developmentally Disabled and Finances

How to Protect Those With a Developmental Disability When Handling 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.

Share This:

Debt

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.

Share This:

Credit Terms

6 Common Credit Terms – Credit Law Center

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.

Share This:

Fake Debt Collectors

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

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.

Share This:

My Credit Card Statment Now Has a Credit Score

My Credit Card Statement Now Has a Credit Score – Credit Law Center

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

Share This:

Top 5 Credit Myths (2)

What is a Good FICO Score? Credit Law Center

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.

Share This:

credit score, 3D rendering, a red shiny sticker

Why did my scores drop during credit repair?- Credit Law Center

You have decided to use Credit Law Center to help restore your credit, and during this process you watched your scores drop a little. The credit repair process takes time and works best if we work together as a team. Our credit analysts will give you goals and homework to do to help you reach your goals. Each situation is unique; it is possible at times while we are working on correcting and updating your credit report that your scores may drop.

Why are my scores going down?

There are a couple of different answers for this one.
First of all, you will want to determine if they are in the middle of a round. If they are, the best answer is to tell them that we are working diligently on their repair, it is not uncommon for the scores to fluctuate during this process. The things we need you to make sure you are doing along the way is to pay your credit cards down as close to zero as you can and pay all your bills on time!! Do not acquire any late payments on any accounts, and if they do not have four open trade lines, then they should work on obtaining those.

If we have finished around and their scores went down:
It could be some of the same answers, if their CC balances increased, they have a new late or collection account, or if we were able to get a judgment, bankruptcy, tax lien, or other negative item removed from their account, this could change the scorecard they are now on. Meaning that they are now being compared to members of the public with good credit and if their positive credit is not strong this could negatively affect their score. Either way more than likely they are not looking at the same score their lenders are or will be using. Most important thing is not to score watch during the repair process and focus on removing negative items and building the right mix of positive accounts.

Teeter Totter Analogies

Positive vs. Negative

On one side, you have your negative credit, and on the other, you have your positive credit. Right now your negative credit is outweighing your positive. What we want to achieve is to get rid of as much of the negative credit as possible while boosting up the positive side of your teeter totter. If you have one item on the positive side and 20 on the negative and I get rid of 10 does your teeter totter move. (Pause for dramatic effect) No. There is still not enough weight on the positive side to tilt the scales. The teeter-totter is your Fico Score. The more it Moves toward the positive side, the higher your score is going to be.

Length of History and Re-aging

New credit starts in the middle of the Teeter Totter. As you make your payments on time, it starts to move out toward the end of the teeter totter where it has more weight. So, at first good credit has virtually no weight then after a little time (6 months to a year) it starts moving out toward the edge. When it hits seven years, it is out there at the edge weighing a lot. Bad credit is the opposite. It starts on the full bad end of the Teeter Totter doing maximum damage. As time goes by it is moving to the center of the Teeter Totter. At 7 ½ years, it has hit the center where it virtually has no impact and therefore falls off the credit report. However, if you make a payment on that account, you essentially move it back to the end of the Teeter Totter letting it do maximum damage once again. It does not start your seven years all over again, but it maximizes its damage for the time it has left.

Credit Line Usage
Your debt to limit ratio on credit lines makes up 30% of your score. If you go over 50% of your credit line, it is on the downside of the teeter totter. The higher you go, the more it hurts. At 30-50% you are in the middle of the teeter-totter, virtually neutral. Under 30% of your credit line, you are on the positive side of the teeter totter. The lower you go, the better

Share This:

Credit Repair Process

What Makes Credit Law Center’s Credit Repair Process Stand Out

It’s no news to us that the word “credit repair” can have you feeling uneasy and unsure about the whole process of rebuilding your credit. Here at Credit Law Center, we want to provide every client with personal attention to their individual needs and leave you feeling educated and confident about the decision to start the credit repair process. So you have done your homework and researched the credit repair process and the many different repair companies out there. What makes Credit Law Center’s credit repair process different?

 

What Makes Credit Law Center’s Credit Repair Process Stand Out

The credit repair process at Credit Law Center is unique for several various reasons, and our company takes pride in the services that we offer.

We have 5 Attorneys on Staff

Yes, it is true that we are an actual law firm and have five attorneys on staff willing and eager to fight for our client’s rights. The FTC reports that 79 percent of American consumer’s credit reports contain errors. The FCRA, (Federal Credit Reporting Act), states that all credit reports must be accurate, verifiable and timely. Our attorneys assist consumers in disputing questionable items on their credit reports and demands that the reports are 100% accurate. The attorneys in our office have over 14 years of litigating consumer rights cases, and we have perfected the dispute process.

Credit Repair Pricing

 

Our credit repair process does not require a monthly fee.

Unlike other credit repair companies, we have a performance-based pay structure and do not require an upfront fee. You will only pay for items that we get deleted; however, we are similar to many other law firms and depending on the contract size you may pay a retainer. Credit repair pricing

We value our clients

Customer service is extremely important here at Credit Law Center and we are always looking for ways to achieve superior customer service and client satisfaction. Our staff takes great pride in educating our clients with the credit repair process and helping them continue down a path of financial stability. Each individual client has a unique circumstance and chain of events that have brought them to seek our services. With 79 percent of credit reports containing errors its quite possible to say that some of our employees or their family members have had some kind of incorrect reporting on their credit report.

Share This:

Credit Repair- Credit Builder

A Credit Builder Loan Can Help You Create, or Restore Credit – Credit Law Center

If you have never established credit before, or you are recovering from bad credit, there are ways to help build or rebuild your credit. If you are unable to get approved for a personal installment loan, one great option is a credit builder loan. Consumers seeking a credit building loan to rebuild or build a stronger credit profile, usually have a larger goal in mind. Whether your goal is getting an unsecured credit card, buy a new car or even purchase a home a credit builder loan is a great place to start.

Credit Builder Loans

A Credit builder loan is particularly offered by credit unions and a few banks, they are typically offered in modest amounts, ranging from $500 to $1500. Many credit unions and banks certain requirements you must meet before they approve the loan. For example, they may require you to be a member for X amount of years, have been employed at the same job for six months, and reside at the same location for six months to a year.

Each Credit Union or Bank offer different Structures

Credit Unions or banks may offer a different type of credit building loans and can vary in interest rates. Here are a few examples of the different types:

  • A loan secured by loan funds: This type of loan is when the lender puts the loan amount in a locked savings account and gives it to the borrower after the final payment has been received. This type of credit building loan is safe and secure for both the lender and the borrower, and the major advantage is the borrower doesn’t need to come up with a lump sum payment to start building credit.
  • Secured Loan: This is when a consumer gives a lump sum amount of money to the lender using it as collateral for a loan. The lender typically puts the lump sum in a secured savings account or a certificate of deposit. The collateral is frozen and the funds are released incrementally as the loan is paid down. The interest rates are typically lower on a secured loan, but the major disadvantage is coming up with a large amount to use as collateral.

 

How A Credit Builder Loan Can Help

If you are starting fresh and do not have credit a crediting building loan will take time to build on your credit profile. Once the loan starts reporting on with the credit bureaus it may take up to six months before you start seeing an increase in your FICO Score. FICO needs enough information on your credit file to determine your creditworthiness. Making your payments on time and in full will help build a strong credit profile. Depending on your history you may see your score go from zero to 600’s and in some cases 700’s.

If you had bad credit and are trying to reestablish your credit, it will be important that you remain current and on time on any previous obligations, you may have had. You will also want to make sure everything on your report is reporting accurate and is verifiable. A Credit building loan can help you increase your score by 20 to 25 points over the life of the loan.

A small increase in points can help you go from poor to fair, or fair to good. Credit Builder Loans can help move from a risky borrower to a less risky tier.

Share This:

Credit Card and Natural Disaster

Protecting Your Credit When Natural Disasters Hits

In recent weeks the United States has been hit with several natural disasters, leaving Americans uprooted from their homes and their employment. Texas and Florida are dealing with the aftermath of flood and rain waters from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, while the Western United States is dealing with the complete opposite dry and extreme conditions causing widespread forest fires.

In the wake of a natural disaster such as the recent hurricanes and wildfires, you may be wondering:

    • What if I use my credit cards or max them out?
    • What If I miss a payment?

What if I use my credit or max out my credit cards?

Rebuilding your home or life after a natural disaster can be overwhelming mentally and financially. Natural disasters like the recent events in the United States will require many Americans to start over completely, even with insurance money, government grants and any nest egg you have built you may still need to use your credit cards. We do know that the area we reside is not part of what makes up your FICO credit score, but using your cards and or maxing them out may affect your FICO Score. One of the first things you should do is pull your credit report, pulling your credit report will give you a complete picture of your credit profile at the time the natural disaster hit.

What If I Miss A Payment?

Missing just one payment could damage your credit significantly and could lead to not being about to obtain credit when it is most needed. If your house has was destroyed, make sure you cut off costly services, such as Wi-Fi and cable or electricity. This would be a perfect time to look at your budget and create a post-disaster budget; this budget should be a bare-bones budget. Once you created your budget and determined the amount, you can pay each creditor, call each creditor and discuss your options.  Depending on the credit card company and their situation they may offer you long-term or short-term options, may waive late fees or offer assistance programs.

A Few Companies That Are Helping

If you are your family or friends have been affected by a natural disaster here are a few companies that have resources for you. The information below is directly from the companies listed web pages, please visit the links to see more information.

Wells Fargo 1-800-869-3557

We know this can be a stressful time financially, so we are committed to giving affected customers additional support. Here are the ways we’re proactively helping customers in FEMA-declared areas (customers impacted by the hurricanes outside these areas are also encouraged to contact us):

  • Reversing certain fees — such as late fees — for our lending products, including credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, and lines of credit.
  • Waiving Wells Fargo fees for customers using non-Wells Fargo ATMs.
  • For Credit Card customers, providing payment relief and suppressing any negative credit bureau reporting for 90 days.

Citi Cards 1-800-950-5114

Customers in FEMA-designated disaster areas may be eligible for assistance such as:

  • Automatic waiver or refund of late fees on credit cards;
  • Automatic waiver of monthly service fees on Citibank deposit accounts;
  • Automatic waiver or refund of late fees on personal loans and lines of credit;
  • Deferred minimum payments on credit cards;
  • Emergency credit line increases;
  • Waived early withdrawal penalties on CDs and wire transfer fees;
  • Waived late fees for September mortgage payments; and
  • Mortgage payment forbearance programs.

Chase Home Lending 1-888-356-0023

First, for all customers who live in a FEMA-designated individual assistance disaster area, we’ll pause the obligation to make mortgage and home equity payments for 90 days from when the hurricane first hit (a 90-day grace period).

Share This: