How to Use this Resource

We hope the articles below help you understand your rights as a consumer. You can scroll through the titles, or sort by Practice Area or Topic. You can also use the search feature to locate information by keyword.

Flitter Milz represents people with a variety of problems involving consumer credit and collections. If you have a particular question or believe your consumer rights have been violated, Contact Us for a no cost consultation.

How to Maintain Good Credit During Divorce

Financial Separation is Key

Getting divorced is never easy. Although it is an unfortunate fact of life for more than half of all U.S. couples, parting ways with your spouse doesn’t mean that your credit has to take a hit.

Separating financially is crucial as most married couples share joint assets, such as homes, cars, credit cards and loans. But the division of these accounts can be a messy financial predicament.  It is important for you to protect your credit, and good name, as you work towards an independent life from your spouse.

Credit Impact During Divorce

Joint accounts have joint consequences, and often with the stress of divorce one spouse may have forgotten to make a payment, or assumed the other spouse did. Missed or late payments may result in contact from debt collectors, negative credit reporting and lowered credit scores.  To ensure joint accounts get paid properly and on time take these steps:

1. Calendar payments.
–   Identify accounts: your name v. joint.
–   Create a file for each account.
–   Organize account statements.
–   Calendar payment due dates.
–   Review accounts for payment status.

 

2. Obtain Current Credit Reports.  Transunion, Experian and Equifax are the three main credit reporting agencies. Consumers are entitled to receive one free credit report from each bureau every year.  Sometimes, consumers choose to enroll in a credit monitoring service which enables review of credit reports on a regular basis throughout the year.

How to get credit reports.  We suggest that you send a written request to each credit bureau to obtain a report.  Your letter should include two forms of identification, such as a current driver’s license and utility bill. It takes about two weeks to receive your reports.  While you can also obtain your reports online through www.annualcreditreport.com, this method requires you to agree to terms in a “click” agreement, which could negatively impact your consumer rights.

3. Identify your accounts
Review your reports and identify accounts in your name and those that are joint with a spouse.  Evaluate your reports for errors such as:

            • Inaccurate personal identifying information.
            • Account balance or payment history errors.
            • Duplicate account information.
            • Personal information belonging to someone else.
            • Accounts opened by someone other than yourself.

4. If Inaccurate…Dispute!  After obtaining your credit report, if there are errors, you should send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agency to request that the errors be corrected.  Be sure to enclose documents that support your claim. The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to your dispute. You may include documents such as, account statements, cancelled checks, court docket information, or collection correspondence that  prove why your claim of an error is valid.

One Dispute Letter Per Error. If you find multiple errors on a credit report, dispute them individually with the bureau. Enclose a copy of the credit report with the error highlighted and your supporting documents. The credit bureaus then have 30 days to respond to your dispute letter.

 

 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act 
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law governing how consumer credit information can be used and distributed. Consumers have the right to see what’s on their credit reports and dispute errors and inaccurate information. Errors not corrected, may violate the consumer’s rights.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz, P.C. represents people in consumer credit matters related to credit reporting accuracy and privacy, abusive debt collection contact and vehicle repossessions which stem from a pending divorce or separation.  Contact Us for a no-cost consultation.

 

Who are the Credit Reporting Agencies?

 

What is a Credit Bureau?

Credit reporting agencies are companies that compile detailed financial information on consumers from various sources.  The information collected is put together into a credit report. When the consumer seeks credit, businesses then contact credit reporting agencies to obtain credit reports to assess the consumer’s financial health. These credit reports may be requested by insurance companies, credit card companies, potential landlords, potential employers, and others that need to evaluate your credit history.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The federal law, commonly called the FCRA, helps to ensure the accuracy, fairness and privacy of the information in consumer credit bureau files. The law regulates the way credit reporting agencies can collect, access, use and share the data collected in consumer reports.

The Big Three:  Transunion.  Experian.  Equifax.

Transunion, Experian and Equifax are the three main credit bureaus.  If a person or business is requesting your credit report, that request may very well be to one of these three national credit reporting agencies. However, there are many other credit reporting agencies, and many of them are tied to specific industries.

Industry Specific Reporting Agencies

Some credit bureaus are businesses that collect data and assign scores for specific purposes.  Usually these types of businesses may check reports before offering you employment, lending money to you or leasing you an apartment.  Some of these bureaus are listed below by industry.

Employment Screening

    • Accurate Background
    • ADP Screening & Selection Services, Inc.
    • com
    • Checkr
    • EmpInfo
    • First Advantage Corporation
    • General Information Services, Inc. (GIS)
    • HireRight
    • Info Cubic
    • IntelliCorp
    • OPENonline
    • Pre-employ.com
    • Truework
    • The Work Number

Tenant Background Screenings

    • Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC)
    • CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions
    • Experian RentBureau
    • First Advantage Corporation Resident Solutions
    • Real Page, Inc. (LeasingDesk)
    • Screening Reports, Inc.
    • TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, Inc. (TransUnion SmartMove)

Check or Bank Screening

    • Certegy Check Services
    • ChexSystems
    • CrossCheck, Inc.
    • Early Warning Services
    • Global Payments Check Services, Inc.
    • TeleCheck Services

Insurance Screening

    • A-PLUS Property (by Verisk)
    • LexisNexis C.L.U.E. (Auto & Property Reports)
    • Drivers History
    • MIB, Inc.
    • Milliman IntelliScript

Sub-Prime Loan Market
for Auto Loans or Retail Installment Contract

    • Clarity Services
    • CoreLogic Teletrack
    • FactorTrust

Requirements for all Credit Bureaus

The list of credit reporting agencies goes on.  But regardless of the nature or type of credit reporting agencies, each such agency is required to give you at least one free credit report every twelve months.  Requests for credit reports should be made in writing and sent by mail.  For example, you could request a free copy of your credit report from both Transunion and Experian, so long as you have not requested a credit report from these agencies in the past twelve months.  The bureaus may charge for multiple reports requested during the year.

Credit Reporting Errors

Marking Up errors on credit report

Have you noticed any inaccuracies listed on your credit report?  If so, it is highly important that you dispute the errors directly to the credit reporting agency.  Dispute letters should be accompanied by a copy of the credit report with the error highlighted.  The letter should be  sent by certified mail, and should include all relevant evidence and documentation that supports your dispute. If the credit bureau does not correct an inaccurate listing, seek legal counsel.

Seek Legal Counsel

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of inaccurate credit reporting.  Contact Us for a no cost legal review of your credit reports and evaluation of whether your consumer rights have been violated.

Resolution for the New Year: Create a Budget and Avoid Credit Problems

Crafting a household budget is not only necessary to help evaluate spending patterns and measure income versus expenditures, but it also helps to ensure a secure financial future.

When an individual’s debt-to-income ratio rises, meaning that the person is taking on more debt than they are receiving in income, dire financial circumstances may occur for that person, and his or her family.

And if debt starts to get out of control and goes on unpaid for a period of time, debt collectors will no doubt start reaching out, your vehicle could get repossessed and credit scores could plummet.

It All Starts With Budgeting

The discipline of a budget helps keep a focus on income and payments towards all financial obligations.  Develop a plan to meet your obligations and protect your credit rating.

1. Obtain Current Credit Reports
One of the first steps toward keeping on top of your financial picture is to obtain current copies of your credit reports from the three main reporting agencies, Transunion, Experian and Equifax. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each credit bureau.

2. Evaluate Credit Reports for Accuracy
A review of your report will point out any negative entries and possibly errors, which could remain as black marks on your credit reports for up to seven-and-a-half years. These listings may affect terms on existing credit or your ability to obtain favorable terms on new lines of credit. If you discover errors on your reports, dispute the errors in writing directly with the credit bureau.

3. Where is your hard-earned money spent?

If you know how much money is coming in versus going out each month, it becomes less likely that you’ll overspend to the point where payments are skipped or missed. Create the budget that you can stick to with a payment schedule that you can meet.  When you stay in charge of your finances, you decide when it’s time to make a new purchase, whether it be for a home, education, a new vehicle, or another personal expense.

4. Develop a Budget that’s right for you.
It’s all about organization and discipline. Gather all of your paperwork, create files for each account, calendar your payments and focus on meeting your financial goals.  These steps will help you meet your goals.

  • Identify your income sources
  • Compile a list of all expenditures: i.e. rent/mortgage, auto loan, insurance, food, credit cards, etc.
  • Categorize expenses: i.e. essential/necessities versus extraneous/unnecessary
  • Develop a plan to satisfy obligations within a specific time period
  • Obtain current credit reports from Transunion, Experian and Equifax
  • Establish both long and short-term financial goals.
  • Develop a plan to meet your goals.
  • Consider ways to earn or save more to help meet your goals

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims with consumer credit problems, such as credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues, abusive debt collection tactics, wrongful vehicle repossession, which stem from over-spending. If you have errors on your credit reports, have received contact from debt collectors, or your auto lender has repossessed your vehicle,  Contact Us for a no-cost evaluation to determine whether your consumer rights may have been violated.

Protecting Your Credit During a COVID-19 Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is, under normal circumstances, a big stressor on the wallet. But this year proposes to be even more difficult than in years past, given that the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive job losses and financial hardships for people far and wide. Although the federal CARES Act offers some flexibility to consumers for payment of debt and subsequent credit reporting, it is important to consider the ramifications of over-spending on your credit rating, credit report and credit score.

Spending Habits Impact your Credit

The danger in over-spending comes when that monthly bill is due, and you are still unable to come up with the cash to pay it off.  Not paying credit card bills on time is one of those factors that will negatively affect your credit score and reports. By keeping spending habits under control, you can protect your credit and improve your ability to obtain new credit.

Buy now, Pay later?  You must be disciplined.

Using a credit card makes it easy to over-spend, especially during the holidays. The freedom of making purchases with a credit card today, could make it difficult to pay the bill the following month if purchases get out of hand.

But not paying obligations timely is one of those factors that will negatively affect someone’s credit score.  When you are unable to pay off your charge card in full at the end of the month, interest will continue to run on those purchases, plus all future purchases, until the entire credit line is paid off.  Your credit score and credit reports can take a hit when your payment history shows missed or late payments.

Monitor your Credit Score and Credit Report

Credit reports and credit scores help reflect an individual’s financial picture. They are tools used to determine someone’s creditworthiness to lenders, help landlords make a determination as to whether you qualify as a trustworthy tenant, and are used by potential employers who are screening job applicants.

 

Credit Reports
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal law that regulates the credit reporting agencies. The bureaus must list consumer’s information accurately.  Consumers may obtain a free credit report every twelve months to check their reports for errors.  When information is listed inaccurately, the consumer must send a written dispute to the bureau and request a correction to the report.

Credit Scores
Credit scores indicate to a prospective lender how likely the consumer is to pay back the obligation on time and in full.  Scores are determined by a number of factors including:

    • The type of credit held by the consumer, such as credit card accounts, home mortgages, vehicle loans, and any other debt.
    • Credit history, as in the length of time someone has held an account.
    • The total amount of existing debt that someone has in his or her name.
    • Payment history, whether scheduled payments are made in full and on time.
    • Credit activity, or the frequency a person has applied for a credit account, as well as the number of credit inquiries.
    • The percentage of available credit used.

Seek Legal Advice

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents people with credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues, contact from abusive debt collectors and wrongful repossession. If you are someone who has suffered a hardship during the pandemic and feel as though your consumer rights have been violated by the credit bureaus, a lender or debt collector, Contact Us for a no-cost evaluation.

 

Credit reporting and the CARES Act

Cares Act on Mask

These are challenging times that we live in.  Many people are forced to live on less income due to job loss, a death in the family, and involuntary pay cuts. Understandably, some people have fallen behind on their monthly payments, and are concerned about the negative impact on their credit reports.

Continue reading Credit reporting and the CARES Act

Prioritizing Your Finances in an Economic Crisis

Consumers Law Prioritizing Your Finances in an Economic Crisis

Prioritizing your finances during an economic crisis is a crucial skill to master. Deciding what bills to pay, and what bills to set aside now becomes increasingly more important. This is something you will want to do as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to get a firm grip on your finances.

Continue reading Prioritizing Your Finances in an Economic Crisis

Identity Theft During Economic Crises: Look for Credit Report Errors

Credit Score Consumers Law

You may think an identity theft hacker may not notice you. That’s not true. The ways identity thieves pick their targets are more about accessibility. They don’t care about your financial situation. Cybercriminals look for weak spots in personal financial security and privacy they can exploit for profit.  Too often, the way we find we’ve been financially hacked is when credit report errors are revealed. It’s never at a good time, either. Most often it occurs when we’re about to seek credit for a home mortgage, car or personal loan.

Continue reading Identity Theft During Economic Crises: Look for Credit Report Errors

How can a Credit Report Lawyer help me?

Mistake on Credit Report

Credit report errors happen more often than most of us would like to think. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has listed credit report errors as one of the top complaints filed.  Believe it or not, one out of every 20 of us have errors on one of our three major credit reports.

Continue reading How can a Credit Report Lawyer help me?

How Will Borrowing Money Affect My Credit?

Getting a Loan

Taking out a loan can help you build your credit.  But remember, to get that benefit, loans must be paid back in full and on time, and according to the terms of the loan agreement.  When these terms are not met, the lender can take steps to repossess collateral and collect any money that is owed.  As a result, the defaulted loan can be listed negatively on credit reports and lower your credit scores.

Let’s take a closer look at how this all works.

Continue reading How Will Borrowing Money Affect My Credit?