Hi, welcome to the Lawyer’s Secrets to Fixing Your Own Credit Show. I’m your host, Attorney Gary Nitzkin. I’m a lawyer of Credit Repair Lawyers of America. We fix credit bureaus and debt collectors that screw with people and their credit. We’ve been doing it for quite a few years.
This is our maiden voyage into podcasting, or I should say it’s my maiden voyage into podcasting, so please be gentle with me. The purpose of these podcasts is to arm you with information so you can fix your own credit report. I also want you to know when you should seek legal help and how to get it. It’s not that hard. Since studies have shown that 80% of all credit reports have some inaccuracies on them, and half of those inaccuracies are enough to depress one’s credit score, this is information you need to know because there’s a very good chance that there are inaccuracies on your credit report that are bringing your score down. Most clients come to us after they’ve been rejected for either a car or a mortgage loan. And they’re really quite upset because there are things on their credit report that they didn’t know existed. I want you to know what you can do to fix those things if you’re a victim.
On today’s show, I’m going to discuss the kinds of lawsuits we filed last month in March of 2018. Three themes stuck out, and I want to discuss those themes. Understand we’re not here to ridicule anyone or any company, I merely want to show you some of these trends that have popped out so if you’re a victim of one of these trends, you’ll know what to do. Let’s get started.
My parents many years ago had a gangster as a neighbor, an old-school gangster from the East Coast. Anyways, he was very open about his rather colorful past. He once told my parents, and I’ll never forget this quote. “I ain’t never heard anybody that didn’t deserve it.” Okay, I’ll have to take his word for it, but in this case the lawsuits that we filed this month, we ain’t sued nobody that didn’t deserve it. So let’s get to it.
The first class of people and companies that we sued were creditors that failed to report their trade lines as “included” or “discharged in bankruptcy”. You see, when someone files for bankruptcy every trade line, which are items that creditors report on your credit report, should be reported as “included in bankruptcy.” If it’s not, then the subsequent creditor who looks at your credit report won’t know that this debt is going to go away when you finally receive your discharge of bankruptcy. Or if you’ve received a discharge in bankruptcy, if that trade line or collection item is not reported as “included in bankruptcy,” it’s going to appear as though it’s still outstanding, and it’s going to negatively affect your credit report. It’s bad enough that someone has to file for bankruptcy, because it really depresses the credit score for quite a few years. Creditors want to know that when you filed for bankruptcy, you got your fresh start. A fresh start means that any account that existed at the time you filed for bankruptcy was included in that discharge. This month we filed lawsuits against Equifax, TransUnion, Ally, Capital One, what’s in your wallet, and Verizon for failing to report their account and trade lines as “included in bankruptcy.”
The second class of lawsuits we filed is against one of our favorite defendants, EquityExperts.org. Remember that name, EquityExperts.org. They’re a collection agency and they’re really quite specialized. You see they represent homeowners’ associations. So if you live in a condo, as you know, every month you got to pay your homeowners’ association dues, sometimes it’s done quarterly. Well, Equity Experts makes the deal with homeowners’ association where they say, “Look, we’ll do the collection work, and we will get you your money, but we’re going to add in our own fees and costs. And we’re going to charge the consumer for our fees and costs.” Well, that’s illegal. You see, under a federal statute called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, when a third-party debt collector collects debts, it can only collect those charges for which a contract exists or for which there’s a statute. Now Equity Experts does not have a contract with the consumer to charge them additional fees and costs. Moreover, they have no right to trade on the homeowners’ associations’ bylaws to say, “Well, we can add our own fees and costs.” We have filed several lawsuits against Equity Experts, we’ve settled some of them. But apparently they’ve recently drawn a line in the sand and they want to fight back, which is fine with us. But just understand, if you get a letter from EquityExperts.org, there’s a good chance they violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, in my opinion.
The third class of lawsuits we filed this month are against debt collectors that failed to flag their debts as “disputed.” You see, whenever a consumer has a collection item on their credit report, they have a right to dispute that, and anything else that’s on the credit report for that matter. But debt collectors especially have to flag their collection item on your credit report as “disputed.” This means that any creditor that looks at that credit report should see the word “disputed,” meaning you the consumer, you dispute the account. Well, here’s the problem, many consumers dispute their accounts, but a lot of debt collectors don’t flag them as “disputed.” They’re either too busy or they’re too lazy, or really they just don’t care about your rights. And if they fail to flag the debt as disputed, that gives you a cause of action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which can get the flag removed. Many times in a lawsuit, can get the collection item removed and get you up to $1000 or actual damages plus costs and attorney fees. The FDCP is a strict liability statute.
Here’s the real problem with this. When you go to apply for a mortgage, if you have any accounts that are in dispute, you’re going to have a problem getting your mortgage approved by the underwriter. All accounts that say “dispute,” the disputes have to be removed. So it’s up to you to send a letter to the debt collector or the creditor saying, “Look, I no longer dispute this account.” They have to remove the flag dispute. And if they don’t, again, they violate your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. We’ve pursued at least one lawsuit against the debt collector because we told them, “Look our client no longer disputes this account.” And they said, “Forget it. We’re not removing this dispute, because we know they’re applying for a mortgage, and they’re going to have to pay us before we’ll remove the dispute.” That is highly illegal, that is extortion in my opinion.
Any event, there you have it. Those were the three major trends we saw in the several lawsuits we filed this month. If you have any questions or issues in your credit report, you can call or email me, attorney Gary Nitzkin at [email protected] That stands for Credit Repair Lawyers, and A-M is America. It’s [email protected], or call me at (248)353-2882 for a free, no-obligation consultation. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’re happy to review your credit reports for free and to see if we can clean them up and elevate your credit score.
Well there it is, that was my maiden voyage, folks. Thank you very much for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.