Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Errors on Credit Reports Lead to Major Life Disruptions for Thousands

It is always recommended that you review your credit report periodically to ensure that no errors exist in your credit history. If you do discover a discrepancy or error on your report, it is recommended you contact the credit agency to have the problem fixed. For the most part, after this is done, you expect the error to disappear and not create any problems in the future. What if that does not happen? That scenario was the case for thousands of American consumers who later discovered that what they thought was fixed came to haunt them at a later date.

Thousands of Americans have been fighting legal battles related to errors found in credit reports by all three of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Not only are these individuals fighting legal battles, but they are feeling the effects on their credit scores. Credit errors can also lead to mistaken identity if one person who has excellent credit happens to be mixed up with someone who does not. For some, these errors have caused their credit scores to tank so much that they have lost the ability to be considered to rent an apartment or for a job. By the time the error is fixed, it is often too little too late for that person. The job may already be filled at that point or apartment rented.

It is estimated that in the past three years, more than 4,000 federal lawsuits have been filed against Equifax by litigants who claim that the credit reporting agency failed to follow federal law with respect to fair credit reporting. Other cases were filed locally via state court. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 175,000 complaints were filed with the CFPB between 2015 and 2017 regarding credit report errors. Of these complaints, 65 percent of those filed in 2017 had to do with information that was incorrect.

Some of these errors can occur when people who have similar names, addresses or even Social Security numbers are mixed up. One way or another, their files cross paths, causing information to be mixed up and incorrect.

However, one major problem has to do with how much credit bureaus can get away with when it comes to accountability. It can be extremely easy for them to avoid a full and comprehensive review.

In response to many of these court filings, Equifax has argued that it has procedures in place to ensure that their reports are accurate. They dispute any responsibility and say that banks and credit card companies that provide this information to Equifax are the entities who should be held responsible. Attorneys representing the consumers involved insist that these errors are mostly the fault of the credit reporting agencies, especially when it comes to consumers being mixed up if their names or information is close or similar.  Many times, these agencies do not require information used to sort consumers to be an exact match which can lead to these problems.

This problem is not a new one by any means. In 1992, Equifax came under fire after attorneys general in 18 states claimed that mixed consumer files caused damages these individuals. At the time, Equifax told regulators that they would put procedures in place to detect these errors when they occur. However, whether these procedures were actually effective is debatable.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that one in every five American consumers has an error on their credit reports. Many of these errors go undetected by consumers.

Please click here to read more.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Step-by-Step Guide to Surviving the Equifax Data Breach

One of the largest data breaches in history has compromised the personal data of 143 million people. Equifax, a major credit bureau, lost control of customer data that included social security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, drivers’ license numbers and date of births.  The company estimates roughly half of the U.S. population has been affected by the breach, and this sensitive data could have been exposed to hackers.

Equifax will not specifically tell you if you are a victim, but we have a guide for you and a quick recap of what you may have missed post Hurricane Irma.

The data breach could have started as early as May 2017, which means the data could have been exposed for more than three months.  It is unclear what the hackers may have done with the data during those months.

Here is what you can do to protect yourself:

Check your credit reports. When looking through your reports, keep an eye out for any new accounts you did not open, late payments on debts you do not recognize and any other suspicious activity.  You are guaranteed a free annual credit report from the three major bureaus.  Click HERE to download your free credit report.  You will not be held responsible for charges made on a fraudulent credit card.  However, this must be reported in a timely manner.

Freeze your credit. Even if your credit comes back clean it is still early and one of the most reliable ways to prevent someone from opening up credit cards in your name is to place what is called a “credit freeze.”   You can contact each of the three credit bureaus by calling:

Set up a fraud alert.  When you set up a fraud alert, credit card companies will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. To activate a fraud alert, contact just one of the credit card bureaus and ask for an initial fraud alert. When the alert is set, it will be in effect for 90 days.

Be mindful of tax season.  Identity thieves can use stolen social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and receive refunds.  Many victims find out they are a victim of tax fraud after the IRS tells them their taxes have already been filed.  One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to file early.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/your-guide-to-surviving-equifax-data-breach/

Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Consumer Credit Scores to Exclude Some Debt and Liens Starting July 1st

The nation’s three largest credit-reporting agencies will soon exclude tax liens and some civil debts from their reports. The change by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will take effect July 1st. According to the Consumer Data Industry Association, it is part of a plan to ensure that consumer identifications in the data are accurate and current.

The provision is likely to improve millions of American’s credit scores. If reports on those tax liens and civil debts do not include the consumers’ names, addresses and Social Security number, they will not be reported.  Additionally, the records will not be included without courthouse visits to obtain newly filed and updated public records at least every 90 days.

However, there are some controversies surrounding the changes. Although they are likely to help consumers appear more credit-worthy, the updated policies could potentially make loan-screening more difficult for lenders.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Tips to Improve your Credit Score

Having a low credit score can cost you.  If you have a credit score of 620 or below, this is considered to be “bad credit.”  Lenders or credit card issuers, if they are willing to extend you credit at all, are likely to charge you a higher interest rate.  You may also have to pay a utility deposit when starting or renewing service, something people with good credit do not have to pay.  Having a bad credit score can even effect how much you pay for car insurance.

Now onto the good news- there are things you can do to improve your credit score.  Following these easy steps will help push your score in the right direction.

  • Watch your credit card balances.  A major factor in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you are using.  The smaller the percentage, the better your credit rating.  The ideal amount is 30 percent or lower.
  • Eliminate small credit card balances.  When you have small balances on credit cards, pay them off.  Charging $50 on one card and $100 on another instead of using the same card (preferably one with a good interest rate) can hurt your credit score.
  • Leave “old debt” on your report. Some people believe that old debt on their credit report is a bad thing.  Good debt- such as a home or car you recently paid off – is actually good for your credit.  Do not close out old accounts where you have had a solid repayment history.
  • Use your calendar.  If you are shopping for a home, car or student loan, it pays to do your rate shopping within a short period of time. Every time you apply for new credit, it can cause a small dip in your credit score, which can last up to a year.
  • Pay your bills on time. If you are planning a major purchase (like a home or car), one of the biggest factors in having a good credit score is simply making on-time payments month after month. Saving up money for a major purchase is smart; just don’t neglect your bills.  This can even extend to outstanding library books.  If the original creditor, such as the library, does not report it to the bureaus, they may eventually call in a collections agency to recoup the unpaid bill.
  • Avoid risk. One of the best ways to improve your credit score it to avoid purchases that might lower it.  This could include taking out cash advances, using cards at businesses that could cause future money stress, etc.
  • Do not obsess. If you are getting ready to make a big purchase, pull a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to one of each of your three credit bureau reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for FREE every year through AnnualCreditReport.com. While the score you receive may not be the exact one the lender uses, it will grade you on many of the same criteria. If you are denied credit, the lender has to show you the credit score used in their decision making, thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/7-simple-ways-improve-credit-score-1.aspx

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Credit Card Use Increasing Among Consumers with Low Credit Scores

According to the latest quarterly report on household debt, credit cards are making a comeback in a big way.  In the second quarter, total household debt increased by $35 billion to $12.3 trillion. The two driving factors: auto loans and credit cards.

While auto loans have been on a steady incline for the past six years, rising credit-card balances are a new development. After the 2007 Great Recession, households cut back on credit-card use until 2014. This was also in part to financial institutions strengthening credit requirements for risky borrowers.

Since that time, card balances have risen by about $70 billion. From 2008 to 2013, total household debts dropped by more than $1.5 trillion. However, first student loan and auto loan balances began to rise, and then mortgages and finally credit cards.

The report reveals that credit cards are returning among individuals with low credit or subprime credit scores below 660. Among people with credit scores between 620 and 660, the share that had a credit card increased to 58.8% in 2015 from a low of 54.3% in 2013. Among those with scores below 620, the number of people with a credit card increased to 50% from a low of 45.6% two years ago. Both figures for 2015 are the highest since 2008.

These figures were generated from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel that analyzed millions of consumer credit reports from Equifax.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Top 5 Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

Filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision and many people fear a social stigma after they file.  The truth is the stigma against debtors and those who file for bankruptcy has greatly decreased over the last 20 years, and there is no indication that debtors will be treated less favorably after filing for bankruptcy.  In fact, it is oftentimes easier to reestablish your credit after filing for bankruptcy, because you are essentially given a “clean slate.”

To make the bankruptcy process a little easier to understand, we have dispelled the top five bankruptcy myths.

Myth 1: You will lose everything. You may think that filing for bankruptcy means you have to give up your home, your car, your flat screen TV, and all of your assets.  This is simply not true. The vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are no-asset cases, meaning the debtor gives up no possessions. This happens for two reasons. First, you can allot for basic assets, called exemptions that are necessary for day-to-day living. What you can exempt varies from state to state, so be sure to discuss exemptions with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. For possessions that are not part of the exemption, creditors likely don’t want them.  Under Chapter 13, you keep all of your assets, but the value of them figures into your repayment plan.

Myth 2: You will be relieved of all your debts. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will provide you relief from most of your debts. However, there are some exemptions. These include: recent taxes, child or spousal support, student loan debt, and debts that are the result of fraud you have committed.

Myth 3: Paying off your debt is a better option. Filing for bankruptcy is the biggest financial decision you will ever make, but it doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. If your debts are more than 50% of your annual income and you cannot pay them off in five years, bankruptcy is likely your best option.

Myth 4: Filing for bankruptcy means I have failed. Given that the number one reason for filing for bankruptcy is due to medical debt, this could not be less true.  No surprise, the cost of medical deductibles has grown seven times faster than wages have risen. Many bankruptcies are likely the result of stagnant wages, not poor financial mismanagement.  Whatever your reason is for filing, think of bankruptcy as a tool that can help you get a fresh start and take control of your finances.

Myth 5: Bankruptcy will ruin my financial future. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that those who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010 had an average credit score of 538.2 on Equifax’s scale of 280 to 850. But the average score jumped to 620 by the time those bankruptcies were finalized, approximately six to eight months later. There are many ways to rebuild your credit after filing for bankruptcy. There are certain limitations you will face after filing, but taking advantage of the right financial tools can go a long way in helping you get back on the right path for your financial future.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2016/0613/Five-bankruptcy-myths-dispelled

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

When Bankruptcy is the Best Option

Filing for bankruptcy is not the end of the world. In fact, it can help improve your overall situation and relieve the financial stress you are facing. Bankruptcy stops collection calls, lawsuits and wage garnishment. It wipes out most, sometimes all of your debt and can improve your credit score.

Many credit bureaus and scoring experts will disagree, not seeing the whole picture.  For most people after struggling with insurmountable debt for sometime, their credit score has already greatly been affected by the time they file for bankruptcy.

Once they file for bankruptcy, their credit score typically increases. If the debt is erased, which is also known as a “discharge,” scores can increase even more- typically within a year. Accessing data from the Equifax credit bureau, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that filers’ credit scores plunged in the 18 months before filing for bankruptcy and rose steadily after that.  The average credit score for someone who filed Chapter 7, the most common type of bankruptcy, in 2010 was 538.2 on Equifax’s 280 to 850 range. (Scores in the low 600’s and below are generally considered poor.) By the time the filers’ cases were discharged, usually within six months, their average score was 620.3.

Credit scores are not the only factor to consider when making the decision to file for bankruptcy.  People who file for bankruptcy benefit from the “automatic stay,” which stops all collection activity, including lawsuits, wage garnishment and collection calls.  A Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out a number of debts, including: credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, civil judgments (excluding fraud), past-due rent and utility bills, business debts and older tax debts.

Most of us feel we have an ethical obligation to repay our debts, if we are able to.  But oftentimes, people find themselves in over their head before realizing they need to consider bankruptcy as an option.  Some continue to pay down debt they may never be able to pay off, prolonging the damage to their credit score and diverting money that could be put into retirement savings.

Bankruptcy is likely your best option if your consumer debt (any of the debts listed above) total more than half your income, or if it would take five or more years to pay off that debt, with extreme fiscal measures.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Credit Reports More Accurately Reporting Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy

As a result of a class-action lawsuit settlement, the three major credit-reporting bureaus have made efforts to properly update credit reports after consumers have filed for bankruptcy. When you file for personal bankruptcy protection and you have debts that are discharged as a result, your credit report is supposed to be updated to show that you no longer have those debts to pay. Although the bureaus are working to ensure consumers’ credit reports are more accurate, consumers should be aware that their discharged debts will not immediately disappear from their credit reports. Prior to the class-action lawsuit, the bureaus were frequently failing to update consumers’ reports, making it hard for them to be approved for credit after filing for bankruptcy. An incorrect credit report not only incorrectly reflects their debt-to-income ratio, but it also makes it hard for consumers to improve their credit score.

The class-action lawsuit started as multiple lawsuits in 2005 and 2006. The case said that the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, were issuing credit reports stating that consumers were delinquent on loans and other forms of debt that had been eliminated through bankruptcy. Some plaintiffs in the case claimed that the three credit bureaus did not look into the errors, even after they had filed a complaint. Although the lawsuit was thrown out in the appeals court, improvements to the bureaus’ bankruptcy reporting procedures were already underway. A $45 million financial settlement in the suit was approved by the trial court, but later thrown out by the appeals court because the court claimed some plaintiffs in the case stood to benefit more than others.

Click here to read more about credit reports more accurately reporting debts discharged in bankruptcy.

If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Timothy Kingcade Posts

One in Four Consumers Have Errors on Their Credit Reports

A study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showed that approximately 26 percent of consumers found errors on their credit reports. However, only about five percent of these study participants had errors on their credit report that was damaging to their credit score. The five percent with damaging errors on their credit score are more likely to be denied for loans or have higher interest rates, as a result of the errors. There has been controversy for many years regarding the accuracy of credit reports and the recent study by the FTC made valid points for both sides of the argument. The study followed 1,001 consumers as they checked their credit reports for errors. Those who did find errors were also followed as they disputed the errors. Once the errors were fixed, it tracked how the consumer’s credit score improved.

The best way to avoid damaging errors on your credit report is to keep a close eye on it. You can request a free report once a year from three major agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you find a mistake, you should dispute the error. Unfortunately only 19 percent of credit reports errors are disputed. However, disputing an error is relatively easy, if you use the online features that are available.

To read more on this story visit: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/watchdog/mc-credit-report-errors-watchdog-20130216,0,2700796.column?page=1

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Equifax Reports Good News for 2011

In 2011, Equifax reported that of the 585 million consumers and 81 million businesses, Americans’ delinquency debt rates were significantly declining in all areas but one- student loan repayments, which were at an increase of 1%. This is good news for the US economy, meaning that there is a decline in the amount of past due credit payments. Not only that, but there is also an increase in the number of credit cards issued by lenders to subprime borrowers (borrowers with credit scores below 660). In October of 2008, overall consumer debt was at its peak of $12.4 trillion. In October 2011, there was an 11% decline.
During 2011:
• Bank Credit Card payments 60+ days past due declined by 29%
• Auto Finance payments 60+ days past due declined by 19%
• Auto Bank payments 60+ days past due declined by 23%
• Consumer finance 60+ days past due declined by 23%
• First Mortgage payments 30+ days past due declined by 13%
• Home Equity payments 30+ days past due declined by 10%
• Retail Credit Card payments 60+ days past due declined by 15%
To read more on this story visit: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-consumers-paid-down-debt-on-time-in-2011-equifax-reports-2012-01-30?reflink=MW_news_stmp
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of all of your options. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.