Monday, April 5, 2010

Financial Education Services - The Six Worst Items To Appear On Your Credit Report

It's easy to make mistakes or experience hardship when it comes to paying your bills. Some mistakes are so detrimental; want to avoid them at all cost. Since future creditors and lenders use your credit report to make decisions about you, it's important to understand how each of these impact your credit file.

1. Charge-offs

Missing your payments for 6 months or more could cause your creditors to deem your account as uncollectible. When this happens, the creditors write that debt off as a loss against their income taxes. Charged-off accounts are allowed to be reported on your credit report for seven years. Just because a debt is charged off (or written off) does not mean the debt is forgiven. The money is still owed. The creditor will usually sell or assign the debt to a collection agency or a lawyer to effect collection.

Some companies continue to charge interest, but most don't. If they do decide to keep charging interest, they have to continue to report it as income. Most companies would rather just write it off and be done with it.

Having charge offs on your credit report usually results in the consumer being denied credit by other lenders. Even worse, it can also affect the interest rate that other lenders charge on current debts even if those lenders were not impacted by the charge off themselves.

If you find yourself late on your payments, you should always try to contact the lender and let them know you are having problems meeting your financial obligations. Ignoring the situation and letting it get to charge off status always makes it worse. You can usually avoid your account being charged off by at least letting them know you intend to pay and by at least making small payments as often as you can.

It's much easier to get a paid charge off removed from your credit report than it is an unpaid charge off. When you dispute the charge off with the credit bureaus, they have 30 days to verify the account with the creditor. If the account is paid, many times the creditor will just ignore the verification request. They really only report charge off so that they can damage your credit hoping that it will turn make you want to pay them off.

2. Collections

Not only will creditors charge-off your account after a period of non-payment, they may also hire a third-party debt collector to attempt to collect payment from you. Your credit report may or may not be updated to reflect a collection status. Sometimes the debt collector places an entry on your credit report or the original creditor places a note on your report indicating the account is in collection status.

3. Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy allows you to legally remove liability for some or all of your debts, depending on the type of bankruptcy you file. Your credit report will reflect each of the accounts you included in your bankruptcy. Even though the bankruptcy information can legally remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years, you can begin rebuilding your credit soon after your debts have been discharged.

4. Foreclosure

If you default on your mortgage loan, your lender will repossess your home and auction it off to recover the amount of the mortgage. This process is known as foreclosure. When your home is foreclosed it can severely damage your credit, limiting your ability to obtain new credit in the future. A foreclosure can remain on your credit report for seven years.

5. Tax liens

When you don't pay property taxes on your home or another piece of property, the government can seize the property and auction it off for the unpaid taxes. Even if your home is foreclosed because of a tax lien, you are still responsible for the mortgage loan. Non-payment of the mortgage will also hurt your credit. Unpaid tax liens can remain on your credit report for 15 years, while paid tax liens remain for 10 years.

6. Lawsuits or judgments

Some creditors may take you to court and sue you for a debt, if other collections fail. If the lawsuit is accurate and a judgment is entered against you, it can remain on your credit report for 7 years from the date of filing, even after you satisfy the judgment.

For information on how you can solve these issues as well as potentially remove them from your credit report please visit United Credit Education Services

Also be sure to review our complete FES Protection Plan

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Credit Reporting 101

Let's take on the fundamentals of the credit reporting system. From the big three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, to your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, this article will help you navigate the credit report maze.

The credit reporting agencies - TransUnion, Equifax and Experian (formerly TRW) are the three national credit reporting agencies that keep records on consumers. The reporting agencies work with lenders, creditors, insurers and employers to update and distribute your information to the appropriate institutions. Here's an example of how the system works:

1. When you apply for a new credit card the creditor requests a copy of your financial history from the reporting agencies. This causes a "hard inquiry" to be recorded on your credit report.

2. The creditor uses your credit reports and scores along with income and debt information to determine what rates to offer.

3. You start to use the new credit card and the creditor reports your activities to the credit reporting agencies about every 30 days.

4. The credit reporting agencies update your credit report as they receive new information from creditors or lenders.

5. Your credit profile changes based on your financial activity. The next time you apply for a credit card or loan, the process repeats.

Your credit report - Your credit report is divided into six main sections: consumer information (address, birthday and employment), consumer statement, account histories, public records, inquiries and creditor contacts. When you open a new account, miss a payment or move, these sections are updated with new information. Old negative records will stay on your credit report for 7-10 years. Positive records can remain on your credit report longer. Not all creditors report to all three agencies and the agencies obtain their data independently so your reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian could be substantially different from each other. That's why it's important to check your three credit reports every 6-12 months to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

Correcting inaccuracies - Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers are protected from having inaccurate information on their credit reports. If you find an inaccurate record on your report, try contacting the creditor or lender associated with the mark first. These companies can usually correct the mistake and send an update to the credit reporting agencies. If you can't make progress this way, you can also dispute the inaccuracy directly with the credit reporting agencies.

Working the system - Managing your credit and maintaing a good credit history can lead to better rates on major purchases. We recommend that you check your credit reports every 6-12 months or at least 3 months before a major purchase in order to guard against damaging inaccuracies and identity theft. Routine check-ups along with paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances below 35% of their limits and correcting any negative inaccuracies will help you maintain a healthy credit profile.

Financial Education Services (FES) and FES Protection Plan

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Your Credit Score Is Yours to Control

Are you confused by credit, and how to create a better credit score? Don't feel bad, many consumers and business people find it hard to understand why their credit score is low. They pay their bills. And when they are a little late on a payment, they pay extra fees to the Lenders to make up for that. The Lenders enjoy great profits, and yet, the Borrower gets penalized more. Is it fair? I say NO! Enough! It's time for us to take control of our credit scores, and get them to reflect accurately, what kind of people we really are. In fact, the United States government agrees. Toady, there are laws to protect us, and allow us to take back control of our credit histories and credit scores.

Use these laws to make sure you aren't forced to pay more for auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, insurance and utilities. Besides costing you more money in monthly bills, we've been hearing more about people who get job offers that are later taken back, because of a "bad" credit score, a result of having been out of work for a year or longer. They didn't use credit to support a luxurious lifestyle. Ironically, they are penalized by taking away the very thing that they need to get back on their feet and to get back to paying their bills. Is it just me, or does it seem ridiculous to you as well? Credit reporting agencies, and Lenders, seem to believe that it's their right to penalize consumers to any level that they choose. The US government says it isn't their right. It is their right to report late payments and defaults on payment agreements, to the extent that they report it accurately. Is the information on your credit report accurate?

Frits Tessers is a member of the Financial Empowerment Network Team and Prime Financial Credit Services
you can also visit Personal Coaching for more information on Frits Tessers.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Credit Reporting Guidelines

Below are some very important
credit reporting
guideline that you as a consumer should be aware of.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was designed to promote accuracy and to ensure that the credit reporting agencies maintain precise information regarding consumer credit.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA and is the watchdog over the three credit reporting agencies. The FTC enforces fines and may shut down any business that does not operate in compliance with the FCRA.

The FTC stipulates the maximum length of time a negative item can stay on a consumer's credit report is 7 years, unless it is a Public Record. Bankruptcy and other public records may be legally allowed to remain on the credit report for 10 years.

The Credit Reporting Agencies have 30 days to investigate our challenges according to the FCRA. The agencies can verify, modify, or delete a negative item in question. If a creditor takes longer than 30 days to respond back to the CRA for their request for investigation, the information should be automatically deleted.

It is important to note that the agencies are allowed to temporarily delay sending the consumers back their updates by sending a notification within the 30 days that they have received the requests and an investigation is pending.

The FTC also regulates the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), which is designed to protect consumers from inaccurate information by their original creditors. The FCBA states that the consumer is not liable for unauthorized charges and other billing mistakes by their original creditor. The FCBA also states that that the original creditor is responsible for verification of any adverse account that the consumer challenges, and also responsible for any illegal activities by third party collection agencies that the original creditor assigns the account to.

The FCBA bounds original creditors to correct inaccurate reporting of information to the credit reporting agencies.

Fair, Isaac and Company of California originally developed the concept of the credit scoring model for use by financial institutions. Today, most credit agencies and lenders calculate your credit score (FICO) based on their formula.

Credit scores are being used increasingly by potential employers as a considering factor for hiring.

Credit scores are now being used on a small scale to determine auto insurance and utility rates.

The credit score is a computation of many different factors, including payment history, proportion of debt to available credit, and amount of credit used.

The length of a consumer's credit history counts towards 15% of consumer credit scores.

A consumer's payment history counts towards 35% of credit scores.

The type of credit a consumer has open determines 10% of their credit score. The different types of credit include: secured - mortgages, unsecured/revolving - credit cards, installment - car payments and small home improvement loans.

In calculating credit scores, the amount owed is an important indicator of a consumer's credit worthiness, and equates to 30% of their credit score. If a consumer is carrying high balances on many accounts, creditors may see this as a sign of financial overextension, or possibly irresponsible credit use,  and may assign the consumer a high risk. Consumers should make every attempt to keep account balances at 35% of their allowable credit limit.

The amount of newly established credit accounts for 10% of the credit score.

The best way for a consumer with little or no credit history to establish good credit is by applying for a secured credit card and making the payments on time.

For more information go to: Credit Reporting Guidelines

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Establish Good Credit

When you have little or no credit history, applying for loans and credit can be difficult, if not impossible. Lenders like to see a record of payment history and a current credit score before they extend credit or loans. This information also helps them determine what interest rate to offer. If you do not have a credit history, here are some ways to build it one: Understand What Lenders Are Looking For If you are looking to establish credit for the first time, lenders can't look to your credit score to decide whether or not to lend you money. In these situations they have to examine other factors that can help them decide if you are a good credit risk or not. Here are basic guidelines to follow to establish or re-establish your credit: 1) First and foremost, pay any bills that come your way on time. 2) If you don't have a checking account, open one. You have very little credibility with lenders if you don't have at least a checking account and preferably a savings account as well. Just as importantly, be sure not to overdraw your bank account. Bouncing checks sends a signal to potential lenders that you can't manage your daily finances and are therefore not a good credit risk. 3) Establishing a relationship with a bank will improve your chances in obtaining a loan or credit card through them. If you already do business with a bank, they should be the first place to look. 4) Open a charge card with a local department store or apply for a gasoline credit card. Pay off the entire balance each month. Remember, if you cannot pay off the balance each month, you are spending outside your means. 5) Keep in mind that a lender or creditor may say you are approved for a particular amount, but that does not mean you have the resources to repay it quickly. Borrow only what you can afford to repay quickly. 6) Another important factor lenders look at is your employment history. They want to see if you are able to hold a job or if there are periods of unemployment. Your ability to hold a steady job can improve the likelihood of getting approved. 7) Lenders will also look to see how often you move and whether you rent or own. As with employment history, it pays to have a stable residence. 8) Even without a credit history, it is possible to sign up for many utilities in your own name. Having an electric or gas bill, telephone, cable, or water service in your name also helps. Just having your name on these accounts won't establish a credit score, but it can be helpful for first-time borrowers. 9) Get a secured credit card. To obtain this type of card, you deposit a specified amount of money into a financial institution who will then issue you a bank credit card. The amount you deposit is your credit limit. After you maintain that account in good standing for a while, you may be able to obtain a regular credit card or loan. Establishing Credit is Only the First Step Establishing a good credit history takes time. There are no shortcuts or tricks that can take you from no credit at all to a high score in a matter of months.