Legislation Would Give Consumers 120 Days To Resolve Medical Debts Before Dinging Credit Reports

Some of the homeowners from San Jose and Sunnyvale that work with ForeclosureHelp are struggling with their mortgages in part because of medical debt and medical bills. Damaged credit can also be an issue if you’re trying to refinance. This post from the Consumerist highlights recently introduced legislation that would give consumers 120 days to resolve medical debt with collectors before that debt is reported to the credit bureaus.

How Can the Consumer Financial Projection Bureau Assist You With Credit Reporting Issues? Our Blog Explains How.

Consumer Financial Protection BureauBy JoAnn Parrott, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

WHAT IS THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (CFPB)?

In July 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Part of this Act created the CFPB which consolidates most Federal consumer financial protection authority into one place.  The services of the CFPG became effective on October 22, 2012.  The goal of the CFPB is:  watch out for American consumers in the market for consumer financial products and services.

HOW CAN THE CFPB HELP YOU WITH CREDIT REPORT PROBLEMS?

The CFPB can help with:

  1. Consumer reporting agency’s investigations,
  2. Incorrect credit report information,
  3. Improper use of a credit report,
  4. Assistance to get a copy of a credit score or report, and
  5. Problems with credit monitoring or identify protection services.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

This step is covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  If you are experiencing any problems with your credit report, you should first of all send a letter to the credit bureau in question stating the complaint or error that needs to be addressed or resolved.  You must include copies of supporting documents as well as your complete name and address, and your letter should clearly identify each item in dispute.  You must request that the information be removed or corrected.  Send the letter by certified mail, ‘return receipt requested,’ so you can document that the credit bureau received the letter.

TIP:  Include a copy of the credit report with the error highlighted or circled and keep a copy of the letter and supporting documents.

If the credit bureau deems your complaint as legitimate, they have 30 days to investigate.  They must also forward the information you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information.  The information provider must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit bureau.  If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all the credit bureaus so they can correct the information they have in your file.

When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change to your credit report.  This free credit report does not count as your annual free report.  If an item is changed or deleted, the credit bureau cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies it is accurate and complete.  The credit bureau also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.

If you wish, you can request that the credit bureau send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your credit report in the past six months.  You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.

If the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute or problem, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.  You also can ask the credit bureau to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past.  You can expect to pay a fee for this service.

A credit bureau can report negative but correct information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.  There is no time limit for reporting criminal conviction; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.  In general the seven-year reporting period runs from the date that the event took place.

WHAT IF THE PROBLEM IS NOT FIXED?

If the problem is not resolved, you can:

  1. Contact the CFPB at 1-855-411-2372 or TTY/TDD 1-855-729-2372;
  2. File a complaint with the CFPB at  http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/headline-now-accepting-credit-reporting-complaints/ ;
  3. Send a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P. O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244.

You may also enjoy reading our previous blog post, “Rebuilding Credit After a Short Sale”  en español:  “Mejorando El Credito Despues De Una Ejecución De Hipoteca O Venta Corta”

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.  Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293 -6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Lee nuestros otros blogs en ​​español:

¿Por Qué Trabajar Con Un Consejero de Casa?

5 Programas importante para los propietarios de California

Help with rental assistance after a foreclosure – What’s out there?

By Yvonne M. Castillo, Housing Counselor at SurePath Financial Solutions, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

What’s out there for me to rent?” and “where to do I begin to research rentals?”With more people becoming displaced as a result of foreclosures, short sales or because of deeds-in-lieu of foreclosures, these questions are being asked by many, many people.

One place you can go to begin your search is at www.scchousingsearch.org. It is a very informative website to search for rental housing in Santa Clara County.  It provides information on various types of rentals including, apartments, townhomes etc. This website can help you find available rentals in different cities throughout Santa Clara County.  You can also call and speak with a live person who will assist you in looking for a rental- call Toll-Free: 1.877.428.8844.

Before you begin your search, it is a good idea to know what size rental you are looking for and how much you can afford to spend on rent. If you are looking to rent something larger such as a house, you can also check out websites such as www.zillow.com or www.craigslist.org. At www.craigslist.org you can tailor your search to different areas of the bay area.

Before you begin your search it is important that you review your credit history and score as a credit evaluation is required with most rental applications. You can order your credit reports from the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion through www.annualcreditreport.com.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each one of the three agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) is required to provide you a free copy of your report once a year.  While you are ordering your reports it is a good idea to purchase your credit score.  Your credit report is free but the scores have to be purchased- the fee is around $8.00 per score.

Check to see what is listed on your reports and also what your scores are before you submit a rental application to a landlord or property management company. You want to check for any unpaid debts or judgments within the last two years. If your credit report does have recent unpaid debts you can contact a HUD-approved credit counseling agency such as SurePath Financial Solutions to receive a free consultation to review options on improving your credit.

Note: If your report does show a foreclosure it will remain on your credit report for seven years but, the effects of the foreclosure will lessen with time – refer to the My FICO website.

With so many people seeking rental housing these days, landlords and property management companies can be very selective regarding whose applications they approve. Each landlord or property management company has their own set of guidelines to follow in order to approve an application. For example, a landlord or property management company may require a credit score of 650 or higher and your gross income to be two to three times the monthly rent. Some may require no recent bankruptcies and no convictions for specific criminal activity etc.

If you have a foreclosure or short sale on your credit report, it may be better to mention it to your potential landlord before they pull your credit report.  They may be willing to still rent to you if you put down a larger deposit, or if you have good references.  Or, if they tell you that they absolutely will not rent to somebody with a foreclosure or short sale, then you can save the fee that you will pay for them to pull your credit report.

Landlords will also check for recent unpaid debts or unresolved judgments and if you’ve been evicted from previous rentals or foreclosed homes. If you have recently paid some outstanding balances, it might not show on your credit report right away. If the updates are not reflected on the credit report, make sure to mention it with your application, so you can show proof of resolved debt issues and that may help you through the rental process.

Be prepared to pay a non-refundable fee of approximately $20-$35 per person in the application, for them to run your credit report.  If you are approved, you will be asked to pay a security deposit, first and/or last month’s rent. Some landlords or property management companies may consider a larger security deposit to allow for pets and they may request all adults over the age of 18 who will be living in the home to fill out an application.

If you do not qualify for a rental, some property management companies will send you a copy of your credit report they requested and will include the reasons why you did not qualify.

If you do not immediately qualify for a rental then another strategy is to see if you can possibly rent a room (www.craigslist.org also has listings from room rentals) or stay with family or friends for a short term while you find a more permanent housing. The qualification for renting a room might be simpler compared to an apartment, but you will still need to provide proof of income, a security deposit and possibly referrals from previous landlords. The option of renting a room will give you some time to increase your savings, pay off some debts and work on improving your credit so later you qualify to rent a place on your own.

One thing the rental application does not list but you will definitely need is a lot of is patience. You will need patience as you search for and apply for a rental because more people are looking to rent now. You will also need patience while working on improving your credit. As mentioned before, it may take up to 45 to 60 days for your credit report to reflect activity such as paying off debts. As stated above, if you would like information and assistance improving your credit, you can contact a HUD- approved credit counseling agency for a free consultation. Then, the next time you submit a rental application you will have a better chance of qualifying for the rental you are seeking.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.  Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.