Debt Management FAQs

1)  How Can I Get a Copy of my Credit Report?

Getting your credit report is the first step you should take when assessing your financial situation.  Within this report you will find all your current and past financial accounts.  Look for errors or accounts you have no knowledge of while reviewing your report, these can be more common than you may think.  You can get a copy of your Credit Report from any of these 3 Credit Reporting Sites, simply by writing to them, calling them, or visiting their website. 

You qualify by law for a free credit report once annually from all three major credit reporting bureaus, but you must contact them and request it.  Additionally if you have had a loan or line of credit denied based on your credit report, you are then again entitled to a free report. 

Video: Suze Orman - What is a FICO Score?

To contact the credit reporting agencies:

Equifax
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800)-685-1111
Web site: www.equifax.com

Experian
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742
Web site: www.experian.com 

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
(800) 888-4213
Web site: www.transunion.com

2)  Can Debt Collection Agencies Check my Credit Report?

Yes, debt collection agencies can legally check your credit report. When you sign on a loan application such as a mortgage loan, credit card debt, auto loan or even a payday loan, you permit the lender to check your credit report at anytime they want, to their discretion. Keep in mind that these peaks into your credit report can be damaging.  Excess checks of your credit report indicate to prospective lenders that you are applying for multiple sources of credit, and that you are most likely being denied by some other lenders.  Additionally these inquiries into your credit report lower your FICO score.  There is an allowance for multiple inquiries into your credit report while you shop for a mortgage.  In this unique situation, your inquires will appear but will not be factored against you.

debt management faqs

3)  Is a Charged Off Debt Still Collectible by Creditors?

Yes a charged off debt is still collectible by creditors, even years after it has been written off.  The length of time charged off debt is still owed by the debtor ranges from 3-6 years, and differs by state.  Also be aware that you may also owe accrued interest and/or penalties on charged off debt.  Finally, charged off debt will remain on your credit report for 7 years no matter which state you reside in.

4)  When Someone Dies, Who is Responsible for Paying His Debts?

If someone dies and leaves behind a debt load, the executor or administrator of his estate or wealth is responsible for paying off and handling the debts. If the dying person did not write a will, then the spouse automatically assumes responsibility of both his estate and all his debts.  If there is no spouse and no estate to make payment, the debt is written off by the lender.  Dependants are never responsible for the debt of their parents, although many collectors may imply that they are in an effort to collect their money.

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5) Know Your Rights.  Read the government’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) here

Don’t let credit companies take advantage nor harass you.  By learning what creditors can and cannot legally do with you and your debt, you will be better armed to face your debt problems and get them resolved.  The FDCPA regulated how and when creditors may contact you.  For example if a collector is calling you at your workplace, this is in clear violation of the law.  Learn your rights and don’t let the collection agencies or your creditors abuse them.

Video: Know Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

6) Do I Need a Debt Counseling Agency? 

The simple truth is no, you do not.  All services that are offered by debt collection agencies can be completed yourself.  Debt solutions such as negotiation, settlement, and debt management programs, can all be done on your own.  Educate yourself about how to go about making these financial moves alone, and try it yourself.  If your time is too valuable to waste handling these tasks yourself or you feel intimidated by the whole process, get help.  There are plenty of professionals out there who know the industry inside and out and can be of assistance to you.  Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and never pay a fee just for an evaluation.