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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

Trending Debt Collection Topics – 6/26/15

By Brent Vullings |
Gavel and Scale

The month of June is drawing to a close, and the first month of summer was dominated by a number of debt collection scams and consumer reaction in the court of law. All the news that was fit to print in the world of debt collection is conveniently wrapped up in the summary below. Phantom Debt Collector Scam Targeting CT Residents Consumers across Connecticut have been receiving convincing phone calls from individuals claiming to represent debt collection services. Callers have the phone numbers, names, and Social Security numbers of consumers, and inform them over the phone that the will be served with papers at work or home for old debt, unless they pay a fine now via credit or debit card. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers not to verify any of that information over the phone and never to give out credit card information. Auto lender receives complain for debt collection tactics Security National Automotive Acceptance Company (SNAAC) was sued in federal court by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for using aggressive debt collection tactics against America’s servicemembers. In the complaint, SNAAC reportedly violated the rights of servicemembers by threatening to contact their commanding officers about their…

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How to Dispute Credit Report Errors with a Creditor

By Brent Vullings |
Gavel and Scale

If you discovered an error on your credit report, your first reaction is undoubtedly one of frustration. You pay your bills on time, live within your means, and avoid charging too many expenses to your credit cards. Despite your best efforts, inaccuracies or complete mistakes have appeared on your credit report and are dragging down your score. Consumer protection laws in the United States have been formulated over the last 40 years to help protect you from predatory lending, set strict rules for debt collectors, and provide you with options when it comes time to dispute errors on your credit report. What steps can you take to dispute a mistake or inaccuracy you’ve found on your credit report? Establish the Validity of Your Claims Before you contact a creditor with any dispute about information on your credit report, you need to understand whether or not an item is actually wrong. A common example that leads to frustration in many people is the ding your credit score takes from a standard credit inquiry from a lender or other creditor. In reality, credit reporting agencies are legally obligated to report any inquiries made regarding your credit. You can dispute those claims, but…

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Trending Debt Collection Topics – 6/12/15

By Brent Vullings |
Gavel and Scale

Another week has come and gone, and the news stories keep rolling in across the debt collection industry. In recent weeks, lawsuits and changes to consumer protection laws have dominated headlines. By and large, that trend remains, but light has also been shed on a number of scams making the rounds in America as debt collectors (or imposters) look to collect money that isn’t due. A roundup of all the week’s top headlines is featured below. Bogus Telephone Debt Collectors are Back Residents of Central Florida are receiving disturbing phone calls from bogus debt collectors. Most of the calls follow a similar storyline. The callers have information only a consumer should have about themselves, such as Social Security number, telephone number, or address, and inform individuals that they are calling to collect on debts ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. One Orlando-area resident said that the caller “threatened to have someone come over to my house and serve papers.” An investigation found that the calls came from a debt collection scam, and that CR and Associates of Norfolk, VA was behind the calls. The firm has been listed on a number of scam reporting websites since…

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