Debt and Credit Handbook

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This Ultimate Debt and Credit Handbook is an important tool for those who want to repair their credit. Having a high credit score is vitally important and this handbook contains information, instructions, forms and guidance specifically designed to assist you in becoming your own successful debt and credit counselor.

This Ultimate Debt & Credit Handbook for your state includes the following guides and information:
  • How to be Your Own Credit & Debt Counselor
  • Debt Collection & Debt Validation
  • Identity Theft - How to Combat this Ever-Growing Problem
  • Computer and Phishing Email Scams
  • Credit Restoration
  • Miscellaneous Information

Protect yourself and your rights by using our professionally prepared up-to-date forms.

This attorney-prepared packet contains:
  1. Ultimate Debt & Credit Handbook for use in your state
State Law Compliance: This form complies with the laws of your state
This is the content of the form and is provided for your convenience. It is not necessarily what the actual form looks like and does not include the information, instructions and other materials that come with the form you would purchase. An actual sample can also be viewed by clicking on the "Sample Form" near the top left of this page.
 
CHAPTER ONE
How to be your own credit & debt counselor
 
If you have ever had the opportunity to review a debt collectors confidential files, you will discover a small number of cases whereas the debt collector settled a past due account for .25 cents on the dollar. Why are some debts settled for pennies on the dollar, and others for the full amount?  Where these people lucky? Did the debt collector like” the debtor?  Oh, please… hardly!  The truth is; the debtor gave the debt collector almost no choice. Why a debt collector or collection law firm would gladly accept a settlement for pennies on the dollar is one of the best-kept secrets in the industry.
 
What is the secret of debt reduction or debt elimination? The answer is six-fold.
 
1.   KNOWLEDGE.
2.   CONSISTENCY.
3.   TIMING.
4.   CORRECT ATTIDUDE AND MINDSET.
5.   PROFESSIONALISM.
6.   GAME PLAN.
 
1.   KNOWLEDGE
 
Knowledge is the most important aspect in debt reduction/elimination.  Knowledge is how the collection industry works. What a collection agency can and cannot do for legal or economic reasons.  Knowledge is the only weapon you have against collection agency abuses.  This is fully explained in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. To download a complete text of the FDCPA, log on to: www.ftc.gov.  You are not in the collection business  the debt collector is, so the end result is a tremendous mismatch. Its called professional vs. amateur”. Your job is to be the professional, and armed with knowledge and your legal rights.  I cant begin to stress the importance of knowing your legal rights.  
 
WITH KNOWLEDGE:
 
Knowledge of the creditor is equally important. Is the creditor (the company or financial institution) experiencing a financial downturn and are willing to settle the account for any amount? Does the creditor have a policy of automatically settling for 50 cents on every dollar?  Is the creditor scared of bad publicity?  Does the creditor have accurate records to verify and dispute the debt? As you will soon learn, there are many factors within the category of knowledge that can greatly affect the outcome of being a success at debt reduction.
 
To become a total success at debt reduction and elimination of debt it is imperative that you get a strong understanding and concept of the life of a debt from the inception to final payment. It is also equally important that you learn what the debt collector can, and cannot do under the FDCPA, and applicable State Law.
 
The debt collector is a very blunt individual, and their only mission in life is to reach into your throat and pull the money out of your gullet. Always remember, knowledge is king in debt reduction, and the consumer possessing the right frame of mind and perseverance ends up the winner.
 
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A DEBT
 
When a financial institution or creditor extends credit, they do so under the pretense that you will be a responsible person and make all payments on time, and comply with the terms and conditions as set for in the agreement or contract. However, a persons life and financial situation can change from one day to the other. The creditor has certain in-house policies on how to handle such situations when financial difficulties arise. The creditor designs these policies and are made part of the loan, mortgage, credit line, credit card, medical office or other financial responsibility agreement.
 
ONE-MONTH DELINQUENT
 
One month (or 30-days past due) is an account the creditor has not received a payment within the past 30-day payment cycle. The initial contact will come as a friendly reminder notice. This reminder is usually made part of the following months billing cycle statement, or a separate letter. Typically, most people fall into this category because they forgot to pay the bill, lost the statement, or the post office lost the statement.
 
TWO-MONTHS DELINQUENT
 
This is commonly referred to as 60-days past due.  The creditor has not received a payment in two 30-day billing cycles. At this point, the creditor is still interested in maintaining the debtor as a customer, so they have to “walk a fine line”. They need to collect, but do not want to scare or embarrass the debtor.  At this point the customer/debtor will receive at least two formal letters, typically 10 to 20 days apart.  If they receive no response or payment from the debtor, next is a telephone call to the debtor. The topic of conversation will be the seriousness of the delinquency and “is there something wrong… and “how can we help or work out a payment plan”?
 
THREE-MONTHS DELINQUENT
 
This is an account where no payment has been received for more than 90 days, or the past three 30-day billing cycles.  Now, the creditor has a feeling they have a serious collection problem on their hands, and the longer a debt or account remains overdue, the harder it becomes to collect. They will use all in-house means available to them, which entails more letters and telephone calls to the debtor. The creditor then makes the determination to turn the delinquent account to a collection agency or collection attorney. In-house credit managers prefer not to do this for several reasons:
 
   They lose a percentage of the amounts owed (debt collectors will receive as payment a percentage of the amounts they recover).
 
   The in-house credit collection department may feel someone else is doing their job.
 
   Public relations considerations. This is especially true if the debtor is over 60 years of age.
 
If, by this time, they have not done so already, the creditor will rescind any credit the debtor may still have available with them. At this point, the creditor will advise the debtor the account is being turned over to a collection agency or attorney and the account is closed to any future activity.
 
Now, it is considered open season” on the debtor and the plan is to pursue the debtor with a vengeance.  If the past due amount is large, usually a commercial account, they will refer it to an attorney immediately. If the amount is small, or readily collectible, this is assigned to a collection agency. If the collection agency is unsuccessful, and the amount owed warrants it, they will assign it to an attorney for litigation.
 
COLLECTION AGENCIES
 
A creditor retains the collection agencies when the creditor has abandoned the debtor as a customer and feels they cannot collect the money owed to them. Many collection agencies are “bad debt buyers”. What this means is the debt collector purchases the original creditors bad debts and goes after the debtor for collection. Remember, collection agencies and bad debt buyers are NOT interested in preserving goodwill; they want to GET PAID. The fee varies from 15% to 70% of the amount collected. The more they collect, the more they make, and that makes their client, the creditor, very happy. Collection agencies and bad debt buyers employ a psychological advantage in collecting. Some debt collectors and bad debt buyers are very professional, but a lot of debt collectors cross the line and regularly violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
 
Collection agencies will contact the debtor first with a formal letter stating they have been retained by the creditor in an all out effort to collect on the past due account. All collection notices must indicate, “This is an attempt to collect a debt, any information obtained will be used for that purpose”.  If the debt collector does not receive a response from the creditor in 15 days, that is when the telephone calls begin. This usually happens if the debt is more than $100.00.  If the debt is less than $100.00, normally a collector will not call because the dollar amounts are small and it doesnt warrant a phone call.
 
With very large debts, sometimes, they will call even before a letter is sent to the debtor. Collection agencies love to use the telephone and automatic dialers on their computer systems. Many collectors and bad debt buyers do this because they believe it leaves them off the hook when they make threats that exceed the guidelines of the FDCPA.
 
 
 
 
SHORT SUMMARY OF THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
 
This Act defines and sets specific guidelines for third party debt collectors and attorneys about what they can, and are prohibited from doing. The Act prohibits the debt collector from performing outrageous collection tactics. In January of 2007, the ABC newsmagazine, 20/20 exposed the many abuses employed by debt collectors. The feature is called Debt Collectors Gone Wild”. Every scenario described in the feature was accurate.  
 
The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the FDCPA and the Federal Trade Commission takes violations to the FDCPA very seriously.
 
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the debt collector cannot:
 
   Write to anyone other than the debtor or the debtors attorney/representative.
 
   They may, however, try to find the debtor and they will ask others as to the debtors current whereabouts if the debt has skipped out on the debt. This is commonly referred to as “skip tracing”.  With the Internet and Information Brokers that you pay a membership fee to belong, it is very easy to find where someone is living, working, etc.
 
   Use of abusive/profane language or behavior, harass, oppress or abuse any person, threaten violence, using letters saying they are attorneys when they are not, threatening the debtor that “they will be arrested and a warrant issued for non-payment of debts or NSF checks”.  The debt collector cannot use the telephone to annoy or repeatedly call a consumer, cannot call the consumer before 8:00 a.m. their time zone or after 9:00 p.m. their time zone.
 
   The debt collector must identify themselves and the name of the agency or law firm they are calling from.
 
   The debt collector is prohibited from calling the consumer more than two times per week.
 
   The debt collector cannot call the debtor at his or her place of business unless the debt collector has the permission of the debtor to do so.
 
   The debt collector is prohibited from advertising, publishing or distributing a “deadbeat list” of debtors names that owe money (also applies to verbally telling other people).
 
   The debt collector cannot contact the debtor by postcard indicating they owe money on a past due account.
 
   The debt collector is not allowed to make the debtor incur any expenses for communicating with them, for example NO COLLECT CALLS.
 
   Use of fictitious names, this includes representing to be from a law firm, government agency, credit bureau, law enforcement official, both verbally and in writing.
 
   The debt collector cannot use tactics such as sending a consumer an “Affidavit of Debt”.
 
   Asking the consumer for a postdated check. Collection agencies are notorious for depositing a “post dated check” ahead of time, it gives them more leverage and never, ever give a debt collector your checking account number, they can wipe out your entire checking account in no time.
 
   Additionally, the debt collector must apply all funds the debtor submits to a collection agency, pursuant to a written agreement signed by all parties.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOW TO SETTLE YOUR PAST DUE ACCOUNTS FOR PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR:
 
Begin by contacting the debt collector or collection attorney by using the following letter. You can customize the letter for your own situation.  Be professional, humble and be willing to work toward an amicable settlement.
 
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT
 
Use this sample form letter to settle a past due account.  Try to negotiate a settlement with the original creditor rather than a debt collector.  However, this letter will work with a debt collector/attorney also. Remember, when entering into a settlement offer for any past due or collection account, be certain to honor the conditions of your repayment plan.  If you fail to comply with the terms, the settlement will be null and void and the original creditor has the legal right to demand the full amount.  
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
 
Date:
 
Name of Creditor/Collector/Attorney
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn: Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #:
   Settlement Amount: $
 
Dear :
 
I am writing to request your assistance with regard to my proposed settlement of the above-described account.
 
As per our recent telephone conversation, I was recently involved in a very traumatic divorce, and was required to vacate the family home. All outstanding accounts were to be divided up in the divorce proceedings.  However, with changes to my address and marital status, perhaps any bills that should have been sent to me at my new address were perhaps sent to my former address. In other words, I never received the bills or statements.
 
While trying to rebuild my life, I discovered that these accounts were being reported as collection matters on my credit reports.  I am trying to rebuild my credit after this life-changing event in my life. As we discussed, right now, I am doing the very best that I can, given these difficult circumstances.
 
I would like to propose the following settlement of account number ___________________, with an outstanding balance of $_____________________, which is a large sum for me at this time.
I would like to offer a settlement of $___________________, to be paid as .  
 
I am also concerned of the negative information that currently is being displayed on my credit bureau files.  I understand that this negative information you have placed on my credit report could remain for a period of 7 years, even after repayment of the debt.  However, I have the right to remove any information from my credit report through the suppliers of the information.
 
I respectfully request that because of my unfortunate and horrible situation, your would notify the credit bureaus to delete this account from my files when the settlement on this account is paid in full, as it does not reflect on my willingness to pay my moral and legal obligation to pay my debts.
 
Please contact me so that we may amicably resolve this situation.  Thank you for your attention in this unfortunate situation.
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
…..
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you are in the midst of a separation or divorce and have fallen behind in your obligations, use the format in the letter below. Always honor your agreement with the debt collector, bad debt buyer or original creditor.
 
NEGOTIATING SETTLEMENTS WITH CREDITORS FOR SEPARATION AND DIVORCE ISSUES
 
This letter is appropriate for people going through a separation and divorce proceedings.  Many former spouses or ex-significant other partners often use the credit of the other spouse or partner, run up bills, let the account go past due, and not forward the mail onto the former spouse or partner.  Send all correspondence to any debt collector, collection attorney or bad debt buyer by Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.  Remember when making offers to settle an old debt, or collection account, stay within your budget so you will be able to carry out the repayment terms.  
 
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
Date:
 
Name of Creditor/Collection Agency/
Collection Attorney/Bad Debt Buyer
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn:  Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #
   Offer to Settle Account in the Amount of $
 
Dear Mr./Ms.
 
I am writing in an attempt to settle this account.  I agree that should have been paid for services rendered, but I do not agree with this being reported on my credit file as a “bad debt”.  I would like to put this account and the controversy to rest, as I hope you would also.  I did not use your services, but am negligent in not following up with my <ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, and ex-partner> and making sure that the payments were paid on time.  I never received a statement or over due notice.  I no longer was living in the so I had no knowledge to suspect a payment problem.
 
My concern is if I made payment to you in an attempt to stop negative reporting to the credit bureau, the balance in my credit file would show “paid collection” and this negative trade line would be reported for a period of seven (7) years.  I would be wrong to punish me, as it is not a true indicator of my willingness to pay debts.  I believe that I am caught in the computers and a credit reporting system that does not tell what truly transpired and happened.  
 
I am requesting your assistance in deletion of this account from my credit reports when payment is full is received, as this does not accurately portray the unfortunate events that unfolded.  I have been informed by a reputable source that this can be accomplished within the purview of the law.
 
I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter and an expedient, favorable resolution to this very distressing problem.  
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
 
…..
 
If you have fallen behind in your electric, gas, telephone or other utilities, use the following letter to negotiate and settle accounts with utility companies.
 
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT WITH UTILITY (Phone, Gas, Electric, Water), CABLE T.V. OR SATELLITE T.V. COMPANIES
 
Use this sample letter to negotiate settlements with utility companies for past due and collection accounts. Remember to send all correspondence with any collector/attorney by Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.
 
YOUR NAME
ADDRESS
CITY, STATE & ZIP
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
Date:
 
Name of Utility Company/Collector/Attorney
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn:  Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #
   Amount in Controversy: $
   Address of Service:
 
Dear Mr./Ms:
 
Please be advised that this letter shall serve as an effort to once again, satisfy the above-referenced account/file number and the past due amount of $______________, and with .
 
You state, “In order for us to maintain the integrity of all the accounts that we refer to , we will only cancel accounts if they have been refereed due to an error on our part”. My request does nothing to breach your integrity concerning other accounts that have been reported to the credit bureaus.  It is the popularly held standard that the Fair Credit and Reporting Act concludes that paid collection accounts may be reported for seven (7) years from the date of last activity.  Thus, if a consumer, such as myself, were to pay off a debt, one would be burdened with a negative credit trade line for an additional seven (7) years above and beyond that time.
 
It is my goal to be free from an additional seven (7) years of negative credit data with regard to this account.  In my last correspondence of , (see enclosed copy of letter), I requested your assistance in putting this to rest by making payment, even though I was the recipient of the services being billed for.  I thought I had made it clear that this proposal is being made only for the purpose of compromise and is not in any way to be construed as an admission of any liability, wrongful or negligent conduct or bad faith on the part of either party.
 
I, again, respectfully request your assistance in the deletion of this account from my credit files with , when payment in full is received as this is not accurately portrayed what happened.  In this instant matter, your company will collect the obligation, in full, and I will face no more of a credit-reporting burden that already has been sustained.
 
Please review, and advise me of your intentions. Thank you.
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
CHAPTER TWO
Debt Collectors, Collection Attorneys, The Debt Validation Process and Formula
 
What if you receive a letter from a debt collector or collection attorney and you have no knowledge of the alleged bill, and lo and behold, the bogus information is now appearing on your credit files. Many bad debt buyers and debt collectors (including attorneys) attempt to re-age a debt that is more than seven (7) years old. This practice is prohibited and in violation of the FDCPA. The FDCPA states that you have thirty (30) days to dispute all or any portion of any alleged “debt” the collector claims you owe upon. This is especially true when you have discovered an identity thief has stolen your identity, opened up credit cards, loans, mortgages, bank accounts, skipped on the illegal debts and now, you are being contacted about the fraudulent accounts.
 
If collectors are calling and demanding money for a debt that may not be yours or you cannot remember if it is yours or the amount of the debt is wrong, you have, according to the FDCPA the right to dispute the debt. All disputes must be in writing; this preserves your legal rights under Federal and applicable State law.
 
Use the following letter after you receive the first telephone call or letter from the collector:
 
INITIAL DEBT COLLECTION DISPUTE LETTER
 
Your Name
Your Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated (insert date here), because I do not believe I owe that you say I owe.
 
This is the first time Ive heard from you, or any other company on this matter, therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Section 809(b): Validating Debts:
 
(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the 30 day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
 
I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information and documentation:
 
   The amount of the debt
   The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
   Provide a verification or copy of any civil judgment (if applicable)
   Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert the name of your state)
 
Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For instance, I know that:
 
Because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification and documentation of the debt or a copy of the civil judgment against me and mail these items and documents to me at your expense.
 
You cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
 
You do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validation constitutes a violation to the FDCPA.
 
Also, be advised that I am keeping perfect records of all correspondence from you and any further attempts to contact me by telephone; you will agree that I may record our telephone conversations. I will hesitate to report any violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.
 
I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated, you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB), then you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt.  Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the FCRA, § 1681s-2.  Should you pursue a judgment without validation, I will inform the court and sitting judge, and request the case to be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA, and all court costs and attorney fees to be assessed against you.
 
Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are aware of my dispute with this debt.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
You disputed a debt over 30 days ago… but the collector has failed to respond. Its a good idea to follow up an initial debt dispute letter with another letter reminding the debt collector of your dispute, and your request for validation. Use this letter to draft your own personal letter but ONLY if you have already sent an initial dispute letter and the collector failed to respond.
 
FOLLOW UP DEBT COLLECTION DISPUTE LETTER  SAME DEBT COLLECTOR
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am writing to you because I have not heard from you regarding my letter of (insert date here).
 
On (insert date of initial dispute letter here) I sent you a letter, a copy that is attached hereto. I believe my first letter is self-explanatory, and in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:
 
(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the 30 day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
 
I must remind you that in my previous letter, I requested the following information:
 
   The amount of the debt
   The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
   Provide a verification or copy of any civil judgment (if applicable)
   Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert the name of your state)
 
I also requested that if you have reported me to any credit reporting agency, that you inform the credit-reporting agency that I have placed this debt in dispute and to provide me with proof that you have done so. Furthermore, asked that you immediately send a copy of my letter of (insert date of initial dispute letter here) to the company (creditor) that you say I owe money, so they are also aware of my dispute with this alleged debt.
 
As of the date of this letter, you have failed to respond to my requests!  
 
Since you have failed to respond, I assume that you have been unable to validate and prove the debt. Therefore, I consider this matter closed. You may consider this letter your official notification that I do not intend to correspond with you on this matter again unless you comply with my requests, the FDCPA and the FCRA.
 
I must remind you that any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA.  Be assured that I have kept perfect records of all correspondence and telephone calls.  Be further advised that I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, the local and national Better Business Bureau, plus my state Department of Professional Regulations.
 
Please govern yourselves accordingly.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
….….
 
All of a sudden and out of nowhere you receive a call from a debt collector or a letter from a debt collector or attorney demanding payment on an old debt. All states have a Statute of Limitations, which in legal terms is referred to as time barred” on enforcement of debts.  Although a debts SOL has expired, that does not prohibit creditors and collectors from attempting to collect on a debt.  What this means, the courts cannot be used to force you to pay the debt through legal actions such as litigation or obtaining a civil judgment, liens, wage and bank account garnishments.  
 
Assuming the debt is valid, once it expires, its up to you to decide whether or not to pay it. If you choose not to pay the debt, you might save yourself and the creditor or debt collector time and money by sending a letter informing them of the expired statute of limitations in your jurisdiction (State), if they threaten to use legal action on an expired debt.
 
 
 
 
EXPIRED STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS NOTIFICATION LETTER
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   (insert account number or name of account or name of debt)
 
To whom it May Concern:
 
This is in response to your (letter dated _______________, 2_______) (copy enclosed) or (phone call on _________________, 2_______), concerning the collection of the above referenced matter.
 
I do not believe I owe what you say I owe, therefore dispute this alleged debt.  I am well aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and my state laws and statutes. I hope to save both of us a great deal of time by letting you know that not only do I dispute the validity of this debt, I have also checked with my State Attorney General, and discovered that the Statute of Limitations for enforcing this type of debt through the courts (insert your state or the state in which the contract or agreement was signed) has expired.
 
Therefore, should you decide to pursue this matter in court, I intend to inform the court and the sitting judge of my dispute of this debt and that the “statute of limitations” has expired.
 
This letter is your formal notification that I consider this matter closed and demand that you, or anyone affiliated with your company, stop contacting me regarding this or any other matter except to advise me that your debt collection efforts are being terminated, or that you or the creditor are taking specific actions allowed by the FDCPA or my state laws.
 
Be advised that I consider any contact not in accordance with the FDCPA a serious violation of federal law and will immediately report any violations to my State Attorney General, to the Federal Trade Commission, to the State Department of Professional Regulations, to the local and national Better Business Bureau, plus take whatever legal action necessary to protect my legal rights. Violations to the FDCPA can result in you or your company being personally fined up to $1,000 per incident.
 
Give this letter the immediate attention it deserves.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
Have you exhausted all efforts to negotiate and settle with the debt collector and seem to be running up against a brick wall?  By law, you do not have to converse with a debt collector, and this rule applies to bad debt buyers.  Use the following letters to get your point across. Remember, if you owe the debt, the creditor can assign it to another debt collector or collection attorney. Its best to strike a deal using the formula described in Chapter One of this publication.  Yes, you can be your own credit & debt counselor without the hefty legal or professional consultant fees.
 
CEASE COMMUNICATION LETTER
 
Send this letter to the debt collector by Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail  With Proof of Delivery Verification. This letter also applies to bad debt buyers (or as I refer to them as scavengers and bottom feeders) as they are subject to the law and statutes of the FDCPA, in spite of their protests and assertions that since they bought the debt and they are not the collector.  WRONG!!! They ARE a debt collector and subject to all applicable federal and state laws.  Send the collector this letter, its legal and IT WORKS!
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Name of Collector or Law Firm
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   File/Account #                                   , Creditor Name, Amount in
            Controversy: $                              
 
Dear (name of collector)/(collection attorney):
 
Be advised that this letter will serve as my legal notice to you and your firm under the provisions of federal law, specifically, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), to cease all communication with me regarding your collection effort concerning the above-referenced matter.
 
If you fail to heed this notice, I will file a Complaint with the State Attorney Generals Office, the Department of Professional Regulations, the American Collectors Association or the local State Bar Association. After careful thought and consideration, I/we have made the decision it is not in our best interest to work with a collection agency under any circumstances.  I/We will contact the original creditor to resolve this matter directly, as circumstances warrant.
 
You are hereby notified that should any adverse information be placed against my/our consumer credit files as a result of this notice, appropriate actions will be taken. Give this letter the immediate attention it deserves.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
Okay, you sent the debt collector or the collection attorney the above letter. The majority of collection agencies and law firms will oblige.  But, some are real marauders and they feel it is in their best interest of their client (creditor) to attempt to bean you over the head, scare you and attempt to pull the money out of your gullet. I crafted and have used the following letter with a 100% success rate. I call it my debt collector buzz-off and “its time to get tough” letter, and IT WORKS!
 
Notice of Harassment to Debt Collector/Agency/Attorney/Firm
 
When a debt collector continues on with their ignorant and unlawful behavior, this is the letter to send them packing for good. It defines your legal rights, and it is enforceable in every jurisdiction and state in the United States of America.  Remember, the Federal Trade Commission takes violations to consumers legal rights with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act VERY SERIOUSLY.  Send this letter via Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.  Keep a copy of this letter for your file. For filing a complaint for a debt collector that continues to violate your legal rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, immediately contact your State Attorney General for assistance.  
 
 
 
 
 
YOUR NAME
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
NAME OF DEBT COLLECTOR/AGENCY/ATTORNEY/FIRM
Address 1
Address 2
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   NOTICE OF HARASSMENT
 
To Whom It May Concern:
 
On , you received my letter, via Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested, a Notice of Dispute regarding alleged collection account #_______________.  
 
Pursuant to Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are required to cease all collection efforts of the disputed amount until verification and validation of this alleged debt is completed.  However, since , what has happened is that the volume of telephone calls to my place of residence has increased, sometime up to .  I consider this behavior on your part to be harassment of me and very disruptive to my home environment.
 
Please be advised that this letter is FORMAL NOTICE that you are to limit all future communication with me, IN WRITING ONLY.  If I receive any future telephone calls from your <company, office, law firm>, I will consider your calls as harassment.  Be further advised that unwanted telephone calls from your <company, office or law firm> in this state and jurisdiction is considered a violation of telecommunications law and is a criminal offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor).  I will also file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.  I maintain perfect telephone records for each telephone call, and in some cases, make audio recordings if deemed necessary.  I permanently record all messages left on my voice mail.  I have evidence of over from your <company, office or law firm> since your received my Notice of Dispute on . Beware, be wise, and consider the consequences.
 
Be advised that you have the right to remain silent, and if you ignore this Notice of Harassment and continue to violate the FDCPA, and any applicable federal or state law and statutes, you and members of your staff will agree to allow the writer of this letter, to make audio recordings of our conversations and you and your staff further agree to allow any recorded conversation to be admitted into evidence and used against you and your staff in any court of competent jurisdiction. I will accept ONLY written communication and your failure to honor this request may constitute a violation of Section 806 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which WILL RESULT IN LEGAL ACTION AND CRIMINAL ACTION BEING BROUGHT AGAINST YOU. Please govern yourselves accordingly.
 
You should also be aware that making unsubstantiated demands for payment over the telephone may, and in this particular case, can be considered a form or wire fraud. Furthermore, sending or causing to be sent, unsubstantiated “demands for payment” through the United States Postal Authority and System, might constitute mail fraud charges to be brought against you, under federal and state laws. Before performing any of the illegal acts as described in the paragraphs above, you may wish to consult with a competent legal advisor before your next communication with me.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
CHAPTER THREE
Identity Theft
How to combat this ever-growing problem
 
If your identity is stolen, you will quickly find that theft of identity can be a challenge. If you discover your private information has been accessed, stolen or compromised in any way, you should do four (4) things right away.
 
FIRST STEP  GET COPIES OF YOUR CREDIT REPORTS.  You can obtain a free copy of your credit report by logging on to www.annualcreditreport.com or contacting the three major credit-reporting agencies. To contact Trans Union: www.transunion.com. Experian: www.experian.com. Equifax: www.equifax.com. After obtaining a copy of the reports, it is important that you review the “tradeline” section and the “inquiry” section of your reports. The tradeline section shows the payment histories of established accounts, i.e. accounts where credit has been granted (e.g. credit cards, loans, mortgages, car loans, etc.). It can take weeks or several months for opened accounts to appear in the tradeline section of a credit report. The time lag happens because credit card companies, banks and finance companies only report account experiences on a monthly basis.
 
The credit inquiry section of a credit report is the most important section to find out what is happening to your credit. This shows what companies have accessed and pulled your credit report. The credit inquiry section will show on your credit report as a “credit inquiry” almost immediately. From the credit inquiry section, you can get a good idea of any accounts that may appear on the tradeline section in a few weeks. If you do not have recent inquiries you might rest a little easier, although theft of identity is still possible (for example, checking accounts, someone assuming your name and personal identity to apply for a job, etc.). If you see numerous inquiries, but the accounts never appear in the tradeline, the identity thief was turned down for credit.
 
The second most important section is the Personal Information Section, which displays employment, current and former addresses.  If there are any suspicious addresses, then you have a situation on your hands.
 
Chronologically, the next credit report section that is involved in the theft of identity are collection accounts (these accounts are separate on Equifax credit reports and blended with positive trade lines on Experian and Trans Union reports). Generally, credit card companies and banks charge off delinquent accounts after six (6) months when they do not receive a payment, and the debt is assigned to a collection agency (they can, and are assigned after a 90-day delinquency).  The result of bad checks (NSF) from a fraudulent bank account may start appearing on the credit report (this would be noted under the “adverse account” section on your report) a few months after the fraud (since most states require notices to be issued to the last known address of the account holder) and have been known to appear years later. There is a possibility a civil judgment may have been taken (by ex-parte or default) against the identity thief using your name. A civil judgment will usually appear on the credit report over six months later in the public records section of the report.
 
By examining your credit report, it will be very evident that you are a victim, and if so, the scope and timeframe of the fraud (and whether the defrauder is still applying for credit). Inquiries will show immediately, trade lines will show up in a few weeks or months, collection accounts within six months, checking accounts a few months or years later. Civil judgments are reported within months or years later.
 
Another area to watch for identity theft is your State Driver Motor Vehicles Records (DMV) and Secretary of State  Drivers License and State ID Division. Many times, fraud is actively perpetrated on a valid Drivers License, which results in the discovery of numerous, serious traffic convictions, including moving violations, criminal convictions. Your auto insurance premiums can be increased dramatically, or your insurance company will issue you a cancellation notice because of a poor driving record. If you discover this type of fraud, you must contact your State Attorney General and the District Attorney where the offenses were committed.  
 
SECOND STEP  ORDER A FRAUD ALERT. If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, this should be your first step.  The fraud alert discloses a telephone number you provide and asks any creditor opening a credit account to call the number to verify whether or not you are the actual person submitting an application for an account. Using this technique can be a problem if you move or change your telephone number. If you do move and change your telephone number, notify the three major credit-reporting agencies of this change, and provide the CRA with evidence of your old address, phone number and your new address and phone number. There are two (2) types of Fraud Alerts. An initial fraud alert remains active on your reports for 90 days.  An Extended Alert remains active on your report for seven (7) years. To have an Extended Alert implemented, you will have to provide an Affidavit of Fraud.
 
THIRD STEP  GET A POLICE REPORT.  This can be difficult with some police departments some believe it to be a “civil matter”. If you encounter this problem, contact your State Attorney General for assistance. If you are successful in obtaining a police report, be sure to get the report number and the name of the police officer taking your report. This way, you can refer anyone conducting an investigation into the reporting of your credit (including collection agencies and collection attorneys) over to the proper person. If the police department refuses to accept a report, be sure to memorize this in writing (e.g. “this letter is to confirm you will not take a report of the crime of identity theft against me”). Some extremely abusive credit card companies and debt collectors insist on the police report where the credit card company extended credit to a family member who does not want to do this to a family member.  If this situation applies to you, it is important that you contact an attorney to give advice on what to do.
 
FOURTH STEP  COMPLETE AN AFFIDAVIT OF FRAUD.  The Federal Trade Commission assisted in the completion of an Affidavit of Fraud that all credit-reporting agencies accept. The FTC Affidavit is available in PDF format by logging on to: www.ftc.gov.
 
FIFTH STEP  DISPUTE.  Dispute the fraudulent accounts in writing. Chapter Seven “Credit Restoration” will serve as your guide. It is very important that you send your disputes to the credit reporting agencies in addition to the defrauded creditors.
 
Additional Steps that May be Applicable:
 
   Opt Out of Prescreening and Promotional Offers.  As part of the same procedure, you should consider opting out of “prescreened credit offers”.  Credit reporting agencies sell some of your information to companies “that would like to extend you a firm offer of credit, goods or services”.  If you use a rural route mailbox or a mailbox that is not secure, this can be a serious problem. You can eliminate these mailings even if you are not a victim of ID theft and fraud. The telephone number to opt out from “prescreened offers” is 1-888-567-8688.  
 
   Credit Freeze.  Some states allow you to put a freeze on your credit that allows only you to turn on or turn off the ability to apply for credit.  This is not an item covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you will have to check with your state law, concerning this procedure.
 
   Checking Account Theft of Identity.  The most hard-to-resolve issue for ID theft victims is when an identity thief is able to establish a checking account using the identity of the victim. Hundreds of checks can be issues that in turn involve collection agencies. In addition, Tele-Check, Chex Systems, Inc., have in their database a series of NSF checks.  Below is a list of check clearing companies:
 
CrossCheck: (800) 654-2365 or (707) 586-0431, www.cross-check.com.
 
Certigy:  (800) 437-5120, www.certigy.com.  
 
SCAN:  (800) 262-7771 or (877) 382-7226, www.scanassist.com.
 
TeleCheck: (800) 366-2425, www.telecheck.com.
 
Chex Systems, Inc., (800) 428-9623, www.chexsystems.com.
 
Other Places You Can Find Assistance:
 
   Your State Department of Motor Vehicles. Someone may have obtained a drivers license or state ID card in your identity.  Check with your state-licensing agency.
 
   U.S. Postal Service.  If a mail theft or a bogus change of address card was submitted, the U.S. Postal Inspector should be immediately contacted.  Log on to: www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/welcome.htm.
 
   Social Security Administration. If an identity thief has used your Social Security Number, contact the SSA Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, PO Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
 
   Federal Trade Commission.  ID Theft Hotline: (877) 438-4338, I.D. Theft Clearinghouse, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.
 
   State Attorney General. Most AG offices have a special unit or department solely dedicated to ID theft victims and work hand-in-hand with various law enforcement agencies.  
 
How to Prevent and Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
 
   Car prowl is a prime source for ID theft.  Thieves know how to look in merchandise bags for credit receipts, which often include your credit card number. Put all bags in the trunk of your car, or if you own a hatchback, cover the bags with a blanket.  
 
   Have your mail delivered to a secure location. Mailbox theft is another common source for identity thieves. Your credit card statement contains everything a criminal needs to make a purchase by telephone or on the Internet.
 
   Do not place any bill payments in an unlocked mailbox for postal pickup. Place all payments in a secured post office drop box either at the post office or an auxiliary post office drop box.
 
   Carefully review your credit card statements. Contest and dispute any unauthorized items or entries.  
 
   Dont give out personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call. Identity thieves can pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers, collection agencies, government agencies, etc. to get you to reveal sensitive information such as account numbers, passwords, SSN, or your mothers maiden name.
 
   Never use a debit card or check when shopping online. Once the money is stolen from your account, it can be difficult to recover your money. Check with your bank and procedure for recovery. Consider using one credit card for online purchases.  Always use a secure browser when transmitting credit card numbers and funds over the Internet. Review your statement every month. Dispute any suspicious charges.
 
   Keep a list of all your credit/debit cards, card numbers and issuer telephone numbers.  This will facilitate your reports to creditors/banks if your purse or wallet is stolen.
 
   Memorize your ATM password.  Never store the password in your purse or wallet.
 
   Invest in a crosscut or high-tech paper shredder. It is paramount that you purchase the most expensive paper shredder you can find. Shred all credit card receipts, pre-approved credit offers, utility bills, credit card convenience checks and bank statements.
 
   Cancel any unused credit cards and charge accounts.
 
   Be VERY stingy when disclosing your Social Security Number (SSN).  Do not give it out to everyone who requests it!  Make a thoughtful decision regarding whether the requester really needs it. Ask to use other types of personal identifiers.  
 
   Never, ever print your SSN or Drivers License/State ID Numbers on your checks. Take only the number of checks you will need on any given day.  When using travelers checks never allow anyone to write your Drivers License, Passport or State ID card number on the checks when used for payment.
 
   Never, ever carry your Social Security Card in your purse or wallet. If you health insurance card contains all or a portion of your SSN, ask you insurer for a new card without your SSN, and until the new health insurance card is issued, carry the old card only when you need to use it.
 
   Prevent credit reporting agencies from selling your name, SSN, address and credit rating. Merchants who would like to offer you credit cards or sell you merchandise or services buy your information from Trans Union, Experian and Equifax.  Contact each CRA for their “Opt-Out Department” and tell them to stop selling your information.
 
   Prevent your creditors and identity clearing houses from selling or “sharing” your personal information.
 
   Your creditors generally sell or “share” your name, address, SSN, financial information, spending habits, bill paying habits unless you instruct them not to. This information often finds its way to clearing houses for personal information, and to the Internet. Find sample letters to use for preventing disclosure at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, www.privacyrights.org and JUNKBUSTERS, www.junkbusters.com.  
 
   Obtain copies of all three (3)-credit reports on a regular basis. Check the accuracy and note any discrepancies. Be sure the CRA has the correct address for you, especially if you have moved or suspect your identity has been compromised.
 
CHAPTER FOUR
Computer Scams and Email Phlishing Scams
 
Just about everyone today owns a personal computer, a PDA or a BlackBerry device for transmitting email and data over the Internet (wired or wireless).  The Internet is a very useful tool for work, personal use, schoolwork, research and keeping in touch with family and friends located far away.
 
Unfortunately, out there in cyberspace, lurks a new, and sophisticated criminal, actively looking for ways how to steal your personal information and appear to be sending you an email message from a legitimate website. These are called fake or “phlishing” emails. They can be sent from anywhere in the word, and the most common are from Internet Auction websites such as Ebay, Amazon, Overstock.com, major banks, and Pay Pal.  What the cyber crook does is download the company logo and sets up a phony website and email through either Microsoft Hotmail or Yahoo. The send the fake email message to as many people they can find, with messages such as:  Your Pay Pal account has been accessed by another party located outside the United States and you need to click on the link below and fill out you current information, including your password”. This type of scam has been going on for a long time. If in doubt of any so-called emergency email message” from Ebay, Pay Pal, Overstock.com or Amazon, contact each company or bank and request whether or not they really sent you a message that your account has been breached”.  All companies that I have interviewed about security, their policy is their employees and representatives never ask a customer for their password, ever.  If you receive messages such as this on a regular basis, check to see if your computer has been infected with a spyware program. Have your computer regularly checked by a professional computer technician or engineer, keep your firewall and anti-virus program up to date. Install a spyware removal program to delete unwanted advertising cookies and set your Windows program to avoid all pop-ups.
 
Another troubling scam are emails from Europe, the Far East and Africa in the form of a letter being sent by a widow”, a lawyer from a European country or Africa” asking if you would be so kind to deposit their certified or cashiers bank check” and that you are a trusted person and you will be compensated with several million dollars for your act of kindness”.  Folks, this is one of the oldest cons, it used to be called a pigeon drop”. If you receive this type of email, DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY. It is a total fraud and many people have fallen for this scam and have been taken for a lot of money. What the criminal does is send you a “Certified Check” or a “Cashiers Check” from a foreign country; you deposit the check and give the sender of the email the sum they have instructed. After a few days, the check is declared a fake, and you are now on the hook with your own bank for thousands of dollars.  This scam is directed at everyone that has an email address.  If you continue to receive these letters more than once a week, print them out and notify your local FBI Office.  
 
CHAPTER FIVE
Credit Restoration - How to correct your credit files
 
There are three (3) main consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs).  They are: Trans Union, LLC, Equifax Information Services, LLC, and Experian Information Solutions, LLC (formerly known as TRW, Inc.).  In addition to the three major CRAs, there are local credit reporting agencies that combine all three CRAs into a “tri-merge report”. These are commonly used by mortgage lending companies and rental property management firms.
 
Other Reporting Agencies:
 
Business Credit:  Dunn & Bradstreet  reports on the creditworthiness of businesses.
 
Medical History: Medical Information Bureau  compiles and stores your confidential and private medical information used by insurance companies.
 
Rental Reports:  Various companies  typically combine civil and criminal case information with a single CRAs credit report.
 
How the CRAs Obtain Information:  The Big Three Consumer Agencies collect from court records, banks, utility companies, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, finance companies, department stores, cellular telephone companies, and many other companies issuing credit. Each CRA reports different information that is why no two credit reports are alike. One CRA may have complete information and the other two will have incomplete information. Case in point, one or two CRAs will report a tax lien and the third CRA will not.
 
Credit Reporting is Changing:  A credit report is not a paper file kept in one place at a credit-reporting agency.  This is part of the reason why correcting errors can be so frustrating. The CRA has all of your information saved in a particular format in a big, interconnected database. Your information is stored and maintained with everyone.  When a CRA receives information from creditors and others, all the information gets placed into one, huge “vat” of information or a few different vats owned by affiliated companies.
 
When a business inquires or “pulls” your credit report, a search program or algorithm pulls information from this vat, based upon your “personal identifiers” such as your name, address, date of birth and SSN. The search algorithm is supposed to filter out obsolete information and credit information that doesnt belong to you. The remaining information is combined into one report. Your credit report isnt something fixed since the information used to create your credit report is constantly changing as creditors pour information into the “vat”.
 
CORRECTING YOUR CREDIT IN FIVE (5) STEPS:
 
First Step:  GET A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORT.
 
Consumers may obtain a free copy of their report on line, once every 12 months. Simply go to: www.annualcreditreport.com and request your complimentary Trans Union, Experian and Equifax profiles.  
 
If you have been turned down for credit in the past 60 days, log on to each CRA website and tell them you were denied credit, provide the name of the company, bank, finance or utility company that denied you credit and insert the Reference Number on the denial letter.  
 
If you have not been turned down for credit, the cost (on-line) is $9.50. You can pay by credit card online. If you prefer to send a letter along with a copy of the credit denial letter, you may contact each CRA at the following addresses:
 
   Experian, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013; phone: (800) 682-7654.
   Trans Union, PO Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390; phone: (800) 916-8800.
   Equifax, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374; phone: (800) 685-1111.
 
 
Second Step: REVIEWING THE REPORT.
 
When you receive a copy of your report, the CRA will include a pamphlet or a form explaining how to read their format. There are generally five (5) sections:
 
Identification or File Number:  This section usually includes your name, address, SSN, date of birth, current and former addresses, current and former employers, your job description and your home telephone number. Experian includes your drivers license number and you should dispute this immediately. Having your D/L number displayed on your credit report is dangerous!  If a criminal obtained a copy of the file, Experian has given the thief everything to become you on paper.
 
Credit History:  This section shows various accounts and how timely you paid on them. There are two (2) main types of accounts that are displayed under “credit history”. The first are revolving accounts. The minimum payment amount is displayed, along with the credit limit and high balance information.  The second are “installment accounts a definite amount due in fixed installments. Mortgage payments are considered “installment accounts”, as are student loans. Underneath the accounts, it may reflect how and when the payments were made.  The CRA break down the account if there were late payments to show how many payments are 30, 60, 90 and 120 days past due. Thus, (3)(30), (2)(60), (1)(90) means you have paid three times 30 days late, two times 60 days late and one time 90 days late. If the account is fairly old, it may state “charge-off”  “profit & loss write-off” or “referred for collection”.  
 
Collection Accounts:  These accounts are being pursued by collection methods, usually by a debt collector. Some collection agencies prefer to operate as a “collection law firm” in order to scare consumers by lending the appearance that litigation is forthcoming. Lists of Americas Worst Debt Collectors and Collection Law Firms can be found at Bud Hibbs website: www.BudHibbs.com.
 
Public Records: a contractor for the CRA usually obtains these records. The contractor goes through public records maintained by courts and the County Recorder of Deeds.  Bankruptcies, judgment, release and satisfaction of judgment, tax liens (Federal & State), releases of tax liens, and foreclosures are just some of the information obtained from public records.
 
Inquiry Section:  This is a listing of businesses that have either pulled your full credit report, pulled certain information on your report, or have “pre-screened” your report. The credit card company you applied to, the car dealership (legally or illegally), these will all show as an inquiry. If your full report was pulled, an abbreviated name of the business will appear without initials in front of it. Generally, if you have established a credit relationship with a company, bank, finance company or insurance company, they will pull your report for periodic reviews of your overall credit profile and FICO score.
 
 
 
Third Step:  FINDING THE CAUSE OF CREDIT REPORTING ERRORS
 
Errors in Credit Reports Occur on a Regular Basis:  Fraud, data entry errors, co-mingling other family members information, or persons with similar names and birth dates, improper merging of information by the CRA.  Creditors, the CRA, collection agencies, public record information, etc, can also cause errors.
 
Creditor Error:  This is caused by improper format; a creditor or “furnisher of information” to the CRA provides the information in a database format that allows the CRA to bring the information into the database.  The individual pieces of data are known as “fields” The current format is “METRO 2”. This was created in order to comply with the amendments of 1996 to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, some very large creditors, including some large national credit card banks and companies have not moved to METRO 2 and are still using METRO 1. This can create a lot of aggravation in providing truthful and correct consumer information, especially regarding bankruptcy.
 
Incorrect Names:  An incorrect name or SSN inputting by the creditor can go to the wrong consumer file. This happens frequently with common names or where there is a senior/junior relationship.
 
Collection Agency Reporting Errors.  Some collection agencies purposely (and illegally) place collection accounts on credit reports to “force” the victim to pay. Collection agencies know some people will pay, even though they do not actually owe the money, especially if they are attempting to get credit.  This scenario is common when a person applies for a mortgage loan, and they want to get approved ASAP. Under recent Amendments to the FCRA, you can proceed against the collection agency that improperly (and illegally) reports the information. The source of the problem sometimes arises because creditors and CRAs do not provide enough identification details when inputting new information into a file.
 
Identity Theft. Refer to Chapter Three.
 
CRA Error.  Most credit reporting agencies use: Name, address, SSN, and date of birth as identifiers.  The CRA can err mis-merging information where identifying information is similar. This happens frequently where there are junior/senior relationships, errors entering the SSN. If the child with the same name as the parent (or vice versa) moves into the home, big problems can result. There can also be problems with a recently married spouse that has the same name as a stepchild or the ex-spouse.
 
Public Records Errors:  The Big Three pay companies to go through court files and land records to obtain information. This includes bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens. If the CRA does not have the company check often, the fact that a judgment or bankruptcy that was later vacated or satisfied may not get reported.
 
Basic Concept:  Charge Off:  Federal regulations provide that a delinquent account is to be charged off (or profit & loss) after 180 days after default (64 Fed. Reg. No. 27, 6655 “Uniform Retail Classification and Account Management Policy”.
 
Fourth Step: ALWAYS KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS
 
Many credit card companies, banks and CRAs provide toll-free numbers and websites you can use to dispute reporting errors. It is better to document your credit error dispute on paper.  There are many reasons to put the dispute in writing instead of using the telephone.  
 
Show concern. Just the fact that you bothered to compile everything on a letter indicates you are truly concerned with the credit errors displayed on your file. If you need the assistance of an attorney or regulatory agency later, this will assist in their respective investigations.
 
Track your progress and keep tabs on the situation.  There may be many people involved in your dispute before it is resolved. You may need to show your paperwork to attorneys and law enforcement officials in fraud cases. Having documents and paperwork helps others to “get up to speed”.  Do not rely on any creditor to keep track of your matter in anything but a self-serving manner.
 
Legal Effect:  The obligations of some credit card companies and state law are not triggered unless you provide a dispute, in writing within 30 days of the problem.
 
Fifth Step:  SEND DISPUTE LETTERS
 
Send Dispute Letters to Each CRA.  It is imperative that you send dispute letters to the CRA.  This is not only a logical step, but it takes action against a company that provides false data to the CRA. You must provide the CRA notice and the liability of that furnisher under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. One of the difficulties in sending disputes to the CRA is they want to accept disputes online. Experian has been especially difficult in shutting down a post office box where it accepted disputes for many years (PO Box 9595, Allen, TX).  They refused to forward the mail to another address. Call or check on line for correct mailing addresses for disputes.
 
Send Disputes via Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation. Many attorneys and paralegals that deal with CRA issues believe it is imperative that you send disputes by Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation.  I agree and in some jurisdictions, a phone call will not preserve your legal rights under state law and statutes. The receiver must sign the green postcard and that comes back to you.  With priority mail, the signor must sign the delivery confirmation.
 
 
 
SAMPLE LETTERS FOR CRA DISPUTES
 
Initial Dispute Letter:
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Name of CRA
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   Your Name                                      
SSN                          
DOB                          
   Current Address:
   Former Address:
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am sending you this letter to dispute the inaccurate information currently displayed on my credit file. You are reporting many accounts in my credit history that are not, and never have been mine.
 
(Provide a ton of detail. Every last word you can use to explain the events, circumstances and facts regarding your dispute, for example, if you are disputing credit cards opened by your ex-spouse, (Johnson vs. MBNA, et al):  {my estranged husbands/wifes name is _________________.  I have not been in contact with him/her for a long time. However, late in our relationship, I discovered that he/she had a very serious gambling problem. I learned that he/she opened credit accounts without my knowledge, without my permission.  Now, these accounts are being reported on my credit profiles.
 
These accounts were only his/hers, and you mistakenly added them to my credit profiles, or else they were obtained and opened using my name and other personal information without my knowledge and permission. Either way, I do not owe any money regarding these accounts, and the inaccuracies currently being reported are very injurious to my over-all credit rating. I demand these accounts be deleted from my credit file immediately:
 
AMEX  I have only one American Express account, which I opened in 1992. I believe it is the account reported as #_____________________. I have not applied for, or used any other such accounts.  You are reporting account #_____________________, as if it were indeed mine, to which it is not.
 
CHASE  I have never applied for, used, or agreed to be responsible for any account with Chase. My credit report shows an account for this company, its not mine.
 
You have other information displayed on my credit report that is inaccurate.  The following needs to be deleted:
 
Other addresses.  I have never lived at ____________________________, _____________.  In my entire lifetime, I have never resided or been employed at this address.
 
Employment.  I have never been employed by ____________________________.  This is my estranged husbands/wifes employer.
 
Accordingly, please correct my credit history and profile as detailed above.  I have enclosed a clear copy of my current photo ID, along with a copy of a recent utility bill as proof of my true identity and residency.  
 
As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have thirty days from the date you receive this letter to investigate, delete, update and return a corrected copy of my credit file to me.  
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
Follow Up Letter to Credit Reporting Agency  Failure To Respond to Your Dispute Letter
 
Use this letter if your initial attempts to gain a response from the credit-reporting agency, and you have not received a response from your initial dispute notice/letter within the required 30-day time frame. In this letter, and all succeeding correspondence with the credit-reporting agency, you need to get increasingly threatening and tough. Keep a copy for your files and send the letter CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED.
 
YOUR NAME
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
            Article #
 
 
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:  Dispute Letter of <Date you sent in first or previous requests>
 
Dear Consumer Relations Dept.:
 
This letter is formal notice that you have failed to respond to my dispute letter of . I sent the initial letter registered mail and have enclosed a copy of the return receipt that you signed on .
 
As you are well aware, the laws and statutes surrounding the Fair Credit & Reporting Act requires you to respond within a thirty (30) day time frame from the date you received my initial dispute notice. It has now been over that period since your receipt of my letter. Furthermore, I have not received a written request from your office stating you needed additional time to investigate my dispute.  As you no doubt are aware, failure to comply with federal regulations by credit reporting agencies is a serious violation of the Fair Credit Reporting ActFair Credit Reporting Act and may be investigated by the FTC. Obviously, I am maintaining detailed records of all my correspondence with you.
 
I am aware that you may have misplaced my letters or have failed to respond to my letter because of an oversight due to the high volume of the requests you receive daily. If this is the case, Im sure youll want to handle this matter as soon as possible. For this purpose, I have included a copy of my original request, the dated receipt of your reception of the original letter, and a copy of the proof verifying the incorrectness of the credit item you have mistakenly placed on my records.
 
The following information, therefore, needs to be verified and deleted from my credit reportcredit report as soon as possible:
 
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SS#
DOB
Your Current Address
Your Former Address
 
Encl.
Letter to Update Accounts or Debts That Were Discharged in a Bankruptcy Case
 
Many times the CRA does NOT update accounts or debts that were included and discharged in a Bankruptcy case. This is especially true in Chapter 7 cases.  The accounts or debts are still being reported on your credit profile as open-unpaid collection account”.  This inaccurate information can significantly lower a persons credit score. Use the following dispute letter and send it to the CRA along with a copy of your Schedule of Unsecured Creditors and Discharge of Debt Order from the court.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:    Inaccurate reporting of accounts that were discharged in Bankruptcy case
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I obtained a copy of my credit report and discovered a lot of inaccurate information.  
 
I filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 on (insert date here), under case #________________________, in the __________________ Division of ___________________________.  
 
There are several accounts displayed on my report, which are debts that were discharged in my bankruptcy case. I am attaching a copy of the Unsecured Creditors Schedule and a copy of the Order of Discharge dated _______________________.  The following tradeline accounts should be showing “discharged in Bankruptcy as of ______________, with no balance:
 
{List all accounts here, including civil judgments discharged}
 
 
Please review the bankruptcy records for the case listed above through your online access.
 
I respectfully request you investigate and update the above-referenced accounts so the information is correctly displayed on my credit file. Send me an updated copy of my credit file after updating and correcting the incorrect information on my credit file. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to investigate and update any dispute within thirty days after your receipt of this letter and supporting documentation.
 
Enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID and utility bill as proof of my identity and residency.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SS#
DOB
Current Address
Former Address
 
 
Encl.
 
 
Letter to Send to CRA that Co-Mingles Your Information With Another Family Member or in Cases of Identity Theft
 
A common credit reporting problem occurs when the CRA mixes or merges credit information and files of one person into the credit information of another person. The computer programs used by the CRAs do not require exact matches to merge the information and as a result, the CRA is often incorrect in their automated matching decisions. As easy it is for an identity thiefs credit files to be combined with that of an innocent consumer, it is even more likely to happen to persons of similar name, address and social security number. The credit reporting industry is now almost entirely automated. Their file searches do not require full identifying information; either to obtain a credit report or to furnish information to the CRA. Use the formula in the below letter to dispute co-mingled information or for further assistance in ID theft matters.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
Name of CRA
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   Co-mingling of information belonging to {my father, mother, sister, brother, cousin} {as a result of recent discovery of ID theft}
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I recently obtained a copy of my credit file and note many discrepancies and reporting errors. Through my inspection of my file, it appears that you have mixed my true and correct information with {insert the name or the person here or if this is a result of ID theft, “the recent discovery that my true name and personal information has been used to open accounts}.  We are two different people. Either he/she/or unknown person, has opened accounts in my name, without my permission or his/her information has been confused by your computer system with my information.
 
I demand you investigate my credit file and delete the following information and/or trade lines from my credit file immediately:
 
Personal Information:
 
I have never lived at ___________________________________________.  This address belongs to _____________________________________________.
 
{List all inaccurate accounts here}
 
Please delete all references to all of the above accounts, as they do not belong to me. In addition, please return to me an updated copy of my credit file with thirty days of the date you receive this dispute letter.
 
Forward a copy of this letter and any attachments to the creditors when you convey my disputes. If you are not willing to do so, please immediately provide me the name, address and telephone numbers of the people you contacted so I may follow up with the.
 
Enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID card and copy of a utility bill as proof of my identity and residency.  
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
How to Request the Removal of Late Payments From Creditors
 
Is it possible to remove late payments from your credit files?  The answer is yes! Its called a “goodwill adjustment” and if you have held an account with a credit for more than 18 months, they will review your file, and either make the determination to remove either a 30-day late or a 60-day late payment.  As long has you havent requested a “goodwill adjustment” in the past 12 months, the creditor will usually make a concession. Remember; be polite and humble when asking for a goodwill adjustment. In the future, if you feel that you can not pay your account on time, immediately call the creditor and notify them that you are having trouble… that way, they will work with you and avoid any derogatory information to be included on your credit profile.
 
Good Will Adjustment to Remove Late Payment Letter #1
 
Your Name
Your Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
 
Name of Company
Address
City, State & Zip
Attn: Credit Reporting Department Account Manager
 
RE:   Account #: ________________________
   Dear Credit Reporting Account Manager: I am writing a letter about my experience with your fine company that is a mixture of a grateful "thank-you" and a pressing request concerning a loan in my credit files that I sincerely hope to have revised. I received a credit account in the year ________________________.  Unfortunately, several years later, I lost my job, with a wife and small children to care for. I became disorganized with respect to, as you saw, making timely payments. I am now aware that I should have called you immediately, but I had become distracted by the loss of my job, and I think everyone knows how frightening that is.
 
In ________________ of ___________, I filed a petition for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. However, a few years later, I fully recognized my responsibility with respect to payable accounts and have worked diligently to rehabilitate my financial situation. To be honest, that year was a "wake-up" call for me regarding personal and fiscal organization. Since then I believe I have learned the essential organizational and financial management principles I desperately needed. We are about to make an application for a mortgage, and it has come to my attention that the late notations and the “reported non-payments” since ___________________ on my account with ____________________________ may preclude me from taking full advantage of the very lowest interest rates now available. Since those notations do not reflect my current status with __________________________, I am requesting that you give me a second chance at a positive credit rating by revising those trade lines. If my memory serves me correctly, I have made the minimum payment of $________, in a timely manner since _______________________. I sincerely hope that there is redemption and I beg you for such consideration. I wish to thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts and bumps in the road, and for giving me a second chance at a relationship with you, one that I am determined to keep spotless.
Please let me know if any additional documentation would assist in reaching a positive outcome, and I thank you again for the time you have spent reading and reviewing the contents of this letter.  As proof of my identity, I am enclosing a clear copy of my current photo ID and copy of a recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency (Patriot Act Requirement). Respectfully yours, Your Signature 
 
Your Name
SSN:
DOB:
Current Address:
Former Address:
Current Employer:
Former Employer:
 
 
Good Will Adjustment to Remove Late Payment Letter #2
 
I have used this formula in my practice for years as a second approach towards erasing previous old late pays by appealing to the credit card company based good recent paying history.
 
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
 
Name of Credit Card Company
Attn: Credit Reporting Department
Address
City, State & Zip
 
 
RE:   Account #: ____________________________
 
Dear Capital One Credit Reporting Department: I have been a Capital One customer since 1991 and during that time, I have enjoyed my experience with Capital One greatly. I am writing to see if you would be willing to make a “goodwill” adjustment to your reporting to the three credit agencies. I have a few late payments on the above referenced account that date back to 1996 and 1998. All but one of the late payments is reported as 30-days late. Since that time I have been an exceptional customer paying early every month and have been rewarded by Capital One with ever increasing limits and lower APRs. Because of my exceptional payment history over the last 36 months, I would like you to consider removing the negative payments from my credit report. At the time of those late payments, I had moved because of a new job, and all of a sudden, the company I was working for experienced a downturn and my hours were drastically cut. I say that not to justify why the payments were late, but rather to show that the late payments are not a good indicator of my actual credit worthiness. I hope that Capital One is willing to work with me on erasing the late payments from my credit reports. I have been a very happy customer in the past and hope to continue a long relationship with Capital One.  With todays credit industry so competitive, I know how important it is to maintain good relationships with customers. Capital One has been exceptional in my book so far and I highly recommend it to all my friends and relatives. I hope that you will consider my humble request and prove once again, why Capital One is the “leader of the pack” an above the rest. I look forward to your reply.
 
Lastly, enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID and recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency (Patriot Act Requirement).
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SSN:
DOB:
Current Address:
Former Address:
Current Employer:
Previous Employer:
 
 
 
 
Credit File Inquiries  Who is Looking at Your Credit
 
How would you feel if a sneaky person entered your house or office, opened your file cabinet containing all your financial, personal information and documents?  To make matters worse, what if that person made a copy of your personal information and documentation and took it with them as they left out the back door of your home or office? The same scenario (except this is done electronically) happens each and every day.
 
Credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) gather staggering amounts of information about you from a variety of sources. Your date of birth, Social Security Number, Drivers License number, State ID Card number, your current address, your current and former employer, your employment history, where you applied for credit or a mortgage, credit card histories, payment histories, civil court judgments, tax liens, student loans, bankruptcies, collection information, where you shopped for a car, cell phones, auto, life, renters and home insurance.  In summary, your credit report indicates a very clear picture (or as the industry refers to it as a “snapshot”) of your spending and shopping habits.  This information often fills up 10 or more pages, and it is available to anyone willing to pay a fee for it.
 
Because of the potential for great harm that can result from misuse of such information, the law and certain statutes of the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits access and use of such information without a “permissible purpose”. It is fact that obtaining credit reports under false pretenses is a criminal act under both federal and state law. Despite such prohibition, there are widespread, illegal accesses to credit reports.  Enforcement of the prohibition by the government is, unfortunately, very lax.  However, you can enforce the prohibition through the civil justice system because the FCRA allows you to sue and recover your actual damages, punitive damages if appropriate, plus attorney fees and court costs.
 
How are you damaged when someone impermissibly looks at your credit history?  First and foremost, it is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.  You do not know who looked at your private information.  You do not know what will happen to your private information.  With Identity Theft at an epidemic rate, you should be concerned about who is looking at your private information.  Frequent inquiries will lower your FICO score, leading to high cost of credit, a higher interest rate and denial of credit.
 
A key issue is exactly what is permissible purpose”?  Listed below are more common “permissible purpose” under the FCRA:
 
   Court order, Warrant or Subpoena
   Written permission
   Credit transaction (loans)
   Collection
   Employment
   Insurance
 
Below are examples of proper and improper access of your credit history:
 
   You visited a car dealer just to look around. As you are ready to test-drive a car, the salesperson asks you to leave your drivers license with his manager for “insurance purposes”.  You like the car and start negotiating the price. The salesperson then tells you that your monthly payment will be low because your credit history shows it is good enough to qualify for a low interest rate loan.  Here, the dealer did not have a permissible purpose.  You did not apply for a car loan.  In fact, the dealer had no idea whether you were going to pay for the car with case or a loan.
 
   You visit a car dealer to look around. The salesperson then asks you to fill out a “guest sheet”.  Unbeknownst to you, the “guest sheet” has a small, print sentence allowing the dealer to run your credit history.  This is a more difficult issue.  Unless you can prove that the dealer deceptively obtained your signature on the guest sheet, the dealer had a legal basis for accessing your credit history.  The fact that you did not carefully read all of the fine print on the guest sheet before you signed it does not negate the presumption that you agreed to the terms of the guest sheet. Beware and be wise!  Never sign any “guest sheet” at any car dealer without reading everything before you sign!
 
   You are shopping for a new car. However, you are embarrassed by the fact that you filed for bankruptcy a year ago. You tell the salesperson that you will buy the car from the dealership with a personal check, as long as they agree not to run your credit. The salesperson agrees, however, you learn that the dealer pulled your credit after all. Here, even though the dealer had a permissible purpose in the first place, it agreed not to pull your credit history.  The dealer should not have run your credit history, and is in violation.
 
   You pay for a lawn mower at a local hardware store with a personal check. Accepting the payment in the form of a personal check is considered an extension of credit for purposes under the FCRA.  A check is nothing more than a promise to pay certain amounts when presented at a proper bank. Therefore, it is considered a credit transaction and the merchant accepting the check as the right to check your credit history.
 
   Your car is suddenly stolen.  A few days later, it is found in the woods, burned and damaged beyond all repair. Your insurance company suspects that you staged the incident to collect the insurance money. Your insurance company reports this to the local police for an investigation.  The law enforcement agency/police pulls your credit to see if you experienced financial problems requiring money.  The police do not have a right to access your credit history without a Subpoena, Warrant or Court Order. However, this is a routine practice among many police and law enforcement agencies.
 
How can you tell if someone has looked at your credit history?  Your credit history will tell you who accessed your credit, and for what purpose within the last two (2) years under the “Inquiries” section of your credit file.  On a regular basis, you should obtain a copy of your file and examine this section carefully.  You are entitled to get a free credit report once a year from Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.  You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and obtain a free copy of your report. Although the process is a bit cumbersome, you can instantly access your credit reports. Be sure to purchase a “tri-merge” report, the cost for this is around $32.00.  A tri-merge report” combines all three CRA reports.  Look over all three reports; note any suspicious, incorrect or inaccurate information.  
 
If you discover that your credit files have been accessed without a permissible purpose or illegally ran, below are sample letters that I have used successfully in my own practice over the past 15 years:
 
Youve just received a copy of your credit file and lo and behold, there are unexplained “inquiries” appearing on your file.  Excessive inquiries can break your FICO score down anywhere between 20 to 50 points.  The Fair Credit and Reporting Act prohibits anyone from obtaining a copy of your credit file that does not have your written or recorded verbal authorization.  The only exception to this would be law enforcement officials, if you have a collection account, insurance underwriting purposes, if you completed an application for credit or for employment purposes. Use this letter to remove any unexplained inquiries on your credit file.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:               CERTIFIED MAIL
               Article #
 
Name of CompanyAttn: Legal Department
Address 1
Address 2
City, State & Zip RE:   Unauthorized Access to Credit File
 Dear Legal Department: As per my credit file, your company obtained my credit file on .  Upon review of my file and records, I do not recall applying for credit or submitting a Resume for employment with . Pursuant to The Fair Credit & Reporting Act, § 616. Civil liability for willful noncompliance [15 U.S.C. § 1681n] specifically states as follows:"(b) Civil liability for knowing noncompliance. Any person who obtains a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses or knowingly without a permissible purpose shall be liable to the consumer reporting agency for actual damages sustained by the consumer reporting agency or $1,000.00, whichever is greater." From the 1998 FTC opinion letter Greenblatt, et al
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra/greenblt.htm:"Any person who procures a consumer report under false pretenses, or knowingly without a permissible purpose, is liable for $1,000.00 or actual damages (whichever is greater) to both the consumer and to the consumer reporting agency from which the report is procured." Please explain your permissible purpose for your obtaining my credit file. Should you not have a permissible purpose, please arrange for payment of $1,000.00 by .
Please respond to this letter by fax to and give it your immediate attention.
 
Enclosed please find a copy of my current photo ID and recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency. Sincerely, Your Signature 
 
Your Name
SSN
DOB
 
 
…..
 
 
Requesting the CRAs With the Removal of Inquiries
inquiries
Prepare letters to each inquiring CRA asking them to remove their inquiry. The Fair Credit Reporting ActFair Credit Reporting Act allows only authorized inquiriesinquiries to appear on the consumer credit reportcredit report. Keep a copy for your files and send the letter Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:             CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
            Article #
Name of Credit Bureau
Attn:  Consumer Relations Dept.
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:    Unauthorized Credit Inquiry Appearing on Credit File
 
Dear Consumer Relations Dept.:
 
I recently received a copy of my credit report, and have had the opportunity to review the contents of the filecredit report.
 
The credit report showed a credit inquiry by your company that I do not recall authorizing. I understand that you shouldnt be allowed to put an inquiry on my file unless I have authorized it. Please have this inquiry removed from my credit file because it is making it very difficult for me to acquire credit.
 
I have sent this letter certified mail because I need your prompt response to this issue. Send me information and documentation showing that I authorized your company to run my credit report. After review, I would appreciate it that you forward me documentation that you have had the unauthorized inquiry removed.
 
If you find that I am remiss, and you do have my authorization to inquire into my credit reportcredit report, then please send me proof of this.
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SSN
DOB
Copy Enclosed:  Current photo ID and recent utility bill
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CHAPTER SIX
Miscellaneous Information
 
I have compiled some further information that you will find most helpful.  
 
VIOLATIONS OF THE FCRA & FDCPA, PENALTIES, LITIGATION & RECOVERY FOR DAMAGES AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES:
 
Who
Why
Precedent/Law
Fine
Creditors if they report your credit history inaccurately.
Defamation, financial injury
US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, No. 00-15946, Nelson vs. Chase Manhattan
Extent of damages incurred by the wronged party as deemed by the courts
Creditors if they pull your credit file without permissible purpose.
Injury to your credit report and credit score
FCRA
Section 604
(A)(3)
$2500
Credit bureaus if they refuse to correct information after being provided proof.
Defamation, willful injury
FCRA
Section 623
 
CUSHMAN, v. TRANS UNION CORPORATION
 
US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court
Case 115 F.3d 220
June 9, 1997, Filed
 (D.C. No. 95-cv-01743).
 
Extent of damages incurred by the wronged party, as deemed by the courts
Credit bureaus if they reinsert a removed item from your credit report without notifying you in writing within 5 business days.
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
SECTION 611
Part (A)(5)(B)(ii)
 
$2500
Credit bureaus if they fail to respond to your written disputes within 30 days (a 15 day extension may be granted if they receive information from the creditor within the first 30 days).
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
Section 611
Part (A)(1)
$2500
Creditors or collection agencies, and credit bureaus if they try and Re-age” your account by updating the date of last activity on your credit report in the hopes of keeping negative information on your account longer.
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
Section 605
(c) Running of the reporting period
$1000
 
Collection agencies if they do not validate your debt yet continue to pursue collection activity (file for judgments, call or write you).
 
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
 
FDCPA
Section 809 (b),
FTC opinion letter Cass from LeFevre (See Appendix B).
 
$1000
Collection agencies if you have sent them a cease and desist letter and they still call you.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805 (c)
$1000
Collection agencies if they have not validated your debt and they still continue to report to the credit bureaus.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
Section 809 (b),
FTC opinion letter Cass from LeFevre (See Appendix B).
$1000
Collection agencies if they:
Cash a post-dated check before the date on the check.
Cost you money by making you accept collect calls or COD mail.
Take or threaten to take any personal property without a judgment.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 808
$1000
Call you after 9 PM at night or before 8 AM in your specific time zone.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
 Section 805. (a)(1)
$1000
Call you at your place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805. (a)(3)
$1000
Calls any third part about your debt like friends, neighbors, relatives, etc.  However they can contact your attorney, a consumer reporting agency, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.  
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805. (b)
$1000
The collection agency cannot use any kind of harassment or abuse.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 806
$1000
Collector cannot claim to garnish your wages, seize property or have you arrested. This trick is used a lot to collect NSF checks.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 807
$1000
Collector must contact you in the state and county in which you lived when you signed the original contract for the debt or where you live at the time when they file the lawsuit.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 811 (a) (2)
$1000
 
Also a good grounds for getting a judgment vacated
 
 
Credit Repair Companies & Organizations:
 
For information about “credit repair companies” and recent law cases (Operation: Credit Despair Sweep Action List) about how certain credit repair companies and organizations have defrauded consumers, log on to: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/02/creditcaselist.pdf.  If you use any credit repair company or organization, be sure to sign a contract stating what the credit repair company or organization services will be, and all contracts must have a three day right of rescission.
 
Consumer Advocate Attorney:  
 
For consumers with bruised credit because of a bankruptcy, divorce or other life-changing events, or for establishing credit for the first time, www.orchardbank.com or www.householdbank.com.
 
© 2007 New Century Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Number of Pages48
DimensionsDesigned for Letter Size (8.5" x 11")
EditableYes (.doc, .wpd and .rtf)
UsageUnlimited number of prints
Product number#29250
This is the content of the form and is provided for your convenience. It is not necessarily what the actual form looks like and does not include the information, instructions and other materials that come with the form you would purchase. An actual sample can also be viewed by clicking on the "Sample Form" near the top left of this page.
 
CHAPTER ONE
How to be your own credit & debt counselor
 
If you have ever had the opportunity to review a debt collectors confidential files, you will discover a small number of cases whereas the debt collector settled a past due account for .25 cents on the dollar. Why are some debts settled for pennies on the dollar, and others for the full amount?  Where these people lucky? Did the debt collector like” the debtor?  Oh, please… hardly!  The truth is; the debtor gave the debt collector almost no choice. Why a debt collector or collection law firm would gladly accept a settlement for pennies on the dollar is one of the best-kept secrets in the industry.
 
What is the secret of debt reduction or debt elimination? The answer is six-fold.
 
1.   KNOWLEDGE.
2.   CONSISTENCY.
3.   TIMING.
4.   CORRECT ATTIDUDE AND MINDSET.
5.   PROFESSIONALISM.
6.   GAME PLAN.
 
1.   KNOWLEDGE
 
Knowledge is the most important aspect in debt reduction/elimination.  Knowledge is how the collection industry works. What a collection agency can and cannot do for legal or economic reasons.  Knowledge is the only weapon you have against collection agency abuses.  This is fully explained in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. To download a complete text of the FDCPA, log on to: www.ftc.gov.  You are not in the collection business  the debt collector is, so the end result is a tremendous mismatch. Its called professional vs. amateur”. Your job is to be the professional, and armed with knowledge and your legal rights.  I cant begin to stress the importance of knowing your legal rights.  
 
WITH KNOWLEDGE:
 
Knowledge of the creditor is equally important. Is the creditor (the company or financial institution) experiencing a financial downturn and are willing to settle the account for any amount? Does the creditor have a policy of automatically settling for 50 cents on every dollar?  Is the creditor scared of bad publicity?  Does the creditor have accurate records to verify and dispute the debt? As you will soon learn, there are many factors within the category of knowledge that can greatly affect the outcome of being a success at debt reduction.
 
To become a total success at debt reduction and elimination of debt it is imperative that you get a strong understanding and concept of the life of a debt from the inception to final payment. It is also equally important that you learn what the debt collector can, and cannot do under the FDCPA, and applicable State Law.
 
The debt collector is a very blunt individual, and their only mission in life is to reach into your throat and pull the money out of your gullet. Always remember, knowledge is king in debt reduction, and the consumer possessing the right frame of mind and perseverance ends up the winner.
 
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A DEBT
 
When a financial institution or creditor extends credit, they do so under the pretense that you will be a responsible person and make all payments on time, and comply with the terms and conditions as set for in the agreement or contract. However, a persons life and financial situation can change from one day to the other. The creditor has certain in-house policies on how to handle such situations when financial difficulties arise. The creditor designs these policies and are made part of the loan, mortgage, credit line, credit card, medical office or other financial responsibility agreement.
 
ONE-MONTH DELINQUENT
 
One month (or 30-days past due) is an account the creditor has not received a payment within the past 30-day payment cycle. The initial contact will come as a friendly reminder notice. This reminder is usually made part of the following months billing cycle statement, or a separate letter. Typically, most people fall into this category because they forgot to pay the bill, lost the statement, or the post office lost the statement.
 
TWO-MONTHS DELINQUENT
 
This is commonly referred to as 60-days past due.  The creditor has not received a payment in two 30-day billing cycles. At this point, the creditor is still interested in maintaining the debtor as a customer, so they have to “walk a fine line”. They need to collect, but do not want to scare or embarrass the debtor.  At this point the customer/debtor will receive at least two formal letters, typically 10 to 20 days apart.  If they receive no response or payment from the debtor, next is a telephone call to the debtor. The topic of conversation will be the seriousness of the delinquency and “is there something wrong… and “how can we help or work out a payment plan”?
 
THREE-MONTHS DELINQUENT
 
This is an account where no payment has been received for more than 90 days, or the past three 30-day billing cycles.  Now, the creditor has a feeling they have a serious collection problem on their hands, and the longer a debt or account remains overdue, the harder it becomes to collect. They will use all in-house means available to them, which entails more letters and telephone calls to the debtor. The creditor then makes the determination to turn the delinquent account to a collection agency or collection attorney. In-house credit managers prefer not to do this for several reasons:
 
   They lose a percentage of the amounts owed (debt collectors will receive as payment a percentage of the amounts they recover).
 
   The in-house credit collection department may feel someone else is doing their job.
 
   Public relations considerations. This is especially true if the debtor is over 60 years of age.
 
If, by this time, they have not done so already, the creditor will rescind any credit the debtor may still have available with them. At this point, the creditor will advise the debtor the account is being turned over to a collection agency or attorney and the account is closed to any future activity.
 
Now, it is considered open season” on the debtor and the plan is to pursue the debtor with a vengeance.  If the past due amount is large, usually a commercial account, they will refer it to an attorney immediately. If the amount is small, or readily collectible, this is assigned to a collection agency. If the collection agency is unsuccessful, and the amount owed warrants it, they will assign it to an attorney for litigation.
 
COLLECTION AGENCIES
 
A creditor retains the collection agencies when the creditor has abandoned the debtor as a customer and feels they cannot collect the money owed to them. Many collection agencies are “bad debt buyers”. What this means is the debt collector purchases the original creditors bad debts and goes after the debtor for collection. Remember, collection agencies and bad debt buyers are NOT interested in preserving goodwill; they want to GET PAID. The fee varies from 15% to 70% of the amount collected. The more they collect, the more they make, and that makes their client, the creditor, very happy. Collection agencies and bad debt buyers employ a psychological advantage in collecting. Some debt collectors and bad debt buyers are very professional, but a lot of debt collectors cross the line and regularly violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
 
Collection agencies will contact the debtor first with a formal letter stating they have been retained by the creditor in an all out effort to collect on the past due account. All collection notices must indicate, “This is an attempt to collect a debt, any information obtained will be used for that purpose”.  If the debt collector does not receive a response from the creditor in 15 days, that is when the telephone calls begin. This usually happens if the debt is more than $100.00.  If the debt is less than $100.00, normally a collector will not call because the dollar amounts are small and it doesnt warrant a phone call.
 
With very large debts, sometimes, they will call even before a letter is sent to the debtor. Collection agencies love to use the telephone and automatic dialers on their computer systems. Many collectors and bad debt buyers do this because they believe it leaves them off the hook when they make threats that exceed the guidelines of the FDCPA.
 
 
 
 
SHORT SUMMARY OF THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
 
This Act defines and sets specific guidelines for third party debt collectors and attorneys about what they can, and are prohibited from doing. The Act prohibits the debt collector from performing outrageous collection tactics. In January of 2007, the ABC newsmagazine, 20/20 exposed the many abuses employed by debt collectors. The feature is called Debt Collectors Gone Wild”. Every scenario described in the feature was accurate.  
 
The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the FDCPA and the Federal Trade Commission takes violations to the FDCPA very seriously.
 
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the debt collector cannot:
 
   Write to anyone other than the debtor or the debtors attorney/representative.
 
   They may, however, try to find the debtor and they will ask others as to the debtors current whereabouts if the debt has skipped out on the debt. This is commonly referred to as “skip tracing”.  With the Internet and Information Brokers that you pay a membership fee to belong, it is very easy to find where someone is living, working, etc.
 
   Use of abusive/profane language or behavior, harass, oppress or abuse any person, threaten violence, using letters saying they are attorneys when they are not, threatening the debtor that “they will be arrested and a warrant issued for non-payment of debts or NSF checks”.  The debt collector cannot use the telephone to annoy or repeatedly call a consumer, cannot call the consumer before 8:00 a.m. their time zone or after 9:00 p.m. their time zone.
 
   The debt collector must identify themselves and the name of the agency or law firm they are calling from.
 
   The debt collector is prohibited from calling the consumer more than two times per week.
 
   The debt collector cannot call the debtor at his or her place of business unless the debt collector has the permission of the debtor to do so.
 
   The debt collector is prohibited from advertising, publishing or distributing a “deadbeat list” of debtors names that owe money (also applies to verbally telling other people).
 
   The debt collector cannot contact the debtor by postcard indicating they owe money on a past due account.
 
   The debt collector is not allowed to make the debtor incur any expenses for communicating with them, for example NO COLLECT CALLS.
 
   Use of fictitious names, this includes representing to be from a law firm, government agency, credit bureau, law enforcement official, both verbally and in writing.
 
   The debt collector cannot use tactics such as sending a consumer an “Affidavit of Debt”.
 
   Asking the consumer for a postdated check. Collection agencies are notorious for depositing a “post dated check” ahead of time, it gives them more leverage and never, ever give a debt collector your checking account number, they can wipe out your entire checking account in no time.
 
   Additionally, the debt collector must apply all funds the debtor submits to a collection agency, pursuant to a written agreement signed by all parties.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOW TO SETTLE YOUR PAST DUE ACCOUNTS FOR PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR:
 
Begin by contacting the debt collector or collection attorney by using the following letter. You can customize the letter for your own situation.  Be professional, humble and be willing to work toward an amicable settlement.
 
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT
 
Use this sample form letter to settle a past due account.  Try to negotiate a settlement with the original creditor rather than a debt collector.  However, this letter will work with a debt collector/attorney also. Remember, when entering into a settlement offer for any past due or collection account, be certain to honor the conditions of your repayment plan.  If you fail to comply with the terms, the settlement will be null and void and the original creditor has the legal right to demand the full amount.  
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
 
Date:
 
Name of Creditor/Collector/Attorney
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn: Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #:
   Settlement Amount: $
 
Dear :
 
I am writing to request your assistance with regard to my proposed settlement of the above-described account.
 
As per our recent telephone conversation, I was recently involved in a very traumatic divorce, and was required to vacate the family home. All outstanding accounts were to be divided up in the divorce proceedings.  However, with changes to my address and marital status, perhaps any bills that should have been sent to me at my new address were perhaps sent to my former address. In other words, I never received the bills or statements.
 
While trying to rebuild my life, I discovered that these accounts were being reported as collection matters on my credit reports.  I am trying to rebuild my credit after this life-changing event in my life. As we discussed, right now, I am doing the very best that I can, given these difficult circumstances.
 
I would like to propose the following settlement of account number ___________________, with an outstanding balance of $_____________________, which is a large sum for me at this time.
I would like to offer a settlement of $___________________, to be paid as .  
 
I am also concerned of the negative information that currently is being displayed on my credit bureau files.  I understand that this negative information you have placed on my credit report could remain for a period of 7 years, even after repayment of the debt.  However, I have the right to remove any information from my credit report through the suppliers of the information.
 
I respectfully request that because of my unfortunate and horrible situation, your would notify the credit bureaus to delete this account from my files when the settlement on this account is paid in full, as it does not reflect on my willingness to pay my moral and legal obligation to pay my debts.
 
Please contact me so that we may amicably resolve this situation.  Thank you for your attention in this unfortunate situation.
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
…..
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you are in the midst of a separation or divorce and have fallen behind in your obligations, use the format in the letter below. Always honor your agreement with the debt collector, bad debt buyer or original creditor.
 
NEGOTIATING SETTLEMENTS WITH CREDITORS FOR SEPARATION AND DIVORCE ISSUES
 
This letter is appropriate for people going through a separation and divorce proceedings.  Many former spouses or ex-significant other partners often use the credit of the other spouse or partner, run up bills, let the account go past due, and not forward the mail onto the former spouse or partner.  Send all correspondence to any debt collector, collection attorney or bad debt buyer by Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.  Remember when making offers to settle an old debt, or collection account, stay within your budget so you will be able to carry out the repayment terms.  
 
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
Date:
 
Name of Creditor/Collection Agency/
Collection Attorney/Bad Debt Buyer
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn:  Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #
   Offer to Settle Account in the Amount of $
 
Dear Mr./Ms.
 
I am writing in an attempt to settle this account.  I agree that should have been paid for services rendered, but I do not agree with this being reported on my credit file as a “bad debt”.  I would like to put this account and the controversy to rest, as I hope you would also.  I did not use your services, but am negligent in not following up with my <ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, and ex-partner> and making sure that the payments were paid on time.  I never received a statement or over due notice.  I no longer was living in the so I had no knowledge to suspect a payment problem.
 
My concern is if I made payment to you in an attempt to stop negative reporting to the credit bureau, the balance in my credit file would show “paid collection” and this negative trade line would be reported for a period of seven (7) years.  I would be wrong to punish me, as it is not a true indicator of my willingness to pay debts.  I believe that I am caught in the computers and a credit reporting system that does not tell what truly transpired and happened.  
 
I am requesting your assistance in deletion of this account from my credit reports when payment is full is received, as this does not accurately portray the unfortunate events that unfolded.  I have been informed by a reputable source that this can be accomplished within the purview of the law.
 
I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter and an expedient, favorable resolution to this very distressing problem.  
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
 
…..
 
If you have fallen behind in your electric, gas, telephone or other utilities, use the following letter to negotiate and settle accounts with utility companies.
 
NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT WITH UTILITY (Phone, Gas, Electric, Water), CABLE T.V. OR SATELLITE T.V. COMPANIES
 
Use this sample letter to negotiate settlements with utility companies for past due and collection accounts. Remember to send all correspondence with any collector/attorney by Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.
 
YOUR NAME
ADDRESS
CITY, STATE & ZIP
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
Date:
 
Name of Utility Company/Collector/Attorney
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Attn:  Mr./Ms.
 
RE:   Account/File #
   Amount in Controversy: $
   Address of Service:
 
Dear Mr./Ms:
 
Please be advised that this letter shall serve as an effort to once again, satisfy the above-referenced account/file number and the past due amount of $______________, and with .
 
You state, “In order for us to maintain the integrity of all the accounts that we refer to , we will only cancel accounts if they have been refereed due to an error on our part”. My request does nothing to breach your integrity concerning other accounts that have been reported to the credit bureaus.  It is the popularly held standard that the Fair Credit and Reporting Act concludes that paid collection accounts may be reported for seven (7) years from the date of last activity.  Thus, if a consumer, such as myself, were to pay off a debt, one would be burdened with a negative credit trade line for an additional seven (7) years above and beyond that time.
 
It is my goal to be free from an additional seven (7) years of negative credit data with regard to this account.  In my last correspondence of , (see enclosed copy of letter), I requested your assistance in putting this to rest by making payment, even though I was the recipient of the services being billed for.  I thought I had made it clear that this proposal is being made only for the purpose of compromise and is not in any way to be construed as an admission of any liability, wrongful or negligent conduct or bad faith on the part of either party.
 
I, again, respectfully request your assistance in the deletion of this account from my credit files with , when payment in full is received as this is not accurately portrayed what happened.  In this instant matter, your company will collect the obligation, in full, and I will face no more of a credit-reporting burden that already has been sustained.
 
Please review, and advise me of your intentions. Thank you.
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
CHAPTER TWO
Debt Collectors, Collection Attorneys, The Debt Validation Process and Formula
 
What if you receive a letter from a debt collector or collection attorney and you have no knowledge of the alleged bill, and lo and behold, the bogus information is now appearing on your credit files. Many bad debt buyers and debt collectors (including attorneys) attempt to re-age a debt that is more than seven (7) years old. This practice is prohibited and in violation of the FDCPA. The FDCPA states that you have thirty (30) days to dispute all or any portion of any alleged “debt” the collector claims you owe upon. This is especially true when you have discovered an identity thief has stolen your identity, opened up credit cards, loans, mortgages, bank accounts, skipped on the illegal debts and now, you are being contacted about the fraudulent accounts.
 
If collectors are calling and demanding money for a debt that may not be yours or you cannot remember if it is yours or the amount of the debt is wrong, you have, according to the FDCPA the right to dispute the debt. All disputes must be in writing; this preserves your legal rights under Federal and applicable State law.
 
Use the following letter after you receive the first telephone call or letter from the collector:
 
INITIAL DEBT COLLECTION DISPUTE LETTER
 
Your Name
Your Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated (insert date here), because I do not believe I owe that you say I owe.
 
This is the first time Ive heard from you, or any other company on this matter, therefore, in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Section 809(b): Validating Debts:
 
(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the 30 day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
 
I respectfully request that you provide me with the following information and documentation:
 
   The amount of the debt
   The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
   Provide a verification or copy of any civil judgment (if applicable)
   Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert the name of your state)
 
Be advised that I am fully aware of my rights under the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For instance, I know that:
 
Because I have disputed this debt in writing within 30 days of receipt of your dunning notice, you must obtain verification and documentation of the debt or a copy of the civil judgment against me and mail these items and documents to me at your expense.
 
You cannot add interest or fees except those allowed by the original contract or state law.
 
You do not have to respond to this dispute but if you do, any attempt to collect this debt without validation constitutes a violation to the FDCPA.
 
Also, be advised that I am keeping perfect records of all correspondence from you and any further attempts to contact me by telephone; you will agree that I may record our telephone conversations. I will hesitate to report any violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.
 
I have disputed this debt; therefore, until validated, you know your information concerning this debt is inaccurate. Thus, if you have reported this debt to any credit-reporting agency (CRA) or Credit Bureau (CB), then you must immediately inform them of my dispute with this debt.  Reporting information that you know to be inaccurate or failing to report information correctly violates the FCRA, § 1681s-2.  Should you pursue a judgment without validation, I will inform the court and sitting judge, and request the case to be dismissed based on your failure to comply with the FDCPA, and all court costs and attorney fees to be assessed against you.
 
Finally, if you do not own this debt, I demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the original creditor so they are aware of my dispute with this debt.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
You disputed a debt over 30 days ago… but the collector has failed to respond. Its a good idea to follow up an initial debt dispute letter with another letter reminding the debt collector of your dispute, and your request for validation. Use this letter to draft your own personal letter but ONLY if you have already sent an initial dispute letter and the collector failed to respond.
 
FOLLOW UP DEBT COLLECTION DISPUTE LETTER  SAME DEBT COLLECTOR
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am writing to you because I have not heard from you regarding my letter of (insert date here).
 
On (insert date of initial dispute letter here) I sent you a letter, a copy that is attached hereto. I believe my first letter is self-explanatory, and in accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g, Section 809(b): Validating Debts:
 
(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the 30 day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
 
I must remind you that in my previous letter, I requested the following information:
 
   The amount of the debt
   The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
   Provide a verification or copy of any civil judgment (if applicable)
   Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert the name of your state)
 
I also requested that if you have reported me to any credit reporting agency, that you inform the credit-reporting agency that I have placed this debt in dispute and to provide me with proof that you have done so. Furthermore, asked that you immediately send a copy of my letter of (insert date of initial dispute letter here) to the company (creditor) that you say I owe money, so they are also aware of my dispute with this alleged debt.
 
As of the date of this letter, you have failed to respond to my requests!  
 
Since you have failed to respond, I assume that you have been unable to validate and prove the debt. Therefore, I consider this matter closed. You may consider this letter your official notification that I do not intend to correspond with you on this matter again unless you comply with my requests, the FDCPA and the FCRA.
 
I must remind you that any attempt to collect this debt without validating it, violates the FDCPA.  Be assured that I have kept perfect records of all correspondence and telephone calls.  Be further advised that I will not hesitate to report violations of the law to my State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, the local and national Better Business Bureau, plus my state Department of Professional Regulations.
 
Please govern yourselves accordingly.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
….….
 
All of a sudden and out of nowhere you receive a call from a debt collector or a letter from a debt collector or attorney demanding payment on an old debt. All states have a Statute of Limitations, which in legal terms is referred to as time barred” on enforcement of debts.  Although a debts SOL has expired, that does not prohibit creditors and collectors from attempting to collect on a debt.  What this means, the courts cannot be used to force you to pay the debt through legal actions such as litigation or obtaining a civil judgment, liens, wage and bank account garnishments.  
 
Assuming the debt is valid, once it expires, its up to you to decide whether or not to pay it. If you choose not to pay the debt, you might save yourself and the creditor or debt collector time and money by sending a letter informing them of the expired statute of limitations in your jurisdiction (State), if they threaten to use legal action on an expired debt.
 
 
 
 
EXPIRED STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS NOTIFICATION LETTER
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Collectors Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   (insert account number or name of account or name of debt)
 
To whom it May Concern:
 
This is in response to your (letter dated _______________, 2_______) (copy enclosed) or (phone call on _________________, 2_______), concerning the collection of the above referenced matter.
 
I do not believe I owe what you say I owe, therefore dispute this alleged debt.  I am well aware of my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and my state laws and statutes. I hope to save both of us a great deal of time by letting you know that not only do I dispute the validity of this debt, I have also checked with my State Attorney General, and discovered that the Statute of Limitations for enforcing this type of debt through the courts (insert your state or the state in which the contract or agreement was signed) has expired.
 
Therefore, should you decide to pursue this matter in court, I intend to inform the court and the sitting judge of my dispute of this debt and that the “statute of limitations” has expired.
 
This letter is your formal notification that I consider this matter closed and demand that you, or anyone affiliated with your company, stop contacting me regarding this or any other matter except to advise me that your debt collection efforts are being terminated, or that you or the creditor are taking specific actions allowed by the FDCPA or my state laws.
 
Be advised that I consider any contact not in accordance with the FDCPA a serious violation of federal law and will immediately report any violations to my State Attorney General, to the Federal Trade Commission, to the State Department of Professional Regulations, to the local and national Better Business Bureau, plus take whatever legal action necessary to protect my legal rights. Violations to the FDCPA can result in you or your company being personally fined up to $1,000 per incident.
 
Give this letter the immediate attention it deserves.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
Have you exhausted all efforts to negotiate and settle with the debt collector and seem to be running up against a brick wall?  By law, you do not have to converse with a debt collector, and this rule applies to bad debt buyers.  Use the following letters to get your point across. Remember, if you owe the debt, the creditor can assign it to another debt collector or collection attorney. Its best to strike a deal using the formula described in Chapter One of this publication.  Yes, you can be your own credit & debt counselor without the hefty legal or professional consultant fees.
 
CEASE COMMUNICATION LETTER
 
Send this letter to the debt collector by Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail  With Proof of Delivery Verification. This letter also applies to bad debt buyers (or as I refer to them as scavengers and bottom feeders) as they are subject to the law and statutes of the FDCPA, in spite of their protests and assertions that since they bought the debt and they are not the collector.  WRONG!!! They ARE a debt collector and subject to all applicable federal and state laws.  Send the collector this letter, its legal and IT WORKS!
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date
 
Name of Collector or Law Firm
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   File/Account #                                   , Creditor Name, Amount in
            Controversy: $                              
 
Dear (name of collector)/(collection attorney):
 
Be advised that this letter will serve as my legal notice to you and your firm under the provisions of federal law, specifically, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), to cease all communication with me regarding your collection effort concerning the above-referenced matter.
 
If you fail to heed this notice, I will file a Complaint with the State Attorney Generals Office, the Department of Professional Regulations, the American Collectors Association or the local State Bar Association. After careful thought and consideration, I/we have made the decision it is not in our best interest to work with a collection agency under any circumstances.  I/We will contact the original creditor to resolve this matter directly, as circumstances warrant.
 
You are hereby notified that should any adverse information be placed against my/our consumer credit files as a result of this notice, appropriate actions will be taken. Give this letter the immediate attention it deserves.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
Okay, you sent the debt collector or the collection attorney the above letter. The majority of collection agencies and law firms will oblige.  But, some are real marauders and they feel it is in their best interest of their client (creditor) to attempt to bean you over the head, scare you and attempt to pull the money out of your gullet. I crafted and have used the following letter with a 100% success rate. I call it my debt collector buzz-off and “its time to get tough” letter, and IT WORKS!
 
Notice of Harassment to Debt Collector/Agency/Attorney/Firm
 
When a debt collector continues on with their ignorant and unlawful behavior, this is the letter to send them packing for good. It defines your legal rights, and it is enforceable in every jurisdiction and state in the United States of America.  Remember, the Federal Trade Commission takes violations to consumers legal rights with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act VERY SERIOUSLY.  Send this letter via Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.  Keep a copy of this letter for your file. For filing a complaint for a debt collector that continues to violate your legal rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, immediately contact your State Attorney General for assistance.  
 
 
 
 
 
YOUR NAME
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
CERTIFIED MAIL
Article #
 
NAME OF DEBT COLLECTOR/AGENCY/ATTORNEY/FIRM
Address 1
Address 2
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   NOTICE OF HARASSMENT
 
To Whom It May Concern:
 
On , you received my letter, via Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested, a Notice of Dispute regarding alleged collection account #_______________.  
 
Pursuant to Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are required to cease all collection efforts of the disputed amount until verification and validation of this alleged debt is completed.  However, since , what has happened is that the volume of telephone calls to my place of residence has increased, sometime up to .  I consider this behavior on your part to be harassment of me and very disruptive to my home environment.
 
Please be advised that this letter is FORMAL NOTICE that you are to limit all future communication with me, IN WRITING ONLY.  If I receive any future telephone calls from your <company, office, law firm>, I will consider your calls as harassment.  Be further advised that unwanted telephone calls from your <company, office or law firm> in this state and jurisdiction is considered a violation of telecommunications law and is a criminal offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor).  I will also file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.  I maintain perfect telephone records for each telephone call, and in some cases, make audio recordings if deemed necessary.  I permanently record all messages left on my voice mail.  I have evidence of over from your <company, office or law firm> since your received my Notice of Dispute on . Beware, be wise, and consider the consequences.
 
Be advised that you have the right to remain silent, and if you ignore this Notice of Harassment and continue to violate the FDCPA, and any applicable federal or state law and statutes, you and members of your staff will agree to allow the writer of this letter, to make audio recordings of our conversations and you and your staff further agree to allow any recorded conversation to be admitted into evidence and used against you and your staff in any court of competent jurisdiction. I will accept ONLY written communication and your failure to honor this request may constitute a violation of Section 806 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which WILL RESULT IN LEGAL ACTION AND CRIMINAL ACTION BEING BROUGHT AGAINST YOU. Please govern yourselves accordingly.
 
You should also be aware that making unsubstantiated demands for payment over the telephone may, and in this particular case, can be considered a form or wire fraud. Furthermore, sending or causing to be sent, unsubstantiated “demands for payment” through the United States Postal Authority and System, might constitute mail fraud charges to be brought against you, under federal and state laws. Before performing any of the illegal acts as described in the paragraphs above, you may wish to consult with a competent legal advisor before your next communication with me.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
Notice: This is an attempt to make a debt collector obey the law; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
 
…..
 
CHAPTER THREE
Identity Theft
How to combat this ever-growing problem
 
If your identity is stolen, you will quickly find that theft of identity can be a challenge. If you discover your private information has been accessed, stolen or compromised in any way, you should do four (4) things right away.
 
FIRST STEP  GET COPIES OF YOUR CREDIT REPORTS.  You can obtain a free copy of your credit report by logging on to www.annualcreditreport.com or contacting the three major credit-reporting agencies. To contact Trans Union: www.transunion.com. Experian: www.experian.com. Equifax: www.equifax.com. After obtaining a copy of the reports, it is important that you review the “tradeline” section and the “inquiry” section of your reports. The tradeline section shows the payment histories of established accounts, i.e. accounts where credit has been granted (e.g. credit cards, loans, mortgages, car loans, etc.). It can take weeks or several months for opened accounts to appear in the tradeline section of a credit report. The time lag happens because credit card companies, banks and finance companies only report account experiences on a monthly basis.
 
The credit inquiry section of a credit report is the most important section to find out what is happening to your credit. This shows what companies have accessed and pulled your credit report. The credit inquiry section will show on your credit report as a “credit inquiry” almost immediately. From the credit inquiry section, you can get a good idea of any accounts that may appear on the tradeline section in a few weeks. If you do not have recent inquiries you might rest a little easier, although theft of identity is still possible (for example, checking accounts, someone assuming your name and personal identity to apply for a job, etc.). If you see numerous inquiries, but the accounts never appear in the tradeline, the identity thief was turned down for credit.
 
The second most important section is the Personal Information Section, which displays employment, current and former addresses.  If there are any suspicious addresses, then you have a situation on your hands.
 
Chronologically, the next credit report section that is involved in the theft of identity are collection accounts (these accounts are separate on Equifax credit reports and blended with positive trade lines on Experian and Trans Union reports). Generally, credit card companies and banks charge off delinquent accounts after six (6) months when they do not receive a payment, and the debt is assigned to a collection agency (they can, and are assigned after a 90-day delinquency).  The result of bad checks (NSF) from a fraudulent bank account may start appearing on the credit report (this would be noted under the “adverse account” section on your report) a few months after the fraud (since most states require notices to be issued to the last known address of the account holder) and have been known to appear years later. There is a possibility a civil judgment may have been taken (by ex-parte or default) against the identity thief using your name. A civil judgment will usually appear on the credit report over six months later in the public records section of the report.
 
By examining your credit report, it will be very evident that you are a victim, and if so, the scope and timeframe of the fraud (and whether the defrauder is still applying for credit). Inquiries will show immediately, trade lines will show up in a few weeks or months, collection accounts within six months, checking accounts a few months or years later. Civil judgments are reported within months or years later.
 
Another area to watch for identity theft is your State Driver Motor Vehicles Records (DMV) and Secretary of State  Drivers License and State ID Division. Many times, fraud is actively perpetrated on a valid Drivers License, which results in the discovery of numerous, serious traffic convictions, including moving violations, criminal convictions. Your auto insurance premiums can be increased dramatically, or your insurance company will issue you a cancellation notice because of a poor driving record. If you discover this type of fraud, you must contact your State Attorney General and the District Attorney where the offenses were committed.  
 
SECOND STEP  ORDER A FRAUD ALERT. If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, this should be your first step.  The fraud alert discloses a telephone number you provide and asks any creditor opening a credit account to call the number to verify whether or not you are the actual person submitting an application for an account. Using this technique can be a problem if you move or change your telephone number. If you do move and change your telephone number, notify the three major credit-reporting agencies of this change, and provide the CRA with evidence of your old address, phone number and your new address and phone number. There are two (2) types of Fraud Alerts. An initial fraud alert remains active on your reports for 90 days.  An Extended Alert remains active on your report for seven (7) years. To have an Extended Alert implemented, you will have to provide an Affidavit of Fraud.
 
THIRD STEP  GET A POLICE REPORT.  This can be difficult with some police departments some believe it to be a “civil matter”. If you encounter this problem, contact your State Attorney General for assistance. If you are successful in obtaining a police report, be sure to get the report number and the name of the police officer taking your report. This way, you can refer anyone conducting an investigation into the reporting of your credit (including collection agencies and collection attorneys) over to the proper person. If the police department refuses to accept a report, be sure to memorize this in writing (e.g. “this letter is to confirm you will not take a report of the crime of identity theft against me”). Some extremely abusive credit card companies and debt collectors insist on the police report where the credit card company extended credit to a family member who does not want to do this to a family member.  If this situation applies to you, it is important that you contact an attorney to give advice on what to do.
 
FOURTH STEP  COMPLETE AN AFFIDAVIT OF FRAUD.  The Federal Trade Commission assisted in the completion of an Affidavit of Fraud that all credit-reporting agencies accept. The FTC Affidavit is available in PDF format by logging on to: www.ftc.gov.
 
FIFTH STEP  DISPUTE.  Dispute the fraudulent accounts in writing. Chapter Seven “Credit Restoration” will serve as your guide. It is very important that you send your disputes to the credit reporting agencies in addition to the defrauded creditors.
 
Additional Steps that May be Applicable:
 
   Opt Out of Prescreening and Promotional Offers.  As part of the same procedure, you should consider opting out of “prescreened credit offers”.  Credit reporting agencies sell some of your information to companies “that would like to extend you a firm offer of credit, goods or services”.  If you use a rural route mailbox or a mailbox that is not secure, this can be a serious problem. You can eliminate these mailings even if you are not a victim of ID theft and fraud. The telephone number to opt out from “prescreened offers” is 1-888-567-8688.  
 
   Credit Freeze.  Some states allow you to put a freeze on your credit that allows only you to turn on or turn off the ability to apply for credit.  This is not an item covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act so you will have to check with your state law, concerning this procedure.
 
   Checking Account Theft of Identity.  The most hard-to-resolve issue for ID theft victims is when an identity thief is able to establish a checking account using the identity of the victim. Hundreds of checks can be issues that in turn involve collection agencies. In addition, Tele-Check, Chex Systems, Inc., have in their database a series of NSF checks.  Below is a list of check clearing companies:
 
CrossCheck: (800) 654-2365 or (707) 586-0431, www.cross-check.com.
 
Certigy:  (800) 437-5120, www.certigy.com.  
 
SCAN:  (800) 262-7771 or (877) 382-7226, www.scanassist.com.
 
TeleCheck: (800) 366-2425, www.telecheck.com.
 
Chex Systems, Inc., (800) 428-9623, www.chexsystems.com.
 
Other Places You Can Find Assistance:
 
   Your State Department of Motor Vehicles. Someone may have obtained a drivers license or state ID card in your identity.  Check with your state-licensing agency.
 
   U.S. Postal Service.  If a mail theft or a bogus change of address card was submitted, the U.S. Postal Inspector should be immediately contacted.  Log on to: www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/welcome.htm.
 
   Social Security Administration. If an identity thief has used your Social Security Number, contact the SSA Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, PO Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
 
   Federal Trade Commission.  ID Theft Hotline: (877) 438-4338, I.D. Theft Clearinghouse, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.
 
   State Attorney General. Most AG offices have a special unit or department solely dedicated to ID theft victims and work hand-in-hand with various law enforcement agencies.  
 
How to Prevent and Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
 
   Car prowl is a prime source for ID theft.  Thieves know how to look in merchandise bags for credit receipts, which often include your credit card number. Put all bags in the trunk of your car, or if you own a hatchback, cover the bags with a blanket.  
 
   Have your mail delivered to a secure location. Mailbox theft is another common source for identity thieves. Your credit card statement contains everything a criminal needs to make a purchase by telephone or on the Internet.
 
   Do not place any bill payments in an unlocked mailbox for postal pickup. Place all payments in a secured post office drop box either at the post office or an auxiliary post office drop box.
 
   Carefully review your credit card statements. Contest and dispute any unauthorized items or entries.  
 
   Dont give out personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call. Identity thieves can pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers, collection agencies, government agencies, etc. to get you to reveal sensitive information such as account numbers, passwords, SSN, or your mothers maiden name.
 
   Never use a debit card or check when shopping online. Once the money is stolen from your account, it can be difficult to recover your money. Check with your bank and procedure for recovery. Consider using one credit card for online purchases.  Always use a secure browser when transmitting credit card numbers and funds over the Internet. Review your statement every month. Dispute any suspicious charges.
 
   Keep a list of all your credit/debit cards, card numbers and issuer telephone numbers.  This will facilitate your reports to creditors/banks if your purse or wallet is stolen.
 
   Memorize your ATM password.  Never store the password in your purse or wallet.
 
   Invest in a crosscut or high-tech paper shredder. It is paramount that you purchase the most expensive paper shredder you can find. Shred all credit card receipts, pre-approved credit offers, utility bills, credit card convenience checks and bank statements.
 
   Cancel any unused credit cards and charge accounts.
 
   Be VERY stingy when disclosing your Social Security Number (SSN).  Do not give it out to everyone who requests it!  Make a thoughtful decision regarding whether the requester really needs it. Ask to use other types of personal identifiers.  
 
   Never, ever print your SSN or Drivers License/State ID Numbers on your checks. Take only the number of checks you will need on any given day.  When using travelers checks never allow anyone to write your Drivers License, Passport or State ID card number on the checks when used for payment.
 
   Never, ever carry your Social Security Card in your purse or wallet. If you health insurance card contains all or a portion of your SSN, ask you insurer for a new card without your SSN, and until the new health insurance card is issued, carry the old card only when you need to use it.
 
   Prevent credit reporting agencies from selling your name, SSN, address and credit rating. Merchants who would like to offer you credit cards or sell you merchandise or services buy your information from Trans Union, Experian and Equifax.  Contact each CRA for their “Opt-Out Department” and tell them to stop selling your information.
 
   Prevent your creditors and identity clearing houses from selling or “sharing” your personal information.
 
   Your creditors generally sell or “share” your name, address, SSN, financial information, spending habits, bill paying habits unless you instruct them not to. This information often finds its way to clearing houses for personal information, and to the Internet. Find sample letters to use for preventing disclosure at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, www.privacyrights.org and JUNKBUSTERS, www.junkbusters.com.  
 
   Obtain copies of all three (3)-credit reports on a regular basis. Check the accuracy and note any discrepancies. Be sure the CRA has the correct address for you, especially if you have moved or suspect your identity has been compromised.
 
CHAPTER FOUR
Computer Scams and Email Phlishing Scams
 
Just about everyone today owns a personal computer, a PDA or a BlackBerry device for transmitting email and data over the Internet (wired or wireless).  The Internet is a very useful tool for work, personal use, schoolwork, research and keeping in touch with family and friends located far away.
 
Unfortunately, out there in cyberspace, lurks a new, and sophisticated criminal, actively looking for ways how to steal your personal information and appear to be sending you an email message from a legitimate website. These are called fake or “phlishing” emails. They can be sent from anywhere in the word, and the most common are from Internet Auction websites such as Ebay, Amazon, Overstock.com, major banks, and Pay Pal.  What the cyber crook does is download the company logo and sets up a phony website and email through either Microsoft Hotmail or Yahoo. The send the fake email message to as many people they can find, with messages such as:  Your Pay Pal account has been accessed by another party located outside the United States and you need to click on the link below and fill out you current information, including your password”. This type of scam has been going on for a long time. If in doubt of any so-called emergency email message” from Ebay, Pay Pal, Overstock.com or Amazon, contact each company or bank and request whether or not they really sent you a message that your account has been breached”.  All companies that I have interviewed about security, their policy is their employees and representatives never ask a customer for their password, ever.  If you receive messages such as this on a regular basis, check to see if your computer has been infected with a spyware program. Have your computer regularly checked by a professional computer technician or engineer, keep your firewall and anti-virus program up to date. Install a spyware removal program to delete unwanted advertising cookies and set your Windows program to avoid all pop-ups.
 
Another troubling scam are emails from Europe, the Far East and Africa in the form of a letter being sent by a widow”, a lawyer from a European country or Africa” asking if you would be so kind to deposit their certified or cashiers bank check” and that you are a trusted person and you will be compensated with several million dollars for your act of kindness”.  Folks, this is one of the oldest cons, it used to be called a pigeon drop”. If you receive this type of email, DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY. It is a total fraud and many people have fallen for this scam and have been taken for a lot of money. What the criminal does is send you a “Certified Check” or a “Cashiers Check” from a foreign country; you deposit the check and give the sender of the email the sum they have instructed. After a few days, the check is declared a fake, and you are now on the hook with your own bank for thousands of dollars.  This scam is directed at everyone that has an email address.  If you continue to receive these letters more than once a week, print them out and notify your local FBI Office.  
 
CHAPTER FIVE
Credit Restoration - How to correct your credit files
 
There are three (3) main consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs).  They are: Trans Union, LLC, Equifax Information Services, LLC, and Experian Information Solutions, LLC (formerly known as TRW, Inc.).  In addition to the three major CRAs, there are local credit reporting agencies that combine all three CRAs into a “tri-merge report”. These are commonly used by mortgage lending companies and rental property management firms.
 
Other Reporting Agencies:
 
Business Credit:  Dunn & Bradstreet  reports on the creditworthiness of businesses.
 
Medical History: Medical Information Bureau  compiles and stores your confidential and private medical information used by insurance companies.
 
Rental Reports:  Various companies  typically combine civil and criminal case information with a single CRAs credit report.
 
How the CRAs Obtain Information:  The Big Three Consumer Agencies collect from court records, banks, utility companies, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, finance companies, department stores, cellular telephone companies, and many other companies issuing credit. Each CRA reports different information that is why no two credit reports are alike. One CRA may have complete information and the other two will have incomplete information. Case in point, one or two CRAs will report a tax lien and the third CRA will not.
 
Credit Reporting is Changing:  A credit report is not a paper file kept in one place at a credit-reporting agency.  This is part of the reason why correcting errors can be so frustrating. The CRA has all of your information saved in a particular format in a big, interconnected database. Your information is stored and maintained with everyone.  When a CRA receives information from creditors and others, all the information gets placed into one, huge “vat” of information or a few different vats owned by affiliated companies.
 
When a business inquires or “pulls” your credit report, a search program or algorithm pulls information from this vat, based upon your “personal identifiers” such as your name, address, date of birth and SSN. The search algorithm is supposed to filter out obsolete information and credit information that doesnt belong to you. The remaining information is combined into one report. Your credit report isnt something fixed since the information used to create your credit report is constantly changing as creditors pour information into the “vat”.
 
CORRECTING YOUR CREDIT IN FIVE (5) STEPS:
 
First Step:  GET A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORT.
 
Consumers may obtain a free copy of their report on line, once every 12 months. Simply go to: www.annualcreditreport.com and request your complimentary Trans Union, Experian and Equifax profiles.  
 
If you have been turned down for credit in the past 60 days, log on to each CRA website and tell them you were denied credit, provide the name of the company, bank, finance or utility company that denied you credit and insert the Reference Number on the denial letter.  
 
If you have not been turned down for credit, the cost (on-line) is $9.50. You can pay by credit card online. If you prefer to send a letter along with a copy of the credit denial letter, you may contact each CRA at the following addresses:
 
   Experian, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013; phone: (800) 682-7654.
   Trans Union, PO Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390; phone: (800) 916-8800.
   Equifax, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374; phone: (800) 685-1111.
 
 
Second Step: REVIEWING THE REPORT.
 
When you receive a copy of your report, the CRA will include a pamphlet or a form explaining how to read their format. There are generally five (5) sections:
 
Identification or File Number:  This section usually includes your name, address, SSN, date of birth, current and former addresses, current and former employers, your job description and your home telephone number. Experian includes your drivers license number and you should dispute this immediately. Having your D/L number displayed on your credit report is dangerous!  If a criminal obtained a copy of the file, Experian has given the thief everything to become you on paper.
 
Credit History:  This section shows various accounts and how timely you paid on them. There are two (2) main types of accounts that are displayed under “credit history”. The first are revolving accounts. The minimum payment amount is displayed, along with the credit limit and high balance information.  The second are “installment accounts a definite amount due in fixed installments. Mortgage payments are considered “installment accounts”, as are student loans. Underneath the accounts, it may reflect how and when the payments were made.  The CRA break down the account if there were late payments to show how many payments are 30, 60, 90 and 120 days past due. Thus, (3)(30), (2)(60), (1)(90) means you have paid three times 30 days late, two times 60 days late and one time 90 days late. If the account is fairly old, it may state “charge-off”  “profit & loss write-off” or “referred for collection”.  
 
Collection Accounts:  These accounts are being pursued by collection methods, usually by a debt collector. Some collection agencies prefer to operate as a “collection law firm” in order to scare consumers by lending the appearance that litigation is forthcoming. Lists of Americas Worst Debt Collectors and Collection Law Firms can be found at Bud Hibbs website: www.BudHibbs.com.
 
Public Records: a contractor for the CRA usually obtains these records. The contractor goes through public records maintained by courts and the County Recorder of Deeds.  Bankruptcies, judgment, release and satisfaction of judgment, tax liens (Federal & State), releases of tax liens, and foreclosures are just some of the information obtained from public records.
 
Inquiry Section:  This is a listing of businesses that have either pulled your full credit report, pulled certain information on your report, or have “pre-screened” your report. The credit card company you applied to, the car dealership (legally or illegally), these will all show as an inquiry. If your full report was pulled, an abbreviated name of the business will appear without initials in front of it. Generally, if you have established a credit relationship with a company, bank, finance company or insurance company, they will pull your report for periodic reviews of your overall credit profile and FICO score.
 
 
 
Third Step:  FINDING THE CAUSE OF CREDIT REPORTING ERRORS
 
Errors in Credit Reports Occur on a Regular Basis:  Fraud, data entry errors, co-mingling other family members information, or persons with similar names and birth dates, improper merging of information by the CRA.  Creditors, the CRA, collection agencies, public record information, etc, can also cause errors.
 
Creditor Error:  This is caused by improper format; a creditor or “furnisher of information” to the CRA provides the information in a database format that allows the CRA to bring the information into the database.  The individual pieces of data are known as “fields” The current format is “METRO 2”. This was created in order to comply with the amendments of 1996 to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, some very large creditors, including some large national credit card banks and companies have not moved to METRO 2 and are still using METRO 1. This can create a lot of aggravation in providing truthful and correct consumer information, especially regarding bankruptcy.
 
Incorrect Names:  An incorrect name or SSN inputting by the creditor can go to the wrong consumer file. This happens frequently with common names or where there is a senior/junior relationship.
 
Collection Agency Reporting Errors.  Some collection agencies purposely (and illegally) place collection accounts on credit reports to “force” the victim to pay. Collection agencies know some people will pay, even though they do not actually owe the money, especially if they are attempting to get credit.  This scenario is common when a person applies for a mortgage loan, and they want to get approved ASAP. Under recent Amendments to the FCRA, you can proceed against the collection agency that improperly (and illegally) reports the information. The source of the problem sometimes arises because creditors and CRAs do not provide enough identification details when inputting new information into a file.
 
Identity Theft. Refer to Chapter Three.
 
CRA Error.  Most credit reporting agencies use: Name, address, SSN, and date of birth as identifiers.  The CRA can err mis-merging information where identifying information is similar. This happens frequently where there are junior/senior relationships, errors entering the SSN. If the child with the same name as the parent (or vice versa) moves into the home, big problems can result. There can also be problems with a recently married spouse that has the same name as a stepchild or the ex-spouse.
 
Public Records Errors:  The Big Three pay companies to go through court files and land records to obtain information. This includes bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens. If the CRA does not have the company check often, the fact that a judgment or bankruptcy that was later vacated or satisfied may not get reported.
 
Basic Concept:  Charge Off:  Federal regulations provide that a delinquent account is to be charged off (or profit & loss) after 180 days after default (64 Fed. Reg. No. 27, 6655 “Uniform Retail Classification and Account Management Policy”.
 
Fourth Step: ALWAYS KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS
 
Many credit card companies, banks and CRAs provide toll-free numbers and websites you can use to dispute reporting errors. It is better to document your credit error dispute on paper.  There are many reasons to put the dispute in writing instead of using the telephone.  
 
Show concern. Just the fact that you bothered to compile everything on a letter indicates you are truly concerned with the credit errors displayed on your file. If you need the assistance of an attorney or regulatory agency later, this will assist in their respective investigations.
 
Track your progress and keep tabs on the situation.  There may be many people involved in your dispute before it is resolved. You may need to show your paperwork to attorneys and law enforcement officials in fraud cases. Having documents and paperwork helps others to “get up to speed”.  Do not rely on any creditor to keep track of your matter in anything but a self-serving manner.
 
Legal Effect:  The obligations of some credit card companies and state law are not triggered unless you provide a dispute, in writing within 30 days of the problem.
 
Fifth Step:  SEND DISPUTE LETTERS
 
Send Dispute Letters to Each CRA.  It is imperative that you send dispute letters to the CRA.  This is not only a logical step, but it takes action against a company that provides false data to the CRA. You must provide the CRA notice and the liability of that furnisher under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. One of the difficulties in sending disputes to the CRA is they want to accept disputes online. Experian has been especially difficult in shutting down a post office box where it accepted disputes for many years (PO Box 9595, Allen, TX).  They refused to forward the mail to another address. Call or check on line for correct mailing addresses for disputes.
 
Send Disputes via Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation. Many attorneys and paralegals that deal with CRA issues believe it is imperative that you send disputes by Certified Mail  Return Receipt Requested or by Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation.  I agree and in some jurisdictions, a phone call will not preserve your legal rights under state law and statutes. The receiver must sign the green postcard and that comes back to you.  With priority mail, the signor must sign the delivery confirmation.
 
 
 
SAMPLE LETTERS FOR CRA DISPUTES
 
Initial Dispute Letter:
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Name of CRA
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   Your Name                                      
SSN                          
DOB                          
   Current Address:
   Former Address:
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I am sending you this letter to dispute the inaccurate information currently displayed on my credit file. You are reporting many accounts in my credit history that are not, and never have been mine.
 
(Provide a ton of detail. Every last word you can use to explain the events, circumstances and facts regarding your dispute, for example, if you are disputing credit cards opened by your ex-spouse, (Johnson vs. MBNA, et al):  {my estranged husbands/wifes name is _________________.  I have not been in contact with him/her for a long time. However, late in our relationship, I discovered that he/she had a very serious gambling problem. I learned that he/she opened credit accounts without my knowledge, without my permission.  Now, these accounts are being reported on my credit profiles.
 
These accounts were only his/hers, and you mistakenly added them to my credit profiles, or else they were obtained and opened using my name and other personal information without my knowledge and permission. Either way, I do not owe any money regarding these accounts, and the inaccuracies currently being reported are very injurious to my over-all credit rating. I demand these accounts be deleted from my credit file immediately:
 
AMEX  I have only one American Express account, which I opened in 1992. I believe it is the account reported as #_____________________. I have not applied for, or used any other such accounts.  You are reporting account #_____________________, as if it were indeed mine, to which it is not.
 
CHASE  I have never applied for, used, or agreed to be responsible for any account with Chase. My credit report shows an account for this company, its not mine.
 
You have other information displayed on my credit report that is inaccurate.  The following needs to be deleted:
 
Other addresses.  I have never lived at ____________________________, _____________.  In my entire lifetime, I have never resided or been employed at this address.
 
Employment.  I have never been employed by ____________________________.  This is my estranged husbands/wifes employer.
 
Accordingly, please correct my credit history and profile as detailed above.  I have enclosed a clear copy of my current photo ID, along with a copy of a recent utility bill as proof of my true identity and residency.  
 
As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have thirty days from the date you receive this letter to investigate, delete, update and return a corrected copy of my credit file to me.  
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
Follow Up Letter to Credit Reporting Agency  Failure To Respond to Your Dispute Letter
 
Use this letter if your initial attempts to gain a response from the credit-reporting agency, and you have not received a response from your initial dispute notice/letter within the required 30-day time frame. In this letter, and all succeeding correspondence with the credit-reporting agency, you need to get increasingly threatening and tough. Keep a copy for your files and send the letter CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED.
 
YOUR NAME
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
            Article #
 
 
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:  Dispute Letter of <Date you sent in first or previous requests>
 
Dear Consumer Relations Dept.:
 
This letter is formal notice that you have failed to respond to my dispute letter of . I sent the initial letter registered mail and have enclosed a copy of the return receipt that you signed on .
 
As you are well aware, the laws and statutes surrounding the Fair Credit & Reporting Act requires you to respond within a thirty (30) day time frame from the date you received my initial dispute notice. It has now been over that period since your receipt of my letter. Furthermore, I have not received a written request from your office stating you needed additional time to investigate my dispute.  As you no doubt are aware, failure to comply with federal regulations by credit reporting agencies is a serious violation of the Fair Credit Reporting ActFair Credit Reporting Act and may be investigated by the FTC. Obviously, I am maintaining detailed records of all my correspondence with you.
 
I am aware that you may have misplaced my letters or have failed to respond to my letter because of an oversight due to the high volume of the requests you receive daily. If this is the case, Im sure youll want to handle this matter as soon as possible. For this purpose, I have included a copy of my original request, the dated receipt of your reception of the original letter, and a copy of the proof verifying the incorrectness of the credit item you have mistakenly placed on my records.
 
The following information, therefore, needs to be verified and deleted from my credit reportcredit report as soon as possible:
 
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
CREDITOR AGENCY, Account/Ref.# ______________________________
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SS#
DOB
Your Current Address
Your Former Address
 
Encl.
Letter to Update Accounts or Debts That Were Discharged in a Bankruptcy Case
 
Many times the CRA does NOT update accounts or debts that were included and discharged in a Bankruptcy case. This is especially true in Chapter 7 cases.  The accounts or debts are still being reported on your credit profile as open-unpaid collection account”.  This inaccurate information can significantly lower a persons credit score. Use the following dispute letter and send it to the CRA along with a copy of your Schedule of Unsecured Creditors and Discharge of Debt Order from the court.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:    Inaccurate reporting of accounts that were discharged in Bankruptcy case
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I obtained a copy of my credit report and discovered a lot of inaccurate information.  
 
I filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 on (insert date here), under case #________________________, in the __________________ Division of ___________________________.  
 
There are several accounts displayed on my report, which are debts that were discharged in my bankruptcy case. I am attaching a copy of the Unsecured Creditors Schedule and a copy of the Order of Discharge dated _______________________.  The following tradeline accounts should be showing “discharged in Bankruptcy as of ______________, with no balance:
 
{List all accounts here, including civil judgments discharged}
 
 
Please review the bankruptcy records for the case listed above through your online access.
 
I respectfully request you investigate and update the above-referenced accounts so the information is correctly displayed on my credit file. Send me an updated copy of my credit file after updating and correcting the incorrect information on my credit file. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to investigate and update any dispute within thirty days after your receipt of this letter and supporting documentation.
 
Enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID and utility bill as proof of my identity and residency.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SS#
DOB
Current Address
Former Address
 
 
Encl.
 
 
Letter to Send to CRA that Co-Mingles Your Information With Another Family Member or in Cases of Identity Theft
 
A common credit reporting problem occurs when the CRA mixes or merges credit information and files of one person into the credit information of another person. The computer programs used by the CRAs do not require exact matches to merge the information and as a result, the CRA is often incorrect in their automated matching decisions. As easy it is for an identity thiefs credit files to be combined with that of an innocent consumer, it is even more likely to happen to persons of similar name, address and social security number. The credit reporting industry is now almost entirely automated. Their file searches do not require full identifying information; either to obtain a credit report or to furnish information to the CRA. Use the formula in the below letter to dispute co-mingled information or for further assistance in ID theft matters.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:
 
Name of CRA
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:   Co-mingling of information belonging to {my father, mother, sister, brother, cousin} {as a result of recent discovery of ID theft}
 
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
I recently obtained a copy of my credit file and note many discrepancies and reporting errors. Through my inspection of my file, it appears that you have mixed my true and correct information with {insert the name or the person here or if this is a result of ID theft, “the recent discovery that my true name and personal information has been used to open accounts}.  We are two different people. Either he/she/or unknown person, has opened accounts in my name, without my permission or his/her information has been confused by your computer system with my information.
 
I demand you investigate my credit file and delete the following information and/or trade lines from my credit file immediately:
 
Personal Information:
 
I have never lived at ___________________________________________.  This address belongs to _____________________________________________.
 
{List all inaccurate accounts here}
 
Please delete all references to all of the above accounts, as they do not belong to me. In addition, please return to me an updated copy of my credit file with thirty days of the date you receive this dispute letter.
 
Forward a copy of this letter and any attachments to the creditors when you convey my disputes. If you are not willing to do so, please immediately provide me the name, address and telephone numbers of the people you contacted so I may follow up with the.
 
Enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID card and copy of a utility bill as proof of my identity and residency.  
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
 
Encl.
 
 
How to Request the Removal of Late Payments From Creditors
 
Is it possible to remove late payments from your credit files?  The answer is yes! Its called a “goodwill adjustment” and if you have held an account with a credit for more than 18 months, they will review your file, and either make the determination to remove either a 30-day late or a 60-day late payment.  As long has you havent requested a “goodwill adjustment” in the past 12 months, the creditor will usually make a concession. Remember; be polite and humble when asking for a goodwill adjustment. In the future, if you feel that you can not pay your account on time, immediately call the creditor and notify them that you are having trouble… that way, they will work with you and avoid any derogatory information to be included on your credit profile.
 
Good Will Adjustment to Remove Late Payment Letter #1
 
Your Name
Your Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
 
Name of Company
Address
City, State & Zip
Attn: Credit Reporting Department Account Manager
 
RE:   Account #: ________________________
   Dear Credit Reporting Account Manager: I am writing a letter about my experience with your fine company that is a mixture of a grateful "thank-you" and a pressing request concerning a loan in my credit files that I sincerely hope to have revised. I received a credit account in the year ________________________.  Unfortunately, several years later, I lost my job, with a wife and small children to care for. I became disorganized with respect to, as you saw, making timely payments. I am now aware that I should have called you immediately, but I had become distracted by the loss of my job, and I think everyone knows how frightening that is.
 
In ________________ of ___________, I filed a petition for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. However, a few years later, I fully recognized my responsibility with respect to payable accounts and have worked diligently to rehabilitate my financial situation. To be honest, that year was a "wake-up" call for me regarding personal and fiscal organization. Since then I believe I have learned the essential organizational and financial management principles I desperately needed. We are about to make an application for a mortgage, and it has come to my attention that the late notations and the “reported non-payments” since ___________________ on my account with ____________________________ may preclude me from taking full advantage of the very lowest interest rates now available. Since those notations do not reflect my current status with __________________________, I am requesting that you give me a second chance at a positive credit rating by revising those trade lines. If my memory serves me correctly, I have made the minimum payment of $________, in a timely manner since _______________________. I sincerely hope that there is redemption and I beg you for such consideration. I wish to thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts and bumps in the road, and for giving me a second chance at a relationship with you, one that I am determined to keep spotless.
Please let me know if any additional documentation would assist in reaching a positive outcome, and I thank you again for the time you have spent reading and reviewing the contents of this letter.  As proof of my identity, I am enclosing a clear copy of my current photo ID and copy of a recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency (Patriot Act Requirement). Respectfully yours, Your Signature 
 
Your Name
SSN:
DOB:
Current Address:
Former Address:
Current Employer:
Former Employer:
 
 
Good Will Adjustment to Remove Late Payment Letter #2
 
I have used this formula in my practice for years as a second approach towards erasing previous old late pays by appealing to the credit card company based good recent paying history.
 
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:            CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
 
Name of Credit Card Company
Attn: Credit Reporting Department
Address
City, State & Zip
 
 
RE:   Account #: ____________________________
 
Dear Capital One Credit Reporting Department: I have been a Capital One customer since 1991 and during that time, I have enjoyed my experience with Capital One greatly. I am writing to see if you would be willing to make a “goodwill” adjustment to your reporting to the three credit agencies. I have a few late payments on the above referenced account that date back to 1996 and 1998. All but one of the late payments is reported as 30-days late. Since that time I have been an exceptional customer paying early every month and have been rewarded by Capital One with ever increasing limits and lower APRs. Because of my exceptional payment history over the last 36 months, I would like you to consider removing the negative payments from my credit report. At the time of those late payments, I had moved because of a new job, and all of a sudden, the company I was working for experienced a downturn and my hours were drastically cut. I say that not to justify why the payments were late, but rather to show that the late payments are not a good indicator of my actual credit worthiness. I hope that Capital One is willing to work with me on erasing the late payments from my credit reports. I have been a very happy customer in the past and hope to continue a long relationship with Capital One.  With todays credit industry so competitive, I know how important it is to maintain good relationships with customers. Capital One has been exceptional in my book so far and I highly recommend it to all my friends and relatives. I hope that you will consider my humble request and prove once again, why Capital One is the “leader of the pack” an above the rest. I look forward to your reply.
 
Lastly, enclosed is a copy of my current photo ID and recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency (Patriot Act Requirement).
 
Respectfully yours,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SSN:
DOB:
Current Address:
Former Address:
Current Employer:
Previous Employer:
 
 
 
 
Credit File Inquiries  Who is Looking at Your Credit
 
How would you feel if a sneaky person entered your house or office, opened your file cabinet containing all your financial, personal information and documents?  To make matters worse, what if that person made a copy of your personal information and documentation and took it with them as they left out the back door of your home or office? The same scenario (except this is done electronically) happens each and every day.
 
Credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) gather staggering amounts of information about you from a variety of sources. Your date of birth, Social Security Number, Drivers License number, State ID Card number, your current address, your current and former employer, your employment history, where you applied for credit or a mortgage, credit card histories, payment histories, civil court judgments, tax liens, student loans, bankruptcies, collection information, where you shopped for a car, cell phones, auto, life, renters and home insurance.  In summary, your credit report indicates a very clear picture (or as the industry refers to it as a “snapshot”) of your spending and shopping habits.  This information often fills up 10 or more pages, and it is available to anyone willing to pay a fee for it.
 
Because of the potential for great harm that can result from misuse of such information, the law and certain statutes of the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits access and use of such information without a “permissible purpose”. It is fact that obtaining credit reports under false pretenses is a criminal act under both federal and state law. Despite such prohibition, there are widespread, illegal accesses to credit reports.  Enforcement of the prohibition by the government is, unfortunately, very lax.  However, you can enforce the prohibition through the civil justice system because the FCRA allows you to sue and recover your actual damages, punitive damages if appropriate, plus attorney fees and court costs.
 
How are you damaged when someone impermissibly looks at your credit history?  First and foremost, it is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.  You do not know who looked at your private information.  You do not know what will happen to your private information.  With Identity Theft at an epidemic rate, you should be concerned about who is looking at your private information.  Frequent inquiries will lower your FICO score, leading to high cost of credit, a higher interest rate and denial of credit.
 
A key issue is exactly what is permissible purpose”?  Listed below are more common “permissible purpose” under the FCRA:
 
   Court order, Warrant or Subpoena
   Written permission
   Credit transaction (loans)
   Collection
   Employment
   Insurance
 
Below are examples of proper and improper access of your credit history:
 
   You visited a car dealer just to look around. As you are ready to test-drive a car, the salesperson asks you to leave your drivers license with his manager for “insurance purposes”.  You like the car and start negotiating the price. The salesperson then tells you that your monthly payment will be low because your credit history shows it is good enough to qualify for a low interest rate loan.  Here, the dealer did not have a permissible purpose.  You did not apply for a car loan.  In fact, the dealer had no idea whether you were going to pay for the car with case or a loan.
 
   You visit a car dealer to look around. The salesperson then asks you to fill out a “guest sheet”.  Unbeknownst to you, the “guest sheet” has a small, print sentence allowing the dealer to run your credit history.  This is a more difficult issue.  Unless you can prove that the dealer deceptively obtained your signature on the guest sheet, the dealer had a legal basis for accessing your credit history.  The fact that you did not carefully read all of the fine print on the guest sheet before you signed it does not negate the presumption that you agreed to the terms of the guest sheet. Beware and be wise!  Never sign any “guest sheet” at any car dealer without reading everything before you sign!
 
   You are shopping for a new car. However, you are embarrassed by the fact that you filed for bankruptcy a year ago. You tell the salesperson that you will buy the car from the dealership with a personal check, as long as they agree not to run your credit. The salesperson agrees, however, you learn that the dealer pulled your credit after all. Here, even though the dealer had a permissible purpose in the first place, it agreed not to pull your credit history.  The dealer should not have run your credit history, and is in violation.
 
   You pay for a lawn mower at a local hardware store with a personal check. Accepting the payment in the form of a personal check is considered an extension of credit for purposes under the FCRA.  A check is nothing more than a promise to pay certain amounts when presented at a proper bank. Therefore, it is considered a credit transaction and the merchant accepting the check as the right to check your credit history.
 
   Your car is suddenly stolen.  A few days later, it is found in the woods, burned and damaged beyond all repair. Your insurance company suspects that you staged the incident to collect the insurance money. Your insurance company reports this to the local police for an investigation.  The law enforcement agency/police pulls your credit to see if you experienced financial problems requiring money.  The police do not have a right to access your credit history without a Subpoena, Warrant or Court Order. However, this is a routine practice among many police and law enforcement agencies.
 
How can you tell if someone has looked at your credit history?  Your credit history will tell you who accessed your credit, and for what purpose within the last two (2) years under the “Inquiries” section of your credit file.  On a regular basis, you should obtain a copy of your file and examine this section carefully.  You are entitled to get a free credit report once a year from Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.  You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and obtain a free copy of your report. Although the process is a bit cumbersome, you can instantly access your credit reports. Be sure to purchase a “tri-merge” report, the cost for this is around $32.00.  A tri-merge report” combines all three CRA reports.  Look over all three reports; note any suspicious, incorrect or inaccurate information.  
 
If you discover that your credit files have been accessed without a permissible purpose or illegally ran, below are sample letters that I have used successfully in my own practice over the past 15 years:
 
Youve just received a copy of your credit file and lo and behold, there are unexplained “inquiries” appearing on your file.  Excessive inquiries can break your FICO score down anywhere between 20 to 50 points.  The Fair Credit and Reporting Act prohibits anyone from obtaining a copy of your credit file that does not have your written or recorded verbal authorization.  The only exception to this would be law enforcement officials, if you have a collection account, insurance underwriting purposes, if you completed an application for credit or for employment purposes. Use this letter to remove any unexplained inquiries on your credit file.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:               CERTIFIED MAIL
               Article #
 
Name of CompanyAttn: Legal Department
Address 1
Address 2
City, State & Zip RE:   Unauthorized Access to Credit File
 Dear Legal Department: As per my credit file, your company obtained my credit file on .  Upon review of my file and records, I do not recall applying for credit or submitting a Resume for employment with . Pursuant to The Fair Credit & Reporting Act, § 616. Civil liability for willful noncompliance [15 U.S.C. § 1681n] specifically states as follows:"(b) Civil liability for knowing noncompliance. Any person who obtains a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses or knowingly without a permissible purpose shall be liable to the consumer reporting agency for actual damages sustained by the consumer reporting agency or $1,000.00, whichever is greater." From the 1998 FTC opinion letter Greenblatt, et al
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra/greenblt.htm:"Any person who procures a consumer report under false pretenses, or knowingly without a permissible purpose, is liable for $1,000.00 or actual damages (whichever is greater) to both the consumer and to the consumer reporting agency from which the report is procured." Please explain your permissible purpose for your obtaining my credit file. Should you not have a permissible purpose, please arrange for payment of $1,000.00 by .
Please respond to this letter by fax to and give it your immediate attention.
 
Enclosed please find a copy of my current photo ID and recent utility bill as proof of my identity and residency. Sincerely, Your Signature 
 
Your Name
SSN
DOB
 
 
…..
 
 
Requesting the CRAs With the Removal of Inquiries
inquiries
Prepare letters to each inquiring CRA asking them to remove their inquiry. The Fair Credit Reporting ActFair Credit Reporting Act allows only authorized inquiriesinquiries to appear on the consumer credit reportcredit report. Keep a copy for your files and send the letter Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested.
 
Your Name
Address
City, State & Zip
 
Date:             CERTIFIED MAIL-RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
            Article #
Name of Credit Bureau
Attn:  Consumer Relations Dept.
Address
City, State & Zip
 
RE:    Unauthorized Credit Inquiry Appearing on Credit File
 
Dear Consumer Relations Dept.:
 
I recently received a copy of my credit report, and have had the opportunity to review the contents of the filecredit report.
 
The credit report showed a credit inquiry by your company that I do not recall authorizing. I understand that you shouldnt be allowed to put an inquiry on my file unless I have authorized it. Please have this inquiry removed from my credit file because it is making it very difficult for me to acquire credit.
 
I have sent this letter certified mail because I need your prompt response to this issue. Send me information and documentation showing that I authorized your company to run my credit report. After review, I would appreciate it that you forward me documentation that you have had the unauthorized inquiry removed.
 
If you find that I am remiss, and you do have my authorization to inquire into my credit reportcredit report, then please send me proof of this.
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Signature
 
Your Printed Name
SSN
DOB
Copy Enclosed:  Current photo ID and recent utility bill
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CHAPTER SIX
Miscellaneous Information
 
I have compiled some further information that you will find most helpful.  
 
VIOLATIONS OF THE FCRA & FDCPA, PENALTIES, LITIGATION & RECOVERY FOR DAMAGES AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES:
 
Who
Why
Precedent/Law
Fine
Creditors if they report your credit history inaccurately.
Defamation, financial injury
US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, No. 00-15946, Nelson vs. Chase Manhattan
Extent of damages incurred by the wronged party as deemed by the courts
Creditors if they pull your credit file without permissible purpose.
Injury to your credit report and credit score
FCRA
Section 604
(A)(3)
$2500
Credit bureaus if they refuse to correct information after being provided proof.
Defamation, willful injury
FCRA
Section 623
 
CUSHMAN, v. TRANS UNION CORPORATION
 
US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court
Case 115 F.3d 220
June 9, 1997, Filed
 (D.C. No. 95-cv-01743).
 
Extent of damages incurred by the wronged party, as deemed by the courts
Credit bureaus if they reinsert a removed item from your credit report without notifying you in writing within 5 business days.
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
SECTION 611
Part (A)(5)(B)(ii)
 
$2500
Credit bureaus if they fail to respond to your written disputes within 30 days (a 15 day extension may be granted if they receive information from the creditor within the first 30 days).
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
Section 611
Part (A)(1)
$2500
Creditors or collection agencies, and credit bureaus if they try and Re-age” your account by updating the date of last activity on your credit report in the hopes of keeping negative information on your account longer.
Consumer protection afforded by the FCRA
FCRA
Section 605
(c) Running of the reporting period
$1000
 
Collection agencies if they do not validate your debt yet continue to pursue collection activity (file for judgments, call or write you).
 
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
 
FDCPA
Section 809 (b),
FTC opinion letter Cass from LeFevre (See Appendix B).
 
$1000
Collection agencies if you have sent them a cease and desist letter and they still call you.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805 (c)
$1000
Collection agencies if they have not validated your debt and they still continue to report to the credit bureaus.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
Section 809 (b),
FTC opinion letter Cass from LeFevre (See Appendix B).
$1000
Collection agencies if they:
Cash a post-dated check before the date on the check.
Cost you money by making you accept collect calls or COD mail.
Take or threaten to take any personal property without a judgment.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 808
$1000
Call you after 9 PM at night or before 8 AM in your specific time zone.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
 Section 805. (a)(1)
$1000
Call you at your place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805. (a)(3)
$1000
Calls any third part about your debt like friends, neighbors, relatives, etc.  However they can contact your attorney, a consumer reporting agency, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.  
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 805. (b)
$1000
The collection agency cannot use any kind of harassment or abuse.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 806
$1000
Collector cannot claim to garnish your wages, seize property or have you arrested. This trick is used a lot to collect NSF checks.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 807
$1000
Collector must contact you in the state and county in which you lived when you signed the original contract for the debt or where you live at the time when they file the lawsuit.
Consumer protection afforded by the FDCPA
FDCPA
Section 811 (a) (2)
$1000
 
Also a good grounds for getting a judgment vacated
 
 
Credit Repair Companies & Organizations:
 
For information about “credit repair companies” and recent law cases (Operation: Credit Despair Sweep Action List) about how certain credit repair companies and organizations have defrauded consumers, log on to: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/02/creditcaselist.pdf.  If you use any credit repair company or organization, be sure to sign a contract stating what the credit repair company or organization services will be, and all contracts must have a three day right of rescission.
 
Consumer Advocate Attorney:  
 
For consumers with bruised credit because of a bankruptcy, divorce or other life-changing events, or for establishing credit for the first time, www.orchardbank.com or www.householdbank.com.
 
© 2007 New Century Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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