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Credit Reports & Debt Collection « Financial Matters

Credit Card Debt, Credit Reports, Credit Repair

  • Advice for Seniors About Credit Cards (National Consumer Law Center)
    Credit card debt can cause tremendous financial problems for consumers. Older Americans are by no means immune from this problem.
  • Annual Free Credit Report
    This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  • Credit & Loans (FTC)
    This site has information for you, whether you’re shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, checking the accuracy of your credit report, dealing with debt collectors, or looking for ways to protect your personal financial information.
  • Credit Card Debt and Credit Counseling (National Consumer Law Center)
    An increasing number of older Americans are now "aging into debt." Seniors with unmanageable credit card debt have a number of options. Many turn to credit counselors for help. However, if seniors falls prey to an unscrupulous agency, they are likely to end up even deeper in debt. For related information, see "Tips on Choosing a Reputable Credit Counseling Agency."
  • Credit Repair Organizations Act Overview (About.com)
    This article is short and to the point. It does a good job of quickly laying out what a credit reorganization company is, what they can do, what they cannot do, and what must happen before you agree to the company's help (i.e., have a contract, sign contract and then have a 3-day cancellation period). Also, it lets people know what can be done if they feel they have been a victim to a scam or dishonest practices.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act Summary (Yale)
    Good information on what to do to and where to go if you feel that you are a victim.
  • Guide to Surviving Debt (National Consumer Law Center)
    2010 edition for sale that provides precise, practical, and hard hitting advice on how to deal with an overwhelming debt load.
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
    A list of lawyers who can answer your debt collection questions.
  • Regulation of Credit Repair Organizations (FTC)
    This Act forbids the payment prior to the rendering of services for a company that purports to be helping you improve your credit score.
  • The Life and Debt Cycle (National Consumer Law Center)
    Older consumers have been increasing their debt loads at a time of life when debt is especially burdensome and fraught with peril. These reports examine the extent and consequences of credit card borrowing by elders.
    Part I: The Implications of Rising Credit Card Debt Among Older Consumers (July 2006)
    Part II: Finding Help for Older Consumers with Credit Card Debt (Sept. 2006)
  • The New Credit Card Tricks (Wall Street Journal – 7/31/10)
    The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, known as the Card Act, was intended to reshape the contours of consumer finance. Among other things, it forces card issuers to give customers more notice about interest-rate increases and restricts certain controversial billing practices such as inactivity fees. Yet some of the biggest card issuers in the U.S. are already rolling out a slew of fees designed to recapture some of their lost income, in part by skirting the new rules. Some banks may even be violating the law outright, say consumer advocates.
  • Understanding Credit Scores (National Consumer Law Center)
    For years, creditors have been using credit scoring systems to determine whether a consumer is a good risk for credit cards and auto loans. Here's how credit scoring works in helping decide who gets credit – and why.
  • What You Should Know About Your Credit Report (National Consumer Law Center)
    If you have ever applied for a credit card, personal loan, insurance, or a job, there is probably a company keeping a credit file or report about you. Here are answeres to some common questions about credit reports, consumer reporting agencies, and credit scores.
  • Where to Get Credit Report & Credit Scores (Consumerist)
    Don't buy a credit score from anyone other than the credit bureaus or Fair Isaac, makers of the FICO score equation, and don't buy a credit report from anyone. The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to see your credit report every twelve months. The government set up the AnnualCreditReport.com website for you to request these reports. Don't go anywhere else and don't pay for what is yours for free by law.
  • Your Credit Card Rights (National Consumer Law Center)
    Most credit card consumers experience problems with credit card bills at some point in their lives. Read here about three separate protections for credit card consumers.

Debt Collection Practices Information

  • Confessions of Former Debt Collectors (CNN Money – 7/15/10)
    Ten people share their experiences in the collections industry – and why they left. A guy who's been doing it for twenty years says that "being authoritative and abrasive was like a high," and that it helped him provide for his two daughters. A woman who's been in the business for ten years says she knows collectors who hold contests to see who can make the most people cry each day. Another ten-year veteran quit after a debtor he was harassing shot himself.
  • Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers (FTC)
    This answers common questions re: fair debt collections and what can and cannot be done. Plus, it has more links and numbers to call if you feel that you are being harassed, and lets debtors know how they can fight back and that they can recover against overly aggressive creditors. It also provides types of Federal benefits that cannot be garnished.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices (Lynn Olivier-ICLE)
    This article lays out the laws very nicely and breaks down, into sections, the notices that must be given to debtors; the activities that are prohibited, attorney liability and restrictions, and damages and debtor attorney fee awards.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FTC)
    As a public service, the FTC has prepared the complete text of the Act.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Expert Law)
    Another good website with a lot answers to general questions about Fair Debt Collections. It is written in very plain language and gives sample letters (that you are represented by an attorney and only contact the attorney; asking the debt collector to no longer contact you; disputing the debt).
  • Federal Trade Commission – Consumer complaints about collectors have topped their list for nearly a decade. You can file a complaint online here.
  • Sleazy New Debt Collection Practices (MSN Money)
    Debt collectors protest that most firms are ethical, law-abiding and provide a needed service that helps reduce borrowing costs for all consumers. But the new economics of debt collection can encourage belligerent campaigns, including dogged pursuit of innocent consumers.
  • State Attorneys General – can handle consumer complaints about debt collection companies. Find yours here.
  • U.S. Code – Subchapter V – Debt Collection Practices – Cornell University Law School
    Title 15 of the US Code as currently published by the US Government reflects the laws passed by Congress as of Feb.1, 2010, and it is this version that is published here.
  • What You Should Know About Debt Collection (National Consumer Law Center)
    Learn how to deal with debt collection harassment. This brochure provides a summary of your rights when dealing with collectors and some guidelines for determining what debts should be given priority in a financial crisis.
  • When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
    Dealing with a debt collector can be one of life's most stressful experiences. Harassing calls, threats, and use of obscene language can drive you to the edge. What's worse, a collector may embarrass you by contacting your employer, family or neighbors. You may even be hounded to pay a debt that is not rightfully yours. Sure, collection agencies have a job to do. Even so, there are limits on how far a debt collector can go. This guide explains the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and other laws that apply to debt collectors.