Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What should I make of an unsolicited line of credit arriving by mail?

Despite some chaos yesterday on the major media, I guess first priority in these blogs is to cover the news I myself witness. Yesterday, for the second week in a row, I received, at my business UPS mail box, an unsolicited Platinum Equipment Lease Card from IMCA Capital in Los Angeles (link) .  Each card offers $100,000 credit.
IMCA explains how this works on Wordpress, here.  I’ll let the explanation speak for itself.  It is possible to contact them to delay the credit offer;  I haven’t called yet.
I'm not sure why I was "chosen" (rather than "left behind" or "left over").  I suppose that if I get closer to making a film, there would be a case for leasing larger professional cameras and trolleys.  I'm not there yet. 
Still, the idea of receiving an unsolicited line of credit (it is not a credit or debit card and did not cause a credit report inquiry) is troubling.  There is the possibility of fraud (the instructions say to call to activate the card immediately for this reason, but should this be done with unsolicited material?) Worse, there could exist the idea that someone could use an account like this for a blatantly unlawful purpose, resulting in the person who is named being framed.
However, the company did mail the offering to a known address, which is an identity-theft prevention concept I proposed here Sept. 25, 2006.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Arrests for phony debt collectors chasing consumers for debts they don't owe

Criminal charges are being filed against Williams Scott and Associates LLC in Georgia, for posing as debt collectors or law enforcement, bilking up to 6000 consumers for debts they did not owe.

ABC News has two major reports by Rebecca Jarvis and Dan Good.  The basic link is here.  The calls were reportedly going to all 50 states. 

USA Today has a similar story here

It is illegal according to the FDCPA to make false threats, for example of arrest, or even sometimes lawsuits.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Robosigning and deficiency judgments on foreclosed homes, and debt collectors

The New York Times has a major story Nov. 15 by Gretchen Morgenson, concerning deficiency judgments for foreclosed homes. In most states, borrowers can be pursued for them, particularly Texas and Florida, but not California.  The link is here
Fannie Mae has hired debt collection firms to go after borrowers when foreclosure papers had been signed by a “robo-signer redux” process.  That means that proper documentation for the foreclosures may be lacking.

Way back in 1992, James A Wiedemer had explained the dangers of deficiency judgement in his Michigan-published “A Homeowner’s Guide to Foreclosure.”  This used to be a danger even with unqualified assumptions (or “simple assumption”), which the FHA put a stop to on its approved loans around 1994.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Newer debit cards should be protected by metal foil when in wallets

There’s a new kind of danger that has surfaced with the newer credit cards and particularly debit cards, with chips, that are supposed to be standard by 2015.  There are devices that could read them, merely by “bumps”, and the cards (particularly debit cards) should be protected by metal – even aluminum foil.  The story was on ABC World News Tonight Thursday but is now on Forbes here. This sounds like Chemistry 101.  
The newer cards will make it much harder for thieves to duplicate existing debit cards.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Banks try to collect debts voided by bankruptcy courts; data brokers exposed debtors to id theft

The New York Times, in a story by Jessica Silver-Greenberg Thursday, reports a troubling practice by some banks which still try to collect bad debts discharged by a bankruptcy, ignoring legal requirements to remove them from credit reports, hoping that some debt will still be paid by the pressure consumes still feel when trying for example, to rent apartments.  The detailed story is here. The practice makes the debt more appealing to debt buyers. 
I one time found a $41 “bad debt” on a credit report which had been a Discover Card renewal that had been lost in a relocation.  It had grown by interest from $17.  I mailed an unbilled payment for the original $17 and Discover agreed to remove the item from the report and considered it settled
Another problem reported in the NYT today, by Natasha Singer, is that debt brokers have posted personal details about consumers online, making them more vulnerable to identity theft, story here.  The companies in question were Bayview Solutions in St. Petersburg Florida and Cornerstone and Company in Riverside CA. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

US Mail security and identity theft

Television Station WJLA-7 in Washington has a story on identity theft in the physical world, mainly from thefts of unlocked mailboxes common in many homes, especially in rural areas.  The link is here.  At particular risk are people who allow mail to be picked up from outdoor boxes rather than taking them to mailboxes or post offices.

Along with this, NBC Washington on Tuesday had a story advising consumers not to send personal information (especially bank account numbers or credit card numbers) in emails at all, since apparently emails on some servers have been scraped for this information.

Again, a two-step verification of new credit accounts using NCOA, as I suggested in 2006, could go a long way in preventing false identities.