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Your Credit Application

When creditors evaluate a credit application, they cannot lawfully engage in discriminatory practices. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance. Creditors may ask for this information (except religion) in certain situations, but may not use it to discriminate when deciding whether to grant you credit. The ECOA protects consumers who deal with companies that regularly extend credit, including banks, small loan and finance companies, retail and department stores, credit card companies, and credit unions.

Your rights under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act

-You cannot be denied credit based on your race, sex, marital status, religion, age, national origin, or receipt of public assistance.
-If you are denied credit, you have a legal right to know why.

Your Credit Billing and Electronic Fund Transfer Statements

It is important to check credit billing and electronic fund transfer account statements regularly. These documents may contain mistakes that could damage your credit status or reflect improper charges or transfers. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) establish procedures for resolving mistakes on credit billing and electronic fund transfer account statements, including:

-Charges or electronic fund transfers that are incorrectly identified or show the wrong amount or date;

-Not mailing or delivering credit billing statements to your current address, as long as that address was received by the creditor in writing at least 20 days before the billing period ended;
-Charges or electronic fund transfers for which you request an explanation or documentation, due to a possible error.

The FCBA generally applies only to "open end" credit accounts — credit cards, revolving charge accounts (such as department store accounts), and overdraft checking accounts. It does not apply to loans or credit sales that are paid according to a fixed schedule until the entire amount is paid back, such as an automobile loan
The EFTA applies to electronic fund transfers, such as those involving automatic teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale debit transactions, and other electronic banking transactions.

Your Debts and Debt Collectors

You are responsible for your debts. If you fall behind in paying your creditors or an error is made on your account, you may be contacted by a "debt collector." A debt collector is any person, other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis. You have the right to be treated fairly by debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies to personal, family, and household debts. This includes money owed for the purchase of a car, for medical care, or for charge accounts. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices while collecting these debts.

Your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you. Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime. Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone. Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to in writing.

Solving Your Credit Problems

Your credit report influences your purchasing power, as well as your chances to get a job, rent or buy an apartment or a house, and buy insurance. A history of timely credit payments helps you get additional credit. Accurate negative information can stay on your report for seven years. A bankruptcy can stay on your report for 10 years. If you are having problems paying your bills, contact your creditors at once. Try to work out a modified payment plan with them that reduces your payments to a more manageable level. Don't wait until your account has been turned over to a debt collector.