There are no “quick fixes” to clean up your credit
June 24, 2019
by Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
If you’re trying to clean up your credit, you’ll come across plenty of companies offering an easy fix. But any company promising instant results for a price is likely a scam.
The FTC says Grand Teton is one of those companies. In its lawsuit, the FTC says Grand Teton tricked people into paying hundreds – even thousands – of dollars for so-called credit repair services.
Through websites, sales calls, convincing emails, and text messages, the company allegedly promised to boost credit scores by removing all negative items, among other things, from customers’ credit reports – and also boost scores by adding the customer as an authorized user on other people’s credit cards. But people who signed up with Grand Teton didn’t see a significant change in their credit scores, despite paying hefty (and illegal) up-front fees. And, if consumers complained or tried to get their money back from their bank, Grand Teton allegedly threatened to slap them with lawsuits.
Here’s the thing about credit repair: there’s rarely an instant fix. To clean up your credit and protect yourself from credit scams:
If you need help cleaning up your credit:
- Get a free copy of your credit report (from AnnualCreditReport.com). Review it carefully. Do you recognize all the accounts listed?
- If you find mistakes, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the information. They must delete inaccurate or incomplete information. You don’t have to pay anyone to do this for you – you can dispute inaccurate items on your credit report yourself, for free. There’s nothing a company could do for you that you couldn’t do yourself.
- Only time can correct negative, accurate information on your credit report. You can rebuild your credit by paying your bills on time, paying off debt and not creating new debt.
Learn more about cleaning up your credit history. And, if you know about a credit repair scam, report it to the FTC.
- Contact a legitimate credit counseling organization. Good credit counselors review your whole financial situation before they make a plan. They won’t promise to fix all your problems or ask you to pay in advance.
- Learn how to spot a credit repair scam.
- ? Does the company ask for money up front?
- ? Did they say not to contact the credit bureaus yourself?
- ? Did they tell you to dispute accurate information on your credit report?
- If you said “yes” to any of those, stop right there. You’re probably dealing with a scam.
Mortgage Closing Scams: How to protect yourself and your closing funds
By Melissa Yu – JUN 03, 2019
Your Mortgage Closing Checklist
Closing is one of the most important stages of buying a house. Learn how to prepare and what to expect so you can close with confidence.
Closing on a new home can be one of your most memorable life moments. It’s the final and one of the most critical stages in the home-buying journey, but with the exchange of key paperwork and a sizable down payment, it can also be a stressful experience, especially for first-time homebuyers.
The FBI has reported that scammers are increasingly taking advantage of homebuyers during the closing process. Through a sophisticated phishing scam, they attempt to divert your closing costs and down payment into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to your wiring instructions. In fact, reports of these attempts have risen 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in 2017 alone, there was an estimated loss of nearly $1 billion in real estate transaction costs.
While it’s easy to think you may not fall for this kind of scam, these schemes are complex and often appear as legitimate conversations with your real estate or settlement agent. The ultimate cost to victims could be the loss of their life savings.
Here’s what you should know and how to avoid it happening to you.
How it works
Scammers are increasingly targeting real estate professionals, seeking to comprise their email in order to monitor email correspondences with clients and identify upcoming real estate transactions. During the closing process, scammers send spoofed emails to homebuyers – posing as the real estate agent, settlement agent, legal representative or another trusted individuals – with false instructions for wiring closing funds.
How to avoid a mortgage phishing scam
What to do if it happens to you
While it can be easy to think you’ll never fall for a scam of this nature, the reality is that it’s becoming more and more common, and the results can be disastrous for eager homeowners. By being mindful and taking a few important steps ahead of your closing, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
To learn more about the closing process, including how to prepare for your closing and common pitfalls to avoid, check out our Mortgage Closing Checklist. For information and resources for the each stage of the home-buying journey, visit the Bureau’s Buying a House tool.
The resources on mortgage closing scams are part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s work to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. We arm people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.
Mark Twain once said that Congress was America's only native criminal class.
But that's because Twain didn't live to see today's national banking chains and financial institutions, which all make Congress look like a choir of saints.
The case below is yet another example of why you should NEVER accept "paperless billing" when dealing with a big bank or other institution, ESPECIALLY ON YOUR MORTGAGE, which is likely the biggest investment you have.
Without a paper bill that you can scrutinize at your leisure and show to other people, it's very unlikely that this scam would have been spotted.
The original case<https://f.datasrvr.com/fr1/219/92022/ocwen_first.pdf>
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151
Salem OR 97310
Contact: Corporation.Division@oregon.gov | 503-986-2200
Public Service Notice
Don’t be misled into wasting your hard-earned money!
Solicitation can easily be mistaken for official correspondence from the State of Oregon.
Your business is not currently due for renewal but will be in about 10 to 12 weeks.
The annual report fee for Oregon LLC is only $100.
Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division wants to inform you about a questionable solicitation entitled “2019 – Annual Report Instruction Form."
Sent by Workplace Compliance Services – a private, for-profit, out-of-state company – the solicitation offers to file your Annual Report for an extra $85 “processing fee,” which is not required under Oregon law.
Official Annual Report notices or forms from the Secretary of State will always include the following:
1. The State of Oregon official state seal.
2. The Corporation Division address, 255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151, Salem, OR 97310.
3. The Corporation Division phone number, 503-986-2200.
Additionally, the outer envelope will specify the mailing is from the “Secretary of State – Corporation Division.”
If you’d like to know when your Annual Report is due to be filed with the Secretary of State, visit sos.oregon.gov/bizsearch. We send a reminder via postal mail approximately 50 days before an Annual Report is due. The easiest way to file an annual report or to renew a business is through our online services at sos.oregon.gov/renew.
If you’re uncertain whether a solicitation is legitimate, call the Secretary of State Corporation Division at 503-986-2200 or check our Alert web page.
Oregon Secretary of State
Crowdfunding is great as long as everyone's honest.
The problem is that, with the internet,
EVERY CRIMINAL IN THE WORLD IS JUST ONE CLICK AWAY FROM YOU.
In other words, crowdfunding makes it impossible for you to do the normal kind of verification you would do if you met someone in your own town who pitched a new idea and investment at you. Every smooth talking scammer who can buy or hijack a website can appear to be 100% legit, thanks to the magic of the Interwebs.
You should think of crowdfunding as a form of gambling and, as with any gambling opportunity, don't invest money you can't afford to lose.
Avoid crowdfunding scams
FDIC Consumer News: Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse
Growing wave of Social Security imposters overtakes IRS scam
I really, really hate fast operators who prey on the elderly. I have a close friend, an elderly woman, who shares all the scam mail she gets with me, so I have a window into a world that most working-age folks are totally unaware of.
Below is an example of a really nasty bit of business, an offer pitching what is supposedly a way to buy an extended warranty on your old car (it's not really a warranty but a service contract, but most people call it a warranty or extended warranty).
What it really is instead is a way for them to hook a suction line up to your bank account and drain it.
I know this for several reasons.
One is that my friend's car is a mid-1990s sedan. There is no way in hell that anyone honest will sell her a service contract to fix problems with a car of that age. It would never pencil out.
Two is that, while I was born at night, it wasn't last night. I have had countless elders come to me to complain about "warranties" that refused to pay when the coverage the elder thought they had purchased was invoked.
This whole offer, and especially the table on the back, is the work of sophisticated con artists who know that if they can get elders on the phone, the elders are often vulnerable to sales pitches that play on the fixed-income elder's fear of unexpected/unplanned expenses. The people who staff the phones for these come-ons are really, really good at being convincing and sounding utterly sincere and honest. They will talk your ear off about the high cost of auto repairs, and how their "product" would give the caller "peace of mind."
That's what this scam is about -- playing on the fear that folks on fixed incomes have of repair bills, just like the horrible "water supply line" warranties that were being sold around here a few years ago.
Believe me, that supposed "example" on the second page of the piece is PURE FICTION and is intended to give the reader the FALSE impression that they are selling something that would PAY for those repairs. (It is a lie, in in other words.)
If you EVER get an offer like this that tempts you to respond, DON'T DO IT.
Send it to me instead -- I'll gladly review it and discuss it with you at no charge if you let me use it as a consumer education example to help others.
And if you can ever show me a mass-mailing come-on that targets the elderly that actually proves to be actually be a good deal after I look into it, I'll not only tell you it seems legit, but I'll give that company a public pat on the back for offering elders a fair deal that benefits them, and not just the company trying to take their money.
I have had a number of very unhappy consumer victims of scams where they received very convincing calls from someone with an authoritative voice who told them that they were going to be arrested/audited/exposed as a liar/cheat/unfit parent/tax fraud unless they went to Apple (or Google or Wal-Mart) and bought gift cards and gave the codes from the cards to the person calling.
It's easy for you and I to sit back and say "That's an obvious scam" but it's not obvious sometimes, when you're tired and don't expect someone to call and threaten you. Once your amygdala fear response kicks in, your reasoning declines dramatically.
So just remember -- just like money never calls you on the phone, only scammers demand payment in gift card codes.
Never buy a gift card because someone threatened you! (Unless it's your wife.)
Scammers demand gift cards | Consumer Information
John Gear is a Salem attorney in solo practice