With the year halfway through, now is as good a time as any to take stock of how you have been doing with those 2019 New Year’s resolutions. While we cannot help you with bulking up those muscles, slimming your waistline down, we can be of assistance in getting your financial health in order. However, like your attempts to bulk up or slim down, the important thing to do is start.
So how do you start on your goal to be financially fit?
The best first step in achieving financial fitness is knowing your numbers. These include your credit balances, credit scores, number of credit cards, types of debts, etc. A great place to start on your quest to get in the know is with your official credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies each year. Your credit report is a great way to take the temperature of your financial life. Staggering the time that you pull the credit reports, for instance pulling on each four (4) months, will allow you to informally monitor your credit report. This will allow you to be able to discover any discrepancies in your credit report fairly quickly and will allow you an opportunity to rectify them. With credit scams, security breaches, skimmers, identity theft and other financial crimes at an all-time high, we cannot stress enough the importance of diligently monitoring all your credit reports
What to do if there are discrepancies in your credit report?
- Contact the entity reporting the discrepancy immediately. The sooner you report the discrepancy the better it is for you. We highly recommend that all communications regarding the discrepancy be done in writing and that you keep copies of all such communications. In the event, you opt to communicate verbally, it is extremely important to keep detailed notes of each and every interaction with the entity making the report. It is helpful to include the phone number that you called (or that called you), the date and time of the communication, the representative with whom you communicated and their direct contact information, if available. It is also suggested that you write a quick blurb as to what happened in the call. If the creditor indicates that the matter is resolved and you are not being held liable for the charges, demand a written correspondence so stating.
- Report the matter to law enforcement and obtain a police report. This step is often omitted by consumers, who later come to regret not making a report. Making and obtaining a police report is your proof that a crime has been committed against you. While many companies and even some police officers will try to tell you that you do not need one or that the crime was committed over the internet so they cannot write you a report, do not let that deter you from getting a report. Remember this is about you protecting yourself from future harm.
- Dispute the matter with the credit reporting agency. This step is an absolute necessity. We recommend that you mail (with some form of tracking) a letter to the credit reporting agency outlining in detail the basis for the dispute. Be sure to attach copies of any supporting documentation that you may have. Please do not mail originals. Once the credit reporting agency has received the dispute, it will forward the information along to the creditor. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, there are established timelines within which you are to receive information or the outcome of your dispute. The creditor’s or credit reporting agencies’ failure to comply with these timeframes may be a basis on which you can sue them.
What to do if the discrepancy is not corrected?
If you have done all of the above and the discrepancy still has not been corrected, it might be time to speak with an attorney. It is beneficial to present your attorney with any evidence of damages that you may have incurred as a result of the discrepancy on your credit report. Depending on your specific circumstances, your attorney may be able to file legal action against both the offending creditor and the credit reporting agencies.
If you already know your numbers and there are no discrepancies on your credit report, then congratulations are in order-you have taken the first and an extremely important step towards financial fitness. The next step in your financial fitness journey may be tackling those outstanding debts for which you are receiving calls from creditors.
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 1,800 homes from foreclosure, eliminated $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have collected millions of dollars on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations, negligence and fraud. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we may be able to help you.