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The new federal law starting September 21, 2018 called the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act will help consumers stop intruders in their tracts. The three big credit-reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will be required to offer you a credit freeze indefinitely for free of charge. This service normally will cost $10 per credit bureau or $30 total for all 3 credit bureaus. The consumer who signs up for a voluntary credit freeze is given a PIN that you will have to provide in order to unfreeze your credit file in order to apply for new credit at no cost.  

Under the new law, if a consumer asks for a freeze online or by phone, the credit reporting agency has to put the freeze in place no later than the next business day. If the consumer wants to lift the freeze to finance a new iphone 10s or buying a new house, that has to happen within an hour. 

The lesser option - a fraud alert  means that you are adding a red flag to your credit report to alert a lender to carefully verify your identity before making a loan. Under this new law, a fraud alert will last one year instead of 90 days. In case of a victim of identity theft, you would still be able to extend a fraud alert for seven years. 

Identity theft is a huge business because of its huge payouts. Thieves can use your stolen Social Security number for getting medical care or poaching your medical insurance, filing fraudulent tax refunds, filing for unemployment benefits or even getting Social Security benefits. 

Even if you are not affected by the Equifax data breach in 2017, people should consider placing a credit freeze with each of the three credit bureaus after September 21, 2018 as it substantially limits potential abuse of one's credit report. Here's how you can do it.  










Posted by Sam Kader on September 17th, 2018 8:55 PM

Winter is the best time for potential home buyers to work on their credit to obtain the best terms and rate on a mortgage (though for optimum results, improving your credit should be throughout the year process).  

Winter is a good time because home buying season starts to heat in the springtime. So winter is an excellent time to do some “touch-up”  and perform necessary corrective actions to make the process as smoothly as possible. Please contact me directly to ascertain where you stand today with all three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.  Here's a sample of what your credit report looks like.  

Credit utilization is one thing that you can work on immediately.  Most people tend to rake up their credit cards over the holidays. We recommend that the optimal utilization should be around 30%. For example, if you have a credit card with $1,000 credit line, pay it down to at least $300 balance and keep it at that level until you have received the key to your new house since lenders will re-run credit after 60 days. 

Pay your bills on time.  This one item will have the biggest impact on your score.  Once reported, late payments will be shown as derogatory item such as late payment, collection, and be grouped with other derogatory items such as bankruptcy and tax lien.  

I found an error on my credit reportHow long will it take to correct and improve my score?  It depends. For example, paying down your credit card will take one billing cycle to see its results. However, if you have a derogatory item such as late payment, collection, bankruptcy, judgement, or tax lien, that can stay on your credit report for 7 years. You can still be Pre-Approved but you will not obtain the best terms and conditions. 

What are lenders looking for? We prefer if you have 3 scores from each credit bureau (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) with 3 revolving trade lines such as regular credit cards or departmental credit cards for at least 12 months with on-time payment history and with 30% credit utilization rate (see above). However, I can also help you in using other non-traditional accounts such as your cell phone bill, utility bill or rental payment history as non-traditional credit profile. 

How much can I qualify for? Having a good credit (700 and above) is only a portion of what we will evaluate in determining your loan amount. Other factors are your ability to pay (Debt-To-Income – DTI ratio), down payment, and subject property(appraisal).  

Freezing your account? If you were impacted by recent Equifax data breach, make sure that all three credit bureaus are unfrozen. It may take up to 48 hours for all three bureaus to remove the freeze.  

Additional tips to boost your score but for professional help, please contact me directly for a starting point. 

 

Posted by Sam Kader on February 7th, 2018 12:45 PM

Equifax, an Atlanta based company announced on September 7, 2017 that there may have been a breach of their database sometime between mid-May and the end of July. This breach puts 143 MILLION consumers at risk.

Here are some steps of what we can do to protect ourselves:

  • The first step is to check with Equifax website if your information has been compromised (see at the bottom).
  • If you are one of the 143 MILLION, sign up for the credit report monitoring service through Equifax.
  • Check your credit report.  You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureuas each year.  Rather than request all three bureaus at the same time, request one from each bureau every 4 months.  That way you have a better chance of catching any problems more quickly.
  • Carefully monitor ALL of your accounts. If you discover an error on your report, contact the credit bureau reporting it immediately and ask to have it removed.  
  • Sign-up for purchase notifications. Many banks and credit card companies let you sign up for instant push notifications that'll let you know when your credit card is used to make a purchase. It may sound annoying but it gives you instant knowledge of who is using your credit card.
  • Invest on a good shredding machine. Do not stuffed credit card statements, receipts and credit card offer letters without shredding them first. "Dumpster Divers" might take that chance to turn your garbage into gold.
  •  Don't give out non-public personal information on the phone.  If you receive a phone call from a creditor asking you to provide your social security number or date of birth as confirmation, this likely can be a scam. 
  • Don't click on a link in an email from a creditor.  Many of these emails are phishing technique.
  • DO NOT carry your social security card in your wallet!
  • Consider setting up fraud alerts on your files. This option require creditors to contact you directly, usually by phone, for approval before allowing an account to be opened. That gives you a more active role, rather than passively monitoring or freezing your entire file. Bureaus also must contact each other when a fraud alert is placed.
  • Consider this is your last option. Do you know you can put a freeze on your credit reports by contacting each of the three credit bureaus? It is a nuclear option of credit protection and is the strongest possible action to protect your identity. It freezes your credit files (even from your own-self) with the 3 major credit bureaus making it impossible to open new account and bank cards under your name.
  • If you suspect someone has filed a tax return using your social security follow the instructions listed on the Internal Revenue Service website.  Here is the link for these instructions.
  • If you have been repeatedly a victim of identity fraud - you can request to change your Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.
For your convenience, listed below is the contact information for all three credit bureaus

 

 
EXPERIANTRANSUNIONEQUIFAX
PO BOX 4500PO BOX 2000PO BOX 740241
ALLEN, TX 75013CHESTER, PA 19016ATLANTA, GA 30374
888-397-3742800-888-4213800-685-1111
ExperianTransunionEquifax
Posted by Sam Kader on September 9th, 2017 11:37 AM

Just 33 percent of millennials own a credit card, according to a new survey by Bankrate. Many are happy to pay with cash or a debit card to avoid the spiral of carrying over a credit balance and getting hit with high interest rates. (I totally can understand that). But a good credit history can be essential when you apply for an apartment, a mortgage, an auto loan, or a job, or even to get a good deal on a cellphone. The better your credit history, the lower the interest rate on your future 

loans. And it can be tough to get a credit card after shunning plastic for years.

Here’s how to start building a credit history, for the day you’ll need it.

Get on someone else’s card

A family member might agree to let you become an authorized user on her card. Basically, her credit history — which we’re assuming is good — is now yours.  Please do not abuse your privilege and be a responsible authorized user. 

Get a ‘starter’ credit card

For someone with no credit history, the Capital One Platinum credit card is an option. The card has no annual fee and no reward program, and with an APR of 24.9%, you’d definitely want to pay it off every month. While people with a short or blotchy credit history get cards with high interest rates, a 14 percent interest rate is average for those with good credit, and the rate could be 9 to 12 percent for someone with excellent credit. Use it and pay it off every month. Use the card responsibly, and over time your credit limit, which may start at $500, will be bumped up, maybe to $1,000 after half a year. Once you’ve had that card for six months, a lot more offers will come in that you might be pre-approved for, now that your credit profile has been built. 

They’ll likely have a lower interest rate and a reward or cash-back program. Along with paying the card off every month, it’s important to keep your spending well below your credit limit. Your credit score could be dinged for using more than 30 percent or so of the available credit.

Apply for a secured card

To get a secured card, you put down a cash deposit as collateral; in many cases, that’s also your credit limit. As you promptly pay the balance in full over at least six months, you build a credit history. If you have a checking account with a big bank, that should be your first stop for a secured card. Be very wary of seeking a secured card from a company you’re not familiar with, because some companies that specialize in offering secured cards have “horrendous fees.”

Take out a credit-builder loan

If you don’t have a chunk of cash to use as collateral, a secured card may not be an option. With credit-builder loans, you’re basically borrowing from yourself to build a credit history. The loan goes straight into a savings account, and you make monthly payments until the amount of the loan is paid in full. Then you get your money back, minus a small amount of interest. Some credit unions offer this product to members, calling it a Savings Secure loan.

Document payments

Some landlords and utilities report rent payments to the credit bureaus, but it’s hit or miss. If they want to buy a house down the road, it might help to show that record to the mortgage lender.  It’s not on your credit history, but anything you can do to document that you are responsible with your debt payments helps.”

Build credit with microloans

Lenny is a mobile lending app that targets consumers between the ages of 22 and 35. A sort of microlender that reports your payments to two of the three major credit bureaus, Lenny can help you build your credit score and can be a cheaper way to get emergency funds than going to a payday lender or getting hit with multiple overdraft fees. To judge risk, the company looks at such things as your college, major, grade-point average, LinkedIn page, and many other data points.

For members, who pay $2 a month, Lenny can make loans from $100 to $10,000 in three minutes. If the loan is paid back within 30 days, there is no interest charge. The app has lots of prompts to alert you when you’re doing something that could hurt your credit score, such as getting too close to a payment date while having drawn down 30 percent or more of your credit line.

Posted by Sam Kader on July 10th, 2016 12:42 PM
Our credit reports are similar to like a movie. When we are watching a movie and hit pause, it freezes that frame at that exact moments and displays an image. What you see is what you get at that exact moment. Fast forward 20 seconds and the view can be entirely different. Because accounts are constantly changing, we can never truly know what our scores are at any given time. Account balances can change, new inquiries can report, collections can be filed and late payments can post. Credit reporting is not exactly real time which means that if you use a credit card today, the new balance will not be reflected until tomorrow. Thus, no two credit reports are exactly alike. As in a movie - actors can play a good or bad role.  In general, the following script can assist with your acting scores.

FICO credit scores range between 350 and 850. We prefer if you have at least 720 to obtain preferred rates though we can assist you with 500 FICO score with FHA financing. Most lenders require that you have at least 620. If you score is below than that but you have time to improve it, here are some tips you can employ:

  1. 35 percent of your score is from your payment history. If you could only do one thing from this list - on time payment history is the key. Pay all your bills on time. One late payment can negatively affect your credit score. Creditors have to wait 30 days to report a consumer late to the credit bureaus. Never late on any account and no collections.  Also you can not have any current accounts that are marked “was 30 – 60 – 90 day late now current” All accounts need to have 100% perfect payment history. Should you have a late payment, get current as quickly as possible. The longer you pay your bills on time after having late payments, the more potential for your credit scores to improve.   
  2. 30 percent of your score is from credit utilization or how much of your available credit you use. It is calculated by dividing current balance by the credit limit i.e. $500 balance on a credit card that has $1,000 limit = 50% utilization percentage. Thus, if a credit is improperly reporting a credit limit - this can cause a significant decrease to your credit score.

    A standard dispute containing verbiage similar to the following: 

    Please update my account #XXXX to reflect, the actual credit limit, your reporting of this account with my high credit can easily be perceived as fraud and an attempt to diminish my credit rating. This improper reporting has caused me denial for credit and has caused severe financial and emotional distress. I am sure that is not your intention, and appreciate your expeditious response..

  3.  If you are maxed out on your credit cards - paying them down below 30 percent could mean a dramatic i?ncrease on your score. We can do a rapid recheck if you are on a strict timeline. 
  4. 15 percent of your score is from the length of your credit history. The older the accounts, the more points for you. If you are unhappy with them - wait until you've completed your home financing, then close them.
  5. 10 percent of your score is from the amount of new credit you've received.
  6. 10 percent of your score is from having a "healthy" mix of of credit items. Refinance HELOC into mortgage will help because HELOCs are revolving credit lines and you will be penalized if you use more than 30% of it. Adding an installment loan to the mix will also help. The bureaus will score you higher if you have an open mortgage, 3 credit cards, 1 auto loan and a small amount of other open accounts.  
  7. Review and fix mistakes on credit report immediately by writing to the credit bureaus and explain why you think a listing is in error and include any documentation to back up your claim. You may also start the process online with Transunion, Experian and Equifax The creditor must acknowledge within 30 days that they have received your complaint. The creditor should then resolve the dispute within 2 billing cycles, or less than 90 days . The creditor should also explain any actions they took to correct the error, or explain why they believe there was no error. Be forewarned that once you start the dispute process - it must be resolved with each credit bureau. We cannot use credit report with "Account in Dispute" status in it.  Contact us for free consultation. Here's a sample of a credit report and how to analyze the content.
  8. Make at least minimum payment and set up automatic bill payment. Making partial payment less than minimum amount due counts as late payment.
  9. Have five to seven bank credit cards with balances around five percent of the high credit limit, not zero, although some of the perfect credit scores had accounts that were zero. In addition, you need to have the every other credit card with at least five to ten years of history. No new account less than five years old.  No credit card, auto loan or mortgage of any type less than five years old.  Also you cannot have any hard inquiries in the last two years. A hard inquiry is when you apply for credit. A soft inquiry is when a consumer checks their credit for their own information. Create a budget. The number one reason people get into trouble with paying their bills on time is because of lack of money management. Carefully go over your income and expenses and find ways to cut down your monthly outlay. Excess funds should be used to pay down existing debts. Thus, will result in lower credit utilization (as mentioned above).
  10. Consumers need at least one bank credit card that is thirty years old or older. A thirty year old history with no late dates ever on that account.  That is a key anchor for a perfect FICO score. In a short term - you can open a checking account that is linked to your credit card. Adding a new credit and positive payment history will help your FICO score.
  11. Be careful about applying for new credit especially store/departmental credit such as Macy's, Fred Meyer etc. Store cards will not give you as many points as a bank credit card (even with just 1 store credit). Any time you apply for new credit, an inquiry is placed on your credit report. The scoring model does not favor excessive inquiries. Shop from multiple lenders within 30-day period for mortgage and auto loans as all inquiries within that 30-day time frame counts as one inquiry. All inquiries stay on your credit report for up to two years. You should limit inquiries to 7 per year.
  12. Setup automatic bill pay for fixed payment accounts such as mortgage and utility bills to avoid late or miss payments (if you are not good at monitoring your accounts).
  13. Consolidate student loans. If student loans are in default, they can be consolidated and transferred to the U.S. Department of Education. This will help tremendously.
  14. Stop applying for new credit a year before applying for financing.

Please contact National Foundation for Consumer Credit or 1-800-388-2227 for information on debt management. 


 

Posted by Sam Kader on July 27th, 2015 6:25 PM

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