Identity Fraud Reaches Record High Numbers

Identity fraud increased 16 percent in 2016 with a record 15.4 million Americans falling prey to one form of identity theft or another according to the new 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research. The total amount stolen in 2016 also increased to $16 billion dollars.

Card-not-present online fraud saw the biggest increase

The increases come mostly from online transactions also known as card-not-present fraud. In online card-not-present fraud there was 40 percent increase in thefts and out of pocket costs to the consumers were double the cost when compared to fraud involving point of sale transactions. Experts believe the spike in card-not-present online fraud is due largely to the new chip technologies which protect consumers more effectively during in-person purchases.

Account takeover fraud also increased

Account takeover fraud occurs when a thief hijacks an existing account. Account takeover frauds increased 61 percent in 2016 with victims paying an average of $263 which is five times higher than the average theft. The total amount lost in 2016 to account takeover fraud was approximately $2.3 billion dollars. There is no clear reason why account takeover fraud increased so dramatically but some experts believe the increase is the direct result of a lack of consumer oversight over their own accounts and the delays involved between purchases and billing statements being sent out which increases the amount of time before an account takeover theft can be detected. Unlike new account fraud, account takeover fraud cannot be detected by regularly reviewing your credit reports.

New account fraud

New account identity fraud also continues to plague American consumers and does not appear to be decreasing by any appreciable measure. In new account fraud identity thieves open new accounts in consumer’s names using information they either stole or purchased on the black market. Many of these new account theft cases go undiscovered for years until the consumer either learns of the theft through a review of their credit reports or when they are contacted by a debt collector seeking to collect the fraudulent debt.

Social networking fraud

The study also revealed that consumers who share their social life on digital platforms are at a much higher risk of account takeover fraud than consumers who are mostly offline or who are more private with their information. Social networks allow thieves access to contact information, information about friends and family, and updates on the daily lives of their victims. Some consumers even post travel plans online which allows identity thieves to add charges to an existing credit card or open a new account with less likelihood of being detected quickly.

The simple fact is that active social networkers are far more open about private information and are therefore more susceptible to fraud. The good news for social networking consumers is that, although they are more likely to be a victim of identity fraud, they are also likely to discover the theft more quickly than offline consumers.

Simplify identity fraud prevention

The average consumer does not need to hire a credit monitoring company or lock down their credit reports with credit freezes to prevent identity fraud. The most simple methods are often the most effective.

Start by using more discretion with providing information to strangers online. To be most effective, don’t share anything publicly. If you are going on vacation, just purchased a home, or have been shopping online recently, keep that information private. Identity thieves are masters of using information that seem harmless to access your accounts or open new accounts in your name. Don’t give them the chance.

Another proven method is to use a credit card for purchases rather than a debit card. That way, your losses are limited and theft can be detected more easily. Debit cards allow access to your entire account which can greatly increase any potential loss to identity fraud. If you insist on using a debit card rather that a credit card you can use multiple accounts to reduce your potential loss. Put a limited amount of money in the debit card account each week while keeping the bulk of your hard-earned money in a separate account. That way, the larger amount is protected and only the smaller account is at risk. Of course, nothing you do can prevent all forms of theft or identity fraud but diligent efforts will certainly reduce your risk and potential losses.

CFPB Debt Collection Survey


Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its recently completed Consumer Experiences with Debt Collection survey.

The survey provides a comprehensive insight into consumer experiences with debt collection activity which occurs when a debt collector, collection attorney, or collection agency contacts consumers to collect unpaid debts. These debts include various past due loan and bill payments.

The following is a summary of the CFPB’s key findings:

About one-in-three consumers with a credit record (32%) indicated that they had been contacted by at least one creditor or collector trying to collect one or more debts during the year prior to the survey. Most of these consumers (72%) reported that they had been contacted about two or more debts.

Past-due medical bills, credit cards, and student loans were among the most frequently cited debts consumers were contacted about. The prevalence of contacts about credit cards and student loans in collection differed across demographic and credit-score groups. In contrast, the shares of consumers who were contacted about past-due medical bills were more comparable across income levels, credit scores, and ages.

More than half of consumers (53%) who were contacted about a debt in collection in the past year indicated that the debt was not theirs, was owed by a family member, or was for the wrong amount. Roughly one-quarter (27%) of consumers who were contacted about a debt in collection reported having disputed a debt with their creditor or collector in the past year.

About one-in-seven consumers (15%) who were contacted about a debt in collection reported having been sued by a creditor or debt collector in the preceding year. Twenty-six percent of consumers who were sued reported that they attended the court hearing.

More than one-third of consumers (37%) contacted about a debt in collection indicated that the creditor or debt collector that had contacted them most recently usually tried to reach the consumer at least four times per week and 17% reported that the creditor or collector usually tried to reach them at least eight times per week. Close to two-thirds of consumers (63%) contacted by a creditor or debt collector said they were contacted too often.

Forty-two percent of consumers with collection experience in the past year said they had asked at least one creditor or collector to stop contacting them. One-in-four consumers who made this request reported that the contact stopped.

Consumers most commonly indicated that they would prefer to be contacted about a debt in collection by letter or phone. Consumers most commonly identified in-person contacts as the way they would least like to be contacted.

Consumers feel it is important that others not overhear a message about their debt from a creditor or debt collector. At the same time, most consumers also want the creditor or debt collector to include, for example, their name and the purpose of the call (debt collection) on a voicemail or answering machine.

Consumers tend to take a more favorable view of creditors seeking to collect a debt than of debt collectors. Consumers were more likely to report that debt collectors contacted them too frequently compared with consumers contacted with the same frequency by a creditor. Consumers contacted by debt collectors were more likely than those contacted by creditors to report negative experiences such as being treated impolitely or threatened.

Identity Theft Protection Company LifeLock Fined $100 Million for Deceptive Sales Practices

Identity theft protection services company LifeLock® has been in trouble for deceptive practices and misleading consumers in the past but lately have been taking even more heat than before.

Prevent Computer Records Access Identity Theft
Computer Records Identity Theft Protection

In 2010, LifeLock entered into a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission after it was accused of making false claims regarding the effectiveness of its identity theft protection services. Under the agreement, LifeLock paid $11 million. Now, after violating that agreement, LifeLock has been ordered to pay an additional $100 million in penalties and refunds. The money will be deposited with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona but will be paid directly to consumers harmed by LifeLock’s violations.

“This settlement demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to enforcing the orders it has in place against companies, including orders requiring reasonable security for consumer data,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The fact that consumers paid Lifelock for help in protecting their sensitive personal information makes the charges in this case particularly troubling.”

This settlement comes at bad time for LifeLock since it was recently revealed that LifeLock was used by a man to stalk his ex-wife in Gilbert, Arizona. The woman, Suzanna Quintana, had her financial life monitored by her ex-husband using LifeLock’s identity theft protection services. The kicker is when LifeLock found out about the stalking, it stonewalled the Arizona woman and refused to help her clear up the matter. They even refused to provide the Arizona woman with information when she involved the police. Eventually, LifeLock gave in but not before making Quintana suffer needlessly.

“They didn’t listen to me. It’s almost like they didn’t believe me,” Quintana said. “They did not want to admit what they’d done. Since they are an identity-protection company, it was not in their best interest to admit my identity wasn’t protected. They tried to shift the blame to me.”

LifeLock allowed Quintana’s ex-husband to track her financial accounts, credit scores, credit reports, and public records as if he was the subject of the records. Quintana discovered the intrusion when one of her sons found a five-page spreadsheet on her ex-husband’s computer that documented her bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial activity using a LifeLock account in her name.

Kelley Bonsall, LifeLock’s Vice President of Media Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility, said in a public statement, “We’re distressed that someone was able to use our service to victimize his (ex-)wife. There’s often little a company can do to stop someone who is intent on causing harm using the personal information of a partner, but we owe this victim an apology because we did not assist her with the speed and care that the situation required.”

LifeLock® is a trademark of LifeLock, Inc.

Chase Fined $216 Million for Illegally Robo-Signing Affidavits and Selling Zombie Debts

JPMorgan Chose Fined for Zombie Debt Collection Practices


If you owe JPMorgan Chase for a zombie debt or if Portfolio Recovery, LVNV Funding, Midland Funding, or other junk debt buyer has filed a lawsuit against you to collect a Chase debt, you may be able to get your lawsuit thrown out of court.

On July 8, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Attorneys General in 47 states, and the District of Columbia have taken action against JPMorgan Chase for selling “zombie debts” to junk debt buyers and illegally robo-signing court documents. “Zombie debt” refers to accounts that were inaccurate, settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not actually owed, or otherwise not collectible. “Robo-signing” refers to the practice of automatically signing affidavits under oath without actually reviewing the material on which that oath is based.

“Chase sold bad credit card debt and robo-signed documents in violation of law.”
Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Under the administrative orders, Chase is required to take certain actions to protect consumers from its unlawful practices. Chase will now be required to carefully document and confirm its debts before selling them to debt buyers or filing collections lawsuits and it is barred from selling certain debts. It must also prohibit debt buyers from reselling debt. Chase was ordered to permanently stop all attempts to collect, enforce in court, or sell 528,000 existing accounts. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “Today we are ordering Chase to permanently halt collections on more than 528,000 accounts and overhaul its debt-sales practices. We will continue to be vigilant in taking action against deceptive debt sales and collections practices that exploit consumers.”

Chase has also been ordered to pay at least $50 million in consumer refunds, $136 million in penalties and payments to the CFPB and the included 47 states, and a $30 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in a related action.

Chase Engaged in Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts and Practices

According to the CFPB, Chase violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices. Specifically, the CFPB and 47 states held that Chase:

  • Sold accounts that had been settled, fully paid, discharged in bankruptcy, identified as fraudulent, subject to a payment plan, no longer owned by Chase, or were otherwise not enforceable.
  • Sold accounts with missing or incorrect information about the amount owed and the amounts already paid.
  • Assisted third party and junk debt buyers in collecting debt deceptively by providing incorrect or inadequate information.
  • Robo-signed more than 150,000 affidavits and filed more than 528,000 debt collection lawsuits against consumers.
  • Systematically failed to prepare, review, and execute truthful statements as required by law.
  • Obtained judgments in debt collection lawsuits for incorrect amounts owed due to its calculation errors.
  • Failed to notify consumers and the courts when Chase discovered these issues.

Enforcement of CFPB and State Actions

Under the enforcement portions of these actions, Chase has been ordered to:

  • Cease all collection efforts on 528,000 consumer accounts that were sent to debt collection litigation between January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014.
  • Cease collections, enforcement, sale, and credit reporting of any judgments it has obtained on those accounts.
  • Pay at least $50 million in cash refunds to consumers damaged by Chase’s unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices.
  • Prohibit debt buyers and junk debt buyers from reselling accounts purchased from Chase, though they can sell the accounts back to Chase.
  • Confirm that its debts are collectable before selling the debts to debt buyers. The debts also cannot have been paid, discharged in bankruptcy, must not be the result of identity theft or other fraud, settled, or otherwise uncollectable.
  • Before sale, Chase must provide detailed documentation of the debt confirming the debt is accurate and enforceable.
  • For at least three years after selling the debt, Chase must provide debt buyers additional account information including; agreements, account statements, payment histories, and records of account disputes.
  • Notify consumers that their debt was sold and provide consumers their account information including; who purchased the debt, the amount owed at the time of the sale, and a notice that consumers can request additional account information for free.
  • Not sell zombie debts and other debts without documentation, including; debts that have been charged off or unpaid for more than three years, debts in litigation, debts owed by a service member, debts owed by a deceased consumer, and debts where a payment plan has been arranged.
  • Withdraw, dismiss, or otherwise terminate all debt collection litigation pending after January 1, 2009.
  • Stop robo-signing affidavits. Chase declarations must now be hand-signed, must reflect the accurate date of being signed by hand, and must be based on direct knowledge and personal review of the business records of the person signing. Furthermore, documentation supporting the affidavits must be actual records of the debt, verified to be accurate, and not created solely for litigation.
  • Verify specific account information about the debts when filing a debt collection lawsuit. That includes the name of the creditor at the time of the last payment on the account, the date of the last extension of credit, the date of last payment on the account, the amount of the debt owed, and a detailed accounting of any post charge off fees or interest.
  • Implement policies, procedures, systems, and controls to ensure compliance with federal consumer financial laws when selling and collecting debts.
  • Pay at least $50 million in consumer refunds.
  • Pay at least a $30 million civil penalty to the CFPB.
  • Pay a $30 million civil penalty to the OCC on a related matter.
  • Pay $106 million in payments to the 47 states who joined in the enforcement action.

California, Mississippi, and Wyoming were the only three states that did not join in as part of the settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. California has litigation pending against JPMorgan for engaging in unlawful and fraudulent debt collection methods involving over 100,000 California consumers over a three-year period. The California Attorney General has accused JPMorgan of flooding the California courts with thousands of questionable cases every month. Mississippi is also continuing its own separate lawsuit against Chase that is ongoing at this time. The Wyoming Attorney General’s office could not be reached for comment on why they did not participate in the settlement.

If you owe JPMorgan Chase for a zombie debt or if Portfolio Recovery, LVNV Funding, Midland Funding, or other junk debt buyer has filed a lawsuit against you to collect a Chase debt, you may be able to get your lawsuit thrown out of court. Contact us now to find out if you have a case. You can also download the CFPB Consent Order to learn more.

FICO Credit Score Guide: Understanding Your Rating Profile

Understanding your credit rating is critical to sound financial management. Your credit score is a direct reflection of how well you manage debt. It impacts interest rates, lending decisions, employment possibilities, and even whether or not you can obtain an insurance policy.

Five components used to calculate your FICO Score

FICO Scores are based on main five categories; payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, types of credit in use, and new credit. The relative importance of each category may differ for consumers who have shorter credit histories but are generally weighted as follows:

Pie chart of factors that impact FICO credit scores

Payment History (35%)

Your payment history is the most important factor in calculating your credit score. Late payments, charge offs, foreclosures, repossessions, liens, wage attachments, and bankruptcies will all negatively impact your score at varying amounts depending on the severity of the issue. The score also considers how late a payment was, how much was owed, how recently the negative payment history occurred, and how many accounts are listed with a negative payment history. For example, a 60-day late payment two months ago will hurt your score more than a 90-day late payment from two years ago.

Amounts Owed (30%)

The amounts you owe is also a heavily-weighted factor in calculating your credit score. The score considers how much you owe on individual accounts and how much you owe in the aggregate compared to how much credit you have available. This factor is also known as the utilization ratio. As a rule of thumb, you should strive to keep the amounts you owe on credit cards and other revolving debt below 10% of the total amount available.

Length of Credit History (15%)

Typically, a longer credit history will increase your FICO Scores. However, even consumers who haven’t been using credit for very long may have high FICO Scores depending on their other credit score factors. Generally, your FICO Score considers the age of your oldest and newest accounts and the average age of all your accounts. Older is better. The score also considers how long it has been since you used certain accounts so it may lower your score to have unused accounts in your credit history.

Types of Credit in Use (10%)

Your mix of credit use is also considered in your score. A good mix would include credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance accounts, and mortgage loans.

New Credit (10%)

The amount of newly opened credit accounts also figures into your score. Too many new accounts in too short a time period will generally lower your score. Especially if your history is relatively short.

Factors that are not used to calculate your FICO Score

FICO scores consider a broad range of information on your credit report but the following factors are not considered as part of your score:

  • Your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or marital status
  • Your age (though other scoring methods do consider your age)
  • Your income, salary, occupation, title, employer, or employment history
  • Where you live
  • The interest rates being charged on your accounts
  • Child or family support obligations
  • Rental agreements
  • Whether or not you are participating in credit counseling
  • Soft inquiries such as consumer-initiated inquiries, promotional inquiries, and administrative inquiries
  • Employment and insurance inquiries
  • Any information not in your credit report

How long is bad credit report information reported?

How long is negative information reported?

Although the most typical reporting time period is seven years, different types of negative information can report for longer. Here are the reporting time periods in more detail:

Seven Years

  • Late payments
  • Charge-offs
  • Collections
  • Foreclosures
  • Judgments
  • Settlements
  • Repossessions
  • Delinquent child support obligations


Technically, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if your report is being accessed for a loan or life insurance policy of $150,000 or more or for employment purposes for a job paying more than $75,000, the typical reporting periods do not apply. For those purposes the information can report forever. Fortunately, the credit bureaus generally adhere to the typical seven to ten year guidelines even for those purposes.


  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy can report for up to ten years from the date the bankruptcy was filed.
  • A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can report for up to seven years from the date of discharge or up to ten years from the date the bankruptcy was filed.

Defaulted Student Loans

Defaulted student loans can report for up to seven years from the date they are paid, the date they were first reported, or the date on which the loan re-defaults. These time periods are governed by the Higher Education Act. Under the FCRA there is no limitation as to the time periods student loans can report on your credit.

Tax Liens

Unpaid tax liens can remain in your reports indefinitely. Released tax liens must be deleted after seven years from the date released.

Credit inquiries can lower FICO Scores

Credit Inquiries

Credit inquiries occur when someone pulls your credit report. Inquiries are maintained in your credit reports for between six months up to two years depending on the type of the inquiry. Some types of credit inquiries will lower your credit scores and others will not.

Hard Inquiries

With a few exceptions noted below, hard inquiries that occurred in the last twelve months are calculated as part of your score. Any hard inquiries older than twelve months can remain on your reports for up to another year but are not calculated as part of your credit score.

Generally, hard inquiries are those that occur as a result of your attempts to obtain new credit. Hard inquiries can also occur as a result of skip-tracing efforts by collection agencies. Types of hard inquiries include:

  • Credit card applications
  • Auto loan applications
  • Mortgage applications
  • Personal loan applications
  • Student loan applications
  • Collection agency skip-tracing

Soft Inquiries

Soft inquiries are not calculated as part of your credit score. Types of soft inquiries include:

  • Consumer-initiated inquiries of their own reports
  • Inquries for promotional or “pre-approved” offers
  • Administrative inquiries from lenders with whom you have an existing relationship

30 Day Safe Harbor Period

Inquiries for mortgages, auto loans, and student loans are not calculated as part of your credit score if they are less than 30 days old.

45 Day Rate Shopping Allowance

Mortgages, auto loans, and student loans also benefit from a 45 day rate shopping allowance period in which multiple inquiries for the same loan type are calculated as part of your credit score but are only counted as one inquiry.

This allowance encourages rate shopping by consumers by not penalizing them for multiple related inquiries. Revolving credit applications do not benefit from this rate shopping allowance.

Employment, Insurance, and Utility Inquiries

Inquiries for employment purposes, insurance purposes, or to obtain utility services are not calculated as part of your credit score.

Credit Score Calculation: Minimum Requirements

To calculate your FICO credit score, your credit report must contain enough information on which to calculate the score. At least some of that information must be recently reported for a calculation to occur.

Minimum requirements needed to calculate your FICO credit score:

  • At least one undisputed credit account that is at least six months old
  • At least one undisputed credit account that has been reported or updated in your credit report within the past six months
  • No indication on the credit report that you are deceased

Simple steps to increase FICO credit scores

Increasing your FICO credit score

Most consumers can increase their credit score by taking these simple steps:

  • Pay installment loans, mortgages, and revolving credit on time
  • Keep credit card balances low—preferably below 10% of the available credit
  • Avoid applying for new credit
  • Keep older credit accounts open and current with low balances
  • Review reports periodically and repair any errors

Do It Yourself Credit Repair

The FTC recommends do it yourself credit repair for many reasons. In some ways we agree but, in most cases, hiring a credit repair attorney may be a better solution.

Time and Cost of Do It Yourself Credit Repair

Consumers who engage in do it yourself credit repair may save a little money over consumers who hire credit repair attorneys or credit repair organizations but those savings are minimal at best. Learning the credit repair process takes a significant amount of time and effort, and time is money after all. The danger of do it yourself credit repair becomes apparent here as consumers can spend many hours learning to repair their credit on their own and will find a lot of misinformation about the process as they search. The best method is to consult an experienced credit repair attorney for proper advice. Many will consult for free and can be surprisingly affordable.

Effectiveness of Do It Yourself Credit Repair

Do it yourself credit repair can be somewhat effective but is generally less effective as hiring a credit repair attorney. Credit repair attorneys can cut through the garbage that consumers and less knowledgeable credit repair organizations can’t. For example, the credit bureaus stall and ignore consumers more often when dispute letters come from credit repair organizations. Yes, the credit bureaus can often determine who the letters came from. They take note of the postmark, signature, font, format of the letter, and other details that earmark the letter as originating from a credit repair organization rather than directly from the consumer or his lawyer. Dispute letters from credit repair organizations are frequently sidelined to be ignored or stalled and many do it yourself consumer letters are also stalled or ignored in many cases. In some cases the credit bureaus will request more information from the consumer in an attempt to delay the process and thwart the efforts of the credit repair organization. When properly drafted, attorney credit disputes get handled far more seriously.

Credit repair attorneys are also better at protecting consumers rights than consumers and credit repair organizations. Indeed, credit repair organizations are outright abysmal at protecting consumer rights. One glaring example is when credit repair organizations send letters admitting the consumer owes the debt or missed payments on the debt as a dispute tactic. This commonly used “goodwill” request is patently bad advice. A competent attorney would never advise consumers to admit or acknowledge the debt since doing so may reset the statute of limitations on which the creditor may collect the debt. Acknowledging the debt also constitutes an admission that can, and certainly will, be used against the consumer later if litigation ever ensues. Admitting the debt is a decidedly bad idea.


Do it yourself credit repair can be a good choice for some consumers, but for most, hiring an experienced credit repair attorney is almost always better. The costs of hiring a lawyer can be surprisingly affordable and the results are far more effective. The task of learning do it yourself credit repair may be too daunting for many consumers. If true for you, consult a credit repair attorney for advice and guidance. You may be surprised and how little it costs to get competent assistance from an experienced attorney.

Stop Robocalls the Easy Way

If you want to stop robocalls the easy way, don’t hang up as advised by the FTC. The best way to stop robocalls is to follow these easy steps and make the robocaller pay you up to $1500.00 per illegal call.

Get on the Do-Not-Call Registry

First, get your number on the do-not-call registry. No, it won’t stop all robocalls but it will stop most. Inclusion on the do not call list also has the added benefit of making it illegal to call you. That is important for your future efforts to stop the calls.

Tell the Caller to Stop Calling

Most robocalls are, by definition, made by an automated system so you are unlikely to get a person on the phone. If you do get a live person tell them to stop calling you. If the robocalls are coming to your cell phone tell the caller that you do not give permission to call your cell phone and to stop calling it. Telling the robocaller to stop calling you is an important step in getting the calls to stop so keep good notes for later use.

Also, never push any buttons during a robocall. Pushing any buttons at all will trigger more robocalls because it tells the telemarketer that a live person will answer the phone at that number. It is very important that you don’t push any buttons.

Record the Robocalls

If it is legal in your state you should record the robocalls. Obviously, this means that hanging up as the FTC recommends is a very bad idea. The reason you should record the calls instead of hanging up is because you want evidence against the robocaller. An audio recording is important proof that the call occurred and was actually a robocall. If you hang up you don’t get this important proof.

Take Notes of Each Robocall

Take good written notes. Note every robocall by date, time, caller ID information, company name, and the names of anyone you eventually speak with. These notes are critical to your future efforts to stop the robocalls. Feel free to use my Collection Communications Log to keep track of the unwanted robocalls.

Photograph the Caller ID

After the call ends take a picture of the caller ID. This too is important proof that the call occurred. For smart phones you can find a screen capture app if you prefer a screenshot rather than a photograph. The screenshot or picture can also serve as proof that the caller spoofed, or in other words, altered the caller ID information. Falsifying the caller ID is just as unlawful as making the call in the first place.

Obtain Phone Records

When you get your monthly phone bill preserve the records. This is evidence of the calls as it shows the date, time, and number from which the caller dialed. You need this proof to properly stop robocalls.

Call a Consumer Rights Attorney

Perhaps the most important step to stop robocalls is to call a consumer protection attorney. He can advise you on the appropriate steps to take to preserve your rights and to preserve the evidence you need to prove your case. And yes, in many cases you will need to sue to properly stop robocalls. Anything less is insufficient to stop the more unscrupulous telemarketing companies. The good news is that suing a telemarketer can result in an award of as much as $1500.00 for each illegal call.


Take the steps above if you want to stop robocalls. Prepare and preserve your evidence and get a lawyer. If you simply hang up as the FTC suggests you have done nothing to stop robocalls. Suing, on the other hand, will stop at least one robocaller from ever bothering you again and in many cases can actually stop others as well.

Suing a Debt Collector for $7500

When is suing a debt collector for $7500 a bad idea? When you have substantially higher damages of course. Unfortunately, the Consumerist website has posted an article congratulating a consumer for suing a debt collector in small claims court and winning $7500. Keep reading to find out why that $7500 award for suing a debt collector is actually a bad result.

Actual Damages are Available Under the FDCPA

The consumer in this article had actual damages. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) awards for actual damages are not capped. By suing a debt collector in small claims court she put an artificial limit on her damages of $7500 which was extremely unreasonable under the circumstances. Indeed, the abusive nature of the unfair debt collections suffered by the consumer in the article would have easily exceeded $7500 if she would have filed her case in federal court. By suing a debt collector in small claims court this consumer basically allowed the debt collector to keep a lot of money to which the consumer should have been entitled.

Attorneys Fees Under the FDCPA are Mandatory

Also of concern for this consumer is that under the FDCPA attorneys fees are mandatory if your prove an FDCPA violation occurred. If the consumer in the article had taken her case to federal court the debt collector would have paid her attorneys’ fees. Those fees would have easily exceeded $7500. Essentially, the debt collector would have been forced to pay for the consumer’s attorney; something they did not have to do in small claims court. That factor alone should tip the scales in favor of federal court over small claims court.

Discovery Limits

Another limitation of small claims court is that small claims courts do not allow discovery. Discovery is the process of obtaining information from the other side that helps prove your case. In most, if not all FDCPA cases you will want to conduct discovery. Debt collectors always have telephone records, call recordings, call notes, and other internal documents that support your claims of abusive debt collection conduct. In federal court you can get these documents whereas in small claims courts you can’t.


Small claims courts also have a very simple appeals process. That is great news if you lose but terrible if you win. Because debt collectors have a right to appeal they will often use the threat of appealing your victory to negotiate a smaller damage award. You can always refuse but then you have to conduct the trial a second time and risk losing your case. In contrast, suing a debt collector in federal court is highly unlikely to ever be appealed.


There are numerous reasons why a $7500 judgment for the FDCPA case in the article is too low. The consumer should be congratulated for suing a debt collector and holding it accountable for its Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations but the consumer could have, and should have, received more.

Complaints and Reviews about Mortgage Investors Corporation

Online complaints and reviews about Mortgage Investors Corporation (MIC) are not looking very good for the well-known mortgage company. Indeed, a lot of consumers feel abused by Mortgage Investors’ heavy-handed sales tactics. Other websites including reviews on the the BBB confirm consumers seemingly widespread attitude about MIC.

Mortgage Investors Do Not Call Registry Complaints

One primary complaint is that Mortgage Investors (also known as MIC) is calling and harassing consumers listed on the do-not-call list. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) many of these calls are illegal. Not all the calls are unlawful, however. Telemarketers like MIC can call a consumer listed on the do not call registry if it has a recent business relationship with the consumer or the consumer authorizes the call. Unfortunately, however, according to many of the complaints online, MIC is calling without a relationship or authorization.

Mortgage Investors Do Not Call Request Complaints

Another reason for the complaints about Mortgage Investors is that it continues calling consumers after the consumer explicitly requests it to stop. Once a reasonable time from the request has passed, any further calls are also unlawful under the TCPA. This is true even if the consumer is not listed in the do not call registry.

Complaints about Mortgage Investors Sales Tactics

Mortgage Investors is also getting a lot of complaints about being abusive during its in-person meetings with consumers. According to the complaints, salesman are often rude and condescending to anyone showing even a little resistance to the sales pitch. A couple of consumers also complained about dishonesty regarding the terms of the mortgage issued and the tactics MIC used to sell it.

Sue Mortgage Investors Corporation

The good news is that if you haven’t already taken out a mortgage with Mortgage Investors then you don’t have to be at its’ mercy. You can fight back and even make them stop calling. Here’s how:

First, put your name on the federal do not call registry. It takes time for your request to take effect so your next step is to tell Mortgage Investors to stop calling you. Request its internal do not call policy also. MIC has to honor your requests. If it doesn’t, start tracking the calls. Take notes on the date, time, number called from, name of the person calling, and any other details of the call that you can. Take pictures of the caller ID to support your claims. You should also obtain copies of your telephone records to prove each call occurred.

Once you have gathered your notes, pictures of the caller ID, and telephone records make an appointment with a consumer protection attorney. Even if you don’t hire him, his insight and evaluation of your case will be helpful. You should then either hire an attorney to represent you or you can file your own lawsuit in small claims court. If you have proof of more than 20 calls after you requested any telemarketer to stop contacting you please call an attorney. If not, you will be potentially losing thousands of dollars in damages.


Stopping MIC or any other telemarketer from calling you is easy. Tell it to stop calling, put your number on the do not call registry, and sue if necessary. If you need help, call me at 801-297-2494 today. I am an experienced consumer protection attorney with experience suing abusive telemarketers and can evaluate your case for free.

How to Report Identity Theft

How to report identity theft.

It only takes a few simple steps to report identity theft and clear up your good name and end the devastating financial and emotional harm caused by identity theft.

Step One

Set an initial fraud alert with at least one of the three major credit bureaus. Only one is needed because the credit bureaus are required to alert each other when a fraud alert is placed. If you want to be sure fraud alerts are placed on all three then feel free to contact all three. It doesn’t take much time to take this first step to report identity theft and doing so will give you a little additional peace of mind.

Step Two

Obtain your free annual credit report and review it closely to identify which accounts are the result of identity theft.

Step Three

Complete an identity theft affidavit. Be sure to fill it out accurately and completely. You can be criminally prosecuted for lying in an identity theft affidavit.

Step Four

File a police report of the identity theft. No, the police probably won’t do anything to actually help; however, the police identity theft report itself is an invaluable and often required part of clearing up your credit information resulting from identity theft.

Step Five

Contact the three major credit bureaus in writing and request they delete the information that is the result of identity theft. Identify the information clearly and include a copy of the police report and identity theft affidavit to prove your request is valid.

Step Six

Contact each creditor involved and close all accounts that are the result of identity theft. As you did earlier, include a copy of the police report and identity theft affidavit. When you close the accounts also ask the lender to send you all the documentation it has about the account. This will later help with the investigation of the identity theft.

Step Seven

The final step to correctly report identity theft is to set an extended fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert is valid for seven years and works well to prevent future theft of your identity from occurring during that time.


Not all identity theft can be corrected in this way but the more simple case can be. If the above steps to report identity theft fail or if more complicated issues arise, such as criminal identity theft or mortgage identity theft, you should contact an attorney to assist you.

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