Class Action Lawsuit Forming Against Equifax

First, some information about the class action lawsuit, including who can and how to join. Second, why I think there’s a whole more behind the scenes than anyone has said so far — and why Equifax isn’t the only one at fault.

EQUIFAX ADMITS CODING ERROR MESSED UP CREDIT SCORES

Between March 17 and April 6, Equifax had a coding error that decreased Equifax scores erroneously. Equifax was transitioning to a new technology system, and somehow the mistake occurred. The score drop was inaccurate and unfair, and it was fixed by April 7, 2022. About 300,000 people who applied for financing during those three weeks were negatively impacted by this error. (Although millions of scores were affected, most people were not financially harmed, according to Equifax.)

In May, Equifax reached out to its customers (lenders and creditors), to inform them of this mistake.

Earlier this week, the news exploded all over the media, and now the law firm Morgan and Morgan is seeking a jury lawsuit and collecting data for the class action.

Steps To Take If You Were Affected

If you applied for credit, such as an automobile loan, credit card, or mortgage, between March 17 and April 6, AND you believe you might have been put into a higher interest rate than your credit deserved or denied the loan altogether, then your first step is to gather your documentation. Find the denial letter or your contract. Find the credit score disclosure that came with it. If you were denied credit, then you have the right to receive a copy of the credit report the lender used. If you were approved, you have the right to know the score the lender used.

Second, call the loan officer or sales person who handled your sale. Speak with them to confirm that your financing was penalized by the false low Equifax score.

(Auto loan lenders and credit card companies often use only one credit bureau. If they used Experian or TransUnion, then you were not affected. If they used Equifax, then you may or may not have been affected — depending on if the error caused your score to drop to a lower tier or not. Most people’s scores did not drop more than 25 points and/or did not put them into a lower tier for qualification. But some did and were denied or put into a higher interest rate.)

(Mortgage lenders pull a tri-merge credit report with scores from all three credit bureaus. They throw out the lowest score and go by the middle score. Your loan officer can help you sort out whether or not your financing was negatively impacted.)

The third step, if it is determined that you are a victim of the Equifax scoring error, is two-pronged. Your lender should work with you to refinance or rectify the situation. At the same time, you can apply with Morgan and Morgan to join the class action lawsuit. The link is here. (This is the same law firm that sued Equifax for the 2017 data breach.)

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY: THREE THINGS SMELL FISHY

There are a few things about this whole scenario that give me major pause and provoke more questions.

1) If Equifax contacted its customers, the lenders and creditors, back in May right after this happened, then what did those lenders do to look up the customers they had between March 17 and April 6? It’s not hard for a company to hold a sales meeting and then for each sales person to look up their closed transactions to see who might have been harmed.

Did any lenders research and reach out to their customers to rectify the situation? I know if I had a mortgage client who had been put into a higher interest rate loan than they deserved, I would have put the wheels into high motion to get their loan modified asap.

JP Morgan Chase Bank says it is now “working proactively” with its customers and Equifax on a fix. But why did they wait until now, August, to take action? Weren’t they informed back in May? Did it take a media blitz for them to care enough to help their own clients? And if so, do they bear some responsibility for the financial loss of people who have been paying higher rates than they qualified for?

2) The first plaintiff in the class action lawsuit is Nydia Jenkins of Jacksonville, FL. She was shopping for a car loan in January. When she found her car in mid-March and applied for financing, her score had dropped by 130 points due to the Equifax coding error. She no longer qualified for the best financing. She said she was “forced” to seek sub-par auto financing. Thus, her car payment went from $350/month to $504/month.

Jenkins has been paying $154 more per month for four months = $616 she has been unfairly penalized, so far. Not counting emotional distress, if that’s a factor here.

Now here is what’s making me scratch my head and say something doesn’t smell right about this scene:

If I had been shopping for a car and suddenly my score “dropped” I would know that I had not done anything bad between January and March to cause that. I would have asked. Which credit bureau did you pull my report from? Why are you using only Equifax? (Oh, because you don’t want to spend the money to order three reports?) Could there be something wrong with your system, because nothing negative happened to ruin my credit? You can’t get me a decent loan? Then I am going to a bank and I’ll be back with good financing.
There is no way someone can “force” you to take a loan-shark subprime loan! You go apply with a better lender who doesn’t rely on only one credit bureau. If Jenkins had gone to a local mid-size bank, she may have gotten the financing she deserved. Why did she toddle off to the subprime lender that the dealership recommended? Am I being too hard on her? I don’t mean to, I’m just saying that she didn’t handle the situation right either.
My husband says “not everyone has read your books.” True enough. But if you have read Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros or Credit Repair Mindset, then I would love to hear from you, because I bet you would not have signed for a subprime loan when you knew very well that you had good credit. Am I right?!!!

3) I pity the poor souls on that engineering team who made the coding error. My husband, the brilliant software engineer, says when moving to a new technology platform, you always do a Unit Test to make sure any errors are discovered and fixed before releasing it to your customers. I asked him what he thought would happen to those engineers. He said, “They probably quit already and are working for someone else by now.” Hmmmmm. He’s a funny man, my husband.

Is the Tally App For You?

I’ve received some questions about the Tally app that manages credit card debt, so I thought breaking down the facts might be helpful to my valued blog subscribers.

Tally is an app designed for getting people out of debt faster and saving money on high interest by prioritizing their account payments, setting up auto-pay, and making sure they never pay late.

Tally is NOT a debt consolidation service. (Which is good.)

Tally does NOT negotiate payments or collections.

If you have five or ten credit cards, all with balances, and you are struggling to get them all paid off, and you are wasting money on the high interest charges, and all of this is stressing you out, then Tally can help.

TWO WAYS TO USE TALLY

#1 If your credit score is 580+ and qualifies, then Tally will offer you a Line of Credit to pay off all your debt. This gives you one payment at a lower rate. Their best rate is 11.99% APR, which is lower than many credit cards. If you’re paying 18% to 24% on credit cards, this will help a lot.

The Line of Credit has an annual fee of $300 which is paid out of the LOC itself, not cash out of pocket.

#2 App Only, No Line of Credit

If the Line of Credit doesn’t make sense for your situation or your credit doesn’t qualify, then you can use the Tally app to set up automatic payments. Tally will prioritize which of your accounts should be paid off faster first in order to save you the most money. It also prevents you from getting late fees and eliminates the time and stress of paying all those accounts manually.

The monthly fee for using the app is $4.99.

Better than Tally is if you don’t need Tally! If you follow Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros, then you do not carry a balance month-to-month, and you do not overspend for your budget. You are pay $0 in credit card fees and 0%. However, not everyone is in that favorable situation at this moment.

For people who benefit more than $5/month, then using Tally can be a great help. Lots of people are using it and are very happy.

The goal is to use Tally until you don’t need it anymore.

Once your credit and finances are back on track, then you can say, “Thank you and goodbye” to Tally.

Using 15 U.S. Code § 1681s–2 in a Dispute

It looks ultra-legal and so smart, adding 15 U.S. Code § 1681s–2 in your dispute letter to demand removal of a derogatory account. But what does it really mean? And does it make sense for your situation?

Feel free to read the code for yourself HERE. What it boils down to is a list of requirements for the creditors (also called furnishers, because they furnish/give information to the credit bureaus). It tells them the information they report must be “complete and accurate.”

If you dispute the information, they must promptly report that it is disputed by the consumer (so anyone reading the report will know that account may or may not be accurate).

Upon receiving a dispute from you, they must conduct an investigation, review all relevant information you provide to them with the dispute, and then report the results.

They have a duty to correct “incomplete or inaccurate” information.

When reporting a delinquency, collection, or charge-off, they must report it in a timely manner, which is specified as within 90 days. (It is to your benefit that they aren’t required to report it sooner; although, most do. Student loans don’t.)

If you are an attorney, it makes perfect sense for you to include the U.S. Code in your letter that is printed on law office stationery. If you’re not an attorney, then read the code for yourself and make sure it makes sense to put in your letter. Otherwise, you will sound like a foolish person or someone copying down legalese without even checking to see if it applies. You don’t want your file to get flagged as “frivolous”!

Another thing: write your letter in such a way that it sounds like you wrote it. If you’re not in the legal business, you don’t normally speak like a lawyer, do you? The person reading your letter is not stupid, and they can tell the difference between a genuine letter and an attempted “snow job.”

Letters are included in Repair Your Credit Like the Pros, and when you request the templates in .docx form for easy edit, you also get real life sample letters that have worked for others in the past. Reading these gives you ideas for how to customize your own letter without going overboard.

As always, thank you for reading. I do my best to provide useful information in an easy-to-understand way.


Help For Homebuyers with Thin Credit

Good news for people who want to buy a home but don’t have much credit to show!

“Thin credit” means there is not enough data on the credit report to make a determination of being credit-worthy. This is especially tough when you’re trying to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home, because getting a mortgage has more requirements than getting a credit card or auto loan.

As a mortgage broker for over 23 years, my definition of thin credit is having less than three accounts that are either open or were active in the last five years. Example: one credit card open and one car loan paid off six years ago is a thin file.

Experian’s definition is stricter than mine: less than five accounts on the credit report. I like my definition better, because I have successfully closed loans for many people with three accounts on their credit report. (Also two accounts, but I had to go with FHA rather than conventional.) Nevertheless, Experian prefers five accounts for their credit scoring purposes.

Back to the good news!

Your rent payments can be included on your loan application to beef up your credit profile. Here’s how it works:

You give your loan officer proof of payment for the most recent 12 months’ rent, paid on time. Your loan officer manually adds that into your loan application and uploads it to Freddie Mac’s conventional loan.

The mortgage lenders can choose either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac as a source of money. Your loan officer needs to choose Freddie Mac, also known as LP (Loan Prospector software system). This is for a conventional loan, which is the best and cheapest financing.

It is important to pay your rent on time and to keep a consistent record of doing so. Don’t split your monthly rent into two payments. Don’t pay by Zelle one month and by check another month. Pay the same way every month, on time, and keep a record. That will make it easier for you to get credit for paying rent.

Thank you, Freddie Mac, for taking this step to help more good people become home owners!

Please pass on this information to your loan officer and to your realtor.

Change to Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

You might not know this, but the current law allows credit bureaus to ignore dispute letters from credit repair companies. And that’s not all!

They can also ignore a letter from the consumer if they believe it was a template that came from a credit repair company.

Enter H.R. 7919! This bill introduced into Congress by Al Lawson, Jr. (FL) would remove the language that allows credit reporting agencies to ignore correspondence from credit repair companies. It has not yet passed. Proponents are working to gain bipartisan support to increase the chances of success.

In the meantime, you can see how D.I.Y. credit repair can work brilliantly — when you don’t use those legalese letters that look like they are from credit repair companies. That is why Repair Your Credit Like the Pros includes letters that are written in normal consumer language and are completely editable for readers who request the .docx file here.

See H.R. 7919 here. See the book here.

Results from following Repair Your Credit Like the Pros posted by Kara Sutherland on Amazon:

Credit Repair Like the Pros works!

.Thank you for reading this news update about H.R. 7919.

70% of Medical Collections OFF Credit Reports

Starting today, July 1, 2022, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion will remove paid medical collections from credit reports.

From now on, medical debts less than $500 will not go onto credit reports.

There will now be a ONE YEAR grace period between the time a late medical debt occurs and when it goes on the credit report.

This is all according to a report titled “Medical Debt Burden in the United States” by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).

They estimate that these new practices will remove about 70% of negative medical accounts off of credit reports.

That is GOOD NEWS for sure!

For your edification and inspiration, I wrote Credit Repair MINDSET. You can read the first chapter by using the “Look Inside” feature here In the companion Journal, I include my own personal story of going from a broke renter to a homeowner. .

Get Fed Student Loan Default Off Your Record Now!

If you know anyone who has a federal student loan in collections or in default, this is great news that they need to know!

As of June 2022, the student loan rehab program no longer takes 9 months of payments to get it off your record and off your credit report.

For the first time ever, they will remove the collection/default status off your credit report in as quick as 1 to 2 months!

Today, I had a telephone conversation with Representative Angelica at Student Aid who explained the process to me:

  1. Call (800) 621-3115 to get your personal, individualized rehab plan. Have your tax returns or income documentation ready, because your new monthly payment will be based on your income and financial situation.
  2. Submit the form they provide and your documentation. They will guide you through the process.
  3. As soon as your submission is verified and accepted, they clear the default status off your Credit Alert Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS), which is used by the credit bureaus and by mortgage lenders. Thus, they clear your credit report of the default status for you — and it can be done in two months or less!

Note: This information is not on their website. During hold time, the message states they are updating their website as fast as they can. On the telephone, Angelica told me you MUST CALL to get this rehab program, and it cannot be done online.

Thank you for reading this post and passing it on to others who need the information.

Available on Amazon.
Become an expert on how credit scoring works and achieve top tier credit to save money and gain respect.

“Student Debt Doctor” Forced to Give Refunds: Link Fixed

If you were a victim of the “Student Debt Doctor” scheme, the Federal Trade Commission says they must give you a refund.

The FTC is forcing them to refund $2 million to people who paid for their service. If you receive a check, cash it immediately, because it’s only good for 90 days. More details here. (link fixed)

Both the CFPB and the FTC are on the hunt for credit repair and debt relief businesses that are violating law. If you operate any type of financial repair business, make sure you know the state and federal laws, especially concerning things like:

  • Telephone solicitation rules
  • What you cannot post on your website
  • Why you can’t advertise an increase of a certain number of credit score points
  • Signatures required on the contract (the customer’s signature is not enough)
  • Waiting periods required for the state you do business in
  • Disclosures required to give to the customer
  • And more.

    Don’t fail to know and follow the laws, or you will be a “sitting duck” for an investigation and possible lawsuit.
Paperback $8.99. Kindle $4.99. Journal $6.99

“Student Debt Doctor” Forced to Give Refunds: Link Fixed

If you were a victim of the “Student Debt Doctor” scheme, the Federal Trade Commission says they must give you a refund.

The FTC is forcing them to refund $2 million to people who paid for their service. If you receive a check, cash it immediately, because it’s only good for 90 days. More details here. (link fixed)

Both the CFPB and the FTC are on the hunt for credit repair and debt relief businesses that are violating law. If you operate any type of financial repair business, make sure you know the state and federal laws, especially concerning things like:

  • Telephone solicitation rules
  • What you cannot post on your website
  • Why you can’t advertise an increase of a certain number of credit score points
  • Signatures required on the contract (the customer’s signature is not enough)
  • Waiting periods required for the state you do business in
  • Disclosures required to give to the customer
  • And more.

    Don’t fail to know and follow the laws, or you will be a “sitting duck” for an investigation and possible lawsuit.

Is Your Dispute Letter Convincing?

One of the best “secrets” of credit repair success is that your letter needs to make sense to the person reading it.

Oftentimes when someone emails me asking, “Which letter should I use?” the answer is, which letter makes sense? Put yourself in the place of the person opening the letter. Then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does it look and sound like a genuine, sincere letter (rather than a template off the internet)
  2. Is there any documentation or proof or a good reason for the dispute?
  3. Is it clear what action they want you to take? (Are they asking for a detail to be corrected, or are they asking for the entire account to be deleted?)

Let’s say that there is an old, paid off collection account that you don’t recognize as yours. You also see that it is with a retailer located in a different state, one you’ve never been to and have never done business with. You remember that there was a misspelling of your name on your Personal Identifiers, so it is plausible that this account belonged to someone who has a similar name to yous.

Now you ask yourself, what should my dispute letter say? Using common sense, you can see that one of those legalese “609 letters” is not the best, most convincing choice. Your letter should explain the issue just as clearly as if you were writing to your grandma. Also…

What documentation can you include to make your letter stronger? Since you live in Alabama and the retailer is in New Jersey, a state you’ve never been to, why not send a copy of your driver’s license showing both the correct spelling of your name and your location with your dispute letter that explains why this account does not belong to you?

Can you see how putting yourself in the place of the person reading the letter will result in success better than mindlessly firing off a template as a “hit or miss” effort?

If you’d like a boost of inspiration and encouragement, pick up my brand new book, Credit Repair MINDSET. It’s newly released but already getting positive reviews. The paperback is only $8.99; Kindle $4.99.