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.

Credit Scores and Credit Repair…not a Quick Fix

A high credit score makes many aspects of our lives more simple. It may be easier to purchase a home or car, secure a new line of credit, rent an apartment, or possibly be hired for a job or awarded a promotion.

What is a good credit score?

A credit score of 800 and above is considered excellent and indicates that the consumer not only uses credit, but pays bills in full and on time. A  score in the 700s is considered good, however there may be some negative listing on the credit report such as late payments. Scores falling in the 600s are considered fair and may represent denial of a loan, or possibly approval but with lower credit limits or higher interest rates . Lower scores indicate to lenders that the consumer is a high credit risk and either, the consumer may be denied, or credit would be offered with unfavorable terms.

Credit score ranges

Image via Experian.com

Consumers with poor credit may seek ways to repair and improve their credit scores quickly. However, it’s a process that takes time and responsible financial management.  Paying bills in full and on time, maintaining a low credit utilization, and paying off debt are critical steps.  Also, a regular review of your credit report for accuracy is important.  Every twelve months consumers are entitled to a free report from each, Transunion, Experian and Equifax.  If there are errors listed on the credit report, the consumer should promptly dispute the errors.

Send a dispute letter to the bureau by US Mail with an explanation of the error and documents that support your claim.  Be sure to keep a complete copy of your dispute.  The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to disputes.  The bureau does not correct the error, you may need to re-dispute until your report has been corrected.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of credit reporting errors by credit data furnishers and the credit bureaus.  Contact us  for a free evaluation of your credit report errors for a potential violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Everyday Impact of Credit Scores

Many Americans have never checked their credit report or are aware of all the ways in which credit affects their lives. Poor credit can affect things like utility deposits, car insurance, and cell phone service options. Your credit can also affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment.

NerdWallet Infographic

Check Your Credit

Every consumer is entitled to a free credit report from all three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – every twelve months. Always check your credit report regularly and make sure all information is accurate and up to date. If you find any inaccuracies, dispute directly with the reporting bureau.

Improve Poor Credit

The best way to improve your credit is to make all of your payments in full and on time. Rather than carrying a small balance, it’s best to just pay it off completely. Keeping your credit utilization low will also help your score improve over time.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of credit reporting errors.  Contact Us for a free evaluation of your credit reports and determination of whether your consumer rights have been violated.

How to Recover from Holiday Credit Card Debt

Now that the holidays have come and gone, you may be struggling with extra credit card debt. Studies have shown that the average American household with credit card debt pays more than $1,200 per year in interest. Not only does debt cause stress, it also harms your credit. Follow these steps and chip away at your holiday debt each month to avoid high interest charges and maintain healthy credit.

1) Pay More Than the Minimum

Carrying a balance each month is unhealthy for your credit score and also makes you susceptible to interest charges. To avoid a month to month balance, pay more than the minimum amount that appears on your monthly statement. Avoid spending above your means and pay off any new charges in full. This will help you put a dent in your debt and reduce the amount of interest you owe over time.

2) Pay Off a Set Amount Each Month

Set aside some time to assess your finances and determine a realistic amount that you can dedicate toward paying off your debt each month. For example, you may want to set up auto-pay on your account with this specified amount. If the amount is automatically withdrawn from your account each month, you’ll be less likely to feel tempted to spend it on something else as the payment date draws near.

3) Keep Your Credit Utilization Low

As you work toward paying off your debt, focus on keeping your credit utilization lower. Try to cap your credit card usage at around 30%, which will make your payments more manageable.

Here’s how to calculate your usage

Divide your credit card balance by your credit limit.  Move the decimal point two places to the right. This is your current credit usage. A higher percentage will harm your credit while a lower percentage will help.

          Example: Credit Usage Calculation
Statement Balance = $500
Credit Limit = $1000
$500 divided by $1000 = $0.5
Move decimal two places to the right = 50
Current Credit Usage = 50%

4) Spend Wisely

Stick to a firm budget to avoid letting your credit card balances continue to creep higher.  Evaluate your income in relation to fixed expenses.  Try to keep your spending within your means.  As you have extra funds, place them in a savings account so that you’re prepared for unexpected expenses…or those holiday gifts you’d like to buy.

Seek Free Legal Help

Once you fall behind on payments, the creditor may choose to assign or sell your obligation to a collection agency or law firm collector.  It’s important to know your rights and the laws that protect you from abusive collection tactics. Whether you owe the debt or not, the collector must follow the law.

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection practices.  Contact Us for a free evaluation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated.

Improve Your Credit Health

Make your credit health a priority by assessing your credit and determining where you can make improvements. Set yourself up for success. Identify financial goals and outline clear steps to achieve them.

Resolve to Make Payments On Time

Set up a system and strive to pay your bills on time and in full. 

  • Set up automatic payments on  accounts 
    Payments will be automatically withdrawn from your account, meaning you never run the risk of a forgotten bill.
  • Align payment dates with pay check dates
    Review payment due dates for your accounts. If an important bill is due right before you receive your pay check, contact the creditor to see if your due date could be adjusted to coordinate with your pay check date.
  • Set reminders for bill payment due dates
    Mark your calendar for dates when your payment must be made.  If you send your payment through the mail, note the mailing date so that your payment is received by the creditor on time.
  • Contact the creditor to request deferment
    If you know that you won’t be able to make a loan payment on time, contact the lender before the due date passes. The lender may allow you to defer payments until your financial situation improves. A deferment still appears on your credit report, but a deferment doesn’t reflect as negatively as a default.

Resolve to Reduce Debt

Determine a set amount that you can put toward debt payoff each month.

Identify a set time period to pay off specific debts. With focus and discipline, small manageable payments will help achieve your goal. Also, these regular on time payments show responsibility to creditors.

Improve Your Credit Score & Credit Report

A credit score is derived from a formula of your payment history, length of credit, type of credit and credit usage.  It is an indicator of how likely you are to pay your bills on time.  Scores range from 300 to 850.  A lower score means that you may be a higher risk to a prospective lender, resulting in a credit denial or unfavorable credit terms for a loan.

An accurate credit report may raise your credit score.

You can get a free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, every twelve months. Check your report regularly to ensure that all information is accurate and up to date. If there are errors, dispute them by sending a letter directly to the credit bureaus. Your letter should include documents, such as an account statement or cancelled check, that proves why the error should be corrected.

In addition, you may want to write to the creditor to dispute a credit report error. Show a copy of your report and state why the listing is incorrect.  Request the creditor write the credit bureau to correct the listing.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm representing victims with credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues. Contact us for a free legal evaluation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated by the credit bureaus, debt collectors or lenders.

What’s the Difference Between a Credit Score and a Credit Report?

You’ve heard the terms credit report and credit score, but do you know the difference between the two?

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number associated with a person’s credit files to indicate their “creditworthiness”. Lenders, such as banks and credit card companies, use credit scores to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to consumers. Lenders use credit scores as one of various factors in determining who qualifies for a loan, at what interest rate, and at what credit limit. Private companies use special computer programs to determine a credit score based upon a matrix of factors.

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report contains more detailed information than a credit score. It’s a statement that has information about your credit activity showing the  payment history on loans, credit cards, debt, and other financial obligations. Credit reports also list employment, legal, and bankruptcy information. The information listed on your report will in turn affect your credit score. Negative listings, such as a car repossession, can remain on your report for up to 7 1/2 years.

When Should I Check My Credit?

It’s important to check both your credit report and credit score regularly. If you are looking to secure credit for a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan,  get copies of your credit report and check your credit score BEFORE submitting an application for new credit. When a consumer requests a credit report, it is considered as a “soft inquiry” and your credit score will not be affected negatively. Always check your credit reports and scores before you apply for new credit.

Consumers are entitled to receive one free credit report from Transunion, Experian, and Equifax every twelve months.

Get Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of inaccurate credit reporting and the problems that stem from errors that are not corrected, such as loan denial, increased interest rates, or lowered credit limits.  Contact Us to discuss problems on your credit report.  There is no cost for the consultation.

 

8 Things that could Harm Your Credit Score

Your credit history plays an important role in your financial health. A lower credit score and negative credit report listings make it more difficult to obtain approval for a loan application when you are trying to finance a home, purchase a car, obtain a credit card or a personal loan. Equally, these items can make it more difficult to secure a job or an apartment.

It takes time and discipline to build healthy credit. Here are eight situations to avoid as you establish your credit.

Late Payments

Late payments will harm your credit score. Pay in full and on time to improve your score.

Loan Defaults

A loan can default immediately after a missed payment, or several months after missed payments, or for other reasons, such as allowing insurance on your vehicle to lapse. This will depend upon the terms in the loan agreement. If you are struggling to make payments, contact the lender before you default. You may be able to defer payments until you are more financially stable. A deferral will appear on your credit report as well, but it will not harm your credit as much as a default.

Car Repossession

Failing to make auto loan payments can result in repossession of the vehicle. A car repossession can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. If you can’t make a scheduled payment, contact your lender to see if you can defer payments and avoid a repossession.

Charged-off Accounts

A charged-off account occurs when payments are delinquent and the bank writes the debt off as uncollectable. This generally happens after months without payment. Charged-off accounts have a very negative impact on credit and should be avoided at all costs.

Maxed Out Credit Limit

Each account has a credit limit that should not be exceeded. Strive to use 30% or less of your available credit to keep your credit score healthy.

Bankruptcy

Many consumers view bankruptcy as an opportunity to start anew, but filing for bankruptcy will negatively affect your credit score and can remain on your credit report for many years. Seek alternatives before filing. Certain consumer protection laws may protect you without having to file for bankruptcy. 

Lack of Credit History

A lack of credit history can also hurt you. Creditors will have no way to know your creditworthiness and whether or not you will be a risk. Young adults should open an account and pay off the balance in full and on time each month to build a healthy credit score over time.

Long Periods of Unemployment

A long lapse in employment and a high debt to income ratio can also hurt your credit.  

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents people that have become victim of inaccurate credit reporting, unfair debt collection practices, unlawful vehicle repossessions and “robocalls” from lenders, telemarketers and debt collectors. Contact Us to discuss your legal rights whether you have fallen behind on obligations or not.

 

Why was my Credit Application Denied?

Applications for new credit go through an approval process. The prospective lender has criteria that is considered when reviewing a credit application.  Factors such as the items listed below may have been examined:

–   Your credit and payment history
–   Your income
–   Your total debt to income ratio
–   Multiple applications for credit within a short period
–   Had you filed for bankruptcy
–   Your age
–   Do you need a co-signer

While specific qualification criteria may vary from one creditor to another, a determination is made whether to extend or deny the application. When a credit application is denied, the applicant will receive a letter from the creditor with an explanation of why the credit was declined. Here are some possible reasons behind your credit denial:

Errors on your Loan Application
Your application had errors.  Review your loan application to see whether information was incomplete or misspelled.  Check your identifying information closely for your full name, address, social security number, and birth date. Remember that multiple applications in a short amount of time could also hurt your ability to be approved.

Errors on your Credit Report
Within 60 days of a credit application denial, you may request a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus  —  Transunion, Experian and Equifax. Write to the bureaus for a new report.  Review them for listings that may be inaccurate.  If you see errors, such as duplicate negative listings, accounts that you do not recognize, or incorrect reporting, you must send written disputes to the credit bureaus.  Your dispute letter should include documents that illustrate why the error should be corrected.  Send your letter by Certified Mail, Return Receipt to the credit bureau.  They have 30 days to respond to your dispute.  If the bureaus continue to list the error, you may need to send a second dispute.

Employment History
Review your employment information. Make sure the listings for your employer(s) are accurate.  If there has been a lapse in employment, it could be a factor that was considered for the credit denial.

Credit Payment History
Erratic payment history can also lead to credit denial. Late or missed payments and charged off accounts reflect negatively on your payment history. High balances, collection accounts, and repossessions could also lead to denial.  Also, no credit history could be reason for denial. Creditors may be unwilling to offer credit if you don’t have a well-established credit score.

Public Records
Review your report to see if there are public records listed for bankruptcy, judgments, or tax (or other) liens.  If any of these items have been satisfied, you will need to dispute the listing with the credit bureau and provide documentation showing the obligation has been paid.

Financial Problems
Financial struggles can also be the root of credit denial. Collection accounts and a high debt to income ratio will reflect negatively on your credit history. A high number of credit inquiries are another negative.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm representing victims of credit reporting privacy and accuracy issues, abusive debt collection contact and wrongful repossessions.  Contact Us to discuss your consumer credit concern.

How Medical Debt Impacts Your Credit Score

Medical emergencies occur as we go through life. Often, health issues are unexpected and can end up costing thousands of dollars in medical bills. With the lapse in time from when you are billed by a medical provider to the time your health insurance company pays, very quickly accounts can be turned over to third party debt collectors, and frequently, become listings on your credit report.

Even when the medical bills are paid, the time spent in collection status may negatively impact credit reports and lower credit scores.  The result could make it more difficult to get approved for a loan, purchase a car, rent an apartment, or even get a job.

How to Manage your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that’s used by lenders to predict the likelihood that you’ll pay your credit obligations on time.  Scores range from 300 – 850 and are calculated based on credit history information listed on credit reports. Make sure that information listed on your credit report is accurate.  Incorrect listings may contribute to lower credit scores.  Take these steps to make sure your credit score is an accurate reflection of your credit history.

Obtain Current Credit Reports
Every twelve months you are entitled to obtain new credit reports for free from each Transunion, Experian and Equifax. There may be a fee from the credit bureaus if you need to request reports more often.

Review your Credit Reports for Accuracy
The bureaus list not only personal information, such as your name, birth date, social security number, addresses and employment history, but also list account payment information, liens, judgments and bankruptcies.  Learn to read your credit report .  If there are errors that could bring your credit score down, take steps to get them corrected.

Dispute Errors on your Credit Reports
If there are errors on your reports, send written disputes to the credit bureaus.  Your dispute letter should be concise and provide documents illustrating why the listing is incorrect.  Send your dispute to the bureau by Certified Mail, Return Receipt, so that you have proof your dispute was received. Be sure to keep copies of your complete dispute. The credit bureau has 30 days to respond to your dispute.

Collection contact over Medical Debt
Once a medical provider assigns the collection of a medical debt to a collection agency or law firm collector, the consumer has rights against a collector’s abusive collection practices. Whether you have been unable to pay or dispute the amount, the collector must follow the law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognizedconsumer protection law firm that represents victims with problems involving credit reporting errors and abusive collection practices.  Whether you owe the debt or not, our firm will evaluate whether your consumer rights have been violated.  Contact us today for a free legal review.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Credit Score Holding You Back?

Building and repairing credit is easier said than done. Whether you are trying to build credit or repair credit after some financial mishaps, the discipline to meet financial decisions responsibly can be paralyzing. And if you’re in the midst of a credit crisis, the situation could seem hopeless.

For better or worse, we live in a credit-dominated society.  Big purchases such as homes, cars, education, furniture, internet service, and cell phones require a credit history. Good credit enables us to make these purchases and enjoy the benefits that come with them.  Bad credit makes these purchases a challenge.  Although you may get approved for the loan, the credit terms may be more expensive and carry higher fees and interest rates.  And, you need to be cautious.  The ease of spending on credit, without paying cash at the time of purchase, can create a cycle of over spending.  Suddenly, it’s difficult to meet monthly bills.

Begin building your credit

If you’ve never had credit, or if you’re working your way out of financial hardship, you may need to seek some help.  One option may be to get a secured credit card from your bank. This type of card requires a cash security deposit, which reduces the risk to the issuer and can help you build a credit history.  A number of banks offer secured credit cards, where you can put money on the card that acts as your credit limit. These secured cards work differently than pre-paid and debit cards. You will receive monthly bills to pay in order to avoid penalties.  Most important, make sure the furnisher of this card reports to the credit bureaus. You want your good payment history to count towards building or repairing your credit.

A second option may be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. This means that the primary account holder adds your name to their credit card account.  You will receive a card and pay for the items you’ve charged.  The accounts where you are an authorized user will likely appear on your credit report, along with your good payment history.  Most of all, you want to establish financial discipline for paying back borrowed money on time.

Credit Cards Require Responsibility

After building up some credit, you will likely become eligible for a credit card of your own.  But, beware.  Credit cards are a lot of responsibility.  You must avoid overspending so that you can pay off your balance in full, and on time, every month.

Pay your bills on time

Whether you get hard copies in the mail or emailed statements examine how much you owe.  Plan your expenses so that you’ve saved enough money to make payments on time. Bills can be scary and intimidating, especially if you’ve spent more than you can afford to pay.

Credit reports list delinquent payments and bring down your credit score. Some people find setting up automatic payments from a bank account helps to stay current on bills.

Obtain current credit reports

Every twelve months consumers are entitled to one free credit report from each Transunion, Experian and Equifax.  Review your report for accuracy.  If you find errors, dispute them by writing to the credit bureau. You want your credit report to be an accurate reflection of your credit history.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims with credit report problems, those who’ve had contact from abusive debt collectors or a vehicle wrongfully repossessed by a lender. Whether the consumer fell behind on payments or not, there are laws that the credit bureau, debt collector and lender must follow.  Contact Us for a free consultation to discuss whether your consumer rights were violated.