Five Easy, Free and Legal Consumer Protection Tips

Did you know there are legal steps you can take to prevent being taken advantage of by unscrupulous debt collectors, marketers, or thieves? The following are five proactive suggestions:

Unwanted Faxes

You can remove yourself from unsolicited advertising fax lists. There is a federal law, called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, codified at 47 USCS § 227 (2001).

It includes “telephone communications,” “telephone facsimile,” and “unsolicited advertisement” amongst its offenders.

Federal law, and many states’ laws, permit an action to Continue reading Five Easy, Free and Legal Consumer Protection Tips

How Nigerian Fraud Schemes are tied in with the Drug Trade

While there are so many sites offering bad credit mortgages and online credit reports, we have also seen various scams on the web. One well-known scam is the one from Nigeria. Many of you may have received 419 scam letters of Nigerian origin. If you are wondering what these are about, you will be astonished to know that they are actually linked to the drug trade and terrorist funding.

This is how it works most often. First, you get an uncalled-for message that pretends like it is a business proposal, notice of a potential inheritance, request for help, or chance to help a charity. All the messages claim that Continue reading How Nigerian Fraud Schemes are tied in with the Drug Trade

Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency under the federal government, offers an informational brochure titled Your Access to Free Credit Reports (link at the end of this article) which explains your rights under the FCRA and tells you how to get your free copy of your annual credit report.

A credit report includes information on where you live, your bill-paying history, and whether or not you’ve ever been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Nationally, consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, or employment purposes.

How do I get my free report?

You can get your free annual credit report online at Annual Credit or call 877.322.8228. You may also fill out this request form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

FTC’s Warning About “Impostor” Sites

The FTC warns consumers ordering a free annual credit reports online to be sure to correctly spell, or link to it from the FTC’s website to avoid being misdirected to other websites that are actually impostors. These fraudulent sites supposedly free reports, but only with the purchase of other products. Consumers are not required to purchase anything at on the authorized Web-site, and they are not required to pay for their free annual credit reports.

You may request one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, for a total of three reports annually – free!

Additionally, if you are in debt, a debt collector cannot communicate with you at work once he knows that your employer prohibits such communication under federal law. This law, however, does not apply necessarilly to the creditor visiting a public place of employment. In other words, the creditor may be able to visit you in person at your place of business, but may not harass, abuse, or otherwise hold you up to public ridicule.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Summary of your rights under Fair Credit Reporting Act (PDF)

Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft – from the FTC (PDF)

Your Access to Free Credit Reports

Annual Credit Report Request Form

Identity theft secrets, guest writer, Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP, is a paralegal in Houston with experience in commercial litigation and tax law. She holds a degree in paralegal studies and a bachelor of science degree in political science. After interning with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges and completing the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute, she is preparing to enter law school this fall. Sami holds a national advanced paralegal certification, and four specialty certifications: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; and Social Security Disability Law.  More helpful tax information can be found at her <a href=”National Tax Law Examiner”>National Tax Law Examiner page. </a>

Sleuthing for Internet Fraud: Click Laundering

You’ve heard of laundry, and money laundering but have you heard of click laundering? Are you a small business owner? Do you use ads or affiliate links on your website? Find out about the latest round of internet fraud scams that can cost business owners and consumers money.

Continue reading Sleuthing for Internet Fraud: Click Laundering