Medical Collections Deleted Once Paid?

April 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

med coll

Rep. Waters tackles mortgage woes created by medical debts

4/26/13 1:05pm

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., proposed legislation Friday that aims to improve Americans credit scores by ensuring any ‘paid medical debts’ are removed from a person’s credit report within 45 days.

While a delinquency tied to a medical bill may seem less serious than a mortgage default, lawmakers are upset with the practice of allowing late payments tied to medical debt to stick to a borrower’s credit report for an infinite period of time.

Waters believes the practice creates downward pressure on credit scores, freezing out access to mortgages and other lines of credit.

Waters’ bill – H.R. 1767 – is the sister legislation to Senate Bill 160 introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Waters and the bill’s co-sponsors also asked the Government Accountability office to review whether medical financing options provided to consumers are fair and transparent.

Source: Housing Wire

http://www.housingwire.com/fastnews/2013/04/26/rep-waters-tackles-mortgage-woes-created-medical-debts

7 Sins of Credit & How To Repent

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

THE 7 SINS OF YOUR CREDIT AND HOW TO REPENT

Why you're stuck with Bad Credit & How to get out!

Why you’re stuck with Bad Credit & How to get out!

In this day and age of living with plastic money, there are many temptations and errors in the way of living a healthy credit lifestyle. Credit can be a huge asset or an even bigger liability. This list will provide you the details you need to know and some advice on how to avoid the burden of bad decisions.
1. LUST (Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh)
a. Having that insatiable appetite to consume more and more. Applying for more credit cards, generating inquiries.
b. REPENT: Pause, then Pay with cash. Sit on it for 48 hours, and then pay with cash if you still have that urge.
2. SLOTH ( Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men)
a. What I don’t see won’t hurt me. Ignore your credit report, credit card statements, your checking account balance
b. REPENT: Check your credit report for errors for FREE at annualcreditreport.com
3. WRATH (James 1:20 For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God)
a. Emotions can run high when your money is on the line. Closing credit card accounts can lead to a dramatic decrease in credit score.
b. REPENT: Pay down your balance if you have one and just don’t use the card anymore.
4. GLUTTONY (1 Corinthians 10:31 … whatever you do, do all to the glory of God)
a. Maxing out your credit limit
b. REPENT: Keep your credit card balances below 30%
5. PRIDE (Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom)
a. Loss of income, medical emergency or any other type of hardship can lead to a big burden to carry. It is not easy asking for help
b. REPENT: Reach out for help right away.
6. GREED (Proverbs28:25 The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.
a. Cash advances on credit cards, payday loans, maxed out credit cards.
b. REPENT: Live within your means. Easier said than done sometimes but not impossible.
7. ENVY (Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot)
a. Keeping up with the Jones’. Comparisonitis
b. REPENT: Find out if you suffer from comparisonitis and deal with roots of the problem.
Good Luck and God Bless,

 

For FREE Download of the full article click here:

THE 7 SINS OF YOUR CREDIT AND HOW TO REPENT

 

What NOT to Do to Your Credit Score

April 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The NY Times posted a very interesting article on what the impacts, some very severe, can be for missing payments on mortgages and such. By taking a look at this article there will be fewer ways that you can get caught up in a mess of a poor credit score. Please follow the link below to the full article and as always, let us know what you think!

Mortgages

Fallout From a Poor Credit Score

The New York Times
By MARYANN HAGGERTY

 

IF you want to see how quickly you can ruin a great credit score, just skip a mortgage payment.

Lenders use credit scores to measure how you handle debt. The number you’ll see most often is your FICO score. It runs from 300 to 850. The major credit reporting bureaus developed a rival, VantageScore, with scores from 501 to 990.

Missed mortgage payments, serious loan delinquencies, loan modifications, short sales, foreclosures and bankruptcies all drag down credit scores. Because a mortgage is such a big slice of anyone’s credit profile, it carries more weight than other loans. Both FICO and VantageScore have studied and quantified those impacts.

They reached similar conclusions: for people with near-perfect records, a single mortgage payment that’s 30 days late reduces a credit score enough to hurt. For anyone, a short sale — selling a home for less than the amount owed — can be almost as destructive as a foreclosure.

In contrast, a loan modification — when the lender approves new loan terms — can have a “very, very minimal” effect, said Sarah Davies, the senior vice president for analytics at VantageScore. In some cases, the borrower’s score might drop 10 or 15 points.

With a loan modification, said Joanne Gaskin, the director of global scoring solutions at FICO, “the consumer does not have to go delinquent to get assistance.”

Modification horror stories abound; some borrowers have been told they can’t be helped unless they’ve already missed payments. That doesn’t have to be the case, said Josh Zinner, the co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, a New York City nonprofit company active in foreclosure prevention.

The government-backed Home Affordable Modification Program, known as HAMP, specifically permits modifications for borrowers who can document hardship like a job loss, Mr. Zinner said. “What we advise people in New York to do” he said, “is reach out to a nonprofit loan counselor or to Legal Services in order to get a modification with a servicer.”

It’s not a perfect solution — HAMP has been criticized for not helping enough borrowers. There are plenty of paperwork hassles, and points in the process where credit scores are in peril.

Still, because of “some really profound consequences” to bad credit, modification is worth pursuing, he said. Employers increasingly check credit. Housing options may be limited. “Virtually all landlords look at credit,” he said, adding that getting a mortgage can be difficult. Car loan and credit card costs jump.

In a study last month, FICO looked at how choices would affect three hypothetical mortgage holders: One with a spotless 780 score; another with a good 720, who may have missed a couple of credit card payments three years ago; a third with a not-great, not-toxic 680, who has sometimes fallen seriously behind on credit cards or a car loan. (Most lenders consider poor credit about 650 and below, Ms. Gaskin said.)

¶30 days late: The gold-plated 780 drops to 670-690, the middling 720 becomes 630-650, and 680 is now 600-620. Effects are most significant for the strongest borrower. “A continued progression is going to have less and less impact on a score,” Ms. Gaskin said.

¶90 days late: This is seriously delinquent, and brings the onetime best borrower down to 650-670, the midlevel one to 610-630, and the weakest to 600-620.

¶Short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or settlement, assuming the balance has been wiped out: The result is just a bit less serious. The 780 score deteriorates to 655-675; 720 to 605-625; 680 to 610-630.

¶Foreclosure, or short sale with a deficiency balance owed: For either, 780 is 620-640; 720 is 570-590; and 680 is 575-595.

At a certain point it might seem as if there was not much difference between bad and worse, but remember that the lower the score, the longer it takes to climb back.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/realestate/24mortgages-credit-score.html?_r=1&hp

What is Credit?

April 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Here is part 1 of 7 in a series of video taped interviews with Adam Villaneda of Wholesale Capital Corp. We discuss Credit 101 in 7 easy steps. Follow us as we break down what you need to do as a consumer to place yourself in the best possible position for using your credit. Step 1 of 7 – What is Credit

Credit and Unemployment

April 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Credit background checks have become routine among employers, even as soaring unemployment and foreclosures have resulted in black marks on millions of people’s credit histories.

Credit checks are required for federal jobs with security clearances, but six out of 10 private employers check the credit histories of at least some of their job applicants, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Companies do so primarily to prevent or reduce crime, such as theft and embezzlement, the survey indicated. The idea is that people who have debt problems are more likely to steal or commit other crimes.

 

Overused and abused

I’ve been reluctant to weigh in against employers using credit checks, assuming companies would use some common sense.

Consider:

Thirteen percent of employers use credit checks for all their employees, including those who don’t handle money, have any fiduciary or financial responsibilities, or even access to sensitive information. There’s no evidence credit checks are effective in preventing crime even in financially sensitive positions, so how can we justify them for anyone else?

Twenty-five percent acknowledged that a bankruptcy on an applicant’s credit report would most likely result in a decision not to make a job offer. Here’s the problem: Using a bankruptcy as a decision not to hire (or to fire or to refuse a promotion) is illegal under federal law.

A majority (65 percent) allow applicants to explain credit-check results before the final hiring decision is made. But 22 percent allow applicants to explain only after a decision is made, and 13 percent don’t allow any explanation. Even if employers are convinced that credit checks prevent crime, why wouldn’t they want to know if an applicant was the victim of identity theft or ran up debt for a life-saving operation for their child?

If companies aren’t willing to use a little common sense on their own, maybe some needs to be imposed on them.

No evidence supports use

There’s no hard evidence that links bad credit and bad morals.

“At this point we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud,” Eric Rosenberg, the state government liaison for TransUnion credit bureau, conceded in testimony to Oregon legislators.

Rosenberg was actually arguing against a state bill that would limit employers’ ability to use credit checks. TransUnion and other credit bureaus that provide the reports say they’re an important tool for evaluating applicants.

The arguments didn’t sway the Oregon Legislature, which recently passed a law prohibiting credit checks for hiring, firing, promoting or determining compensation for most workers. Exceptions were made for financial institutions, public-safety offices and other employment if credit history is important to a job and a background check is disclosed to the applicant or employee.

Washington state and Hawaii already have curbed widespread use of credit checks in making hiring decisions. Other states are considering similar laws, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., has sponsored a bill that would ban employment-related credit checks nationwide except when the job:

- Required a national-security or Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. clearance.

- Was with a state or local government agency that otherwise required the use of a consumer report.

- Was in a supervisory, managerial, professional or executive position at a financial institution.

 

Why Do Insurance Companies Use Credit Reports and Scores?

April 11, 2014 by · 4 Comments 

credit scores

Section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act says that the credit reporting agencies, Equifax (EFX), Experian (EXPN) and TransUnion, may furnish reports to any company that intends to use that information for the purpose of underwriting insurance. So, at the Federal level, the use of credit reports for underwriting insurance is perfectly legal and many of them do so. The real question is, why do they do it?

Insurance companies have the same issues lenders have: understanding the risk of doing business with certain consumers. It’s not necessarily the risk of being paid or not being paid for their services (premiums). It’s more so the risk of providing a policy for someone who is more likely to file claims and thus be a less profitable customer. It’s all about the money.

The primary difference between banking and insurance is that insurance policies are all secured, essentially. If you don’t pay your premiums they’ll cut you off, which could lead to you losing your home (it’s called a non-monetary default) or you getting arrested for driving without insurance. Determining whether or not you’ll pay your premiums is not the primary reason some of them pull your credit reports and credit scores.

The primary reason is to determine if they even want to do business with you and/or under what terms. Despite what many believe, how you manage your credit is very predictive of what kind of insurance customer you’ll be. It’s predictive not only of your likelihood of filing claims but also predictive of how profitable you’ll be. If it weren’t, insurance companies wouldn’t spend the money buying millions of credit reports and scores each year.

They’re Not The Same Credit Scores

Much like the financial services environment, the insurance environment relies heavily on credit scores. This isn’t anything new. However, the type of score they’re using is not the same type of score banks and other financial services companies use. In fact, they’re very different.

The scores used by insurance companies are called Insurance Credit Bureau Scores or Insurance Risk Credit Scores. They are developed by a variety of companies, including FICO and LexisNexis.  LexisNexis develops the LexisNexis Attract Score, which is very commonly used by insurance companies.

Insurance scores consider credit information and/or previous insurance claim information. So, if you filed an auto claim or a homeowner’s claim it can be considered in your insurance score and it can result in a lower score. And if you’re assuming the presence of claims means that you’re a less profitable insurance customer, well, you’d be right. Yes, it’s all about the money.

But They’re The Same Credit Reports

While the scores used by insurance companies are different, the reports they use are the same as the reports used by financial services companies.  The reason: all credit reports originate from the same three places; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Point being, there are no secret credit reports that insurance companies use to set your premiums.

Insurance Inquiries Don’t Hurt Your Credit Scores

Enough bad news. When you apply for insurance, the insurance company may or may not access your credit reports and scores. There is no guarantee that they will, in fact, pull your credit reports. But, it’s a safe bet.

If the insurance company does choose to access your credit report and score, there will an inquiry posted to the credit file.  It will clearly be identified as being from your insurance company.  And, more importantly, it will systemically be coded as coming from an insurance company.  This is good news because insurance related inquiries are not counted in your credit scores.

You will be able to see them, but no other entity will be able to see them.  And, credit-scoring systems don’t not consider insurance-related inquiries so they’ll never lower your credit scores.

I’ll end on that high note.

By John Ulzheimer here

http://www.mint.com/blog/how-to/insurance-credit-score-03072011/

Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

April 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

What happens when you are sued by a debt collector? While it may feel like the end of the world to you, it’s a pretty routine occurrence in courts across the country. “Most debt collection law firms file hundreds of lawsuits a day, assuming that 99% of defendants will not answer,” explains Atlanta bankruptcy attorney Jonathan Ginsberg.
While it would be easy to dismiss these as simply a matter of debtors getting what they deserve, it’s not always cut and dried. It’s not unheard of for a debtor to be hounded by multiple collection agencies for the same debt. Or “zombie debts” may show up in court years after the debtor defaulted.

A recent New York Times story compared the recent spate of debt collection “robo-lawsuits” to the “robo-signing” mess in the mortgage industry and quoted Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Noach Dear as saying, “roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt.” Judge Dear says he sees as many as 100 of these cases a day.

Even when debts are legitimate, the additional costs that result from a lawsuit can make it that much harder for the borrower to resolve the debt.

So what can you do if you are sued by a collection agency? Here are seven options:

#1 Respond.
The number one mistake borrowers make when they are sued for a debt is failing to respond to the notice, which usually arrives in the form of a “summons and complaint.” If you owe the debt and can’t pay it, then you may assume there’s not much you can do. If you fail to respond, however, the collection agency will get a default judgment against you. That opens up new avenues of collection for them, including wage garnishment or the ability to take money from your bank account, depending on state law. Worse, the collector may be able to add attorney’s fees, court costs, or interest to the balance. In some cases, the balance can double or triple due to these additional costs.
Responding to a debt collection lawsuit, then, is a must. “Even if you owe the plaintiff money, a two-sentence response denying liability to the lawsuit filed in court will likely lead to a negotiated settlement that will save you money,” advises Ginsberg. “If you do respond and force them to work, they will either back down or offer a settlement on favorable terms.” He adds that it is not sufficient to simply send a letter to the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit). “You must file your response to the lawsuit, called an “Answer,” in the court where you were sued within the designated time to respond — usually 20 to 30 days after service — and you must send a file stamped copy of your answer to the plaintiff’s lawyer.” You can get a file stamped copy from the court where you filed the answer.

When you do respond, don’t just state that you can’t afford to pay the debt. “If you admit liability then 90% of the fight is over and they are not forced to prove their case,” warns Billy Howard, attorney and head of the consumer protection division of Morgan & Morgan. He likens it to a criminal case where the defendant says, “I did it!”

#2 Challenge the lawsuit.
“Challenge the plaintiff’s ability to bring the lawsuit by challenging their standing to sue in their own name,” suggests Ohio consumer lawyer Troy Doucet. He explains that credit card debt is often bought for pennies on the dollar, by collection agencies, which then sue to collect. “The collection company needs to prove they have the right to collect, as evidenced by a transfer of the signed credit card agreement, in order to be in court and ask the court to win. The right to sue is called ‘standing’ and what the consumer should challenge.”

Howard agrees: “Ask the court to dismiss the case because they don’t have standing and lack the chain of custody of paperwork. A lot of judges look at the paperwork (collectors provide) and tell the plaintiff that they must be joking.”

#3 Make them prove what you owe.
“We always demand to see the original signed agreement and a balance on the account from zero to the present,” says Ginsberg. More often than not, the debt collector’s documentation will be inadequate. Debts may have changed hands multiple times before the current collection agency purchased them.

Even original creditors may lack accurate documentation of the debts customers owed. A former employee of JP Morgan Chase says she was fired after she raised questions about the documentation being provided to buyers of the issuer’s delinquent debts. She alleged that as many as a quarter of the files showed incorrect amounts owed, with errors often in the bank’s favor. If credit card issuers can’t provide accurate documentation, there’s a good possibility collection agencies won’t have it either.

#4 Raise the statute of limitations as a defense.
In most states, creditors have a maximum of four to six years to sue to collect a debt. After that, the statute of limitations expires. That doesn’t always stop collectors from suing, however, because they are counting on borrowers failing to show up in court. If the statute of limitations has expired, and the borrower raises that as a defense, the collector will lose. Making a payment on an old debt may start the clock ticking all over again, though, so a debtor should get legal advice before making a payment on a very old debt.

#5 Sue them back.
If a debt collector has violated provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you may be able to sue them. “Once you attach their lawsuit as Exhibit A to your lawsuit against them the tide turns, and if you or your attorney knows what they are doing, the alleged debtors can get damages and attorney’s fees and costs,” says Howard. He’s referring to the fact that consumers who successfully sue for violations of the FDCPA are entitled to statutory damages of $1000, plus punitive and economic damages, if awarded. In addition, the collection agency will be required to pay the attorney’s fees and costs.

#6 Bring in the big guns.
Debtors often hesitate to contact an attorney when they are being sued over a debt they owe; perhaps due to embarrassment, or maybe they figure they can’t afford one. Attorneys who regularly take on these types of cases, however, will typically offer a free consultation. And they will often represent a consumer for free if they think the collector has broken the law. That’s because they will expect to collect their fees from the plaintiff. “Do not be afraid or intimidated to call or email a consumer protection or bankruptcy lawyer for a quick word of advice,” Ginsberg says.
Once the collection agency is notified that you are represented by an attorney, it may be much more amenable to settling the debt, rather than trying to duke it out in court.

#7 File for bankruptcy.
While bankruptcy usually doesn’t make sense when you just owe a small amount of money, if the debt you are being sued for is large or if it is just one of many other debts you owe, it may make sense to file for bankruptcy. When you do, you will be protected by the “automatic stay,” which will halt collection efforts against you.

A tip: If you are thinking about bankruptcy, it’s best to talk with an attorney as soon as you are served with notice of the lawsuit, rather than waiting until the day you’re due in court.

by Gerri Detweiler
for http://www.credit.com/blog/2012/09/seven-ways-to-defend-a-debt-collection-lawsuit/

Mapping the Path to Your Credit Report

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Wonder how your credit report is created? Sometimes it’s best not to know how the sausage is made, but in this case some extra knowledge may be enlightening.

John Ulzheimer, a credit expert, worked with the Web site Credit Sesame to create a graphic map showing how various types of information make their way — or not — into your credit report.

In most cases, Mr. Ulzheimer said,  the credit bureaus — like Equifax, Experian and Transunion — receive information from institutions where you have accounts, like credit card issuers or home loans or student loan lenders. In industry lingo, these are known as “trade” or “tradeline” accounts, he said.

Those accounts make up the bulk of the information in your credit report. Institutions provide the data under agreement with the bureaus, in exchange for access to credit files so they can evaluate the creditworthiness of applicants. Institutions aren’t legally required to report credit information — but if they don’t, they lose the benefit of having access to credit reports.

When credit bureaus get customer data, he said, they generally audit it before posting it to your credit file, to help avoid errors and disputes. A batch of data with an unusually high proportion of delinquencies, for instance, might be sent back for double-checking.

When lenders seek your credit report in response to an application for a credit card or a loan, it shows up as a “hard” inquiry. Too many such inquiries may cause your credit score, which is based on information in your credit report, to dip.

Some inquiries don’t affect your score, however. They include requests made as a result of applying for insurance or for service from a utility company, Mr. Ulzheimer said, and requests you make yourself for a copy of your credit report.

Some public records, like bankruptcy filings or federal tax liens, usually appear on your credit reports because the credit bureaus have electronic access to federal courts through the Pacer document system. But civil judgments filed with state and county courts may or may not show up on your report, since not all of those courts make such information available electronically. Credit bureaus may be able to find the information through database services, but its appearance in credit files is generally less consistent than legal information generated by federal courts. (In other words,  you may get lucky.)

Have you ever had a legal judgment appear on your credit report? What impact did it have?

By ANN CARRNS

For Credit Sesame

 

Life After Bankruptcy: 5 Steps for a Newer, Healthier YOU!

April 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Life After BK
Life After Bankruptcy: 5 Steps to Rebuilding Your Credit, Finances and Emotions

Rebuilding your life after bankruptcy – including your credit rating, finances and your emotional well-being – can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task.

But if you’ve recently filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, it’s important to realize that there is life after bankruptcy. And it doesn’t have to be a life where you’re treated like a financial outcast and banished to years of credit exile.

On the contrary, life after bankruptcy can be enormously rewarding – but only for those who strategize properly and commit themselves to not wasting the second chance that bankruptcy can offer. Ultimately, how well you rebound from a bankruptcy filing depends on the post-bankruptcy steps you take to safeguard yourself against future financial calamities.Here are five steps to speed up your recovery after bankruptcy – and help you get on with the business of living life well without the stigma of the bankruptcy process.

Let Go of the Guilt and Shame

If you’ve gone through bankruptcy – or are contemplating it – you’re certainly not alone. In 2010, personal bankruptcies in the U.S. rose by 9% to 1.53 million filings. Also, a May 2011 survey from FindLaw.com revealed that one in eight adults in the U.S. – 13% of the population – admit they’ve considered bankruptcy. These sobering statistics are telltale signs that many Americans are still battling the lingering affects of the Great Recession.

Nevertheless, people who’ve filed for bankruptcy protection are often wracked by guilt and shame. It’s not uncommon for bankruptcy filers to say things like “I feel like a failure” or “I’m so disappointed in myself.”

But beating yourself up about your predicament won’t make your situation any better. In fact, succumbing to a steady stream of negative emotions about your bankruptcy can even be harmful to you by preventing you from moving forward in a positive way.

A better strategy: Resolve to make peace with the past by letting it go, and don’t dwell on negative thoughts or wallow in self-pity.

“Sometimes things just happen,” says James Feazell, who has counseled scores of financially challenged consumers over the years in his role as vice president of education at the National Foundation for Debt Management in Clearwater, Fla.

Feazell notes that job loss, divorce, medical bills and other personal setbacks can drive people into excessive debt and force them to declare bankruptcy. “So the challenge now is to adopt the right attitude,” says Feazell. “You have to get yourself mentally back in the right place where you can become more disciplined and better educated, and where you can learn from life and not make the same mistakes.”

Reflect and Regroup

How do you get to a healthier place emotionally if you’re disappointed about the past and perhaps experiencing regrets about choices you made?

Once the dust has settled after your bankruptcy, do some soul searching, recommends Chris Bridges, owner of Vision Credit Services LLC in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

“You really need to ask yourself several key questions,” Bridges says, “including ‘How did I get here? What could I have done differently? And what have I learned from all of this?’ ” Your answers will help you create a better financial afterlife in the wake of bankruptcy.

Additionally, enlist a great support system, Feazell suggests. “Friends, family, your church or members of civic organizations can all provide you with an emotional charge when you need it, or even just a shoulder to lean on,” he says.

It’s important to have the right people around you, Feazell adds, because “positive people who are in your corner, telling you that you can overcome this, can help you deal with all the bumps, plateaus and valleys you may experience after bankruptcy.”

Create a Realistic Budget and Pay All Your Existing Bills on Time

After a bankruptcy, you must become extra vigilant about your finances. Even if you’ve never created – or stuck to – a budget in the past, now is the time to get serious about doing so. Your budget will act as your spending plan, helping you to manage cash flow and preventing you from racking up unnecessary debt.

“Understanding your budget means you try to live below your means and stop keeping up with the Joneses,” says Dawn Brown, a certified financial planner and senior financial advisor with Altfest Personal Wealth Management in New York City. “Your budget should also have a line for saving, so you can pay yourself first.”

Brown and other experts say having an emergency fund is vital to deal with future emergencies or unexpected events that can derail even the best of budgets.

Also, make it a priority to pay all your current bills in a timely manner. Set up automatic bill payments, and remember to pay your rent on time since rent payments are now being tracked by the credit bureau Experian and will affect your credit score.

Repaying your existing bills as agreed will be one of the single, most powerful things you can do to restore your finances and your credit, according to Bridges, who has also written the free e-book Your First Step to Credit Restoration.

If you can’t pay everything that’s due, says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com, “prioritize your expenses. Pay the ones necessary for survival first, such as food, housing and utilities. This also helps protect your credit score, because a missed mortgage payment can hurt your credit score.”

Pick a Credit Card That Will Help You Rebuild Credit

Experts agree that another key strategy to rebuilding your credit rating after bankruptcy is to obtain a secured credit card. With a secured card, you deposit a given amount of money, such as $500, into a bank account and that $500 becomes your credit limit. By charging small amounts each month and repaying your debts as agreed, you can gradually rebuild your credit.

“Some of these (secured) cards will reward responsible borrowers by upping the limit without an additional deposit,” Bridges says. “Some will even convert the account into a traditional credit card.”

A few caveats about secured cards: First, recognize that at some banks, not everyone qualifies for a secured card, particularly if your bankruptcy is less than a year old. Also, stay away from secured cards that charge high fees, that don’t report your payment history to the credit bureaus, or that ask you to call a 900 number (you’ll be charged for the call).

Separate Fact From Fiction About Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy filers are often force-fed a host of myths and misconceptions about how horrible their lives will be in the wake of a bankruptcy proceeding. While life after bankruptcy certainly won’t be a cakewalk, unfortunately, much of the information doled out is flat out wrong, according to credit experts as well as people who’ve successfully and quickly bounced back from a bankruptcy filing.

First, there’s the incorrect notion that bankruptcy will automatically disqualify you from getting a mortgage for at least 10 years. Wrong! You can actually be in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding and still get an FHA home loan.

There’s also the false assertion that getting a credit card will be next to impossible for at least seven years. But this is untrue as well: Most bankruptcy filers receive a slew of credit card offers from banks almost immediately after their bankruptcy is discharged. One study showed that 96% of consumers were offered new credit within a year of declaring bankruptcy.

And then there’s the wrong-headed idea that car dealers and lenders will only approve your application at sky-high interest rates. Not so. As many people who’ve gone through bankruptcy will attest, there are numerous auto companies and lenders willing to finance a vehicle or approve loans at reasonable rates after a bankruptcy.

And while it’s true that bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, it’s definitely not the case that it will take a decade to re-establish a positive credit rating. In fact, many people’s worst credit problems – even bankruptcy – are often not as bad as they think.

“Because credit scoring models typically lend more weight to your recent activity than to the mistakes you’ve made in the past, you can change your habits right now and begin reestablishing yourself as a good credit risk for a purchase or refinance loan in just six to 12 months,” says Bridges, who offers free credit report consultations to consumers.

FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850 points. Roughly six months after a bankruptcy is discharged, Bridges notes, “it’s not uncommon for people to see their credit scores skyrocket up into the 700s, if they have absolutely no late payments or collections” following the bankruptcy.

On the other hand, says Bridges, “if you do have a late payment or a collection following bankruptcy, you get dinged double by the credit scoring system, because it’s like: Didn’t you learn your lesson?”

 

By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/03/life-after-bankruptcy-5-steps-to-rebuilding-your-credit-financ/

Legally, how long can bad credit stay on your credit reports?

April 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Let’s say you’ve made some mistakes with your credit. With over 35% of the population scoring below 650 on the FICO scoring scale, you’re certainly not alone. But now that you’ve made the mistake, how long are you going to have to live with it?
Each and every negative item has a reportable statute of limitations. That means the credit bureaus can legally report it for some period of time before it must be removed. Let’s dive in…
Bankruptcy
This one has possibly the most confusing statute of limitations so let’s get it out of the way first. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can remain on your credit files for ten years from the date filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies can remain on file for seven years FROM THE DISCHARGE DATE. This is important because most people believe 13s have to be removed seven years from the filing date, which is incorrect. It normally takes three to five years for a Chapter 13 to discharge due to the repayment process. That’s when the 7 years begins. The cap on all bankruptcies is ten years so most 13s remain on file for a full ten years, just like Chapter 7s.
Tax Liens
This one has the longest statute of limitations and must be broken down into three categories; released, unpaid, withdrawn.
Released Tax Liens – Released liens can remain on file for seven years from the date released. This included liens that have been settled for less than you really owe.
Unpaid Tax Liens – Sit down. Unpaid tax liens can remain on your credit file indefinitely. That’s the bad news. Now the good news…
Paid and Withdrawn Tax Liens – Paid tax liens normally stay on file for seven years, but the IRS announced that they will withdraw the lien if paid in full AND the taxpayer requests a withdrawal. The credit bureaus do not report withdrawn tax liens so they will come off your files almost immediately if you get them withdrawn.
Defaulted Government Guaranteed Student Loans
The amount of time is actually governed by the Higher Education Act instead of the FCRA. Defaulted student loans can remain on your credit reports for 7 years from the date they are paid, 7 years from the date they were first reported or 7 years from the date the loan re-defaults. The point you should take away from this…pay your student loans!
The Seven Year Club
Delinquent Child Support Obligations
Judgments – Seven years from the filing date whether satisfied or not.
Collections – Seven years from date of default with the ORIGINAL creditor, not seven years from when the collection agency buys or is consigned the debt.
Charge Offs – Seven years from the date of the original terminal delinquency.
Settlements – Seven years from the date of the original terminal delinquency
Repossessions and Foreclosures – Seven years from the date of the original terminal delinquency.
Late Payments – Seven years from the date of occurrence.
You’ll notice “terminal delinquency” several times above. The seven year period actually begins 180 days AFTER the original delinquency that leads to a collection, charge off or similarly negative action. So, technically these items remain on your credit file for 7.5 years from the date of the last delinquency before the terminal delinquency.
Re-aging
If you’ve never heard of this term let’s hope you never do. Re-aging is the illegal process of changing the “purge from date” so the credit reporting extends past the allowable period of time. This is not common but when it’s done, it’s usually a collection agency or debt buyer who is breaking the law. It’s a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act but the debtor has to know it has happened.