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Hey Y'all. Update from my beautiful vinyl faux Niemann Marcus Couch! (School for me starts in a few weeks. My credit is still sh*tty, so I am looking forward to moving back into the dorms).

Quick update on my various court battles relating to years of identity theft and fraud.

THANK YOU ADMIN (and people whose experiences contributed) for the "Debt Flow Chart" thingie. IT WORKS.

It doesn't work super clean-ly all the time, but if you follow the steps in order, it seems you can score a few wins. Highlights of my WIN:

  • Fraudulent Medical Debt 1 - Account Closed. Tradeline Removed. ($1570)
  • Fraudulent Medical Debt 2 - Account Closed. Tradeline Removed. ($315)
  • Fraudulent Credit Card Debt 1 - Account Closed/ Apology received. Tradeline still there, but agreement in place to have it removed! ($1588)
  • Fraudulent Credit Card Debt Judgement - Represented myself pro se, judgement VACATED!! ($3200.00)
  • Fraudulent Credit Card Judgement 2 - Still in court over this. Pro se. From the looks of things, I may well prevail. ($2700+)

Basically I have the following suggestions for someone embarking on a similar battle:

* You WANT the opposition to underestimate you. I handwrite my first inquiry letters on girly stationary. I leave my phone number, but ask them not to call. I make a photocopy for my records, then send them off certified mail. I want them to think I'm some naive consumer because their unscrupulous behavior comes out best when this is the case. For the second - last letters, I type them up in Times New Roman, nice paper, ultra-formal.

* KEEP GOOD PAPER RECORDS. No. Not digital. PAPER. My harddrive crashed in the midst of this process. I had to rely on my paper records. They were AMAZING.

* Don't dump your correspondence into one big "fixin my credit" folder in a drawer. Pain as it may be, separate JDB1's folder from JDB2's. Keep each folder organized by date. Write notes of incoming and outgoing correspondence.

* Get a PO Box -- change your address to this box. I find this method best. I would recommend one at the post office itself or a Mail Boxes ETC or UPS Store type of place. Set a weekly date to check this mailbox. Tuesday worked best for me. Read your mail on Tuesday, respond on Wednesday. This helps you give your debt issues an assigned time and place in your life, and it just helps you feel more productive.

If you have fears or embarrassment over the debt issues in your life, getting the PO Box will allow you some space and peace knowing your mail won't be stumbled upon by the wrong people. It also gives you some time to contemplate how you will meaningfully present your debt issues to family or spouses who may be affected by it. Once you start this process, letters will come at you fast & furious.

* Read through this forum and look at people whose problems are very unlike your own. This is good because some insights about their unrelated cases might be good to use for your own case. Notes about the civil procedure, process are good. Experiences that other people shared about going to court over a divorce brought my attention to statute of limitations issues -- how long one has to file a case after their damages have been incurred. This was important.

* Identity Theft and Fraud seem like they would be super easy to resolve. A crime against you was committed and you reported it. You're good right? NO. YOU ARE NOT OK. Yes, they might take the perp to jail maybe (if you or the law can find em), but ultimately, the damage left by fraud is yours to enjoy. Just because you didn't know you were being defrauded, doesn't mean you're not liable for the damage. Some credit cards say you only have 30 days to report fraudulent activity from when the fraud occurred. This sticking point was the main source of my debt battle.

* Visit a local credit union. Credit union money is held by its shareholders -- not the bank. So, you will get better loans and terms from one. I am now fixing my credit by taking out a small loan, $500, and paying it off over the course of the year. Yea, I could afford more than $500, but the point here is not the dollar value-- it's that this loan reports monthly to the credit bureaus, and is a positive tradeline that can only work to my benefit. I got this loan, deposited $500 into a savings account there, and set up auto-pay. In a year, I will have a nice fat bump in my credit score.

Beyond this, I will never, if I can avoid it, bank with a big bank again. Too unscrupulous. Too shady. Too opaque and rotten to the core. I don't want to give my money to anyone who has a vested interest in my losing it quickly through fees. I don't want banks to market to me. I am going basically cash-only for life. A car or a mortgage -- yes, I will get these loans in my lifetime, but only through a credit union from now on.

So there you go. I am continuing my battle with Unifund. They are awful horrible wretched rotten adult children of scourge. That's about it.


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