In a rare joint action, the national credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have announced they are now offering free weekly credit reports to all Americans in an effort to protect their financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.
Available through the Annual Credit Report portal, the free reports will be accessible through April 2021.
“These are unprecedented times facing the world. People are feeling scared and uncertain about the future. To help play our part and reduce some of that anxiety, we are uniting as an industry to help people know the facts about their financial data,” Mark W. Begor, CEO of Equifax; Brian Cassin, CEO of Experian; and Chris Cartwright, CEO of TransUnion, indicated in a joint statement. “We are making credit reports more accessible more often so people can better manage their finances and take necessary steps to protect their credit standing.”
As noted by the credit agencies, the “hardship” has spread rapidly over the last few weeks with the novel coronavirus shutting down much of the country. That led to approximately 22 million workers – or 13 percent of the U.S. labor force – filing for unemployment. In addition, almost 3 million borrowers have requested a forbearance on their home mortgage.
Credit vigilance is critical during these uncertain times. Consumers are advised to review their credit reports frequently to determine how their payment behavior is being reported. The single most important action for consumers who cannot pay their bills is to contact their creditors to determine what assistance is available.
“To help play our part and reduce some of that anxiety, we are uniting as an industry to help people know the facts about their financial data,” the CEOs concluded. “We are making credit reports more accessible more often so people can better manage their finances and take necessary steps to protect their credit standing.”
Accessible through the Annual Credit Report portal, the free weekly credit reports are available through April 2021.
“Reviewing your credit report on a regular basis is a simple way to be proactive about your financial well-being,” Steve Swickle of Fort Lauderdale told South Florida Reporter. “And with 156 opportunities over the next 12 months, it just got easier.”
Utilizing public record databases to find civil, criminal, or traffic violations in South Florida has become a bit easier with the release of an updated list of online resources. Locating and identifying civil litigation, criminal record or traffic infraction history is but a click away. Access to resources relating to inmates, those on probation, parole or community control, sex offenders or missing children, in addition to stolen property or vehicles, is readily available as well.
“In today’s society, comprehensive background checks are a necessity,” private investigator John Sinks of Comprehensive Investigative Solutions in Boca Raton told South Florida Reporter. “A background check is basically an investigative report on an individual. It typically includes a criminal history and credit check, educational credential verification, public records check, or any combination of reports.”
Suggested below are some of the free or low-cost options available when conducting background research in South Florida. In no way are they exhaustive and – according to Sinks – a professional investigator should be consulted when conducting more than a cursory search.
Basic background checks
Florida Department of Law Enforcement– For a modest fee of $23.00, you can obtain an individual’s reported criminal history record in the state of Florida. Sealed or expunged information will not be included in this report.
Florida Crime Information Center– Search for information on whether a vehicle, vehicle parts, boats, license plates, decals, guns and other items were reported lost or stolen in Florida.
VINCheck– Search the National Insurance Crime Bureau database to see if a vehicle has been reported stolen.
“Pre-employment background checks are an important and necessary part of our hiring process,” Xavier Mitjavila, told South Florida Reporter. “There have been times that applicants have been less than truthful in disclosing background issues. After a cursory search, we engage a professional private investigator to complete the process in a more thorough fashion.”
As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.
With an improved economy and real estate prices on the rise, your good name and reputation are more important than ever when applying for new credit cards, an automobile, rental property or home mortgage. Many creditors have tightened their lending guidelines, effectively barring millions of Americans from borrowing money.
Long gone are the days of obtaining credit, goods, benefits, services and/or employment with a 620 FICO score. In most instances, a borrower will be denied if they maintain a credit score lower than 740. Even those with high credit scores have experienced reduced credit lines or closed credit card accounts and equity lines. When an account has not been closed, credit limits have been reduced to the existing balance due.
Mortgage lenders, auto finance companies, credit card issuers, credit unions and traditional banks have all raised the bar. Borrowers with low FICO scores can expect to be denied credit or to pay significantly higher interest rates than those with excellent repayment histories.
With about 52 percent of credit profiles at the Equifax, Experian or TransUnion consumer reporting agencies containing some sort of error or omission materially impacting credit worthiness, some turn to credit repair to remedy low credit scores and issues that prevent them from borrowing money. Absent self-help and the “do-it-yourself” approach, they hire a credit service organization in the restoration of their good name and reputation.
The terms credit repair, credit restoration or credit rehabilitation are somewhat synonymous. Those with bad repayment histories cannot afford to ignore the potential benefits of credit repair. In today’s economy, a strong FICO score is more important than ever.
Beware, though, when hiring a credit repair company.
Most — but not all — credit service organizations specialize in the restoration of consumer credit worthiness as well as issues related to identity. Assuming that the credit repair company is performing within established guidelines, they utilize laws enacted by Congress to dispute negative, erroneous, obsolete and/or fraudulent information contained within your consumer credit profile.
Utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, a reputable credit service organization will assist in the submission of disputes electronically, verbally and in writing to the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion consumer reporting agencies. Disputes are also submitted to creditors, collection agencies, and third-party record providers, in addition to state, federal, and local regulatory authorities.
Unlike most credit repair clinics that submit the same written complaint letters monthly, a reputable credit repair company will have devised a strategy whereby disputes are submitted electronically, verbally and in writing over a long period of time to the credit reporting agencies, creditors, collection agencies and third-party record providers reporting negative, inaccurate, obsolete and erroneous information.
Keep in mind that anything a credit repair company can do, you can do yourself for little to no cost. With that said, a reputable credit service organization should have an edge over consumer driven disputes as they will possess the education, knowledge and a source proven method that is generally unknown to the average consumer.
A reputable credit service organization should have a provable track record of results in the modification or removal of erroneous and inaccurate judgments, liens, mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, short-sales, student loans, credit inquiries, derogatory accounts and collection agency entries, personal identifiers and other transient data from a consumer’s credit report. Although the credit restoration process can take many months, most individuals should see some results within the first 45 to 60 days.
Credit repair, credit restoration and credit rehabilitation is as legal as pleading “not guilty” in a court of law. One must understand, though, that most credit service organizations are not law firms and that their employees may not be licensed to practice law. As such, even a reputable credit repair company cannot provide legal advice, nor may they represent a consumer before any court or in any legal proceeding. In the event that legal representation is required, the credit repair company should provide an appropriate attorney referral for consultation.
When self-help or the “do-it-yourself” approach is not feasible and you decide to hire a credit repair company to restore your credit, be sure to check them out. While the majority of credit repair clinics are scams, a few good ones do exist. Consumers can check out a credit service organization through their state Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov or through the Better Business Bureau at http://www.BBB.org.
Over a quarter century and almost $5 million raised to benefit the American Cancer Society and cancer research, Hollywood personal injury attorney David Singer has announced the first meeting of the Jail and Bail “Parole Board” later this month.
This year’s Jail and Bail honorary chairperson is former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. Committee members include Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and State Attorney Mike Satz. David Singer continues as event chairman.
Following in the footsteps of former Florida Governor and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, legendary criminal defense attorney Roy Black, NSU Chancellor Ray Ferrero, retired Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, State Attorney Michael Satz, radio personality Paul Castronovo, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Florida Marlins coach Jack McKeon, WPLG newscaster Kristi Krueger, former Miami Dolphins players Bernie Kosar, Jason Taylor and Dwight Stephenson, WQAM personality Joe Rose, Graham continues the tradition of influential leaders that have lent their name and support in the effort to fight cancer.
Jail and Bail has become a fast and prominent fundraiser of the American Cancer Society in Broward County. Having developed its own unique mechanism for raising money, Singer personally picks the “Parole Board.” Volunteers are taught how to find “jailbirds” who will make calls from a makeshift jail following their ‘arrest’ by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Required to ‘post bail’ to secure release, ‘jailbirds’ answer charges ranging from ‘illicit basket-weaving’ to ‘needle dusting.’ Calling friends and family to raise bail, they are released upon reaching their pledge to the American Cancer Society.
“I’m proud of what Jail and Bail has become over the years,” Hollywood personal injury attorney David Singer told South Florida Reporter. “We’ve raised almost $5 million to benefit ACS and cancer research.”
The first meeting of the Jail and Bail “Parole Board” will held at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 20th at the Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek, 555 NW 62nd Street, Fort Lauderdale, 33309. Plenty of parking is available and a complementary lunch will be served.
For more information on the 26th Annual Broward County Jail and Bail to benefit the American Cancer Society, please contact David Singer at (954) 920-1571.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates – a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity – announces the opening of a new office in Vero Beach, Florida.
Formerly with Credit Restoration Consultants, Bill Lewis has been widely sought by many in the restoration of their personal credit worthiness and reputation management. In moving his family to the Treasure Coast and Vero Beach, Bill Lewis does not miss a beat in pride, commitment and community. William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has opened a branch office at 1926 44th Avenue, Vero Beach, FL 32966.
Your good name and reputation are more important than ever. Creditors have tightened their guidelines effectively barring millions of Americans from obtaining credit. Even those with excellent credit are experiencing reduced credit limits and closed equity lines. Mortgage lenders, auto finance companies, credit card issuers and banks have all raised the bar.
The terms credit repair, credit restoration or credit rehabilitation are somewhat synonymous. Those with bad credit histories cannot afford to ignore the potential benefits of credit repair. In today’s economy, a strong FICO score is more important than ever.
Approximately 78% of credit profiles in the United States contain some sort of error or omission materially affecting credit worthiness. Absent self-help and the “do-it-yourself” approach, a consumer may hire a credit repair company in the restoration of their good name and reputation within the community.
Long gone are the days of obtaining credit, goods, benefits, services and/or employment with a 620 score. In most instances, a consumer will be denied if they maintain a credit score lower than 740. Even those with high credit scores have experienced closed credit card accounts and equity lines. When an account has not been closed, credit limits have been reduced to the current balance due.
Borrowers with low credit scores can expect to be denied or to pay significantly higher interest rates than those with excellent credit.
Operating within William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a boutique credit service organization specializing in the restoration of consumer credit worthiness as well as identity theft. Assisting consumers in achieving a favorable financial credit profile is their first priority.
Everything they do at William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is legal utilizing laws enacted by Congress to dispute negative, erroneous, obsolete, and/or fraudulent information contained within your consumer credit profile.
Utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates will assist consumers in the submission of disputes electronically, verbally and in writing to the Equifax, Experian and Trans Union consumer reporting agencies in addition to creditors, collection agencies, third-party record providers and state/federal/private regulatory authorities.
Unlike most credit repair clinics that submit the same written dispute letters monthly, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has devised a credit restoration strategy utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in addition to laws applicable to a consumers state of residence.
Keep in mind that anything William E. Lewis Jr & Associates can do – you can do yourself. That means that you do not have to hire William E. Lewis Jr & Associates – or any other credit repair company – to review, investigate and/or dispute alleged discrepancies on your credit report.
Where William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may have an edge over the average consumer is that we possess the education, knowledge and a source proven method that consistently yields results.
William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has obtained thousands of deletions and updates for its clients and can help remove erroneous and/or inaccurate judgments, liens, bankruptcies, student loans, inquiries, derogatory accounts, personal identifiers, arrests, etc. While the credit restoration process can take anywhere from 30 days to six months, most clients see dramatic results in 45-60 days.
Credit repair, credit restoration and/or credit rehabilitation is as legal as pleading “not guilty” in a court of law. With that said, one must understand that as a credit service organization William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is not a law firm and that none of their employees is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.
As such, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates cannot provide legal advice nor represent any individual before any court or in any legal proceeding. In the event that legal representation is required, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may provide an appropriate attorney referral for consultation.
For more information, please contact William E. Lewis Jr & Associates at (954) 337-1530 or visit at www.williamlewis.us.
The “All-American Rally” promises to be entertaining, inspiring, fun and joyful. A versatile and talented local band –The Landsharks Band– will be performing. They have performed locally and across the nation since the 1980’s.
Fun for the whole family includes, a car show, bounce houses, field games, an obstacle course, sand art and more. Local talent and American heroes from all over Indian River County, merchandise, treats, contests and prizes await those attending.
Hosted by the Republican Club of Indian River County, the All-American Rally is sponsored by “The Founders” – theLaw Offices of Kelly Cambron, P.A.andYoung’s Market. Jon Osterholm serves as co-chairman of the Rally, while 10-year-old Katherine Ann Lewis of St. Helen Catholic School will sing the National Anthem.
“It’s an honor to sponsor the All-American Rally,” attorneyKelly Cambronof Vero Beach told the South Florida Reporter. “We have a great venue, amazing speakers and a program that is all about community.”
The 2015 All-American Rally will be held at the Indian River Fairgrounds on Saturday, September 26th from 2:00 p.m. until 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $15.00 per person, including barbecue dinner. Kids under 10 are free. Dinner includes BBQ pork and chicken, grilled hot dogs, various side items, drink and desert treat. Beer and wine may be purchased separately.
“As a locally owned business, it’s an honor to support an event meant to bring community together,” John Kim of Young’s Market told the South Florida Reporter.
Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale – Radio talk show host, Starbucks connoisseur, social media whiz, political consultant, extreme coupon shopper, identity theft expert, columnist, philanthropist and his kids Dad.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.
So sad. Reporter Alison Parker, 27, and cameraman Adam Ward, 24, were doing a routine live interview on the morning of Aug. 26 when a man shot and killed them at the scene. Since Adam was filming when the horrifying incident took place, the camera panned to a quick shot of the terrifying shooter. See it here.
Cheating spouses beware. The tagline “Life is Short, Have an Affair” hasAshley Madisonusers worrying whether their adulterous affairs will be exposed in yet another reported data breach. Hackers have threatened to leak the full details—names, addresses, sexual fantasies and nude photos— of 37 million Ashley Madison users worldwide if demands to disable the website are not met.
Branding themselves “The Impact Team,” hackers have posted a small sample of sensitive data stolen from Avid Life Media, the company that owns Ashley Madison, along with other hookup websites such as Cougar Life and Established Men. The sensitive data
“We are the Impact Team. We have taken over all systems in the entire office and production domains, all customer information databases, source code repositories, financial records, emails,” the message said, before going on to demand that Ashley Madison, as wellEstablishedMen.combe shut down.
“Shutting down AM and EM will cost you, but non-compliance will cost you more,” the message continued. “We will release all customer records, profiles with all customers’ secret sexual fantasies, nude pictures, and conversations and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.”
Avid Life Media, which owns Toronto-based cheating websiteAshleyMadison.com– among others – called the attack an “act of cyberterrorism” and vowed to hold those behind the security breach responsible for their actions.
“We apologize for this unprovoked and criminal intrusion into our customers’ information,” Ashley Madison indicated in a prepared release. “We have always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds, and have had stringent security measures in place.”
Speaking toBrian Krebsand the online security blog KrebsOnSecurity, ALM Chief Executive Noel Biderman confirmed the hack, condemned it as a “criminal act,” and indicated that Ashley Madison was working hard to have the data removed from the Internet.
“The psychosocial consequence of releasing this personally identifiable information can potentially have a destructive affect upon many of these AshleyMadison users,”Ruth Swissa Kline, clinical director for Bridges to Change, in Fort Lauderdale, told South Florida Reporter. “Many of these cheating spouses may have behavioral health needs or sexual addictions and be at risk even under threat of exposure.”
“The Impact Team” claimed to have hacked Ashley Madison to expose alleged false statements given customers about a service that allowed members to erase profile information for a $19 fee. The hackers allegedly pose as “the good guys,” campaigning against a lying company possessing a treasure trove of personal information, credit card details and e-mail addresses.
Avid Life, early Monday refuted the allegations about the “paid-delete” option on Ashley Madison, stating:
“The ‘paid-delete’ option offered by AshleyMadison.com does in fact remove all information related to a member’s profile and communications activity,” it said. “The process involves a hard-delete of a requesting user’s profile, including the removal of posted pictures and all messages sent to other system users’ email boxes.”
In light of the cyber-attack, Ashley Madison said it was offering its full-delete option free to any member and noted that it was taking “every possible step towards mitigating the attack.”
“Our team has now successfully removed all the posts related to this incident as well as all personally identifiable information about our users published online,” Ashley Madison indicated in a prepared release. “Our team of forensics experts and security professionals, in addition to law enforcement, are continuing to investigate this incident.”
The Ashley Madison security breach comes about two months after dating siteAdultFriendFinder.comsuffered a similar cyber-attack.
“While these cheating spouses may not escape the consequences of their adulterous actions, they did have an expectation of privacy in using the Ashley Madison website,” concluded Swissa Kline.