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What your mother (or father) didn’t tell you about credit.

Every day I speak with clients that truly don’t understand why they can’t get their credit scores above a certain number.  Yes, that pesky little 3 digit number that has become all important to everyone of late. The truth is, they were never taught how to get above a “poor” or “fair” score.  These are [...]

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Should I use a “Credit Repair” company?

We love to read all of the differing opinions that flood the internet from the so-called professionals in investing, money management, debt management, etc.  We sift through articles and websites trying to find the best, most accurate information for you, our clients. We do however, have one very significant pet peeve and that is all [...]

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Ouch! You just shot yourself in your credit foot.

I can’t tell you how often a client tells me that they can’t “understand” why their scores are so low.  At first I thought it was an excuse.  It took me a while to figure it out (I think I was blond at the time) but the fact is is that most people DON’T understand. [...]

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Calculating FICO Credit Scores

Calculating FICO Credit Scores

Credit ratings vary from scoring model to scoring model, but in general the FICO scoring system is the standard in the U.S., Canada and other global areas.

 

The factors are similar and may include:

 

Payment History

(35% contribution on the FICO scale) – A record of negative information can lower a consumer’s credit rating or score. In general risk scoring systems look for any of the following negative events; charge offs, collections, late payments, repossessions, foreclosures, settlements, bankruptcies, liens, and judgments. Within this category FICO considers the severity of the negative item, the age of the negative items and the prevalence of negative items. Newer is worse than older. More severe is worse than less severe. And, many are worse than few.

 

Debt

(30% contribution on the FICO score) – This category considers the amount and type of debt carried by a consumer as reflected on their credit reports. There are three types of debt considered.

 

  • Revolving Debt
  • Installment Debt
  • Open Debt

 

Revolving Debt

This is credit card debt, retail card debt and some petroleum cards. And while home equity lines of credit have revolving terms the bulk of debt considered is true unsecured revolving debt incurred on plastic. The most important measurement from this category is called “Revolving Utilization” which is the relationship between the consumer’s aggregate credit card balances and the available credit card limits, also called “open to buy.” This is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the aggregate credit card balances by the aggregate credit limits and multiplying the result by 100, thus yielding the utilization percentage. The higher that percentage the lower your score will likely be. This is why closing credit cards is generally not a good idea for someone trying to improve their credit scores. Closing one or more credit card accounts will reduce your total available credit limits and likely increase the utilization percentage unless the cardholder reduces their balances at the same pace.

 

Installment Debt

This is debt where there is a fixed payment for a fixed period of time. An auto loan is a good example as you’re generally making the same payment for 36, 48, or 60 months. While installment debt is considered in risk scoring systems it is a distant second in its important behind the revolving credit card debt. Installment debt is generally secured by an asset like a car, home, or boat. As such, consumers will use extraordinary efforts to make their payments so their asset isn’t repossessed by the lender for non-payment.

 

Open Debt

This is the least common type of debt. This is debt that must be paid in full each month. A good example is any one of the variety of credit cards that are “pay in full” products. The American Express Green card is a common example. Open debt is treated like revolving credit card debt in older versions of the FICO scoring system, but is excluded from the revolving utilization calculation in newer versions.

 

Time on File

(Credit File Age) (15% contribution on the FICO scale) – The older your credit report the more stable it

is. As such, your score should benefit from an old credit report. This “age” is determined two ways; the age of your credit file and the average age of the accounts on your credit file. The age of your credit file is determined by the oldest account’s “date opened”, which sets the age of the credit file. The average age is set by averaging the age of every account on the credit report, whether open or closed.

 

Account Diversity

(10% contribution on the FICO scale) – Your credit score will benefit by having a diverse set of account types on your credit file. Having experience across multiple account types (installment, revolving, auto, mortgage, cards, etc.) is generally a good thing for your scores because you’re proving the ability to manage different account types.

 

The Search for New Credit

(Credit inquiries) (10% contribution on the FICO scale) – An inquiry is noted every time a company requests some information from a consumer’s credit file. There are several kinds of inquiries that may or may not affect one’s credit score. Inquiries that have no effect on the creditworthiness of a consumer (also known as “soft inquiries”), which remain on your credit reports for 6 months and are never visible to lenders or credit scoring models, are:

 

Prescreening inquiries where a credit bureau may sell a person’s contact information to an institution that issues credit cards, loans and insurance based on certain criteria that the lender has established.

 

A creditor also checks its customers’ credit files periodically. This is referred to as Account Management, Account Maintenance or Account Review.

 

A credit counseling agency, with the client’s permission, can obtain a client’s credit report with no adverse action.

A consumer can check his or her own credit report without impacting creditworthiness. This is referred to as a “consumer disclosure” inquiry.

 

  • Employment screening inquiries
  • Insurance related inquiries
  • Utility related inquiries

 

Inquiries that can have an effect on the creditworthiness of a consumer, and are visible to lenders and credit scoring models, (also known as “hard inquiries”) are made by lenders when consumers are seeking credit or a loan, in connection with permissible purpose. Lenders, when granted a permissible purpose, as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, can “pull” a consumer file for the purposes of extending credit to a consumer. Hard inquiries can, but don’t always, affect the borrower’s credit score. Keeping credit inquiries to a minimum can help a person’s credit rating. A lender may perceive many inquiries over a short period of time on a person’s report as a signal that the person is in financial difficulty, and may consider that person a poor credit risk.

 

Basic Breakdown of a FICO Credit Score

  • 35% – Payment History: Negative information.
  • 30% – Debt: How much and what type?
  • 15% – Length Of Credit History: This is how long you’ve had credit
  • 10% – Credit Diversity: This is the different types of credit experience you’ve had
  • 10% – Inquiries (hard): This is when a creditor checks your credit report

Common Questions About Our Credit Repair Services

Question: How much does it cost?

Answer: The setup fee is normally $499 and billed after we complete the setup work. The monthly fee is $139 and will continue on the following month on same day of the month for services performed the previous month. We often have special discounts available depending on your situation. Call us for a quote.

 

Question: How long does it take?

Answer: Our service is a 6 month minimum unless you finish sooner. If so, we contact you and congratulate you and stop your billing; otherwise, we ask that you give at least 6 months to do the best job we can. Some clients only take a few months and others take over a year. It really depends on the severity of your credit, the number of items and how far you want to go with it. Our process is not a miracle cure and does not solve all of your credit issues overnight. It takes time, persistence and pressure to show you the best results.

 

Question: How can I trust you?

Answer: Fortunately, you have found a company that you CAN trust. Unlike most of the competition, we are established and have been in business for nearly a decade. We are also accredited with the Better Business Bureau with the highest rating possible. Our service agreement outlines our program and responsibilities and we give you access to monitor your progress, so everything is full transparency.

 

Question: How do I get started?

Answer: Your enrollment can be completed in just a few minutes. First, call us so we can determine if you are a good candidate. If so, we will walk you through the setup process in a matter of only a few minutes.

 

 

Question: How do I track my progress?

Answer: We give you full transparency. For one, you will receive (3) updated credit reports in the mail every 30-45 days. The credit reports will each include an “Investigation Results” page that clearly shows a list of the items investigated along with the result for each investigation. We ask that you email, fax, mail or upload the results to us. We provide you with a real-time online portal and post the results for you so you know exactly where you stand.

 

Question: Can you help me build credit?

Answer: Absolutely! We our experts and will strategically guide you through the process of building new credit. If you ever want your FICO to get up there over 720, it is imperative you start with a strong foundation of revolving and installment trade lines. Our network provides free referrals to lenders, local banks, realtors, mortgage brokers and auto dealerships ready and willing to help you build and optimize your credit.

 

Question: Is credit repair legal?

Answer: Yes, credit improvement is legal if you follow the guidelines of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

 

Question: Do you guarantee my credit will improve?

Answer: No one in this business can guarantee that but we are confident that with time and persistence we are usually able to delete the majority of harmful items affecting your credit. The longer you remain a client, the more likely it will be that more of the harder to delete items are eventually removed.

 

Question: I have a creditor reporting a debt with an inflated balance, can you help me?

Answer: Similar to the audit and verification process, we use our knowledge of consumer protection laws and dispute the accounts. In most cases we not only contact the credit bureaus, we also contact the creditor or collection agency directly. We place the burden of proof squarely on their shoulders and are often successful in resolving some of the most difficult problems quickly and inexpensively.

 

Question: Can you delete inquiries?

Answer: Yes, inquiries are part of your credit history and impact your credit scores. We can challenge questionable and excessive inquiries.

 

Question: How do you help with inflated or expired debt?

Answer: Similar to the audit and verification process, we use our knowledge of consumer protection laws and dispute the accounts. In most cases we not only contact the credit bureaus, we also contact the creditor or collection agency directly. We place the burden of proof squarely on their shoulders and are often successful in resolving some of the most difficult problems quickly and inexpensively.

 

Question: I have old collection accounts, should I pay them?

Answer: Sometimes paying off old debts can reduce your credit score. When you make a payment, it restarts the statute of limitations and creates a new entry scheduled to stay on your credit for an additional 7 years. We would like to review your credit reports and make recommendations based on our findings. Chances are we may be able to remove the majority of the outdated information saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If the accounts are verified and we hit a roadblock, we will assist you in settling the debts. Keep in mind, we are not a debt settlement company and do not handle any of your settlement funds and we do not physically call your creditors to negotiate, rather; we will discuss the individual situation with you and based on our recommendations and your budget, we can offer settlements by mail. If the creditor accepts the offer, we will walk you through settling the debt legally and correctly.

 

Question: How long have you been in business?

Answer: We have been in business since June 2004.

 

Question: What is the difference between a debt management company and your services?

Answer: Debt Management is often referred to as consumer credit counseling services, debt consolidation or debt settlement. That is not what we are about. They work with creditors to negotiate interest, balances or to negotiate a re-payment plan. A monthly debt payment is established and the 3rd party handles the disbursement of payments. Essentially, debt management companies are in charge of your debts. We on the other hand, are in charge of your credit. We are here to help eliminate questionable negative information and consult you regarding every aspect of your credit, however; if you are seeking a debt management program, we can certainly point you in the right direction. Chances are with a little bit of good advice you can handle the situation on your own.

 

Question: I have a recent foreclosure, can you delete it?

Answer: Foreclosure rates are soaring and a lot of good people have been the ones taking the brunt of the losses after the recent mortgage meltdown. Results have shown that foreclosures have been extremely difficult to delete from credit reports if they are recent. If the foreclosure is 100% accurate we will not challenge it. If there are nay discrepancies, we will be happy to see what we can do to help. Also, if you have recently been foreclosed on we recommend you allow 6 months before addressing the issue to increase your probability of a positive result. 

 

Question: Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?

Answer: Yes, we are accredited members of the Better Business Bureau and have held the highest rating possible since July 2004.

 

Question: Do you have any online reviews?

Answer: Yes, please visit trustlink.org to check out what our clients have to say about us.

 

Question: I’m in a hurry to get a mortgage; can you help me improve my credit in 30 days?

Answer: Unfortunately, the answer is NO. We are using consumer protection laws and drafting audit and verification disputes which take time and often a lot of persistence to achieve results. Most of our clients see the majority of their progress within the first 90-180 days, but in some cases it may take even longer depending on your situation. If you are trying to get a home loan within the next 30 days, it is unlikely you will see major changes that are enough to impact the loan you are applying for.

 

Question: Do you offer a discount if my spouse or friend enrolls with me?

Answer: Yes, we do offer a discount on the monthly fee if another person enrolls with you.

 

Question: Do you dispute with the credit bureaus or do you dispute with the creditors?

Answer: Both! Unlike most “credit repair” companies, we go above and beyond by not only disputing items with the 3 major credit bureaus, we do direct creditor interventions with creditors and debt collection agencies which often yields for better results.

 

 

Credit Assistance Network’s Accreditation’s

Accreditation’s

Of all of our accreditation’s we are most proud of the BBB, Trustlink, Chamber of Commerce and NACSO.

 

B.B.B.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gathers and archives information it receives about businesses, both locally and nationally. The BBB’s purpose is to collect information on business reliability, alert the public to fraud, provide information on ethical business practices and act as a mutually trusted intermediary between consumers and businesses to resolve disputes. We have been accredited members of the Better Business Bureau for over seven years and have maintained an “A+” rating.

 

View our BBB Report or learn more about the BBB rating system.

Trust Link

Trust Link is a BBB program that assists businesses and consumers in building trusted relationships in an online community. Trust Link links up the widely known and trusted BBB Reliability Report.  It allows consumers to post reviews on companies and have a 1-5 star rating system. Learn More

 

 

Chamber of Commerce

Founded in 1929, the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce serves the Town of Palm Beach through its representation of the business community and all who work towards a prosperous, healthy and happy town. Business and professional people work together with the Chamber to ensure that the best interests of the community, coupled with the most ethical standards of work and employment, are held to the highest level. Civic-minded individuals work in a variety of fields, support numerous charitable endeavors and encourage the development of leadership for future generations.

 

N.A.C.S.O.  

The National Association of Credit Services Organization advocates industry standards and ethical business practices for the credit repair industry. Founded in 2007, NACSO services streamline the industry through their Standards of Excellence seal. NACSO members promote compliance throughout the industry on national levels. National Association of Credit Services Organization members go through a certification enrollment process to aid in the prevention of fraudulent activity throughout the credit services industry. NACSO’s Standards of Excellence go further than the Credit Repair Organizations Act and touches on items essential to the honest growth of this industry.

 

Before a company is approved by the National Association of Credit Services Organizations, it must meet the following requirements:

 

  • Provide information and background on company and its officers.
  • Not have multiple unexplained complaints through miscellaneous resources.
  • Adhere to guidelines set forth by appropriate governing agencies.
  • Submission of website, advertising materials, contracts and sales scripts for compliance and deceptive advertising review.
  • Not use any deceptive advertising or make false claims.
  • Not have any current legal or government actions against them that demonstrate a significant failure of the company to support the standards and principles of NACSO.  NACSO can rescind membership to an existing member if it proves they are not acting within the scope of NACSO “Standards of Excellence”.
  • Have complete and conformed integrity and support the standards and principles of NACSO.
  • Not engage in any activity that would compromise status with NACSO.
  • Provide adequate client support options, including support phone numbers and/or email addresses.
  • Been in business for at least six months. Businesses under six months can qualify for a provisional membership.

 

 

Reputation

What sets us apart from the competition is our reputation. The majority of “Credit Repair” companies have horrible reputations, reviews and ratings; we are different. The reason for our great reputation is because we are honest and realistic with our clients. Our service is not a miracle cure and we like to under-promise and over-deliver.

 

Call: (800) 811-3078 for a free no obligation credit repair consultation

Why Does Credit Repair Work

Why it works

Keep in mind; the credit bureaus are privately owned corporations that make Billions of dollars annually (that’s right BILLIONS)! They make these billions of dollars by selling sensitive consumer data and credit scores. They collect and sell our personal information to lender’s, insurance companies, employers, marketing and credit card companies and they even sell it back to us “the consumers” in the form of credit reports and scores.

Unfortunately, they make mistakes. Lots of mistakes!  We have reviewed tens of thousands of credit reports in my years of doing this and we can assure you that it is extremely rare to see a completely accurate credit report.

It’s not just the credit bureaus causing these problems:

 

  • Debt collectors and creditors regularly cause significant problems to credit files and all of these mistakes affect people in almost every aspect of their lives.

 

  • It affects your ability to buy homes, automobiles and insurance. Credit can determine eligibility to get a job, or funding for their business. Low scores or problems on credit reports increase the cost of living due to high rates on credit cards and just about anything we want to finance.

Luckily there are laws to protect you including the FCRA, FDCPA, TILA, FACTA, HIPAA and many more. The laws are on the consumer’s side and any consumer can do this on their own, or they can hire a company like us as a convenience to do it for them, correctly!

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

 

Fair Debt Collection
If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or are paying on a home mortgage, you are a “debtor.” If you fall behind in repaying your creditors, or an error is made on your accounts, you may be contacted by a “debt collector.”

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not erase any legitimate debt you owe.

What debts are covered?
Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts.

Who is a debt collector?
A debt collector is any person who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.

How may a debt collector contact you?
A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.

Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.

May a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt?
If you have an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.

What must the debt collector tell you about the debt?
Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?
A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.

What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?
Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.

For example, debt collectors may not:
· use threats of violence or harm;
· publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
· use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

False statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
· falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
· falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
· falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
· misrepresent the amount of your debt;
· indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or
· indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.

Debt collectors also may not state that:
· you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
· they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or
· actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action

Debt collectors may not:
· give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;
· send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
· use a false name.

Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt.
For example, collectors may not:
· collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge;
· deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
· use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
· take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; or
· contact you by postcard.

What control do you have over payment of debts?
If you owe more than one debt, any payment you make must be applied to the debt you indicate. A debt collector may not apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.

What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?
You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney’ s fees also can be recovered. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’ s net worth, whichever is less.

Where can you report a debt collector for an alleged violation?
Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’ s office and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws, and your Attorney General’ s office can help you determine your rights.