Myles M. Mattenson
ATTORNEY AT LAW
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
During January, it was announced that Experian (formerly known as TRW Information System & Services) will no longer provide free credit reports to consumers as of March 1, 1997. The company will continue to provide free reports to a consumer only if a consumer has been turned down for credit or is facing other difficulties. Experian reported that it was inundated by report requests, prompted largely by credit repair clinics that advise their clients to dispute every negative item on their report, even if the reported items are correct. The company estimated that approximately 40% of the requests received during the past four years were spurred by credit clinics. In addition, the company's two principal competitors, Equifax and Trans Union, did match not match the offer of providing reports free on request. The Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996, passed by Congress in September, 1996, will go into effect in October. This Act will expand consumer access to free reports in certain situations. Under current law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report if you have been turned down for credit, employment, insurance, or housing during the past 30 days based on derogatory credit information. Under this new Act, you will the right to a free report if you have been so turned down during the past 60 days. Additionally, you will be able to obtain a free report if you are unemployed and looking for work, are receiving Welfare or believe your credit file contains inaccuracies because of a credit fraud. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the major credit-reporting firms are as follows: (1) Experian (formerly TRW) Consumer Assistance, P.O. Box 949, Allen, TX 75013, (800) 392-1122; (2) Equifax, Consumer Affairs Department, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 20374, (800) 685-1111; and (3) Trans Union, Customer Relations, P.O. Box 7000, North Olmstead, OH 44070, (800) 851-2674. Did you know that a dating service contract may provide that if the buyer moves more than 50 miles from the dating service office, the buyer may be charged a predetermined fee not to exceed $100, or $50 if more than half the contract life has expired? Although many contracts are required to include language providing for a buyer's 3 business day right to cancel, did you know that a dance studio service contract must include a clause allowing the buyer a 180 day right to cancel? Many of you may remember the saga I described in dealing with long distance telephone companies from Cabo San Lucas. The original charges were $155.10 for 5 brief telephone calls from Mexico to the Los Angeles area. Did I tell you that virtually all of my travelling companions were employees of PacBell? In the January 1997 issue of New Era Magazine, I reported to you that I had achieved a reduction of charges to $53.25. Subsequently, in view of my pending complaint before the Federal Communications Commission, the charges have been reduced to $4.17! The moral of the story? Don't let the bad guys wear you down!
[This column is intended to provide general information only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have a specific question regarding the law, you should contact an attorney of your choice. Suggestions for topics to be discussed in this column are welcome.] Reprinted from New Era Magazine Myles M. Mattenson © 1997-2002