FCRA Section 609 “B.S” Letter

FCRA Section 609 “B.S” Letter

You may have heard about this letter using a specific part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act called “Section 609”.

Before I start let me state a few words on my thoughts on this section people try to sell letters on:

  • Scam
  • Bull &%$#
  • Lies
  • Deceptive

Every once in a while I get annoyed enough to roll up the sleeves and start ripping to shreds certain things like Credit Associates & National Debt Relief (Debt Settlement Companies) to name a few.

I do some research then tell everyone reading this what my experience was with it and that experience is now based on 14 years in the credit industry and in the trenches, looking at case law, seeing how credit bureaus response to consumer letters. Those 14 years and allowed me to review over 17,000 credit file and analyze them and diagnose them to see what can be done to put that file in a position to obtain future lenders from a variety of lenders, mortgages, car loan, credit cards etc.

So I was asked about the “magical” Section 609 FCRA letters floating around. Of course everywhere you look practically you have to buy them. I found a site that had a discussion on them and then they started quoting the sections of law which allowed me to look into it.

There were people swearing by the letters and others saying it didn’t work. Of course the ones who swore by them didn’t give any specifics on the account which is the most important part of the story.

They quoted 609(a)(1)9a) to start and one idiot actually said they “vaguely refer to the credit bureaus having to have copies of original contract signed for proof”.

Ugh………………..

People, NO WHERE does it even closely say that let alone refer to that……. I really think that the rumor gets spread, some people post a cheap web site and then sell the letters for $10.00 or so and the get a check in the mail.

A little more research as I read the section before writing this and there was some more B.S from a guy back in 1999 that quoted a different section of Section 609 (c)(2)(E) so I read that and AGAIN……. L I E S !!!

What I love when reading this was it talks about how the guy has copyrighted his letters, while I’m not a lawyer I’m pretty sure you can’t copyright sections of a law that consumers could use. BUT I could be wrong…. But doubt it.

Now this is what I know and understand as I even saw a credit repair company write a blog about it and I’m convinced they are idiots as they talked about and then they discussed “Debt Validation”… that will be the next blog about that which drives me nots so stay tuned!

So these knuckleheads say:

Section (609) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is a Consumers Disclosure section which is to provide for the protection of consumers against false and erroneous reporting. This section of the FCRA places the burden upon the Credit Bureaus and the Creditor to prove an account is yours. To positively prove an account is yours, the creditor must provide the Credit Bureau a copy of the original creditor’s documentation (whatever you filled out and signed upon opening the account with the reporting creditor)”.

This is literally word for word that I found on several site touting the magic of the 609 letters.

The scary part is people hire bozos like this to help them trusting they have a clue about what they are doing. Further looking at their site they only sell letters to consumer for Do it yourself so “selling” the magic bullet is good for their business.

Totally unethical and they should go to hell because while I don’t know what they are charging the false hope they are dangling is just not cool.

Just reading more of this gets my blood boiling, the term creating a mountain out of a mole hill comes to mind when I read some of the “things” they claim.

I truly think they embellish on things then have some people (companies actually do this) post positive responses which gets you hooked and then say what the heck its only $10.00 (a money example)

Section 609 is rather an easy read and while there is a little bit of legal language in it it’s fairly cut and dry so a consumer with little knowledge should be able to understand majority of it.

UNDERSTAND the credit bureaus are like file cabinets of information on you, you have your folder and all the sub sections within it on all different accounts and the information on those accounts.

The credit bureaus sell our information and we willingly give (most of the time) to lenders in exchange of credit of some sort. They only report what is provided to them that we allow in our lender contracts

It is an automated system which has tons of problems and the law (FCRA) like all laws had to be sponsored and someone had to pay for that and you know a consumer group did not pay for that.

Folks, I understand that when your credit is bad you are looking for that “magic pill” to make all the problems go away…. It doesn’t exist, sorry it just doesn’t.

That is why one of the things I always promise before speaking to someone is I’m going to tell you the truth whether you like the answer or not.

It doesn’t mean I can’t help but you need to be aware of what the situation is and not let someone prey upon you to take your money and make it seem like once you pay them all the problems go away, it doesn’t work like that.

Designing a specific plan for your specific issues can always be done it then becomes a timeline issue for you.

I hope I stopped some of you reading this or thinking of spending your money but more importantly your hope and emotions on a joke of a claim of hope, and a mini news flash for the crazies who maybe tried it and got some things deleted.

Did you ever think that maybe the reporting company didn’t respond to the credit bureaus in the allotted time or cared to respond for company internal reasons and that why the accounts were deleted or it fell past the statute of limitations??

That’s it for this posting, hope it sheds some light on some things and feel free to google the FCRA and read section 609 for yourself, you will then see that all the claims they make are not remotely mentioned in the sections they claim. you cant even create an argument that they do, at least not without a straight face.

 

 

*** Want to learn more about how the credit system works? Buy my book for easy to understand concepts of how credit works and how lenders look at you at you.

Contact me at wayne @ wayne the credit guy.com

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Debt Settlement VS Bankruptcy

When I started including my thoughts on debt settlement and writing some blogs about them I was amazed at the response and the views so thank you to everyone reading them.

Many times I was able to point them in the direction they needed for their benefit not some companies benefit. So far I have estimated that 2% of the people calling me or contacting me after reading them were clients for me that I could in good conscience help and save A LOT of money (ranging from 17k-80k).

Some just needed the right direction but I had someone that wanted to know why not just file bankruptcy and wipe it all clean.

Which leads me to this blog Debt Settlement vs Bankruptcy

If you have seen, heard or look at advertisements/commercials paid for by of course lawyers who want you to pay them to file bankruptcy they paint the prettiest of pictures to make all your problems go away in a snap.

Since most people reading these blogs are not qualified candidates for me then I believe I can give a real non bias opinion and lay out the pros and cons for each and give you the tools to make an educated decision.

So let’s start with the Pro’s BUT first let’s break it down as there are 2 MAIN types of bankruptcy. Back in the old days (prior to October 2008) you could file bankruptcy in the blink of an eye, but now you need to QUALIFY for it. So it makes sense to understand the two.

  1. Bankruptcy Chapter 13

Chapter 13 allows those with enough income to repay all or part of their debts an alternative to liquidation. It’s bankruptcy for those whose biggest problem is dealing with creditors’ demands for immediate payment, not lack of income.

An example of this is if the bank is getting ready to take your car or home, filing bankruptcy chapter 13 can actually be done on your own and it staves off the wolves so to speak, at least for a month which buys you some time for other options.

An over simplified way to understand this is think of the courts cutting your bills in half and then a structured payment plan is paid out to the court from anywhere from 1-5 years.

  1. Bankruptcy Chapter 7                                                                                                                                                          Is the most popular one for a variety of reasons, it allows you to walk away free and clear of any debt submitted to the courts with the exception of money owed to the government and student loans.

However now after the new laws kicked in after October 2008 you have to be “assessed” to see if you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy as you can no longer “just go file”. There was a means test created that you can google to read more so check that out if you are so inclined.

 

Bankruptcy chapter 7 stays on a credit report for 10 years, many future lenders look at this public record filing with different eyes. I recently had a client who filed Chapter 7 9 years ago and had a credit score now in the 700’s and he was denied for a credit card and the bankruptcy was the reason why. Now is that like that with all credit cards…. No. But it gives you an idea how future lenders look at bankruptcy and its given a more serious look as opposed to bankruptcy attorneys make it seem to be the ultimate tool to be free and clear.

PLUS from a credit standpoint what you need to understand that a bankruptcy is literally the worse mark you can have on a credit report. Plus from a mortgage lender position to buy ( or refinance ) if you have any more credit “hiccups” such as a collection or late payment lenders do not typically want to deal with you as they see this as  a continuous problem.

 

Now Debt Settlement

Debt Settlement can be considered an unofficial version of Bankruptcy chapter 13 without the public record on your credit report.

It’s basically a renegotiation of the original contract but without the bankruptcy stigma attached to it.

The quality of the debt settlement depends on the company involved. Many of the ones out there wait for the credit card companies to contact them and they take the 1st offer that is given to them which is usually about 30% of what the balance was.

I just found out that company I have never heard of (which means nothing as there are thousands out there) was charging the people I am currently guiding 20% of the debt owed! Wow!!

And they operate like I have typically heard with others, they come up with a number that you pay into an account of sorts and when the pot gets large enough they say they go after accounts for you for settlement but as I mentioned they just look at the letters and see who offered what and then say “hey we got one taken care of for you and save you …..”!

In this companies specific case if they saved them 30% of the balance but they charge 20% for their fees, so they saved you 10%?????????

 

Typically the “bigger the company” which they like to brag about to you the worse you are treated or once the agreement is solved the phone calls do not get returned like before you signed up with them as they have moved onto the next person/revenue/paycheck.

I don’t want to go into more stories but I typically help get an average of 60-70% of a discount and the absolute worst I have ever helped people with was 50% discount.

But that will be the difference between uneducated people who are basically just looking to get as many people into their program and take the deal offered to them as opposed to someone who teats your money as if its theirs and fights for every dollar as there is a BIG difference between a company’s profits and a family.

 

Feel free to contact me at wayne @ waynethecreditguy .com

(remove all the spaces, I just did that to avoid getting spammed)

 

If you have any questions and PLEASE be as detailed as possible with your situation, such as what your current credit score is, are you on-time with payments or late and if late how late and amount owed

 

Wayne Sanford is a credit and finance expert with over 13 years’ experience in the industry. He has reviewed over 16,000 credit reports and appeared on local and national TV on CBS and is a contributor to many online publications as well as being an Continuing educational provider for the Texas Real Estate Commission.

 

NOTE: 

I just felt the need to point this out but if i believe that after a conversation with someone after being told their complete situation and i feel that filing bankruptcy is the best option for them then i will suggest that and then discuss  all the pros and cons that come along with that choice.

And i have done that, but of course while i have to make the standard disclaimer that everything i discuss with people cannot be construed as financial or legal advice i will put myself in their situation and then let them know what i would do if in that position and give them the information and then they can make their own choices based on that data.

 

****  UPDATE:

When I was getting ready to post this blog this morning a perfect example just got emailed to me. A lady was told by a bankruptcy attorney she can’t file Bankruptcy 7 because her husband (the household) makes too much money.

Per his advice which baffles me greatly as the attorney should have asked these questions at the start since it’s not rocket science and now he is not taking/returning her calls. But now gave her advice that puts her in an even worse position now so will be talking to her later today to give her all her current options for her to decide what they think is best for their family.

I have said this for YEARS…. Just because your first name is “DR.” or last name is “ESQ.” does not mean they know EVERYTHING! It truly drives me nuts.

I learned a long time ago to doubt everyone and get several opinions, make sure I understand them and then see what is best for me and I use that to help people like you reading this and I hope it does.   =)

What the Debt Settlement companies DON’T SAY

I have received a lot of responses concerning the debt settlement blogs I have written which surprised me a bit. It was nice to hear people thanking me for the detailed information and tell me how it helped them understand more.

With all of the conversations I have had I noticed a few things that seem to be a pattern and I wanted to go into a little more detail on it for everyone.

While the below will apply to any company regarding debt settlement after these conversations this specifically applies to National Debt Relief, Credit Associates and Freedom Debt Relief as these were the three main companies people inquired about.

What I have noticed is a lack of transparency and only telling you half-truths or not the full story.

Now is that because they are doing it on purpose because let’s face it, whatever their “title” is they tell you at the end of the day they are there to get you signed up so they are sales people. While there is NOTHING wrong with that the behind the scene issues is what can get you.

If you remember the recent Wells Fargo scandal with employees signing people up for credit cards and lines of credit without their consent there were financial incentives when employees meet certain goals.

So one of the things people have a great concern when calling these companies looking for relief is their credit score. A good majority of people I have talked to do not necessarily have credit problems or really need credit repair, it’s just that their credit card bills have snowballed into a mountain and it’s too overwhelming and they see so relief in sight anytime soon.

These representatives seem to be steering people calling into what is best for the company and not the person calling. Now is that all representatives…. Of course not but these are the stories I am hearing we be wary.

If you are looking at trying to get the credit card companies to drop their interest then you are looking at what is called a Debt Management Program. Anything else will destroy your credit score. Now while there may be programs out there that are different that settling debt for pennies on the dollar the only way that can happen is for you to damage your credit score.

How much damage is hard to calculate as a credit score and report is like a fingerprint, every fingerprint is different thus the damage will be different for each person.

Credit is so specific that as I tell people who contact me that unless I can see the exact credit report for them that they are seeking advice on I can only give them general advice and I HATE giving general advice for someone with a specific goal they are trying to accomplish.

Andi am hearing that people are feeling like they are being double-talked into something they are not 100% sure is best for them.

One thing I have to point out was a story that still sticks in my head and it was from someone who spoke to National Debt Relief, they told him that they could get his then credit card that he owed approx. $19,000 down 30% and save him almost $6,000 ($5,700 to be exact). Now what were they going to do? Basically not tell him that in a few months the credit card company he owed the money to they were going to wait a few months and then the company would contact them offering a settlement of 30%.

So what in the world did they do? In my opinion (and probably yours too) nothing. But welcome to the world we live in. He wanted to see if I could help and I helped him settle it for a total of $8,000.00 saving him $11,000.00

As I have mentioned in past blogs at the end of this will be my email address, broken up to prevent me getting killed with spam but feel free to contact me. While seeing the credit report will help me assess you situation the standard disclaimer is I’m not dispensing legal or financial advice but I will look at your report and tell you what I would do in your situation with my 13 years of hands on experience in this industry.

When calling looking for relief of the financial sorts do not just jump on board with a company and be what the sales term is called as a “one call close”.

Get the information from these companies, think about it, make a pros and cons list. Good question for you reading this is the companies you called did they give you a pros and cons of what they are trying to sell you? if they didn’t then do not think for one second that there isn’t a plus and minus for you with what you are trying to do.

This like most things is a game of leverage, be smart always have a pad and paper with you to write what these companies are telling you (even if you bullet point it) as you will not remember what they tell you as it is your first time hearing this information and studies show most people only retain 15% of new information given to them. This way you now have reference to go back and if you contact someone like me your able to provide me the inforaiton they told you in order for me to provide you an educated opinion on the specific matter in question.

My email is below if you want to email me but please provide me a solid summary in bullet points to what is owed what you hope to accomplish and any additional information you may think I need.

 

Best of luck!

Wayne

 

 

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EMAIL:             Wayne @ wayne the credit guy.com    (REMOVE ALL THE SPACES)

National Debt Relief Blog Part II

 

Continued….

 

So I popped a spam email I use into their system to see what they would send me. In business it is called an Email “Drip System”. It is designed to keep showing up in your email box to remind you of your conversation with them

The first email and what always seems to be in their emails is check out our 15,000 reviews!

Now I’m not saying that the reviews are fake as there is really no way of knowing that but I could not tell you how many times I get calls from companies who say they can help me get 5 star reviews from verified profiles with their computer system bots. When I first got that call that floored me, but hey, it is the digital age.

And these reviews are probably real as most people only make 1 phone call, get the good sales pitch and they are emotionally drained from being overwhelmed with debt so if someone tells you that they can stop the phone calls and save you thousands and the customer doesn’t know or understand what is actually occurring or the future ramifications of what is being done as they are non the wiser. All they know at the moment is someone can help them save thousands which is a wonderful thing.

But if you’re reading my blogs then you’re the type who likes to do some research and not believe everything you read so I applaud that. I can’t count the amount of times I have told a sales person I am not a one call/time close. I need to absorb the new information given to me and then think and make a decision not jump into one on an emotional decision.

So approximately a day or so later I get The 1st email basically says look at all the people that love us. One quote in the email said:

45 years to pay off my debt but with the Debt Reset Program I’m able to pay it off in about 2 years“.

 

Yeah…. I’m going to have to call BS on that one for a few reasons. First is credit cards (or at least all the ones I have seen) will say pay the minimum only and will all be paid off in 28 years and 36 years was the most I have ever seen.

 

The 2nd email came about 3 days later saying what would you do with and extra $6,296 as that’s what they say clients save overall. What I mostly do not like about companies (just a personal feeling on how to conduct business) and of course after the fluff of the email they tell you to call their “Debt Counselors” but in the calls I have made all I observe  see and hear is a sales pitch and I have no skin in the game and don’t care if you work with them I am just pointing out what someone with years of experience hears.

 

The 3rd email approximately 3-4 days after # 2 reminds you to check out how many people like them.

Nothing wrong with that just trying to keep them in your mind and to keep you thinking about making a decision. And email any company would use.

 

NOW..

 

The 4th email is where they in my opinion fall into the same category as CREDIT ASSOCIATES, so let’s look at this one in detail:

Your credit score isn’t quite as important as you’ve been told it is. (THIS IS HOW THEY START IT)

 

If one of your main concerns about enrolling in a debt relief program – which can save you thousands of dollars and years of stress – is potential impact to your credit score, I have some news for you.

 

– Debt relief programs will only impact your credit score temporarily.

– Remaining in debt is much worse for your long-term credit.

– You could waste thousands of dollars on interest charges every year.

– Credit score only matters when you’re trying to take on more debt (a new loan, house, etc.) – but you’re trying to get out!

 

I do not want to attack each line in this as I could have a field day on how they are trying to manipulate you in this one.

And I do not want this to be a sales pitch for me. So Let’s just say credit is the cornerstone of the American economy, so yeah…it’s kind of important since that’s what EVERYONE ASKS you.

It’s now being used for car insurance, military promotion and job promotion, so again I think it is rather important and for them to make that last statement is literally just a flat out lie.

** So one thing I always tell people is if a company has to lie to get you to hire/work with them then how good or comfortable to do you feel about that?

 

So of course they lost me once I received this email and then started to work on this blog.

The 5th email they finally point out that they charge between 18-25% of the debt you owe. Call me crazy but I think that would be something to be discussed at the start and then point out how working with them will affect your credit.

Again…. Kind of important information that should be at least in the first two emails, correct?

So a little detail, if the account has been let go (6 months of no payment) then the account has been charged off. If it hasn’t and you’re looking to just get a company to help lower the interest rates as when you called they said no to you.

 

The final email gives some summary bullet points and I get a bit of a kick how they say in # 7:

  • Transparency is important to us

 

After reading the above I wrote and mentioned sort of points out that to me at least “Transparency” seems to have a different definition to me than it does them.

 

When I look at their “Accreditations” they are all paid memberships so they are not a nonprofit company. And just like with me and my business I will not be a paid member of an organization so I can post their logo and name to make it look like I am here to help a consumer.

 

So as I tell everyone remember “Buyer Beware”, can they help you based on where you are now…. I’m sure they can and if they save you $100 aren’t they complying with the contract? Just like with many scam credit repair companies out there, if they improve your credit from when you started it is a success but would you consider 5 points a success? The legal contract you signed would.

 

BUT

Are they helping you as much as they can? Probably not, after all it’s not your money they are negotiating is it?

 

REMEMBER—  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

 

 

Feel free to contact me at wayne@waynethecreditguy.com if you have any questions and PLEASE be as detailed as possible with your situation and ask about my book “The Real World of Credit” to learn A LOT more of how the system works if you are thinking of fixing your own credit.

 

Understanding how the system works is half the job!

 

 

The Microsoft Scam Phone call

This is a fairly popular scam call that has increased lately in my opinion. Now you may ask what does that have to do with credit repair or credit education and I will explain towards the end of this blog or you can skip to the end if you want. The below is a breakdown on the call and what I did when I had a little time to mess with them.

 

HOW IT WORKS:

The first thing they do is “Spoof” the phone number of Microsoft so if you google the phone number it shows its Microsoft’s corporate office, which of course it’s not.

What “Spoof” means:

Spoofing, in general, is a fraudulent or malicious practice in which communication is sent from an unknown source disguised as a source known to the receiver.

*** Which means they can electronically make the number that shows up on your phone/caller ID as a legitimate phone number.

 

How they get your name:

Most of us have our names attached to our phone numbers somewhere on the internet with phone directories to have some basic personal information about you to help try to convince you they are legitimate.

 

So the phone number looks like it is coming from a known or legitimate place when actually it’s coming from a call center of scam artists.

They tell you they are from Microsoft’s technical support department and YOUR COMPUTER had sent them a “critical alert” and it needs to get fixed before your computer has more problems.

SO, I told them when I recently got one of these calls:

“C’mon, this is a scam, people know about this”. Then the gentleman giving me an obviously fake name begins his B.S pitch and says not it’s not a scam, their support department says a critical error showed up and they can give me the license number of my system.

I told them to call me back at 2pm as I’m on the road now as I planned to have a little fun with them in order to write this blog.

 

They call back around that time and I start hitting them with questions to waste their time and get them to think he has got me on the hook.

 

Q- So when did you get a critical alert from “my system”?

Their answer- A few weeks ago and he apologized for not getting to me sooner.

Q- Why didn’t my computer tell me there was an error in the system?

Their answer- this critical error is in the core of their system and has to be addressed from their end first.

Now at this point, I make the “ok, yeah” statements making him think he has me on the hook.

Q- Ok, so what type of computer do I have?

Their answer- we do not have the Hardware information on your computer just the technical critical error from the core system.

 

Then I say, guys I know you’re full of crap and scam artists and do you know how I know that for a fact?

His answer of course was no sir I am not, I am calling you about the critical error alert we received from your computer ( blah, blah, blah stick to the script)

So then I dropped a lie on him that popped his top… (try it and have some FUN!)

“Buddy I know you’re a slime ball and crook because I have had a MAC computer for the last 10 years (I don’t).

So tell me how the hell you can get a critical alert from a system that I don’t own”???

 

His response: Well why did you tell me to call you back to address your problem?

 

I told him since he was a piece of crap trying to steal people’s information I wanted to waste his time to stop him from scamming other people.

At this time he launched into and I kid you not a 45 second cursing fest at me and I do not know how he was able to not take a breath during that time so I was actually impressed that he went on such a rant for so long without taking a breath.

So to annoy him I just kept laughing not stop in an annoying voice for as long as I could to drive him crazy. It worked but I still had to just hang up on him. Then of course thanks to phone technology I blocked the number and I aggravated him so bad that he attempted to call me back 3 times that day but the phone automatically blocked his call.

 

So, now how does this have anything to do with your credit?
What these companies try to do is get remote access to your computer and like most people you have passwords, banking information and personal information on your computer or saved in browser history that could cause all sorts of problems for you if they got their hands on it and cause all sorts of problems for you now and in the future.

That is it for this week, I hope you gleamed some information and knowledge on this and remember that our phones are now the new “junk mail”. Companies set up robo calls and constantly call you with offers.

They have the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” attitude and other than clicking on the “BLOCK CALL” on your phone that’s all you can do.

Reporting these calls to the “Do Not Call List” is nothing but a waste of your time as they can’t track anything since with technology companies can buy spoofing software as mentioned above so the phone you see is most likely not the number they used.

 

REMEMBER—  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

 

 

Feel free to contact me at wayne@waynethecreditguy.com and ask about my book “The Real World of Credit” to learn A LOT more of how the system works if you are thinking of fixing your own credit.

Understanding how the system works is half the job!