seen an uptick in people having their identities stolen for tax purposes.  Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information to get a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It also can happen when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return. The Federal Trade Commission states that tax identity theft is the most common form of identity theft reported each year.  A recent Associated Press article also noted that Michigan is one of the top 5 states in the US for tax fraud. Just conducting a quick search online, you quickly find numerous court cases in which the thieves ranging from street criminals to medical offices, trusted tax preparers – and even actual IRS employees, have been arrested for sharing social security numbers and filing fraudulent tax returns. The IRS offers these tips to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of tax identity theft:  Beat criminals to your return by filing your tax return early as possible  Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.  Shred copies of documents containing your social security number, including old tax returns, drafts, or calculation sheets you no longer need.  Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.  Don’t give out your Social Security number (SSN) unless necessary.  Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.  Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure no other [...]

Public records and inquiries – don’t overlook these key sections on your credit report

Public records such as judgments and tax liens can mistakenly be placed on your credit report.  This error happens quite frequently to people with similar names.  It can have a major negative impact on your credit score so you want to be sure if there is anything listed in this section it is correct. The 3 types of public records included in your credit score are bankruptcies, tax liens and civil judgments. In some cases, this information is simply gathered by an employee of a credit reporting agency to be including in your file. This means there is plenty of room for error – especially if you have a common name, or if you are named after another family member. It is also important to remember that this information does not have to be included in your credit report forever. Bankruptcies can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years.  Tax liens and judgments can remain on your report for up to 7 years from the date that you satisfy these items. Reviewing credit inquiries is the best way to see who has been viewing your credit report.  “Soft pulls,” such as receiving a copy of your own credit report have no impact on your score. However, “hard pulls” are those credit reports given to others to determine your credit worthiness.  When reading the inquiry portion of your credit report, be sure to pay close attention to any “hard pulls” that were not initiated by you. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), a credit report can only be shared with a third party who has permissible purpose. If you did not give permission for someone to pull your credit report this could [...]

Become an authorized user to improve your credit score

When you have bad credit, or little-to-no credit it can be a struggle to find a creditor that is willing to give you an opportunity to show you are able to manage new debt. This makes it even more difficult to improve your credit. One easy route to help improve creditworthiness is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. However, you must be sure you do this legally with a person you know. If a family member has a long-standing credit card with a low balance and good payment history, your best option is to ask him or her to make you an authorized user on that account. Eighty-percent of your FICO score is determined by payment history, amount owed and length of credit history so you can immediately begin seeing a boost by being added to someone else’s pristine account.   This is a perfectly legal act that parents and spouses have been doing for decades to help their loved ones improve credit scores. While scoring institutions have no qualms with family members helping one another, they have managed to stop people from taking this strategy one step further. Some companies found a way to make money by offering their clients a chance to pay a fee to a stranger in order to be added to his or her account and reap the benefits of that person’s good credit without ever even knowing them or seeing a credit card. This act, known as piggybacking is not favored in the eyes of credit reporting agencies and Fair Isaac so the scoring corporation has decided to modify how authorized users are considered in an effort to prevent unfair boosts to credit scores. According to [...]

Do you know your debt’s expiration date?

If you are being sued by a collection attorney for a debt, make sure that the debt has not expired.  Before making any agreements or payments, it is first important to understand the basic laws related to debt collection.  Few people know that there is a statute of limitations on debt, meaning once this period of time has passed, creditors and debt collectors can no longer sue you for repayment of the debt. While the statute of limitations for debt collection varies by state, in Michigan creditors and debt collectors have 6 years from your last date of payment to sue you.   It is important to note that creditors are allowed to continue attempting to collect debts after the statute of limitations has passed, and some will even still try to sue for payment in hopes that you do not know the law. When dealing with old debt, remember these facts: Be careful not to restart the statute of limitations time period Some debt collectors might realize your debt is near, or beyond the statute of limitations so they offer you installment options in hopes that you will make even one small payment to revive the debt. While it is your decision if you decide to start making payments, it is important to note that once you pay any amount toward the balance, you will completely reset the statute of limitations from the date of that payment.   If you are sued, it’s your responsibility to tell the court the debt is old The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises that even if a debt is beyond the Statute of Limitations, a court could decide to award judgment to a creditor if you do not use [...]

New Changes to the way your Credit Score is Calculated

You’ve heard that “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.” This applies to to your credit score as well.  Recent online reports state that major credit reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax and Trans Union and scoring companies such as Fair Isaac Corporation (the company behind the popular FICO scores) are actively working to take into account additional information to get a better indication of a person’s ability to handle their financial responsibilities. Some of these new considerations might end up helping your credit score, while others might bring it down. According to Experian, landlords and rental property managers could report derogatory payment information in the past, but they did not have a way to share positive data if a person pays his or her rent on time each month. This credit reporting agency says its new RentBureau division will help renters to now be able to use their rental payment history to help establish and rebuild credit. However, not all companies will only rely on Experian to help determine your credit score so this additional item on your credit report will not always be helpful. The most popular credit score, FICO also has seen changes over time to prove that it still is the best at understanding more about consumer credit behavior. On its website, Fair Isaac Corporation states that it rolled out a new version of credit scores, FICO 8 in 2009 and this new scoring system is increasing in popularity. This newer system can help your score in some ways because it recognizes isolated late payment as such, and it ignores collection accounts under $100, resulting in less of a negative impact on your score. However, the new FICO 8 scoring [...]

Don’t let student loan debt take over your life

We are raised to believe that if you get a college degree you will find the career of your dreams and live happily ever after with a good job, a nice home and a beautiful family. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the reality is that Americans now owe more than $1 trillion in federal student loan debt. Therefore, we now put off buying a home, getting married or starting a family due to the burden of excessive debt after college. Before you let student loan debt determine your destiny, consider these tips: Only borrow what you really need. Most federal student loans are quite easy to obtain. They do not require co-signers or a credit check so some people take the opportunity to use larger loans to handle additional matters besides college related expenses. However, once the days of being a full-time student are over and people realize the magnitude of their debt, they feel it is seemingly impossible to ever pay it all back. Consider work in the public service. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)  gives full-time public service workers the opportunity to have their remaining federal student loan balance waived after making the first 120 payments. Your passion to help others might not result in a six-figure income, but if you would like to be a teacher, soldier, police officer, etc., your willingness to help others can get your student loan debt forgiven. Understand the difference between federal student loans and private student loans.   Federal student loans tend to have more programs in place for students who have trouble repaying a loan. In some cases, the government even pays the interest while you are in college if you are [...]

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