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Give Your Bad Financial Habits the Boot

By Brent Vullings |
credit-card-bill skinny

At one point or another we all do it: commit to breaking our bad habits. Every January people resolve to dropping a vice, losing weight, spending less, and so on. We always start out strong and progress inspires us to keep moving along. Three months goes by and the fire that keeps us going starts to dwindle. Unfortunately behavior changes are typically short-lived.  Let’s say you commit to paying down your credit card by the end of the year. You start strong with steady payments for the first few months and soon you start to notice the dent you’re making. Everything is going great, until the day you see marketing for the release of a fancy new gadget you’ve had your sights on. Silently telling yourself you will pay it off next month, you charge it to your credit card. Next month shows it’s weary head and you realize you have forgotten to make a payment and now you’re facing a heavy late fee.  Oops! What to do? First, it’s best to see the overall picture. A behavioral change is a process, not an event. It happens in a series of stages. Change begins with merely thinking about wanting to do so,…

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Earn a Strong Credit Score Early

By Brent Vullings |

It can be a scary thought sending a child off to college with fresh new plastic. Anyone with credit runs the risk of building debt. Credit cards can be a great learning tool for any college student, because it teaches responsibility and how to budget. Even better, it gives a parent an excuse to talk with their child once a month to discuss the bill. In 2009, The Credit Card Act was passed making it difficult for college students who do not have their own source of income to qualify for credit. At first, many students are only authorized on their parent’s card. This is a great way to monitor what the child is doing. Giving them a small credit limit, such as $500, will avoid overspending. Every month when the bill comes in, the parent will see all of the activity and will give them a chance to coach their child going forward to avoid damaging the credit score. For instance, if the college student does overspend, it gives the parent a chance to discuss what happened and how to avoid this mistake in the future, when the dollar amount becomes larger. Paying a credit card in full every month…

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Be Aware of Disputes When Seeking Dream Home

By Brent Vullings |
mortgage

A huge road block that gets in the way of purchasing your dream home is a dispute on your credit report. By law, credit bureaus are required to show you a correct report. Credit errors are very common. As a matter of fact, one in five Americans are dealing with some type of error. It could be as small as an incorrect address, or as large as stolen credit. When this happens it is vital that you report the inaccuracy and the credit agency will then mark it as “in dispute”, which temporarily inflates your score. When your credit score has become inflated due to a dispute, you may not be approved for a mortgage loan. The inflation is in essence, artificial and therefor creates an inaccurate representation of your credit. Lenders are able to require you to have the dispute resolved before you can be approved for a mortgage. Is There a Way Around This? An inaccuracy may take months to resolve and can dampen your chances when you are trying to buy or refinance a home. It heightens your interest rate and may delay your ability to close on a loan.  Some disputes can be ignored by lenders,…

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Erase Your Mistakes

By Brent Vullings |
4-Credit-Mistakes-Damaging-Score_iStockphoto

Credit mistakes happen and when they do, you should find out how long the negative mark will last and what moves you can take to get past the damage on your credit reports. It is important to not go crazy and check your score from multiple credit bureaus. Stick with one of the main three (Equifax, Experian, or TranUnion) and only check your report’s status twice a year. What “mistakes” are we talking about? Missing payments and not paying your bills on time will create a downward spiral. Negative marks will appear on your report if you are at least thirty days past due and may stay there up to seven years. The later the payments, the more damaging it gets. The best way to fix this problem is to pay as soon as possible. If you do not have a history of late fees, you can call the credit card company and ask if they can wave it. There is no harm in trying. As long as you stay on top of your payments, positive information will start to eliminate the late fees. High credit utilization, or using too much of your credit at once, is not a good…

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Get Back to Basics

By Brent Vullings |
credit-score-basics

Many are afraid to take the leap to simply find out what their credit score is. Opening the door and learning whether you have a good score, or need to work on it is a very important first move. Let’s start with the basics. What do the number ranges mean? The most common credit score models have a range from 300 to 850. The higher your score is, the better! If your score is 300, that’s bad and if you have 720 and up, that’s excellent. Recent data from April 2017, courtesy of Fair Isaac Corp., showed that the average FICO score was 700. See below chart for the whole breakdown. Even if your credit score is below 500, you may still be approved for credit cards. Your interest rate will just be higher. Consequently, you may also pay more for insurance or have to put a deposit down for utilities. As your score increases, you will have improved credit options and pay less to use them. A person with a credit score 750 or higher are likely to get 0% on interest rates for credit and car financing. Don’t be afraid to find out your score. Who wants to…

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Medical Credit Might Cause Headache

By Brent Vullings |
medical-credit-card

With a new healthcare bill in the works, this is as good of a time as ever to discuss medical credit cards. They work the same way as any credit card, except they come in handy when faced with an unexpected health expenses. They are offered at many doctors and veterinarian offices across the country and could be offered to you when you are unable to pay the whole bill at once. The approval rate for these are high and you could even be approved while standing at the doctor’s office. If approved, you may have anywhere from six months to two years to pay back the sum interest-free. What a lot of people do not realize is that these cards use financing called deferred interest. Let’s talk about this for a second. Interest free sounds great, right? Of course it does! However, if you are unable to pay off the bill in full by the end of the discussed timeline, your interest will sky rocket. This goes into effect immediately, even if you only owe a little more money. This all sounds like basic credit card lingo, but many people skip reading the bottom line, especially when they are…

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Boost Your Credit Score, Fast

By Brent Vullings |
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If you are like most people, your credit score is rarely on your mind until you decide to apply for a loan. If you need to act quickly to improve your chances on being approved for a loan, there are several things you can do. Understanding the factors that go into your credit score can help you increase yours. FIVE RULES TO LIVE BY Your payment history is 35% of your score. This shows how responsible you are when you borrow money. A big part of this is being able to pay your bills on time and even more importantly not having any red flags such as applying for bankruptcy. You should only be using up to 30% or less of your credit. If you have paid your bills consistently over a long period, this can be helpful. Older generations have the advantage here since someone with 10 years of punctual payments, may have an easier time being qualified for a loan then a person with only one year. Do not open too many accounts. This shows that you are depending on borrowing to keep up with your expenses. It is better to open them slowly over time, then multiple…

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Steps Against Phone Harassment

By Brent Vullings |
phoneharassment

Many Americans have been the victim to phone harassment from credit agencies and collection companies due to unpaid bills, or even worse, errors or mistakes on their credit reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a protection law that helps defend the consumer and defines what collectors are and are not allowed to do. What They Cannot Do If you notify the collector with a written notice that states you would no longer like to be contacted, they are not allowed to call you. They cannot to contact your family or friends. The only people they can contact is your spouse or attorney. If you have an attorney, collectors must talk to them. They should not use profanity or threaten you with imprisonment or violence. They also have no right to take your property. What They Can Do They are allowed to use social media to find your phone number. Check out your Facebook account to see if your phone number is listed. If it is, eliminate it. They can purchase your number legally. Grocery stores, banks, or any business that you have given your number to can put it on a list that is then bought by debt collectors….

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Avoid Being Caught in a Skimming Incident

By Brent Vullings |
Skimming

More and more occurrences of skimming have been arising in the last decade. Victims of this offense are typically caught unaware, because their debit cards are still in their possession. However, the next time they check their balances they realize vast amounts of fraudulent activity have occurred. But how? Let’s start at the beginning. What is skimming? The simple definition is that it is a type of credit card theft where a person uses a small device to steal your credit or debit card information in an otherwise legitimate transaction. In most cases, you will not even realize the device is even there. Once you swipe your card, the thief is able to capture all of the details on the card’s magnetic strip. The thief then utilizes this data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card. Where does something like this happen? The most common places this could happen are at the gas pump, the ATM machine, a restaurant or bar, department stores, and call centers. Gas stations are amongst the most popular spots for thieves to install a skimming device. Particularly because there are multiple card slots, all sitting outdoors, which are not always…

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Debt Collection Statute of Limitations: Know Your Rights!

By Brent Vullings |
Statute-of-Limitations

Living with debt is a difficult proposition for most. You’ve undoubtedly been told by a financial advisor or loved one that there is good debt (home mortgage, auto loan, student loans) and bad debt (overdue credit cards). Regardless of the type of debt you have, all debt comes with a statute of limitations. If you’ve been receiving phone calls from debt collection agencies threatening to sue you for old debts you may have forgotten about, it’s vital that you learn the facts so you can protect yourself against these aggressive and potentially illegal actions. When Debt is Too Old for a Collector to Sue This might be the greatest source of confusion for those under the threat of litigation from overzealous debt collectors. How do you know when debt is too old? According to the Federal Trade Commission, state law typically determines how long the statute of limitations extends on debt. Generally speaking, the clock starts when you fail to make a payment on your debt. When the clock stops depends upon the type of debt in question and the law that applies in either your home state or the state specified in a credit contract. On average, the statute…

Read Full Article | Published in Debt Collection Harassment
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