Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Debt Collection Complaints Rise

 WASHINGTON, Dec, 20(UPI) — The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said complaints about aggressive debt collectors had jumped 73 percent since 2008, a symptom of a sluggish economy.

“We’ve seen a high level of complaints, and I think some of it is collectors realizing in hard times they may have to press that much harder to get someone to pay,” the agency’s chief debt collection lawyer Tom Pahl said.

“And a lot of them are pressing,” he said.

The agency handled 180,928 complaints about debt collection agencies in 2011, making it the No. 1 industry it terms of complaints filed, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Roughly half of the complaints concern abusive phone calls. But complaints also involve legal tactics undertaken by debt collectors.

 Many of those complains involve debt collection agencies not checking facts on cases they pursue.
“These folks are very aggressive,” said California state Sen. Jose Luis Correa, D-Santa Ana, who found his wages garnisheed over a debt of $4,329 allegedly owed to Sears.

Correa contends that the debt collection agency had targeted the wrong man. Furthermore, he says he was never served court papers concerning any lawsuit filed against him. The court, however, ruled in favor of the debt collection company out of default, which it is allowed to do if a defendant does not show up for the trial.

“I always pay my bills on time. Then to have somebody garnish my wages, I thought was pretty astounding,” said Correa, who had the garnishment stopped and also found the debt belonged to a different Luis Correa.

In another incident, Katie Brown of Piqua, Ohio, got a phone call from a man who said he was from a legal aid service she had called to get help regarding harassing phone calls.

But after freely divulging personal information, the man said, “‘Now let me tell you who I am,’” she said. He then revealed that he was the debt collector holding her debt.

She is suing the International Asset Group Inc. of Amherst, N.Y., accusing them of false representation and debt collection harassment.

CRA's take on this: GOOD! If collection agencies violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, then they deserve to get sued! In my opinion, debt collectors are no different from evil telemarketers. They are all on big commission pay plans and whose only goal is to extract money from the people that they are collecting from.

They will get judgements on people without "irrefutable" proof that the debt actually belongs to them, not someone with the same name.They will put accounts in the "unpaid collections" column on peoples credit reports with absolutely no proof of the legitimacy of the debt.

CRA is a total credit improvement company - Not just a credit repair company.

If the collection account is on a credit report legitimately, then we need to deal with it. A client in our program will have access to negotiators with years of experience in settling debts. Many times a debt is settled after obtaining leverage over the collection agency by their repeated violations of the FDCPA.

We also have access to a legal team who is paid when they win a case - not by the client.

If collection agencies are calling and leaving voice mail messages, than those messages might contain FDCPA violations. Sometimes, this is all we need to burn a DVD of the offending voice mail message and sue them.

Remember, there is never a charge for a consultation with a credit expert. Call us today! 800-648-5157 

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Good Article: The Credit Score That You See is NOT the Same as Lenders See

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fair Credit Lawsuits WAY up in 2012. Why?

Headline and news outline by credit master and expert witness: John Ulzheimer

2012 continues to be a busy year for FCRA lawsuits, FCRA lawyers and FCRA expert witnesses says Ulzheimer.

According to WebRecon, a Michigan based Litigant Data tracking bureau, FCRA lawsuits are up 15% year to date in 2012 over the same time period (January through September) in 2011.

And while the pace of lawsuits has slowed considerably (at one time they were up over 90% year to date compared to 2011) 2012 is still shaping up to meet or exceed 2011′s record numbers.

Often these types of lawsuits involved a consumer plaintiff suing a credit industry player such as a bank, credit reporting agency (or some other form of consumer reporting agency), or a collection agency. The allegations can rage from reasonable procedures to permissible purpose violations (improper access) to re-investigation issues.

  • A big part of how ethical credit repair works, is demanding that our clients rights under federal laws are not violated. Collection agencies have no problem threatening to sue our clients for the money that they are trying to collect, so basically we demand for our clients that the collection agencies: 
1. irrefutably prove that the debt they are trying to collect belongs to the client. 
2. that they have proof of ownership or the proper legal assignment of the right to collect the debt. 

If the collection agencies just send a duplicate statement of what they had sent previously, or a "screen shot" from their computer showing that anyone can type information into their database, they did not comply with what the client requested by exercising their rights provided by the FDCPA. Refusal to comply gives the client the right to sue for damages.

If the credit bureaus and original creditors refuse to comply with the clients rights under the FCRA, it is the exact same result. If any entity violates our clients rights under federal law - they deserve to get litigated against.

At Credit Restoration Associates, we build the paper trail for our legal team for both FCRA and FDCPA violation lawsuits. 

Our legal team is available when the "hammer" needs to be pulled out to demand enforcement of the clients rights. We even have access to an expert witness with over 100 cases under his belt with victories in: credit report damage, credit score damage and credit reputation damages.

Call us today for an absolutely free credit consultation and credit report review and see if we might be able to help your situation: Toll Free: 800-648-5157.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Credit Score That You See - NOT The Same As Lenders See

The credit score you receive may be much higher or lower than the one a lender uses when deciding whether to give you a mortgage, credit card or auto loan, a new government report finds.

One out of five consumers is likely to receive a score that is "meaningfully" different from the score used by a lender to make a credit decision, according to study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that analyzed 200,000 credit files from the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

As a result, many of these consumers receive either better or worse terms on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and other credit products.

"This study highlights the complexities consumers face in the credit scoring market," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. "When consumers buy a credit score, they should be aware that a lender may be using a very different score in making a credit decision."

The credit score a lender sees often depends on the type of loan or credit product they are considering. Lenders that use FICO scores the most commonly used score, could be looking at one of 49 different scores to determine how risky you are -- including a FICO auto score, a FICO bankcard score and a FICO mortgage score.


While you receive only one type of FICO score, lenders can choose from a variety of scores based on the kind of loan you're applying for. So if you want an auto loan, the lender can look up your FICO auto score. Apply for a credit card and there's a specific FICO bankcard score lenders can use.

There's also a FICO mortgage score, an installment loan score and a personal finance score that specifically focuses on your history of using financing companies -- for example, if you've signed up for store-branded credit cards. Then there's the generic FICO score, which is the most widely used score and is calculated based on your history with all forms of credit.

Even though newer versions of FICO's scoring software are being used, many credit reporting agencies continue to make older versions of the software available to lenders -- adding to the overall number of FICO scores for each consumer.

"The lender is going to choose the [scoring] model they think is most appropriate for what the consumer is applying for," said John Ulzheimer. "FICO is trying to further differentiate the risk of doing business with a consumer generically versus for a specific product. For example, I care how you pay your auto loans for any decision, but I really care about how you paid your auto loan if you're applying for an auto loan."

These scores are for lenders' eyes only, said Ulzheimer. When you request your FICO score, you receive the generic version. And the score you get may be about 15 or 20 points higher or lower than the score the lender is using to screen you, said Ulzheimer.

The discrepancy between the scores lenders and consumers receive was the subject of a report issued last year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that showed that scores may differ for a variety of reasons, including the use of different scoring models by credit reporting agencies and that lenders and consumers don't always get scores from the same reporting agency.

To more closely compare the scores lenders and consumers receive, the CFPB said it would obtain data about credit scoring from FICO and from each of the three credit bureaus.

Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, said Experian provides different FICO scores to lenders depending on the kind of risk they are trying to assess. And he said consumers don't need to see every single score, because they are all based on the same information contained in a credit report -- some scores just weigh certain types of lending information differently.

So just because a consumer is seeing a different score doesn't mean that a lender is looking at different information. 

"There's a tremendous focus on these numbers, but what's really important is the credit report -- your credit report is what's used to calculate all of those scores, and you control what's on your credit report," said Griffin.

And though consumers are being kept in the dark about many of the scores lenders are using to evaluate them, in most cases that 15- to 20-point difference in the score is not going to hold much sway when it comes to being approved or denied for credit, said Ulzheimer.

"If someone is a high risk, they're going to be a high risk for any product, and if you have a great [generic] score, you're going to have a great score for any product," he said.

Aside from FICO scores, which are the most commonly-used scores, there are a plethora of other credit scores out there -- like proprietary scores developed by the credit bureaus and scores you can get from private companies like, or

"The grand total number of credit scores is truly countless -- so while 49 FICO scores seems like a large number, it's really a drop in the bucket," said Ulzheimer. "The good news is that proper credit management transcends all credit risk scores. If you do the right things, you'll have a good score across the board.

NEXT POST: "What Happens To My FICO Score While I Have Items In Dispute?"

The Worst Loan That You Can Default On IS .... 


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Disputing Credit Report Information, What Happens to my FICO Scores During The Dispute?

By John Ulzheimer President of Consumer Education at,

I recently received this question from a consumer regarding a rumor they heard about how disputing credit information impacts their FICO credit scores…

“I’ve read on the Internet that when someone disputes information on their credit reports their credit scores will improve because the disputed item no longer counts in their scores.  Is that true”

As you’ve probably figured out by now, there’s a enormous amount of information about credit scores floating around on the Internet.  Some of it is accurate, a lot of it is not.  This consumer’s question is actually a good one because there is variable treatment of credit information when it’s being disputed.  But, it’s not as simple as saying, “no, it doesn’t count in your score while it’s in dispute.”  Here’s the truth on the matter…

First off, the credit reporting agencies aren’t stupid.  Second, FICO isn’t stupid.  They know that ignoring a piece of negative credit information simply because the consumer doesn’t agree with it isn’t a good idea.  If that were actually true then consumers would challenge everything they don’t agree with and then go out an apply for a loan while the items are being investigated.  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

There are two different types of consumer disputes, the initial dispute and the persistent dispute.  The initial dispute is the first time a consumer challenges the accuracy of a credit item.  Normally the credit bureaus will post narrative text that states the consumer disputes the account and that they are in the process of investigating its accuracy.  If the investigation comes back verifying that the credit data is, in fact, correct then that initial dispute text is supposed to be removed.  If the consumer still challenges the accuracy of the data the bureaus will often post persistent text with the account stating the consumer disagrees with it.  And, of course, the consumer can always add a longer 100 word statement to the credit report explaining their side of the story.

The initial dispute can change how the credit scoring model treats the account, but it’s certainly not fully ignored.  Anything negative or debt related is temporarily bypassed while the initial dispute is conducted.  This can sometimes cause the score to increase, although you wouldn’t know that, and it might seem like an opportunity for the consumer to pull a fast one on their lender by trying to time an application to coincide with the dispute.  But, lenders aren’t stupid either.

When a lender pulls your credit report they can see that you’re disputing something.  And since they’re privy to this “while in dispute” strategy many of them have built in policies that will kick out an application submitted by a consumer who has an active dispute in process.  Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant, is one of them.  Point being, it doesn’t really matter how good your score may be…the fact that you’re disputing potentially negative information isn’t a secret and lenders will want your dispute to be finalized before they move ahead.

Look, nobody blames anyone for trying to get a better FICO score.  We all want great scores, right?  But, I have a much better “score improvement” idea…earn great scores by paying your bills on time and staying out of credit card debt and you won’t have to try and beat the system.  You’ll pay lower interest rates, lower insurance premiums, and be treated much better by your lenders.  And, good scores tend to persist because once you’ve gotten a taste of low interest rates you’ll never want to go back to sub-prime land again.

Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at, the credit blogger for, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.

Next Post: The Worst Loan That You Can Default On IS .... 

Fantastic Article:
A Credit Score That Tracks You More Closely Than You Think ...

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Worst Loan That You Can Default On Is.....

 I think we’d all agree that the past few years have been tough on tens of millions active credit consumers. Foreclosures continue to be a huge problem, we’re now in $800 million of credit card debt, and our student loan debt just crossed the $1 trillion mark. This means it’s likely that loan defaults will increase over the next year.

I’m writing this for the consumers who find themselves in one of those difficult places where you have to decide which bills you’re going to pay each month. You can’t afford to pay all of them, but you can afford to pay some of them.

Now, who’s getting your money? Before you answer the question there are a variety of things to consider.

Which default is the worst for your credit reports and credit scores? Which default is most likely to end getting you sued? Which default can cause an interruption of your housing and transportation? And which default is going to cost you the most money?

In order to keep this information digestible, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. Today, in Part 1, we’ll explore the impact of loan defaults on your credit reports and credit scores and how defaulting can potentially expose you to litigation. What you’re going to realize is that there are pros and cons to defaulting on different types of loans.

Credit Reports and Credit Scores

You’re probably thinking, “Dude, I can’t afford to pay all of my bills. I don’t care about what’s going to happen to my credit.” Fair enough. But, while I’ve got your attention…

When you start missing payments and delinquencies start to show up on your credit report there is no hierarchy of “which one is worse?” A late payment is a late payment is a late payment, regardless of what loan or account it’s on. So a 30, 60, or 90-day delinquency on a credit card is just as bad as doing the same on a mortgage loan.

Having said that, missing payments on your mortgage will eventually hurt your scores more than missing payments on your credit card. Why?

The answer is simple: you’ll accrue a much larger delinquent balance on a mortgage than you will on a credit card. When you miss a credit card payment, the only thing that’s past due is the minimum payment. When you miss a mortgage loan payment, the repercussions could cost you thousands of dollars. And when it comes to calculating your FICO scores, there’s a component that measures past due balances.

Bottom Line: For your credit score health it’s best to miss credit card payments over mortgage or auto loan payments only because the past due balance is likely to be lower.


You should be very concerned with the prospect of being sued if you default on any of your credit obligations. You can’t ignore the guy who knocks at your door and serves you with the complaint. Well, you can, but you’ll lose by default and then you’ll be subject to a default judgment. If you do choose to fight the lender, whom you actually do owe a ton of money, you’ll be paying a lawyer to do it. That’s not a cheap date.

While any loan default can lead to you being sued, it seems to be much more common if you default on credit card debt. Normally, it takes 6 months for a credit card issuer to “charge off” delinquent credit card accounts and then they’ll likely sell them to a debt buyer. Debt buyers are notorious for suing debtors for defaulted credit cards.

If you find yourself in this situation it’s not a bad idea to make a settlement offer to the credit card issuer before your debt gets shipped off to the collection agency. They’ll make more from a settlement than they’ll make selling the debt for pennies on the dollar.

If your debt does make it to a collection agency, offering a settlement is still a viable offer and you can do this on your own. You don’t have to hire a 3rd party debt settlement company to make settlement offers on your behalf (and charge large fees at the same time).

Bottom Line: To reduce the possibility of being on the wrong side of a collection lawsuit, make sure you pay your credit cards on time and preferably off, as soon as possible.

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can Bad Credit Ruin Your Job Search?

Have you ever applied for a job and wondered if your bad credit would affect the outcome? Pre-employment credit checks aren't that uncommon these days. 

According to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2010, 13 percent of the companies surveyed check the credit reports of all candidates and 47 percent check some candidates.

Should you be worried if you have a poor credit history?

Employment-related credit checks are legal in most states, but there are limits to what employers can see and how they can use your credit information. Here's what you need to know about credit reports and your job search.

Contrary to popular belief, employers can only see your credit report not your credit score. Credit reporting agencies do not provide your credit score to employers as part of the pre-employment screening process. "Credit scores are sold along with credit reports, but they are not the same thing," says John Ulzheimer, the president of consumer education at 

Your credit report offers an overview of how much debt you have and whether you pay it on time, while your score is a number that represents your credit risk, usually between 300 and 850, based on this information. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, all Americans are entitled to a free credit report, but not a free credit score, from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months.

According to Mike Aitken, director of government affairs for SHRM, employers look at long-term trends, not whether you missed a loan payment or forgot to pay your Visa bill a few times. "They're looking to see if the person can handle their personal finances," he says. "In particular, they care about when things go into default or judgment." As Ulzheimer says, things get messy when collectors start calling the office or trying to garnish wages, so employers want to avoid those situations.

Before an employer can view your credit report, they need your permission in writing. That's a requirement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Once you grant permission, Ulzheimer says employers generally buy that information, along with a criminal background check and other information, from third-party screening companies. Aitken say it can cost employers upward of $200 to run background checks on each applicant, so they'll usually wait until they're almost ready to make a job offer. And unlike other credit inquiries, employment inquiries do not impact your credit score.

You could deny a prospective employer permission to view your credit report, but the company might not hire you without this information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, before the employer makes an adverse decision based on your credit report, such as denying your job application, the employer must tell you and provide a copy of the credit report. They are not required to give you the opportunity to explain your bad credit, but SHRM's study found that 65 percent of employers say they give candidates the opportunity to explain the contents of their credit report before making a hiring decision. If you have serious credit issues, Gail Cunningham, vice president of public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Washington, D.C., suggests being upfront about it. "I would be truthful and say succinctly what happened that caused your financial hiccup and how you intend to pull out of it," she says, adding that consumers can contact credit bureaus and electronically submit a 100-word explanation to accompany their credit reports.

Some states have or are getting stricter on pre-employment credit checks. An Illinois law took effect in January that outlaws employment-related credit checks except in a few very specific instances. Hawaii, Oregon and Washington already have laws limiting this practice. And 25 states have bills pending in the 2011 legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "In these economic times, with millions of people having a foreclosure or bankruptcy on their record, employers are going to have to rethink the relevance of a credit report with respect to a job applicant," says Cunningham.

Aikten knows of a few cases where a company chose not to make a job offer based on the findings of a credit check. In one case, a company discovered that a prospective CFO had tens of thousands dollars in gambling debt, so they felt a fiduciary responsibility to find someone else. But he stresses that credit reports are rarely the deciding factor. "Just because somebody has a bad credit report doesn't mean they'll embezzle or steal," says Aitken, "but it is a factor along with work experience, certification requirements and character references. It's one piece of the pie."

If you think you're home free once you land a job, think again.

"Ask anybody in the military who's lost their clearance," says Ulzheimer. "It's not terribly common, but you can lose your security clearance if you start to have collections issues." According to the 2010 SHRM survey, almost 20 percent of employers conduct ongoing credit and/or criminal background checks post-hire on employees working certain jobs, such as those with access to confidential information, and 5 percent do them for all employees. Some firms perform credit checks before granting a promotion or a change in status and some do so annually.

All the more reason to continually monitor your credit report and work to clear up any issues, as corrections won't happen overnight. Just as you shouldn't wait until you're applying for a car loan or a mortgage to think about your credit report, you shouldn't wait until you're asked to share your credit report with potential employers.

"People say 'I don't care what my credit report looks like, because I'm not applying for a loan,' but what if you lose your job tomorrow?" asks Ulzheimer. "You always have to be worried (about) what's on your credit report."

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at, the credit blogger for, and a contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of or Intuit. Follow John on Twitter.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Tax Liens Affect Your Credit Score

Tax day 2012 has come and gone. If you’ve already gotten your tax refund, then congratulations! And if you had to write a check, hopefully it wasn’t too painful. For those of you who blew off your taxes or decided to play games with your returns, I’d like to introduce you to the phrase: tax lien.

A tax lien protects the government’s (either state or Federal) right to claim your property if you don’t pay your tax obligations. A lien can be attached to your money or your property. When the IRS or your state’s tax authority files a lien against you they do so as a public record. This means anyone, including credit bureaus, can see the lien.

All three of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) report tax liens on their consumer credit reports as a matter of common practice. Once a lien has found its way to your credit reports, it’s not easily removed. In fact, tax liens have the potential to remain on your credit reports indefinitely. That’s because the “seven year rule" that applies to most negative credit items does not apply to tax liens.

A tax lien is considered a serious derogatory item and can lower your FICO scores significantly. And even when the lien has been paid or settled, it still has a serious negative impact to your credit scores.

The reason…the incident of the lien occurring is what’s problematic, not the current balance.
If you do end up with a tax lien on your credit reports then you can address them one of several ways;

Settle it

This is often referred to as an offer in compromise. This is just like a settlement of your defaulted credit card debt. You make an offer to the IRS and if they deem it to be of a reasonable amount, they’ll likely accept it. Once they accept the offer in compromise they will file a release of your lien. This does not result in the lien being removed from your credit reports. It simply updates it to show as a “released” lien. At this point you can add seven years to the release date and that’s when the lien will be removed from your credit reports.

Pay it

If you don’t have any sort of financial hardship justifying the offer in compromise then the IRS is going to want you to pay your tax lien in full. Once it has been paid in full, they will file a release of lien. The above credit reporting scenario applies to these released liens.

Request a withdrawal

Last February the IRS announced a new set of policies and procedures designed to entice taxpayers to pay their liens in full rather than offer settlements. Here’s the deal, if you pay your lien IN FULL, or enter into an installment repayment program that will eventually lead to your lien being paid in full, you can petition the IRS to withdrawn your lien, rather than simply release it. You’d use IRS form 12277 to apply for the withdrawal.
If you are successful getting your lien withdrawn then it will come off of your credit reports immediately. This is because the credit reporting agencies do not report withdrawn tax liens. This option has caused confusion with taxpayers and has lead to the following questions;

Removing the lien from your credit report

The IRS didn’t put the lien on your credit reports in the first place. They just filed it as a public record, which is how the credit bureaus got it. The IRS won’t help you get the lien removed. Once the withdrawal has been approved and filed, contact the credit bureaus and let them know the lien has been withdrawn. They’ll confirm your dispute and then remove the lien.

Will this work for state tax liens?

This withdrawal policy is an Internal Revenue Service policy and does not apply to the various state tax authorities. And while I’m not versed on the tax policies of all 50 states, I have not seen an example of this working for a state tax lien.

Is the policy retroactive?

I’ve been asked if this new withdrawal option will work for liens that were filed and then paid in full before the IRS’s announced their new withdrawal policy last year. While I can’t get an answer from the IRS on that front, I have had numerous consumers contact me with examples of successfully getting old tax liens withdrawn and subsequently removed from their credit reports. So yes, it does appear the policy is retroactive at least according to the evidence I’ve seen.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at, the credit blogger for, and a contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of or Intuit. Follow John on Twitter.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Can Your "Employment Credit Score" Hurt Your Chances At Getting A Job?

By Robert Linkonis Sr.

I’ve often defined and called out the "Myth of Credit score and Employment" as the Unicorn of the credit world—a lot of people have heard of this, but nobody has actually ever seen a case where a credit score caused an applicant to be denied employment on this factor alone ...

In trying to dispel this idea altogether, I have noted many cases - all exposed in this blog - but Suze Orman's recent campaign to promote her new Prepaid Debit Card – in which she eludes to the fact that not having a FICO score could cost consumers a job...  Whaaaaaaaaaa ???

Suzi and I have never been friends, but -- what is she telling her prospective customers?

Here's the truth: Credit scores are never sold by credit reporting agencies for employment screening purposes.

Here's how you can be sure: The only three agencies authorized to distribute credit reports are  – Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Because you can't get a credit score without first getting a report from those agencies, employers would have to go through those companies if they wanted your credit score.

And all three agencies all said the same thing. *** They do not sell credit scores to employers for screening purposes.

If affirmation from the national credit reporting agencies are not enough to convince you that credit scores ARE NOT used by employers,  the Consumer Data Industry Association, the trade association of the credit reporting agencies, confirmed the same thing: There is NO credit score provided in a credit report pulled for  employment screening.

Experian says that: "The employment credit report includes much of the information about your loans and credit cards that is listed in your credit report". BUT NOT YOUR CREDIT SCORE!!!

To pull your credit report and score, one must be a  - "financial institution" and have a -  "permissible purpose" to purchase a consumer credit report.   AN EMPLOYER IS NOT A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION WITH PERMISSIBLE PURPOSE to pull a consumer credit report that includes your credit score.  

Bottom line - a potential employer CAN pull your credit report and see all of your credit history - both positive and negative. They can use this information to make a decision on whether or not to hire you, but they can not see your credit score.

Please call anytime with all questions and ...  Always feel free to "LIKE" Credit Restoration Associates on Facebook:


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Can Debt Collectors Contact You via Social Media?

Fantastic strategies to preempt unwanted calls or other communication from collectors:

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to protect consumers against abusive practices by the debt collections industry. But when FDCPA took effect in 1978, few people could have anticipated how Facebook and Twitter would infiltrate our daily lives. In recent years, a handful of lawsuits by consumers who were allegedly contacted by collectors through social media have brought the issue to light.

One strategy collections agencies use, according to Michelle Dunn, a 24-year veteran of the debt-collection industry and author of The Guide to Getting Paid, is to set up a fake profile and try to friend someone (however, a few states have laws against online impersonation). "If you look like a really good-looking girl, a lot of people would accept a friendship even if they don't really know the person," she explains.

Dunn says she discourages this practice in her webinars on social media and collections. "I just tell them to use common sense," she says. "Don't pretend you're someone you're not. There shouldn't be any interaction."

FDCPA doesn't explicitly forbid collectors from, say, posting on your Facebook wall or tweeting your relatives to ask about your whereabouts. But according to Craig Thor Kimmel, an Ambler, Penn.-based consumer attorney who handles collections issues, the act's intent is clear. "A debt collector that posts about your debt on social media would be violating this statute very clearly because that privacy is compromised," he says.

Despite this, collectors can use information found on a social network to contact you in other ways. "Right now, the normal pre-social media method would be to use the address off the loan documents and statements, but if the consumer is unwilling to respond to the contacts or is at a different location, they can certainly use social media as way of finding the consumer," says John Ulzheimer, president of Consumer Education at

Experts suggest the following strategies to preempt unwanted calls or other communication from collectors:

1. Respond within 30 days of receiving a collections letter. For many people who receive a letter from a collections agency, the impulse is simply to bury their heads and ignore it. That's a mistake, according to Ulzheimer. "You can eliminate all communication," he says. "All you have to do is send them a letter within 30 days and tell them, 'Do not contact me anymore through any method.' They can still sue you for the debt, so the act of collecting doesn't necessarily stop, but they can't send you emails or call you anymore."

If you actually owe the debt, he suggests offering a settlement so that it doesn't continue to follow you. Third-party agencies who've purchased the debt "don't have the same skin in the game as the original creditor, so you could offer some sort of reasonable settlement and be done with it."

2. Use those privacy settings. Dunn said she's shocked by the number of consumers whose Facebook profiles are set to completely public. "Even though I'm not your friend, I can see all your pictures," she says. Setting your profile to private reduces the likelihood that a collector could be eying your wall or photos.

3. Be selective about what you post. Social networks like Facebook can create a false sense of intimacy because you're communicating with friends. Even with a private profile, your friends' accounts could still get hacked or someone could be peeking over their shoulder, so it's smart to err on the side of under-disclosing.

Dunn says collectors use social media profiles to "look for the address or employment information. A lot of people put what their occupation is, where they work, cell phone numbers." For instance, when someone gets a new cell phone number, they'll sometimes post it on Facebook so friends can reach them. "I have to say if I was somebody who owed money, I probably wouldn't put [my cell number] online and make it public information," adds Dunn.

Most people know not to post their Social Security or credit card numbers, but many list their birth date. "To me, that's comical," says Ulzheimer. "If someone walked up to you off the street and asked your birth date, would you give it on the street? But you're gladly doing it on Facebook."

4. Don't accept friend requests from strangers. For reasons described earlier, don't approve requests from people you don't know. It could be a friend of a friend, but it could also be a collector or a spammer.

5. Skip the "like" button. Liking your bank or credit card company on Facebook may open the door to them collecting information about you that you haven't given them. How many people actually like their bank? To the extent that you like your bank, that's fine, but I'm not sure that you have to memorialize that by clicking that you like it on Facebook.

If despite these steps, a collector contacts you via a social media site, Kimmel suggests printing out the message or saving a screenshot to your computer to create a paper trial. "Once you have that, report the sender as spam on Facebook and file a grievance with the Federal Trade Commission," he suggests. The consumer could be entitled to up to $1,000 plus attorney fees and actual damages "if a debt collector engages in unauthorized debt collection contact, through, for example, social media," says Kimmel, adding that a consumer attorney could help the person seek redress.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reducing Debt in 2012

Trimming the fat may be the most popular New Year’s resolution out there, but trimming your debt is not far behind for a lot of people.

“Getting out of debt is more strategic than simply writing a check to your creditors,” said John Ulzheimer , President of Consumer Education with and contributor at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
“You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars by prioritizing your debts,” he added. “You can also get the benefit of a higher credit score by being smart about what you pay first.”
Ulzheimer recommends these ground rules for those who are serious about reducing their debt in 2012:

Make sure you make your minimum payments to ALL of your creditors… on time… each month.  If you can pay more, you should.  But skipping a payment or paying late is a big no-no.

Choose your retailer credit cards (i.e. Macy’s, Gap, Nordstrom, etc.) as the ones you pay off first.  Be aggressive.  On average, the interest rate on these cards is about 10-12-percentage points higher than general use credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.
“You should be able to knock them out faster because the balances on these cards are generally lower than general use cards,” said Ulzheimer.
“And by paying off retail cards, you’ll also improve your credit score because you’ve lowered the number of cards with a balance and the infamous “debt utilization” percentage – both of which are very important in your FICO scores.”

Ulzheimer said you may also want to stop contributing to your 401K and IRA until you’ve paid off your credit card debt.  The amount you are earning in “gain” is probably not as much as you are paying in interest.
“That means you’re losing money each month you have credit card debt.” Said Ulzheimer.

Don’t put installment debt in front of credit card debt.  Rates on cars, houses, student loans are much lower than those on plastic.  And you are probably getting tax advantages on your mortgage and student loans.

If your debt is in default or being handled by a collection agency, then you need to offer what’s referred to as a “settlement.”

“I never advise this unless you’re dealing with collection agencies,” said Ulzheimer.
“They normally acquire the debt for pennies on the dollar so your former $1,000 debt isn’t really what you owe the collector, but that’s what they’re going to try to collect,” he explained.  “Start your offer at 10% of what they say you owe and work with them until a satisfactory settlement has been reached.


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