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Getting A Plan For Getting Out Of Debt September 29, 2011

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Once your credit has been damaged, it takes a plan of action to get it back on track again. Two important steps: 1. Enlisting the help of a professional NACSO Certified credit restoration service like CredZoo and 2. Get a plan for paying down your personal debt. So, here’s some help with both! First, contact CredZoo for your FREE Credit Consultation 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.

Second, order your debts from highest interest rate to lowest. You may find credit cards at the top of the list. It’s typical to see interest rates from 10% to 20% or more. Credit cards offered by stores often have the highest interest rates, so you might find these at the very top. Watch out for promotional rates ending, which they may do on the date promised when you enrolled, or earlier. Order your list from the highest interest rate (after tax) to the lowest. Pay the minimum to all debts every month. If you’re writing down your list, or using a spreadsheet like Excel, add a column next to each debt to list its minimum monthly payment. This is the amount you will pay towards each debt, except for the one account listed at the top of the list. To your debt with the highest interest, send all extra available cash.

Since it’s unlikely that you can earn more in savings than you can “earn” (reclaim) by paying off your debt, all your unused income after paying expenses (necessary and discretionary as you see fit) should be dedicated towards the debt account with the highest interest rate. Sounds simple, right? But sticking to it can be tricky. Make sure to repeat this each month – and keep yourself motivated to stay on the right track. Here’s a little interactive tool to calculate when you’ll be debt free: Getting Out Of Debt / Debt Reduction Calculator

 

Start Planning NOW For Holiday Spending September 9, 2011

Posted by CredZoo - Tame Your Credit in New Credit Information, Tips For Good Credit.
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It sounds crazy, right? Starting in August or September to plan for things you won’t buy for months? But these days with pennies being pinched as tight as they are, planning ahead is the best thing you can do! Listen to financial expert Mike Brescione and get some expert advice to help you prepare for the most wonderful, and expensive, time of the year!

Click on this link for the video:
http://www.ksee24.com/v/?i=128243983

What does the U.S. credit rating mean for me? August 11, 2011

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by Wes Moss – Certified Financial Planner & Blogger For The AJC (All Rights Reserved)

Last Friday night the Standard & Poor’s credit rating service lowered the U.S. government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. This means there are about 18 other countries with a higher credit rating than the U.S., including France, Switzerland, Austria and the United Kingdom.

For decades the U.S. has not only been AAA-rated, it’s been considered the highest-rated of the AAA countries. Now, from a credit rating perspective, we lag behind countries like the UK and France, which have their own set of financial problems.

Here’s what all this means from a practical point of view. The U.S. has been like a household with a perfect 850 credit score. Now, because our “debt to available credit” limit is so high, our credit score has been cut. This means it may be a little tougher to borrow money, and those loans may come at higher interest rates.

What does this mean for you, the consumer?

Theoretically, it should mean higher interest rates for everything you need to finance. Because if a near-perfect borrower like the federal government, which has its own money printing press and the ability to boost revenue by raising taxes, will be charged higher interest rates, every other borrower in the world is going to see its rates jump too — from corporations to city governments to credit card users. But that’s not a certain outcome. Japan’s credit rating was lowered from AAA in 1998, and its interest rates are lower today than before the downgrade.

What about the stock market?

There are two recent examples I can point to — Japan and Canada. When Japan lost its perfect credit rating, its market was up 15 percent a year later. Canada was downgraded in1993, and its stock market was up 25 percent a year later.

What about our government?

S&P made it clear that the bickering and last-minute deal-making between the political parties in Washington was one reason for the downgrade. The other reason: spending cuts were not deep enough and revenue increases (i.e. tax hikes) were not included in the deal.

This means that the conversation about balancing the federal budget is just beginning. Both Democrats and Republicans must give up more ground in this debate. That means deeper spending reductions and changes in the tax code in the coming years. After being stripped of its AAA rating in 1993, Canada was fully restored to AAA by 2002 thanks to steep budget cuts and increases in tax revenue. The country is now considered to have the best credit in the world.

The S&P downgrade is troubling news, and financial markets today will undoubtedly be extremely volatile. It also doesn’t help that last week the Dow lost nearly 700 points. But after the initial shock, the market will at some point return to focusing on the fundamentals of what companies earn. And, based on the August earnings reports, those are hovering near an all-time high.

Every Credit Score Is Not Created The Same July 28, 2011

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By Sandra Block, USA TODAY

If you spend any time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen ads for “free” credit scores. They usually appear alongside ads promising to make your belly fat disappear.

There are two problems with these promotions. First, you usually have to sign up for credit monitoring, identity theft protection or some other service to get your credit score. These products cost anywhere from $15 to $18 a month.

But even more troubling, these scores could give you a distorted view of your credit standing, according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s because these credit scores usually aren’t the same scores lenders use when they consider your application for a loan, the CFPB said. Credit scores marketed to consumers who order their credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com could also mislead consumers, the report said.

While consumers are often reminded of the importance of a good credit score, there are lots of different credit scores circulating in the marketplace. Some credit scores sold to consumers by the big three credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — are “educational” scores that aren’t used by lenders, the CFPB says. The score you buy may be based on different information than the one used to consider your application for a car loan or home mortgage. Another possibility: The information used to calculate your score could change between the time you buy a score and the time you apply for a loan.

The discrepancy isn’t a problem for consumers with stellar credit, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com. “If you’ve got fantastic credit, you’re going to have a fantastic score regardless of what score is being used,” he says. Similarly, if your score is abysmal, there’s not going to be much difference between the score you buy and the one lenders see.

Most consumers, though, fall between those two extremes, Ulzheimer says. Here’s how differences between the score you have and the one your lenders use could cost you money:

•If the score leads you to believe your credit is worse than it is, you could end up settling for higher interest rates than you’re eligible for, or decide not to apply for credit at all.

•If the score causes you to feel overconfident about your credit, you could waste time and money applying for loans that won’t be approved. You could even end up in worse shape, because when you apply for a loan, inquiries from creditors show up on your credit report. Multiple inquiries could dent your score.

Knowing the score

Fortunately, starting this month, millions of consumers will get a look at the credit scores lenders use. A provision of the financial reform bill that took effect Thursday requires lenders to provide you with a free copy of your credit score whenever they turn you down for a loan or approve a loan with a higher interest rate than the one offered to their best customers.

Lenders must give you the score used to make a determination on your loan, not a generic or educational version. They’re also required to explain the factors that affected your score and show where it falls on the range of possible credit scores.

This is useful information, but it won’t help consumers who want to know where they stand before they apply for a loan. How to get a more accurate idea of what your lenders will see:

•Order your free credit reports. While scores differ, they’re all based on information from your credit reports. So at the very least you should check your credit reports to make sure the information in them is accurate.

You can get an annual copy of each of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Information on your credit report can affect everything from your car insurance premiums to whether you get a job. Only 38% of consumers have obtained a copy of their credit report, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

•If you decide to buy a score, buy a FICO score. There are lots of credit scores out there, but the FICO score is the one the vast majority of lenders use. You can purchase a FICO score based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports for $19.95 each at MyFICO.com.

FICO scores based on Experian credit reports are not available to consumers.

•Use free scores to give you a general idea of where you stand. Websites Credit Karma, Quizzle, Credit Sesame and Credit.com provide free, no-obligation credit profiles.

This isn’t the same as a FICO score, but you’ll get a general idea of whether you’re an excellent, average or poor credit risk.

Free Credit Score July 21, 2011

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Feds expand free credit score rules / By Janna Herron • Bankrate.com

The government’s new credit score disclosure rules mean more consumers will get a free peek at their credit scores starting July 21, 2011.

Under final rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Reserve Board to reflect the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, creditors must disclose the credit score used and additional information related to the score if the consumer receives less-than-favorable loan terms as an applicant or existing customer. Consumers who are denied credit because of their score also receive the score and the additional information.

In most cases, terms refer to the annual percentage rate, or APR, says Rebecca Kuehn, assistant director in the Federal Trade Commission’s division of privacy and identity protection. If there is no APR, the next most significant term affected by the credit score applies, she says.

So what can consumers expect to see in the credit score disclosure? Besides the score, it will include the range of possible credit scores under the model, four key factors that hurt the score — the number of inquiries can be added as a fifth factor — the date the score was created and the reporting agency that provided it.

“In a world where credit requirements are tightening and more people are likely to be denied, the credit score disclosure will have a bigger impact for consumers,” Kuehn says.

Expansion of existing rules

Since Jan. 1, 2011, creditors have been required to provide a more general risk-based pricing notice to consumers who were extended credit on worse terms than other consumers, or a credit score disclosure notice to every applicant. Creditors supplied an adverse action notice if consumers were denied credit or experienced unfavorable changes to an existing account. Neither the risk-based pricing nor adverse action notice included a credit score. Only the credit score disclosure contained the actual score.

“The credit score is what people are most interested in,” says Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel for regulatory compliance at the American Bankers Association.

Feddis points out that many lenders already send out credit scores and disclosures to every consumer to comply with the old risk-based pricing rules. It was easier (and cheaper) than parsing out who should receive a notice.

The scores could cause confusion among consumers since there are many scoring models available, and the credit reporting agencies often don’t have access to the models, says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at Experian. She recommends that consumers focus on where they fall in the range of risk rather than on the number.

“We worry consumers will be confused and frustrated by that because they will have expectations that we will know specifically about their score,” Sweet says.

Still, it’s a starting point.

“It will prompt consumers to get a copy of their credit report, address any errors or learn how their own financial behaviors affect their ability to get credit and the price they pay for it,” Kuehn says.

When to expect a free credit score

Click here to see a chart showing you when to expect a credit score disclosure

New Rules For Good Credit July 18, 2011

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Remember those long-standing guidelines like closing old credit card accounts, never maxing out cards and asking for lower interest rates? Well, according to MSN Money, you can forget them now.

The rules that credit card companies have to live by changed dramatically with the enactment of new regulations in 2010. Now some of the rules for consumers striving to maintain good credit are changing, too.

For the most part, cardholders would still do well to pay on time, keep their balances low and refrain from applying for too many credit cards at once. But some of the old guidelines may not always hold up, as credit card companies continue to adapt to the new environment and look for ways to run their for-profit businesses.

With the help of some easy — if often counterintuitive — steps, you can improve and retain healthy credit scores even in today’s credit environment. Here are five:

1. Open more credit cards

For years, experts warned that opening new credit cards hurts your credit score — not to mention enabling you to run up huge debts. That’s still true: The length of your credit history and new credit make up 15% and 10%, respectively, of FICO scores. But with credit issuers lowering credit limits left and right these days, having too few credit cards puts a much more important credit-score component at risk: credit utilization, or how much of your available credit you’re using. Credit utilization makes up 30% of your score.

2. Max out (some of) your credit cards

A quirk of credit score math makes it advantageous to max out certain cards. How? It’s a matter of what the issuer tells the credit bureaus.

Some types of cards don’t report credit limits to the credit bureaus. They include all charge cards from American Express and some high-end credit cards that are marketed as having no preset spending limit, such Visa Signature and MasterCard World. (These cards have credit limits, but cardholders can exceed them and must pay off the excess in full on the next bill.)

3. Don’t ask for a lower APR

In the old days, consumers were encouraged to call their credit card companies and ask for lower interest rates. “There really wasn’t a downside to doing that,” says Gerri Detweiler, an adviser with Credit.com.

“These days, if you call, you may trigger an account review.” Should that happen, and the credit issuer not like what it sees, it may cut your credit limit or actually hike your interest rate. This is where having multiple credit cards may come in handy, Detweiler says. “Don’t make that call unless you have a backup card where you could transfer that balance.”

4. Closed a card? Don’t pay it off

Under the old rules, interest-rate hikes applied to both your existing balance and future purchases. Since the Credit CARD Act went to effect, lenders have been limited to applying rate increases only on balances going forward. That said, if you closed an account before the law took effect to opt out of a rate hike – or have closed one since — you may not want to rush to pay off every last penny of the balance.

In a little-known quirk, FICO counts the credit limits of closed accounts toward utilization ratios only as long as there’s a balance on that account.

(From MSN Money)

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

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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

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 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

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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

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 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!