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Credit Education
Credit Revolution
Chapter 9

Your Fruit Cocktail of Credit Rights

The more a person speaks with actual people with actual bad credit, the more that person begin to feel that the practical reality of credit ethics is completely convoluted. But the confusion doesn't even start there. The law itself, as it pertains to credit reporting and credit scoring, is grossly complicated and confusing. Because judges usually respond to reason (instead of legal theory), the courts have heard credit accuracy cases and have expanded the law to fit common sense. This is great news for regular people, but when a judge imposes common sense on federal law, it creates some of its own funkiness.

Each judge, works within his own jurisdiction that could include a single state, a region of the country or the entire nation. Only the Supreme Court of the United States can interpret law to impose it on the whole country. So, judges around the country have imposed common sense on the law but have done it in a patchwork quilt-fashion. In one area of the country, the controlling case law may define inaccuracy one way and in another part of the country, the controlling case law may say something different. The net result of all this legal work has been to create a colorful fruit cocktail of legal rights and judicial interpretation. Now, it's anyone's guess as to what kind of credit listing is "accurate" and what kind of credit listing is "inaccurate."

The Fair Credit Reporting Act supplies several reasons for disputing negative credit. If a credit item is "inaccurate," "incomplete," "unverifiable" or "untimely," it must be removed from the credit report if the person challenges it. Subsequently, as various credit accuracy cases have floundered their way through the courts, decisions have been made by judges deciding that questionable credit listings should also be deleted if they are found to be "misleading" "biased," "ambiguous," or "unclear." On top of this, nobody has clearly defined any of these terms, so it's anyone's guess as to whether a particular credit item is "inaccurate," "incomplete," "misleading," "biased," "untimely," "ambiguous," "unclear" or "unverifiable." When reviewing the court cases that have set and expanded these definitions, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the judge simply applied reason to the question and then wrapped the definition of "inaccurate" around common sense.

On the front line of the credit accuracy debate stand the credit correction attorneys. These lawyers are faced with a sticky question: which people's credit listings deserve to be disputed? Folks call in, all day every day by the dozens, to talk to credit correction attorneys to get help deleting undesirable credit from the credit report . With each call, the attorney is faced with the question, "should I take this particular case?" Since the definition of inaccuracy is such an open question, and since it would be an ethical problem for an attorney to attempt to pass judgment on each person's arguments, the credit correction attorney typically accepts any case where a person believes that there is some unfairness or inaccuracy on their credit report. The honor-bound duty of an attorney, after all, is to vigorously advocate for his or her client. Everyone, regardless of whether or not they're "guilty" or "innocent" deserves to have someone in their corner -- someone to help them discover if their arguments of innocence are valid. If an individual believes that they have credit listings on their file that are "questionable" (a catch-all phrase meant to include inaccurate, incomplete, unverifiable, untimely, misleading, ambiguous, unclear or biased), and if the person will attest to the fact that the credit report is "inaccurate" (whatever that means to the person), then the attorney must take the case. In the end, the creditor and the credit bureau are the ultimate arbiter of fairness. If the disputed listing is deleted, it must have been inaccurate. In practice, credit correction attorneys receive hundreds of thousands of deletions each year, so there must be substantial validity to peoples' claims that there are loads of bogus credit listings showing up on the credit report.

Credit correction attorneys also review and bring cases in federal and state courts. Most of these cases involve the common issue that the credit bureau or in some cases the creditor, have reported questionable items on the consumer's credit reports. While used as a last resort, litigation can assist the consumer with credit correction. The following cases involve everyday people, like you and me, who have been the victims of the credit reporting system.

CASE 1. Jane Doe, Esq.
Jane (we have withheld her real name for privacy) came from a well to do background. At an early age, Jane married a successful businessman and began living the "American Dream" in the suburbs of big US city. Jane was accustomed, to shopping in the morning, afternoons at the country club and evening dining with her husband and his business partners. Sometime in her mid-thirties, Jane's world came to a screeching halt. Jane's husband, by then a corporate executive in a large company, informed Jane that he was no longer in love with her and that he had filed for divorce. As often occurs, Jane's husband retained a skilled attorney and stripped Jane of the majority of the marital possessions including her home. Jane was left with nothing other than a hard work ethic and a large amount of consumer debt.

As a result of the divorce, Jane was left in the midst of serious financial trouble. Jane contacted Consumer Credit Counseling Services ("CCCS") a non-profit debt counseling service who then attempted to assist Jane with her financial problems. CCCS negotiated with Jane's creditors who in turn agreed to accept reduced monthly payments from Jane. After a few months of payments,...

Load more of this Chapter

Credit Revolution: Path of the Smart Consumer 2007 John C. Heath, Esq., Dr. Randy Padawer, Jayson R. Orvis. All Rights Reserved. Published by Far Cliffs Multimedia, LLC


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