Credit reports (actually, the credit monitoring services that you are automatically signed up for when requesting a report) are big business.

Many people are scared into thinking that they need to sign up for credit monitoring and notification, and presto – a nice, recurring monthly income stream for Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax.

So, be an informed consumer and request your (truly) free credit report once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com.  It was created by the three main credit reporting agencies, and will give you tons of important information.

Again, this IS NOT THE SAME as many other websites out there that promise a free credit report, but try to get you to sign up for credit-monitoring services that wind up costing you money for a monthly “monitoring subscription”.

Please note that this site does not give you a credit score, but it does give you all of the details about your credit.  Do it now while it is fresh in your mind.

Here is the site:
https://www.annualcreditreport.com

Directions:
1.  As of early 2010 when this post was written, there was a picture/box in the top left of the screen with “START HERE” in big red letters.  Simply choose your state from the list, and click on “Request Report”.

2.  Fill out the information in the screen that comes up next, and follow along with the process.

3. INSIDER TIP – request your first no-charge report from Transunion, as they give you the most information of the three credit bureaus.

Regardless of whether you want to chat further with us about your debt relief options, I HIGHLY recommend that you get a copy of your credit report so you can arm yourself with accurate information so people can’t play on your fear and take advantage of you.

By the way, we’ve looked at thousands of credit reports (literally) in all of our years in the finance and debt industries, so if you have any questions, post them below, or give us a call or email!


Thanks,

Greg

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What Does The CARD Act of 2009 Do?

by Greg on February 27, 2010

This “consumer-friendly” Act was all over the news recently, so I know you’ve heard about it.

The question is…did you really pay attention to what it does?  Or did your eyes glaze over (like mine did) when you started trying to wade through all the fine print at the Federal Reserve Bank’s Website?

Please feel free to visit that site for the “official” information on the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (although some people call it “The CARD Act of 2010″ because it took effect on February 22, 2010.)

But, if you want a quick summary of the most important parts of this bill, simply read below:

  • Your credit card company must notify you 45 days before they can increase your interest rate, change certain fees, or make other “significant changes”
  • With a few exceptions, they cannot increase your rate for the first 12 months (introductory rates can still be offered, but they have to last at least 6 months)
  • Only your new charges are subject to higher interest rates (this is big)
  • More oversight for consumers under age 21.  I wish this would have been in place back when I got my first credit card on my college campus the day after I turned 18!
  • Payment dates, times, and length of time to pay are more standardized
  • Any additional amounts over your minimum, or extra payments you make must be applied to your highest rate balances first.

Now, for the very top, most important thing that comes out of this Act:

They must show you, in very plain, easy-to-understand language, exactly how long it will take to pay off your balance.


Graphic showing requirement for credit card companies to tell you how long it will take to pay off your balance

Sample of Information Your Bank Is Required To Tell You


This is a huge win for all of us consumers, as even the busiest or lease financially savvy among us can instantly “get it”…and more importantly, start doing something about it.

Please, please, please take note of the time required to pay off your balance if you make only the minimum payment (11 years in the sample above).  This isn’t hype – this is the law the credit card companies must follow.  11 years to pay off a $3,000 balance, wasting $1,745 in interest?  Unbelievable!

Once you pick your jaw up off the floor, give us a call or email and we’ll tell you about the options available, and will prepare a no-obligation financial report customized to your exact situation.

I’d love to hear how long the bank said it will take to pay off your balances – please leave a comment below and let me know.  The highest verifiable length of time will get something special from us to cushion the blow.


Talk soon,

Greg

IMPORTANT NOTE: there are many exceptions to the items noted above (but we are all used to that with banks and credit card companies, right?!)  I wanted to compress a number of pages as much as I could in the hopes that more people would read this and take action on it instead of getting overwhelmed and just never getting to it.  For more detail, exceptions, etc., I encourage you to visit the Federal Reserve link above.

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Credit Counseling FAQ: Do I Stop Paying My Creditors On A Credit Counseling Program?

February 19, 2010

This is an excellent question and is usually asked because someone like you has been “pitched” on Debt Settlement rather than Credit Counseling (aka “Debt Management”).
In a Debt Settlement program, your monthly payments are re-directed into an escrow account (which you have full control of), rather than going toward your creditors.
However, in a Credit [...]

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Credit Counseling FAQ: Will Credit Counseling Hurt My Credit Score?

January 11, 2010

This is a common question, and comes up all the time because in the past, it was true.  However, that changed a while back, and this change was mostly “under the radar.”
After all, if it was publicized, people would be more likely to enter into credit counseling/debt management programs…and the banks wouldn’t keep collecting [...]

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