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.

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

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 to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

Credit Report on Tablet

Just as a yearly check-up with your doctor is good for your physical health, taking an annual look at your credit report is good for your financial well-being.

Consumers are entitled to receive one  free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three main consumer reporting agencies – – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Continue reading How to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

Credit Report

It’s something that’s drilled into our heads over and over: You must maintain a good credit score.

But sometimes errors can pop up on our credit reports through no fault of our own. When that happens, it’s important to take steps to fix these errors as soon as possible.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to do that using the example of one of the three main credit reporting services, Experian. Here’s how to deal with an Experian dispute.

Continue reading How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

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.

 

 

How to Monitor Your Credit

Your credit history plays an important role in your ability to get approved for new lines of credit, whether it’s a new credit card, a personal loan, or another type of borrowing agreement. It also affects your ability to rent an apartment, or possibly be hired or promoted in your job.

Review Credit Reports & Dispute Errors

Do not wait until you’re ready to apply for a loan to check your credit. Monitor your credit reports regularly to see that your information is accurately reported.  If there is an error, send written disputes to the credit bureau.  You do not want to be denied for a loan because of someone else’s error. Credit applications are considered hard inquiries on your credit file, and denials could result in lowering your credit score.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims with credit reporting privacy and accuracy problems. Contact Us for a free consultation to discuss errors on your credit reports.