FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS?

 

A. As the credit bureaus computerized their processes and greatly expanded their reach and influence in the late 1960s and early 1970s, consumer complaints began to pile up at the FTC and state attorney generals’ offices. In theory, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) charges the credit bureaus with responsibility to the consumer as well as the credit grantor. In reality, the credit bureaus resist, resent, and reject consumer disputes.

Many consumers have the idea that the credit bureaus must complete their investigation within thirty days or be forced to remove all disputed information. They threaten to sue the credit bureaus if they don’t conclude their investigation in time and repair their credit. In practice, such thinking is delusional. However, if you manage to submit a valid dispute letter, and the credit bureau investigates your dispute, the chances of success are good – whether or not the negative listings are accurate. If a credit bureau cannot verify an item before completing its investigation, that item will be removed. Many credit grantors are simply reluctant to take the time to verify the data. While the credit bureaus may be in the business of reporting credit histories, credit grantors are not.

A. Many “credit repair” companies claim to remove negative credit with the flick of a wrist. Their advertisements make bold assertions and money back guarantees. While some credit repair companies are outright frauds, others are not frauds and they use the dispute process to obtain impressive results. In fact, they delete thousands of negative credit listings every year. In truth, credit repair fraud is less common today than five years ago. Vigorous regulatory sweeps by state and federal regulators have cleared away most of the illegitimate (and some of the legitimate) credit repair companies.Unfortunately, it’s risky to trust anyone to help you repair your credit.

No credit repair company is so good that it can guarantee a specific outcome. Not surprisingly, the credit bureaus have declared war against the credit repair companies and those selling instructions on how to do-it-yourself. The simple truth is that you don’t have to endure bad credit for seven to ten years. It is possible to repair your credit within a much shorter time.However if you decide to address your credit challenges, realize that regardless of what you may hear in the news media, thousands before you have sought help and repaired their credit.

A. Accurate negative information generally can be reported for seven years, but there are exceptions:

  • Bankruptcy information can be reported for 10 years;
  • Information reported because of an application for a job with a salary of more than $20,000 has no time limitation;
  • Information reported because of an application for more than $50,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limitation;
  • Information concerning a lawsuit or a judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer; and
  • Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans can be reported for seven years after certain guarantor actions.
  • Tax liens stay on 7 years from the date PAID.

The Statute of Limitations has nothing to do with the length of time something can stay on your credit report, they are two TOTALLY separate things.

The length of time a negative mark can stay on your credit report starts from the time you were late or the late payment went into collection, not from the last time you made a payment on the account. Some collection agencies update their reporting status on you to keep the account active with the bureaus to extend the time the account appears on your report. This is illegal! Challenge this! If you do, bureaus will correctly remove it 7 years from origination. Period. In other words, paying a collection will not keep it on your credit report for a longer period of time.

A. Under the most recent version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit bureaus must complete a reinvestigation within 30 days of receiving a dispute letter from the consumer.However, the credit bureau still has the right to consider a dispute letter “frivolous and irrelevant” at their own discretion, if they feel that someone is attempting credit repair. While the credit bureaus are careful not to overuse this privilege, they may deem virtually any dispute frivolous or irrelevant without having to justify their decision or point to credit repair methods.

While the credit bureau is required to complete their reinvestigation in 30 days or less, the consumer has little recourse against them if they don’t. The credit bureau may take as long as it likes to repair the credit. The only real recourse a consumer might have would be to gather a class-action lawsuit to penalize the bureau for taking too long. At TransUnion, for example, it is common practice to receive the credit repair dispute letter, take a week or two to process it, then send the consumer a letter saying that the reinvestigation will begin on the date that the credit repair dispute was finally processed. This often gives them a total of six weeks from the date of receipt of the dispute to complete the reinvestigation.

A. A person’s credit rating is a numerical representation of how risky it is for a lender to give a person credit, which in most cases means a loan. A high Credit Score means a person is low risk, while a low credit score means a person is rated a high risk. A person with a good credit score will have more access to credit (such as more opportunities to take out a loan when purchasing a high priced item like a home or car) than a person with a low credit score. The person with a low credit score may need to pay higher interest rates on a loan or may even be denied a loan due to their credit score. A person’s credit score is very important in determining the credit, or cost of credit, available to him or her.

A. Most consumers will begin seeing positive results within 45 days after their credit reports are sent to the credit repair company.Obviously, everyone’s credit situation is completely different, so how long it takes for you to achieve your expected results depends on the nature of your case, the number of bad credit items on your reports, your participation in getting credit reports to the company, and the level of credit bureau and/or creditor cooperation. Most of the wait-time after that is usually spent waiting for the credit bureaus or creditors to respond.

On average, most consumers have obtained the desired result by the eighth month. Keep in mind that credit repair companies may not challenge all negative inaccurate, misleading, unverifiable, outdated and obsolete items simultaneously. Doing so would be less effective and may raise flags with the credit bureaus.

A. There exist many laws, both State and Federal that not only protect you – the consumer, but also regulate the credit bureaus and the creditors that report to those credit bureaus. The credit repair company will use their vast experience and expert knowledge to be your advocate in exercising your rights and correcting your credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Once they receive your credit reports, they will immediately begin the process of auditing your reports and preparing the investigations that we will be sending on your behalf to the credit bureaus and/or creditors and DEBT collectors. Typically, you should begin seeing positive results approximately 30 – 45 days after they initiate the investigation process.Once the credit bureaus have processed the first round of these investigations, they will send you updated copies of your credit reports showing you the results of the investigations. Simply forward the updated reports to the credit repair company and include all other correspondence you receive from them so that we may continue the process.

Whenever they receive your updated reports, they will document the progress, re-audit your reports and initiate the next round of investigations, thus gradually working through the entire list of negative inaccurate, unverifiable, outdated, misleading or obsolete items on your credit reports.

A. Bankruptcies have been removed from your credit reports, as well as a vast array of items included in bankruptcy.Although there are guarantees the specific results of a specific account, I can tell you that questionable bankruptcies have been removed in the past.

A. Absolutely! It is because it is legal that you are able to do what, for you can use the laws that protect you, the consumer, and that regulate the credit bureaus and the companies that furnish information to them to accomplish your work. You are given certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, Fair DEBT Collection Practices Act, Fair Billing Act, HIPPA and other laws, to help you assert these rights.

The Credit bureaus would like to have you think otherwise, but the truth is that the Congress, when enacting the Credit Repair Organization Act, stated that consumers have a “right to seek help from Credit Repair Organizations”.

A. Credit reports contain a listing of some or all of your credit accounts that have been active at some time within the last 7 years. They also contain any public records (Chapter 7 bankruptcies are reported for 10 years), current and previous addresses, current and previous names, a listing of potential creditors who have received your credit file and other miscellaneous information the credit bureau has about you. Each account listing generally has your account number, the credit limit, your current balance and your previous payment history. This payment history can contain notes of late payments, any collection or transfer history, whether the account was included in bankruptcy and the current payment status of the account.

A. Most credit grantors are not allowed by the credit bureaus to show you your own credit report. In addition, under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, you may be entitled to receive a free credit report. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com to check availability. However, if you want to see your credit score, you will have to purchase it. I recommend you purchase your FICO credit score, as this is the score that most lenders will see.

A. Even one small late pay listing may result in credit denials. Any negative credit whatsoever can become a substantial credit obstacle. There are also other factors that will play into the decision of the lender. What is your debt to income ratio? How long have you been with your current employer? The exact criteria used for granting or denying credit varies from lender to lender, but any negative/bad credit remark on your credit report may be enough to deny you credit.

A. Lenders, property managers, insurance companies, prospective employers, companies which you presently have a credit relationship with and anybody with a permissible purpose who wants to know who you are can get access to your credit file. In many situations, your credit report will actually become your identity. People will know you not by who you are, but by what is reported about you from the credit bureaus. Obviously, those reports can be extremely damaging especially if they contain incorrect, misleading or obsolete information.

A. A public record is a file such as a bankruptcy, tax lien or judgment that is filed at the courthouse. Unlike your creditors, the courthouse does not report public record information to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus must therefore rely on third parties or smaller local affiliated bureaus to go out and research this information. For purpose of fixing your credit, the laws that regulate the reporting of these public records are the same as any other item and are treated no differently in that regard.

A. When you become very delinquent on an account then the creditor will probably “charge it off” against their profit and loss. A “Charge-Off” is basically an accounting term used in accrual accounting that says the amount is now a loss. In a short period of time, the creditor determines that the account will not be paid, and they will write it off for tax purposes. Once they minimize their loss from that account they will sell that file to a collection agency to decrease the loss even further. The collection agency will then use a wide variety of means to collect on the debt. Charge-offs are very negative listings.

A. Yes, they most definitely can be when they are found to be inaccurate, outdated, unverifiable, misleading, obsolete or legally lacking in some other way. Although the credit bureaus would have you think otherwise, I have seen many deletions ranging from bankruptcies to late payments.
Just take a look at our testimonials and see actual credit reports and bad credit marks that have been deleted.

A. No. The laws that regulate the credit bureaus and your creditors are mostly federal law. Your rights are the same whether you are in Alaska or Alabama.

A. All information reported by the credit bureaus are subject to the same laws and criteria. You may challenge any items you feel that are inaccurate, and the credit bureaus must investigate these items.

A. Experience has shown that investigating too many items at one time can actually slow down the process because the credit bureau may deem our request frivolous. Therefore, only submit investigations for the number of items that you deem appropriate for your case. Challenge as many items as possible without jeopardizing a slowdown of the process which is around 3 items per dispute letter.

A. I would never advise not paying your bills, but that issue is between you and your creditors. Although related in some ways, your bills and your credit are not the same thing.If you are experiencing trouble with Your Current Debts or would like to know what options may be available to you to pay off debt obligations, click here for further resources that can assist you in that area.

A. Paying your bills on time should do nothing but help your credit score. Many of our clients are trying to buy a home, refinance a home or qualify for new credit. Good payment history will help you do all of those things. We often tell people that while we work on the past credit,you should be working on the future.If you are having trouble paying your bills you may want to talk to a professional debt counselor.

A. Yes, you can. You can also represent yourself in a court of law but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily a very good idea.It isn’t a coincidence that the Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints against credit bureaus than any other type of business. Remember, the credit bureaus are primarily interested in protecting their profits. Investigating your challenge consumes these profits. The credit bureaus will do everything in their power to discourage consumers from making progress with their credit restoration.

Restoring your own credit is like repairing your own transmission or representing yourself in court: it is possible, but you must decide if you are willing to take the time and assume the risks of doing it yourself.According to a recent report by ConsumerReports.org, a Nonprofit, Independent firm, “It isn’t nearly as easy for consumers to correct errors as it is for the credit repair companies. Just as you are probably better at what you do than I would be, Credit repair companies are probably better at Credit repair than you would be.

Credit score

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

A credit score is a numerical rating that attempts to measure a borrower’s creditworthiness. The score indicates the borrower’s general payment behaviors—summarizing how often the person pays their bills and obligations on time. A high credit score does not guarantee that a loan applicant will never default on a mortgage; however, that person represents a statistically smaller risk to a lender than a person with a low score. Lenders and creditors, therefore, are more likely to approve loans and offer their most-favorable terms to people with the highest scores.
Credit scoring models cannot generate a score without enough credit information. If you have little or no credit history, you probably will not have a credit score available.
Score factors or score factor codes are provided with a credit score to explain how items in your credit report influenced the score. These codes can help you understand which items had the greatest impact.
If you have a poor credit score then you may be wondering how long it will take to improve or if it’s possible to see a change in the short-term. Maybe you’re just aiming for a certain score and want to know what makes a score change and how often it occurs. The truth is, a credit score can change daily and may be affected by a number of things, including loan applications and on-time payments. Here’s a look at some of the things you can expect to impact your credit score. The effect may be immediate or may take 30-60 days to show up, depending on how soon it is reported.
There are many different credit scores with differing ranges. As a result, it is possible for two different scores to represent the same level of lending risk. When you request a credit score from Experian, you will receive not only a score, but also an explanation of what the number represents in terms of how lenders will view your creditworthiness. If you have a good Experian credit score, you likely will have a good score with lenders, even if the number is different.

One of the unique features of VantageScore is the scale it uses. Scores range from 501 to 990 in groupings that approximate the familiar academic scale, making it easier for you to understand your score.A: 901—990B: 801—900

C: 701—800

D: 601—700

F: 501—600 (High Risk)

Keep in mind that there are many different credit scores in the market and the score range will vary by model.

Because there are many different credit scoring systems with different scales, a “good” credit score depends on the scoring system used by your particular lender. However, you can get a very good idea of whether you have a “good” credit score by getting a credit score and report from myfico.com. If you have a “good” credit score from myfico.com you likely will have a “good” credit score with your lender.
One of the most common myths about credit scores is that there is only one credit score. Web sites or financial advisers who claim there is only one “real” credit score either are misinformed or are being misleading. In fact, there are many different credit scores used by lenders (according to some estimates, more than 1,000), although some scores are used more than others.While there are many credit scores on the market, VantageScore® is the first credit score developed jointly by Experian and the other national credit reporting companies, TransUnion and Equifax.
Credit scores may come from several sources. Lenders may request that a credit score be provided along with your credit report. Credit reporting agencies provide the service of applying the credit scores from a number of credit score developers. Lenders specify which credit score they want delivered with the credit report. Credit scores may also be calculated by mortgage reporting companies that compile your credit reports from each of the national credit reporting companies and then deliver the combined reports and scores to the lender. Lenders may also apply their own, proprietary scores after receiving your credit report.

Too many inquiries may have a negative impact on your credit score. However, most recently developed credit scores recognize when a consumer is shopping for the best rates and either ignore multiple inquiries or count them as only one inquiry if they occur within a specific period of time. In such cases, shopping around for a home or a car will have little or no impact on a credit score if it’s completed within 45 days.Do lenders and creditors look at all three credit reporting agency reports and credit scores calculated using information from each report before approving a credit or loan application?Not always. Most mortgage lenders will look at reports from all three credit reporting agencies and credit scores calculated using information from each, but other lenders may use reports and scores from two or just one of the credit reporting agencies.

 

No. Only applications for credit initiated by the consumer will affect your score. Inquiries into your credit for account review purposes as well as preapproved offers of credit have no effect on credit scores.
The presence of a loan finance account can negatively affect your score because these accounts often carry high interest rates which may hamper your ability to repay and which many lenders view negatively. However, when paid on time, these accounts can also have a positive effect on your score (if the loan helps you to make your payments in a more timely fashion, for example).
Having too many credit cards with either high balances or large amounts of credit available can negatively impact risk scores, depending on the overall credit history.
If you hold a joint credit account, have cosigned a loan or have authorized use of another person’s credit, these items could affect a score if they appear on your credit report. It’s important that joint account holders or authorized users understand that their credit behavior does affect the other joint account holder or main account holder.A credit account held solely in the name of your spouse, your child or any other family member cannot impact your credit score. However, in community-property states, all debt acquired during a marriage is considered a joint debt, regardless if the account is joint or in the name of an individual spouse.
Absolutely. By Cosigning, you are accepting full responsibility for the debt if the other person does not pay as agreed. A cosigned account will appear on both your credit history and the other person’s. All loans and credit card accounts that appear on your credit report will impact credit scores.
Paying bills on time is generally the single most important contributor to a good credit score. Being late on any bill, for any length of time, is a possible indication of future nonpayment of debt and is almost always viewed negatively by lenders. Any late payments will remain on your credit report for up to seven years.
Yes, because your rental payment history is now part of your standard credit report, it may be incorporated into certain credit scores, such asVantageScore® and Experian’s PLUS Score®.This will allow many who previously didn’t have a credit history to become scoreable for the first time and begin building and rebuilding credit through the responsible payment of rent.
Inquiries placed on your credit report when you apply for new credit can impact your credit score. However, inquiries have a relatively small impact on your credit score. In a credit scoring model, there are stronger indicators of future payment performance, such as past payment history and use of credit. Inquiries are rarely, if ever, the only reason for poor credit scores. They become significant only if there are other issues already lowering your score, such as late payments or very high debt.
Anytime your credit report is pulled — including when you order a copy of your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency — an inquiry is added to your report. Only some of those inquiries appear to creditors and therefore impact your credit score. Inquiries that were made for credit cards or loans for which you applied will be shown to creditors and are counted in a credit score. Inquiries added when you request a copy of your own credit report or when an employer checks your credit report do not appear to creditors and will not affect your credit score.When you request your credit report directly from Experian, it shows you all inquiries. This is done so you know who has been looking at your credit. Some inquiries on your report are accompanied by a description of why the report was pulled.
It is never a bad idea to work with issuers and lenders to reduce your interest rate. You definitely have more leverage if a credit score puts you in the low-risk range. However, because there are many different credit scores, the model used to calculate the score you obtain, and the score itself, may be different than the one the lender uses in making its decision. For instance, you may get a generic credit risk score from Experian, but an auto lender might use its own custom scoring model with a different scale. Consequently, the numbers won’t be the same but will likely represent a similar level of risk.
Banks, credit card companies, auto dealers, retail stores and other lenders decide if you get your loan. Most businesses that issue credit or loans use credit scores to quickly summarize a consumer’s credit history, saving the need to manually review an applicant’s credit report and providing a better, faster decision. Although many additional factors are used in determining whether or not you receive the credit you applied for — such as an applicant’s income versus the size of the loan — a credit score is a leading indicator of one’s basic creditworthiness. Credit reporting agencies do not make lending decisions.
Your Experian Credit Score is only a guide to help you to see how your credit report information may affect a lender’s credit decision. It is not a guarantee that you will, or won’t, be granted credit. You don’t have a single credit rating, as every lender uses a different formula. Your credit score also Changes over time, as your circumstances change.Each lender takes different information into account when producing a credit score for an individual credit application and this is based upon their own internal lending policies. They may use different formulas to calculate credit scores and may even have different scores for different products. This means that nobody can tell you exactly how lenders score individual credit applications.

A score is derived in part from a consumer’s payment history. That is, do you pay credit cards, mortgage, and car-loan payments on time, and is your history free from ‘past-due’ amounts, bankruptcies, foreclosures, wage attachments, liens, etc.? As you might imagine, the more recent and larger a negative item, the farther it drags your score down.Amounts owed by a person also factor into part of your score. The total amount owed, whether you are close to the maximum amount on credit cards, how many accounts you have, and what balances remain on installment loans all come into play in this area. The larger the debt you have on a card and the closer that amount is to your card limit, the more likely it is that your score will drop.Another part of your score comes from the length of your credit history, including how long specific accounts have been established and the length of time since you used specific accounts. Another part of your score is determined by how many new accounts and requests for credit you have. Remember, a score is just one important indicator of your creditworthiness.Other key factors include your assets, your liquidity and your monthly expenditures.

Lenders do not see your Experian Credit Score or your previous scores, this information is only accessible by you. When you apply for credit, the lender will assess your application based on the most recent information on your credit report. Any old information that has since changed will not be seen by the lender when making their assessment.Each lender takes different information into account when producing a credit score for an individual credit application and this is based upon their own internal lending policies. They may use different formulas to calculate credit scores and may even have different scores for different products. This means that nobody can tell you exactly how lenders score individual credit applications.
Credit scores are numbers lenders use to help them decide how likely it is that they will be repaid on time if they give you a loan or a credit card. Credit scores also are called risk scores because they help lenders assess the risk that you won’t be able to repay the debt as agreed. Your scores are generated by statistical models using elements from your credit report. However, credit scores are not stored as part of your credit history. Rather, scores are generated at the time a lender requests your credit report and are delivered with the report.Get your 3 Bureau Online Credit Report with personalized analysis instantly. Know where you stand no matter which credit reporting agency your lender checks.
When you are not repaying your loans and credit to the lenders, they write it off as a loss and then sell your debt, to debt collection agencies. These are agencies that specialize in recovering the debt. For this reason, they do their utmost to make you pay the debt back. There are several measures that the debt collectors take to make sure that you pay. It is important to know how to deal with them effectively.
Unless you’re “judgment-proof” (that is, broke) or plan to file for bankruptcy, most credit counselors believe that you shouldn’t ignore your debt or try to hide from a debt collector. Generally, the longer you put off resolving the issue, the worse the situation and consequences will become. Whether you negotiate directly with the collector or obtain a lawyer’s assistance, most counselors feel it is almost always best to talk with the collector and try to work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

It’s against federal law for a bill collector who works for a collection agency (as opposed to working in the collections department of the creditor itself) to call you at an unreasonable time. Before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. are considered unreasonable times, but other hours may be unreasonable, too, such as daytime hours for a person who works in nights.The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 and following) bars collectors from:

  • Harassing you
  • Using abusive language
  • Using false or misleading statements
  • Adding unauthorized charges, and
  • Many other practices.

Under the FDCPA, you can demand that the collection agency stop contacting you (except to tell you that collection efforts have ended or that the creditor or collection agency will sue you). Make your request in writing.

Unfortunately, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does not apply to the collection department of a creditor (it only applies to outside collection agencies). However, many states have fair debt collection laws that do cover creditors’ collection departments.Check with your state consumer protection office to see if your state law applies to in-house collectors and to find out what types of collection practices it prohibits.

No. Many collectors, especially when a debt is more than 90 days past due, will suggest that you make an “urgency payment,” by doing things like:

  • Sending money by express or overnight mail, which will add at least $10 to your bill
  • Wiring money through Western Union’s Quick Collect or American Express’s Moneygram, another waste of money, or
  • Putting your payment on a credit card — you’ll never get out of debt if you do this.

Mailing your payment with a first-class stamp is fine. Or, pay by debit card or check card — but first ask if the creditor will charge a fee. If you send your payment through the mail, you may receive further phone calls from the collector until the creditor receives and processes your payment.

Yes. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows a collector to add interest if your original agreement calls for the addition of interest during collection proceedings or the addition of such interest is allowed under state law. Every state authorizes the collection of interest, although the maximum amount allowed varies.

Before obtaining a court judgment, a bill collector generally has only one way of getting paid: asking. This is done with calls and letters.However, once the collector (or creditor) sues you and obtains a court judgment, the law allows it to take further steps to collect the debt. The collector can:

  • Garnish up to 25% of your net wages. The amount depends on where you live and how much you earn.
  • Seize bank or other deposit accounts.
  • Record a lien against real property. This lien will have to be paid when you sell or refinance your property. Technically, the creditor could also force a sale of your home in order to get the lien paid. However, creditors rarely do this because after the creditor pays the costs incurred in selling the home, other more senior creditors get paid from the proceeds (like mortgage holders), and the homeowner gets the amount of the states homestead exemption (most states allow homeowners to protect a certain amount of the equity in their home from creditors, called the homestead exemption), there is nothing left for the creditor.

Even if you’re not currently working or have no property, the judgment won’t disappear. Depending on the state, court judgments can last up to 20 years. In many states, it can be renewed for years beyond that.

They are regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits and restricts collectors from using threatening, abusive language and other unlawful tactics. While original creditors aren’t necessarily bound by these laws, its a good idea to operate within these guidelines to avoid any possible legal actions against them.
The Federal Trade Commission oversees the collections industry, and has the authority to impose fines or other penalties for violations. However, the FTC does not get involved with individual consumers’ cases. They accept a large number of complaints, and look for patterns of violations, which could then lead to Action against a particular collection agency.
The agency then becomes the creditor for most purposes. The debtor will not be able to make any negotiations with the original creditor. The agency might be technically able to file a lawsuit against the debtor, (although this is not likely.) However, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a Staff Opinion Letter, which indicates that, even if a collection agency has purchased a debt, it is still covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as a “third-party debt collector.”
The debt does not become some kind of “new” debt just because of being sold. For example, the seven-year credit reporting time limit is still based on the original delinquency date with the original creditor. The statute of limitations for filing lawsuits is also based on that same date. These limits cannot be legitimately “reset” by a collection agency that has bought the debt. However, the statute of limitations may possibly be reset if the debtor makes a specific promise to pay, or a partial payment.
Yes. The statute of limitations only covers the filing of lawsuits, and the credit reporting time limit only covers bureau listings. There is no time limit on letters and phone calls.A collection agency that has purchased a bundle of “out-of-statute” debts (where the SOL has already expired, or “run”) is hoping that, either the debtors will feel guilty, or that they won’t be aware of that “out-of-statute” status. But if a particular debtor makes it clear that s/he understands the legal situation, then the collectors are likely to give up and move on to easier targets.
Yes, but there are limitations. For example, they cannot legally tell your employer about the debt, or try to have you fired.

Yes. According to section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:“(c) CEASING COMMUNICATION. If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except –(1) to advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated;

(2) to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or

(3) where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.

If such notice from the consumer is made by mail, notification shall be complete upon receipt.”

So the consumer can just send a third-party collection agency a written notice (preferably citing the FDCPA), ordering them to stop the collection letters and calls, and the agency is legally obligated to comply. The only permissible contact thereafter is to notify the debtor of specific “remedies,” like legal Action.

If, after you file for bankruptcy, a creditor continues it’s collection actions against you, the creditor may be violating bankruptcy’s automatic stay. When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay prohibits almost all collection activity, including legal Action, garnishment, and even contact by phone or mail in an attempt to collect a debt.If an exception to the stay does not apply, and the bankruptcy court has not terminated or modified the automatic stay order, then a collector’s attempt to collect a pre-bankruptcy debt is likely a violation of the automatic stay.You have several options if a creditor continues its collection actions against you in violation of the automatic stay.Tell the creditor about your bankruptcy. Many times the collector is unaware of your case (through error or negligence) and will stop collecting and correct its violation. Notify the bankruptcy court. If the collector does not stop and correct its violation, the next step is to notify the bankruptcy court.

A violation of the automatic stay does not depend upon the collector’s intent to violate the stay order, only that the collector intended to start or continue collecting in violation of the order.Generally, the court can sanction a violation of the automatic stay under its power of contempt (because the creditor violated the court’s order).

Bad news: It is legal for a creditor with a court judgment against you to freeze or “attach” your bank account. Some creditors, like the IRS, can attach your account even without a court judgment.But there are limits to what the creditor can take from your account. If all or some of the money came from sources such as Social Security or a public assistance program, this money would be protected. To prove that you deserve this protection, however, you’ll have to ask for a hearing.How to request a hearing, and how soon you must request it (usually pretty soon) varies from state to state. The best way to start is to ask the bank for copies of all the attachment papers. These papers normally outline the next procedural steps. Or, call your local legal aid office for advice and possibly low-cost legal representation.

No law says you have to cash a check within 30 days. Generally, banks and credit unions do not have to honor checks that are more than six months old. But most banks will go ahead and honor old checks anyway.

Any time you receive unsolicited items in the mail, you are entitled to consider them to be gifts and you are under no obligation to pay. Write to the sending company and tell them that you don’t want to receive anymore, and intend to treat those you have already received as gifts.If you keep receiving bills, write to the seller again and insist that they send you proof that you ordered the items. If the bills still don’t stop, notify the state consumer protection agency in the state where the sending company is located.Before you start this process, however, make sure that you didn’t agree to pay for the items. Did you respond to an advertisement that offered you a free gift or a trial membership? If so, check the fine print: You may have accidentally agreed to pay. In this situation, your best bet is to write to the company, tell them that you think their ad was misleading, and offer to send the items back. And make sure to tell them that you want to cancel the deal right away.

It depends on whether the debt has been assigned to a collection agency. Collection agencies — an agency or person whom the original creditor uses to collect the debt –cannot use a postcard to try and collect a debt. However, no federal law prohibits the original creditor from doing so.Some state laws might forbid such a practice. For example, creditors in California who regularly engage in debt collection cannot dun by postcard.If you remain bothered by the practice, stop doing business with the company — and make sure you drop it a line explaining why. (Use a piece of stationery and put it in an envelope!)

Friends and money are often uneasy bedfellows. In your situation, you are likely to end up with either your money or your friend, but not both.From a legal standpoint, you have the right to sue and obtain a judgment and force collections — attaching your friend’s wages, seizing his or her bank accounts, or putting a lien on his or her house. To learn about bringing a lawsuit in small claims court, see Nolo’s Small Claims Court area.Also, in some states, a judge could award you up to three times the amount of the check to punish your friend for writing a bad check. Check your state laws.
Such a nice, short question — for what must have a nasty, long history. Contact your local district attorney’s child support unit. By law, the folks there must report arrears over a certain amount to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

In New York and other states that follow marital property rules based on common law property systems — as opposed to the community property principles followed in California and nearly two handfuls of other states — only the spouse who racked up the debt in his or her name is responsible for paying it. The only exception is debts for necessities, such as food, clothing, or medical care.Only if you live in a “community property” state is the deceased debtor’s spouse legally responsible for the debt. (See Nolo’s article Dividing Property and Debt During Divorce FAQ for a list of community property states.)No matter where you live, however, you have a claim against the deceased debtor’s estate. Find out whether there will be a probate proceeding in which you can request that your debt be paid out of his probate assets.

In many states, if you are behind in your car payments, the lender can “repossess” your car without warning or even leaving a calling card. The lender (or, more likely, the repossession company that the lender hires) can hotwire your car or use a duplicate key and drive it away from any location. The only limitation is that they can’t illegally enter your locked home or garage.First, determine whether your inability to pay your car note is temporary or long-term. If it’s temporary, immediately contact your lender, explain your situation, and try to work out a short-term solution (maybe adding the missed payment to the end of the loan term). Or, borrow money from friends or family to get current on your car loan.If your situation will be long-term, you should still contact your lender and try to buy some time. Then, sell the car yourself and use the proceeds to pay off your car loan. If you let the lender repossess the car, it will sell the car to cover what you owe on the loan and also charge you fees for repossession, sales costs, and the like. And if the sales price is less than what you owe (including all the extra fees), you will still owe the lender money even though you no longer have a car to show for it.

The total amount your creditors can take from your wages is 25% of your net pay. That limit applies whether you have one creditor or many. Remember, however, that each creditor must have a judgment against you to be able to garnish your wages. If more than one creditor has a judgment, the first one would garnish your wages, get the 25% until the judgment is paid, and then cancel the garnishment. Then the second creditor would garnish 25% of your wages until that judgment was paid. And so on.If your income is very low, the creditor may not be allowed to attach the full 25%Before you lose a bunch of lawsuits, however, you might want to get some help dealing with your creditors. Although you might not be in that position, these agencies have been examined and approved by the government, which makes it less likely that you’ll run into some of the scam artists that all too often prey on people who are deeply in debt.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer to this question — but whether or not you are liable in the end, it will be a hassle dealing with this situation.You have learned the hard way about what happens when divorcing couples fail to close joint accounts. If you have the money and the gumption, and if you didn’t get notice of the bankruptcy, you could file a motion to reopen the bankruptcy and ask the court not to let your ex discharge the debt.Or you might be able to file a motion to reopen your divorce case and have the court modify your settlement agreement so you get more money or property to compensate for being liable for the debt.You probably will need to talk to a lawyer to do either of these things. But before you do, make absolutely sure that your name is no longer on any accounts that you ever shared with your ex.

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