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A Credit Rating, Not A Character Rating

Mother and four kids

The People Behind The Credit Score

At Credit Law Center we fully believe in the people behind the credit scores. A company is only as good as its “Why” and what matters to us most, is our clients. We recognize that bad things happen to great people and wish to help improve individuals buying power, like the client testimony below.

 

A Credit Rating, Not a Character Rating

“After 15 years of marriage, I began an 18 month long divorce. In my marriage, my main job was to care for our 4 kids and maintain the home. We puchased 2 homes during our marriage, a few rental properties, and vehicles. I assumed I had credit, as anyone would but figured out quickly that wasn’t the case. Because I had been a stay home mother, and only working off and on during that time, I wasn’t on any of the loans, everything was in his name.

Hope (2)

I was unaware that he emptied the checking and savings accounts. So there I was, not a dime to my name, absolutely no credit to speak of, and four little mouths to feed. I started a new job quickly after the separation but that income wasn’t enough to pay for day care cost and all the other expenses that go along with life. Within 60 days I had 3 jobs while trying my best to be a great mom to my kids. I was exhausted. That Christmas I had $85.00 to spend for 4 of my kids!

Nine months into the divorce when I thought things were already bad enough, my car was repossessed. Months later I found out my ex-husband had not filed taxes in a long time, so I then had a huge tax lien on my credit. At this point, I had no where to turn. I couldn’t rely on my family financially, and began to fall deeper and deeper into an emotional and financial hole. Establishing credit was impossible. I had a huge tax lien, and didn’t have any extra money to do anything about it.

Your Guide

Luckily, I met a credit advisor from Credit Law Center and he thought he may be able to help me. I felt like it was a huge waste of his time, there was NO way he could do anything for me. We devised a game plan within 30 minutes and he took the time to give me info for a CPA that would help me with the IRS on my tax lien. The cost for credit repair was not as expensive as I had thought and he offered to work out payment arrangements with me! I appreciated being treated like a person and it was clear that my advisor was taking my situation seriously and that he truly did want to help. That was the first time in over a year I had any kind of hope. I began to establish credit in my name, Credit Law Center successfully removed all my medical collections with in 6 weeks and the CPA he referred me to came up with a compromise with the IRS. Before I met them, I had no idea of where to start or how I was going to do it on my own. I am so grateful now to have good credit, financial freedom, and my life back.”

Are you unsure what the next step is for you? Let one of our Credit Advisors guide you back to financial freedom today! 816-994-4600

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5 Myths on Credit and Divorce

divorce_3

5 Myths On Credit and Divorce

Making the decision to end a relationship with a loved one can be one of the toughest calls to make in a person’s life. If you are considering divorce, what is not working is outweighing what is. Whether you are waiting for your spouse to pull the trigger because you can’t yourself. Or, you’re getting your finances in align prior to making the move, there are a few things to know and how the decision will directly impact your credit score.

In this article we address 5 myths about divorce and credit, so you can make the best financial decision for YOU when D-Day comes.

Myth #1: Spouses share a credit score

In the credit world, each person carries their own credit score. Purchases made together still show on each report. If your spouse is negatively reporting due to a late payment and you are an authorized user on that account, your report will also reflect that negative trade line.

Note: There is a major difference between being an authorized user and having a joint account.
Signing divorce papers

Myth #2: Being married or divorced affects my score

Status, age, gender, race, income, or investment does not have any impact on your credit score. Your negative or positive credit history is what makes up a score. Paying bills on time, keeping balances low and your credit utilization.

Myth #3: The legal status of a relationship doesn’t matter

Joint accounts, mortgages and car loans do. Managing those accounts will affect both of your scores whether you are married or divorced.

Myth #4: After my divorce is finalized, my score is no longer impacted by my ex

Unfortunately, your scores can continue to be affected by your previous spouse long after the marriage ends. Co-owner of a credit card that is used by your ex can mean you are still responsible for the debt, married or not. Some states consider all open accounts opened during marriage, a joint account.

Myth #5: One spouse acquires credit card debt he/she is solely responsible

A divorce decree does not cancel previous credit contracts. As such, the decree is only responsible for writing out who is responsible for existing debts. A divorce decree will not automatically remove joint or authorized users from accounts. Read more on divorce decrees here!

If you have previously gone through a divorce and are unsure of what your credit report is reflecting, please pull a report here IDIQ
Contact:  1-800-994-3070

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Credit Scores That Are Merry And Bright

Credit Law Center Christmas

 

Credit Scores That Are Merry And Bright

Tis the season for gift giving-which means plenty of shopping! This is also the time when the season can cause a huge strain on your credit if you are not careful.

Here are some tips to avoid the credit blues once the new year arrives.

 

Avoid new credit cards

In the check out line and the cashier asks you if you want to open a store card to save money on your purchase, you’ll want to kindly smile and say no thank you. If you are working on your credit currently, opening a retail store card may not be in your best interest. Opening all these retail store cards for a discount on items you are buying for other folks will hurt your own score, you have to think about yourself this season too.

Don’t rack the cards you do have up

Remember, a good rule of thumb is to continue to pay your cards on time, and pay them down as much as possible. During this time, it is very easy to overuse your cards for purchasing the best gifts for your friends and family members. Set a budget prior to going out to shop and remind yourself what is most important. Is it a new cell phone for your teenager or a new home come Spring? You’ll start to put things in perspective when you keep the end goal in mind.

 

Credit Law Center Christmas Shopping

Keep track of your cards

There is no time like the Holiday season for identity and credit theft. As long as you are taking extra precautions at this time of year, you can feel good about making purchases out and about or,  from the comfort of your home. Keep in mind:

  • Online shopping is great! Ensure the URL address or lock symbol on the page is showing that the site is secure
  • Conceal your cards somewhere safe and don’t carry too much cash when you are out shopping
  • Stay vigilant-if possible, tuck your cell phone away when making a trip back to the car so you can be alert the whole time
  • Use secure ATMs at your bank
  • Put those receipts in your wallet or purse and shred them once your bills arrive. Gift receipts are great incase of the need to make an exchange
  • Monitoring your credit is going to be vital at this time. Report any fraudulent activity once the season is over and take action

If you would like to learn more, please contact Credit Law Center and an analyst will be happy to provide you with additional information.

Contact:  1-800-994-3070

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How to fix your Credit

Road to good credit

The winds come whipping in, the sky turns black and-BOOM-a tornado blew through all of your life plans! Are you feeling as if Oz himself is behind the curtain pulling random numbers from the debris and  tossing them out one by one? After the dust has settled you see a score that makes no sense, but the damage has been done. So what do you do to pick up the pieces?

Credit Law Center Credit Score

If you are looking to fix your scores but continue to find ways that take longer than the time you have available, don’t quit…there is hope for you yet- your yellow brick road is closer than you think!

Although time doesn’t always seem to be on our side, and the credit bureau’s don’t seem to be either, there is still some good news when it comes to fixing your less than perfect report. A healthy credit report will take time to build, but the wait is worth it.

Oz is not going to improve your scores for you and unfortunately you can’t just tap your shiny red shoes together for a quick fix. It is up to you as the consumer to take some action. Here is what you can do to get started:  1. Pull your report and check your scores. You need to view all three (Transunion, Experian and Equifax) 2. Find out what the issues/negative items are on the report. Are the debts yours? 3. Clean negative items off the report 4. Build and establish positive credit/tradelines.

First: Pull your report

You will want to enroll in a credit monitoring service that allows you to see all three bureau’s. A lot of the credit reports consumer’s can pull on their own show you two reports, the third one is just as important as the other two. Remember: scores will vary as they are only a consumer score and will always be different than what a lender or bank will tell you. Check out : vantage scores vs Fico….. Credit monitoring is also great for identity theft monitoring, among other things. Interested in having a three bureau report pulled for just $1? Click here!

Second: What is negative?

Can you imagine that the bureau’s have incorrect information? Actually, 79% of credit reports contain errors. Not only is it important to verify that the debts on your report are yours, but it is just as important that your addresses, name, DOB, etc. are correct as well. “Oz” uses an algorithm that is hard to crack! What we do know is this:  • Payment history makes up 35%  • Credit utilization makes up 30% • Age of credit accounts 15% • Length of life on card 15%
If you play the game right, you’ll start to see your scores on the rise. Keep pushing.

Third: Clean up negative items

Just like the lion, tin man and the scarecrow, you’re going to need someone to help guide you down the path. Recruit well, and do your research! Credit Law Center, attorney based credit repair can assist you in cleaning up your negative items on your report such as:  • Collections/Repossessions • Public Records • Late Pays • Bankruptcies/Foreclosures  • Tax Liens/Judgments
This team not only assists you in removing derogatory items from your report, but coaches through the process on how to build on the positive side of your report as well. An unbelievable team for you to depend on, Credit Law Center is a combination of all of Dorothy’s confidants into one company.
The tin man: a heart that cares about the future of the consumer’s, and what happens next
The scarecrow: a brain full of knowledge about credit and the resources to aid clients
The lion: courage/legal prowess to take action
Ready to get to work on your report? www.creditlawcenter.com

Fourth: Build and establish

You might have been denied credit cards previously, but that are a few other ways around establishing that you don’t know. Secured credit cards are one route you can take. They require a deposit that will serve as your credit limit. Making on time payments and keeping an eye on your utilization is vital. Keep those balances as low as possible. Your limit is $1,000? Keep that card under $300 if possible! A few more things to do to start building:  • Pay balances down as low as possible while holding off on making new purchases • Credit builder loans with a bank can be a good start • DO NOT close old credit card accounts when you have them in good standing, the longer the life on the card, the better • Increase your credit limit so your balances seem to be back down under that 30% utilization (See, this game can be won!)  • Become an authorized user on an account of a TRUSTED family member or friend. Don’t worry, you never have to even see/use their card, you will benefit from their positive history (make sure they pay their bills) Again, the longer the life, the better! Their shiny scores won’t be hurt by your scores, the only one taking a risk is you. Choose wisely!
Now, that the clouds have cleared and the sun is peaking through, you can take on Oz with the right team behind you. We are excited to help you so you too can tap your shoes together and exclaim “There’s no place like home!”

If you would like to learn more, please contact Credit Law Center and an analyst will be happy to provide you with additional information.

Contact:  1-800-994-3070

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How to Protect Those With a Developmental Disability When Handling Finances

developmentally Disabled and Finances

Managing money can be challenging for most Americans, even in the best situations. For the 6.5 million people in the United States living with a developmental disability money, credit and debt create a unique concern.

Developmental disability is a term used when a person has a specific limitation in cognitive functioning and skills, including communication, social and self-care skills. Examples of developmental disabilities include autism, attention deficit disorders, and intellectual disabilities.

Developmental disabilities vary greatly, so do the abilities of the disabled to handle their finances. Some individuals with developmental disabilities may be able to make sound financial decisions and for others receiving a credit card solicitation may lead them to overspend and put them at significant risk for a financial uproar.

How Can I Help My Family Member Make Sound Money Decisions

For many family members caring for an individual with a developmental disability we often question how much do we help, or what do we do to protect their finances. The ultimate goal is to achieve as much independence and still be there for them when they need our help.

Here are a few tips on how to help a developmentally disabled loved one with their finances.

1.Don’t Overstep

Intellectual disabilities vary in degrees, and for some individuals, they may be perfectly capable of handling their finances. If you are helping that individual in other activities of their daily living, it may be very natural for you to want to help them with this area. Many individuals with disabilities want to be as independent as possible. It is important to remember that they may see this as you overstepping or you trying to control their life. Keep in mind what their strong points are and offer advice as you would to any other.

Set up Accounts with Limitations

You may be tempted to set up joint checking accounts, or a credit card with an authorized user so you can easily track their spending behaviors.It is also important to remember that setting up these types of accounts opens you up to financial liability for any checks written or any credit card charges they have made. You may consider opening a Secured credit card for them, a prepaid card.

Put Credit Safeguards in Place

Reduce the number of credit offers sent to your developmentally disabled family member by opting out of receiving prescreened offers of credit at OptOutPreScreen.Com or by calling 888-5-OPT-OUT.

You may also want to look into putting a credit freeze on your loved one’s credit report. Having a freeze placed will make it difficult to obtain credit, but could also prevent your loved one from impulsive credit card applications.

Monitoring your loved ones credit report for any unauthorized activity or any credit errors is a good rule of thumb. Consumers are allowed one free credit report from all three major credit reporting bureaus; this can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com. 

Depending on the level of developmental disability you may also look into either guardianship or become power of attorney for your loved one.

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Are you in debt? 5 Warning Signs- Credit Law Center

Are you in debt? 5 Warning Signs - Credit Law Center

Do you hesitate to open your credit card statements each month, afraid of the debt you may be in? Are your credit cards allowing you to go further and further in debt? It is true paying cash gives a clearer picture of what we have and what we can spend. With credit cards being such a crucial part of building a credit history, it is important to remember you must still live within your means and not fall into this financial mess. Here are some signs you may already have a problem.

 

1.Are You Making the Minimum Payments

Making minimum payments to your credit card companies can be a sign you are in debt. Paying the minimum payments on even a minimal debt could mean you will be paying on it for years and years.

2.Large Minimum Monthly Payments.

If you add up all the minimum payments on all revolving debts,(credit cards, not home or auto loans), and the minimum payments of all debts equal 20% of your income or larger, you have too much debt. Exceeding 20% of your income risks you not being able to cover housing, food, or transportation.

3.Are Collectors Calling You?

Are Collectors or creditors calling threatening to garnish your wages or demanding payment? Not paying your credit obligations on time can be a sign you are in over your head. Even if you are just late on a bill, being organized and knowing what is due and when it is due can save you a late charge. Before you pay a debt collector, it is important that you know that this debt is, in fact, yours and you do owe it.

4.Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

If you are transferring money from one card to another or refinancing your house to pay off existing credit cards, this may be a sign that you are in over your head.

5.Being denied a loan

If you have been turned down for a loan or credit card, it is time to re-examine your situation. If high debt levels lead a lender to deny you the credit you probably have a debt problem. Anytime you are denied credit you are allowed a free credit report. According to the FTC, 79 percent of all credit reports contain errors, be sure to examine your credit report for errors.

These are just a few signs that may indicate you have a debt problem. It is important to stay engaged in your financial situation.

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6 Common Credit Terms – Credit Law Center

Credit Terms

We recently asked the question on social media, “What is one thing that should be taught in school?”, several came back with the answer “credit.” Unless you are a financial guru at understanding complex financial terms, the world of credit can be slightly confusing. Understanding the most common credit terms and credit score terms could help you save money.

 

6 Common Credit Terms

 

1.Credit Mix

The different types of credit that make up your credit report. Your credit mix makes up 10% of your credit score and can be a mixture of credit cards, a mortgage to student loans and auto loans. Having a good mixture of positive credit can impact your credit score.

2.Credit utilization

This is the amount of available credit you are using. To calculate your credit utilization, you would divide your total credit card balances by your total credit limits. Then multiply that number by 100 for the percentage. Keeping your credit utilization under 30 percentage is best, by keeping it under shows lenders that you are capable of managing debt.

3.Installment loan vs. Revolving credit

An installment loan is a cash loan that requires a fixed number of regular payments that are equal in amount. Payments on an installment loan are calculated over a set duration, home loan and a car loans are examples of installment loans.

Revolving credit is credit that can repeatedly be used and paid off without having to reapply each time. Credit cards and lines of credit are two forms of revolving credit. Revolving credit does not require a set payment plan, and you can borrow up to your limit. Revolving credit is riskier for lenders. Therefore the interest rates are higher.

4.Hard Inquiry

A hard inquiry happens when you have applied for credit, and a business or lender “pulls” your credit report to determine your creditworthiness. This type of inquiry can affect your credit score.

5.Soft Inquiry

A soft inquiry occurs when a consumer checks their credit file or when a lender sends you a pre-approval letter. This type of inquiry does not affect your FICO credit score.

6.Payment History

35 percent of your credit score is made up by your payment history. Therefore it is a crucial element in your credit score. Payment history is calculated on how well you pay your bills and if you pay them on time. With payment history being such a big portion of your credit score being late on a payment or defaulting on a loan could cause you to be denied credit or have high-interest rates.

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Are You Getting Calls From Fake Debt Collectors? – Credit Law Center

Fake Debt Collectors

Have you received a call from a debt collector and you don’t recognize the debt or loan that they are trying to collect? Consumers all over the U.S. are reporting that they are receiving calls like this. Fake debt collectors pretend to be lawyers, debt collectors and do anything to scare you into paying them, and occasionally, the imposters may have some of your personal information, and they are incredibly slick and will do anything to scam you into paying.

The FTC recently stopped imposters who pretended to be lawyers. These imposters threatened people with lawsuits and jail time to collect debts that didn’t exist.

Common Characteristics of Fake Debt Collectors

  • They use names of real small businesses or names that are similar to existing businesses.
  • Trying to collect on a debt you are not familiar with or do not owe.
  • High pressure to try and scare you into to paying, such as threatening jail time or calling and reporting you to the local law enforcement agency.
  • Fake debt collectors may threaten to sue you or tell you that they are suing you
  • Refusing to give you an address or telephone number
  • Asks you personal financial or sensitive information.

What to do if you think you are speaking to a fake debt collector

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address and telephone number. Advise the caller that you refuse to discuss the debt, asks them to provide you with a “validation notice.” A validation notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and your rights under the FDCPA. If they refuse to provide this information, DO NOT PAY!
  • Do not provide the caller with any financial or sensitive information. Never give out personal information or confirm personal information like bank account, credit card or social security number unless you are sure you are dealing with a legitimate debt collector. These imposters can use your information to commit identity theft, charging your credit cards, or open new credit.
  • Contact the creditor. It may be possible that they are calling on a legitimate debt that they have somehow accessed information on. If you believe the debt is legitimate, but you do not believe the caller is a real debt collector, contact the original creditor directly, be sure to share the information with them so they can keep track of the behavior.
  • Report the Call to the FTC. Contacting the FTC and your state Attorney General’s Office with the documented information about the suspicious callers, and most States have their own laws in addition to the FDCPA.
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My Credit Card Statement Now Has a Credit Score – Credit Law Center

My Credit Card Statment Now Has a Credit Score

You may have recently noticed that your credit card statement has provided you with a credit score for free. Having this credit score on your credit card statement could potentially help you spot an error on your credit report. For example, if the score is lower than you expected, it may be a perfect time to request your credit reports, dispute any errors that you may find.

Things to consider about the scores provided on the credit card statement

Each credit card company uses a different formula for assessing your credit profile. The credit score you get from one credit card company may be slightly different from the credit score you receive from another credit card company. The score you receive on the credit card statements may also be different than the score you receive from a lender or a finance company. FICO scores are the credit scores used by 90% of the top lenders to determine your credit risk.

FICO Scores

You will have three FICO scores, one for each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. As well as the three different scores from each bureau, FICO has a total of 56 versions of FICO scoring. Just think of it like Microsoft word, every year a new version comes out updating the software. Each of the 56 versions old or new are tailored for different types of lending. One version may be used for mortgage lenders, while another may be used for a credit card company. With so many versions being the major reason the score on your credit card statement may differ from one a lender pulls.

 

Top 5 Credit Myths (1)_Page_03

No matter what version of FICO is being used your score is calculated by the information on your credit report. Therefore your credit score could differ from bureau to bureau as well. For example, you may have a loan from a small community bank; this bank may only report your activity to Transunion, and not report to Experian or Equifax, leaving your credit file with the other two bureaus thin.

Things to keep in mind

Each month when you receive your score on your credit card statement use it as a tool to help identify any possible errors. Focus on paying your bills on time, and not overextending your credit. If you notice your score has gone down, review your credit, and look for any errors in your credit report. Each bureau allows one free credit report per year and you can request at www.annualcreditreport.com

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What is a Good FICO Score? Credit Law Center

What is a Good FICO?

One of the most well-known types of credit score is FICO Scores and used by many lenders. The average FICO score for Americans, as of April 2017 was 700. When you check your credit score, you’ll probably want to find out how you compare. What is a good FICO Score?

 

What is a Good FICO Score?

Think of your credit score like a grade. If you do not have any credit or tradelines, FICO has nothing to grade you on. FICO scores often range from 300 to 850, and a FICO about 700 is considered a good credit score. A FICO of 800 is an exceptional score, and approximately 19.9 % of Americans are in this range. Applicants in the excellent range are at the top of the list for the best rates from lenders. 17% of people range in the very poor range and these individuals may be required to pay a fee or a deposit, before getting approved.

Top 5 Credit Myths (1)

Why Do Credit Scores Matter

Lenders use credit scores to help them determine how likely you are to repay your loan on time. A Credit score allows lenders assess the risk that you won’t be able to pay your loan as agreed.

Establishing and maintaining a good credit score is important because it can determine whether you are approved for a loan or not. It will always determine what interest rates you qualify and potentially save you tons of money over the length of the loan. Every major financial goal you have, like owning a home, or purchasing a new car, your credit will be a part of the financing.

Common Credit Score Facts

Marriage: When you get married your credit score will not merge with your spouse’s

Joint Accounts: Joint accounts will show up on both individuals credit report, and both individuals are responsible for the debt. If a payment is missed both parties will see the delinquency on their credit report and it will affect both individual scores.

Checking your score: Checking your score will not hurt your credit report. Checking your score is considered a soft inquiry, and it allows you to review your score without harming it.

By law, credit reports are required to be timely, accurate and verifiable. Monitoring your credit is a great way to avoid any mishaps when it comes to your score. Depending on what type of reporting error you could have on your report it could significantly drop your score.

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Questions about credit? Talk with an advisor: 1-800-994-3070
Questions about credit? Talk with an advisor:
1-800-994-3070