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.

Utah Security Freeze Law

Utah credit report freeze law

Identity theft is an increasingly common occurrence in Utah. If you are a victim one important tool you have to protect you from future theft of your accounts is the security or credit freeze. The freeze can be quite effective in preventing the thief from opening new accounts in your name if you act quickly.

What is a credit or security freeze?

In Utah, a security freeze is a way to freeze access to your credit so it cannot be easily stolen. You place the freeze with the three credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Once placed, it prevents creditors from opening new accounts in your name. Although the freeze enables consumers to prevent access to their credit files, it also allows the consumer to enable access to selected companies.

Security Freeze Fees

Credit reporting agencies generally charge a fee for placing, lifting, or removing a security freeze on your reports but if you include a copy of the police report or provide the police docket number that documents the identity fraud the fee will be waived. If you are not a victim of identity theft, the fees for placing, lifting, or removing a credit freeze average between $3 and $10 per bureau though in some states the fees are even higher.

Credit Scores

If you are worried about how a credit freeze affects your credit score, fear not. A credit freeze has no effect on your credit score because it is intended only to prevent identity thieves from establishing new credit in your name. For the same reason, a credit freeze will not prevent identity thieves from accessing your existing credit accounts either.

Prescreened Offers of Credit

A credit freeze also won’t stop prescreened offers for credit. If you wish to stop prescreened credit offers, you may do so online, by mail, or by telephone by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). Opting out of prescreened credit offers can be for either five years or can be done permanently at your discretion. Not all companies send offers based on prescreening so opting out will not stop all junk mail; though it will stop most.

Free Annual Credit Reports

A credit security freeze also doesn’t prevent you from ordering your free annual credit reports or keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying an insurance policy. You might need to temporarily lift the freeze for these types of credit but doing so is easy and fast in most cases. It is best to plan ahead when applying for these kinds of credit however so there won’t be needless delays or unwarranted rejections.

How to place a security freeze

Requesting a security freeze must be done in writing either online or by certified mail and you must include proof of your identity with the request.

Once requested, the credit reporting agencies must place the security freeze within five business days. They must then send you written confirmation of the freeze within ten business days of placing the request. The confirmation must include a unique personal identification number or password you can use to release your credit information to selected companies. If you issue authorization to a company to access your reports, authorization is limited to a specific party for a specific amount of time.

The security freeze contact information for the three major credit bureaus is as follows:


Equifax Security Freeze

P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348 Telephone: 888-298-0045 [/callout] [callout]

Experian Security Freeze

P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013 Telephone: 888-397-3742 [/callout] [callout]

Trans Union Security Freeze

P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790 Telephone: 888-909-8872 [/callout]

How to temporarily unlock a security freeze

If you need to temporary unlock the freeze, no problem. Just call or write to the credit bureaus. The freeze must be temporarily removed within three business days if requested by mail or within 15 minutes during regular business hours if requested by telephone or electronically. You may request a temporary lift for a specific credit grantor or for a specific period of time ranging anywhere from one day to one full year.

Differences between a security freeze and fraud alerts

A security freeze completely locks down or “freezes” your credit. Once in place, creditors may not access your credit to extend new credit. Credit freezes are also specific to individual credit bureaus so you can freeze one and leave another totally open.

Fraud alerts, on the other hand, are merely a cautionary flag to alert lenders they should take special precautions before extending credit in your name. Typically, that involves calling you to verify that you are the actual person requesting the credit. When you set the fraud alert, you give the credit bureaus your telephone number so they know they are calling you rather than an imposter. Finally, when you set a fraud alert with one credit agency it is required by law to contact the other two so a fraud alert spans all three agencies rather than staying with one specific bureau.

The time frames are also different in some circumstances. For example, an initial fraud alert lasts for only 90 days while a security freeze stays in place for seven years. You can place an extended fraud alert however, which will also last for seven years so the time differences are not significant.

Another difference is that anyone can request a freeze of their credit while fraud alerts are only available to consumers who are, or reasonably believe they may become, victims of identity theft.

Security freeze considerations

A security freeze is an excellent tool in the fight against identity theft but in some cases you may want to remain cautious before placing a security freeze. For some consumers, the burdens of locking and unlocking the freeze can grow tiresome over time. For example, you may want to open a store credit card at the point of purchase and with a credit freeze in place might be stopped from doing so. The same is true for other types of credit such as requesting cell phone service or even applying for a job.

Another consideration is the burden of figuring out which credit bureau to unlock for any given situation. In some cases, the credit grantor can tell you in advance which credit bureau to unfreeze but there could be a situation where you would have to unfreeze all three agencies to be sure you the credit grantor gets the access they need to assess your creditworthiness.

Ultimately, the decision will be yours to make but if you want to prevent identity thieves from opening new lines of credit in your name, a credit or security freeze is one of many tool at your disposal.

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

Fake Debt Collection Call Scams

Phantom or fake debt collection telephone call scam

Fake debt collection call scams are becoming a serious problem for consumers across the country. Some of these calls are from collection agencies collecting actual debt but many of these calls are fake. Our investigations have shown that many of these fake collector calls originate after a consumer applies for a payday loan online or filed bankruptcy a year or two before the calls start. Even if you never applied for a payday loan or filed bankruptcy, however, you can still be a target of these scammers.

How to detect a fake debt collector

It is often hard to tell whether a collection call is actually from a debt collector or scammer. In both calls the caller will often have access to your personal information, such as your name, address, and Social Security Number. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a caller may be a fake debt collector if it:

  • is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize;
  • refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
  • asks you for personal financial or sensitive information; or
  • exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.

This list from the FTC is not completely accurate however. Many debt collectors collecting actual debt engage in the same conduct. One of the most egregious examples is threatening to have you arrested for failing to pay a debt. Some collection agencies collecting real debt might even threaten to revoke your driver’s license if you don’t pay. There are also a lot of real debt collectors that will give you a fake business name or refuse to give you any physical address to contact them in writing.

Never use a wire transfer to pay a debt collector

Another major red flag that can help spot fake debt collection calls is when the caller insists on payment through wire transfer or other untraceable payment method. Never pay any debt collector by an untraceable method. Even if the debt is legitimate you will have no way of proving you paid and no way of tracking the scammers if the debt was fake.

You should always be suspicious if anyone asks you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay them. There’s no legitimate reason for someone you don’t know to ask you to send money that by an untraceable wire transfer.

In other words, the FTC’s advice is a good starting point for detecting fake collection calls but there are too many similarities between fake collection scammers and abusive debt collectors to be sure without more digging.

How to handle a fake debt collector

Never give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information

Don’t give out or confirm personal financial or information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number over the phone. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft. They can charge your existing credit cards, open new credit cards, checking, or savings accounts in your name, write fraudulent checks on your accounts, take out loans in your name, or even completely drain your bank accounts.

Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number.

Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. When you ask for this information some con artists will give you fake information while others will simply hang up. Search online to see if they provided real contact information.

If a caller refuses to give you all of his company contact information, do not pay!

Legitimate companies will always give you a way to contact them in writing. More importantly, paying a fake debt collector will not always make them stop calling. Once you pay a scammer, they will often call again and make up another debt to try to get more money from you.

Stop speaking with the caller.

If you have the caller’s address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you and keep a copy for your files. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to stop calling in writing.

Contact your creditor.

If the debt is legitimate – but you think the collector may not be – contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.

Check your credit reports.

You should also check your credit report to see if the debt is real or not. Even if the debt is reporting on your credit, however, don’t pay the caller over the phone. Keep digging to be sure the debt is actually due. If you are going to pay it, be sure to pay the company that you actually owe. Just because someone tells you over the phone that you owe them money does not make it so. Demand that they verify the existence of the debt and confirm the payment history in writing before paying a collection agency. Remember, if they can’t prove you owe the debt, they can’t sue you to collect it.


These con artists can be extremely convincing on the phone. They make threats that sound official like threatening to arrest you, revoke your driver’s license, or sue you. But don’t pay over the phone no matter how scary or official they sound.

Do your homework. Pull your credit reports. Find out if the debt is real or not. Make the debt collector prove you owe the debt in writing. Any company that won’t give you written proof of the debt or provide you with contact information for the company, is a scam.

Fake collection calls are a lucrative business. Millions of consumers fall victim to these insidious thieves. Don’t be one of them. If you have already fallen victim to a fake debt collection call, contact an experienced credit or identity theft recovery lawyer to assist you.

How to Dispute Errors in Your Credit Report

Woman writing a credit dispute letter

Credit report errors are far too common. Indeed, studies suggest that as many as 25 percent of credit reports could contain serious errors. The most common errors are identity errors, incorrect account information, and fraudulent accounts. There are certainly many other kinds of errors but these are the most prevalent.

Identity Errors

Identity errors occur when the credit bureaus or creditors inadvertently report someone else’s payment history, names, addresses, or other information on your credit reports. Mostly this happens when your name, Social Security Number, or address is similar to someone else. These identity errors are common among family members with the same or similar names.

Incorrect Account Details

Sometimes the lenders, creditors, and debt collectors provide incorrect information about your accounts to the credit bureaus. Other times, the credit bureaus incorrectly process the information provided. These errors could be seriously reducing your credit scores in some cases. For example, an incorrect credit limit or balance could impact your credit utilization ratio. Similarly, if a credit card or other account is showing the opening date incorrectly, the age of that account could lower your score unfairly. In more extreme cases, you could have a fully paid account showing as delinquent which would lower your score.

Fraudulent Accounts

Fraudulent accounts can be one of the most serious errors in your credit reports. These accounts can drastically impact your credit utilization ratio, average age of your accounts, and can trigger abusive or unfair debt collection actions against you. The emotional impact of identity theft also cannot be overstated. Victims of identity theft often suffer from serious emotional distress due to the invasion of privacy identity theft causes.

Steps to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Step 1. Order Your Free Credit Reports

The first step in disputing credit report errors is to obtain your credit reports. You can get your reports for free once every twelve months from each of the three major bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Be sure to check all three. Each bureau is independent and reports information differently. You cannot assume that an error in one report is also reporting inaccurately in the other two. Check each one to be sure.

You are also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you based on information in your report. For example, denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment would give you the right to a free report as long as you request this free report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The adverse action notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company so you know which credit bureau reported the information.

If you are unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, on welfare, or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft, you are also entitled to a free report.

Step 2. Dispute Credit Report Errors

The next step is to tell the credit bureaus, in writing, what information is reporting inaccurately, why you dispute the information, and what you want the credit bureau to do with the incorrect listing. Do not use a form letter from the Internet. Write your own letter or hire an experienced credit repair attorney to help you. Sample letters from the Internet are helpful to get you started but copying one directly could get your dispute rejected.

If you have documentation to show why the information is reporting inaccurately, include copies with your dispute. This would include copies of your identity theft affidavit, police reports, proof of your identity, proof of your residency, or an entire identity theft report if applicable to your situation. You may also want to include a copy of your report with the incorrect information highlighted to simplify the dispute process.

Be sure to send your dispute letter by certified mail with a “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting company received and when they received it. Keep a detailed file including copies of your dispute letters, their enclosures, and any responses you get back from the credit bureaus.

Once the credit bureau receives your dispute, it must conduct an investigation within 30 days, called a “reinvestigation,” unless it deems your dispute to be frivolous. Then it can reject your dispute. Normally, the reinvestigation consists of the bureau contacting the provider of the information and either verifying, deleting, or updating the information as it deems appropriate. The credit bureau will then report the results of the reinvestigation back to you.

Generally, the credit reporting company will give you results in writing and include a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.

If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can also have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.

If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a short statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past but you can expect to pay a fee for this service.

Step 3. Dispute Errors Directly with the Information Provider

If the credit bureaus do not respond appropriately to your dispute, you should send a letter directly to the information provider. As before, do so in writing and send the letter certified mail with a return receipt requested. You should also include copies of important documentation to assist their investigation.

If the provider continues to report the item you disputed to a credit reporting company, it must let the credit reporting company know about your dispute. And if the provider finds your information to be inaccurate or incomplete, it must notify the credit reporting agency to either update or delete the item.


If your reports show credit lines that are inaccurate or items are reporting in your name that you did not open you should act immediately. The credit reporting companies and information providers should be responsive to your disputes. Start by obtaining copies of your reports and reviewing them for errors. Next, send dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies and, if needed, to the information providers. Provide them with appropriate documentation to help their reinvestigation efforts and don’t give up if your initial letters are unsuccessful. It sometimes takes multiple dispute attempts to get results. If you are a victim of identity theft, start your dispute efforts by putting a fraud alert on your reports and fill out an identity theft affidavit. Next file a police report and let the credit bureaus and information providers know the account is the result of identity theft. If necessary, hire an experienced identity recovery attorney to assist you. Repairing your credit can be a time-consuming and difficult process. The results of credit reports free from errors, are well worth the effort however. Good credit saves you money. Review your reports for errors and take control of your credit health and financial future.

Identity Theft Debt Collection

Identity theft debt repair
Identity theft debt collection causes millions of Americans undue financial and emotional hardship every year. Debt collectors can be ruthless in their efforts to collect debt and are often skeptical and unsympathetic when a consumer claims to be a victim of identity theft. Restoring your credit after your identity is stolen can take time, money, and effort but is not impossible if you are diligent and persistent. If you are a victim of identity theft, here are a few basic but critical steps you can take to repair your stolen credit.

Set Initial Fraud Alerts

Contact at least one major credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) and set an initial fraud alert. The initial fraud alert is only good for 90 days but can stop identity theft from continuing while you take the next steps. You actually only need to contact one credit bureau as the credit bureaus are required to report the initial fraud alert to the other bureaus, but to be sure the initial fraud alert is set you may want to contact more than one bureau. It is free to set initial fraud alerts.

Pull Your Credit Reports

Once you have set the initial fraud alert, pull a copy of your credit reports. Identity theft victims can get the credit reports for free and it doesn’t hurt your credit score to pull your own credit report so don’t hesitate to pull it. There might be other identity theft debts on your reports so you need to check each of them before moving on to the next steps.

File an Identity Theft Report with the Police

Be sure to also quickly report the identity theft to the police and file a police report. Provide law enforcement as much information as possible and maintain a copy of your identity theft law enforcement report. The report should also contain the name of the officer that took the report and a case number. You will be expected to sign the identity theft report under oath and penalty of perjury so be sure all the information you provide is accurate or you could be held criminally responsible.

Complete an Identity Theft Affidavit

The FTC has an identity theft affidavit that most creditors and debt collectors will honor. Some require their own forms but if those forms request information different from the FTC identity theft affidavit, check with a credit attorney to be sure you don’t waive any rights by using that form. In most cases, the FTC identity theft affidavit is the appropriate form to use. Be sure to have the FTC identity theft affidavit notarized. Most creditors and debt collectors require notarization before they will accept it.

Dispute the Identity Theft Debt

Your next step is to dispute the identity theft debt in writing. Don’t just call the debt collector or creditor. You need a paper trail to show that you informed them the debt was the result of identity theft. Include a copy of your police report and FTC identity theft affidavit with your dispute letter. Once the debt collector or creditor knows the debt is the result of identity theft they must stop collecting it. If they do not, they will be in violation of several state and federal debt collection and credit reporting laws.

Dispute the Credit Listing of the Identity Theft Debt

Many debt collectors and creditors will report the identity theft debt to the credit bureaus. If so, the debt will usually lower your credit score unfairly. Debt that results from identity theft should not count against your credit score or factor into determining your creditworthiness. Send the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) a dispute letter explaining that the debt is the result of identity theft. Include a copy of your FTC identity theft affidavit and police report with your credit bureau dispute letters for best results.

Set Extended Fraud Alerts

Once you have your police report and FTC identity theft affidavit, you should contact the credit bureaus and set an extended fraud alert. The extended fraud alert is similar to the initial fraud alert but lasts for seven years so it provides you additional protection from identity theft for a longer period of time.

Pull Your Credit Reports

You should pull your credit reports periodically to be sure no other identity theft debts appear later. Even with the initial fraud alerts and extended fraud alerts, some identity theft can still occur, though it is relatively rare. Pull your credit reports every three to six months for at least the first year to be sure no other instances of identity theft have occurred. If you do find additional identity theft debt in these periodic reviews, you will have to walk through each of these steps again to repair your credit and stop the collections.


Identity theft debt can be stressful and difficult to repair but following these steps is an effective way to repair your credit and stop collections of the identity theft debt.

Used Car Buying Tips

Utah Auto Fraud Attorney

Bill Gephardt posted an article on KSL warning consumers of the dangers of buying a used car.

Gephardt’s warning arises mostly because Utah has no lemon law that applies to the purchase of a used car. Buyer beware is the watchword. Gephardt is right that if you purchase a used car and its engine explodes five minutes later, you are usually stuck. There are car dealers that will repair such damage when it occurs so close after the purchase, but most won’t so don’t count on it.

What can you do to protect yourself when buying a used car? Here are a few tips:

Research Used Cars

Your first step when purchasing a used car is to research your available options. Consumer Reports is a good place to start. Consumer Reports publishes a Used Car Buying Guide every year and it will help you quickly pinpoint which cars are historically reliable and which cars are less reliable. Don’t let your unreasonable desires for a particular car convince you to buy one that has spotty reliability. You will regret it. Poor reliability costs you more than just increased costs for repairs. Periodic maintenance is more expensive and most, but not all, historically unreliable cars suffer from poor resale value as well. You lose money every step of the way if you buy an unreliable car.

Research Used Car Values

After you have narrowed your used car search down to a few options, go online at check the values of the cars. Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds are two excellent ways to compare cars and check current pricing. I particularly like Edmunds’ True Market Value (TMV) page. It allows a real-world comparison of all the costs of used car ownership. With TMV you can see just how much that dream car is really going to cost you over the years. It is eye opening to say the least.

Research the Local Used Car Market

Once you have decided on a particular make and model to buy start looking on the Internet and local newspapers to get an idea of what is available and where the original asking prices are set. Don’t use this to determine value or the price you should pay however. Sellers are notoriously unreasonable in their advertised prices because they expect to haggle down. Many of the ads are also scams. Browsing the ads however is crucial to understanding what else is available and may lead you to the perfect used car.

Have an Inspection Performed

Once you find the car you want, drive it, closely inspect it yourself, and have it inspected professionally by an independent mechanic. I cannot stress this enough. No matter how good the car looks, runs, and feels, it may have hidden problems that can only be revealed by taking off the wheels, checking the compression, checking the electrical system, and performing dozens of other inspections that you cannot do without the proper equipment and tools. Get an inspection! If the seller won’t let you take the car for a few hours to do one, RUN away from the deal. They are hiding something.

Get Everything in Writing

When you are ready to make your purchase keep in mind that you will probably be buying the used car on an “as-is” basis. That means once you sign for it anything that goes wrong is yours to fix. If the seller makes any specific claims of recent work, reliability, or dependability get those claims in writing. If you don’t and he lied, his claims are very difficult, if not impossible, to prove in court. Get everything in writing.

Extra Used Car Purchasing Tips

There are other tips you should also follow to get the best deal. For example, when buying a used car from a dealer always obtain outside financing from your bank or credit union before going to the dealership. Don’t discuss financing until the price of the car is set and don’t take financing from the dealer unless you want to overpay for both.

Failing to come prepared with prearranged financing can also subject you to a common car dealer scam known as a yo-yo sale. In yo-yo sales, unscrupulous car dealers let you take the car home before the financing is finalized. They wait a few weeks and then call with a demand for you to either sign more expensive financing arrangements or return the car. You lose money no matter which option you select and in many cases, you also lose your trade-in vehicle.

You should also never give your trade-in to the dealer without a spare set of keys on hand. A well-known dealer trick is to keep you captive by pretending to lose your keys when you want to walk away from a bad deal. Bring the extra set and don’t play that game.

Perhaps my best advice to follow when buying a used car is to always be willing to walk away from the negotiating table. If the seller is being unreasonable, walking away is the best way to bring him back to reality. Never fall in love with a particular car so much that it clouds your judgment. If you do, the seller will make you pay more.


Hopefully these tips will help you next time you purchase a used car. Be cautious and walk away if anything seems wrong. Do your homework, bring outside financing, and get an inspection for the best deal on a used car.

Is a Collection Agency Threatening to Arrest You?

Collection Agency Threatening to Arrest You

Is a collection agency threatening to arrest you or charge you with a crime? Although it is illegal to do so, many debt collectors use false threats of criminal prosecution or arrest to scare consumers into paying debt. Under these threats many consumers end up paying debt that they do not owe, even when they know they don’t owe the debt. Fear is a powerful tool.

Don’t Panic

If a debt collector is threatening to arrest you or to charge you with a crime there are several steps you should take to protect yourself. First, realize that the collection agency is generally lying to you when they threaten to arrest you or charge you with a crime. There are a few circumstances in which you could be criminally responsible for fraud, identity theft, or other similar crimes, but in the vast majority of debt collection cases, those circumstances will not apply. Calm down and think it through. If you are in doubt call an attorney immediately to see if you are in any real danger of being charged with a crime or arrested. In most cases the collection agency is lying to you when they threaten to have you arrested or charged with a crime.

Don’t Pay

Do not pay a collection agency just because they are threatening to arrest you or charge you criminally. Similarly, and just as important, don’t promise to pay either. Find out first if the debt is actually yours, still within the statute of limitations, and has not yet been fully paid. Many collectors collect on debts that consumers do not legally have to pay. Find out first. When a collector is threatening to arrest you or charge you with a crime it is usually because they can’t get you to pay any other way. Call a lawyer before paying when these threats are being made.

Take Detailed Collection Notes

It is also important for you to detailed notes of every threat including the date and time of the call, the name of the company calling you, the name of the person calling you, and the details of everything they say. Don’t record the calls unless you are absolutely certain that it is legal to record calls in your state and the state in which the caller is located. Some states prohibit recording calls without the consent of both parties and your detailed notes are sufficient proof in most cases.

Tell the Collection Agency to Stop the Calls

You should also tell the collection agency to stop the calls and that you do not give consent to call you. If the debt collector is calling your cell phone, you should tell them it is a cell phone and to stop calling. Follow up by sending the collection agency a letter telling it to stop calling and that it is calling your cell phone without your permission. Keep a copy of the letter and get proof the collection agency received it by sending the letter by certified mail.

Get Legal Help

Another important step to take when a collection agency is threatening to arrest you or charge you with a crime is to call a consumer rights attorney. A good attorney can stop the calls, stop the collection agencies from threatening to arrest you or charge you with a crime, and can even obtain monetary damages on your behalf in many cases.

Don’t Fear Collection Threats

One of the most egregious consumer rights violations occurs when a collection agency threatens to arrest you. The threat of arrest or criminal prosecution for failing to pay a debt is a powerful tool in a debt collector’s arsenal. Don’t be afraid, don’t panic, and don’t make a payment until you call a consumer rights lawyer who can guide you through the threats and help you understand your legal rights in these situations.

Remove Your Phone Number to Stop the Calls

Don’t Press 1 to Remove Your Phone Number

Some telemarketers use robodialers and automated messages to sell their services. Con artists use the same technology. Either way, anytime you pick up the phone and a recorded voice tells you to “press 1 to remove your phone number” do not press any buttons. If you press 1 or any other buttons for that matter, the telemarketer or con artist will ADD your number to a call-more-frequently list. No kidding. They won’t remove your phone number but will actually call you more often because now they know they have connected to a live person with a good telephone number. Press 1 to remove your phone number is a lie. The telephone sales companies won’t just call more frequently however. They will also sell and share your number to other annoying telemarketers and scam artists.

Hang Up to Stop the Calls

Your best protection from telemarketers and con artists is to hang up the phone. The last thing you want to do is press any buttons. Don’t let a telemarketer or scam artist know they have connected to a working phone number. Hang up.

Stop Telemarketing Calls

Despite my advice to hang up on certain scam calls you should not hang up on telemarketing calls from reputable telemarketing companies. A reputable company is one that will accurately identify itself on your caller ID and will tell you who they are. When such a telemarketing company calls the best way to stop the calls is to ask to be placed on its internal do not call list. Tell them they are calling a cell phone if true and ask them to remove your phone number and stop calling. Take detailed notes of who you spoke with, what was said, what number they were calling from, and take a picture of the caller ID for each and every call. If they call you more than a dozen times after you tell them to stop, contact a consumer protection attorney. A good attorney can stop the calls from legitimate telemarketers pretty fast.

Stop Debt Collection Calls

My advice to hang up on scam calls and annoying sales calls from unknown companies also doesn’t apply to debt collection calls. Debt collection calls need to be handled more directly. Especially if they are calling more than two or three times per week.

One way to stop debt collection calls is to tell the collection agency to stop calling and that you refuse to pay. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act they have to stop calling when you do. They might sue you however, so talk to a consumer rights attorney before taking such a drastic step. If they keep calling after you tell them to stop, track the details of each call and keep the same detailed records as you would with a telemarketer.

Don’t Stop Debt Collection Calls

In many cases you may want to let debt collectors call you. Track every call as discussed above, however. Take detailed notes, caller ID pictures, and keep track of every call. If the debt collector is abusive, the information you gather now will be evidence against them later. In many cases you should record abusive telephone calls with collection agencies but contact an attorney to assist and advise you first. Recording telephone calls is illegal in many states and punishable as a crime. Don’t record a call unless you are 100% certain that it is legal to do so in both your state and the caller’s state.

Remove Your Phone Number, Maybe

There are times you want to remove your phone number from a telemarketing list but never push a button to do so. Tell the caller to stop the calls and keep detailed records for later use in court if they won’t stop the calls. Of course, if a company calls you more than a dozen times after you tell it to stop, contact a consumer protection attorney for assistance.

Mortgage Investors Corporation Telemarketing Harassment

If Mortgage Investors Corporation is harassing you with repeated unwanted telemarketing calls you are not alone. Many consumers complain about abusive and harassing telemarketing practices by Mortgage Investors Corporation (MIC). Here are my recommendations to stop the calls.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Federal law protects you from telemarketing harassment by Mortgage Investors Corporation and other telemarketers. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) telemarketers can be liable to you for between $500 and $1500 per call if it calls after you tell it to stop calling. Don’t sue these companies on your own, however. Hire a consumer protection attorney for these cases. Yes, you can take a Mortgage Investors Corporation lawsuit to small claims court but you will almost certainly get better results hiring a consumer protection attorney and taking a Mortgage Investors Corporation lawsuit to federal court.

Stop Mortgage Investors Corporation Telemarketing Harassment

Before you file any lawsuits you should first try to resolve the problem with Mortgage Investors Corporation (MIC) by telling it to stop harassing you with repeated telemarketing calls. Most companies honor these requests and if MIC doesn’t you should then begin tracking each subsequent call. Take notes of each and every call including the date, time, caller, and what you said to each other. Take pictures or screenshots of the caller ID for each call. You will need these pictures if a lawsuit against Mortgage Investors Corporation ever becomes necessary.

Do Not Call Registry

If you haven’t done so already, place your telephone number on the federal do not call list. This will help stop many calls from other telemarketers and may help stop the calls from Mortgage Investors.

Telemarketing Harassment Lawsuits

If you tell Mortgage Investors Corporation to stop calling you and it doesn’t stop, call an experienced consumer protection attorney. If you have a dozen or more calls most consumer rights lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis so you won’t have to pay anything unless you win or settle your case. Complaints about Mortgage Investors Corporation and its abusive telemarketing strategies are all over the Internet. Don’t be a victim of these practices. A lawsuit stops the calls but an online complaint does not.

If Mortgage Investors Corporation is harassing you with dozens of unwanted telemarketing calls, please contact us now for a free case evaluation. We can stop the calls from MIC.

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