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How to Find Out If You Are Affected By Equifax Hack

Have you been affected by the Equifax hack?

On Thursday, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies announced that hackers had obtained access to company data potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. After the companies recent investigation, Equifax stated that the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The cybersecurity incident was discovered on July 29, 2017, in which they immediately took measures to stop the intrusion by engaging with a leading independent cybersecurity firm. The company also reported the incident to law enforcement and will continue to work with the authorities until the investigation completes in the coming weeks.

The information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some instances, drivers license numbers. Equifax also stated credit card numbers of approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and personal identifying information for 182,000 consumers involved with credit disputes.

How to tell if you been affected by the hack?

Equifax will not be contacting everyone that may have been affected, but the company will be sending out direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute information were accessed. Richard F. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Equifax, stated: “We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.” The company has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help customers determine if the hack potentially affected them. The site will be available as early as Monday, September 11, and will also offer U.S. consumers to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, and the offer will last for one year. TrustedId Premier will handle the monitoring and protection and will include 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and Transunion; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and internet scanning for Social Security numbers. However, the credit monitoring and identity protection may require you to accept TrusteId’s terms and conditions, including it’s “Attribution” Section.

Equifax has also set up a dedicated call center, 1-866-447-7559, to assist customers seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Eastern time.

 

Protecting your Identity Theft

Identity theft continues to increase each year, in 2016 victims of identity theft were robbed of $16,000.00. An important factor in protecting yourself from identity theft is regularly checking your credit report and monitoring your account statements. As a consumer, you are allowed a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You can request your free copy of your credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have noticed unauthorized activity on your credit report or accounts, immediately report the activity to your bank or credit card companies, and then contact law enforcement.

For Additional information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, you may access The Federal Trade Commission’s website.

How to Find Out If You Are Affected By Equifax Hack – Credit Law Center

On Thursday, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies announced that hackers had obtained access to company data potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. After the companies recent investigation, Equifax stated that the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The cybersecurity incident was discovered on July 29, 2017, in which they immediately took measures to stop the intrusion by engaging with a leading independent cybersecurity firm. The company also reported the incident to law enforcement and will continue to work with the authorities until the investigation completes in the coming weeks.

The information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some instances, drivers license numbers. Equifax also stated credit card numbers of approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and personal identifying information for 182,000 consumers involved with credit disputes.

Have you been affected by the hack?

Equifax will not be contacting everyone that may have been affected, but the company will be sending out direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute information were accessed. Richard F. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Equifax, stated: “We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.” The company has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help customers determine if the hack potentially affected them. The site will be available as early as Monday, September 11, and will also offer U.S. consumers to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, and the offer will last for one year. TrustedId Premier will handle the monitoring and protection and will include 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and Transunion; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and internet scanning for Social Security numbers. However, the credit monitoring and identity protection may require you to accept TrusteId’s terms and conditions, including it’s “Attribution” Section.

Equifax has also set up a dedicated call center, 1-866-447-7559, to assist customers seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Eastern time.

 

Protecting your Identity Theft

Identity theft continues to increase each year, in 2016 victims of identity theft were robbed of $16,000.00. An important factor in protecting yourself from identity theft is regularly checking your credit report and monitoring your account statements. As a consumer, you are allowed a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You can request your free copy of your credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have noticed unauthorized activity on your credit report or accounts, immediately report the activity to your bank or credit card companies, and then contact law enforcement.

For Additional information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, you may access The Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Need Credit Repair? We Fix Credit Reports! – Credit Law Center

Need Credit Repair?

If you recently pulled your credit report and you instantly feel ill from the low credit scores and outstanding collections. Now may be the perfect time to start thinking about credit repair. Having a low credit score can cost you hundreds of dollars on loans, interest rates on cars and even receiving a denial letter. High-interest rates and denials are the perfect reason to consider credit repair.

 

We Fix Credit Reports!

A single mistake on your credit report can cause a tremendous drop in your credit score. Did you know that 79% of all Americans have inaccuracy, miscalculations, and or negative item on their credit reports? Yes, I did say 79%! The good news is that there are rules and regulations that credit reporting agencies must follow, by law consumers are allowed to dispute inaccurate information that the credit reporting agencies are reporting. The Credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, have 30 days to notify you of the status of your disputes and up to 45 days to complete their investigation.

 

If they delete the inaccurate information

If the CRA’s remove the mistake from your credit report, this is Awesome! Deleting an account or a negative item can immediately increase your credit score. The only time a credit score gets updated is at the time you request it. The credit report and score is calculated based on the information on your credit file at the time the request is made. For Example, if you request your credit score on a Monday and Tuesday critical information was removed, and you order your report again on Wednesday the derogatory information will show as if it was never on your report.

If They Verify

Here is the part of the process that sets Credit Law Center aside from any other credit repair companies. When a creditor or collector verifies the questionable information, most credit repair companies end the process here. At our law firm, this is the most significant part of our process; this is the part of the process where one of our attorneys send a debt validation demand. A debt validation demand is a legal document that contains 6-9 questions for the creditor or collector to answer. The creditor or collector typical responds in one of two ways:

  1. The creditors and collectors receive a letter from our law firm, and they are aware of the recent dispute. If the account or inaccurate information provided on the credit report cannot be verified, they will delete the account!
  2. They answer the 6-9 questions; this is the step where our paralegals step in and compare the debt validation demand letter to the response from the initial dispute. When comparing these two documents, we typically find discrepancies or incomplete information. Often these discrepancies are violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or the Fair Debt Collection Act.

When our firm finds one of these violations, we use this information as leverage to request full deletion of the account.

 

If they update

When the information is updated, it means the collector or collection agency as reporting the information incomplete or inaccurate. This is not considered a FCRA violation because they updated the information, the only time a creditor or collector can violate the FCRA is when an account is disputed. This result is why proper documentation of the dispute process is so vital to the credit repair process.

What happens when the report is updated and verifiable?

Once all the appropriate steps in the credit repair dispute process have been completed, all the information on the credit report should be accurate and verifiable. The next step would be to negotiate a settlement for deletion with the creditor or collection agency. This allows you to pay the account as long as the creditor or collection agency is willing to delete the account information of your report.

Credit Law Center No. 1,578 on Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company List

Here at Credit Law Center, we believe in being a team of individuals who are all working for the higher cause and greater good of the company. Our focus and efforts have paid off, and we are honored to rank number 1,578 on the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. Over the last three years, Credit Law Center has had a 249% rise in revenue. The soaring growth has allowed us to expand our team, move into a new building to accommodate our needs in a way that will help us continue down the path of expansion and improve the buying power of so many clients.

 

Who is Credit Law Center?

In 2009 Credit Law Center was established, by a few guys with a vision and a passion for helping consumers improve their buying power, as well as holding the credit reporting agencies and debt collectors accountable. As CEO, Bo Thomas would say, “I’m a recovering mortgage Banker, and I enjoyed doing mortgages and had some pretty great success there. Every year I kept seeing more and more of the common sense of lending just keep getting distracted. It used to be based on how much money you made how you paid your bills, but it rolled itself into or manifested into now it is about what’s your credit score before you can make a decision.”  About 90 days into this new adventure Bo realized that for Credit Law Center to be successful and to do more than what an average consumer can do on their own, Credit Law Center needed an attorney needed an attorney to join forces. That is when he reached out to Attorney and friend Tom Addleman. Tom reviewed the information and immediately said, ” let’s go get these guys they are making mistakes!” Since that day in 2009 Credit Law Center has grown to a staff of about 75 employees, including five full-time attorneys on staff.

What Does Credit Law Center Do?

Our core Mission as the company is to help consumers improve their buying power, so whether you can or can’t get approved, but even if you are approved, but you want to improve your situation to where you can get a better rate or the best rate. Credit scores will continue to have a more relevant impact in all areas of consumers lives. Credit reports are required by law to be 100% verifiable and accurate we work to get the information corrected or deleted. When our staff finds errors or violations, our attorneys pursue them and fight for your rights.

Our growth has also allowed us to take on many new referral partners that are coming alongside us because they see the value of what we can do for our clients. We see and believe in the dreams of each of our customers as well as our employees, and we seek to communicate that in the work that we do each day. As one of the nations fastest growing companies, we have the motivation to run a smart, successful business that is well-known for our generosity and ability to change the lives of our clients.  Credit Law Center as a whole would like to extend a huge thank you to each dedicated individual that has played a part in our expansion and growth. Each and every one of you made it possible for us to receive this honor. We look forward to the years to come and the many lives we will help restore in the future.

Victims of Identity Theft Are Robbed of $16 billion in 2016

If you haven’t heard the term “identity theft” before you may have been living under a rock. A recent Identity Fraud Study was released this year by Javelin Strategy & Research; this study revealed that 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft. These crooks were successfully able to rob two million more victims and stole $16 billion dollars.

What is Identity Theft?

According to the Federal Trade Commission,(FTC), theft of an individual’s  identity occurs when someone uses your information, like your name, Social Security number to commit fraud or other crimes. Thieves are very talented when attempting to commit these types of crimes, and they look for obvious ways to obtain your information.

Ways Thieves obtain your Identity:

  • Stolen Credit Cards
  • Documents or receipts from the trash
  • Phone or email scams
  • Hacking unsecured and wireless networks

Types of Identity Theft?

Once a thief has gained access to your personal information they can obtain access to your existing credit cards, open new accounts, file fraudulent tax returns and more. Below we have named a few:

  1. Financial Theft
  2. Medical Theft
  3. Insurance Theft
  4. Criminal Theft
  5. Driver’s License Fraud
  6. Social Security
  7. Phishing Scams

Ways to Protect Yourself

1.Be Careful of What You Share. With social media and technology on the rise, these pesky crooks can find out a lot of personal information about just by doing a simple search. The information you share on Facebook, Linkedin and all the other media sites these criminals may be able to use the information you have shared to validate your identity. When you are sharing be careful of the information you share.

2.Keep Financial and Personal Information Secure. Here is another example of where technology can come back to bite us if we are not careful. Many Americans use their computers to pay bills, keep bank statements, financial planning and much more. If you do this the important thing to remember is to make sure your computer has a firewall installed; you should use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and secure your wireless network. Another important reminder is when you do have the actual hard copy of any financial or personal information dispose of it properly, and always keep them in a safe place.

3. Keep Your Cellphone Protected. Cell phones apps allow us to track our bank accounts, track your budget and finances, store credit card information, and just about anything else your heart desires. When downloading these apps make sure you are using a trusted and reputable company. Always check the ratings and reviews of any app you are downloading. Make sure you secure your device with a strong password, in case you lose it.

4. Make Sure Your Passwords Are Strong and Secure.  Create strong passwords, not easy to guess. Using passwords that contain, kids names, birth dates, maiden names or anything that may be guessed.

Are You a Victim?

If you believe your identity has been stolen, it is necessary to immediately contact any financial institutions we have accounts with and place a hold on them. You will also want to contact the FTC to file a formal complaint. Make sure to provide them with any and all questionable activity so they can thoroughly build a case.

Debt Collectors Are Required to Follow the Rules

 

Carrying outstanding debt is stressful enough, but when you add aggressive debt collectors to the equation, it can be a bit overwhelming. Have you ever sat back and wondered if what they are doing is legal? Debt collectors do have limits, and they are required by law to follow certain guidelines.

Debt collectors must comply with the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA; this act prohibits abusive, deceptive and unfair debt practices

 

Debt Collectors

The FDCPA defines a debt collector as a company or agency that is in the business of recovering outstanding money that is owed on a delinquent account. Debtors will hire debt collectors to collect money that owed to them, and in return give them a percentage of the portion that is collected.

 

Typical Debt Collector Violations

  1. Calling Before 8 AM
  2. Calling After 9 PM
  3. Using abusive or vulgar language
  4. Calling third parties, (debt collectors may contact your spouse)
  5. Communicate to anyone else that the collector is trying to collect
  6. Contacting you after you have submitted a written request to cease contact
  7. Continuously call you
  8. Use or threaten violence
  9. Threaten action they cannot take
  10. Failing to send a written statement validating the debt
  11. Continues to Collect before sending validation letter
  12. Contacting your employer if your employer prohibits it
  13. Debt collectors may often use false statements.
  14. Threatening to have you arrested or that you are being sued when no action has been taken
  15. Giving false information to the credit reporting agencies.
  16. Sending a letter that looks like an official court document if it isn’t
  17. Collecting interest, fees, or other charges on top of what you owe, unless it is in the contract
  18. Contacting by using a postcard.
  19. Repeatedly call you to harras you.

What to Do If You Believe A Debt Collector is in Violation of the FDCPA

If you feel a debt collector has violated the FDCPA you have the right to take action.
You may report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney Generals Office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You may also reach out to an attorney that practices law in these areas, you have the right to sue a collector within in one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered. The judge may also grant you up to $1000 even if you can’t prove that you suffered any damages.

If you feel you have been violated in the last year, Credit Law Center isn’t just a credit repair company. We have five attorneys on staff that handle situations like this every day. These laws are here for to help protect you.

Improve Your Credit Score, Don’t Let Your Past Financial Decisions Keep You Down

Your past financial decisions may feel like they are coming back to haunt you, and handling the complications that arise from having a less than perfect credit score can be rather stressful. Dealing with your past credit mistakes can leave you feeling extremely frustrated and hopeless, but the good there is re-establishing a good credit score can be done.

Ways to Improve Your Credit Score After Bad Financial Decisions

A credit score belongs to you and only you, and no matter what caused you to a have a less than stellar credit score it is only yours to improve. It is common for many Americans living with a low credit score to ignore the problem. The first step in improving your credit score is to face it head on and attack the situation with confidence. Here are a few steps to take when what to improve your score.

Look for errors in your credit report

The first step in repairing your credit is to thoroughly carefully review your credit report to determine that all information is yours and it belongs to you. By law, credit reports have to be timely, accurate, and verifiable, and even though the particular item may belong to you finding an error may allow the item to be removed entirely from your report. You will want to pull all three credit reports from each credit reporting agencies, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Make sure you review names, addresses, social and look to make sure the dates on the accounts reporting are correct. If you determine there is inaccurate information reporting you will need to dispute the information.

High Balances

Often having a low credit score can be caused by utilizing too much of your available credit. You may wanted to buy that 60″ TV, but did you understand what maxing out your credit card would do to your credit score. 30% of your credit score is based on your available credit, if you have credit cards with balances greater than fifty percent of the maximum, you should pay those down as quickly as possible. Creditors like to you see you using your available credit, but still keeping the balances under 30% of the allotted credit.

Not able to get credit?

If you do not have enough trade lines, the key number is to have two installments and two revolving; you will want to try and obtain credit slowly. So don’t rush out and try to get all four at once! Start out with one. If your credit score is too low and you do not qualify for a loan or credit card you do have options. Obtaining credit with a low score can be done if you are willing to put up a security deposit. Many banks have secured credit cards and or a CD Building loan. Since your credit score is like a report card and you are graded on your payment history, you will need to make certain you can pay the monthly payments and make sure you can pay on time. One late payment will significantly impact your score.

Pay on time

Earlier I mentioned that credit bureaus grade you on how you pay your trade lines. Making sure you pay at least the minimum balance and on time each month will significantly impact your credit score. One late payment could drastically lower your credit score and as much as 100 points.

Increasing your credit score doesn’t happen overnight and each individual score has a different circumstance. There is no cookie cutter way to follow and coming up with the correct action plan designed for you is the key. Once you have determined the correct plan of action, being disciplined will be extremely important. If at anytime you feel like you might backslide, remind yourself ut what motivated you to improve your score, maybe it is to buy a house, finally buy a brand new car, or to get the job you always wanted. Whatever your reason may be, once you have reached the light at the end of the tunnel it will be well worth it.  If you aren’t exactly sure what steps to take reach out to one of our credit analysts and get a free consultation.

Are You Being Sued By a Debt Buyer? – Credit Law Center

Are you being sued by a debt buyer? If you have, you’re not alone. Our office has seen a significant increase in clients coming in with lawsuits from debt buyers.

What is a Debt Buyer

A debt buyer is a company that purchases delinquent debt from original banks and credit card companies, these companies then utilize the states court systems to collect on the acquired accounts that have been charged off from the original creditors.

 

Practices of Debt Buyers

Debt buyers will purchase these charged off debts from original creditors after they have charged them off their books. Many debt buyers are able to acquire debts at a very low price, sometimes pennies on the dollar. The debt buyers main goal is to make money, and the easiest way for them to make money is to use the state’s court system to do that. Their main goal isn’t to string you along in a lengthy court battle, it’s to summons you in hopes, you don’t show up. Approximately 90% of lawsuits filed by debt buyers end in a default judgment, this means by you not showing up the judge will grant them exactly what they are asking for and sometimes this will include lawyers cost and interest. Basically, you have forfeited all your rights and they get everything they want.

Why is it important you show up

If you have been served with a summons remember you have rights to legal representation. You have the right to make sure the debt is yours. It must be timely, accurate and verifiable. Often times when these debts are purchased it may be bought by the highest bidder in online, and it is often sold more than once. The information they purchase may even be on a spreadsheet and can easily prone to errors. If you are being sued by one of these companies make sure you do your due diligence and show up. Do not allow a default judgment, make them prove to you it is your debt. If you are being sued and need further assistance, please reach out to one of our attorneys.

79% of All Credit Reports Contain Errors – Credit Law Center

Hard to believe that 79% of all credit reports contain errors, but according to the FTC it is true. I know you are thinking!!!! How many of us would still be employed if we even made half the mistakes as the credit reporting agencies do on a consumers report?

So… When was the last time you looked at your credit report? Professionals suggest reviewing your report at least once a year, and you may do that at freeannualcreditreport.com. You’re probably thinking; well what do I look for? Here a few of the most common mistakes on credit reports.

1. Identify Errors

Look for information that isn’t your name, address, date of birth, social security numbers. Credit reporting agencies may often get this type of information mixed up. We see a lot of cases where you may be a Jr and your father a Sr, at one time you lived in the same house, so the credit reporting agencies can easily get this information crossed. Another example of how things can get information can be mixed is f you have a common name like Bob Smith; it’s common to have more than one Bob Smith in the same town. If you have ever been a victim of identity theft, you will want to carefully review this section to make sure the addresses are correct, date of birth.

Inaccurate reporting of account status

Inaccurate reporting of an account status can have a significant impact on your credit score. Below are the most common ways per a recent publication from the CFPB.

    1. Closed accounts reported as open
    2. Debt listed more than once(possibly using two different company names)
    3. Incorrect date of last payment, date it was opened, or date of the first delinquency.
    4. You are listed as the account owner when you were just the authorized user on the card.
    5. Accounts that are incorrectly reported as late or delinquent.

 

 

Here is an example of inaccurate reporting.

credit repair

 

Here is what correct reporting looks like.

 

Correct Credit Reporting

What if you find an error?

Finding errors on your report can be upsetting, but always keep in mind that by law credit reports must be timely, accurate and verifiable. There are several different outlets you can take in trying to correct the errors, you may dispute the information with major credit reporting agencies, or seek professional help. Be careful who you choose as some credit repair companies may not be able to help with all areas

 

 

Correcting Errors May Significantly Impact Your Score

Leaving incorrect information on your report may significantly impact your credit score and any interest rates that you have on future loans.

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What is a Credit Report? – Credit Law Center

A credit report is a detailed compilation of information about the way you handle your debt, which is managed by businesses known as credit reporting agencies. In the United States, we have three major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. All three credit reporting agencies collect your detailed information from lenders to create a credit report, and depending on the type of accounts you have will update every 30 days. Occasionally, some business do not report monthly, but if at any point you let the trade line go unpaid or late they will report.

What is a Credit Report?

1. Personal Information

This section will include Social security number, date of birth, address and employment history. This information can be excellent in identifying identity theft. Always verify that the information reporting is correct, especially if you have the same name and address as another family. This information can easily be reported incorrectly, and you may end up with a mixed credit file. Having a file that is combined could be a significant hassle when trying to correct it.

2. Trade Lines

This section will include department store cards, automobile loans, mortgages and credit cards, and depending on the status of the account it may or not be positive or negative. If you have had a bankruptcy, charge off or repossession this may be negative.

3. Collection Accounts

A collection may be an unpaid medical bill, an unpaid utility bill, or any other bill that went into delinquency and being reported to the credit bureaus from the original company. A Collection item listed on the credit report will always be considered harmful no matter if it is paid or unpaid.

4.Court Records

Court records include bankruptcies, satisfied or unsatisfied liens, and satisfied or unsatisfied judgments.

 

5.Inquiries

When you apply for a credit card, personal loan or home or automobile loans a lender will pull your credit file, and an inquiry will be reported to the credit reporting agencies. An inquiry may not show on all three major credit reports, as some lenders us just one bureau to pull your history.

Making sure your credit report is accurate and verifiable is important. You should check your report at least once a year to make sure the items reporting are correct. AnnualCreditReport.com allows you to review each major credit reporting agency once a year at no cost.