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Three Ts Of Debt Consolidation Denial

Problematic consumerDebt consolidation is a financial options offered by numerous lenders in hopes of being able to encourage the borrowers to pay back debts. The program makes it easy for the borrower to make the payments and get up to date with the lender. It is also a very valuable tool of lenders and even the government in addressing delinquency and default in debt and loan payments. It helps consumers solve multiple loan problems as well.

The lenders offer the program to be able to close several loans of the borrower to enable them to concentrate on one payment amount every month. It also pays-off the other loans and does not reflect settlement in the credit score. As most people have become aware, settlement damages the credit score by reflecting that the borrower was not able to make the payments and had to settle with the lender to pay off the debt at a reduced amount.

As consumers troop to different lenders to be assessed for debt consolidation, they are hopeful that their application would be approved to be able to do away with the nuances of payment for several types of loans. It can also give them a little more elbow room when the monthly payments goes down to be able to start building up the emergency fund or put more for retirement amount.

Debt consolidation denial

As the consumers sit down and wait for the approved loan amount to consolidate their several loans, new interest rate to be used and the new monthly payment, the loan officer might get back to you with a denied application. There are debt consolidation techniques but at this point, this is tough if you are already counting the ways how debt consolidation will work to your advantage. Some of the most common reasons for this debt consolidation denial are:

Too many loans

The lender might be under the presumption that you are adding on more loans to your existing debt. As soon as they fire up the computer, they will see all your existing financial obligations and might deny your application for the loan. They might be quick to the draw and draw the conclusion that you will not be able to meet all the payments if they approve the loan.

As your objective is debt consolidation, you would need to explain to the lender that the very reason you are taking out the loan is to pay off the other existing loans. It is not to add up to your existing financial payments. If they realize your plan, they just might approve of the loan. Again, this is still not an assurance of approval because some lenders are skeptics and will assume the worst – that you are just trying to squeeze out a loan with no plan of repayment.

This is not always the case but it is a possibility. If the lender would not agree to your plan, you can look for other lenders that would be open to your financial objective. It is not the end of the world if you get rejected by one lender. It is actually an opportunity to do a financial audit and see where you can make some improvement before approaching another lender to talk about debt consolidation.

Too low income

One of the primary things the lenders will look at is your ability to pay. This includes income from employment or income from a business a venture. If you are denied because they conclude that you do not have enough cash inflow to meet the payment requirements, then you can double check your income sources. You might have overlooked one source or forgot to declare income that is coming from an investment.

If your lender still determines that your income is not enough, it would be best to sit down and go over your income and expense budget. There might be something that you need to closely look into like missed payments or missed income. It might be the reason that you are still in debt – you need better money management.

Too risky Credit score

As you approach private lenders to take out a loan to consolidate your debts, another consideration is your credit score. This is especially tough because if there is already financial hardship, chances are your credit score would have already been affected. And the same reason why your credit score is suffering is what you hope to correct with your debt consolidation.

This is a tough call for the lender because the lower your score, the higher your risk, the lower your chances of being approved for the loan. One way lenders would agree to granting you a loan is if you agree to a high interest rate. This is meant to cover their investment risk and be assured of earning enough in the beginning to cover risk of payment default.

These are the most common benchmarks of lenders to assess if you are a good candidate for debt consolidation. If there are any denials on your loan application, look to check these three items and talk to your lender on how to go about your debt consolidation target.

Here is a video on debt consolidation:

Steps after debt consolidation

If you are successful in getting a debt consolidation loan, this is a great start in getting your finances back on track. This could help you make your monthly payments easier, send out lower check amounts for payments and not miss out on any loan or debt payment. But with debt consolidation, here are some things that a borrower would need to look into.

  • Pay-off loans. It is important to use the loan meant to consolidate your debt to do exactly just that – debt consolidation. You need to pay off all loans in order to enjoy the benefits of consolidating your debt all in one payment. Investments are a good idea but not for this specific purpose. If the target amount does not pan out, you will be in deeper financial hole. You will be stuck with your original loan payments with the addition of the new loan meant for consolidation.
  • Focus on payments. When you start debt consolidation payments, you need to keep at it and try your best not to go into delinquent or default payment status. Debt consolidation is meant to help you get out of debt but if you do not make the payments, you will fail to reap the advantages of making single monthly payments for all your previous loans.
  • Extra payments. Using debt consolidation usually carries a long repayment period. One great financial move is to make extra payments to your loan. If the lender will allow it, send it to principal payments. Even Azcentral.com is suggesting thsi move to pay down mortgage loan. This will result into shorter payment term and save you payment in interest in the future. It will also make you feel better that you are lowering down the actual amount of the money you borrowed rather than the interest.

Debt consolidation is a great financial option for people trying to streamline monthly payments. This is usually more advantageous for consumers that are able to meet at least all the minimum payments on all the debt and loan payments. It guarantees one monthly payment ensuring that the borrower is able to manage payments monthly and not miss out on any financial obligation.

4 Things to Know Before Remarrying in Retirement

Happy old couple looking at a cameraRetirement can come sooner than most of us expected. After a few decades working in an office, the time will come that we will retire that suit and probably trade them in for gardening clothes. Some are excited just thinking about retirement. They are already preparing a long list of things to do immediately right after retiring. But for some, they are anxious about retirement. Getting used to 40 hours a week minimum in the office seems an awful lot of free time.

Retirement also brings a good question in second marriage. As retirees try to prevent retirement funds from retiring before them, marriage is another issue. Divorce or death of a spouse is inevitable and for retirees, this is just as a reality as most for most of their younger counterparts. But their age and situation in life makes it just a little more complicated than most. Having a new partner in life can be quite a challenge after the initial feelings settle down.

Divorce is all too common in the country. Survey from Statisticbrain.com shows that 3.4 out of 1,000 gets divorced. This may seem small but multiply that with the current population and you get a lot of people leaving marriage. Retirees are not an exception whether leaving the marriage because it is not working anymore or the other partner dies. But some find another partner to spend their retirement with and this is where it gets tricky especially when it comes to finances.

Finding love the second time around in retirement

Finding love or companionship for retirees can and does happen. Love is not only for young people. Older citizens can love just the same as their younger counterparts, if not more. But talking about retirement and marriage should always include the topic on financial management. Money and finances should be talked about before tying the knot again in retirement.

USAtoday.com came out with an article about retirees finding love again and in the midst of pension, remarry. There are a few complications in marriage with retired people because of children, stepchildren, assets, credit, debt and other things that may not have been present during the first marriage.

Here are some things the retirees need to look out for before walking down the aisle again.

Discuss finances

Soon to be re-married couples talk about a million things before they tie the knot and one important topic is finances. More than knowing each others favorite food and places to travel to and if they will get a dog or a cat, sitting down and talking about finances is important to make the marriage work. It has a few more challenges because of the state in life the partners are in.

It now includes pension, savings and emergency funds. It could also include investments outside savings that needs to be talked about. Having a transparent line of communication and making sure the other is updated and in the same page as you are with the finances is important to make the new marriage works.

Expenses should be part of the discussion as well. If there are debts still being paid, bills and other utilities and other living expenses should be properly discussed to make the relationship work. It will be quite hard to live a normal day to day life when you do not even know who will pick up the bill for the cable, groceries or book that ticket for that vacation in Hawaii.

Credit reports

Credit reports is a reflection of how well you manage your finances. It shows a quick picture of your payment habits with just a number. It can say a lot of things about you as a borrower and reflects your level of financial literacy as well. Credit reports are important as well in maximizing other loan and credit opportunities that you might need in the future.

This is another topic that should be discussed before remarrying at retirement age. Check your credit score and talk about it with your soon to be spouse. If you find any errors, report them right away so you can fix your credit report. Talk about the financial struggles you had along the way and try to learn from them as a new couple. You can even talk about how you saved for retirement in spite of debt.

Important documents

There are documents that you might have prepared a long time ago that you would need to update when you remarry. Changing beneficiaries in your will and other documents is one them. It is best to talk to your lawyer about the changes needed with your new marriage and how to go about updating the information on legal documents you have.

Pre-nuptial agreement

A lot of people look at pre-nup agreements as a protection for the wealthier spouse. It is meant to separate the finances of the two prior to entering marriage. There are advantages to having a pre-nup at retirement age and it is best to talk about it with your soon to be spouse if you are both comfortable with it. Look at it as doing it for the kids, if any, because it could be the spark of nasty discussions down the road.

Here is a video about remarrying after retirement:

Marriage after retirement

Just as you are thinking of work ideas during retirement, you should also be working on some possible problem areas retirement brings to marriage. Here are a few of them.

  • Unemployment brings low self esteem. Some people have put too much premium in their work that retirement decreases their self-esteem thinking they are not doing anything worthwhile. They feel a big empty space has carved up into their lives and there is nothing they can do about it.
  • Health. Retired people are usually more prone to health related issues because of old age. There are more complications for older people and treatment might be longer and more expensive.
  • Lifestyle. Two people coming into a retirement status and having to find themselves together for 24 hours a day for 7 days a week are finding it challenging to merge their lifestyles together. Over the years, each partner has built up a routine around specific interests. The problem is that these interests might not be the same or even compatible with their partner.

In light of these problems surrounding a married couple in retirement, here are a few things that they can do to address them:

  • Find a hobby – Retirement should be based on a financial target and not by age. If done correctly, the  lack of self esteem may originate from not having to do anything anymore and not the paycheck. The best thing to do is to either look for a hobby that you can enjoy doing or better yet, expand a hobby you already have. It is best to include you partner into it and see if you both can enjoy incorporating it in your retirement years.
  • Regular check-up. Prevention is always better than cure. Visit your doctor regularly most especially when you get older. This is not only to address any possible medical situation that is creeping up but to give you peace of mind as well.
  • Thinking of your spouse. Building a lifestyle outside the interests of your spouse might have happened because of all the time away from the house and into work, Now that you are retired, it is a good idea to create a new one that factors in both of your interests. Take into account the the things that both of you like to do and build on that. She might love to cook and you’re the best salesman in the neighborhood. You can start a small business where your wife cooks and you sell them to your neighbors. It does not have to be the same, they can also be complementing each others interests and strengths.

Retirement is an exciting part of your life. If you find yourself re-marrying at this point, your finances should be one important consideration and topic before saying “I dos.”

 

10 Credit Management Questions Your Teen Should Know How To Answer

young woman looking at credit cardAs a parent, you need to understand that it is your responsibility to teach your children the right financial lessons. From saving to budgeting to spending, these are concepts that you need to make sure they understand.

When your kid gets older and starts to understand more about life, you need to introduce them to more financial concepts. For instance, there are credit card rules to discuss to your college kid. You should also begin discussing student loans with your high school student. While it may seem too early to teach them about credit management, it is a reality that they will face once they enter their college life.

An article published on USAToday.com discussed a study done by EverFi and Higher One. These two organizations are strong advocates of financial literacy. They conducted a study that involved 65,000 college students to prove that being taught financial concepts in high school can affect their money management behavior in college. The study revealed that those who took financial literacy classes in high school displayed signs of being more financially responsible. They were found to make better decisions about debt, paid their dues on time and did not go beyond the limit of their credit cards.

This proves that starting them young with financial lessons like credit management pays off in the end. With the rising financial problems of young adults because of student loans, you should understand that they need to be educated immediately. That will help them make better decisions about their debts.

10 questions that your teen should be able to answer about credit

You may be asking, why are we concentrating on teens? Well, they are at a mental stage that allows them to understand debt and the reason why people use it. Not only that, this is the perfect time to prepare them for the financial responsibilities that they will face once they are in college. If student loans are imminent in their future, then you have to make sure they understand credit management.

As part of the lesson to manage debt, your teen needs to learn about credit card debt and credit scores. To help guide you, here are the important questions that your teen should be able to answer on their own.

  1. What is a credit card? It is a purchasing tool that consumers can use in lieu of cash. Instead of using your money, you are using the money of the creditor. That means, this amount has to be paid back in full.

  2. How can you use credit cards without ending up in too much debt? The best credit management tip to stay away from credit card debt is to avoid carrying over a balance to the next billing cycle. That will keep you from paying finance charges that is just a waste of you money. Make sure to pay the bills in full within the grace period to avoid added payments.

  3. What are interest rates and finance charges? The interest rate is also known as an APR (Annual Percentage Rate) that is used to calculate the finance charge that will be added to the debt carried over to the next month. That is considered as profit for the credit card company. If you do not carry a balance, then you do not have to worry about this.

  4. What is the ideal amount of credit cards to own? 2 should be enough for you. One is a card that you can use on groceries or in a retail shop that you regularly buy items from. The other is a low interest card that you can use for emergencies. Anything beyond this is excessive.

  5. How should a credit card be used? Since this credit management lesson is for a teen, let them know that the credit card should only be used for emergencies. If they plan to use it on unnecessary expenses, they have to make sure that it will be paid off immediately to avoid incurring additional fees. That is a waste of money. A good rule is, if they cannot afford to pay a non-emergency expense in cash, then they should not use credit on it.

  6. When a credit card debt is paid off, should it be closed? It makes sense to close a credit line you’ve paid off but understand that it will affect your credit score. It will make it lower so if you do not have to, just keep your cards and practice credit management to keep it from accumulating debt.

  7. What is a credit score? This is a number that is calculated to measure your creditworthiness. It speaks of your credit management behavior. If you have a bad record of payments, then that will give you a low credit score. This is computed based on 5 factors: your payment history, debt amount, credit history, type of debts and new accounts.

  8. How can I view my credit score? You need to get your credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You can get a free copy from the Annual Credit Report website. Once you have downloaded the most current copy, you can use the free credit score calculators found online. This is the cost free way to go about it. Of course, you can order your credit score from the three major credit bureaus for a fee.

  9. Why is a credit score important? A credit score can influence the interest rate that will be imposed on the future loans that a consumer will have. A good credit score will allow them a low interest on a home or car loan. It can even help them get a good job, rent an apartment in a respectable neighborhood and even low premiums on insurances. Know what this score is all about because what you don’t know about your credit score can hurt you.

  10. What is a good credit score? This will depend on the company that is computing it. FICO scores have a range of 300 to 850 so a score of 750 and above is a good score. A VantageScore has a range of 501 to 990 so anything about 900 is a good score. Make sure you know where the credit score is being computed to know what the good credit score is.

Here is a video from National Debt Relief that discusses why credit scores are important. This can help you with the concepts that you need to point out to your teenager.

How to prepare your incoming college student from debt situations

Given the scary debt that young adults are burdened with right now, you have to make sure that your kid is protected from a financial future that is filled with debt. The best way to do that is by educating them – especially about credit management.

An article published on MyFoxChicago.com discussed how most students are really unaware of what they are signing up for – especially when it comes to student loans. In most cases, the councilor in school will not provide them with the whole debt situation.

This is an important role that parents need to complete because financial difficulties can affect even the studies of college students. According the same study featured by USA Today, which is originally published on CGSNet.org, research shows that financial troubles cause students to go through mental stress, academic failure and the eventual withdrawal from school.

Because of that fact, you need to equip them with the right knowledge that will help them make better decisions about their finances. It also helps to set a good example by practicing the right credit management skills yourself.

For problems with student loans, National Debt Relief recently launched a program that helps borrowers deal with this type of debt. It is a consultation service that will help consumers get into the right program that is based on the details of their student loan debt and their financial situation. The company charges a one time flat fee that is placed in a secure escrow account. The service includes assistance in the paperwork that will help consumers enter into a student loan repayment program. If the consumer is satisfied with the paperworks, that is the only time that the company will receive their payments. Take note that they will never charge an upfront or maintenance fee for this service.

What You Need To Know About The New FICO Score That’s Coming Soon

What You Need To Know About Debt ManagementThe Greek philosopher Diogenes once said, “There is nothing permanent except change” and this is true in the world of lending as it is in the rest of our lives. Lending is constantly changing, which means that the way we are scored needs to be updated periodically and in line with this here comes the latest – FICO Score 9.

Does the term “credit score” frighten you?

Even though you may be afraid of the term “credit score” it’s important that you know yours and how it affects your personal finances. Lenders generally look at credit scores as follows:

Between 700 and 850 – Very good or excellent credit score
Between 680 and 699 – Good credit score
Between 620 and 679 – Average or OK score
Between 580 and 619 – Low credit score
Between 500 and 579 – Poor credit score
Between 300 and 499 – Bad credit score

When you apply for any kind of credit, the first thing the lender will do is look at your credit score. As you can see from the ranges shown above, if you have a credit score of less than 580, the odds are that you will be turned down or, best case, charged a very high interest rate. If you don’t know your credit score it’s critical that you get it before you next apply for credit – or you could be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

What a credit score means

Credit scores are a three-digit representation of how creditworthy you are. Landlords, creditors and other creditors use it to decide if you should be given a credit card or a loan and how likely it is that you will repay the money. To put this another way, your credit score is a way for lenders to predict how risky you would be as a creditor.

Now comes FICO Score 9

While there are literally dozens of different credit scoring models, the first and most popular is the FICO score. It was developed by a company then called Fair Isaac Corporation as a way to simplify the whole credit granting process. Prior to FICO lenders were required to sit down and carefully analyze your credit report line by line. Plus, they had to review your reports from the three credit reporting bureaus because they could be and often were different. As you can imagine this was both tedious and time-consuming.

The updated model

The models for scoring created by FICO are considered to be the gold standard in terms of deciding consumer risk. Virtually all the credit granting businesses use them. For example, in 2013 alone lenders bought from FICO an amazing 10 billion scores to decide who would be granted loans or credit cards. However, things change over the years and FICO generally keeps creating new models to tackle these changes and do a better job of predicting how creditworthy a person would be. The newest in this long line of credit scoring models from FICO is FICO Score 9 and is to be released this summer.

Much the same as Score 8

FICO Score 9 will be much the same as FICO Score 8. However, FICO said in a recent press release that it will have better “predictive power” and will consist of a better representation of a person’s creditworthiness. Andrew Jennings, who is FICO’s chief analytic officer was quoted as saying, “Our innovative, multi-faceted modeling approach incorporates a more exhaustive characteristic selection process to build a score that is even more effective across a wide variety of situations.” To put this in simpler terms, FICO Score 9 is to do a better job than FICO Score 8 of predicting how risky you are.

Improved consistency

As noted above, there are three credit bureaus that provide scores to both lenders and individuals. They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. One thing that has made it tough for lenders to get the maximum value out of the credit scores they purchase is that there is sometimes a wide variation between the three bureaus regarding an a person’s score. In fact, when a lender orders a credit report it is not uncommon that each bureau provides a somewhat different score. These inconsistencies can sometimes be quite large, which makes it confusing for both creditors and individuals. So, according to FICO one of the biggest improvements that will come with FICO Score 9 is that these differences will be less apparent, which will make it faster and easier for lenders to decide whether or not they want to issue credit to an individual.

Many new scoring models

This change coming from FICO is just one of the many new scoring models that are on their way. The new ones are expected to focus on individual industries. As an example of this, there will be different scoring systems between credit cards, auto loans and mortgages. This is due to the fact that lenders are searching for ways to grant credit to new customers while still adhering to a number of historically important guidelines.

Watch for more news

FICO will have more details about Score 9 as it comes closer to releasing it. You should pay close attention to this so you’ll know how you might or might not be affected by these changes and your ability to get new credit.

Check your credit reportCredit Report

While it’s important for you to know your credit score it’s equally important for you to see your credit reports. The law entitles you to a free copy of each of your three reports once a year. You can choose to get them from each of the credit bureaus or altogether on the site www.annualcreditreport.com. People who are credit wise generally get one of their free credit reports every four months. This represents a way to kind of monitor your credit without having to pay a company to do it. Reviewing credit reports isn’t much fun but it’s important that you look over each one carefully. A study released last year by the FTC (Federal Trait Commission) showed that nearly 20% of us have credit reports that contain errors and that 5% of us have errors so serious they are affecting our credit scores.

What to look for

When you go over your credit report the negative items to look for include late payments, skipped payments, defaults, bankruptcies, charge offs, tax liens and collections. If you find any of these in one of your credit reports it’s important to make sure they are legitimate and not errors. If you do find errors you can dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau by writing a letter and enclosing whatever documentation you have to prove your claim. The credit bureau will then check with the institution that provided the negative item and ask that it be verified. In the event that the institution cannot verify or fails to respond within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove it from your credit report, which could lead to a nice boost in your credit score.
If you do need to dispute something in one of your credit reports, here’s a video on the right way to construct a  dispute letter.

In summary

Your credit life is ruled by that little three-digit number called your credit score. It’s critical that you know your credit score especially before you apply for a big loan such as an auto loan or mortgage. You need to get and review your credit reports so that you can dispute any errors that could be affecting your credit score. And finally, be sure to watch for more information about FICO Score 9 so you will know how it might affect your credit score and your financial life.

Trying To Rebuild Your Credit? Here’s How To Find An Affordable Secured Credit Card

frustrated looking woman looking at a laptopAlmost all of us wreck our credit at some point in our lives – usually when we’re young and not so great about the decisions we make. There is an old saying that good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. If you’re like us you probably made some bad decisions about credit and may even have been forced to file for bankruptcy.

If you did mishandle your credit and find that you can no longer get any credit at all, you need to learn from the bad decisions you made and begin rebuilding it.

You do know your credit score, right?
If you’re not able to get credit it’s probably due to your credit score. Lenders look at credit scores in the following ranges:

• Between 700 and 850 – Very good or excellent credit score
• Between 680 and 699 – Good credit score
• Between 620 and 679 – Average or OK score
• Between 580 and 619 – Low credit score
• Between 500 and 579 – Poor credit score
• Between 300 and 499 – Bad credit score

If you’re being denied credit, you probably have a credit score of less than 500. But the important thing is to learn your credit score. You can get it by going to the site www.myfico.com and either pay $19.95 or sign-up for a free trial of its Score Watch program. The three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – offer free credit scores but you may have to jump through some hoops in order to get yours. We like CreditKarma and CreditSesame as good sources for a free credit report. Plus, a site such as CreditKarma offers a lot of other valuable information in addition to your credit score.

Now that you know your credit score

Once you get your credit score the next step is to get your credit reports so you can see why your score is so pitiful. The law mandates that you can get your credit reports free from the three credit reporting bureaus once a year. You can get yours by going to each of the credit reporting bureaus or on the site www.annualcreditreport.com.

What to look for

If you have a very low credit score it’s because there are damaging items in your credit report. The ones to look for are late payments, missed payments, collection accounts, judgments, bankruptcies, defaults and lawsuits. You should also be sure to look for errors. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) released a study last year showing that 5% of us have errors in our credit reports so serious they are damaging our credit scores. If you’re lucky you might find that there are errors in your credit report that are dragging down your credit score. If this turns out to be the case, you will need to dispute the negative items by writing a letter to the appropriate credit bureau, along with whatever documentation you have that proves your case. If you can get the erroneous items deleted from your account, your credit score should get a very nice boost.

Get a secured cardcredit cards

In most cases you won’t find any errors in your credit report, which means you have basically shredded your credit. In this case you will need to begin rebuilding it and one of the best ways to do this is to get a secured credit card. If you’re not familiar with these cards this is where you make a security deposit in order to get a line of credit. Some of these cards will also have an annual fee and even interest rates that are higher-than-average. Instead of just jumping into the first secured card you find, do some comparison-shopping to ensure that you get one that’s affordable. Here is what to look for.

What’s the annual fee?

All companies that issue secured credit cards have different annual fee requirements. These can be from $29 to $39 or even more, depending on the individual card and its interest rate. For example, you might find that a card that has a low interest rate and low deposit requirements has a higher annual fee. On the other hand, a card with a low annual fee might have a higher interest rate and stiffer deposit requirements.

Check out what’s required for a line of credit

If you search carefully you might find a secured credit card where you could qualify for an increase in your credit line and without having to add more funds for a security deposit. In the event you believe you will be using that secured card for a year or more, think about getting one that offers this advantage. You will need to maintain your account in a good standing by making your payments on time every time to get such a benefit. But this should pay off for you.

Go to a credit union

Membership in a credit union used to be limited to people in a certain group such as the employees of a company or members of a union. However, today many credit unions are open to just about anyone. A lot of them offer secured credit cards and some will even forego the annual and application fees. In addition, the secured cards offered by credit unions usually have lower interest rates and more alternatives for rebuilding your credit – even if you’ve had a bankruptcy, illness, divorce or another life-altering situation that damaged your finances.

If you’re not familiar with credit unions, here’s a helpful video that discusses the differences between banks and credit unions.

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Check out credit-card comparison websites

There are many websites that have reviews of secured credit cards and their current rates. Try to monitor a few of these as this could help you learn the pros and cons of each secured credit card program. This can give you a great birds-eye view of the latest programs and the offers before you begin researching individual cards on your own.

Don’t look just at deposit requirements

The first thing you’ll probably look for in a secured credit card that would be affordable is the deposit requirements you will be required to make before you get the card. But do remember that the security deposit is just part of the card’s total cost . You need to check out annual fees, the interest you will be charged on any balances you carry forward, the application fee and any other required fees. Add up all the costs of the different cards you’re comparing and their terms. What a card costs you over the course of a year will be much higher than just the security deposit. So make sure you account for those other costs.

Be careful you don’t get scammed

This may shock you but not all companies that offer secured credit cards are legitimate. If you’re not careful you could actually run into a scam. Before you sign up for a card, go online and check out multiple sources and look for reviews of the card and the company behind it. If the company passes this test, you can be pretty sure that it’s legitimate.

Watch the fine print

There’s an old saying in the advertising business that the big print giveth and the small print taketh away. Once you boil down your selections to a few secured credit cards be sure to read all the fine print. You need to have a detailed understanding of the card’s annual fee, fixed or variable interest rates, security deposit requirement and any other fees you would be charged over the life of your contract. And don’t be afraid to call the card’s customer service department if you have any questions about the terms or if you need something clarified. There is another old saying that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Facts About Credit Scores and Credit Cards That Might Surprise You

man holding multiple credit cardsIf you’re like us you probably take credit cards pretty much for granted. They are nice little pieces of plastic that you can whip out whenever you don’t have enough cash to pay for a purchase or when you’re running a little short and it’s not yet the end of the month. If you’re a savvy credit card user you don’t charge anything that you can’t pay off when your statement roles in so you never pay any interest charges.

The top cards

Have you been tempted to sign up for one of those cards that offer mouthwatering rewards. The top ones come with significant rewards from 2% to 5% cash back. Some even offer 0% interest for an introductory period of time. However, what these credit card offers don’t tell you is what it takes to qualify for one of them.

The credit card companies have criteria called “underwriting standards” for their cards that are closely guarded secrets. The credit card companies are much like Coca-Cola that refuses to release its recipe for Coke. The credit card providers keep secret the criteria they use to approve applicants for their most exclusive cards. However, there is information available from the site CreditKarma that provides insight into what it takes to get one of those top rewards cards. CreditKarma recently released a list of the lowest and average credit card scores of people who had been approved for some of the best and most exclusive credit card offers.

Fact #1: You could have a score in the 600s

The first surprising fact that can be gleaned from this information is that you don’t have to be a member of the “700 club.” In other words, you don’t necessarily need to have a FICO score of 700 or above to qualify for one of the top cards. While the average credit scores for people who successfully obtained the top cards did range in the low 700s, the lowest approval scores dipped well in the 600s. This is clearly because other factors are considered such as past payment history and income. This helps explain why the top credit cards from companies such as Citi, Barclaycard and Discover went to applicants with scores in the 600s.

Fact #2: 0% interest cards require a top score

A second surprising fact is that those 0% interest balance transfer cards do require a top credit score. If you’ve checked into the cards currently available, you would know that the top offer is for an 18-month introductory period. The irony is that these credit cards might be designed to help people trying to get out of credit card debt but the best ones do require a top credit score. For example, Discover and Citi are granting their 12- or 18-month cards only to people who have average scores in the low to mid-700s. If your credit score is in the mid 600s, the best you will probably be able to qualify for is one that lasts just six months.

Fact #3: Higher scores get better rewards

A third maybe not-to-surprising fact is that the higher scores get the bigger rewards. The best of these cards usually offer 2x points, cash or miles on almost every purchase. As you might expect, the average credit score required to get these cards is markedly higher than a “good” credit score. As an example of this, one version of the Barclaycard Arrival World Master Card offers 2x miles on all purchases and significant bonus miles, too. However, successful applicants for this card had average credit scores of nearly 740.

Fact #4: Students can have lower scores

Here’s one you might definitely expect, which is credit cards for students require much lower scores. In fact, the available credit score data shows that the average scores for applicants who are approved for these cards fall below 700. And the lowest scores that are approved for student cards are in the low 600s and, in some cases they even fall below 600.

Fact #5: Approval is just the start

If you are approved for one of these top credit cards this is just the start. Your credit limit and interest rate will be calculated based on your credit scores and other underwriting criteria. If you have a high score you will have higher limits and lower rates.

Something to keep in mind

If you do apply for one of the top rewards cards keep in mind that credit score information is just one factor in the card provider’s underwriting criteria. Plus, as card issuers fine-tune their underwriting standards, these criteria continually change – especially as the prime interest rate changes.

The downside of credit cardscouple worrying about finances

It doesn’t really matter much the rewards you could earn from a credit card if you’re continually racking up debt. You might think that getting 2x cash back on your Visa or MasterCard is a really good deal – but that’s only if you’re paying off your balance at the end of each month. If not, you could be racking up interest charges at the rate of 19% or even higher, which would totally wipe out those cash back rewards. The credit card companies have a grace period of anywhere from 25 to 30 days where you can pay off your balance before you begin to get hit with interest charges. If you charge a purchase the day after your card has “rolled over,” You might get nearly 2 months before that charge would come due. That’s like free money.On the other hand, if you don’t pay off your balance before or on the date it’s due, you will start piling up interest charges and could end up spiraling into a black hole of debt. Here’s an example of what we mean. If you charged $5000 on credit cards that had an average interest rate of 19% and made only the minimum monthly payment of $125, it would require roughly 273 months to pay it off (nearly 23 years) and would cost you $6,923.14 in interest charges.

If you get into credit card debt

If you’re getting to the point where you’re making late payments on your credit cards or even skipping payments, there is a good solution. It was developed by a financial expert named Dave Ramsey and is called the “snowball” method for paying off debt. The way it works is very simple. You rank your debts in order from the one with the lowest balance down to the debt that has the highest. You then concentrate on paying off that first debt being sure you continue to make the minimum payments on all your other debts. Once you have that firs card paid off, it will be easier to off the card with the next lowest balance and you will have more money available, then on to the third debt and so on.

Here’s a short video where Dave Ramsey explains more about why it’s important to get out of debt and   his snowball method.


Alternately, you could do as other financial experts counsel and arrange your debts from the one with the highest interest rate – which is costing you the most money – down to the one with the lowest. You would then focus on paying off the one with the highest interest rate then move on to the one with the next highest interest rate, etc. There are people who believe strongly in one or the other of the strategies but what it boils down to is choosing the one that makes the most sense to you.

5 Steps To Make A Credit Check Work In Your Favor

woman looking at files and frustratedAre you planning to buy a home this year? Or maybe buy a car? Whatever it is that you want to purchase requires you to be concerned about your credit report, as long as it will involve a loan application.

Before a lender approves of your loan application, you need to go through a credit check. This is when they look at your credit report to compute your credit score. The whole purpose is to know if you are credit worthy or not. For instance, according to the latest mortgage law provisions published on ConsumerFinance.gov, one of the financial information that lenders should look into is the credit history of the borrower. This is to filter out the borrowers who has a high probability of not paying back their mortgage loan.

The credit check will help lenders determine if you can be trusted with a loan. In case you have a not so favorable credit report, that does not necessarily mean you will be disapproved immediately. The lender will try to protect themselves by imposing a high interest on your loan. While that will still get you the finances you applied for, it will cost you more money because of the interest.

5 steps to make credit inquiries work to your advantage

In case you applied for a loan or a new credit account, you may want to make sure that you will pass the credit inquiry that you will be subjected to. This way, you can make assumptions as to whether you will be approved of the loan or not.

So before they conduct a credit check on you, make sure you go through these 5 steps.

Step 1: Check your own credit report. The major credit bureaus will ask you to pay for a copy of your credit report but they are also mandated to give you one free copy every year. If you want to access them, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com to download your free copy. Ideally, you want to do this a few months before you actually file your loan application. That way, you can read your credit report before the lender get access to it.

Step 2: See if there are errors and file a dispute against it. This is the reason why you want to get your report a few months before your application. In case there are errors, you can have it disputed so the credit bureaus can change it. A study done by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that one out of five consumers have reported that they found errors in their credit report. According to the study shown on the FTC.gov, this could have led them to pay more on loans due to a higher interest rate. In case you find out that you need to dispute an entry on your report, you should send a letter to the credit bureau involved. Send a copy of the document proving that the entry is wrong too. Once sent, you have to wait for them to respond, investigate and take action. That action may be to prove that their records are correct or to revise your report as per your data. If you are proven to be correct, they should send you a free copy of your credit report that contains the right information.

Step 3: Calculate your credit score. The second step is to check your credit score. You may want to calculate it to know how you will fare in your loan application. This is the grading system that will allow the lender to determine your interest rate. If it is high, then you are considered to be a low risk borrower. That will keep your interest rate low because your lenders will not feel the need to protect themselves from the possibility of you failing to pay for your debts. Your score will help you determine how much you need to improve to get the rate that is most affordable to you.

Step 4: Send bigger payments towards your debts. The next part of your credit check is to pay off your debts significantly. If you followed our suggestion to check your report a few months before the loan application, you should have some time to make significant contributions towards your debts. Timely payments and a lower debt balance will help improve your credit report so it looks more appealing to lenders.

Step 5: Make sure there are no unauthorized charges or new accounts/inquiries. Since you are already holding your credit report, you may want to double check for any unauthorized or suspicious entries that could show that you are a victim of identity theft. You want to report this as soon as possible to keep them from stealing your money.

By doing your own credit check before the lender, you are giving yourself the chance to improve your credit score. That is a great way for you to prepare for your upcoming loan.

Who checks your credit report

Apart from lenders, there are also other people or organizations who are interested in your credit report. This is why credit scores have become king. If you will be transacting with any of them, you may want to conduct a credit check on yourself too.

  • Creditors. If you will open a new credit card account, these companies will check your credit report before approving your application.

  • Landlords/property owners. If you will be leasing a home or any property, the owner or landlord will naturally want to know your payment behavior. That will tell them how well you can be expected to pay them rent every month.

  • Insurance companies. This also involves a regular payment scheme so it is but natural for them to want to check out your payment behavior. In case your credit score is low, you can expect that they will give you higher premiums.

  • Utility companies. They will also do a credit check on you to see how well you will pay. Most of the time, this check is done in order for them to determine if deposit is needed from you or not. If your credit report is unfavorable, then you can expect to be asked to put down a deposit.

  • Collection agencies. This is simply to determine if you are financially hard-up as you claimed you are.

  • Employers. Although you are not paying your employer, the credit report will say a lot about your character. It will help them assume how responsible, organized and disciplined you are when it comes to your finances.

  • Government agencies. They require this from you in case you are asking for some assistance – especially when it comes to finances. It is usually to check your eligibility. Sometimes, it is reviewed for national security purposes.

  • Court. These include judgement creditors or bankruptcy courts. They use this as part of the documents to help decide on your case – or to see if creditors or collectors should start collecting from you.

Anyone who has a court order to get your credit report can also acquire it. Apart from that, no one can access your report.

When is the best time to look at your credit report

Apart from borrowing money, there are also other instances wherein you have to do a credit check on yourself. What you don’t know about your credit score can hurt you so it pays to take a look at it every now and then. Here are the instances when you have to look at your credit report.

  • Three times a year. This is your regular check ups to look for errors or any unauthorized activity on your report. You don’t really have to pay for anything because you get one free report from each of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) every year. You can download it from the Annual Credit Report website.

  • After a credit disapproval. When you are declined of any application, you may want to view your report to see why you are not approved. That way, you can ask them to reconsider in case the reason for the disapproval is wrong.

  • Possible identity theft. You also want to check it if your credit card or information is stolen and you think you are in danger of identity theft. This is your way to monitor if they are using your details already.

  • Credit repair. You also want to check your report, obviously, if you want to improve your credit score. You need to look at your current situation to figure out the improvement that needs to be made.

In case you find out that your credit score is low, here is a video from National Debt Relief that will reveal the fastest way you can increase your score.

Tips To Help Increase Your Credit Score Without Using A Credit Card

woman looking at documentsA lot of people are asking: will opening more credit cards improve my credit score? This is actually a good question. Some people are convinced that this is the only way that you can start building up your credit score.

Here’s the thing. Your credit score is dependent on your credit report. This report holds details about any debt that you have. So if you have not taken any debt yet, then what information can you place on your report? And here’s where it gets more complicated: you need a credit score to be able to take on any debt. Given all of these requirements, how can you hope to build up your credit score?

This is where credit cards are “supposedly” there to help out. However, this is something that people are hesitating. After all, credit card debt put a lot of people under some serious financial trouble. A lot of our youth witnessed how it made the life of their parents and grandparents difficult. They do not want to follow the same footsteps.

Different ways to build your credit ranking without needing a card

Well if you do not want to follow their credit card mistakes, then you don’t have to. You are probably thinking about the next question by now: how will you build up your credit score if you cannot get any type of debt?

Here’s an important truth that you need to know: there are options to get a loan without the need for a credit score. It is limited, but there are other options. Let us list them down for you.

  • Get a federal student loan. If you are young and you are still in school, you may want to start working on your credit score by taking on a student loan. The approval of this loan does not really depend on your credit score. These do not require a credit check. Of course, for it to help you improve your credit standing means you have to know how to deal with student loan debt. That basically means knowing how to pay it back properly. Try not to be late, pay as much as you can – these are the usual tips that you will get so your student loan can help you build up a high score.

  • Try to apply for an installment loan. Sometimes, retailers will allow you to purchase a product and pay for it in installment. The great thing about this option is you are expected to pay for it over a long period of time. That will help you build up your credit score without making the payment too much of a burden. The important thing that creditors and lenders are looking for in your score is how well you can be trusted to pay back what they will allow you to borrow. That is the core purpose of this financial measurement. If you do good in this loan, then you can expect to have a good credit score.

  • Loan money from a credit union. First and foremost, this will require you to be a member. Look for a credit union that you can qualify to join and open an account with them. They operate in the same way as a bank – but instead of being governed by a board of directors, it is managed by the members themselves (more specifically appointed members). When you are finally a member, you can opt to get a small loan to help you work on your credit report. Based on the September 2013 data released by the Credit Union National Association through their site CUNA.org, credit unions have loaned an amount worth $642 billion. They have an asset worth $1.06 trillion. This proves that they are capable of loaning you money. If they decline because you do not have any background on debt, you can opt to get a secured loan. That means your loan is backed by the money in your account. They should be able to give you approval then.

  • Look into peer to peer loans. These are companies that operate online and connect you to private individuals who are willing to lend you money. No bank or financial institution is involved here. Also known as social lending, this is a great option for you to get the loan that will help you build up your score. Since it operated online, the overhead costs will not be as high for the companies managing them. That means they are not compelled to get a high interest rate from you. Although they look into your credit score, it will not cost you a very high score.

  • Request existing companies to file on your credit report. If you have rent, utilities and even phone bills that are recurring every month, you can ask them to file a credit report on your behalf. They are allowed to do so but it will be more of a favor for you than out of obligation. That should help boost your credit score. At least, it will if you had never been late on your payments.

These are some of the options that you have. There are other choices but we do not really recommend them – or we haven’t heard about them yet.

If you really want to use a card to improve your credit report…

In case some of these are not appealing to you, that is alright. You can still use credit cards to help you arrive at the high credit score that you are aiming for. Just make sure you will not commit the biggest credit mistake that you can ever make – and that is to bury yourself in credit card debt.

Just remember that the actual credit card ownership is not how you will get a good score. It is your attitude towards it. You have to know how you will use these cards so you can be viewed as a creditworthy consumer. Here are some tips that we have for you to help ensure that being a cardholder will really benefit your credit report.

Pay your dues on time. The most important thing that you can do to help your credit score go up is to avoid late payments. According to the information provided in MyFICO.com, late payments can affect your score based on how recent, severe or frequent you do them. Basically, they are saying that a recent late payment can put more damage in your score than a frequent late payments in the past. So try not to be late if you really want to boost your score.

Budget every credit card use. To help you avoid late payments, one tip that we have for you is to include your credit card use in your budget plan. That means allocating an amount that you can afford. You have to plan how much you can charge on your card to avoid overusing it. Also, it will help you put aside the money that will allow you to pay for your full balance at the end of every month.

Know how to use your card properly. Lastly, you have to educate yourself on how you can use your credit card properly. That means you have to understand what the interest is and how it can affect the finance charges on your balance. You have to know how the finance charge, late payment fees and other charges can grow your debt significantly. Also, you have to understand how the grace period can keep you from credit card debt.

Understand that credit cards are quite harmless if you know how to use it properly. You can own it, use to have a high credit score and still end up with zero balance every month. It is not about the debt itself that will build up your credit score. It is how you pay for it.

Consumers Are In Need Of Credit Score Education

woman looking at a documentAre you confused about your credit score? If you are, then you may want to pay attention to this article because we will try to give you some of the basic credit score education that you need.

A consumer’s credit score is taken from their credit report. This report holds vital information about you. It shows a list of your credit accounts plus any good and bad behavior that you have displayed. In fact, that is the whole purpose of your score. It says a lot about your credit behavior. It is a number that represents your debt situation and how you rank at managing it. Simply put, when you are in a bad financial situation, chances are, you have a low credit score.

People usually encounter this score when they are trying to apply for a new credit account. Lenders and credit card companies will always check if a consumer is a responsible credit holder. Anyone who will let you borrow their money will naturally be interested in how you will pay it back. It does not matter if you have the income to pay your dues. Some people borrow money and forgets about it. This is something that lenders and creditors want to avoid.

Apart from loans and new credit accounts, employers will also look at your credit score before hiring you. Utility companies and even landlords can use this information to check out your credit behavior. These inquiries about you makes credit score education all the more important.

Study shows a lot of consumers do not understand credit scores

Unfortunately, everyone may know about credit scores but not all of them fully understand it. An article recently published by CNN.com discussed a survey done by VantageScore – one of the providers of credit score information. Apparently, lenders follow the Dodd-Frank Act by providing consumers with a disclosure notice to explain a credit application disapproval, but most consumers do not understand it. These reasons could include a current delinquent account or too many credit inquiries, but consumers have no idea what all of these mean so they fail to take the steps to help improve their score.

VantageScore surveyed 200 lenders and it revealed an increasing need for credit score education. The highlights of the survey as mentioned in the article includes the following:

  • 75% of lender participants are concerned that their clients do not understand what is written in disclosure notices.

  • 10% of lenders think their customers understand the disclosure notice “reason codes.”

  • 10% of lenders do not have a Spanish translation for their disclosure notice.

  • 38% of lenders are willing to help provide applicants with tips to help improve their credit score.

  • 33% of lender believe that a clearer and simple language will help make disclosure notices more understandable.

A separate survey, that is a joint effort of VantageScore Solutions and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), revealed that a lot of consumers know very little about credit scores. The survey results as published on the ConsumerFed.org and it showed the following information:

  • ⅖ of consumer respondents are not aware that credit card companies and lenders refer to credit scores when it comes to making decisions about pricing and approval.

  • ⅖ believe that age and marital status influence credit scores.

  • ¼ to ⅓ of consumers do not know that they have the right to be informed of the reason for credit decisions (loan disapproval, interest rates, etc).

  • ⅓ to ⅖ of respondents are not aware that even the credit score of co-signers can be affected by student loans.

  • ¼ or more of respondents do not know how to improve or keep their credit scores from declining.

  • ⅓ of consumer respondents are misinformed about credit repair agencies.

Source: http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/CFA-VSS-Survey-Results.pdf

All of these statistics prove that more than ever, consumers should take time to get credit score education. You need to learn how to utilize this so it will not have any effect on any financial opportunity that comes your way in the future.

Here is a video from National Debt Relief that discusses why credit scores are important and how it can affect your plans to refinance your home.

Important credit score concepts you need to know

Now that you understand why credit score education is needed, let us discuss the basic concepts that you need to learn. If anything, this information will help you fix your credit score fast – or at least, in time for you to keep it from ruining financial opportunities that will come your way.

Here are 5 things about credit scores that you need to know about.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a measurement of a consumer’s credit worthiness. As mentioned, it depends on your credit report. The data found on this report is a compilation of all your credit information from the various credit and financial institutions that you have transacted with. The three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax), compile this information and put it on your credit report.

A credit score range will depend on the company behind it but the average is from 300 to 850. A high credit score indicates that you are creditworthy while a low credit score would raise warning bells for lenders.

How is your score computed?

The exact formula to compute your credit score will vary. Fico Score and VantageScore, for instance, will compute your score differently. But all of them will base your score on your payment history, debt amount, credit history, new accounts, and type of accounts. These are the 5 important factors affecting your credit score.

Based on the FICO Score, the payment history affects 35% of your score. When you have a late payment, this will be affected. The next part is your debt amount – which is 30% of your score. When you have a high debt amount, this will suffer. Your credit history is 15% of your score. The older the account, the higher your score will be. The fourth involves new inquiries – which is 10% of a credit score. When you apply for a new loan and the lender looks at your credit report, that can affect your score negatively. The fifth also affects 10% of your score and it is the type of accounts that you use. The more variations, the higher your score will be.

Who looks at your score?

The majority of the people who will look at your score includes lenders and credit card companies. If you plan on transacting with any of them, you need to brush up on your credit score education. They make up the majority because you are borrowing money from them. Other viewers of your score includes employers, landlords, insurance companies and utility companies.

How to check credit scores?

If you want to take a look at your credit score, you need to get a copy of your credit report first. You can get a paid copy from one of the major credit bureaus or you can download a free copy from the Annual Credit Report website. The government mandates the three major credit bureaus to provide consumers with a free copy of their report every year. That means you get three free copies annually.

Once you have your credit report, you can proceed to search for a credit score calculator. There are many free calculators online – just make sure you will go with a site that is trustworthy and secure. Simply input the data in your credit report to get an estimate of your credit score.

What happens when you have a bad credit score?

Probably the most important question in credit score education is what will happen when you have a bad score. It really depends on who will look at your score. A bad score would mean higher interest rates from lenders and credit card companies. It will not really mean a disapproval – unless your score is really very low. For landlords, they may keep you from leasing their place or they will get a higher rental deposit from you. For employers, a bad credit score can cost you a job. For insurance companies, it can mean a higher premium payment. For utility companies, it can be the same as the landlord, you could be asked for a deposit.

Nothing is wrong with keeping your credit score high so you might as well try to take care of it. Start by learning more about it through credit score education. Added knowledge will never put you in a bad light.

Why The CFPB Has Slapped The Credit Information “Furnishers”


You probably know that somewhere filed away on giant servers are your credit reports – from the three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You may even know that they probably have different information. The reason for this is that there is no federal law dictating that lenders must furnish information to all three bureaus or for that matter that they have to report information to any of them. But did you know that your reports might contain serious errors?

A shocking 20%

In February of last year, the Federal Trade Commission released a study that was very eye opening. It had found that 20% of us have errors in at least one of our three credit reports. Even worse, about 5% of us have mistakes in our credit reports so serious they could be causing us to pay more for products such as insurance and auto loans.

Credit ReportThe best reason to check your reports regularly

What this suggests is that it’s important that you check your credit reports regularly. You can get them free once a year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus or on the website www.annualcreditreport.com. Most experts say it’s best to get your credit reports one at a time every three months. This is sort of a free way to monitor your credit year-round. If you don’t do this you’re probably putting your wallet at risk.

Not just your responsibility alone

The Federal Trade Commission has said that the accuracy of your credit reports is not your responsibility alone. The companies that supply financial data to the three credit reporting companies and that are sometimes referred to as “furnishers” are also part of the equation. The information they provide should be both thorough and accurate. One of their responsibilities is to investigate any complaint consumers make regarding potential errors on their credit reports.

Slapped by the CFPB

The recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is not very happy with the way the furnishers and credit agencies have been handling complaints filed by consumers. The biggest complaint is that there is no official way for the credit reporting agencies to send information to the furnishers that was provided by consumers who had filed complaints. So the CFPB wants the credit reporting companies to begin forwarding the data given to them by consumers through E-Oscar, an electronic document-sharing program that is already in use. Thanks to the CFPB the system has been upgraded so that Experian. Equifax and TransUnion can now send the documents that were provided by consumers to the furnishers when they dispute an item or items on their credit reports. In fact, the CFPB has actually formalized the responsibilities and legal role of the information furniture’s when it comes to consumer complaints about their credit reports.

Investigating disputes – whenever a consumer files a dispute about an item on his or her credit report, the furnisher needs to be able to obtain information about it and must investigate the consumer’s complaint

Providing results – the CFPB has said that in addition the information furnishers must report the results of their investigations to the consumer reporting bureaus that originally filed the dispute.

Inaccuracies – finally, the information furnisher must report the results of their investigations to the credit reporting. They must also modify, permanently block or delete disputed information that is found to be inaccurate, incomplete or that cannot be verified.

The heat is on

What this amounts to is that the CFPB has put the heat on furnisher’s to increase their ability to investigate disputes from consumers, and on credit reporting firms to make sure that the furnishers get the information from consumers regarding disputes with the credit reporting agencies. And if the information furnishers don’t conform, the CFPB says it will take “supervisory and enforcement actions” against them. It’s believed that this will get the attention of the furnishers and credit reporting bureaus to do better on credit report disputes or see the wrath of the CFPB.

What to look for

When you get your free credit reports it’s important to look for the following negative items:

  • Charge-offs
  • Late payments
  • Accounts going to collection (collection accounts)
  • Tax liens
  • Bankruptcies and foreclosures
  • Judgments and lawsuits

If you find one or more of these on a credit reports and you believe the information is in error, it’s important to dispute it. The three credit reporting agencies have forms on their websites you can use to file a dispute. However, most experts say it’s best to file your dispute in the form of a letter along with the documentation you have to support your claim. While the credit reporting agencies are required to contact the company that furnished the information and ask that it be verified this has been a very haphazard process – which is, of course, why the CFPB has put the heat on both the furnishers and credit reporting agencies to do a better job of handling disputes.

man jumping with chart behindYour credit score

You should also know your credit score. It’s critical because most lenders look only at it when deciding whether or not to grant you credit. Your credit score is a three-digit number that is a sort of distillation of your credit reports. It’s created using a formula or algorithm that was created by the Fair Isaacs Corporation or what is now known simply as FICO. You can get your credit score on its website, www.myfico.com or from one of the three credit reporting bureaus or from an independent information provider such as CreditKarma.com or CreditSesame.com. If you choose to get your score from FICO you’ll either have to sign up for a free trial subscription of his Score Watch service or pay $19.95. While you can get your credit score free from one of the credit reporting agencies, be careful and don’t sign up for a service that you will have to remember to cancel. We think CreditKarma.com or CreditSesame.com might be your best options as you could get your score free from either one of them without having to sign up for anything. These two websites provide other helpful information such as the amount of money you owe on each of your credit cards, the amount of your mortgage and auto loan (if applicable) and tips for managing your debts. Finally, if you have a Discover Card you’re in for a nice surprise. Check out your next statement and it should include your FICO credit score. How cool is that?

Understanding your credit score

As you might guess, the higher your credit scores the better. Your FICO score will be somewhere between 300 and 850. There is also a score that was developed by the three credit bureaus called the AdvantageScore. It’s a bit different in that it ranges from 501 to 960. To make matters even more complicated, each scoring model uses a different algorithm and weighs your credit report differently so you might have a score of 750 from Credit Karma and a 762 from Credit Sesame.

The components of your credit score

While there are more than 100 different credit scoring models used in the industry, there is one thing that seems to be universal and that is the five components that make up a credit score. They are.

  • Your credit history
  • Your utilization of credit
  • How long you’ve had credit
  • Types of credit you’ve used
  • Recent searches for credit

Of these five components the first two – credit history and credit utilization – account for 65% of your credit score. Your credit history is just that or how well you have used credit in the past. Credit utilization is a bit trickier as it’s really your debt-to-credit ratio or how much credit you’ve used versus the total amount of credit you have available. For example, if you have $5000 in total credit limits and had charged up $2500 you would have a debt-to-credit ratio of 50%, which would be too high.

Unlike your credit history, credit utilization is something you have control over. You could improve it and get a better score. All you would have to do is pay down some of your debt and presto! Your credit score should increase.

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