Category

Consumer Rights

Can An Employer Check Your Credit Reports?

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Your Credit

In most states, checking an employee’s credit report is considered a permissible purpose.  Employers check employee’s credit reports to assess the overall risk of the employee.  Employees with better credit reports are generally deemed to be more responsible and organized.  Whether or not you agree with this assessment, you need to be prepared.  If you are currently looking for a job, or your current employer decides to check your credit report, it is imperative that your credit report be as strong as possible.  This includes making sure that your credit report is accurate and also that you manage your credit accounts responsibly (Learn more about credit repair).

 Conditions for Furnishing and Using Consumer Reports for Employment Purposes: 

A consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report for employment purposes only if the employer who obtains such report from the agency certifies to the agency that the employer has complied with the disclosure requirements in the Fair credit Reporting Act with respect to the consumer report, and that the employer will comply with the conditions for adverse actions, if applicable, with respect to the consumer report.  The employer is not permitted to use information from the consumer report in violation of any applicable Federal or State equal employment opportunity law or regulation; and the consumer reporting agency must include a summary of the consumer’s rights with the report.

 The Consumer Must Provide Permission in Writing:

Generally, a person may not procure a consumer report, or cause a consumer report to be procured, for employment purposes with respect to any consumer, unless a clear and conspicuous disclosure has been made in writing to the consumer at any time before the report is procured or caused to be procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes.  The consumer must provide written authorization to the employer before the employer may procure the credit report.

What if Your Employer Takes an Adverse Action Against You Based on Your Credit Report?

Before taking any adverse action based in whole or in part on the report, the employer intending to take such adverse action must provide to the consumer to whom the report relates a copy of the report.  The employer must also provide a description in writing of the consumer’s rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Do Not Take Any Unnecessary Chances:

If you have not checked your credit report lately, you should.  Studies show that only about ten percent of consumers check their credit reports regularly.  Before you potentially lose an opportunity for a new job, or even possibly lose the current job you have, check your credit reports and take proactive steps to make sure that your credit reports are as strong as possible.

Validation of Debt

By | Collections, Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Debt

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors have certain obligations when first communicating with a consumer about a debt.  The debt collector must provide certain information within five days of the initial contact with the consumer.  That information includes the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. 

The debt collector must also provide certain statements within five days of the initial communication.  The following statements are required:

  1. A statement that the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector unless the consumer, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt within thirty days after receipt of the notice;
  2. A statement that the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed; and
  3. A statement that the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor if different from the current creditor upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period.

Keep in mind that a communication in the form of a formal pleading in a civil action is not considered an “initial communication.”

Validating the Debt:

If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector must cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt.  The debt collector can satisfy this requirement by obtaining a copy of a judgment or other specific account information and mailing the information to the consumer.

Also, if the consumer has requested the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector must cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains the name and address of the original creditor and that information is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

Debt collectors are allowed to proceed with lawful collection activity during the thirty day period prior to receipt of a dispute.  Any collection activities and communication during the thirty day period may not overshadow or be inconsistent with the disclosure of the consumer’s right to dispute the debt or request the name and address of the original creditor.

What happens if the consumer does not demand validation of the debt within the thirty day period?

If the consumer does not dispute the validity of the debt during the thirty day period, the debt collector may assume that the debt is valid for collection purposes.  However, the failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.

What does this mean?

When you are contacted by a debt collector in regard to a debt that you allegedly owe, it does not mean that the debt collector has access to the information necessary to validate the debt.  While some debt collectors have this information in advance of an initial contact, many debt collectors only attempt to validate a debt if the consumer requests during the thirty day period.  If the debt cannot be validated, the debt collector must cease additional collection activity.  Also, if a debt cannot be validated, the debt cannot be reported on your credit profile.

FDCPA: Harassment and Unfair Conduct

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Debt, Personal Finance, Your Credit

How can you tell if a debt collector is harassing you, or just legally attempting to collect a debt?  This is part 2 of a series of posts relating to debt collection and credit repair.  The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act defines conduct that is considered harassment.  According to the Act, a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.

Debt collectors are prohibited from the use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.  They also may not use obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.

Debt collectors may not publish a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency (like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) or to a few specifically defined entities.   Reporting a debt in collection to the credit bureaus has a significant impact on credit scores, and in essence, is available to anyone that may have a valid purpose to review your credit report.  This includes lenders, employers, insurance companies, etc.  Regardless of how it is ultimately resolved, an account in collection is never a good thing to have on a credit report.  Reporting to the bureaus may be the single most effective tool for debt collectors prior to initiating a lawsuit.   Debt Collectors may not advertise for the sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt. 

Although vague, the Act also provides that a debt collector may not cause a telephone to ring or engage any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.   Debt collectors must also disclose of the caller’s identity.

Apparently it is not harassment if the debt collector calls repeatedly or continuously without the intent to annoy, abuse or harass.   Let’s face it, debt collectors call repeatedly hoping that you will get tired enough of hearing from them that you will pay a debt.   Now isn’t that annoying?

Harassment is one form of prohibited conduct.  The Act also defines unfair conduct.  A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.  The following debt collection conduct is deemed to be unfair or unconscionable:

  1. The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.
  2. The acceptance by a debt collector from any person of a check or other payment instrument postdated by more than five days unless such person is notified in writing of the debt collector’s intent to deposit such check or instrument not more than ten nor less than three business days prior to such deposit.
  3. The solicitation by a debt collector of any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument for the purpose of threatening or instituting criminal prosecution.
  4.  Depositing or threatening to deposit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument prior to the date on such check or instrument.
  5. Causing charges to be made to any person for communications by concealment of the true propose of the communication. Such charges include, but are not limited to, collect telephone calls and telegram fees.
  6. Taking or threatening to take any non-judicial action to effect dispossession or disablement of property if (A) there is no present right to possession of the property claimed as collateral through an enforceable security interest;  (B) there is no present intention to take possession of the property; or (C) the property is exempt by law from such dispossession or disablement.
  7. Communicating with a consumer regarding a debt by post card.
  8.  Using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business.

Be sure to document any violations.  There are civil remedies available (which will be detailed in another post) for debtors that are victims of debt collectors that engage in harassing or unfair conduct.

How Does Debt Collection Impact Credit Repair?

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Debt, End Debt Collector Abuse Act of 2010

If you have ever been contacted by a debt collector, you probably already know that they can be aggressive.   Debt collectors are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  While any contact from a debt collector may appear harassing, the Act actually defines those actions that are legally permissible.  This post addresses some of the restraints regarding communication from debt collectors in regard to legitimate debts. 

When can a debt collector contact you?  Generally, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer.  In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o’clock in the morning and before 9 o’clock at night.

What if you are represented by an attorney? Debt collectors may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to the debt and has or can ascertain the attorney’s name and address.  There is an exception if the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or if the attorney consents to direct communication.

Has a debt collector contacted you at work? Debt collectors may not contact the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.

Has a debt collector called your neighbors, friends and/or family?  In most cases, a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than a consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.

What can you do if a debt collector is contacting you about a valid debt? If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except to advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated or to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor.

What Items Are Reported to the Credit Bureaus?

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Cards, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Personal Finance

The credit reporting system is not perfect.  In fact, it is far from perfect.  As a result, a consumer that manages credit responsibly may not be rewarded with an appropriate credit score.  To understand how this can happen, consumers need to understand who reports credit data to the credit bureaus. 

Approximately 30,000 data furnishers provide data to the credit bureaus each month.  This results in about 4 billion points of data each month.  That breaks down to approximately 130 million items each and every day.  The largest providers of data are financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, and consumer finance companies. 

While these numbers are staggering, there is a lot of data that is not reported.   Creditors are not actually required to report data to the credit bureaus.  As a result, some creditors choose not to report any data at all.  Other creditors choose to only report negative information or to exclude important key data points such as credit limits.  If you have positive information and your creditors do not report it the bureaus, or if they only report negative or incomplete items, your credit score will be impacted negatively.  This is simply because you will not receive the benefit of this positive information when your credit score is calculated.

So why wouldn’t a creditor want to report information?  Some creditors are concerned that their competitors will obtain valuable information about their customers and then use this information to compete for the customers or evaluate certain lines of business.  Some creditors choose not to report to limit the potential liability imposed on data providers by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Some creditors simply want to avoid the costs associated with providing data altogether.  These costs include reporting expenses, dispute investigation expenses, compliance expenses, and system maintenance expenses.  Some regulated entities, such as telephone companies, are restricted by regulations as to the information they may report.  Some of these companies, for example, are only permitted to report data about accounts that are past due or are in a charged-off status.

If you are trying to improve your credit score, it is important that you work with creditors that report both positive information as well as the negative information.  It is also important that they report all of the information, not just selective data that may negatively impact your credit score even though your account is in good standing. Check your credit report frequently and verify that all of your creditors are reporting to the credit bureaus correctly.  Remember that your credit score is based only on the information that is reported, and your credit score could be higher if you have positive information that is not reported or not reported completely.

You’re Ready. Is Your Credit?

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Personal Finance, Your Credit

Armed with an impressive resume and knowledge of the company you are interviewing for, you confidently approach the interviewer and begin to craft the inspiring ‘first impression’ you envisioned last night as you went to bed.

You may feel prepared for the interview and qualified for the new job, but there is a strong possibility that the interviewer has already formed an opinion about you – through information contained in your credit report. 

Increasing numbers of companies are requesting credit reports to assist them in the job hiring process.  Essentially, your credit report is your financial resume and employers use it as an indicator of your personal integrity and how and how you conduct your life.  With that in mind, it’s alarming that seventy none percent of all credit reports contain errors.  A qualified job seeker simply can’t afford to have credit report errors sabotage an excellent employment history.

In the competitive job market, an accurate credit history may be the decisive factor in gaining a job interview.  Inaccurate credit reports can torpedo the most impressive resumes, and you won’t have a second chance to make a first impression.

The labor market is not only intense form the job seekers standpoint, but employers also are striving to gain a competitive advantage in the hiring process by accessing all the information available to improve the quality of the workforce.  Employers are also more likely to check the credit history of prospective employees who will be involved in some aspect of the company’s finances.

You can use this trend of employer credit checking to your benefit by repairing and/or maintaining a clean credit history.  Your credit report is your financial fingerprint, so check it frequently and keep it accurate so you are prepared to jump on the dream job opportunity should the occasion arise.

Information on Credit Reports

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Fair Credit Reporting Act

Credit Reports generally contain five types of information:

Identification Information: Information such as the name of the individual, current and previous residential addresses, and Social Security number.

Trade Line Information: Detailed information reported by creditors and other furnishers on each current and past loan, lease, or other debt (such as utility and medical debts).

Public Record Information: Information derived from financial-related public records, such as records of bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens, garnishments, and other civil judgments.

Collection Account Information: Information reported by collection agencies regarding credit accounts and other debts.

Inquiry Information: Identities of individuals or companies that have requested information from an individual’s credit file; the date of inquiry; and an indication of whether the inquiry was by the consumer, for the review of an existing account, or to help the inquirer decide on a potential future account or relationship.

Unfortunately, an alarming number of these files (credit reports) contain serious errors and could cause the denial of credit, a loan, or a job, so monitor your credit report and minimize or eliminate future credit problems.  A recent study of consumer credit found that 3 out of every 4 credit reports contain errors, some large enough to cause credit denials.

  • Twenty-five percent (25%) of the credit reports contained errors serious enough to result in the denial of credit;
  • Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the credit reports contained mistakes of some kind;
  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of the credit reports contained personal demographic identifying information that was misspelled, long-outdated, belonged to a stranger, or was otherwise incorrect;
  • Thirty percent (30%) of the credit reports contained credit accounts that had been closed by the consumer but incorrectly remained listed as open.

Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Debt, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Your Credit

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records). Here is a summary of your major rights under the FCRA.

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.

Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment – or to take another adverse action against you – must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.

  • You have the right to know what is in your file.

You may request and obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your “file disclosure”). You will be required to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases, the disclosure will be free.

  • You are entitled to a free file disclosure if:

a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report; you are the victim of identify theft and place a fraud alert in your file; your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud; you are on public assistance; you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.  In addition, as of September 2005 all consumers will be entitled to one free disclosure every 12 months upon request from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies.

  • You have the right to ask for a credit score.

Credit scores are numerical summaries of your credit-worthiness based on information from credit bureaus. You may request a credit score from consumer reporting agencies that create scores or distribute scores used in residential real property loans, but you will have to pay for it. In some mortgage transactions, you will receive credit score information for free from the mortgage lender.

  • You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.

If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous.

  • Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.

Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report information it has verified as accurate.

  • Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information.

 In most cases, a consumer reporting agency may not report negative information that is more than seven years old, or bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.

  • Access to your file is limited.

A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need — usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business. The FCRA specifies those with a valid need for access.

  • You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.

A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or a potential employer, without your written consent given to the employer. Written consent generally is not required in the trucking industry.

  • You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.

Unsolicited “prescreened” offers for credit and insurance must include a toll-free phone number you can call if you choose to remove your name and address from the lists these offers are based on.

  • You may seek damages from violators.

If a consumer reporting agency, or, in some cases, a user of consumer reports or a furnisher of information to a consumer reporting agency violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue in state or federal court.

Credit Repair: How Can You Tell The Good From the Bad?

By | Consumer Rights, Credit Repair, Fraud Protection

It’s a jungle out there! The following list identifies a few things you should consider when selecting a credit repair company:

1: Does the company identify their owners/attorneys, or addresses?
Unfortunately, the internet allows many scammers to appear as legitimate companies through legitimate looking websites. Before you give your hard earned money and personal information to anyone, make sure you can verify the company’s information and credentials. You can verify Ovation’s information from a number of independent sources including the Florida Bar, the Florida Department of State, and the Better Business Bureau.

2: Does the company have significant Better Business Bureau Complaints (or are not even affiliated with the Better Business Bureau)?
While any company can accrue a few random BBB complaints, significant number of complaints may be an indication that the company does not operate fairly towards its customers. Check BBB reports frequently and avoid companies that manage to accrue hundreds of complaints. To check for complaints, visit www.bbb.org and click on “Go to Local BBBs”. Question any company that chooses not to be affiliated with the Better Business Bureau; they may be trying to hide the truth about their organization. Our history with the Better Business Bureau dates back to 1976.

3: Does the company request fees in advance?
The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) requires that credit repair company charge for services only after they are  rendered. Requirements for large upfront payments are tell-tale warning signs of unethical companies. We only charge for work that has been completed in full. Learn more about the CROA in our Learning Center.

4: Does the company disclose your rights?
Consumers have the right to conduct their own credit report repair. You don’t have to hire someone to do if for you. For those that do, Ovation offers its services to individuals seeking legal professionals to manage their credit report repair. Ovation discloses your rights to you on every page of our website as well as in your signup package. We want you to be informed and you should steer clear of any company that doesn’t want you to know your rights.

5: Does the company advocate illegal tactics such as creating “new” identities?
Creating a new identity by applying for a Employer Identification Number to merge or replace a social security number is a serious crime and can lead to significant personal liability. To learn more about this type of illegal credit tactic, visit our Learning Center.

6: Does the company advocate fraudulent reporting of credit lines?
Purchasing a listing on someone else’s credit lines for the purpose of reporting a positive account is unethical at best. Trying to con the credit bureaus and your future and current creditors is a significant issue that can lead to personal liability. To learn more about this type of illegal credit tactic, visit our Learning Center.

7: Does the company simply dispute all your negative items without requiring any input for the client?
Regardless of how they market themselves, this is a key indicator that the company is a “rookie”. Not only are these types of companies violating federal law by disputing on your behalf in bad faith (which could lead to personal liability), these companies are making it more difficult for you to achieve sustainable results. To learn more about this type of illegal credit tactic, visit our Learning Center.

Who Is The BEST For My Credit Repair?

By | Ask a Credit Expert, Consumer Rights, Credit Laws, Credit Repair, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Personal Finance, Save Money, Your Credit

When it comes to repairing your credit report you need to do some research.  You want to know: who you are working with, what services they provide, what kind of guarantee they have, what your responsibility is during the process, how much it costs, and how long it generally takes.

I can tell you all of this for Ovation Credit Services. Ovation Credit Services is an attorney run business that started in 2004.  Our administration is made up of several people that have been in the industry for over 10+ years.  Before we ever took on clients we made sure that we had a staff that was fully trained and knowledgeable in credit repair, credit reports, the credit bureaus, the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), and CROA (Credit Repair Organization Act). We made sure that we had a strong foundation for our clients to rely on by providing the following:

  • Excellent customizable programs for every consumer
  • Staff that always answers the phone so our clients do not get voicemail during business hours
  • All emails are returned within 24 hours
  • An excellent sales team in place to answer all questions and provide Free Credit Consultations
  • Different discounts so all consumers can afford our services
  • 100% Service Guarantee
  • No-risk refund policy

Ovation’s programs are based upon extensive research of consumer credit laws, experience with credit bureau and creditor tactics, and persistence for our clients. Our programs are 100% legal and have helped tens of thousands of Americans correct and update their credit profiles resulting in higher credit scores. We currently offer two program choices to address your particular credit needs; Essentials and Essentials Plus. To learn more about these programs, click on the link to read all about our programs, add on options, and discounts. http://www.ovationcredit.com/services/services.php

Our service guarantee and no-risk refund policy were put into place to protect both us and our clients.  Our service guarantee is very straight forward. During any month, if we fail to provide the agreed upon services, we will not charge your Monthly Fees for that month. It’s as simple as that! We stand behind the quality of the work we do for you, and it shows. If you feel that something was not done on your case, you can ask for a refund at any time as well. Also, understand that each case is different, and results will vary upon the specific issues contained on your credit reports. They will also vary based upon the amount of time you are willing to commit to your credit report repair. As such, Ovation Credit does not and can not guarantee specific results.

As a client of Ovation Credit Services you are expected to participate in your credit repair process as well.  As you commit your time to your case it will show as you receive results back.  Generally, clients that participate more get better results.  Once you are a client you agree to do the following: provide your 3 credit reports to get started, send us any additional information that is required or necessary for us to dispute for you, and forward all correspondence from the credit bureaus, creditors, and other related services.

With Ovation Credit Services you get more for your money. Right now, you can get signed up with Ovation for only $60 for an individual and $96 for a couple.  Thirty days after you sign up, you start your monthly billing.  Our monthly prices are: $37 for Essentials and $57 for Essentials Plus – for an individual.  For couples, it is $60 a month for Essentials and $92 a month for Essentials Plus. To customize the programs even more you can add on Identity Optimization and/or Fast Track for $25 each. Click on this link to learn even more about our programs and add on programs: http://www.ovationcredit.com/services/services.php

As you work with Ovation Credit, you will see that we work hard to get our clients the best results possible, as quickly as possible.  On average our clients are with us 6-8 months and receive 19 improvements.  We are also the ONLY credit repair company in the United States that disputes directly into TransUnion’s system.  With this new program our clients receive their updated credit reports back from TransUnion via email and usually within 2-3 weeks each time we dispute instead of 45-60 days.

As you can see, there are A LOT of reasons that Ovation Credit Services is the BEST! This is also why we are an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau and have an A Rating.  So, come and join our family by clicking on the sign up page and get back to a BETTER financial future! You can also call one of our Credit Analysts at 1-866-639-3426 option 2.

If you have a question for our Credit Expert Kristi Thornton, send an email to [email protected]

Call Now for a FREE Credit Consultation

CALL US NOW