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It's working. All right imagine if you will your life debt free. The house is paid off the cars paid off. You had the money saved for your kids college accounts. I know it's a dream but it doesn't have to be nearly seventy five percent of us envision ourselves debt free and with stellar credit. Only half of us though have a plan to get there. Well what better time than the new year to start. We are helping you this morning make some fresh starts.

And joining us is Bo Thomas with certified credit experts to tell us what we can all do to improve our credit scores. Thank you so much for being with us. Thanks. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you. This is such a big deal for so many people. And your first bit of advice is the obvious one but he has some really surprising tips as I kind of looked through this. But the first one is pay down those cards if you can.

Yeah really that's one of the most simple and best things you can do is pay down your cards is close to zero as you can. And actually if you leave a little bit of balance it's going to score better than a zero balance. Oh really. That's.

Interesting. OK. Now you're saying ask your current credit accounts for limit increases.

Yes. Even if you can't if you can't do it on the funds to do step number one good move on to step two which is call your current creditors and ask for credit increases. That's gonna be the same as if you're paying your balances down.

OK. So. And that will that'll boost your score Absolutely.

You have more available credit which your utilization ratio will be lower. Which sounds technical but you really it's as if you have more available credit.

No less bounce but it works. And do most credit companies will they get if you're good about paying your bills on time and things like that they'll go ahead and boost that limit for you.

Absolutely especially if you have a balance because they don't want to lose your business.

OK very good. Number three. Don't close old account.

Yeah. This is a definitely a don't. This is a mistake. I see a lot of consumers do when they start this process to try to repair and improve their score as much as possible they go in and they close out a lot of old accounts and not using that can actually have a negative impact or a lower because I'm one of those people that I literally have a credit card at like every store in America.

Just because I'm like I can get 50 percent off. Sure but I pay them off you know. But.

But that's OK. That's OK. And those those accounts are really going to help your score raise and keep improving because your average age in file is a really important part of your score. So the older the account is the better it is. Definitely don't close us.

All right. And we need to know what our score actually is. So and I know I've always heard that you get dinged every time you check your credit score.

So what's your advice when you actually get it good and get a copy of your report as a consumer. Because any time you request your report it's not going to have a negative impact it's going to be a soft inquiry. And that's the probably most important thing I would say today is get a copy of your report ok review it. Challenge the negative information on there. Make everybody comply with the laws is a lot of laws out there that are out to protect the consumers. Use it to your advantage.

So if you see something on your credit report that use you know it was from back in college and the bills been paid off or whatever the case might be. Go ahead and challenge that and how do you do that yet challenge it.

Make sure you do it in writing. Don't do any of the things online that they try to get you to do because if they if you don't do it in writing the creditor and the credit reporting agencies don't have to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting. OK. Good tip. You. See I use the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you're getting calls from creditors. Good. Keep the voice mails. Make them go through the process follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because you're going to find a violation you can use that as leverage to get the negative information remove from your credit report and stop the collection process.

Oh wow. OK great. Any other tips as we head into the new year today.

The other one. You know if you're getting phone calls that's a really good one. Collection companies don't have the ability or the right to call your cell phone and hardly anybody has home phones anymore so if you're getting calls on your cell phones use that to make them stop. OK. What is a good credit score. A perfect credit score is 850 740 is as good as you need to be. You're going to get everything you need for the 740 so work do everything you can. Remember it's the most important three digit number in your life. So make sure it's as accurate and as high as possible.

Perfect. Thank you so much for being with us today. Appreciate it. Good tips. All right. We'll be right back. Stay with us.

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Welcome back. A recent report on 60 Minutes showed that millions of us are walking around with mistakes on our credit reports and maybe even if you don't have a mistake you may be sitting at home thinking Yeah well I still don't have very good credit score. So joining us now is credit expert Bo Thomas. He's with certified credit experts in Lee Summit here to help us clean up some of our some of our mess. Thank you for coming in. Thanks. Thanks. Well. I did at how many millions of Americans I think they said 40 million 40 million. Absolutely. That have a problem. A mistake of some sort on our credit score and have no idea no idea.

Yeah. Less than 20 million checked last year. Right.

And even if you Jack. And even if you see a mistake what do you do. I mean you're just staring at a number. Where do you begin.

Yeah that's one of things I thought the report Sunday night did a good job I think is command 60 Minutes for doing those awesome information of what out there. But consumers even though when they look at the report they don't know what really they're looking for whether they had an account. Is it really truly accurate and collection companies notoriously misreport. So you might have a collection with somebody but is it really hurting you as much as it should. OK. So how do we really look at this thing. Yeah actually I would go to Annual Credit Report dot com. That's the best place to get your report. You don't have to pay any money. A lot of these as soon as you get in with the bureaus they try to sell you things that you don't need. Right. You're making a lot of money off consumers. OK. And they shouldn't be. OK. So check that and how often. Yeah I would. You can check it free once a year and you can report that stuff. Is that often enough. It is if unless you feel like you get activity. If you've got some things if you've got creditors or someone calling you should probably invest in a monitoring service at that point. OK. OK. And say that Web site again where do we find it Annual Credit Report dot com.

OK. Once we're there and once we're taking a look and we'll we'll take a look at some of your tips that you've already sent over to us. But once were there and we see our credit report you know black and white what are some things to look for. I mean this is a lot of gibberish to most people.

Yes. You want to make sure that if you have the account are the dates correct. Because a lot of lot of companies will read something to make it look more than more recent than it is for example collection there's less than a 2 percent difference whether it's paid or unpaid. The fact that it's there is what's killing your score. So the more recent the activity the more impact it has. Collection companies know this. So they intentionally sometimes create the account to make it appear newer than it really is always in that interesting.

OK. So now you see a mistake. Then what do you do. Where do you begin to challenge it.

Absolutely challenge it. Challenge writing. Yes. You must do it in writing in order for the collection agency and the credit reporting agencies to comply with the law. If you do they're convenient online. They don't have to be compliant.

Oh OK. The real old fashioned way. You examined in writing the way it should be. And you also say one of your tips is to pay down credit cards as close to zero. Now I've heard varying opinions about this in the past.

Yes. The closer to zero you can get the more more benefits you're going to get credit scores are ascending as opposed to descending. What I mean is they don't start out at 850 and you lose points because of an inquiry or late pay. You actually start out at a 350 and start to gain based on how you do. Yeah. And you pay. Think so. OK you're gonna get more credit.

The closer to zero than you are at one of your other tips is to ask these credit card companies for a a limit increase.

Yeah. If you've if you've got an account that you use similar. Face it. You know a of people can pay off all their debt. So if you can't pay down your balance really close to zero. Ask for a credit increase because if you give available credit that's the same thing as getting a lower balance.

So because so it's all kind of just a ratio ultimately. Yes absolutely. Interesting. OK. So what now. Wait how did these numbers work. What is considered good these days.

Yeah. Well you know a lot of times in order to get a mortgage you've got to have a 640. And that's the big first kind of benchmark to get an FHA mortgage. OK. So you get a 640 that's going to open up the doors to get some financing from a mortgage. Auto loans you're definitely there 740 is kind of the upper echelon meaning once you get above a 740 you can go all the way to 850 850 three and the top is what again fifty three is the very best of A.A. but you're not going to get anything for eight hundred that you wouldn't get for 740.

So I think that's good enough. Yeah absolutely. You're there. You get enough. All right. We see other companies you mentioned one already that offer these things to check free once a year. Should you check several companies while we're at it.

Yes you can. There's a lot there's some good companies out there. But keep in mind they're all owned by the credit reporting agencies and their spin offs. The 60 minute does a great piece on that. These guys as soon as you get in the door they try to sell you stuff. That you avoid yet. Avoid that. Check it no credit report dot com. That's free. You can get all three reports if you see a mistake.

You can get it from that one. Absolutely. You're saying I see what you're saying. Very good. And you say the best way to get yourself quick hundred points is what the challenge the dates.

Make sure everything is reporting accurately in the sense of the negative items are old if they are old. Make sure that reflects the bump you up instantly when cleared up paying down balances another benefit.

Instantaneous your credit score goes up probably don't want to hassle with it but it's worth the hassle. I've said it sounds like. Thank you so much for coming in. Thank you. Been a pleasure chatting with you. All right.

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Debt Collector is coming after you unfairly our credit expert is here now with some advice on how to really protect yourself. Bo Thomas is a certified credit expert who has helped consumers all across the country. Thank you for coming in. Thank you. Thank you. This all stems us inviting you here to talk specifically stems from this lawsuit that just came down against a large creditor.

Yeah the FTC just awarded one of the largest ever by a third party debt collectors three point two million dollars for doing something. We find a lot of collectors do everyday to consumers but they were just called on it. Yeah well we crack and there are some serious very specific laws.

For creditors to call you or get in touch with you and all they can do it. And when they can do it let's go through that and talk about that because there are certain even times a day they can do it right.

Yeah absolutely. And a lot of them don't follow the rules. But some of the most common ones that they violate. And what this three point two million dollar settlement was calling before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night. Hiding their identity one of the really common ones there is that they block their caller I.D. So you don't know who it is it's a guy and pick up. Absolutely right. Right. They cannot use an automatic dialer to call your cell phone. And that's another real common thing as well like a recorded message kind of thing that's illegal. Yeah. If they leave if they don't matter at the time of day no matter the time of the day. But that's only on your cell phones.

It's a little tricky there only on your home phone that's OK. All right. You got in this first one we forgot to mention is you cannot call several times.

Yeah there's a limit that's arrest. They really there's there's case law out there that states that more than three times in a day is can be construed as harassment.

Aha. So three is their maximum per 24 hour period. OK. And then you can ask them to cease and desist. You can make a formal request.

Yes. So if you if you tell them that you refuse to pay the debt and to stop calling they have to stop going. If they continue to call after that that's when you need to take action.

OK. So now I see in a court situation or something if you try and turn to legal help for this. It turns into a he said she said. So how in the world do you protect yourself. Yeah.

So you could take steps you know document all calls log all the calls as they call even if it's a log or just jot down who you spoke to with what even just your own handwritten. Absolutely. That's all you need. You don't have to have the smoking gun or anything like that. Yeah OK yeah. Just document down you can go to our Web site. We have a lot of the free information there's a log and steps of what to do. OK. If you're getting these calls. Of course if you get a recorded message that's maybe even. Absolutely. That's right. I always say that's like surveillance footage. That's that's documentation of them doing OK. So if you get that say say that recorded message and say you say all written correspondence. If you get anything in the mail most of those are actually covered by the business insurance so you don't see very many violations there. But any correspondence you get. Absolutely. There's rules that have to follow before the first time that they communicate with you and attempt to collect a debt. They have to send you a Dunning letter and that's a letter that's advising you of your rights. Each time they communicate with you. That's another key factor they have to advise you of your rights. And it's commonly known as your mini Miranda. And that's the phrase that it's an attempt to collect a debt and information to be used for that purpose if they don't do that they're subject to up to a thousand dollar fine which goes to the consumer not not to anybody else. The consumer can get up to a thousand dollars just for that small. Tedious mistake. OK. So let's say you've made these logs. You've got all your documentation ready. Then what. That's when we turn to someone for helping report. Yeah absolutely. Yeah. Yeah that's what and that's what we do with our good repair clients. We coach them and educate them on what they can do to document and really build a case and then we get them our attorney to Adam a law firm specializes in FCPA claims which is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. OK. And you get that. So how do we find you if needed. Yeah absolutely you can reach us on the web it's certified credit experts that come or give us a call at 8 1 6 9 9 4. Forty six hundred. Always a pleasure chatting with you. Thanks for coming in today.

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Do you or someone you know need a do over for the ways you've perhaps handled money in the past. Well you can boost that sagging credit score on your own.

Bo Thomas is with certified credit experts and welcome to sell and Bo What is the very first thing that someone should do when they're looking over their credit score.

They may get a copy of it get a copy report and review it. What you do is challenge any of the negative items and make sure you know what's on there.

Now what exactly are you looking for discrepancies or everything there is.

You want to make sure that the accounts are reported correctly and accurately they're coded correctly and make sure that the amounts balances and dates are really key everything everything is copacetic.

OK. Now what steps can people take to improve their credit score on their own.

Yeah. One of the first things besides reviewing the report and challenging any of the negative items credit card balances are one of the key things that are a big indicator of your debt pay down and get as close to zero as you can can have a really positive effect on your score.

Now what is this I hear about there was some legislation that just came out yesterday about credit scores. Yeah Monday the FTC released a yearlong study that they put together and over 3000 credit files they audited and they ironically found that one in five or 20 percent have.

Errors that are big enough to affect their score in a negative manner with one in five. Know one in five one in five chance you've got inaccuracies and mistakes in your report that are gonna affect your score enough to you're going to pay more interest for a mortgage. Right. Insurance cars possibly affect jobs.

Now let's say you try to repair your credit score. How quickly does it go up. Does it take months years.

Now the good thing is your credit score has no memory. So any corrections that you make it's immediate your score is going to go up immediately.

What's a good score that you would want to try and achieve. What's it what's a decent one.

Seven forty seven forty is the best. Meaning if you've got the 740 you getting any higher than that you're really not it's not. Opening the doors that's the keys to the kingdom there.

So OK I'm putting on spot. Fess up.

What is the worst credit score you've ever seen like to they go all the way down to 350 but no scores is the worst score. You know just where you've got no active trade lines it's going to affect your score the most.

So what laws are in place to protect consumers against while collectors.

The great when there's two is you get a federal statute that's the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that protects you against the creditors it regulates how they communicate to you. And the good thing consumers have going for you collectors abuse this law every day you can use it. That law is leverage to get it removed from your credit report. And honestly even get some money from your creditors rather than you pay them they pay you.

Exactly. Now where can people where can they turn to if they're having trouble turning things around turning their credit score.

Come to our company we're one of the only companies out there that doesn't charge an upfront fee any credit repair company that charges an upfront fee run the other direction they're probably a scam and gonna take your money but come to a certified credit experts. If you're having issues we can help you. We'll look at it consult for free if you want to move forward what we'll get after these guys and get your credit turned around.

How often do you check your your credit score once a month. Yeah once a month to make sure it's all good. Absolutely. Absolutely. You need to there's a 1 in 5 chance. I don't want to I don't want anyone else getting on there was great odds. But thanks so much. That's.

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Welcome back. A recent report on 60 Minutes show that millions of us are walking around with mistakes on our credit reports and maybe even if you don't have a mistake you may be sitting at home thinking Yeah well I still don't have a good credit score. So joining us now is credit expert Bo Thomas. He's with certified credit experts in Lee Summit here to help us clean up some of our some of our mess. Thank you for coming in. Thanks. Thanks. Well I'm astounded at how many millions of Americans I think they said 40 million 40 million it absolutely have a problem. A mistake of some sort on our credit score and have no idea no idea.

Yeah. Less than 20 million checked last year. Right.

And even if you check and even if you see a mistake what do you do. I mean you're just staring at a number what. Where do you begin.

Yeah that's one of things I thought the report Sunday night did a good job I think is command 60 Minutes for doing that was awesome information of what out there. But consumers even though when they look at the report they don't know what really they're looking for whether they had an account. Is it really truly accurate and collection companies notoriously misreport re age so you might have a collection with somebody but is it really hurting you as much as it should. OK. So how do we really look at this thing. Yeah actually I would go to Annual Credit Report dot com. That's the best place to get your report. You don't have to pay any money. A lot of these as soon as you get in with the bureaus they try to sell you things that you don't need. Right. You're making a lot of money off consumers. OK. And they shouldn't be. OK. So check that and how often you can check it free once a year when your credit report that's enough is that often enough. It is if unless you feel like you get activity if you've got some things if you've got creditors or someone calling you should probably invest in a monitoring service at that point. OK.

OK. And saying that Web site again where do we find it. Annual Credit Report that OK. Once were there and once we're taking a look and we'll take a look at some of your tips that you've already sent over to us. But once were there and we see our credit report you know black and white what are some things to look for. I mean this is a lot of gibberish to most people.

Yes. You want to make sure that if you have the account are the dates correct. Because a lot of lot of companies will read something to make it look more than more recent than it is. For example collection there's less than a 2 percent difference whether it's paid or unpaid. The fact that it's there is what's killing your score. So the more recent the activity the more impact it has. Collection companies know this. So they intentionally sometimes reads the account to make it appear newer than it really is always in that interesting.

OK. So now you see a mistake. Then what do you do. Where do you begin.

You challenge it. Absolutely challenge it. Challenge writing. Yes. You must do it in writing in order for the collection agency and the credit reporting agencies to comply with the law. If you do they're convenient online they don't have to be compliant.

Oh OK the real old fashioned way you examined in writing the way it should be. And you also say one of your tips is to pay down credit cards as close to zero. Now I've heard varying opinions about this in the past.

Yes. The closer to zero you can get the more more benefits you're going to get credit scores are ascending as opposed to descending. What I mean is they don't start out at 850 and you lose points because of an inquiry or late pay. You actually start out at a 350 and start to gain based on how you do it. Yeah. And you pay thing so. OK. You're gonna get more credit. The closer to zero than you are.

And one of your other tips is to ask these credit card companies for a a limit increase.

Yeah. If you if you've got an account that you use some face it you know how people can pay off all their debt. So if you can't pay down your balance really close to zero. Ask for a credit increase because if you give available credit that's the same thing as getting a lower balance.

So because it's all kind of just a ratio ultimately. Absolutely. Interesting. OK. So what now. Wait how did these numbers work. What is considered good these days.

Yeah well you know a lot of times in order to get a mortgage you've got to have a 640. And that's the big first kind of benchmark to get an FHA mortgage rate. OK. So we get a 640 that's going to open up the doors to get some financing from a mortgage. Auto loans you're definitely there 740 is kind of the upper echelon meaning once you get above a 740 you can go all the way to 850 853 and the top is what again 850 three is the very best of. But you're not going to get anything for eight hundred that you wouldn't get for 740.

So I think that's good enough. Yeah absolutely. You're there. You get enough. All right. We see other companies you mentioned one already that offer these things to check free once a year. Should you check several companies while we're at it. Yes you can.

There's a lot of there's some good companies out there. But keep in mind they're all owned by the credit reporting agencies and their spin offs. The 60 minute does a great piece on that. These guys as soon as you get in the door they try to sell you stuff. OK. That you avoid. Yes. Avoid that check in annual credit report dot com. That's free. You can get all three reports if you see a mistake.

You can get it from that one. Absolutely. You're saying I see what you're saying. Very good. And you say the best way to get yourself quick hundred points is what.

Yes. The challenge the dates. Make sure everything is reporting accurately in the sense of the negative items are old if they are old make sure that reflect bump you up instantly when it's cleared up paying down balances another benefit.

Instantaneous your credit score goes up probably don't want to hassle with it but it's worth the hassle. I've said it sounds like. Thank you so much for coming in. Thank you. Been a pleasure chatting with you. All right.

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That free house has paid off the car is paid off. You had the money saved for your kids college accounts. I know it's a dream but it doesn't have to be nearly 75 percent of us envision ourselves debt free and with stellar credit only half of us though have a plan to get there. Well what better time than the new year to start. We are helping you this morning make a fresh start.

And joining us is Bo Thomas with certified credit experts to tell us what we can all do to improve our credit scores. Thank you so much for being with us. Thanks for having him here. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you. This is such a big deal for so many people. And your first bit of advice is the obvious one but he has some really surprising Texas I kind of looks through this. But the first one is pay down those cards. If you can.

Yeah really. That's one of the most simple and best things you can spit out your cards is close to zero as you can. And actually if you leave a little bit of balance it's going to score better than the zero balance.

Oh really. That's OK. Now you're saying ask your current credit accounts for limit increases. Yes.

Even if you can't if you can't do it on the funds to do step number one. Greg move on to step two which is called your current creditors and ask for credit increases. That's going to be the same as if you're paying your balances down.

OK. So and that will that'll boost your score.

So you have more available credit which your utilization ratio will be lower which sounds technical but you really it's as if you have more available credit and less now.

But it works and do most credit companies will they if you're good about paying your bills on time and things like that they'll go ahead and boost that limit.

Absolutely especially if you have a balance because they don't want to lose your business. OK very good. Number three don't close old accounts.

Yeah this is definitely a deal. This is a mistake I see a lot of consumers do when they start this process to try to repair and improve their scores. It's possible they go in and they close out a lot of old accounts and using that can actually have a negative impact really. Because I'm one of those people that I literally have a credit card at like every store in America just because i like i a.

But I paid them off you know. But but that's OK.

Yeah that's OK. And those those accounts are really going to help your score raise and keep improving because your average agent files a really important part of your score. So the older that account is the better it is. The monthly vote closes.

All right. And we need to know what our score actually is. So and I know I've always heard that you get dig every time you check your credit score. So what's your advice.

You actually get a good copy of your report as a consumer. Any time you request you report it's not going to have a negative impact. This can be a soft inquiry. And that's the probably most important thing I would say today is get a copy of your report. OK. Review it. Challenge the negative information on there. Make everybody comply with the laws is a lot of laws out there that are out to protect the consumers. Use it to your advantage.

So if you see something on your credit report that easy you know it was from back in college and the bills then paid off or whatever the case might be. Go ahead and challenge that and how do you do that.

Charles it mentioned you do it in writing. Don't do any of the things online that they try to get you to do because if they if you don't do it in writing the creditor and the credit reporting agencies don't have to comply with the record reporting. OK. Good to see I use the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you're getting calls from creditors. Good. Keep the voice mails. Make them go through the process follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because you can find a violation you can use that as leverage to get the negative mission remove from your credit report and stop the collection process.

OK great. Any other tips as we head into the New Year's and the other one.

You know if you're getting phone calls that's a really good one. Collection companies don't have the ability or the right to call your cell phone and hardly anybody has home phones anymore so if you're getting calls on your cell phones use that to make it stop. OK. What is a good credit score. It's a perfect credit score is 850 a 740 is as good as you need to be. You're gonna get everything you need in the 740 to work more than you can. Remember it's the most important three digit number you realize. So make sure it's as accurate and as high as possible.

Perfect. Thank you so much for being with us. Thanks. Appreciate it. Good tips. All right. We'll be right.

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