William E. Lewis Jr & Associates opens new location in Davie


As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity 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, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity 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, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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 Davie, Florida.

Having outgrown their former location, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates recently moved to 6099 Stirling Road, Suite 210, Davie, FL 33314. 

Formerly with Credit Restoration Consultants, Bill Lewis has been widely sought by many in the restoration of their personal credit worthiness.  As such, a new credit repair component was formed.

In tough economic times, 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. 

Ordering Free Credit Reports:

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as modified by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report under a narrow set of circumstances.  If you have been denied credit, goods, benefits, services, insurance, and/or employment, the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are statutorily mandated to provide a copy free of charge.

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111 or www.Equifax.com; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742 or www.Experian.com; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800 or www.TransUnion.com. Be sure to prompt that you were denied credit when requested to do so.

Absent these exceptions, consumers are entitled to one free “annual credit report” per year. Credit scores are not included with any of the “free credit reports” provided by the national credit reporting agencies.

For your free annual credit report, contact the central source at 877-FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) or www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Follow the voice prompts and obtain your credit report for review.

When self-help or the “do-it-yourself” approach is not feasible and you decide to hire a 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 Commissionat www.ftc.gov or through the Better Business Bureau at www.BBB.org.

For more information, please contact William E. Lewis Jr & Associates at (954) 337-1530 or visit them on the Internet at www.williamlewis.us.

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As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity 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.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 11,550 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.

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Bogus credit repair firm shut down by FTC


 

On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission announced action against a Florida-based credit repair company that allegedly continued to pitch bogus services despite a 2010 court order requiring it to stop. In the most recent action, Latrese and Kevin Hargrave allegedly continued to scam unsuspecting victims through new companies.

Signed by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Howard, the new order will remain in place while the FTC seeks a contempt ruling against the Hargrave organization for violating its initial cease and desist order. Pending further court action, the Hargraves are banned from all activities involving credit repair and from offering credit-related products, programs, or services.

In 2008, the FTC filed a complaint against the Hargraves and the firms they control, alleging that they advertised bogus credit repair services on the Internet and radio stations. Consumers were charged $250 to $270 per person and $450 per couple. They were also required to pay half or all of the fees in advance of services of being rendered.

In a radio script, the Hargrave’s stated, “They specialize in erasing bad credit! Hargrave & Associates covers all three major credit bureaus, slow pays, charge-offs, repossessions can be erased for $250.”

In early 2010, the court ruled in favor of the FTC and barred the Hargraves from engaging in deceptive conduct, including making or using untrue or misleading statements to induce consumers to buy their credit repair services. It also barred them from charging or receiving an up-front payment for any such services before they are performed.

In mid-May, at the FTC’s request the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., issued a temporary restraining order against the Hargraves, appointed a receiver, and froze the Hargrave’s assets, stating that “there is good cause to believe that they had violated and continued to violate the provisions of the permanent injunction” against them, the order states.

The FTC alleges the Hargraves continued to violate the FTC Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act through their false credit repair claims. Following a hearing in late May, the court entered a preliminary injunction order, barring the Hargraves from engaging in deceptive credit repair offers and freezing their assets.

The Hargrave defendants include: Latrese & Kevin Enterprises Inc., doing business as Hargrave & Associates Financial Solutions; Latrese Hargrave, also known as Latrese V. Williams, individually and as an officer of Latrese & Kevin Enterprises Inc.; and Kevin Hargrave, Sr., individually and as an officer of Latrese & Kevin Enterprises Inc.

In addition to the defendants charged in the original complaint, the contempt action named three other companies the Hargraves started in an effort to allegedly circumvent the original cease and desist order: BFS Empowerment Financial Services Inc., Help My Credit Now Services Inc., and Kevtrese Enterprises Inc.

The FTC received invaluable assistance in the prosecution of this matter from the Arkansas Attorney General, the Florida Attorney General, the Louisiana Attorney General, the Tennessee Attorney General, and the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida.

As the nation’s consumer watchdog, the FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online complaint assistant or call 1-877-382-4357.

The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The Federal Trade Commission’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

“Like” the Federal Trade Commission on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest in consumer news, scam alerts and additional resources. 

Bill Lewis is the principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates and host of the Credit Report with Bill Lewis — a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends and issues on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida.

Walking Away from a Successful Business


While 2010 has been challenging with baby Rebecca and William III joining their older sister Katherine in the Lewis household, decisions and choices for change in 2011 are proving an equal challenge.

Between a growing family and commitment to several businesses and charitable causes, there is simply not enough time in the day.

Struggling through tough economic times and an industry that is heavily scrutinized and frowned upon – the credit repair industry – decisions must be made. Does one continue working in an industry they have grown to hate?

Does one sell the business with its perfect record and reputation within the community? Or do they simply shut down and walk away from a profitable business after a decade in existence?

When you hear about credit repair companies from “reputable” sources, such as the Attorney General’s Office or Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you are usually warned about the disreputable nature of the industry. You are warned about hiring credit repair companies and advised that you are better off repairing your own credit through a do-it-yourself approach.

Why have credit repair companies been made into villains? Answer – because most of them are, in fact, nothing more than scams or fly-by-night outfits. Most of these companies promise unsuspecting customers that they can magically erase all of their debt for a small fee. Others advise they can legally create a new identity through use of a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Credit Profile Number (CPN), thus segregating one credit identity from another.

Use of a Taxpayer Identification Number or Credit Profile Number, also referred to as a Credit Privacy Number, is highly illegal and could result in criminal charges of mail or wire fraud, identity theft, or misuse of personal information. File segregation is something that is not advised if you value your freedom.

Started on Sept. 10, 2001 approximately 100 yards from the downtown Hollywood home of 9-11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, Credit Restoration Consultants attempted to present a new approach in the “credit restoration” industry. Hesitant to utilize the forbidden term “credit repair,” Credit Restoration Consultants branded itself as a credit service organization specializing in the restoration of consumer credit worthiness as well as identity theft.

Among the clients of Credit Restoration Consultants were a variety of sorts. Whether the “average Joe,” attorneys, doctors, multi-millionaire developers, celebrities, pro-sports players, or politicians; including, a sitting governor, U.S. senator, and several congressmen, each had varying expectations bordering on the unreasonable, unrealistic or downright ridiculous. Each expected an 800 FICO score despite late payments, collections, repossessions or foreclosures, in addition to federal tax liens and bankruptcies.

One would not be surprised on just how many politicians have had federal tax liens filed against them.

While the FTC shutdown 33 credit repair companies in 2008 and 36 in 2009 for violations of the Credit Repair Organizations Act, Credit Restoration Consultants has never had a complaint to any state, federal, or local regulatory authority. In fact, Credit Restoration Consultants maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a complaint free history.

According to a recent Small Business Administration study, seven out of 10 new businesses survive at least two years, half at least five years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter 15 years or more. Credit Restoration Consultants lasted just under 10 years.

Tired of the bad actors and scam artists in an already heavily scrutinized credit repair industry, I have decided to simply shut down, throw in the towel, and walk away.

Rather than sell the successful business that Credit Restoration Consultants became and have another destroy it and my personal reputation, walking away seems the best course of action. With that – I quit.

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune – Media General Group http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2011/jan/02/walking-away-from-a-successful-business/

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series at the Highlands Today, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.

Wells Fargo Settles Deceptive Marketing Charges


Following news of a mortgage foreclosure moratorium by PNC Bank, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage unit, Wells Fargo Bank has settled charges of deceptive marketing practices with attorney generals in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington state.

Attorney General Bill McCollum announced last week a multi-state agreement with Wells Fargo over allegations of deceptive marketing regarding payment option adjustable rate (POA) mortgage loans. The agreement settles allegations of misconduct made prior to the acquisition of Wachovia and Golden West Corp., also doing business as World Savings Bank, by Wells Fargo.

According to the allegations, Wachovia and Golden West failed to fully advise mortgage borrowers that the minimum payment due in the first years of a loan did not adequately cover the amount of accrued interest owed. Over time, the amount of a borrower’s loan increased, thus resulting in higher principal balances and higher monthly payments.

Borrowers will first be considered for the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and if the borrower cannot qualify under HAMP or elects not to accept a HAMP modification, Wells Fargo will consider the borrower for its new modification program, known as Mortgage Assistance Program 2 (MAP2R).

From April 1, 2010 through the term of the agreement, over 4,000 Florida POA borrowers will be eligible for loan modifications that are expected to provide approximately $388 million in mortgage relief. This sum includes more than $208 million in principal forgiveness for Florida homeowners.

Analysts say principal forgiveness is the most effective way to end the housing debacle. The federal government and Bank of America announced plans earlier this year to reduce mortgage balances, but critics say the practice remains rare.

In the settlement , Wells Fargo agreed that they will offer loan modifications to approximately 8,700 qualified POA borrowers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington state between Dec. 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013, who are either 60 days delinquent or facing imminent default. The total economic value of the loan modifications is expected to exceed $772 million by mid-2013.

The agreement also makes a number of substantial servicing commitments for POA borrowers including ensuring adequately staffed help lines to serve consumers, providing a single, primary point of contact to assist borrowers seeking modifications, making decisions on modifications within 30 calendar days of receiving a complete application, establishing a formal second look or appeal process for borrowers who are turned down for a modification, and more clearly communicating with borrowers to avoid confusion during the process.

Wells Fargo will also offer other foreclosure alternatives, including short sale, deed-in-lieu, and relocation assistance. The agreement provides for a compliance monitor and quarterly reporting to the eight Attorneys General. Wells Fargo will also pay more than $10.2 million to the Florida Attorney General’s Office to assist with the state’s efforts to prevent or mitigate foreclosures and prevent mortgage or loan modification fraud, along with investigative costs.

In 2008, McCollum announced a similar agreement with Countrywide Financial Corp., now owned by Bank of America. That agreement called for loan modifications for 57,000 Florida homeowners and foreclosure relief payments of about $6,000 to approximately 2,700 homeowners.

Wells Fargo Bank customers who originally received mortgages from Wachovia or Golden West should call 888-565-1422 for more information on the loan modification program.

If you would like to learn more about the Wells Fargo settlement or file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit their website at www.myfloridalegal.com or call 866-9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226).

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune (Media General Group) – http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/oct/10/wells-fargo-settles-deceptive-marketing-charges/  To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, please visit http://www.williamlewis.us

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

Foreclosure defense: Process servers allegedly filing false affidavits


Recent reports indicate that approximately 462,339 foreclosure cases were pending in Florida as of June 30.

Following foreclosure moratoriums by Ally Financial, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and PNC Bank, the settlement of deceptive marketing charges by Wells Fargo, and the Attorney General’s investigation into faulty foreclosure practices at the Florida Default Law Group, the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A.; the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A.; and Shapiro & Fishman, LLP, investigators have turned up a new problem.

Process servers are now alleged to have filed false affidavits in support of personal service in foreclosure matters.

Foreclosure defense attorneys claim to have documented a number of cases where process servers filed false affidavits. While investigating the law firms that employed “robo-signers,” state investigators are also closely examining service of process in a number of cases.

Recent foreclosure defense cases allege homeowners never received a court summons even though they still occupied their home, while others allege that process servers did not take the required steps to locate them or filed false affidavits about whom or when they delivered papers.

According to the lawsuits, some process servers violated rules related to the personal delivery of legal papers. Like robo-signing foreclosure documents without reviewing them for accuracy, a number of homeowners are now alleging they were never served with foreclosure papers.

Once rare, “bad service” of process has become more common as lenders and their attorneys speed thousands of foreclosure cases through “rocket dockets” that are designed to clear an ever growing backlog.

“With the foreclosure debacle, it’s become more complicated,” says Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale. “For the sake of expediency, process servers are being rushed. As they are paid by the piece, they have an interest in earning a higher income.”

Homeowners involved in foreclosures are required to receive a summons and complaint personally delivered by a process server. Repeated attempts at personal service are required before court permission can be obtained to publish a legal notice in the alternative.

Some process servers have allegedly cut corners. One recently claimed she could not find a homeowner facing foreclosure on a second home, despite conducting extensive record checks. This held true even though the foreclosure complaint clearly provided a primary home address in Connecticut.

Lenders and attorneys typically contract their summons delivery work to large process serving firms, who sub-contract to private independent servers. In her deposition to state investigators, former Stern paralegal Tammie Lou Kapusta, testified that summons serving procedures were a “complete mess,” with homeowners routinely complaining they never received papers.

She and another former employee, Kelly Scott, said their managers told them move forward with the foreclosures anyway.

Investigators also questioned staff at Stern’s firm regarding billing practices that involved serving multiple parties at an address and billing for each one.

“Good service of process is crucial”, Reyes said. He has heard of homeowners losing their home because they never received a summons and missed filing dates or court hearings.

While a court summons must be accepted by an adult, state law does not require it to be served upon the property owner. No one has to sign, verifying receipt, “which makes it easier to say the person was served, when they weren’t,” Reyes said.

Laws governing the service of process vary from state to state. In Florida, there is no statewide licensing or regulating body for process servers, and rules vary greatly among the 20 judicial circuits.

Among the largest with operations in ten states is Tampa-based ProVest. Although ownership interest by the law firms has been denied, they maintain support staff at the Law Offices of David J. Stern and Shapiro & Fishman in Boca Raton. Marshall C. Watson also uses ProVest.

While ProVest declined to comment on specific cases, company president James Ward stated they “utilize properly licensed or authorized independent contractors” and require them to “fully comply with state and local guidelines.”

To learn more about the mortgage foreclosure crisis or to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit their website at www.myfloridalegal.com or call (866) 9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226).

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune (Media General Group) – http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/nov/07/foreclosure-defense-process-servers-allegedly-fili/ To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series at the Highlands Today, visit www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

Guide to Credit Reports, Credit Scores


Attention is focused on new financial regulations enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced final rules requiring creditors to provide consumers’ with a “risk-based pricing notice” when granting credit on less favorable terms than it provides other consumers.

To assist consumer understanding of these new rules, the U.S. Federal Reserve has unveiled an online guide to credit reports.

This straight-forward guide includes information on credit reports and credit scores, how they are utilized in credit granting decisions, unsolicited credit offers, credit repair and how to protect your personal information from fraud.

Released on Wednesday, the “Consumer’s Guide to Credit Reports and Credit Scores” is meant to complement consumer-protection laws that Congress enacted several years ago.

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, lenders – starting in January – will be required to tell consumers when adverse information on their credit reports is going to result in higher rates and fees for mortgages, credit cards and other loans.

In today’s tough economy, a strong FICO (Fair Isaac) credit score is more important than ever. Studies show that approximately 78 percent of credit profiles in the United States contain some sort of error or omission materially impacting credit worthiness.

As creditors tend to offer favorable terms to consumers with good credit histories and more costly credit to those with poor credit histories, the guide is intended to assist them in disputing negative and/or inaccurate information prior to making an application for credit or employment.

Under the “risk-based pricing” rules, consumers hit with the less favorable credit terms can also obtain a free credit report to check its accuracy.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as modified by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report under a narrow set of circumstances.

If you have been denied credit, goods, benefits, services, insurance, and/or employment, the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are statutorily mandated to provide a copy free of charge.

Absent these exceptions, consumers are entitled to one free “annual credit report” per year. Credit scores are not included with any of the “free credit reports” provided by the national credit reporting agencies.

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111 or www.Equifax.com; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742 or www.Experian.com; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800 or www.TransUnion.com.

Be sure to prompt that you were denied credit when requested to do so.

For your free annual credit report, contact the central source at 877-FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) or www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Follow the voice prompts and obtain your credit report for review.

Consumer advocates say additional work is needed to address concerns about credit reports and credit scores. “The main problem is really with credit reports – they’re just plagued with inaccuracies,” said National Consumer Law Center attorney Lauren Saunders. “It’s a nightmare for consumers to get anything fixed.”

Saunders said she is expecting the FTC and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the first agency to be charged with protecting consumers from abusive financial products, to take more action in addressing consumer concerns about credit reports.

Acting as a primer to the uneducated individual, the “Consumer’s Guide to Credit Reports and Credit Scores” advises what they should do if they find errors. In a three-step process, ordering credit reports and reviewing them for errors or inaccuracies; contacting the credit reporting agencies to enter a formal dispute; and, waiting for a response from the CRA’s and/or creditors is explained.

To learn more about the Consumer’s Guide to Credit Reports and Credit Scores, visit www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports. To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series at the Highlands Today, visit www.williamlewis.us.

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune – Media General Group.  http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/nov/14/guide-credit-reports-credit-scores/

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

Identity Theft Protection is a Waste of Money


Are you one of the 13 million people who purchased “identity theft protection” in 2009?  If so, you wasted your money.  Identity theft protection companies push statistics like “almost 11 million adults were victims of identity theft in 2009” while prodding you to purchase a service that could cost up to $179.00 per year.  What they fail to advise is that identity theft protection does not cover account take-overs, the misuse of debits cards, or the establishment of personal identification (such as a driver license) in your name.

I am happy to report that almost all of the services provided by identity theft protection companies are available at little or no cost.  There is no reason to pay a monthly or yearly fee for something you can do yourself.

REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT

By keeping close tabs on your credit report, you can identify signs of fraud early.  If you find an account not opened by you and have positively identified it as fraudulent, enter a dispute with the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  You can obtain a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or (877) 322-8228.  When you pay for identity theft protection, this free credit report is one of the “benefits” they tout.

PLACE A 90-DAY INITIAL FRAUD ALERT ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT

Call the credit reporting agencies and request a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report.  Not only will this trigger a free credit report but will advise potential creditors to investigate any application prior to issuing credit, goods, benefits, services, and/or employment.  Contact Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian at (888) 397-3742 and Trans Union at (800) 916-8800.  When you pay for identity theft protection, this fraud alert is one of the “benefits” they tout.

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT REPORT

Identity thieves and creditors are frozen in their tracks without access to your credit report as they will not have access to your credit history.  In Florida, you are entitled to temporarily “freeze” access to your credit profile without cost if you are over 65 years of age or are a verified victim of identity theft.  All others must pay $10.00.  Without access to your credit report, a responsible lender will not issue credit.  When you pay for identity theft protection, a credit report freeze is one of the “benefits” they tout.

STOP UNSOLICITED CREDIT CARD OFFERS

Are you tired of junk mail filling your mail box?  Opting out at www.optoutprescreen.com or (888) 5OPT-OUT will stop most unsolicited pre-approved applications and reduce the incidence of identity theft. Opting-Out refers to the process of removing your name from lists supplied by Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis to be used for firm (preapproved / prescreened) offers of credit or insurance.  When paying for identity theft protection, opting out is one of the “benefits” they tout.

BUY A CROSS-CUT SHREDDER


“Dumpster diving” is still a very popular method of obtaining credit card applications and supporting documentation.  Purchase a cross-cut shredder that cuts vertically and horizontally, turning sensitive mail into confetti.  If you think a torn up credit card application will be rejected by a credit card company, you have not heard the story of how Chase approved a ripped up application.

While the Credit Card Act of 2009 has mandated a number of changes in relation to “free credit reports,” the area of identity theft protection is an area to watch.  Reduced fees in one area will only mean enhanced fees in another.  There is no reason to pay a monthly or yearly fee for something you can do yourself.

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/mar/07/lc-identity-theft-protection-is-a-waste-of-money/columns-welewisjr/

A Truly Free Credit Report Without Cost or Fee


Have you ever been denied credit, goods, benefits, services, employment and/or insurance? Do you have a problem with “free” credit reports that are often bundled with credit scores and/or credit monitoring services and steep monthly fees? If so, you are not alone.

As part of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (commonly referred to as the Credit Card Act of 2009), advertisements for credit reports will soon require enhanced disclosures to help consumers avoid confusing “free” offers. These offers often require consumers to spend money on credit scores and/or credit monitoring while the “no-strings-attached” credit reports available through the central source at www.AnnualCreditReport.com are truly free to consumers once every 12 months

Effective April 1, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission’s Free Credit Reports Rule will require a prominent and enhanced disclosure in advertisements for “free” credit reports. Specifically, all Web sites offering “free” credit reports must include – across the top of any page that mentions them – a disclosure stating:

THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW. Read more at FTC.GOV You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228, the only authorized source under federal law.

The Web site disclosure must include a clickable button to “Take me to the authorized source” at www.AnnualCreditReport.com as well as clickable links to the Federal Trade Commission Web site at www.ftc.gov.

Under recent legislation, the Credit Card Act of 2009 required the Federal Trade Commission to issue a rule to prevent deceptive marketing of “free” credit reports. Specifically, the Act requires that certain advertisements for “free” credit reports include prominent disclosures designed to prevent consumers from confusing these so-called “free” offers with the federally mandated “free” annual credit reports available through the “centralized source,” which is www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

The Federal Trade Commission proposed amending the rule in late 2009 and received more than a thousand comments from consumers, consumer reporting agencies, consumer report resellers, business and trade organizations, state attorneys general, consumer advocates, law firms, members of Congress, and academics. Most of these comments were in favor of change and enhanced disclosure requirements.

The amended rule also restricts practices that might mislead or confuse consumers as they attempt to obtain their federally mandated “free” annual credit report. The consumer reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will now be required to delay the advertising of any products and/or services at the central source until the consumer has successfully obtained their “free” annual credit report.

Except for the wording of the disclosures for television and radio advertisements, which takes effect on Sept. 1, 2010, the new rule is effective April 1, 2010. The Federal Trade Commission will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the amended rule as well as the required disclosures and may consider additional changes as deemed necessary in the normal course of affairs.

Information contained in credit reports may determine whether a consumer can obtain credit, goods, benefits, services, employment and/or insurance. As such, it is important that consumers review their credit reports and correct any information that is inaccurate, erroneous, obsolete, and/or fraudulent. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are required to provide consumers with a “free” annual credit report once every 12 months, but only upon request. To learn more about their right to a “free” credit report under federal law, consumers are encouraged to visit the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.ftc.gov/freereports.

William E. Lewis Jr., is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.

http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/feb/28/lc-a-truly-free-credit-report-without-cost-or-fee/columns-welewisjr/