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You Have An Unfair Advantage With The Consumer Credit Laws - Use Them

Consumer Credit Laws

The Fair Credit Acts

When you are going about trying to fix your credit, it can often feel as though the deck is stacked against you, however, the truth of the matter is that there are several laws that can help you to even the odds when it comes to dealing with both creditors and credit bureaus.

FCRA: The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) does more than just provide you with a free credit report each year, it also regulates the various credit reporting organizations and helps to ensure that the information they gather on you is both accurate and fair. This means that if you see inaccurate information on your credit report, and report it to the relevant agency, they are legally required to look into the matter and resolve it, typically within 30 days. The same applies to agencies or organizations that generally add details to your credit report. Finally, if an organization that reviews your credit report decides to charge you more or declines to do business with you based on what they find in your report, they are legally obligation to let you know why and what report they found the negative information in.

While this won't help you with that particular lender, if the information is inaccurate you will at least know where to go to clear up the issue. Additionally, if you report an inaccuracy and the credit reporting agency ignores your request you can use them to recover the damages or a minimum of $2,500. You may also be able to win an additional amount based on punitive damages and legal fees and other associated costs. You must file legal proceedings within 5 years of when this occurs. 

Fair Credit Billing Act: This federal law is part of what is known as the Truth in Lending Act. Its purpose is to provide safeguards to consumers when it comes to unfair billing and make it clear how any errors must be corrected. This law is useful if you are charged for things you didn't purchase, are charged for inaccurate amount for products or services you didn't receive and items you paid for, payments made aren't reflected in amounts owed or if your statements are sent to an inaccurate address.

To take advantage of this law, the first thing you need to do is send a physical letter to the billing inquiries address that the creditor provides. You need to ensure the creditor receives your letter within 60 days from the date the error shows up on your statement. Some creditors allow for disputes to be handled online but utilizing this option can nullify your rights through this law so it's not recommended. The creditor will then have 30 days to acknowledge they received your letter and 90 days to either correct the mistake or tell you why they think it is valid. If they turn down your request you are then allowed to ask for all the documentation saying why they turned you down.

A subset of this law is what is known as the Hidden Gem Law, this means you can dispute any transaction made within 100 miles of your home, or anywhere in your home state, which exceeds $50. As long as you make a good fair effort to dispute the transaction, and return the item of stop using the services, then the company will likely refund the transaction.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: This is another law that benefits consumers when it comes to debt collector actions. This includes not only debt collection agencies but also their attorneys. The law prevents debt collection agencies from contacting you if you have requested that the debt be validated, contacting you instead of your attorney (if applicable) calling before 8 am or 9 pm, contact you at work, calling constantly, reporting false information to credit bureaus, embarrassing you in an effort to collect the debt, adding your name to a list of debtors, threatening legal action they can't actually follow through on, misrepresentation or contracting you after you have sent a letter requesting that they stop of saying that you will not pay the debt in question.

If the debt collector breaks these rules or acts in other ways they are not allowed then you can file a private lawsuit and be recouped costs, fees and damages. What's more, you don't even need to prove damages and you will likely be awarded a minimum of $1,000.

How The Fair Credit Acts Protect You

The FCRA is a complicated law that bears looking into a little more deeply. Likewise, just because it protects you in a wide variety of ways doesn't mean the credit reporting agency or creditors are always going to follow it the way they should. What follows are several common ways the FCRA is violated on a regular basis. If you feel as though your rights have been violated in any of these ways refer to the above. 

Reporting or furnishing old information: while credit bureaus and creditors are required to keep your details as up to date as possible, you will frequently find that they fail to do so in several key ways. They will frequently fail to report that a given debt was discharged because bankruptcy was filed, that an old debt is either re-engaged or completely new, report that a closed account is active when it has actually been closed or keep information that is older than seven years (ten for bankruptcies) on your credit report. If you report these errors they are legally required to look into them within 30 days.

Reporting blatantly inaccurate information: Creditors are not allowed to provide information to credit bureaus that they know, or should know, is inaccurate. This includes classifying a debt as a charged off when it was really paid in full, altering balances due, reporting a timely payment as late, listing you as the debtor when you were only an authorized user on a specific account and failing to mention when identify fraud was suspected or confirmed for a given account. Again, if you report these errors they are legally required to look into them.

Mixing up files: While it may seem surprising, credit reporting agencies frequently mix up files on individuals, potentially harming your credit score for someone else's mistakes. These issues can arise between individuals who have similar social security numbers, if you are a Junior or a Senior and the issues is with the other person's credit, mixing up details when names are similar or even mixing up details for two people with the same zip code. 

Valuations of debt dispute with credit reporting agencies: As previously discussed, credit reporting agencies have to follow strict rules when it comes to handling disputes; nevertheless, there are frequently issues with the ways they follow through on the process. This includes failing to notify you that a dispute has been received, failing to conduct an investigation into the dispute in a timely fashion and failing to correct disputes in a timely fashion.

Creditor debt dispute violations: The FCRA also has strict rules when it comes to how creditors must handle disputes, which are frequently disregarded. These violations include thins like not notifying credit reporting agencies that a debt is being disputed, not submitting correct information after the debt has been successfully disputed, not conducting internal investigations into the dispute once they have been notified of the error, making it difficult to submit disputes and not informing you of the results of the investigation into the disputes within five days after it has been completed. 

Inaccurate credit report request: Just because certain individuals are allowed to see your credit report doesn't mean they are allowed to do so at all times. The FCRA ensures that your credit report can't be accessed in order to determine if you are worth filing a lawsuit against, can't be accessed by employers without express permission, and can't be accessed by previous creditors related to debt that have been discharged for bankruptcy just to see what your current financial activity is.

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