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My Version of the "Credit Repair 101" Index


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Jen’s Index


First of all, the idea for this post totally came from Sassy (thank you!) and her post here: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14797


Since her post 2003, there has been a lot of great conversation and changes, so I thought I would update it with my own spin and my own links. Use whichever works best for you :grin: But, I also used a few links that are in her index. The classics never die.


Nothing I could say here could totally cover every credit repair topic or situation out there. In fact, I’m not trying to. The purpose of this write-up is to provide an outline for beginners on where to go to gain the knowledge they will need for their credit repair journey. A "where do I start" primer.


If you are simply looking for a place to get a sample letter to copy/paste (c/p) and send off, then close this thread now, this isn’t it. The most effective letters are ones you write yourself, tailored to your own situation, and written knowing why you wrote what you wrote.


This always has been and always will be the biggest problem. Those that don't do the required research and send out letters not knowing why they are sending them or even knowing what they are sending, are not fighting only the cra's and ca's, but they are fighting themselves and are their own worst enemy.


Here is a good read about the type of consumer CB can turn you into:



I will only link CB threads in this index (outside the FDCPA/FCRA /govt links). I have found invaluable information also off CB, but to keep things simple, CB is the only place I will reference in this thread. On my own site, I have been working to expand this index to other sites, giving credit where credit is due.


Lastly, there are so many awesome threads that I had book marked (computer crash) and no longer have, or I have missed over the years. If yours is one of those that deserved a mention here, but due to my oversight was missed, you have my deepest apologies.

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Where do I start? Introduction


This is at both a simple and complex answer. One answer depends on where you are, and the other is my standard response, “read the FDCPAâ€.


As you will quickly learn, CB contains a wealth of information that is almost impossible to read all information available due to the size of the site plus the fast pace of topics moving off page 1 and hidden in archives. This index is not by any means a comprehensive list of links, but a place for you to start your 101 training.


I also want you to realize that a collector and bad credit doesn’t have to ruin your life and you are more than your credit score.


Where do I start? Part 1


My recommendation always is to get a 3 ring binder, a highlighter, and a pen and print off the FDCPA and FCRA. Why? These 2 Acts will be the basis for everything here on out. The paper you use doing this will be more than made up for when the CAs aren’t mailing you notices anymore down the road. The trees will thank you.


The FDCPA is short, sweet, and written in fairly plain language.


The FCRA I have reviewed over 3 dozen times and still have to refer to my notes, cheat sheets, and the help of others to wade through it.


Important FTC Links to Bookmark:


FCRA: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf

Non pdf format : http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/usc_s..._41_20_III.html


FDCPA: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

Non pdf format: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/usc_s...10_41_20_V.html


To better understand each of these, I highly recommend for additional reading the following FTC Staff opinion letters:


FCRA Staff Opinion Letters: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra/


FDCPA Staff Opinion Letters: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters.shtm


FDCPA Staff Commentary: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/commentary.shtm


FTC Jump Page for the FDCPA: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpajump.shtm (updated periodically)


FTC Jump Page for the FCRA: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcrajump.shtm (updated periodically)


Where to submit consumer complaints to the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/


What happens when you complain to the FTC?



How long does it usually take to hear a response from an FTC Complaint?


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Where do I start? Part 2


The second part of where to start is figuring out where you are. The best way to do that is to follow PsychDoc’s advice in his reports. TRIAGE YOUR REPORTS. It’s that simple. Find his seminars here: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=142032. There are cliffnotes provided towards the end of each lesson.


My suggestion? Don’t just read the cliff notes, read the conversation that went along with the chat, it goes more in depth. Study the lessons in this order: Cliff notes, long transcript, then the cliff notes again.


If you skip these two steps, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

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Where do I start? Part 3


Before you mail your first letter, you have now done the following:


1. Read the FDCPA and attempted the FCRA


2. Read Psych Doc’s seminars


3. Triaged your reports


4. Gotten your official FICO scores (optional)


5. Read this by Radi8 : http://www.creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1925


6. Then you will want to know the most common acronyms/phrases used in CB, so then read: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showforum=43


7. To maximize your CB experience, read the links under here: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showforum=15


8. Tried to remove old addresses before sending a single dispute: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=105304


9. Realize that sometimes NOT disputing and leaving sleeping dogs lay is the best plan of attack:



I know it is a lot of reading, but worth it.

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To be successful at Credit Repair, you will also need to come up with an organization system to keep track of everything. Trust me, you do not want to do this retroactively.


Personal note: although I will say one thing about throwing everything in a banker’s box, at least it was in one place, but a years worth of documentation took almost 9 straight hours to sort and organize and even then, a lot was lost by me).


I also suggest printing out a calendar for the rest of the year. Write the day you mail something, then would write on the day you are expecting an answer. I use 3 different colors for the 3 CRAs (and have matching folders - lol - I was not born this organized, but my ADD necessitates it) and then a 4th color (and corresponding folder color) for CAs.


Here is some CB threads on organization. I’m more of a paper/pencil kind of gal (despite my age! Lol), so you need to find the system that works best for you. Glance over each one of these threads and see what applies to your personality and needs:








Keeping good records from a financial standpoint:



When you get your hard copies back from the CRAs after each dispute, make sure you revisit PsychDocs Seminars on how to triage your report. Triage them almost every single time and file them away in a logical order.

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What is disputing and why?


Basically, there are two main types of disputes (more, but let's stick to 2 for now). Disputing with the CRAs (credit reporting agencies) and disputing with the CAs (collection agencies). How you dispute with them, is based on your circumstance and knowledge of the laws and what you are hoping to accomplish.


The FCRA gives the consumer the right to challenge any information on their credit report. On CB, this is referred to as asking for verification.






The FDCPA gives the consumer the right to ask the CA to provide documentation that the debt is indeed yours. On CB, this is referred to as requesting validation.



Still confused on the difference between verification and validation? Try these threads:






Of course, I didn’t post every thread out there on validation versus verification, but hopefully these will give you a base.

Knowing the difference between the two is vital to your success.

Edited by Jen23514
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Removing Old Addresses


Before disputing, you will need to remove old addresses (as much as possible, and this will also be a work in progress as well).


Whychat by far has some of the best threads on this.



Why do you want to remove old addresses before sending out your first dispute?



Trust me. Do it.

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What if my collection is medical? Do I treat it differently?




Many boardies have had good luck with the HIPPA process as outlined by whychat (thanks!). Before you DV a CA for a medical collection, please visit the medical forum and educate yourself. How you proceed is up to you based on your needs, but do not short change yourself by skipping this sub forum and educating yourself on medical privacy and how it can affect collections.

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Do I dispute with CRAs or CAs first?


The next thing you need to decide, are you going to do a blanket dispute with the CRAs or DV all your CAs or both (1-2 punch)?


Of course, it depends on your situation. I know I keep saying that, but it is true. There is no one-size-fits-all letter or approach.


Whatever you do, dispute off a paper copy:



What is a blanket dispute?



If I do a blanket dispute, how many should I dispute at once?



An in depth explanation of the 1-2punch



More 1-2 punch discussion



How can I do a 1-2punch if the CRA refuses to investigate?



1-2 punch AFTER the initial 30 days



So, after reading those you still might be confused as to which to do first. There is no one size fits all answer, everything amounts to YMMV (your mileage may vary). If after reading these threads, you’re not sure where to begin, start a thread and ask!

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What is proper validation?


One of the most important rights conferred by the FDCPA is the debtor's right to “validation” or "verification" of a debt under § 1692g. "This provision will eliminate the recurring problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid."


Section 1692g(:grin: provides that if the consumer disputes the debt in writing, the collector must cease further collection efforts until the validation procedure is complied with.


Section 1692g(a)(1) requires the “amount of the debt” to be stated in the initial letter. This requires the entire amount the collector is authorized to collect at the time a collection demand is sent to be stated. A letter stating the balance but inviting the debtor to call to obtain “the most current balance information” creates doubt as to whether the balance stated is increasing and violates the FDCPA unless an explanation is provided.


The FDCPA prohibits "[t]he collection of any amount (including any interest, fee,

charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law" and “[t]he false representation of . . . (A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or (:lol: any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt”. 15 U.S.C. §§1692f(1), 1692e(2).


If you read the FDCPA, you’ll see that validation of a debt is no more than (1692g.):

(1) The amount of the debt;

(2) The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed


Here are some CB links that will further explore what validation is (or is not):
















Keep in mind a few things when trying to determine if what they sent you is validation. The first is, the FDCPA is vague and your state laws and/or district court may provide a more stringent standard for validation. It’s up to you (or your attorney) to determine this. There is no way to address that in this thread. Secondly is, what would a judge think? This is an important (non legal) standard in my opinion, especially if you’re going to argue this pro se. Common sense.


How effective can a simple (and timely) DV be?



What if your request for validation is not timely (within first 30 days)? Try reading these threads:









Sometimes a debt is so old, it’s ok to tell them to go away and die (FOAD). When is it best?



What if you have disputed with one JDB/CA and they sell/assign it to another?



Other validation topics:


Can they report on my CR before they dun me?



CA claims they sent the letter, but nothing so far



More timely vs untimely dispute discussion, sprinkled with SOL talk



Does a CA have to delete if they don’t validate (failure to respond to a DV)?


Edited by Jen23514
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Disputing with the CRAs


Why not to dispute online:



what if I dispute with CRAs, they delete, then it comes back?



what if they tell me it’s already been investigated?


Unless it’s been declared “frivolousâ€, the CRA has very little legal ground per the FCRA to refuse to investigate a claim. With that said, how legit is your claim? Are you disputing the same thing over and over? Use common sense here.


By DixieDrifter - How to deal with previously investigated



By Shawnee - Experian and their "Previously Investigated" nonsense



I always suggest filing a complaint with the FTC when this happens. No, it will not help your problem immediately, but the accumulation of complaints sometimes will spur action by regulatory agencies. Give it a try.


When writing a dispute to a CRA, I often use an outline format. Along came Jack and gave it a name, the “Jack Attackâ€. It’s good. Consider it. I also use a VERY similar format for the CAs. In fact, the letters are almost identical in what I am disputing. Why? If the CA updates as “verified†with the CRAs, AND I have also been specific in my dispute to the CA, if it does to court I hope to cut off any possibility of a bona fide error defense.




What do you do when the CRAs verify bogus information?




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What letter should I send?


This is one of the hardest questions to answer, because so much depends on your situation. Here is jack’s 2 cents on the subject:



When he says, “The fact is that there is no simple letter to fit every situation†that is absolutely true. I can’t possibly cover here a link to every possible letter you could send. That is why it is important to at least have a basic understanding of your rights as a consumer, so you write a letter that fits your situation. Again, start with the FDCPA, the FCRA, and your state consumer laws.


Here are some links to help you get started and get an idea of what is in a good letter.


Letter Writing Strategies:



Short DV or long DV or the kitchen sink DV?



what is the difference between a standard DV and an “unknown debt†letter?



Why should I send it CMRR?



what if they refuse the CMRR?



What if my debt is beyond the SOL for my state?





Under only the right circumstances, should you send a FOAD letter to a CA


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Dealing with Collectors


This was the hardest section to hold back on. How to deal with these guys. The joke on their own boards about threatening to take cars (when they have no judgment), making old ladies cry and putting anti-freeze in your dog’s bowl. Seriously. Not all collectors are that way, but you have to go into the fight with the mindset that the one you are talking to is. Protect yourself, your family and your interests.


First of all, stay off the phone.

Secondly, if they are harassing you on the phone, record them.

Lastly, always keep in mind that they lie.


The WHOLE reason the FDCPA was enacted by congress is because of the ill behavior of collectors. The first section of the FDCPA clearly state this:


1692(e) Purposes

It is the purpose of this subchapter to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.


You know it’s bad if it actually caught the attention of congress!


Here is just a few threads to help you get started, but isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.


When CA's Attack! (on the phone), How to handle harassing calls



Did you know that abusive and misleading tactics are illegal?



Zombie Debts / Wrong Phone number harassment by CAs:



Debt collector sending papers to my house & warrant?! Help?




one of my favorite sayings of all time comes from JDBWN

Stay off the phone with these losers. There's no percentage in it unless you're recording their violations.


CAs use the phone as their instrument of intimidation. But in reality, they only have the power that YOU give them.


And 100% of collectors will lie 100% of the time.

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Other topics that may help:


What do I do when CRAs and CAs won't respond to me? Can I complain to someone?









state collection agency license boards, File complaints, check status, etc.: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=278011



There is a third kind of dispute (once you moved past the 101 stage) that I skipped over, which is disputing with the data furnisher (DF). I'm not going to go into it in detail in this thread, but more information can be found here:




Jen’s method to the 1-2 punch:




Dont' do this! (biggest mistakes in credit repair)




What’s the biggest credit myth you believe in pre-CB?



Learn from other's successes (and no, there is no where near all the stories out there, but is a start!):


What Jack1212 learned along the way:



What AtlantaGA learned along the way:



What Jen23514 learned along the way:



Does having good credit make you happy?



A different type of success story



The ultimate motivation and where you should read when you're in a repair funk, CB success stories:


Edited by Jen23514
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To sum up, there is SOOOOO much I didn't touch on, for example liens, judgments, Bankruptcy reporting, inquiries, bumpage, the other half of credit repair, the impending threat of a lawsuit, etc. I wish I could, but it would be impossible to touch on every possible subject in this thread that you could be facing.


I hope I provided what I set out for: a simple "where do I start" thread that can at least link you to threads that provide information that can help and get you started.


Want more information on any topic in this thread? Learn to search!


Search Tips:



More search tips:



How to use CB’s advanced search feature:




My wish is to keep this thread to helpful links, and if you want a discussion on a certain topic, feel free to start your own thread and hash it out there.



If you're starting your own thread, some helpful hints:




Think all of this is too much and you want to hire it done? Food for thought:



whychat's opinion on those who think credit repair is "too hard"




This was meant to be a true "101" style thread.


Maybe by my next 5,000posts I'll feel like a "102" style thread :grin:


Thanks for listening.


Good luck and Illegitimi Non Carborundum.



p.s. this is just my opinion......and was in no way done with the permission or knowledge of the owners :lol: :lol:

Edited by Jen23514
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Hope I'm not interrupting your posting frenzy....but this is EXCELLENT information for newbies.


I hope the Pam, LKH, and breeze put this as a sticky at the top!!! You've got my vote.



Nicely collaborated & laid out!


That's exactly what I was going to say! This should be a sticky! :angry:

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