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FTC Facts for Consumers


Credit and Divorce

Mary and Bill recently divorced. Their divorce decree stated that Bill would pay the balances on their three joint credit card accounts. Months later, after Bill neglected to pay off these accounts, all three creditors contacted Mary for payment. She referred them to the divorce decree, insisting that she was not responsible for the accounts. 

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Getting Credit When You’re Over 62

Credit is an important money management tool for both young and older consumers. Yet the elderly, particularly older women, may find it difficult to get credit. If you’re an older consumer who has paid with cash all your life, you may find it diffi cult to open a credit account. That’s because you have "no credit history" of how you paid on credit.

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Fiscal Fitness: Choosing a Credit Counselor

Living paycheck to paycheck? Worried about debt collectors? Can't seem to develop a workable budget, let alone save money for retirement? If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider the services of a credit counselor. Many credit counseling organizations are nonprofit and work with you to solve your financial problems.

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For People on Debt Management Plans: A Must-Do List

Reputable credit counseling organizations employ counselors who are certified and trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Those organizations that are nonprofit have a legal obligation to provide education and counseling.

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A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records). Here is a summary of your major rights under the FCRA.

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Credit and Your Consumer Rights

A good credit rating is very important. Businesses inspect your credit history when they evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and even leases. They can use it when they choose to give or deny you credit or insurance, provided you receive fair and equal treatment. Sometimes, things happen that can cause credit problems: a temporary loss of income, an illness, even a computer error.

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Before You File for Personal Bankruptcy

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 launched a new era: With limited exceptions, people who plan to file for bankruptcy protection must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within 180 days before they file. They also must complete a debtor education course to have their debts discharged.

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Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information

Financial companies share information for many reasons: to offer you more services, to introduce new products, and to profit from the information they have about you.

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Credit Repair: How To Help Yourself

You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail, and maybe even calls offering credit repair services.

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Credit Repair: How to DIY and Avoid a Scam

You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail, and maybe even calls offering credit repair services.

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Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers

If you’re behind in paying your bills, or a creditor’s records mistakenly make it appear that you are, a debt collector may be contacting you.

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Advertisements Promising Debt Relief May Be Offering Bankruptcy

Washington, D.C. — Debt got you down? You’re not alone. Consumer debt is at an all-time high. Whether your debt dilemma is the result of an illness, unemployment, or simply overspending, it can seem overwhelming. In your effort to get solvent, be on the alert for advertisements that offer seemingly quick fixes. While the ads pitch the promise of debt relief, they rarely say relief may be spelled b-a-n-k-r-u-p-t-c-y.

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THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT

As a public service, the staff of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has prepared the following complete text of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. Although staff generally followed the format of the U.S. Code as published by the Government Printing Office, the format of this text does differ in minor ways from the Code (and from West’s U.S. Code Annotated).

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Fair Credit Billing

Have you ever been billed for merchandise you returned or never received? Has your credit card company ever charged you twice for the same item or failed to credit a payment to your account? While frustrating, these errors can be corrected. It takes a little patience and knowledge of the dispute settlement procedures provided by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

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'Gold' and 'Platinum' Cards

If you’re looking for credit, be wary of some "gold" or "platinum" card offers promising to get you credit cards or improve your credit rating. While sounding like general-purpose credit cards, some "gold" or "platinum" cards permit you to buy merchandise only from specialized catalogues. Marketers of these credit cards often promise that by participating in their credit programs, you will be able to get major credit cards (such as an unsecured Visa or MasterCard), lines of credit from national specialty and department stores, better credit reports, and other financial benefits.

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Foreclosure Rescue Scams: Another Potential Stress for Homeowners in Distress

The possibility of losing your home to foreclosure can be terrifying. The reality that scam artists are preying on the vulnerability of desperate homeowners is equally frightening. Many so-called foreclosure rescue companies or foreclosure assistance firms claim they can help you save your home. Some are brazen enough to offer a money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, once most of these foreclosure fraudsters take your money, they leave you much the worse for wear.

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Consumers Are Eligible For Free Credit Reports

(NAPS)—Your credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

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The Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection champion. The FTC works for the consumer to preventfraud, deception and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

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How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

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Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

In the course of a busy day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, change service providers for your cell phone, or apply for a credit card. Chances are you don’t give these everyday transactions a second thought. But an identity thief does.

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Choosing A Credit Card: The Deal is in the Disclosures

A credit card lets you buy things and pay for them over time. Using a credit card is a form of borrowing: you have to pay the money back. When you are choosing a credit card, there are many features – and several kinds of cards – to consider: Fees, charges, interest rates, and benefits can vary among credit card issuers.

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Building a Better Credit Report

If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there’s a file about you. This file is known as your credit report. It is chock full of information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed forbankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses with a legitimate need for it. They use the information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or a lease.

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‘File Segregation’: New ID Is a Bad IDea

If you have filed for bankruptcy, you may be the target of a credit repair scheme called “file segregation.” In this scheme, you are promised a chance to hide unfavorable credit information by establishing a new credit identity. Th at may sound perfect, especially if you’re afraid that you won’t get any credit as long as bankruptcy appears on your credit record.

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The 411 on Disposing of Your Old Cell Phone

If you own a cell phone, at some point you’re likely to upgrade to a newer model. But what should you do with your old phone? Options include recycling, reselling, and donating. Before you hang up your old phone for the last time, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you know how to dispose of it properly.

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Time-Barred Debts

There’s no doubt about it: you are responsible for your debts. If you fall behind in paying your creditors — or if you dispute the legitimacy of a debt — a debt collector may contact you. “Time-barred” debts are debts so old they are beyond the point at which a creditor or debt collector may sue you to collect. State law varies as to when a creditor or debt collector may no longer sue to collect: inmost states, the statute of limitations period on debts is between 3 and 10 years; in some states, the period is longer. Check with your State Attorney General’s Office at www.naag.org to determine when a debt is considered time-barred in your state.

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Out of Work? How to Deal with Creditors

It's become an all-too-familiar headline and lead story job cuts, dot.com failures, corporate restructuring and lay-offs. If you've recently lost your job, your first thoughts may be, "how will I make ends meet". Money matters are a source of stress and frustration for many people. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes free brochures spelling out your rights when it comes to fair debt collection and credit reporting practices.

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Secured Credit Card Marketing Scams

Ads like this may appeal to you if you have a poor credit history or no credit at all. Beware: while secured credit cards can be an effective way to build or re-establish your credit history, some marketers of secured cards make deceptive advertising claims to entice you to respond to their ads.

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Pretexting: Your Personal Information Revealed

When you think of your own personal assets, chances are your home, car, and savings and investments come to mind. But what about your Social Security number (SSN), telephone records and your bank and credit card account numbers? To people known as “pretexters,” that information is a personal asset, too.

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Knee Deep in Debt

Having trouble paying your bills? Getting dunning notices from creditors? Are your accounts being turned over to debt collectors? Are you worried about losing your home or your car?

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Mortgage Payments Sending You Reeling?

The possibility of losing your home because you can’t make the mortgage payments can be terrifying. Perhaps you’re having trouble making ends meet because you or a family member lost a job, or you’re having other financial problems. Or maybe you’re one of the many consumers who took out a mortgage that had a fixed rate for the first two or three years and then had an adjustable rate – and you want to know what your payments will be and whether you’ll be able to make them.

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