Fast Answers to Your Most Pressing Debt Collection and Credit Reporting Questions
Can a collection company call multiple times per day? Can a creditor really increase your interest rate if you cannot pay your bills? If you have a question about debt collection, credit reporting, or any other issues related to consumer law, our FAQ section might provide the answer you need right now. If it doesn't, contact us using the contact form or the toll-free number and we'll answer it for you within 24 hours!
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What is the right way to dispute a credit report error?
We all know there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Disputing an error on your credit report is no exception. You can protect a possible lawsuit against the credit reporting agency when you file a dispute the right way the first time. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and California law, you have a right to an accurate credit report, and credit reporting agencies are required to investigate all disputes. However, unless you take certain steps when filing your dispute, you may jeopardize your consumer rights.
What Californians Should Do When Filing a Dispute
If you have found a mistake on any one of your credit reports—congratulations! The fact that you reviewed your reports and paid attention to what should and should not be on them is a great first step to protecting your rights. What you do next is just as important. As a California consumer attorney, I advise all consumers to do the following:
Always Dispute Credit Reporting Error With the Credit Bureau
Even if the mistake is actually the fault of a creditor, you will have to inform the credit reporting agency of the mistake, not just the furnisher of the false information. While it is not illegal for a credit bureau to report inaccurate information, it is illegal for them not to investigate your dispute.
Preserve the Credit Report Evidence
If you are claiming that a credit reporting agency failed to investigate your dispute, you will have to provide documents to prove that you reported it and you will need evidence of the harm the error has caused you. Make copies of everything you send to the credit bureau, send everything by certified mail, and keep any documents that show that the error on your report has cost you, such as denials of credit, increasing interest rates, etc.
Never Use the Online Credit Reporting Dispute Option
The strongest claims against credit bureaus are detailed and provide evidence. There is very little room on online dispute forms to do this. Instead, mail a letter that details how the information on the report is wrong and include evidence that proves the mistake. Keep a copy of all of this and send it by certified mail so you have a receipt.
Call An Experienced Credit Reporting Error Attorney!
Who has the time to deal with all of this? I do, that’s who! I know you’re busy and finding the time to track down evidence, write a detailed letter, etc. can be impossible. When you contact me, however, I will guide you through the process—at no cost to you!
I know it’s hard to believe, but I will help you make those errors go away and may even be able to get you compensation, and I won’t charge you a thing. My fee comes if and when I successfully sue a credit reporting agency on your behalf—and not before. Learn more about how this works here, then contact me online or, better yet, call me directly at 855.982.2400!
Am I covered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?
Considering that this powerful legislation protects servicemembers from high interest rates, penalties for breaking leases, and some civil court judgements, it’s important that you know whether you are covered or not. Simply put, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to all active-duty military personnel—but does that apply to you? Find out here!
What the Law Says About SCRA
The SCRA was enacted in 2003 and has been amended several times since then. The law is designed to ease financial burdens on servicemembers during periods of military service. Under the law, the following servicemembers are covered:
- Full-time active duty members of the five military branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard)
- Reservists on federal active duty
- Members of the National Guard on federal orders for a period of more than 30 days
- Servicemembers absent from duty for a lawful cause or because of sickness
- Commissioned officers in active service of the Public Health Service (PHS) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Servicemembers’ dependents, including a spouse, children, and any other person for whom the servicemember has provided more than half of their financial support for the past 180 days
For most servicemembers, SCRA protections begin on the date they enter active duty military service. For military reservists, protections begin upon the receipt of certain military orders. If you are still not sure if you are eligible for the benefits provided by SCRA, do not hesitate to call me to find out!
How I Help Servicemembers Protect Their Credit
If you think someone isn't respecting your SCRA rights, call me and I will evaluate your case—for FREE! Not only does the law provide for criminal penalties for violators of SCRA, it also entitles you to sue the violator in order to fix what they did wrong and to pay attorney fees if we win. So you truly have nothing to lose by calling me if you think your rights have been violated. As a Marine Reservist myself, I am proud to help those serving in our armed forces.
Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 and let's talk about how I can help!
How Can I Avoid Being A Victim Of A For-Profit College Scam?
The promised education benefits were one of the reasons you joined the service to begin with. Serving your country is a great way to pay for the education you have always dreamed of. Now that you are ready to use these benefits to attend college, don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of by a for-profit college that is just out to get your money.
What Is a For-Profit College?
Simply put, a for-profit college is an institute of higher learning that is run by a private, profit-seeking company. They typically offer flexible class schedules, including evening and online classes that are very tempting for students who have a full-time job or are raising a family. While some of these schools are reputable, others have been found to make promises to students that they can’t keep. Students are left with a hefty bill and no job prospects.
How To Protect Yourself From For-Profit School Scams
Unfortunately, the money you can get as a servicemember to pay for college makes you a target for these disreputable schools. Follow this advice to protect yourself:
Be Wary Of The High-Pressure College Sales Pitch
Schools that are just out for your money will often pursue you aggressively. A high-pressure sales pitch should be a red flag that something is not right. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into making a decision. Take your time to consider multiple options.
Research Graduation Results For The College You're Considering
You are going to school to prepare for a career, right? So it’s a good idea to look at each school’s graduation rates and job-placement statistics rather than just taking a TV ad or salesperson’s word for it.
Compare The Costs Between The School You're Considering And Other Universities
While their schedules and locations may be convenient, for-profit schools often cost more than public colleges and universities. Take the time to compare costs and look for public colleges that offer flexible scheduling and satellite campuses.
The actions of certain for-profit colleges are truly despicable, particularly when they set their sights on those who have served our country. However, it’s up to you to protect your education benefits so that you can make the most of your future.
The Cardoza Law Corporation Looks Out for Servicemembers
As a Marine myself, I am happy to provide helpful information like this to our men and women in uniform. If you believe your civil rights have been violated as an active-duty servicemember, contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 to see if I can help set things right.
Do I need to file a police report if I am filing an identity theft report with the FTC?
If someone has stolen your identity and taken out a loan or opened a credit card in your name, you have work to do. There’s no way around the fact that identity theft is a major pain, but if you don’t take the necessary steps to undo as much of the damage as you can right now, the pain could get even bigger. The first thing you should do to protect yourself from the problems the thief is going to cause in your name is to tell the authorities what has happened.
Report Identity Theft To The FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) acts as a kind of clearinghouse for identity theft reports. When you go to their website at www.identitytheft.gov, you will be guided through a series of questions to report the theft. Once you have given them all the information you can, a report will be generated that can be offered as proof to any lender or business that disputes your claim of identity theft. You will also need the report when you file a police report.
Filing An Identity Theft Report With Local Law Enforcement
Most identity thieves steal the information they need “virtually,” meaning they get your bank account numbers or Social Security number through online sources, not out of your wallet. So why would you report the theft to the local police? After all, the thief is most likely not your neighbor—or even a resident of California or the U.S. The reason you file a police report is to create an official record of the theft even if you don’t expect the thief to be caught. At the local police station, you should be prepared to show them the following:
- A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report (See? I said you would need it!)
- A government-issued photo ID
- Proof of your address (a mortgage statement or utility bill)
- Any proof you may have that a theft occurred (credit card statement, collection notices, etc.)
Your goal in reporting this to the police is not to get them to catch the thief, but to get a copy of the police report. Ask them to attach your FTC complaint to your report. You may have to be firm and insistent with the officer—but also calm and patient—because they may see it as a waste of their time.
Identity Theft Is Not a Waste of My Time!
If you’re getting nowhere with the FTC or the police, check out my identity theft toolkit to walk you through the steps to recovery. If you are being harassed by a lender or collection agency over debt that is not yours, you may be able to take legal action to stop them. If that’s the case, don’t wait any longer to call me. I will look into your situation and help if I can. The best part is, I will do all of this FOR FREE! If you are owed damages for harassment, I will file suit and take my payment only when I win on your behalf. Now is not the time to bury your head in the sand and hope this goes away. Take action today!
Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400.
How can I protect my stored property when I am on active duty?
To the average person, temporarily renting a unit to store personal possessions is no big deal. However, when you are an active duty servicemember who has been deployed or moved and must store almost everything you own while you are away, there is a lot to worry about. What if you forget to make a payment? What if you are away longer than you expected? Will you lose your possessions? The good news is, you have protections that the average citizen does not have.
Your Active Duty Servicemember Rights Regarding Stored Property
Simply stated, while you are on active duty, a storage company cannot simply sell your possessions if you fail to make a payment or break the contract in another way. Instead, they must first get a court order. How does this help? Well, first, it buys you some time. Instead of being notified that your stuff has been sold, you will get a notice that a case has been filed against you. You then have time to take action. What should you do? Start with the following:
- Call me. As a Marine and military consumer attorney, I am committed to protecting the rights of our men and women in uniform. I will communicate with the judge and get the proceedings against you stopped.
- Ask for more time. If you are behind on your rent or are unable to pay what you owe, we will work with the judge to adjust the amount you owe or the deadline for making the payment.
If the judge decides that your deployment or active duty status is not the reason you have broken the contract, he could grant the storage company permission to sell your belongings. Don’t let it come to that. Contact me before it’s too late!
Understand Your Rights As An Active Duty Servicemember
These protections are granted under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which grants many other protections as well. But if you don’t know your rights, you won’t know when you are being taken advantage of. If you are on active duty and are struggling with any consumer matter—breaking a new car lease, a landlord dispute, a civil lawsuit—please feel free to contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 for help. You deserve better treatment while you are serving our country and I’m here to make sure you get it.
Can I lose my house or my car while I am serving in the military?
You have a lot to worry about when you are away from home serving your country. You may have left a spouse and kids behind, and you probably left bills that need to be paid. If those bills don’t get paid while you are gone, you should not have to worry about whether the lender will foreclose on your house or repossess your car or other property. The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), offers some protections to prevent this from happening; however, it is not a get out of jail free card.
Why Foreclosures and Repossessions Happen
When you borrow money to buy something, the lender often reserves the right to take the property back if you fail to make payments on the loan. With a home loan, this is known as foreclosure. Repossession occurs most often with cars. In California, both of these actions can be taken without filing suit to get a court order. However, as an active-duty servicemember, you will have an extra level of protection to prevent this from happening.
How Does the SCRA Protect Me?
While you are still subject to foreclosure or repossession if you default on a loan, as an active-duty member of the military, the creditor cannot just take your home or your car with no notice. Instead, he must file a lawsuit to get an order from a judge in order to take the property. This process could give you enough time to work things out with the creditor so you can keep your house or your car. This protection only applies if you purchased the property and made at least one payment on it before entering active duty service.
How Can A Military Consumer Protection Attorney Help?
If your SCRA rights were violated and your property was taken without a court order, call me to take legal action against the creditor or repossession service. You may not only get your property back, but you might be awarded financial damages for any losses you suffered. Don’t be pushed around by creditors while you are serving our country. I am a Marine myself and I know what you’re going through. Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 if you think your rights may have been violated.
How do I get accounts opened by an identity thief off my credit report?
Not only do identity thieves steal your money, but they also steal your peace of mind and your financial reputation. When your personal information—Social Security number, bank account number, or password—has been stolen, you can quickly become overwhelmed by everything you need to do to fix it. Fortunately, you don’t have to despair. When accounts you did not open are on your credit reports, call me to help you take the necessary steps to get them removed. I will give you everything you need to take care of the problem and, best of all, I won’t charge you a thing!
What Can You Expect for Nothing? Identity Theft Credit Help!
You can’t get something for nothing, right? Wrong! When you fill out the form on this page, I will send you everything you need to inform creditors, debt collection agencies, and credit reporting agencies that your identity has been stolen and that they need to take action—all at no cost to you. How will this help? For starters, when you ask any one of the three national credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—to place a fraud alert on your account, they must all:
- Give you a copy of all the information in your file.
- Block any information in your file that resulted from identity theft, including unpaid accounts, lines of credit, or loans, so that anyone looking at your file—a potential creditor or employer, for example—cannot see the fraudulent information.
Hopefully, taking this first step will begin to make you feel more in control of a frightening situation. You can also expect a follow-up call from me to see if you have any questions or need additional assistance. I will evaluate your case for potential legal action and you will owe me nothing until and unless I do find grounds to file suit and I win damages for you.
Trust Me—Everything Will Be OK!
I know how painful it is to be the victim of identity theft. The stress and anxiety it causes can affect other areas of your life, including work, your social life, and your family. Don’t allow the actions of a thief to take over your life. Fill out my contact form and let’s get started fixing this problem now!
How do crooks get ahold of financial information?
As consumers get wise and security systems go high tech, identity thieves have had to step up their game—and have they ever! The lengths these crooks will go to get your sensitive financial information is almost unbelievable. What they are able to do with your data once they get it can have long-lasting repercussions for your credit score and your ability to get credit cards and loans in the future, so it’s well worth your time to learn how they work.
From Dumpster Diving to Skimming—If it’s There, They’ll Find it
Identity theft tactics run the gamut from digging through trash cans to hacking into corporate data systems. When you know what their methods are, you have a better chance of stopping them from getting your information. Some common tactics include:
- Stealing your mail. Think of the sensitive data you get through the mail—bank account numbers, tax forms with your Social Security number on them, confidential medical reports, and more. Thieves may take mail directly out of your mailbox or they may fill out a change of address form to redirect your mail to them. Sign up to get as much of this communication sent electronically as possible and be aware of when you should receive a statement so that you’ll know when you don’t get it.
- Going through the trash. Thieves can strike gold in garbage cans, Dumpsters, and recycling bins. Those same confidential forms you got in the mail can end up in the garbage and can easily be picked out by thieves. Always shred sensitive forms and statements.
- Stealing your wallet. Totally old school—but it still works. From your wallet, thieves can get your address, bank account numbers, credit cards, and even your SSN, if you carry your card with you (which you should NOT do!). Hold on to purses and carry wallets in a front pocket to protect yourself.
- Getting a copy of your credit report. It’s not too difficult for a thief to pose as a landlord or employer and request a copy of your credit report. Once they have that, they have everything they need to steal your identity. Check up on who has requested your credit report and follow up on anything suspicious.
- Phishing. If you get an email that asks you to reply with account numbers or directs you to a website to enter information, you should immediately be suspicious. Thieves will pose as eBay, PayPal, or a government agency to get this information from you. Don’t fall for it! Legitimate companies will never ask you to send them information they should already have.
- Corporate data breaches. When a store or institution that has your personal financial data is hacked, you are at risk for identity theft. This seems to be happening more and more and there’s not much you can do other than follow the news and freeze your credit when it happens to you.
While you should do everything you can to protect your personal financial information, you are not to blame if a thief gets your information and opens accounts in your name. When that happens, don’t waste any time taking action. Contact me online for FREE help undoing the harm that has been done. If there is legal action to be taken—like against the credit reporting agency that gave your credit report to a thief—I’ll help you take it! You can also call 415.802.0137 to speak with me directly.
What can I do about the high-interest loans I took out before I joined the military?
As a Marine myself, I understand that joining the military requires sacrifice, but I also know that there are amazing benefits to serving your country. Not only are you doing your part to protect democracy, but you get a steady paycheck, educational opportunities, advanced technical training, and a whole lot more. One perk your recruiter may not have told you about is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which offers a bunch of financial protections when you are serving in the military.
One of the benefits SCRA provides is reducing the interest rate on any pre-service loans you or your spouse have to just 6 percent. Think about that. The credit card debt you’re carrying with a 23 percent interest rate? Slashed to 6 percent! Pretty awesome. But this won’t happen automatically. You’ll have to request it—and you may even need to demand it.
How to Get Your Interest Rates Reduced
First, take a look at all your loans and lines of credit. This includes car loans, student loans, mortgages, and credit cards. If any of them have an interest rate greater than 6 percent, you’ll have to do the following:
- Notify your lender in writing of your eligibility for a reduced interest rate.
- Include your copy of your orders to active duty service or a letter from your CO verifying the date you began active duty service.
Your lender is obligated to reduce your interest rate to 6 percent for the entire time you are on active duty, plus an additional year after the end of active duty. You also have these protections:
- Your lender can’t add the amount over 6 percent back into your loan after you leave active duty.
- Your lender can’t revoke your loan or credit account, change the terms of your credit, or refuse to grant you credit just because you exercised your SCRA rights.
- Your lender can’t furnish negative information to a credit reporting company just for invoking your SCRA rights.
And if your lender does any of these things? Or refuses to lower your interest rate? That’s when you call me. Not only are there criminal penalties for SCRA violators, you can also sue the violator to get them to fix what they did wrong and to pay my fees if we win. I give free case evaluations and take these cases on contingency, so it doesn't cost you any money up front.
You deserve to be treated with the respect you have earned as a member of the United States military. Allow me to help you get that respect. Contact me online or call me directly at 415.802.0137 and I will do everything I can to help.
Will having a debt collector after me lower my credit score?
This one is easy—YES! Having a debt in collections will definitely affect your credit score. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Arm yourself by understanding what debt collection is, why it affects your credit score, and what you can do to fight back.
Why Did Your Debt Get Sent to a Collector?
The people you owe money to—whether it is a medical office, utility, cell phone company, contractor, or anyone else—can only spend so much time trying to get you to pay a bill. Most service providers have a written policy about past-due accounts and will send your account to a collection agency after a certain time period—typically 180 days. Either the original creditor or the debt collector will then inform Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion that you have an account in collection. The credit reporting agency will mark that account “in collection” on your credit report—not something you want potential creditors to see!
What Will That Do to Your Credit Score?
That all depends on how much you owe. A collection on a debt of less than $100 shouldn’t affect your score at all, but anything over $100 could cause a big drop. In many cases, it doesn’t even matter how much it is if it’s over $100. Whether you owe $500 or $150,000, you may see a credit score drop of 100 points or more, depending on where you started. To make matters worse, a paid collection on your credit report is just as bad as an unpaid collection. Why? Well, creditors are looking at your report to determine how much of a risk they are taking by lending you money, so any indication that you don’t pay your bills on time will be a red flag for them.
So, What Can You Do?
The best thing to do is not allow a debt to go to collections. Easy, right? Not for everybody, I know. If the debt really is yours, you will want to communicate with the debt collector to see if you can negotiate a settlement that works for you. If you don’t work with the collection agency, they could sell your debt to another collector and now you will have two collection notices on your credit report for the same debt—not good!
There is always the possibility that the collection notice is on your credit report in error. In that case, you should take steps to correct your credit report as soon as possible. If you can’t get it corrected in a timely manner, call me!
Finally, if you have been harassed in any way by the collection agency, you can sue them to make them stop and for monetary damages. You may even be able to get the debt removed from your credit report.
Work With Me to Take Action
If you are being harassed by a debt collector or are struggling to get your credit report corrected, call me to help you. Together, we can hold these unscrupulous providers accountable for breaking the law and get you the break you need to get back on track. Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 and let's get things started.