Know Your Rights

FCRA (The Fair Credit Reporting Act) is a federal law that regulates how consumer reporting agencies use your information. Enacted in 1970 and substantially amended in the late 1990s and again in 2003, the FCRA, among other things, restricts who has access to your sensitive credit information and how that information can be used.

FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) became effective in March 1978, was designed to eliminate abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. It also protects reputable debt collectors from unfair competition and encourages consistent state action to protect consumers from abuses in debt collection.

TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) the FCC implemented the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (the “TCPA”) adopted rules, including prohibiting the initiation of telephone calls (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using automatic telephone dialing systems or an artificial or prerecorded voice to telephone numbers assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call.

FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) is an amendment to FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) that was added, primarily, to protect consumers from identity theft. The Act stipulates requirements for information privacy, accuracy and disposal and limits the ways consumer information can be shared.

ECOA (Equal Credit Opportunity Act) is a United States law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.), enacted in 1974, that makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract); to the fact that all or part of the applicant’s income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to any person who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly participates in a credit decision, including banks, retailers, bankcard companies, finance companies, and credit unions.

Failure to comply with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act’s Regulation B can subject a financial institution to civil liability for actual and punitive damages in individual or class actions. Liability for punitive damages can be as much as $10,000 in individual actions and the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of the creditor’s net worth in class actions.

SCRA (Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act) is found at 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 501 et seq. The purpose of the SCRA is strengthen and expedite national defense by giving servicemembers certain protections in civil actions. By providing for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect servicemembers during their military service, the SCRA enables servicemembers to focus their energy on the defense of the United States. Among other things, the SCRA allows for forbearance and reduced interest on certain obligations incurred prior to military service, and it restricts default judgments against servicemembers and rental evictions of servicemembers and all their dependents. The SCRA applies to all members of the United States military on active duty, and to U.S. citizens serving in the military of United States allies in the prosecution of a war or military action. The provisions of the SCRA generally end when a servicemember is discharged from active duty or within 90 days of discharge, or when the servicemember dies. Portions of the SCRA also apply to reservists and inductees who have received orders but not yet reported to active duty or induction into the military service.

CROA (Credit Repair Organizations Act) is not actually an Act, it is actually Title IV of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Section 401 states, however, it can be referred to as “Credit Repair Organizations Act”. The statute was signed by President, Bill Clinton on September 30, 1996

Now more than ever consumers must establish and maintain strong credit worthiness and standing in order to obtain more credit. As a result many consumers who have experienced credit problems seek assistance from credit repair organizations. Some credit repair organizations, however, advertise and engage in unfair business practices which result in financial hardship for consumers, particularly those of limited economic means or are uneducated[.

The purposes of the Credit Repair Organizations Act is to ensure that prospective buyers of credit repair services from credit repair organizations are provided with the information necessary to make an informed decision. It intends to protect the public from unfair or deceptive advertising and business practices by credit repair organizations. It enumerates prohibited practices, required disclosures, contract requirements, liability, and penalties for non-compliance and procedure to report non-compliance.

One of the more important areas covered by CROA is how credit repair organizations can get paid. It is the general consensus that a credit repair company can only be paid after services have been rendered. This can be done using a monthly fee model where companies charge clients on a monthly basis after services are rendered or on the more modern pay after deletion model where clients only pay after items are deleted from the credit report. Companies that charge excess “setup” fees or all of their fees upfront violate the provisions of CROA.

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