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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.

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.

 

What if I never Got a Contract or my Notice of Right to Cancel?

Smiling fast talking salesman

These days, a lot of alarm systems, pest control services, or solar panel systems are sold by door-to-door salesmen who may knock on your door out of the blue.  They may talk fast, and confidently, offer you a deal that sounds too good to be true.  Often it is. 

Continue reading What if I never Got a Contract or my Notice of Right to Cancel?

Overwhelmed by debt? Bankruptcy may not be the answer.

What Happens When I Declare Bankruptcy Consumers Law

Bankruptcy may be an opportunity for a fresh start, however, it is not without consequences. Often the ripples resonating from bankruptcy can affect your financial life for many years to come.

If you are overwhelmed with debt, you may want to consult with a consumer protection attorney.  The consumer protection laws provide protections from abusive collection tactics used by collection agencies and law firm collectors.

Continue reading Overwhelmed by debt? Bankruptcy may not be the answer.

Consumer Protection Laws – Helping Consumers from Deceptive Business Practices

What do all of these things have in common?

  •        A business that misleads its customers through false advertising.

  •        A group of people who try to set up a pyramid scheme.

  •        An auto dealership that winds back the odometer before selling a used car.

 

Continue reading Consumer Protection Laws – Helping Consumers from Deceptive Business Practices

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?

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

FCRA Fair Credit Reporting Act on a table.

October 26, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most important pieces of consumer protection legislation in the country’s history: The Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, is a federal law governing how consumer credit information can be used and distributed. It gives consumers the right to see what’s on their credit reports and dispute errors and inaccurate information.

Continue reading What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

U.S. Servicemembers: Strengthen Your Credit

Military life is one of frequent transitions. Each deployment, promotion, and change in duty status brings the need to make money-related decisions. These financial decisions can have long-term effects on family life, mission readiness, and security clearances.

Service members often run into trouble because of the irregularities in their daily life. They may tend to overspend and receive contact from debt collectors. They may fall for financial scams and become a victim of identity theft. Or, due to errors on credit reports, they may be denied loans or have a vehicle repossessed. Learning more about consumer credit and how to build a strong credit history can help servicemembers and veterans improve their financial health.

Take Advantage of Free Credit Reports

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re allowed one free credit report from each bureau – Transunion, Experian, and Equifax – within a twelve month period. Send a letter to one of the bureaus and request your reports. Review them carefully to ensure that there are no errors and that you recognize all of the listed accounts. 

Credit Accuracy

Credit reports include personal information, credit history, credit inquiries, and public records.  Credit cards, mortgages, and loans are all listed along with the payment status. If you fall behind on payments or default on a loan, your credit report will list this negatively. Negative entries may make it more difficult for you to open a new line of credit, be approved for a new loan, or receive a promotion or security clearance. It may also mean that you will be approved for a loan, but with a higher interest rate.

Credit Privacy

Regular credit report checks help you monitor your accounts and determine whether someone has accessed your credit report without your permission or opened accounts in your name. If you notice suspicious activity, information that does not belong to you, or believe you have become a victim of identity theft, follow these steps:
  -Contact the Bank or Creditor
  -File a Police Report
  -File a Fraud Alert
  -Request your current credit reports
  -File an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission
  -Keep an organized file with all correspondence and records
  -Protect your personal information.  Keep it private.

Know How Much You Spend

A budget helps you see where you can cut back on spending and create a workable plan to pay off debt.Take the time to set a budget. Divide your regular expenses into categories for housing, food, transportation, health care, personal & family and finances. Determine how much you can afford to spend on each category every month. Use a spreadsheet or online tool to keep track of all of your accounts and expenses. 

Be Aware of Scams

Follow your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately, service members are frequent targets for various scams. Companies or organizations could call and claim to belong to a veterans group or another legitimate sounding organization. Be sure to research the organization, find out where they’re located, see if there is a complaint board online, and investigate whether the company is reputable. 

Be cautious. If you receive a call from someone, do not provide any personal identifying information, such as your social security number or date of birth, or access to bank accounts or credit and debit cards.  Require them to provide you with something in writing that states who they are and where they are located.

Financial Guidance for Service Members

Remember, you’re not alone. There are many services offered through the Department of Defense and veterans organizations to help service members keep finances on track. Do your research and make a financial plan that is right for you.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that assists victims of identity theft that have suffered from credit report harm, abusive debt collectors and wrongful vehicle repossessions by aggressive lenders and repo agents.  Contact Us for a no cost consultation to discuss whether your consumer rights have been violated.

 

 

Debt Collection Against Military Personnel

When an account goes into collection, it’s stressful and overwhelming for anyone. But debt collection can be especially troublesome for military service members. Financial trouble could result in negative consequences like loss or denial of security clearance.

Frequent moves and relocations can make it difficult for service members to keep up with bills and collection notices. Set up automatic payments when you can and always make sure to update your address to avoid missing bill payments.

If an account does go into collection, debt collectors often use shady tactics to try and collect payments. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from threatening to reduce a service member’s rank or security clearance. They are also not allowed to threaten to contact chain of command. Learn more about what debt collectors can’t do under the FDCPA.

Military personnel are also protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This legislation provides some protections against car repossession for those in the military.

Make sure to educate yourself on how to manage your finances and learn about the laws that exist to protect you. Learn how to get a free copy of your credit report, and how to dispute errors in your credit history.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive debt collection tactics, credit reporting privacy and accuracy issues and wrongful vehicle repossessions.  Contact Us for a free legal consultation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated.

7 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Finances

Many people view a new year as a chance for a fresh start. It’s a great time to evaluate your financial health and set some goals for improvement. When you make resolutions, it’s important to set realistic, achievable goals so that you don’t get discouraged. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Create a budget and stick to it

Budgeting, or analyzing spending habits, is the best thing you can do for your finances. When you see how much money is spent on mandatory expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, or loans, versus non-essential expenses, such as dining out, parties, gifts or vacations, you may find a way to reorganize expenses to make spending cuts, begin saving and start to pay off debt.

Once you’ve determined how much you spend on the necessities, compare what’s left over to your monthly income. Avoid setting budgets that are unrealistic.  You want to establish a budget that you will stick to and be able to feel success.

Grow your savings account

The amount of savings you have ultimately depends on your financial situation, but most experts say you should have enough to cover six to nine months of living expenses. Unless you already have a substantial amount saved, it isn’t realistic to make this your goal for the year. Instead, work on small progress over time. Refer back to your budget and determine how much you can save each month. Ideally, you should save at least 10% every month. By the end of the year, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy savings account.

Pay down your debt

You already know that the sooner you can pay off your debt, the better. You’ll end up paying less overall by avoiding extra interest accrual.

If you’re able to, set a goal to aggressively pay down your debt this year. Pay more than the minimum amount due to see progress more quickly. Try to trim extra expenses from other budget categories so you can prioritize your debt.

Pay on time

If you’ve struggled with timely bill payments in the past, make it your goal this year to always pay on time. Set up automatic payments if you can, or create recurring reminders on your calendar or in your phone. You’ll save money because you won’t be hit with late payment fees, and your credit will improve.

Check your credit regularly

The best way to know where you stand financially is to regularly check your credit report. You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus every 12 months. Your report has information about your current credit account standing and payment history. It also includes any negative occurrences, like car repossessions or accounts in default. Check your report regularly to make sure the information is accurate and up to date.

Improve your credit score

If your credit score is on the lower end, set a goal to improve it this year. Pay any overdue bill payments, and make sure you make all payments on time moving forward. Keep credit usage below 30% of your available credit. This means you shouldn’t spend more than $300 on a card with a limit of $1,000.

Keep in mind that if you apply for new credit this year, whether it’s an auto loan or a credit card, the lender will most likely perform a hard inquiry, which could lower your score.

Become more financially literate

Are there certain aspects of your finances that you struggle to understand? Take the time this year to learn more. Whether you want to do research into different ways to invest your money, or you want to have a better understanding of how interest accrues on your loans, having a solid understanding paves the way for healthier financial well being.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents victims with credit reporting problems, those that have received contact from abusive debt collectors, and have had vehicles wrongfully repossessed.  Contact us for a free consultation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated.