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Archive for Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Take time to comment on credit reports

October 13, 2009

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I’ve been meaning to pull my credit reports for some time.

I, like so many others, am concerned about identity theft or uncorrected errors in my credit files that might ding my credit scores.

When I finally got around to checking my reports, I knew to go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228. I haven’t been fooled by those clever ubiquitous commercials for freecreditreport.com with the goofy guy playing a guitar complaining about how his life is messed up because he didn’t check his credit report.

But the Federal Trade Commission has received many complaints from consumers who were misdirected from the official centralized site. Every consumer is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

In an effort to help keep consumers from ending up on imposter sites or falling for promotions for free credit reports that aren’t really free, the FTC is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the Free Annual File Disclosures Rule. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires the agency to create amendments to the law by Feb. 22, 2010, to prevent deceptive marketing of these reports.

Comment period

Over the next two months, you’ll have a chance to weigh in on the FTC’s rule-making effort. Do take the time to comment, especially if you feel you’ve been deceived. This isn’t a trivial matter. These rules will dictate how you get your credit reports. Most of what the FTC is proposing will make things better, but the agency needs to be tougher.

“We are encouraging consumers and anybody else to comment,” said Katherine Armstrong, an attorney with the FTC. “We want to know if we got it right.”

On one important rule, the FTC has it only partly right.

The agency wants to prevent the credit bureaus from offering any product or service until after consumers get their free reports. The law currently permits the credit reporting agencies to advertise their proprietary products and services through the centralized source, in this case annualcreditreport.com.

Once you’ve followed directions and entered personal information intended to make sure you are who you say you are, you will encounter advertising for credit scores and credit monitoring services. Then you have to decline the offers before obtaining your credit report. I had to click through two Web pages of such marketing before getting to my report for one bureau.

Although the FTC said it recognized the potential for confusion from such marketing, it initially chose not to restrict it. Now the agency is trying to rectify that mistake.

The FTC is proposing that any advertising or marketing for products or services through the centralized source be delayed until after consumers have obtained their reports either through telephone, mail or Internet requests.

Other proposals

The agency is also proposing that the credit bureaus remove the hyperlinks to their specific Web sites from annualcreditreport.com.

On the official site, there is language in bold red lettering that says “Start Here to view and print your credit report now.” However, some people assume they should click on the credit bureau links below that wording. If they do, they are navigated away from the free site. Consumers who mistakenly click on the links then open a page with products and services offered by the bureaus.

Another proposed rule would require that companies prominently inform consumers they haven’t landed on the official free credit report site. For example, the FTC says if a Web site advertises a free credit report, the site must send the consumer to a separate landing page with the required disclosure: “This is not the free credit report provided for by federal law.”

One amendment would require audio disclosures about the official free reports to be delivered in a slow and deliberate manner. To read the text of the Federal Register Notice with all the proposed changes, go to www.ftc.gov. Comments must be received on or before Nov. 30.

To submit your comments electronically go to http://public.commentworks.com/ftc/FreeCreditReportNPRM. Comments on paper should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex T), 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.

The one thing the FTC should do is remove all advertising and marketing by the credit bureaus before, during and even after the process of getting a free credit report. It’s a pain to have to worry about identity theft or mistakes when checking your credit report. People should be able to get their reports and exit the Web site without having to go through a gauntlet of sales pitches. Why give the bureaus a commercial crack at all?

If the FTC really wants to end consumer confusion, annualcreditreport.com should be completely commercial-free. Right? If you’re with me, let the FTC know.

Comments

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

I have two car payments with the same company. A new and a used car. I mailed in both September payments in the same envelope but two checks were enclosed, one for each car's September's payment.

A few weeks later, I started get calls from the finance company, these were recorded messages but no person. "Urgent call us your attention is required". So, I called them and the account rep. tells me I'm 30 days passed due on one of the car payments. I told him he was crazy that both my checks had cleared by bank and my accounts were current.

The next day I get a call from another collection agent. He tells me my account is 31 days passed due and the car company had ruined my credit by reporting that my account is over 30 days passed due. I informed him that I had made both car payments in the first part of the month on time and that both checks had cleared my bank. He still insisted that my account is over 31 days and that my credit has been effected.

The next day I called customer service to find out why their collection department was calling me. They informed me that my newer car was over 32 days passed due and that my used car's payment was made for three months and no payment was due until January 2010.

So, they applied both checks to the used cars account and nothing on the new car and reported it 30 days passed due. They quickly changed this and corrected the problem, bringing both accounts current. Someone had entered them in error. However, there was this problem with them reporting my account to the national credit companies to deal with. They said they could not change it for 30 days or until the next correction tape was sent in.

I told them fine, you idiots pay me $25,000 or I'm going to sue you for a million plus interest. She hung up on me.

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

Are there any lawyers out there who want to get paid?

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

.....and both checks had the two different account numbers written on them. They were due five days apart. I was just trying to save a postage stamp. Not get my credit ruined.

thewayitis 5 years, 2 months ago

It was a simple mistake, if it was corrected within 60 days and you can't show monetary loss or damage there is no case sorry.

ssakcaj 5 years, 2 months ago

Apply for a home loan or a job and get denied and you have started building your case for loss or damages...

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's the problem and the onging damage this caused. I own a business. Had an application in with a merchant bank to accept credit card on business sales. Used my SS number because I have no Fein #, I'm a sole operator and not a corporation. I don't have a lot of business credit. A few days ago my applycation was denied be cause the credit report the merchant bank used had the passed 30 days on a car payment on it and the merchant bank denied my credit card processing account because of this stupid car company; who is bankrupt themselves.

Is this not ongoing damages?

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

Once you get denied by one merchant bank, they put you on a black list and any other merchant bank uses to determine access to the credit processing markets. This is how and why they charge business more fees and higher rates to process business transactions. If your on the denied list as a business, then you have to pay out a higher rate on all your business sales and this eats away at profits from sales.

This car company should be sued until the cows come home for their stupid employee's actions and for their eager need to report what they thing is bad credit to all the national credit companies when it was their faught and they should pay the piper for their error. They make everyone else pay for their mistakes. They should be held liable for their stupid mistakes as well.

Are their any lawyers out there who would like this case?

Corey Williams 5 years, 2 months ago

"A few weeks later, I started get calls from the finance company, these were recorded messages but no person."

Why didn't you clear things up when they first started calling you? Instead of telling them they were "crazy", why didn't you sort this all out?

Are you sure you spelled everything on your checks correctly?

Go get yourself a trial lawyer. Oh, wait...sorry.

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