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Credit and Credit Reports

Questions & Answers

Question: I have been served papers from an Atty's office that I've never heard off, from a Company they're representing, that again I've never heard of stating that I had a Visa card from US Bank, and again I've never have had one, and also they used my nickname, which I would never open a credit card with that name, now, they're suing me for 2,800 and Im not sure where to go from here...I can't afford much for an attorney.

Answer:

The first step that can be taken is to request a credit report to see if a card has really been opened in the nickname. A person is eligible to receive a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus every year. To order a free credit report, call 1-877-322-8228 or request online at  the central Web site established by the three credit bureaus. If there is a card issued under the nickname, the credit card reporting bureau and the credit card company should be contacted to cancel that card and any other unauthorized cards to protect the person’s identity. The credit report should have the contact information to do this. If the information being reported is inaccurate, incomplete or outdated, it can be questioned by notifying the credit reporting bureau.

The three credit bureaus can be reached at:

Equifax P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 To report fraud: Call (800) 525-6285 and write to the address above Order credit report: (800) 685-1111 Opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (1-888-567-8688) The Big 3 Credit Bureaus now use the same telephone number-- (1-888-567-8688) or 1-888-5-OPTOUT. If you call one, you are opting-out with all 3.

Experian (formerly TRW) P.O. Box 1017 Allen, TX 75013 Report fraud: Call (800) 301-7195 and write to address above Order credit report: (800) 682-7654 or (888) 397-3742 Opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (1-888-567-8688) The Big 3 Credit Bureaus now use the same telephone number-- (1-888-567-8688) or 1-888-5-OPTOUT. If you call one, you are opting-out with all 3.

Trans Union P.O. Box 390 Springfield, PA 19064 Report fraud: (800) 680-7289 and write to: Fraud Victim Assistance Division P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92634 Order credit report: (800) 916-8800 Opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (1-888-567-8688) The Big 3 Credit Bureaus now use the same telephone number-- (1-888-567-8688) or 1-888-5-OPTOUT. If you call one, you are opting-out with all 3.

Once the credit reporting bureau has been informed of the possibility of inaccurate or incomplete information, it must verify the facts within a reasonable period of time or else delete that information. If it is not resolved to the satisfaction of the consumer, the consumer is allowed to write a statement (up to one hundred words) included as part of the report which the bureau issues in the future.

The next step would be to dispute the debt by sending a letter to the credit card company and the law firm representing the credit card company. The letter should explain why the consumer believes the credit card company to be in error, and should request that the account be corrected and closed and documentation sent to the consumer to indicate that the account was actually corrected and closed.

Finally, the consumer should request that the credit card company provide an updated copy of the credit report at its expense, to prove that the error was completely corrected on the consumer’s credit history. There are a number of federal laws that protect consumers regarding credit cards and collections.

The Truth in Lending Act protects consumers who have credit cards by limiting the maximum amount of liability to $50 if the credit card use was unauthorized or fraudulent, such as when it is stolen, or someone steals the numbers off the card and uses them. In order to be responsible for this $50 charge however, the credit card must have been accepted by the consumer (card holder). To be accepted by the cardholder, the card must have been requested and received, or signed or used or been authorized for someone else’s use, for the purpose of obtaining goods or services on credit.

The law also requires that the card issuer (the credit card company) inform the cardholder of the potential liability of $50 and provide the cardholder with a way to inform the issuer if the card is lost or stolen. In addition, the unauthorized use must occur before the card issuer has been informed that the card is being used without permission from the cardholder. After the cardholder informs the credit card company that the use was not authorized or permitted and in order to prove that the cardholder is responsible for the charges, the credit card company must prove that the use was authorized by the cardholder. In other words, the cardholder/consumer does not have to prove that the use of the credit card was not authorized, but must simply inform the credit card company of the unauthorized use.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is federal law which regulates the activities of those who regularly collect debts from others. If a person uses credit cards, owes money on a personal loan or is paying on a home mortgage, he or she is a debtor. If the debtor falls behind in repaying his or her creditors, or an error is made on your accounts, the person may be contacted by a debt collector. Many states have adopted similar laws regulating the practices of debt collectors. In addition to not harassing the debtor, written notice to the debtor must be provided of the nature of the debt after the initial contact by the collection agency. If the debt collector violates this law, they can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission online or at:

FTC Headquarters
6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
(202)326-2222; TDD (202)325-2502
In Arizona contact:
Consumer Protection
1275 W. Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007 (602)542-5763
 
400 West Congress, Building S, Suite 215
Tucson, Arizona 85701-1720

February 06, 2007