Get to Know Thyself – There’s more out there than you think!

 Consumer Law, Credit Reporting  Comments Off on Get to Know Thyself – There’s more out there than you think!
Nov 222010

By now, most of us know that the “Big 3” credit reporting companies (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) are required by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) to provide each consumer a free copy of his or her credit report once every 12 months. These free annual reports from the Big 3 are available at I recommend that everyone take advantage of this opportunity and make sure that what is being reported about you is accurate.

However, the law requiring free annual reports covers more than just the Big 3. It also covers entities that compile, store, and maintain information relating to individuals’ medical records or payments, residential or tenant history, check-writing history, employment history, and/or insurance claims, and report this information to third parties, such as lenders or insurance companies. Why is this important? If you have been denied for health insurance, or wonder why you’re paying so much for car insurance, the information may well be in one of these reports – and it may be wrong. Some of these entities and reports include:

Medical information: Medical Information Bureau; MedPoint (call 888-206-0335 to request a copy); IntelliScript (call 877-211-4816 to request a copy)
Resident History: LexisNexis; SafeRent
Check writing: ChexSystems; TeleCheck
Employment History: LexisNexis; WorkNumber
Auto & Property Insurance: C.L.U.E. Report; ISO Insurance Services

LexisNexis also allows consumers to obtain a report of all information in LexisNexis’ files. This report can be obtained only through a mailed-in request.

Check them out. Call it a Christmas present to yourself. Or your annual financial check-up (no thin gown that won’t stay closed!). Or maybe a New Year’s resolution. Whatever it takes – just do it.

Indiana Consumers in Distress, and on the Edge

 Bankruptcy, Consumer Law, Foreclosure, Indiana  Comments Off on Indiana Consumers in Distress, and on the Edge
Nov 192010

The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Indiana’s Consumer Distress Index (CDI) fell to 60.68 in the last quarter, from 62.61 in the previous quarter and down from 62.32 a year ago. The CDI is a quarterly measure of the financial condition of the average American consumer. A rating between 60 to 69 indicates that “the consumer is financially unstable and needs to take immediate action to address their problem.” A score below 60 indicates that “the consumer is in the midst of a crisis and needs direct intervention to regain stability.” And we’re almost there.

“Direct intervention” can mean working with a credit counselor, HUD counselor, bankrutpcy attorney, foreclosure or consumer defense attorney, or negotiating directly with your lenders and creditors to try to work something out. Unfortunately, the need for direct intervention can also make desparate individuals ripe for fraud and scams. There are a lot of ways an offer of help can be anything but. The best advice is the old adage: If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. And if somebody guarantees that you will be able to save your house / improve your credit / settle your debts for next to nothing, all for the “low price of $XXX,” be very, very wary. The only thing anyone should guarantee is that they will do the best they can to get the best result possible under your particular circumstances.

The CDI report is prepared by CredAbility, a consumer credit counseling agency in Atlanta. CredAbility uses publicly available data from government and private sources regarding employment, housing, credit, household budget, and net worth.

Martin’s Intervew with Former Chase Employee Provides Valuable Insight

 Foreclosure  Comments Off on Martin’s Intervew with Former Chase Employee Provides Valuable Insight
Nov 042010

I took a few days off, and am just now getting caught up on the news that happened while I was gone. One of my favorite mortgage-minded bloggers, Martin Mandleman, interviewed Jerad Bausch, a former employee in Chase Mortgage’s servicing area. It seems that – surprise, surprise – that Chase’s servicing arm is geared towards pushing through, not preventing, residential foreclosures. Per Mr. Bausch, “A perfect foreclosure was supposed to take 120 days . . . and the closer you came to that benchmark, the better your numbers looked and higher your bonus would be.” For those of you trying to get a modification, but the servicer keeps losing your documents, requesting new documents, re-requesting documents sent three times already, then requesting updated documents because the ones you sent in are now too old…that “ineptitude” may actually be an integral part of the servicer’s business model: “Servicers want to show investors that they did their due diligence on a loan modification, but that in the end they just couldn’t find a way to modify. They’re whole focus is to foreclose, not to modify. They put the borrower through every hoop and obstacle they can, so that when something fails to get done on time, or whatever, they can deny it and proceed with the foreclosure. Like, ‘Hey we tried, but the borrower didn’t get this one document in on time.’ That sure is what it seemed like to me, anyway.” Read the whole interview. It’s worth it.