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Debt Help

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There are quite a few credit protection laws in
place to shield consumers from abuses of
credit reporting agencies, debt collectors and
creditors. One of the biggest mistakes
consumers make when seeking credit repair is
to overlook the legal credit repair options they
have based upon established consumer
protection laws. Here are 7 credit protection
laws to help guide your credit improvement
decision-making.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 (FCRA)
The fair credit reporting act is a federal law,
originally passed in 1970, that governs how
consumer information (and consumer credit
information) is collected, distributed and used.
It is this law that specifies the responsibilities
consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) have
toward consumers, as well as the
responsibilities “data furnishers” (creditors)
have towards the people whose information
they share. The FCRA also set the time frames
for which reporting agencies can hold
consumer information.

Fair And Accurate Credit Transactions Act of
2003 (FACTA)
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
of 2003 introduced some big changes to the
Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to receive
one free annual credit report as a credit
consumer. Among the many consumer
protections enacted in FACTA is the
requirement that merchants truncate credit
card, debit card, and social security numbers so
that receipts would not include more than the
last five digits of the card number.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977
(FDCPA)
Questionable practices by debt collectors can
range from making harassing phone calls to
overstepping their bounds in how they collect
information about you (like your contact phone
numbers) to using deceptive debt collection
letters and forms. The Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act was enacted to protect you from
false, deceptive, and misleading collection
tactics as well as harassment and abuse.
Section 807 of the FDCPA actually outlines 17
false or misleading tactics that are prohibited
by law.

The Credit Card Act of 2009
This law issued in the most dramatic changes
to consumer credit cards in decades and
created extensive new protections that gave
credit card customers more options for dealing
with the banks. Ironically, they may also result
in raising the threshold of difficulty for many
lower-income families and people with bad
credit to obtain credit. It significantly limits
lenders’ flexibility in issuing interest rate hikes,
gave consumers the right to opt-out (with up to
a 5 year repayment period on balances), and
limited the practice of “universal default”; the
practice of raising interest rates on customers
based on their dealings with other unrelated
credit issuers.

The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 (FCBA)
This law governs the conduct of credit issuers
when inaccuracies are reported on billing
documents. Credit card companies are required
to promptly credit payments and correct
mistakes without adversely affecting your credit
score. It also empowers consumers to withhold
payments for damaged goods and to dispute
billing errors.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of
1974 (RESPA)
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act was
enacted in 1974 to help consumers better
clarify settlement costs and to eliminate hidden
referrals and kickbacks that could skew the
settlement process in ways that harm
consumers.

One of our favorite strategies for helping people
improve credit scores is to identify scenarios
when mortgages have been re-sold to other
lenders and to look for RESPA violations (or
RESPA-required documentation trails) that give
us a leg to stand on in demanding the removal
of negative mortgage entries from client credit
reports.

The Credit Repair Organizations Act of 1986
(CROA)
This governs the conduct of credit repair
organizations in their dealings with you. It was
designed to put the clamps on credit repair
scams and requires credit repair organizations
to provide you with a disclosure statement
titled, “Consumer Credit File Rights Under State
and Federal Law”, and prohibits credit repair
organizations from making “a variety of false
and misleading statements”.

It also requires credit repair organizations to
provide their customers with a contract
providing detailed description of services and
the length contract time. This law has made it
easier for legal credit repair companies to
deliver services to consumers in greater and
greater numbers.

Give or take roughly 30 percent of American adults have a will or some form of an estate plan in place. Over the last decade this number has remained stable even though the number of other estate planning documents such as living wills have increased. The numbers among minorities without wills are higher than the general population, 68 percent for African Americans and 74 percent for Hispanics. A will that lands in probate can take some time to be resolved. It’s not unusual for a complicated will to take two years and a simple one at least six months. Distributions without a will can take an undetermined amount of time. The reasons that probate takes as long as it does is because most states have minimum periods of time to allow creditors to responds. During that time the estate cannot be dispersed. As with a number of things, life experience is the greatest teacher. Of the 30 percent of Americans that have wills an overwhelming majority of them are over the age of 60. Probate costs American families in the neighborhood of $2 billion a year, of which $1.5 billion is paid in attorneys’ fees. A will is one of the least popular topics to talk about. The two common reasons given for avoiding discussing the preparation of a will, the fear of their own death and the cost of an attorney. The only suggestion to overcome the fear of your own death is the concern of what happens to your family in the inevitable event of your death. As to the other, the cost of having an attorney can range from $200-$750 for a basic will. Updating your will as events change in your life only adds to the cost of maintaining a will. This is not to be a deterrent to having an attorney prepare your will. An alternative is available to the cost of having and maintaining a will is out there. The importance of having an expert, an attorney in this case, involved is critical to securing your wishes. Would you take your car that needs repairs to the Maytag repairman or to a mechanic?


If you are
a member of an organization which sponsors a
group legal plan, you usually pay nothing more
than what the organization charges you to
belong. If your employer offers legal services as
part of its employee assistance program (EAP),
you would pay for specific legal services over
and above what the benefit provides. Prepaid
legal plans may cost as little as $70 per year
per member and as much as $400 per year. For
the $70 per year plan, a member may receive
some advice and consultation plus a few very
limited services but must pay directly for
services like a divorce or the defense of an
eviction. For the $400 plan member, nearly
every conceivable legal problem, whether a civil
or criminal proceeding, can be covered. More
comprehensive prepaid plans that serve non-employment groups, e.g., credit unions, cost
between $12 and $25 per month for benefits
that are somewhat more modest than those
offered as fringe benefits. Type I access plans
are usually marketed at between $9 and $12
per month.

How are Lawyers Involved?

How are Lawyers Involved?

Plan lawyers are
often the ‘front line’ for legal plan members. In
order to provide appropriate help and ensure
client satisfaction, it is critical that these service
providers fully understand what legal services
are covered and how the legal plan operates.
Most legal plans have a contractual
arrangement with lawyers in private practice
who provide the legal services to serve their
members’ needs.

Many plans use a broad panel of lawyers
located throughout the area where plan
members live and work to provide covered
services. Other plans use one law firm or a
small group of law firms in each state to
efficiently provide some basic benefits, such as
legal advice by telephone and other non-complex legal work. Some plans in which the
geographic concentration of plan members
(such as those working in a large industrial
plant) have set up special legal service offices,
with salaried lawyers who work exclusively for
plan members. However, if members live far
from the plant or in adjacent states, it may be
necessary to have a group of private law firms
in each area under contract to provide services
to those plan members.