Frequently Asked Questions
Question - What is the best way to dispute an erroneous or fraudulent charge?
Answer - You need to complain right away and you need to do it in writing. Tell the company that you dispute the charge, why you dispute it and provide any supporting documentation. This letter should never be enclosed with the bill. You need to find out where the company accepts correspondence about billing problems; it is probably a different address than where you send your payment.
Question - How long does negative information stay on my credit report? -
Answer - Negative information that is accurate can stay on your credit report for seven years. A bankruptcy can stay for 10 years.
Question - Is there anything I can do to stop getting those pre-approved credit card offers in the mail?
Answer - The credit reporting industry has established a toll-free hotline at 1-888-567-8688 that you can call to opt out of pre-approved credit card mailings. One call does it all! You can opt out for two years or permanently, so listen to all the options on the message before you make your choice. You can also do this online at

NOTE: Because the credit bureau identifies you by your Social Security number, to opt out, you will have to provide this information. In this case, that’s nothing to worry about, because you made the call and you know who you are dealing with.
Question - Where do I contact the 3 big credit reporting agencies?
Question - How do I pick a good repair shop?
Answer - The best time to look for an auto repair facility is before you need one, when you have the time to shop around. In looking for an auto repair facility, ask for recommendations. The best referrals are from family and friends who have had positive experiences with a repair facility. Look for a shop that is a member of AAA or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Click here for tips on auto repair.
  • The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has a brochure on how to choose a good mechanic, click here for the brochure. To find the best mechanic in your area, click here and check the national database for ASE “blue shield” certified mechanics.
  • The FTC has a helpful fact sheet: Take The Scare out of Auto Repair
  • Click here for your rights in Washington State.
Question - Can a debt collector keep contacting me if I don’t owe them money?
Answer - Federal regulations say a collector may not contact you if within 30 days after you receive the written notice you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. Collection activities can begin again if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.
Question - What is a debt collector prohibited from doing?
Answer - According to the Federal Trade Commission a debt collector may not “harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.” That means they cannot: use threats of violence, use obscene or profane language, or “repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.” They are also prohibited from making “false or misleading statements.” For instance, they cannot: say you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt, use a false name, or send you something that looks like an official government document when it is not.
Click here for more information on your debt collection rights.
Question - Is there any way to reduce the amount of solicitations I get mailed?
Answer - You can reduce the amount of unsolicited national advertising mail you receive at home by using the Direct Marketing Association’s dmachoice website. Another site, Catalog Choice can also help.
Question - Can telemarketers call me anytime they want?
Answer - No. According to federal regulation a telephone salesperson cannot call you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM in your time zone. Click here for more information about your telemarketing rights.
Question - Can I put my cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry?
Answer - Yes. Residential or cell phone numbers are accepted; business numbers are not.
Click here to register a phone number.
Question - Will putting my number on the National Do Not Call registry stop all telemarketing calls?
Answer - No. It should stop most calls designed to sell something, but not all. Calls for charities, political organizations and telephone surveys are still allowed. Of course, you always have the right to tell any caller that you want to be put on that company’s own do not call list.
Click here for more about the National Do Not Call Registry.
Question - How do I find out if there’s “lost money” waiting for me?
Answer - Every state has millions of dollars in unclaimed funds that are there for the asking, if you are the rightful owner.
Click here for Washington State's website.
If you’ve lived in any other state, you might want to check there, too. Click here for the national database at NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators).
Question - I got a mailing from a company that says they’ve located funds that belong to me, but they want money upfront. What should I do?
Answer - There are lots of offers like this. There are people who make a living matching up unclaimed funds with their rightful owners, but many of these offers are scams. Legitimate unclaimed funds locators do not ask for money in advance. They collect their fee after you get your loot.