Category Archives: Consumer Finance

What would you do with the worst car loan known to man?

A young professional recently learned he had one of the worst car loan deals in history when he found out some extensions on his loan pushed the loan maturity date farther into the future than he expected.

The companies who make loans when others might decline the buyer

When people have struggling credit, or are financing a vehicle with considerable negative equity (they owe more than their trade is worth) there might be fewer options for conventional financing. Alternatively, there are companies who will make the loans to people who otherwise might not be approved. Unfortunately for the buyer, the companies who make the higher risk loans are not always the most honest and ethical.

The fine print and details in the terms of car loans is confusing, especially the information about how interest is calculated and how much of the payments are applied to the principal balance of the loan. Too often people need the new vehicle so bad that they are willing to sign just about anything to get the deal done and the keys in their hands.

Here’s what to watch out for if you have a high-risk car loan:

  • When do you make your payments?

Your car loan servicing company to whom you make payments can tell you exactly when you are supposed to make your payment. If you make it early, you could run into fines if that makes the next payment not made early occur more than 30 days after the first payment. Sounds confusing? There are all kinds of deadlines and time frames to watch out for to make sure your payment is made and received on time and the most amount of money possible, if any, is applied to the principal loan balance.

  • Allowed payment skips adding payments later:

Beware of the option to skip a payment this month and add it to the end of the loan. When you do this, you may be paying fees and interest that totals to a large amount of money many times more than your monthly payment. People who found out the hard way expected their loan payoff date to be very different than what the loan servicer was then saying. The way they calculate interest when you extend your payments is what can cost you so much more money.

  • Dealing with foreign-owned loan companies:

Many people believe they will be able to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Better Business Bureau or a local attorney to help them with a problem they are having on a difficult car loan. If the company is foreign and not based in the U.S. you may have fewer options as to who can do something to help you. In some cases, you may be at the mercy of the foreign company who owns your car loan.

The young professional we mention at the beginning of this article encountered all the problems listed above and wonders if he is stuck paying a $20,000 car off to the point it becomes more than $40,000 worth of payments? How is that possible? It happens too often.

Bankruptcy may be an option if he wants to consider the impact of the bad car loan considering his entire financial picture. The bad deal might be an inconvenience, or it might be a deal breaker to the point a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy looks rather appealing.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

New Credit Reporting Rules: Many may find relief from reports of tax liens and civil judgments

New rules provide credit score relief for some people who have tax liens and civil money judgments against them. Errors on consumer credit reports have been a problem for a long time and many people have incorrect information on their credit reports. New credit reporting rules take effect July 1 and change the way Trans Union, Experian and Equifax verify data regarding the reporting of tax liens and civil judgments. Now, the three credit reporting agencies must verify the individual’s name, address and either social security number or date of birth. Since so many companies omit social security numbers for privacy concerns, there may be a large group of people who will no longer have tax liens and civil judgements appearing on their credit reports. This should also help prevent future instances of information appearing on the wrong person’s credit report.

The purpose of credit reporting and monitoring

From applying for a cell phone account or utility to buying a car or home, our credit rating is used to determine where we stand on the scale of credit risk. With great credit, we present a low risk of not making our payments in full and on time. The volume of credit data and computer systems processing and sharing information open the door to error. If we do not check our credit scores frequently, someone else’s negative information could prevent you from being accepted for a mortgage loan or a new credit card. Imagine finding out your credit score was damaged by another person’s tax lien or the civil judgement entered against them.

How errors happen and how prevalent they may be

With tax liens alone, some estimates suggest that half of the tax lien information reported to the credit bureaus has ended up appearing on the wrong person’s credit report. When social security numbers are available to the individuals reporting tax liens, one missed number could cause the wrong person to receive a negative mark on their credit report.

Even if someone checks their credit frequently, or pays a few bucks every month for a credit monitoring service, the effort it can take to correct the mistake can be staggering.

How the new rules apply to tax liens and civil judgments

The rule change for reporting information to the credit bureaus about tax liens and civil judgements will require the verification of three pieces of vital information, the individual’s name, address, and either their social security number or date of birth.

By requiring three sets of identifying criteria be matched before receiving credit reporting data about tax liens and civil judgments, the likelihood of mismatches is significantly reduced.

The new rules take effect July 1. This article in USA Today has more information about the new rules and how they might apply to you.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Tips on creating new rewards by playing the money saving game

Saving money is just as easy as spending money when you save a little at a time. Have you ever considered making a budget and thought you had more money to save until you realized that you spend more on gas, food and extras? Spending and saving money are simple habits that we develop. The same way we get in the habit of stopping for coffee on the way to work, we can just as easily get in the habit of making coffee at home and taking time to read the newspaper before leaving the house. There are many articles written on theories and plans for budgeting money. As you consider them, you may find something that speaks to you and makes sense. However, you decide to budget and save to get ahead, doing something is better than nothing and every big goal is reached by many small steps.

Budgets and discretionary spending money

Discretionary spending is supposed to be the use of money on little things we want here and there after our primary financial needs have been met. When you write out a monthly budget of your primary financial needs, do you include money to be stashed away for savings or a rainy-day fund? If not, you might think again about calling “extra” money “discretionary” when you have no savings.

How much do you need to save for unexpected and future expenses such as retirement? It all depends on what you really need to live. The people who maintain high standards of living in luxury will require significantly more money in savings and retirement, than do those who live conservatively. One budget does not fit everyone, but there are a few guidelines, including how much money you might consider spending on your housing, for example.

Tips on budgeting and creating saving habits

In the article, How to Budget Your Money With the 50/20/30 Guideline, there are tips and examples of budgets that consider your goals and help you get ahead.

Habits and reinforcers, are they key to many smart personal savings plans. Just as we form habits of getting our coffee from our own machine or at a coffee shop on the way to work, we can form habits of stashing money away instead of spending to get a reward. When we spend money buying things and consuming we trigger the reward center in our brain. What if instead of instant rewards, we look closer into the reward of instantly increasing our power to buy something in the future?

Spend money investing in yourself. We all get bored and may want a distraction from time to time. These are the moments when we spend money doing something to entertain ourselves or take our minds of other things. Instead of running out and spending money on something you don’t need, spend the same amount on yourself by putting that money into a savings account. The next time you want to spend some money and earn a reward, take a drive to the bank and deposit some more money to your savings account. Your teller receipt will keep showing your growing balance.

Reinforcing positive spending habits and being proud of yourself

Ask yourself, would you rather have that money building in your savings or the other thing or activity you would have spent the money on? Even if you only save money every other time you want to spend money, you may choose to save more often than you spend.

As you continue finding little ways to save more money here and there you can watch your savings continue increasing, and that gives you the same reward sensation as buying or consuming something you like. Just as you can plant a garden, watch it grow and enjoy its benefits, you may feel very protective and proud of that money you were able to save.

Next, ask yourself how you can find some more money in your budget to add to your savings. By spending a little time and energy you can negotiate reduced rates for your household and utility bills – there may be easily be $100 or more you can find to save by simply reducing your monthly bills. As you continue finding more ways to cut spending and increase savings, you are reinforcing good habits and giving yourself a greater reward.

Spending and saving money are habits and after a bankruptcy, you can create some fantastic new habits that can lead you directly to financial success!

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

Amnesty Week, collection fees waived in Cook County April 17 through 21

Want to save money? This coming week is Amnesty Week at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. From this Monday the 17th of April through Friday the 21st your collection fees will be waived when you pay your fines in person or by phone.

For more information visit www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org

Clerk Dorothy Brown April 2017 Amnesty Week flyer

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

How well do you know reverse mortgages?

By now, anyone who watches TV has likely seen advertisements for reverse mortgages. Targeted towards senior citizens who own their homes free and clear. Ads highlight that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) insures over 98 percent of all the reverse mortgages in United States. A reverse mortgage loan allows a home owner, at least 62 years of age, to convert the equity in their home into cash. Some people take monthly payments, lines of credit as well as lump sums of cash as needed. The loan against the equity in the home is secured by the home itself.

When the owner passes away the loan becomes due in full and is often taken from the proceeds of the sale of the home. In other cases, a life insurance policy may be used to repay the loan if home and other property is given to others in a will. The lenders offering reverse mortgages charge fees and surcharges along the way. These fees and the terms of the loan are a function of the life expectancy of the home owner, the value of the home and other factors.

Doing your research is important. The more you can learn about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, the better decisions you and your family can make.

As the reverse mortgage ads suggest, the children of aging parents can be involved in the process of researching reverse mortgage loans and the lenders. Even if your parents are well-able to manage their financial affairs, it is always helpful to get another opinion, especially when there are so many new financial opportunities for seniors budgeting for and funding their retirement years. While researching, pay attention to credible alerts and warnings published online. Be careful because in the sea of information there is plenty of what looks like news but is really advertising telling you that reverse mortgages are risk free and there is never a need to look any further.

The loans are only as good as the lenders. Homeowners considering reverse mortgages should be notified by their lender that while the reverse mortgage is in place, the homeowner must still pay taxes and insurance on the property and that is not something covered by the lender. Lenders may also charge high fees on loans and get away with it when working with seniors who may have less bargaining power in negotiating the terms of the loan. It is important to know what financial terms are reasonable in the current time and market. Knowing what the competition is offering makes it easier to negotiate a fair reverse mortgage loan.

Beware of what you are risking with reverse mortgage loans and be vigilant. If you must, hire a professional to help you negotiate a better deal and avoid the awful stories told by several loan victims.

Read these stories at Center for American Progress: Treasury Secretary Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bet Against Seniors:

  • Only press coverage stopped the eviction of a 103-year-old grandmother on a technicality
  • 92-year-old widow evicted for 27-cent shortfall
  • Foreclosure actions that defy common sense

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we help get our clients a fresh start at financial success. We feel strongly that everyone should be financially successful when they have the right tools and knowledge to make the best deals that protect their savings and help grow for the future.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Credit repair tips: Secured credit cards, limited balances and OptOutPrescreen.com

There are many misconceptions out there about which path is the right one to financial freedom and success. One thing to always ask yourself is, “Who has something to gain by the decision I make?” If you are researching whether bankruptcy or a debt repayment plan is going to work, you will likely hear a variety of things from people with a wide range of opinions regarding the best route to a good credit score. If you have bad credit because you fell on hard times, it can be fixed. People who file bankruptcies typically qualify for conventional home loans with competitive rates within four years of filing bankruptcy. In a bankruptcy, you can discharge some or all debt you cannot repay. After the bankruptcy, when you are not suffering from all that debt, it is easy to get a secured credit card or two and follow a few credit building rules if you want to qualify for a good mortgage.

How does credit scoring work, generally?

Your credit scores all vary slightly among the three major credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion, Innovis, Equifax and Experian. While it may seem like a mystery calculation behind the magic curtain, there are a few basic rules that make logical sense. Your credit scores reflect the amount of risk a lender is taking by giving you a loan, mortgage or credit card. The better the score, the more likely you are to pay your bills and loan payments on time. If you owe less debt and don’t have a dozen minimum monthly credit card payments, you likely have the money to pay your bills – this is your DTI – debt to income ratio. You want your income to be enough that after you pay your bills you have extra spending money to save for a rainy day. If that is you, you are less likely to default on your bills and loans.

Regarding credit cards, there is a similar calculation of how much credit you have and how much you use. The information on your credit report indicates how high your balance may be and the amount of your credit limit you use. A significant portion of your credit score is an equation of how much credit you have available and how much you use. People looking to get into a new mortgage are often told to never use more than 20 percent of the available balance on a credit card. So, if you get a credit card with a $300 limit, don’t charge more than $60 a month. Always make the payment on time but do carry a small balance instead of paying it off in full – because if the credit card company is reporting zero balances it looks like you have credit cards you are not using and that can hurt your score.

You can always get a secured credit card even if you don’t qualify for a regular credit card yet.

Secured credit cards are easy to obtain. Most local banks offer them. You pay a $200 deposit, for example and your secured card will have a $200 limit. You can use it to pay a small monthly bill or two, like Netflix, every month, and you are now boosting your credit score. If you fail to pay the credit card bill, the company cancels the card and you forfeit the deposit. If there are more charges you can be on the hook for them as well and a collector will hurt your credit score and call and harass you until you pay up. If you are working on credit to apply for a mortgage, use the same rules that apply to conventional credit cards, and always keep your balance due somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the available balance on the card. Again, avoid maxing out the card, even if you pay it off every month in full or always make the minimum payments on time. Just like the debt to income ratio, your available to used credit is important to monitor.

The easiest thing to boost your credit may take only five minutes on OptOutPrescreen.com.

The credit bureaus encourage consumers to be educated about credit offers and opportunities with good interest rates. As your credit score starts rising you will start receiving pre-approval letters in the mail. The credit reporting companies share your improving credit information with these companies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal law that imposes rules and restrictions on credit companies. The law gives you the right to “Opt Out” of receiving credit offers. Did you know that taking advantage of your opportunity to opt out can raise your credit score, by 25 points in many cases?

Why does Joseph Wrobel Ltd. care about your credit score?

Our Chicago bankruptcy law firm has been around for decades and we have a solid reputation. We don’t put people into bankruptcies simply to earn a fee and move clients through a big law factory like some of the big bankruptcy firms. Instead, we focus on teaching potential clients about the options they have and how they can best fix their finances. We know that the bankruptcy will show up on your credit score and it may take a little while to be approved. What matters is not the bankruptcy or what lead to it, what matters is what you do after the bankruptcy. Following simple credit use tips and maintaining control over your finances can help you get back to a very good credit score much quicker than you realize. While we are not a credit score repair business, we do know a few things and have credit repair professionals who can help.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Taking the sting out of bankruptcy: You may be surprised how liberating it can be

There are many people who consider filing for bankruptcy for a while before they finally decide it is time to go ahead. Some of the common fears people have is that everyone will find out about the bankruptcy and shun them or talk behind their back. In all likelihood, the people you think may be doing so well may also be considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy does not mean failure – a bankruptcy means you are smart enough to take advantage of the law to protect you and give you a fresh start. People may be hesitant to file for bankruptcy because a friend told them incorrect information about the trustee coming to take and sell everything they own; this is a false myth. Credit scores are another concern many have, and they fear they will never get credit again, when in reality many lenders may look more favorably on you after you no longer are buried under a mountain of debt. While it is not the most common topic of conversation, many will tell you the relief they experienced after they filed for bankruptcy and got the mountain of debt and creditors off their back.

People are not likely to find out about your bankruptcy unless you tell them.

In years past, there may have been a more negative stigma to bankruptcy and small town newspapers published names and cases, possibly for the benefit of any creditors and providing them notice. In reality today, there are so many bankruptcy filings, especially in major cities like Chicago, that the newspaper would be massive if bankruptcy filings were posted. Unless you decide to tell people, your friends and neighbors will never know you filed for bankruptcy protection. There is a federal bankruptcy website where you can look up your own bankruptcy information and it will appear on your credit report and on background checks. Do now worry however, as more people have bankruptcies than you may realize and they still find new jobs, buy homes and cars.

It is not an immoral or unethical decision to take advantage of financial laws like bankruptcy.

Say you are sued by a creditor and they obtain a court judgement against you for $50,000. Yes, you can list that money judgment in your bankruptcy and wave goodbye to paying that off. For many people, the threat of a judgment being collected by wage garnishments and asset seizures is enough for people to decide to file for bankruptcy. Some people worry that the judge or court may be mad at you, but that is of no concern. A money judgment is just a court order to pay someone. The obligation to pay a debt can be discharged in bankruptcy – the whole point is to eliminate debts you cannot afford to pay so you can have a fresh financial start.

You can keep your car, house and belongings despite filing for bankruptcy.

There is a qualifying financial test called the Means Test and a bankruptcy lawyer can review your financials and advise you whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge, the traditional bankruptcy most of us think about, or a Chapter 13 reorganization, in which you can make payments to catch up on your debts over a three to five-year period. If your vehicle is financed, you can sign a reaffirmation agreement and keep making payments despite the bankruptcy. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of equity in your home and personal belongings and assets up to a certain exemption value, despite filing for bankruptcy.

One of the best things about a bankruptcy filing is that by law, the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy laws kicks in when you file your petition for bankruptcy – creditors and collectors must stop all collection activity and they can no longer call you while you are in bankruptcy. The stress relief of the automatic stay provision alone may bring you to a major sigh of relief.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

 

Gas tank getaways and overnights from Chicago: Get out and enjoy yourself!

The 4th of July weekend is here! Are you bummed because you don’t have a fancy lake house to go and spend the long weekend on your boat, grilling steaks and lobster? Do not worry, you too, can and should get out of the house and do something fun this weekend, and this summer generally. Life is short and we never know when some turn of events makes it more difficult to take weekend trips and gas tank getaways. The average price of gas in Illinois is $2.40 which is lower than recent weekends, and pretty good for the summertime generally. Here are some tips on fun weekend destinations and activities that will not break the bank. Remember, it is not how much money you have that matters, it is how smart you are at getting more for your hard earned buck.

5 great gas tank getaways and weekend trips from Chicago – click on the titles to visit the links:

  1. Starved Rock State Park

100 miles west on I 80 just before I 39 you will find one of Illinois’ best state parks, full of hiking, fishing and boating with canyons, trails and log cabins. Someone who visited last week and must have camped, had this to say in a Google review, “Awesome. Trials are outstanding, delivering the most beautiful views, and being very well maintained ! Campground was good as well. Hot and reasonably clean showers, very nice sites.”

Travel tip: bring good hiking shoes, the trails are fun, but not in flip flops.

  1. Chicago Museums and Navy Pier in Chicago

Don’t want to drive or don’t have a car? Hop on the Metra or a CTA train to the Loop and museum campus just to the south of Grant Park. You can visit museums that are “donation only” or have affordable deals on tickets, especially during the summertime and holiday weekends when tourists are in town. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry should be on the top of your list. Maybe do one per adventure because there is so much to see. When you’re done at the museum, walk or take a cab to nearby Navy Pier to grab something to eat and enjoy all the entertainment and people watching you desire. If you’re daring, look for one of those Jet Ski rentals at Navy Pier or ask someone there where you can get your hands on one.

Travel tip: bring a backpack with essentials, maybe snacks and waters.

  1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

75 miles north off I 94 you will be able to Escape to Wisconsin without driving all the way up to Door County and worry about all those fine members of Wisconsin law enforcement. If you want to go camping or stay at a nice bed and breakfast, you can find just about whatever you are looking for in the Lake Geneva area. Many people recommend the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – zip lining, starting at $30 for an unbelievable ride and views. After you recover from thrill-seeking, fishing, boating or simply laying around, there are great places to eat. From Annie’s Burgertown ($) to BJ Wentkers ($$$) Triangle Bar & Grill, Lake Geneva has options for every taste and budget.

Travel tip: clean off your camera lens and start snapping for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

  1. Six Flags Great America in Waukegan

You are never too old to go to Six Flags! It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get there from just about anywhere in Chicagoland. Take your kids or take yourself and spend a day getting back to your childhood and take in the Americana that is a big roller coaster theme park. Of course there are all sorts of things to do there if the big coasters are not your thing. You certainly won’t have a hard time finding treats to eat and souvenirs to bring home. If you are sticking to a budget, but still want to go on the best rides and get your money worth, get the FLASH Pass and walk right up to your short VIP line instead of waiting in the sometimes very long lines for the popular and newer rides.

Travel tip: sunscreen will be your best friend because you can get burned easily when having fun.

  1. Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you really need to take a break from work, daily life and chores, consider indulging in one of the concert events of the season – Summerfest, in Milwaukee. Also 100 miles and just short of two hours depending on traffic, Milwaukee is much closer than most of us realize. And if there was ever a place to walk around listening to great music and enjoying a few beers, Milwaukee should be at the top of the list. Some people take the Amtrak train from Union Station and save money on gas, parking and worry about driving after drinking those beers. The music lineup at Summerfest is always impressive and you can catch major acts as well as some more local bands.

Travel tip: study the map of the grounds before you go and use the buddy system; it’s easy to get lost or mixed up with a crowd of fun people.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July weekend. If any of these day or weekend trips are fun, let us know. And even if you stay home, you can close your eyes and go on imaginary trips wherever you want!

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

How many ways can credit scores cost me money? What can I do about it?

The Consumer Federation of America “(CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors.[i]” The CFA studies consumer behavior and uses focus groups to follow economic trends and how public policy can affect consumers. The use of credit and the cost to consumers when they have low credit scores is a particular area of inquiry for the CFA. Creating pro-consumer policies and increasing communication and awareness about credit issues is a focus of this service organization.

The recent survey and release of findings on credit scores and the costs to consumers

The CFAs sixth annual survey of credit scores today, was released June 13, 2016. The survey findings indicate that over 80 percent of consumers do not understand some basic facts about their credit scores. The following are highlights of the survey as reported in the CFA press release:

  • Credit scores are used by mortgage lenders (88%) and credit card issuers (87%).
  • Key factors used to calculate credit scores are missed payments (91%), personal bankruptcy (86%), and high credit card balances (85%).
  • Ethnic origin is not used to calculate these scores (believed by only 12%).
  • 700 is a good credit score (81%).[ii]

The findings show that the Millennial generation have less an understanding of the credit scoring system when compared to Generation X.

What consumers do not know, can cost them money

A low credit score can affect many aspects of a consumer’s day to day life. Not only is your credit score used to determine the percentage rate you would pay on a car or home loan. The insurance rates you pay can be significantly higher than your neighbor with the higher credit score. When the insurance companies consider a consumer with a low credit score (something under 620) they figure that individual is more likely to file multiple insurance claims, and the statistics back it up.

Many people with low credit scores have more difficulty financing a home and renting is their only option. More bad news for renters with low credit scores – expect to pay a higher security deposit when renting a home or apartment. The assumption is that people with low credit scores have a hard time paying their bills, so the rental owner wants more money on deposit in case the renter with the low credit score cannot pay their rent.

Today is the day you can start learning more about credit and how to maximize yours

By reading this article and the CFA press release, you will know more about credit than many others out there. Here’s something else to be aware of, advocates for reform want more protection for consumers so their lives are not determined by credit scores. If you do some research on the Internet, you can learn how to write your local legislative representatives and tell them you want them to take better care of consumers with protection laws that prevent big companies from charging you more money due to your credit score.

Next steps in repairing, boosting and making your credit score bulletproof

Well, we can’t really make your credit rating bulletproof, but there are several ways you can improve your score and keep it there. If you are underwater on all your payments and your scores suffer every month with negative reports, a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy can help you wipe out the debts you cannot pay and give you a fresh start. Rebuilding your credit is much easier when you are not behind the eight ball. We can connect you with credit repair companies who use advanced systems to wipe out negative debt and “zombie” debts that may be hurting your score. When you also consider secured credit cards, credit unions and more, you can really take control of your credit, save money and live the way you deserve!

 Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients on consumer issues including bankruptcy and they can offer additional information to find out if you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and your options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.   

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

 

[i] Consumer Federation of America, website, About CFA

[ii] Consumer Federation of America, 6th Annual Credit Score Survey Reveals Large Majority Know Credit Score Basics But Don’t Understand Important Details, Jun. 13, 2016 press release.

Beware of IRS scams in several forms, report the “bad guys!”

Most people born and raised in this country know how the IRS works, and that an IRS agent calling themselves “officer” does not call you on the phone one day and extort a payment under threat of an arrest warrant. Sounds too amazing to be real? Guess again. Just one of the scams the “bad guys” are using involves demand of full or partial payment of an overdue balance to the IRS, with the promise (or threat) that law enforcement may be speeding to your door at any minute to arrest you and toss you in IRS jail until you cough up the money they’re demanding. The story sounds like something out of a bad movie about tourists being scammed abroad in countries where the police cannot help.

In the real world, police actually are here to help you, when it comes to your reporting IRS scammers.

Tax time is a perfect time for scammers who know you may have recently filed your IRS tax return and either expect a refund or to make your tax payment(s). Many of these “bad guys” conducting the scams are calling non-native Americans and commonly targeted minority groups, hoping they find someone who does not know how the IRS really works, or worse, is fearful of being deported in the event they are not in the country legally.

One day, however, the “bad guys” called a realtor, very aware of these types of scams, and the realtor fired back at them, calling the local ABC television station to help them warn viewers about IRS refund scams. The realtor said the man who called him had a noticeably foreign accent and very quickly determined the person he was talking to did not work for the IRS.

The IRS issued responses and advisory statements to the public in light of these and other scams.

In a recent announcement the IRS stated that, “Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.[i]

The IRS will never call and ask you to verify personal information over the phone. Everything that happens with the IRS is done with paperwork and they will send field agents to your home before calling you. If you ever receive a call from someone who says they are an IRS agent, call the IRS directly or your local police department if you suspect a scammer. The realtor who received a phony phone call from one of the “bad guys” notified his local police department, who told him they were receiving several calls from people telling similar stories about scammer phone calls.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients on consumer issues including bankruptcy and they can offer additional information to find out if you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and your options and rights under the law. The firm will also publish notices and warnings about consumer fraud scams to keep you aware of the “bad guys.”  

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

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[i] IRS, Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again