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!
- Page 4
What is "Arbitration" and What Does it Mean For Me?
Arbitration is where you don't get to go to court and have your case decided by a judge. Instead, you pay a fee to an arbitration company and they hire arbitrators (some of whom are retired judges) to decide your case instead. Here's the catch, the contract you have to sign in order to get phone services, a credit card, etc. usually specifies a particular company, AND, the business pays the larger portion of the arbitration fee (but you still have to pay some). So guess who the arbitrator is more likely to find in favor of?
Be sure to look for arbitration clauses in all of the contracts you sign (or click) and find out how to opt-out.
Can Debt Collectors Call My Friends?!
(They can call a third party one time only and only for "location information" which means your home address, home telephone number, and place of employment)
The reason why this answer is "No" is because the collector already has your "location information" because your account went through an electronic batch skip tracing protocol prior to it being assigned to the collection phone floor! They're just trying to pressure you (illegally) to pay.
This is one of the most common illegal collection tactics, and making matters worse for themselves, collectors will often tell that aunt, cousin, neighbor, or friend "I need to get an important message to ..." without even asking for any location information.
If this is happening to you, don't get embarrassed - get justice.
Are Rude Debt Collectors Illegal?
Believe it or not, the law gives you the right to be treated with truth, fairness, dignity, and respect - even if you owe a debt!
Remember, these collectors aren't your neighbor who is irritated that you haven't returned the lawmower - they're paid professionals wading through thousands of calls everyday just trying to push the right emotional buttons that will get their company paid. They don't even know you! They didn't even dial your number - a computer did it!
So, if something gets said that gets your hair standing up, you may well have a case that entitles you to compensation and perhaps even elimination of your debt! Keep a log of who said what and when and record those nasty calls in accordance with State's call-recording laws (does the recorded message come on every time saying "this call may be recorded for quality assurance?"), and then request a Free Case Evaluation.
Don't put up with it.
Can I Successfully Renegotiate My Private Student Loans?
Your private student loans (unlike your federal loans) were probably made with the help of a cosigner. The cosigner's current financial state will have a significant impace on your lender/servicer's willingness to deal. So, if your cosigner and you are both struggling, this is the time to seek modification!
Start early, somewhere between 30 and 120 days into delinquency, and don't give up. These private student loans CAN be discharged in bankruptcy if you qualify and can prove undue hardship. Attempting to renegotiate will also show that you were making a "good faith" effort to pay - which is important should you reach that stage.
Lender/servicers are under pressure by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - a Government agency - to provide mechanisms for relief for private student loan borrowers, so consider seeking help and/or filing a complaint with the CFPB if you feel you're being treated unfairly.
Lastly, there are millions of dollars of private student loans being collected by debt collectors. Some are using illegal tactics like threatening to sue on a debt that's too old, reporting an old debt on your credit report as new, using a robo-dialer to repeatedly call you without your consent, and trying to get you to agree to new terms in order to refresh the debt. If any of these are happening to you, get in touch with me immediately!
Can You Stop the Collection Calls That Aren't For Me?
If you are getting calls on your home or cell phone that are intended for someone else, YOU are also protected by Federal and State Consumer Protection Laws.
Maybe you told the caller that so-and-so doesn't live here but they keep calling. Maybe they're even calling your cell phone! Keep a little journal of those calls, record them in accordance with your State's call-recording laws (does the recorded message come on every time saying "this call may be recorded for quality assurance?"), and save all of the voicemails.
The law is designed to protect YOU against this kind of harassment, even though you're not the person they're looking for!
If it's happening to you, or has happened within the past four years and you've discovered who is doing it, request a Free Case Evaluation!
How to Get Disputed Debt Off My Credit Report?
Uh-oh. Someone may have made a mistake - and it isn't you!
When you disputed this debt with your lender or collector, they became obligated to report it as a disputed tradeline to the Consumer Reporting Agencies (Equifax, Transunion, Experian).
Lenders, servicers, and collectors who report credit information are called "data furnishers" and use the e-Oscar system to report those disputes electronically, so, if you disputed a debt with data furnisher and that status hasn't been recorded on your credit report within about 15 days, you may have a case against the data furnisher.
Your next step is to send a dispute directly to the Credit Reporting Agency(ies) who are reporting it by certified mail, along with your (good) reasons for the dispute. They are required to investigate and take corrective action (if warranted) within either 30 or 45 days (depending on how you discovered the error). Keep all correspondence and if everything doesn't get resolved to your satisfaction within that time period, request a Free Case Evaluation!
If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact me online or call me directly at 415.802.0137.
How do I modify my Federal Student Loans?
Whether you have an FFEL or a Direct Loan, you are entitled by law to adjust your repayment plan any time.
If your student loan debt collector isn't working with you on changing your plan when and how you want, they very well may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act! That might entitle you to compensation and give you significant leverage over the collector and the debt.
The U.S. Department of Education offers a good overview of the different available repayment plans, as well as a list of the most common federal loan servicers along with contact information.
Remember: Just because your loan is delinquent or in default, collectors are not allowed to ignore your right to select and change repayment plans!
My Dispute With The Credit Bureau Went Nowhere. Now What?
It isn't over yet!
Did you include your side of the story, send it to each Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) who is reporting the disputed tradeline, and not receive any correspondence in return within 30 - 45 days? If so, you may have a case for failure to adequately investigate your dispute.
If you did get a letter back from the CRA, does it make any sense? Is it reasonable that they could have come to the decision that they did? If not, you may also have a case for failure to adequately investigate your dispute!
You're frustrated - but these are common. Millions of bits of data get exchanged through the e-Oscar system every day, and whenever there are humans involved, there are bound to be mistakes. Request a Free Case Evaluation and get the resolution and peace-of-mind that you're entitled to!
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me or call me directly at 415.802.0137.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that dictates how your personal and financial information may be used by other people and agencies. The main goals are to protect the privacy of your credit information, ensure the accuracy of your credit report, and to provide a basis for suing Consumer Reporting Agencies when your rights as a consumer have been violated.
FCRA Protects Consumers From Unlawful Use Of Information
Your creditors are responsible for supplying financial information about your lines of credit and payment history to credit reporting agencies. As this information can greatly impact your ability to be approved for future loans, employment, and other opportunities, creditors are required to ensure the accuracy of the information they pass on. If they supply inaccurate information to a credit bureau, the are responsible for correcting the mistake. They must also notify you if they have sent any credit information to a reporting agency that could have a negative impact on you.
Any Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) or credit bureau must give you access to your own credit report, correct any inaccurate information within 30 (or 45) days of receiving a dispute regarding the error, and release your information only to those who have a legitimate purpose. If a CRA continues to report misinformation about you, you may be entitled to correction of your report and payment of damages and attorneys' fees.
If a lender, creditor, or any other person has accessed your credit report and denied your request for credit, he or she is required to notify you of the information that was used in the decision, as well as provide the name, address, and phone number of the agency that gave him or her the information.
How To Take Action For Violations Of The Fair Credit Reporting Act
If you think that someone misused your credit information, or you even think you might have inaccuracies on your credit report, you should investigate and personally and properly dispute each and every item with both the credit bureaus AND the creditors who furnished the information.
Don't do it online because you won't have the evidence necessary if it turns out that you need to file a lawsuit later on!
To see the bare basics of how disputing works, check out the Federal Trade Commission website,
Also, you might be interested in: 12 Common Credit Report Errors That May Cost You Real Money
Is there a legal way to stop debt collectors from calling (besides paying the bill)?
Yes. If you send a notice in writing that you either refuse to pay the debt or that you don't want them to contact you. But, cutting off communications with them also cuts off your opportunity to build a case against your collector for illegal collection tactics and makes it more likely that your debt will be sent to a collection attorney where the stakes may be higher!
Many creditors—including credit card companies, banks, and other lenders—outsource their collection duties to third-party companies. Since these collection agencies are paid based on their ability to get results, they employ a variety of practices to get you to pay—some legal, some not.
Fortunately, your Congressional representatives passed a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that protects consumers from harassment or bullying from debt collectors. The law outlines the ways collectors are allowed to contact and treat consumers, no matter how much money they owe. Under the FDCPA, collectors are restricted to the following behaviors:
- You may only be called by a debt collection agent between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- At the beginning of the call, a debt collector must identify himself as a collector and explain the reason he has contacted you.
- A debt collector may not contact you at work if you have requested in writing that he not do so.
- He may not reveal your debt to anybody or any member of your family (other than your spouse) unless you give them permission to do so.
- He may not misrepresent who he is (for example, claiming that he is an old friend to get your contact information from your family).
- He may not misrepresent the purpose of the call (such as leaving a message stating that you have won a contest and should call them back to claim a prize).
- Debt collectors are prohibited from using profanity, slurs, or offensive language when speaking with you.
- They may not threaten you or your family in an attempt to get you to pay.
- They cannot threaten to sue you if they have no ability or intent to do so (like a collection agency who has no lawyers)
Hiring an Attorney Will Stop Debt Collectors From Calling
If a debt collector is using unfair or illegal practices in an attempt to get you to pay, we can deal with them on your behalf—and perhaps even get you paid!