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Errors in Credit Reports due to Mixing and Matching a Relative’s Data Most Prevalent

The Columbus Dispatch reports, following an extensive investigation into consumer complaints at the FTC over a 2.5 year period, that almost 3/4th of the complaints involved consumer reporting agencies mixing someone’s relative’s credit data into their file. Of nearly 1,300 complaints with the FTC, 563 reported the information being mixed with that of their mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter or grandparent. The next highest category is data mixed from a stranger, reporting at 213.

You can view the results at this link: TheColumbusDispatchMixedFileStatistics.

Mixed Files Found to be Big Problem in Credit Reporting

The 4-part investigative article published by The Columbus Post reports that one of the biggest problems found in consumer complaints to the FTC is with mixed files, where someone else’s information is appearing in your reports.

Of the 1,252 people who told the FTC that their files had been mixed with other consumers’, 30 percent also complained that the credit-reporting agencies failed to correct the mistakes after being asked. The others did not indicate whether they had sought to have the information corrected.

You can read the rest of the article at this link: TheColumbusDispatchonCreditRpts.

Good News Article on Problems with Credit Reporting Errors

The Columbus Dispatch has just published a great 4-part article investigating consumer complaints on credit reporting errors and its impacts. Here is a link: TheColumbusDispatchOnCreditRpts

President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Feb 2012

President Obama issued his Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights on Feb. 23, 2012, addressing a standard for collection and use of consumer personal information, declaring it “a framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy.” You can view the White Paper here: Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked Word, White House Feb. 2012.

This bill of rights does not have the force of law, though the administration has the intent of encouraging it to be passed in future legislation.

President Obama states in the introductory letter that this white paper is a blueprint for privacy in the information age and encourages all companies to abide by it now, voluntarily.

I am pleased to present this new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as a blueprint for privacy in the information age. These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data. I call on these companies to begin immediately working with privacy advocates, consumer protection enforcement agencies, and others to implement these principles in enforceable codes of conduct. My Administration will work to advance these principles and work with Congress to put them into law. With this Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, we offer to the world a dynamic model of how to offer strong privacy protection and enable ongoing innovation in new information technologies.

Currently, there is no law in place to regulate the collection or use of our personal information on the internet. The intent of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is to create added protections to the collection and use of our personal data by the various internet companies that are already collecting this information and using it in ways we are not aware. This bill of rights would require disclosures and the ability to opt in or out of certain collection and use of our personal data in a uniform manner.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Upholds Arbitration Clause Despite Its Class Action Ban

In Cottonwood Financial Ltd v. Estes, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Case No. 2009AP760, decided Dec. 20, 2011, the court enforced an arbitration agreement against a consumer despite the ban on class action proceedings contained within the agreement. The Wisconsin court followed the holding of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1740 (2011), which it summarized as holding that “a state law that ‘classif[ied] most collective-arbitration waivers in consumer contracts as unconscionable[,]” and thus unenforceable, was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).’” Although the pre-Concepcion decision out of the same court of appeals found the agreement unenforceable, Concepcion caused this court to reverse its earlier decision and now uphold the agreement in its most recent opinion.

The bottom-line of this decision is that forced arbitration agreements that preclude consumers from bringing their claims in court, before a jury, regardless of whether its is brought as a class action or an individual claim, can be forced into privately held, confidential arbitration proceedings without the ability to raise the claims on behalf of all similarly harmed consumers. This will tend to preclude small dollar claims from ever being enforced to the benefit of unscrupulous businesses.

Consumer Mobile Fairness Act Proposed in U.S. Senate

Senators Blumenthal (D-Ct) and Al Franken (D-MN), who are sponsors of the Arbitration Fairness Act, have introduced a bill to the U.S. Senate to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in cell phone contracts.

Mandatory arbitration clauses force you to bring claims in arbitration, rather than in court. These clauses are generally anti-consumer because it keeps information about claims hidden from the public as well as the outcome of claims. The clauses also take away your right to have your dispute decided by a jury of your peers in open court. Many arbitration panels are viewed as biased, in favor of industry, as industry is in arbitration with these panels repeatedly while the consumer is before them maybe once in a lifetime, among other reasons.

More information on this bill is at:

http://blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-franken-introduce-legislation-to-provide-justice-to-wireless-customers_

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/post/franken-blumenthal-bill-would-allow-cell-phone-users-to-sue-carriers/2011/10/04/gIQANrueLL_blog.html

U.S. Senate Banking Committee Approves Cordray to Lead Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

On October 6, 2011, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency created to watch out for consumer protections in the financial industry. The vote was straight party line, with Republican senators opposing his nomination and Democrats supporting it.

The nomination now moves to a vote on the Senate floor.

ABA GP Solo Magazine Article on Credit Reporting by Expert Evan Hendricks

The American Bar Association published in its GP Solo Magazine an article authored by Evan Hendricks on credit reports, credit checks and credit scores. Mr. Hendricks is  an expert on credit reporting and the credit reporting industry as recognized in federal and state courts around the country. The article is available online at www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2011/july_august/credit_reports_checks_scores.html.

In the article, Mr. Hendricks discusses what a credit score is “a number that reflects your credit worthiness at a given point in time.” Higher credit scores is meant to reflect a better risk for the lender, so people with higher scores get loans at more favorable rates. Mr. Hendricks further explains the scoring models used by several agencies and ranges assigned to consumers that put them in certain risk categories.

Renting and Your Credit Reports

Rejected for renting a house or apartment? Did the landlord use a credit report or background report? If so, you have certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Tenant screening companies are now using your credit reports and background checks to decide whether to rent to you.

Credit Reports Are Used in HAMP Mortgage Modifications to Verify Monthly Expenses

To qualify for a Home Affordable Modification Program ( HAMP ), a home loan / mortgage servicer must consider your monthly expenses, according to the Handbook for Servicers of Non-GSE Mortgages, version 3.0, of December 2, 2010. One method the servicer will use to verify your monthly expenses is your credit reports / consumer reports from Experian, Equifax or Trans Union.

An excessive amount of monthly debt showing on your credit reports may cause you trouble in qualifying for the HAMP modification under the eligibility requirements. So you want to make sure that your credit reports are accurate, in that your credit reports do not contain any inaccurate accounts, inaccurate balances, or inaccurate payment information.

When preparing to apply for a HAMP modification to your home mortgage, it would be helpful to request your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and Trans Union to review them for any inaccuracies. If inaccuracies appear on your credit reports, you can dispute them. By correcting your credit reports before you apply for the HAMP modification, you may save yourself some time, energy and headaches by avoiding a servicer finding you ineligible for the modification based on inaccurate credit reports.

You can request your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com, which is set up for the purpose of each consumer getting his or her free annual credit reports from Experian, Equifax and Trans Union once every 12 months. If you already got your free credit report, you can still purchase a consumer disclosure through this site.

For more information on disputing inaccurate information on your credit reports, you can visit our website at www.wis-celc.com.

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