When Was The Last Time You Requested A Copy Of Your Chex Systems’ Report?

Have you ever tried to open a checking or savings account only to have been denied?  It could be because of what is on your Chex Systems’ Report.  Bergen County New Jersey residents are denied requests to open accounts with financial institutions daily.

Chex Systems, Inc. (ChexSystems) is a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  ChexSystems’ clients regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts.

 

You must routinely check your credit reports to ensure accuracy.

You must routinely check your credit reports to ensure accuracy.

Chexsystems’ clients regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts. ChexSystems provides services to financial institutions and other types of companies that have a permissible purpose under the FCRA. ChexSystems’ services primarily assist its clients in assessing the risk of opening new accounts.  According to its website its current practice is to retain record of reported information for a period of five years from the report date unless the source of the information requests its removal or ChexSystems becomes obligated to remove it under applicable law or policy.

Even if a delinquent account was paid the source of the information is under no obligation to remove an accurate report of account mishandling.  However, the source of information is obligated to update the report with a paid in full or settled in full date when applicable.

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) amendments to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free copy of your consumer report, at your request, once every 12 months.  You may request a copy of your consumer disclosure report through any of the methods listed below.  The report will be sent to you, free of charge, via U.S. mail within five business days of receiving your request.  You can request a copy of your report by completing this form.

You can click on this link to view a sample report.  This report is something we should all be monitoring just like our other credit reports.

Make 2016 The Year You Take Back Your Life With A Fresh Financial Start In Hackensack, NJ (Bergen County)

There is something about starting a new year that makes people more optimistic than any other time of year.  Every January 1st we get another chance to begin fresh.  For many people it means admitting their financial affairs need to be addressed so that they can get that fresh start.

Picking up the phone is the most difficult part of the process according to my clients and most clients tell me it takes weeks, months or sometimes years to build up the courage to make a phone call to simply discuss bankruptcy as an option. My response is that there is nothing to worry about because it is just a conversation–a way to gather information– so you can make an informed decision.  Education is power!

It is not too late to start off the new year right!

It is not too late to start off the new year right!

As most of you know if you are reading this blog, the economy is in the gutter and despite what they say about unemployment, unfortunately unemployed is extremely high.  So is it all doom and gloom?  No!  It is possible to get a fresh financial start so you do not have to look over your shoulder afraid that one garnishment ended and another is set to begin.  Why not ensure that you get your tax refund as appose to a judgment creditor who is just waiting to execute on a bank levy for a debt that is so old and was transferred so many times you do not even know who or if the debt was yours.

People that come to see me come because it is an absolute last resort.  They are ashamed and still in shock that their financial life has come to this.   Most people have exhausted savings and retirement plan because they felt that was the right thing to do.  There should be no shame in having to filing bankruptcy but it should be used as an experience you can learn from so that you can make better choices in the future.  With age comes wisdom and that wisdom can be used to avoid past mistakes if those were mistakes were even your fault.  Unemployment, separation, divorce, illness, deaths in the family and other devastating events almost ALWAYS precipitate the need to file for bankruptcy.  Those are simply not your fault!

My clients come to my office for debt relief and a fresh start and what they find is compassion and sympathy.  My office is not judgmental.  We are here to help you!

How to Fix a Credit Report AFTER a Bankruptcy Filing

This blog is being re-posted by this office because my colleague has done a wonderful job taking a step-by-step approach to ensuring a bankruptcy filing is properly reflected on your credit reports post-discharge.  A discharge is what you receive at the end of a bankruptcy case.  It is a valuable article that I hope you will find both informative and helpful.

You need to be sure your credit reports are updated after a bankruptcy.

You need to be sure your credit reports are updated after a bankruptcy.

Originally Posted on Dec 28, 2015 By Ron Sykstus at www.bondnbotes.com/2015/12/28/fix-credit-report-after-bankruptcy***Re-posted with permission. 

The law that controls everything as it relates to credit reports and credit reporting is titled the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Usually, the way this will come to our attention is that one of our clients is now ready to restart his or her credit life after a bankruptcy is finished.  What we suggest that our clients do, after a bankruptcy discharge has been issued in their respective case, is to follow exactly the steps described below.

The formal dispute process as set forth in the FCRA must be followed exactly or erroneous, false and/or incorrect information can simply be reflected on, and stay on, a credit report forever.

Removing Incorrect Information from Your Credit Report

If erroneous, false and/or incorrect information is showing up on someone’s credit report, it will have far-reaching consequences as far as the ability to obtain credit at a favorable rate and may affect obtaining employment.  The following are the exact steps that need to be taken in order to delete wrong information on credit reports.

  1. Get your credit reports. Get them only in writing from annualcreditreport.com and use the mail in form available at that site to obtain the credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union).  The form to get all 3 credit reports is located here.  Attach a copy of your driver’s license and utility or other bill that ties you to the address you want the credit reports mailed to and so you can show that you are who you say you are.  This is the absolute best way to get your free credit reports when you want to dispute erroneous information and it avoids many problems.
  2. DO NOT get the credit reports directly from the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) or you may lose important rights due to binding arbitration.
  3. At the same time, get a complete copy of your bankruptcy petition and the formal discharge document issued by the Court in your case. That way, you will have a complete listing of all of the debts that were discharged in your bankruptcy and the court document showing that they are no longer legally owed.
  4. Once you get the credit reports, review them carefully for any incorrect information. Make sure every debt that you listed in your bankruptcy petition shows on the credit report as “0(zero) balance – discharged in bankruptcy.”  That is the only designation that can appear on what is called the trade line for that particular debt.  Importantly, debts that are discharged in bankruptcy cannot show anything else such as any balance still owed, in collections, delinquent, charge-off, or any other negative information.  Again, to reiterate, any debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy can only show “0 balance-discharged in bankruptcy.”  If anything else appears on that particular trade line, especially if it is derogatory information, then that violates the requirements of the FCRA.   If there is erroneous information in the trade line for a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy, you will then want to prepare a dispute letter directly to the credit reporting agency that has the wrong information.  DO NOT submit the dispute online!  It is critical that you do the dispute in writing and that you mail it in.  Logically, you would think that you would dispute the erroneous information with the credit furnisher that is providing the wrong information but that will accomplish absolutely nothing.  The FCRAmandates that you must make the dispute directly with the credit reporting agency itself who then will contact the furnisher.  If you do not follow these steps exactly, then you will accomplish nothing and the errors on your credit reports will be entitled to remain there.
  5. When you prepare your dispute letter to the credit reporting agencies, you must mail it to them by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the signed and dated letter that you send and also keep the green card you receive back from the post office verifying that the credit reporting agency did receive your dispute letter.  Below is what a sample dispute letter should look like where negative information appears in a credit report on the trade line of a discharged debt.  Please follow this sample letter exactly for your best chance at getting the credit reports fixed.

_______________________________________________________________

SAMPLE DISPUTE LETTER – USE THIS AS A GUIDE TO CREATE YOUR OWN DISPUTE LETTER

Your name
Your full mailing address
Your city, state zip code

Date of letter

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Report Agency (Transunion, Equifax, Experian)
Address
City, state, zip code

Dear Sir/Ma’am:

After reviewing my credit report, I am writing to dispute the following information. I have circled the disputed items on my attached report. These include (list item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item(s) is(are) inaccurate because (list exactly why each item is incorrect or incomplete – for instance,   “The debt was included in my bankruptcy and is only allowed to be shown as a 0 balance-discharged in bankruptcy. No other negative information is allowed to be listed on that trade line.”

Supporting documents have been enclosed. (BE SURE TO INCLUDE AS MUCH SUPPORTING PROOF AS POSSIBLE TO SUPPORT YOUR DISPUTE – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!! In a situation where a debt was discharged in bankruptcy and it still shows negative on the credit report, be sure to include a copy of the page(s) of the credit report that shows the negative information, circle it and explain in paragraph two above what the negative language is that is not allowed.  Also, make sure to include the copy of the page of the bankruptcy petition that shows the debt itself and a copy of the bankruptcy discharge entered in the bankruptcy case.)  Pursuant to the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), please forward them to the credit furnishers. If you are not going to forward them, please inform me immediately so that I may do so myself.

Sincerely,

Your name printed AND signed name

Encl. (List by name each document that you are enclosing)

___________________________________________________________________

  1. In addition to NOT submitting your disputes online, DO NOT use a PO Box as the mailing address for your disputes. Use ONLY the physical mailing addresses for the credit reporting agencies.  The physical addresses are as follows:

Equifax
1550 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA  30309-2468

Experian
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX  75013

TransUnion
555 West Adams St
Chicago, IL  60661

  1. Remember to keep a copy of everything you send, including all of the supporting documents/enclosures, and then keep a copy of the green card you get back from the post office so you can verify that the credit reporting agency received your dispute. Also, make sure you keep a copy of ALL credit reports and every page of the credit reports.   In sum, make sure you have a complete copy of everything that you send and everything that you receive.  The importance of doing this cannot be overstated.
  2. If you want, simply out of frustration, you can also write a separate letter regarding your dispute to the actual credit furnisher. This may help expedite the correction but remember that, under the FCRA law, this WILL HAVE NO EFFECT in correcting erroneous or wrong information on your credit report.  The only way the system operates is by a dispute letter directly to the credit reporting agency, regardless of whom is furnishing incorrect information on you!
  3. Once you have submitted a proper dispute, wait up to 45 days for a response. If your credit report is fixed, then you need to do nothing further.
  4. If your credit report is not corrected after your first dispute, then try to get credit and see if whomever you are applying for credit denies you or gives you a problem or a higher interest rate because of this incorrect information. Make sure to keep proof of ALL denials you receive or problems you have getting credit AFTER your initial dispute.  As a side note, any damage or problems you have suffered before you do your initial dispute are meaningless and of no force or effect under the FCRA.   That first dispute triggers liability and the requirement for the credit reporting agency to “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” of your credit report.  The furnisher of the incorrect information, once it receives the dispute directly from the credit reporting agency, is required under the law to “conduct an investigation” of the dispute and report its findings back to the credit reporting agencies.
  5. If the information is not corrected as you think it should be, then do a second round of disputes. That is essentially your initial letter again with all of your supporting enclosures as described above  and you should note on it “2nd Request – Urgent!” with the new date and explain again what your dispute is and that this is the second time you’re disputing the inaccurate information and that you needed corrected because it is damaging to you.
  6. Once you get the report back from the second round of disputes, if the credit reports are still not fixed, tried to get credit again and keep all proof if you are denied credit or if you have problems again after the second round of disputes.
  7. You may have to do disputes another time or two if the credit reporting agencies and the furnisher of the incorrect information will not fix your credit reports.
  8. The best advice that we have for doing an effective dispute letter is to pretend that you are trying to explain to a fifth-grader what the problems are with your credit reports and why the information that is being shown is wrong. Explain the problems in great detail with all of the supporting documentation that you have and in simple terms so that even a fifth-grader would understand why the information on your credit report is erroneous.

If Credit Reports Aren’t Corrected

If your credit reports are not corrected to reflect that each debt discharged in bankruptcy is shown as a “$0.00 balance – discharged in bankruptcy” and you are suffering damages in the form of credit denials, job denials, etc., you then have a right to file a lawsuit against the credit reporting agencies and the credit furnisher for the erroneous information that is still showing on your credit reports.

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