jump to navigation

Tighter Lending Hurts Housing July 7, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

From The WSJ

The percentage of mortgage applications rejected by the nation’s largest lenders increased last year, spotlighting how banks’ cautious lending practices are hampering the nascent housing market recovery.  In all, the nation’s 10 largest mortgage lenders denied 26.8% of loan applications in 2010, an increase from 23.5% in 2009, according to an analysis by The Wall Street
Journal of mortgage data filed with banking regulators.  Although lenders were expected to pull back from the freewheeling conditions that helped inflate the housing bubble, some economists argue they are now too conservative, and say that with the US economy still wobbly, mortgages need to be easier to obtain for qualified borrowers, not harder.  “As the noose on credit availability tightens, credit is being choked off at a time when the housing market is extremely fragile,” says Laurie Goodman, senior managing director at Amherst Securities Group LP.

Christopher Thornberg, a housing economist at Beacon Economics in Los Angeles, counters that “banks are doing what they need to do” to change lending standards in the wake of a “crazy bubble.”  He adds, “You had decades where credit standards were tougher than they are even now.”

Among the would-be borrowers having a harder time are those who have seen their incomes fall or interrupted by a period of unemployment, scenarios that have become increasingly common in recent years. Some self-employed applicants are also hitting barriers to loans—hurdles they didn’t face in the past. Lending standards are still tight in part because government entities
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, which collectively account for more than nine in 10 loans being made today, are under heavy pressure to avoid any losses.  Those firms don’t make loans directly but instead purchase or guarantee mortgages that meet their standards, and so have significant influence over which loans banks are willing to approve.

Advertisements

5 Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft While On Vacation June 8, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Contributed By: Kai Todd in: Identity Theft

The threat of identity theft never goes away — even on vacation. This year while taking time to relax, remember to follow these identity theft tips to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you get back home.

Tip #1 — Stop Your Mail

Thieves love your mail. Finding mailboxes stuffed while homeowners are away vacationing is like a dream come true for identity thieves. With the information found in your mailbox from everything from bills to credit card offers, thieves can piece together enough info about you to steal your identity.

Your first step to avoid identity theft while you’re on vacation is to have a neighbor pick up your mail or put a ‘stop’ on it at your post office.

Tip #2 — Beware of WiFi Hotspots

Most people take along a laptop while on vacation either to spend some leisurely time surfing the net or to keep in touch with family while they’re away from home. But before you go online, you need to be aware that most WiFi hotspots are unsecured and unencrypted. This means that others can see what you’re doing online. Go online only if you’re sure your connection is protected.

Tip #3 — Choose Your ATMs Carefully

Vacationers are carefree and having fun — the way they should be. Thieves know this and take the opportunity to steal your money or identity while you’re distracted. One of the most common places they do this is at ATMs.

You’re distracted. The kids see something fun they want to do. You run to the nearest ATM to get some money. This convenient ATMs are where thieves plant skimmers that can steal your information in a matter of seconds.

To avoid this from happening, go to ATMs at banks or credit unions. These ATMs are monitored and safer than those found in shopping malls or convenience stores.

Tip #4 — Take Stock of Your Wallet

In the event that you lose your wallet or purse or is stolen, the first thing a thief is going to go for is your personal information. Before you leave home make a copy of everything you keep in your purse or wallet: credit cards, social security card, driver’s license, insurance card, etc.

This way, if you do lose your information, you know exactly what you’ve lost and can cancel all cards immediately.

Remember it’s never smart to carry your social security card in your wallet. Leave it locked up at home. If you’re traveling with a spouse, it’s best if you each have a credit card. If one card is disabled or damaged, you’ll still have access to credit.

Tip #5 — Don’t Be to Sociable

Everybody is on some social network or another these days. You might be excited about leaving for vacation, but don’t post it on Facebook, MySpace or any other networking site. Thieves troll these areas to see when people are away from home and possibly break into their home while they’re away.

Vacationing should be a fun time — not a time spent worrying about theft. By following these tips, you’ll be able to relax knowing you’ve done your best to prevent identity theft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not For Profit June 2, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in About CredZoo.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 If you take a look back at our last blog, we talked about why we often use the phrase “It’s A Jungle Out There.” Sometimes it feels like wherever there is a need, there is also a person or a company looking to exploit it. (We’re not always cynical…just cautious) Would you even believe it if we told you there was a company that existed today, that could help you restore your good credit that was a member in good standing of The National Association of Credit Services Organizations and was a NON-PROFIT organization?

  Believe it.

   CredZoo is a 501C3 organization. While a 501C3 is generally thought of as a charitable organization, our mission is to help people with bad credit through our unique and effective credit restoration process. We care about our clients more than profits. Nothing is more important to CredZoo than your credit goals. CredZoo cares about getting results for our customers!

 We are so confident in our ability to help you, that we challenge you to put us to work for you. If you’re serious about discussing ways you can improve your credit score, we’re here to help. Our credit specialists are experienced, friendly, and will help you determine the best course of action to achieve your goals — all at no obligation or cost to you. Call us for your free consultation at 888-881-5333.

“It’s A Jungle Out There” May 19, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in About CredZoo.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Have you ever wondered why CredZoo uses the line, “It’s A Jungle Out There” when referring to the world of credit and credit repair? Well do a quick search on google and you’ll find out! People with bad credit are top targets for people and organizations looking to take advantage of someone in a tight spot, with limited (reliable) options. Search for ‘loans for people with bad credit‘ and you get over 25,000,000 results; everything from ‘bad credit daddy’ to ‘snappy money’ promising instant loan processing, no credit checks and unsecured loans with the highest approval rates. Does it sound too good to be true?

    It is! Rooting around through these 25,000,000 websites, trying to find a reputable company to help you repair and restore your credit so you can get a real, reliable loan is exactly why CredZoo says: “It’s A Jungle Out There!” If you’re serious about discussing ways you can improve your credit score, we’re here to help. Our credit specialists are experienced, friendly, and will help you determine the best course of action to achieve your goals — all at no obligation or cost to you. Call us for your free consultation at 888-881-5333.

The WORST Credit Cards May 12, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 To identify the world’s worst credit cards, MSN Money writer Liz Pulliam Weston consulted with three of the countries top experts: Curtis Arnold of CardRatings.com, Justin McHenry of Index Credit Cards and Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com

Their top nominations for the the WORST credit cards are….drumroll please….

  • Macy’s Card

Cards offered by retailers and specialty stores are usually a bad deal, but Macy’s still manages to stand out.

“Almost without fail, (retail) cards charge exorbitant interest rates. The worst offender I know of is the Macy’s credit card, with its 23.99% interest rate,” McHenry said, “but cards from J.C. Penney, American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Brooks Brothers, J. Crew and Dillard’s all come in at rates over 20%.”

Many people apply for retail cards to get a discount on their purchases, typically 10% to 20% off. But you can often get the same benefits and a better overall deal by applying for a store card that’s affiliated with a major credit card brand.

“If you really want a store credit card, try to get a store card associated with Visa, MasterCard or American Express — those cards generally have interest rates lower than the store-only credit cards,” McHenry said. “For example, I just got a Banana Republic Visa with an interest rate of 14.24%. Compare that to Banana Republic’s store-only card, which charges a rate of 21.9%.”

  • Money Return Platinum Plus Visa from Bank of America

If you pay your balance in full, cards that offer cash rebates are usually a terrific deal… Not this one.

Oh, the terms look sweet at first: no annual fee, 0% for six months on balance transfers and a whopping 10% cash rebate.

You get the 10% cash back, however, only if you carry a balance. And the annual percentage rate for carrying a balance ranges from 9.99% to 19.99%.

“So you pay up to almost a 20% APR to earn (back) only 10% of your interest that you pay out of your pocket,” said Arnold, of CardRatings.com. “Doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that this is a lose-lose proposition.”

You can read more of Liz’s findings on her money basics blog, here!

Debt Collection Rules Tighten May 9, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

By Russell Grantham

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Last month, Hattie McKinney sued a collection agency that she said had been calling her Powder Springs home for nearly a year over a $300-plus cellphone bill that she disputes.

“They kept calling me and calling me, about 20 times a day,” said McKinney. “It kept me a nervous wreck.”

Finally, the 69-year-old woman sued the Minnesota-based agency, alleging violations of a federal law that bars collection companies from using harassing calls and other bare-knuckled dunning practices.

If she wins in the federal district court in Atlanta, she could collect at least $1,000 in damages, plus legal costs.

Meanwhile, the calls have stopped. That was “the best thing,” said McKinney.

Thirty-three years after the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was penned, skirmishes between debtors and collectors are being played out more than ever across the nation.

Consumer complaints about debt collectors rose 17 percent last year to 140,036, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency with primary responsibility for enforcing the law. The number of grievances have tripled since 2002, and are the most common gripe the agency hears, accounting for 27 percent of all complaints.

While the federal Fair Debt Collection law isn’t intended to block firms from collecting legitimate debts, it does aim to stop abusive practices, such as using harassment, lies or intimidation to bully people into paying.

This summer, debt collectors could come under even more scrutiny as a new agency joins the Federal Trade Commission in investigating complaints of violations.

Starting July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be looking into complaints about errant bill collectors. The federal watchdog agency was created by a law enacted last year.

“The agency will have all kinds of power to set rules,” said Emory Clark, managing partner at bankruptcy law firm Clark & Washington in Atlanta. The FTC can investigate complaints, but can’t write rules to address new technology, such as cellphones, e-mail and voice mail. Those conveniences allow collectors to communicate more easily with debtors and create more potential for abuses and violations.

The new bureau will have authority not only to write new rules on how debt collectors deal with consumers, but to hear and resolve complaints, said Valerie Hayes, general counsel for ACA International, a trade group representing about 5,000 debt collectors, attorneys and investors in the debt collection business.

“The collection industry is going to have two regulators,” she said.

Struggle on both sides

The new agency will be stepping in at a time when both debt collectors and their quarry have been facing some tough years recently.

Collection calls and complaints have soared for a variety of reasons, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into bigger collections, say consumer lawyers, the FTC and players in the collection industry.

Credit card companies, hospitals, cellphone companies and other creditors have increasingly sold their delinquent debts to outside firms rather than using their in-house staffs to collect old debts.

With that, debt-collection activity rose as more companies got into the collection business. Computer software made it easier for even small firms to pursue payment of old, charged-off bills that they often bought for pennies on the dollar.

At face value, collectors bought $110 billion worth of debt in 2005 — 90 percent from credit card companies, according to ACA International. In 2007, they recovered $6 billion on such debt.

But in the wake of the recession and financial crisis of three years ago, both debt collectors and consumers have struggled, and the debt market has stagnated.

The biggest factor driving growing complaints, say some, is increased desperation of both debtors and collectors.

“A lot more people are having to confront collectors,” said Kris Skaar, with Decatur law firm Skaar & Feagle. “Plus, people are much more aware of their rights because of the media and the Internet.”

Firms are chasing people who often have lost their jobs and have little money to repay old debts, said Clark. For now, he added, “the collection business is not all that good.”

The pressure on firms may, in turn, be driving some collectors and their employees to cross the line when calling debtors, he said.

Hayes, with ACA International, disagrees. Collectors need debtors’ cooperation, she said. “It isn’t in the debt collectors’ interest to bend those rules,” she said.

What’s at stake

Meanwhile, the stakes of the battle between debtors and collectors are rising.

In March, a Marietta collections firm reached a $2.8 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, one of the commission’s largest enforcement actions ever against a debt collection agency. The firm, West Asset Management, didn’t admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but agreed to extra monitoring and other measures for five years. A West Asset spokesman declined additional comment.

FTC said in court filings that the firm’s debt collection practices “generated thousands of complaints” with the FTC, Better Business Bureau, state regulators and the company.

The agency said the company, which employs about 1,500 debt collectors in 13 states and overseas, made repeated, harassing phone calls, often using obscene language; falsely claimed to be a law firm; and falsely threatened debtors with lawsuits, property seizure and arrest.

The company sometimes tapped debtors’ bank accounts and credit cards without their permission and ignored its own internal program that identified employees who were violating the law, the FTC said.

West Asset Management, which provides debt collection services for hospitals, telephone companies, consumer credit firms, government agencies and other clients, must send written notices to debtors, spelling out their rights under the federal law. It also will require its employees to sign notices acknowledging their duties and potential liabilities under the law.

The firm’s parent company, Omaha-based West Corp., reported a $34.6 million profit in the first quarter but also said its net worth is negative $2.5 billion.

In a filing earlier this month to the Securities and Exchange Commission about a planned initial public stock offering, West Corp. disclosed the FTC’s enforcement action, but not the $2.8 million civil penalty.

Why Check Your Credit Report? And How? May 4, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in About CredZoo, Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. Some financial advisers and consumer advocates, like CredZoo, suggest that you review your credit report periodically. Why?

* Because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money.

* To make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.

* To help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.

How to Order Your Free Report

The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can use the form in this brochure, or you can print it from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two. The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

Obtaining your free credit reports for CredZoo professionals to review is the first step to improving your credit score! You begin by forwarding copies of your credit reports to us from all three of the major credit bureaus. Keep in mind that a recent law which aids in resolving inaccuracies of credit reports, forces the credit bureaus to correspond only with you, not your credit repair firm. Learn more about CredZoo’s credit restoration services right now by clicking here!

(Official Information Courtesy Of The Federal Trade Commission)

The Role Of Debt April 25, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The final installment – Part VI in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: The Role Of Debt

Today, carrying installment debt is almost a fact of life. Mortgages, car loans, or small-business loans (to name a few) are part of almost everyone’s life. On the other hand, carrying credit card debt is usually not a good idea. At interest rates of 16% and up, it’s hard to justify keeping savings that could pay off that 18% department-store credit card in the bank at 2%.

Debt and credit play increasingly important roles in our lives. As the aging Baby Boomers get closer to their peak earning years, many are realizing the need to reduce debt and increase savings. Even though analyzing your spending habits and creating a budget to address your debt may seem a little overwhelming, the simplicity of the philosophy of the Depression era still stands: Never spend more than you earn. Once you have come to grips with this basic fact, managing your debt will become far easier and more rewarding.

Summary

  • Installment debt means the loan is paid off in a specified period of time by making predetermined payments periodically.
  • Revolving credit is a line of credit that is instantly available through use of a credit card (and sometimes a check).
  • As you pay down your debt in a revolving line of credit, the minimum payment is also reduced, thus extending your payoff period and, consequently, the interest you pay.
  • Spending more than you earn in any given period is a dangerous practice at best, but doing it over an extended period of time can be financial suicide.
Thanks to Yahoo! Finance

Eliminating Credit Card Debt April 19, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Part V in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: Eliminating Credit Card Debt

If you think you may have too much credit card debt, begin to address it by honestly evaluating your spending habits. Examine your existing expenses to analyze how your money is spent. You will most likely be able to identify the problem areas where you are more likely to spend too much or too readily with credit cards. Then, based on your current spending practices, create a realistic budget to pay off your credit card debt in the shortest time possible while not adding any more debt to it. For assistance, you may want to turn to your financial advisor, who can help you to allocate your resources wisely to address your credit card debt.

Here are a few simple steps to help you make a plan to eliminate credit card debt:

  1. First, list each of your credit cards. You’ll want to include the outstanding balance, interest rate, and minimum payment. This information can easily be found on your last monthly statement.
  2. Order the cards on the list so that the credit card with the highest interest rate is at the top, and the lowest is at the bottom.
  3. Total the minimum payments.
  4. The total monthly minimum is your absolute lowest monthly payment, but remember, we want to pay more than the minimum in order to repay the debt quickly. So, take a look at your budget and see how much extra you can come up with each month in addition to the minimum. Whether it’s an extra $20 a month or $100, every little bit helps.
  5. As your payments come due, pay the minimum on each card except for the one at the top of your list. Remember, that one has the highest interest rate and it costing you the most money by maintaining a balance. So whatever additional money you budgeted in the previous step, apply that to that card.
  6. Continue this process until the first card is paid off. When that card is paid off, continue with the minimum payments on the other cards, but now take the amount you were paying on the first card in addition to the minimum payment and apply it to the second card on your list.
  7. Repeat this process until all cards are paid off.

Using Credit Wisely April 14, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in About CredZoo, Tips For Good Credit.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Part IV in our “How to Manage Debt & Credit” posts: Using Credit Wisely

To use credit intelligently, start by examining the terms of the card(s) you are currently using. Keeping track of your cards, their rates, and your current balances will help you to be aware of how you use credit cards. Increased competition in recent years has led some credit card companies to offer enticing features to attract new cardholders, including no annual fees and low interest rates for an introductory period. (And credit card companies sometimes will give their introductory rates to existing cardholders so that they won’t transfer their balances to another credit card company.)

CredZoo has written a lot on this subject, and has much to offer about credit, using credit wisely and – of course – repairing credit!