Identity Theft, Even After You Die

Believe it or not identity theft has moved to the dead. It is compounding more and more family's grief because con artists are digging up identities of the deceased. The identity of someone who has died is becoming an irresistible target to thieves and the death helps buy them time before they are likely to get caught. The scam artists search the obituaries where they find valuable information that gives them a jump start at identity theft. Lengthy obituary and death notices gives crooks more valuable information that they use to do more damage. Identity theft crimes involving the deceased are a dark, shady side of the booming identity theft crime.

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Loan Modification - credit killer!

In Part One of our loan modification post, we discussed the fact that banks are sending unsolicited offers of loan modification to mortgage holders. These deals, which often involve a change from adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to fixed-rates or partial “principal forgiveness” make a lot of sense from a purely economic standpoint: the banks get to clear their books of “toxic assets” and you get a lower mortgage payment. Unfortunately, the results can ding (or even wreck) your credit score.

 

There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First, the bank reports activity on your account to credit bureaus, which then alter your credit score accordingly. If you modify your loan and the bank submits “settled for less than the full amount due” to a credit bureau, that’s going to hurt you. And while this is technically true, a tiny line item leaves out the important information that it was, in fact, the bank that suggested the modification in the first place. To avoid this, make sure you ask specifically how the bank is going to report the change. If they don’t give you a straight answer right away, be clear that you’re trying to avoid “settled for less than the full amount due”.

 

Further, if the loan modification requires a trial period, especially one that lowers your mortgage payment, that trial period can damage your credit, as the bank will have to report the payment as less than what you owed, even though it’s the amount of money the bank is expecting, and will not respond to the customer as if anything were out of order.

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Loan modification – is the lower payment worth it?

If you’re like an increasingly large number of Americans, you’ve recently received a letter from your bank. And if you’re lucky, it’s not a notice of foreclosure--it’s a letter announcing an offer for a loan modification. The banks are handing these things out like candy these days, and most people, especially those with banks that already have a tendency to try to upsell to their customers, are suspicious.

 

A lot of these loan modifications include options to switch an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage, partial debt forgiveness, and other bells and whistles. And, while the banks are not doing this out of some sudden bout of philanthropy, many unsolicited loan modifications are a good deal for both parties. Before we continue, never ever assume that all loan modification offers come from reputable sources because most are paid advertisements. There are scammers out there that will take you for all your worth if you aren’t vigilant. Real loan modification offers should come from the bank that handles your mortgage.

 

Banks are trying to get ARM loans out of their systems--they’re far more likely to end in default than fixed-rate loans and the government views them as “toxic assets”, which in turn can affect how the government and investors deal with the banks. In short, a farewell to ARMs is a hello to more money for the bank.

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Most of us want a good credit report…

Most of us want a good credit report to obtain automobile financing, credit cards, and to purchase a home. But, beyond these consumer loans, your credit report can cost you in everyday living expenses. What you don’t know about your credit could be costing you money.

Having a credit card means that you can order tickets, rent a car, and reserve hotel rooms. Besides these conveniences, your credit report can mean that you must pay higher deposits and fees for everyday services.

Did you know that your credit history can keep you from getting utility connections, good telephone rates, the best auto insurance, home owner’s insurance, or even keep you from getting hired?

1. Some utility companies set minimum standards for service connections. If your report shows collection accounts for prior utility bills, you may not be eligible for service at all. And if utility companies do agree to connect your service, you’ll need to pay a higher deposit than another customer with good credit who may not need to make any deposit.

2. The same requirements exist for telephone services. People with a good credit history don’t need to pay deposits for home telephone or cell phone services. When we first got a cell phone with poor credit scores, we had to pay a 0 deposit, for one cell phone. After fixing our credit, we got eight cell phones for our business, with zero deposits.

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Overdue Library Books Can Hurt Your Credit Score

As municipal governments increase efforts to collect unpaid parking tickets, dog-catcher fines, library fines and the like, some consumers are seeing a surprising impact—a radical drop in their Credit scores.

To each individual Consumer, the fines in question may be very small and Collection actions may seem petty and unnecessary. For many cities, however, these unpaid fines and fees add up to millions of dollars a year. Those dollars can be collected with little investment by the cities if they’re turned over to private collection agencies.

Private agencies typically charge a percentage of the balance actually collected, so there’s no risk to the government. The risk to consumers who don’t make those payments in a timely manner, however, is significant. That’s because collection agencies report delinquencies to the three major credit reporting agencies. A single collection item can drop your credit score as much as 100 points. Many consumers don’t know that charges like this can affect their credit.

While not all municipalities use private collection firms, the trend is increasing across the country. As government collection activity rises, so does the number of consumers surprised to discover that they’re paying higher interest rates—or being turned down altogether—because the kids lost a library book or they neglected to renew Rover’s license.

If such charges are already appearing on your credit report, you may be able to negotiate their removal in exchange for payment. Getting items removed from your credit report can be a long and stressful process, though, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful. The best defense is to be aware of the risks and make sure you pay those parking tickets on time.

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Refinancing Your Mortgage Loan After Bankruptcy

Though it may seem impossible, refinancing your home loan after going through Bankruptcy is feasible as long as you can meet certain requirements. Finding the right lender is however, a challenging task.
Refinancing After Bankruptcy is Possible

Refinancing a home mortgage is probably one of the few financial transactions that someone who has gone through bankruptcy can achieve within a small period of time after the bankruptcy has been discharged. Since a mortgage loan is secured by an Asset, the usually extremely low Credit score bared by someone with a bankruptcy in his credit report isn’t that detrimental.

Raising your Credit Score

Moreover, refinancing a home loan is an excellent opportunity to raise your credit score and improve Credit History. The monthly payments you make will be recorded into your credit report and this will contribute to a continuous increment on your credit rank. However, since you won’t be able to apply for a refinance home loan till six months after your bankruptcy has been discharged. You need to work hard during this period in order to build a good credit history so as to make sure you get approved for your refinance home loan.

Getting Ready for Applying

In order to do so, you need to make all your payments on time including your current home loan installments. This is essential since any late payments or missed payments may be an obstacle between you and your refinance home loan. If you haven’t done so yet, open a bank account, either a checking or savings account and get a Credit Card. If you can’t get approved for an Unsecured Credit card, don’t hesitate, apply for a Secured Credit card and start using it and making regular payments. All this will help you build a healthy credit history and will ensure you get approved for a refinance loan.

Search for a Lender and ask for Loan Quotes

The search for a suitable lender is the main task you need to complete. You can refinance with the same lender that is currently handling your home loan, but don’t stick to the first offer you receive. Request loan quotes with every lender you run into and even request online quotes as you’ll be able to get much better deals this way.

Pay attention to Interest Rates and other fees

You need to pay special attention not only to the interest rate and fees charged by the lender that will refinance your home loan, but also to any punitive fees that your current mortgage loan lender may charge for pre-cancellation of your loan. These fees and costs may turn refinance too onerous to even consider the possibility. You may have to pay a slightly higher interest rate since you’ve got a bankruptcy on your credit report, however, don’t let lenders take advantage of this situation. This kind of loan is secured by Collateral so there is no reason to charge high interest rates, no matter how low your credit score is.

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Safeguarding Can't Hurt

Will we ever get a break? Not right now. In San Diego, police arrested a postal worker for stealing mail and trading it to identity thieves to support his drug habit.

Another arrest involved the hacking of wireless carrier T-Mobile USA's network. According to Fox News, the attacker gained access to a database of 16 million customers including the personel information of the Secret Service agent investigating the break in.

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Short Sales vs. Foreclosure – The Process

Many of you are probably wondering what you should do with your underwater mortgage, and for some of you, the only options are probably short sale or foreclosure. It’s not an easy question to answer: only licensed financial professionals and realtors should be giving you advice on which to choose, and even then, they should be doing it in person or over the phone. Never, ever take advice from a stranger.

That said, we’re going to go over what the differences between short sales and foreclosures are, so that when you do talk to a professional (in person!) you know a little more what you’re talking about. When it’s your financial survival on the line, you want to make sure you’re as informed as possible.

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Simple Ways to Help Avoid Identity Theft

Each year, thousands of people around the world fall victim to identity theft… the assumption of their identity by others in an attempt to empty their bank accounts, establish fake lines of credit in their name, or to take advantage of current lines of credit and max out any credit cards that they might currently have.

Luckily, there are some simple steps that you can take that will help you to avoid identity thieves and keep your personal and financial information private. The tips provided below are designed to help you to protect your identifying information, though in the end the implementation of them is up to you.

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So I Married Bad Credit

Marriage is not only the bringing together of two individuals in love who vow to spend the rest of their lives together, it is also a marrying of two credit histories for better or for worse. Asking the betrothed for complete disclosure of credit histories sounds about as romantic as a prenuptial agreement but may be just as important in some cases. In the interest of full disclosure it is well worth it to be aware of the two credit reports which will soon become one.

Having a serious conversation about credit history even going as far as swapping credit reports before the vows are read may be a make or break deal in the engagement. Like it or not, the three credit bureaus track every facet of an individuals credit history, this includes any joint accounts as well as accounts where one may only be an authorized signer. Whether the accounts are within your ability to pay the bills on time are of no consequence to creditors or the credit rating agencies and whether these items are positive or negative factors on your credit report likewise makes no difference.

If upon finding out that the lovely bride or dashing groom to whom you are engaged has horrifically bad credit, there are ways to protect your own credit the best you can ahead of time. The best way to go about this is to keep all accounts separate until the betrothed is able to restore positive credit, this includes adding one another as an authorized signer. Additionally, there are states within the U.S. considered Community Property States that consider accounts and property acquired prior to marriage sole property of the respective bride or groom throughout the marriage.

It is better to at the very least be aware of the bad credit you may be marrying ahead of time. Financial disagreements are the leading cause of divorce these days and while it may seem that love will conquer all now, it won’t qualify the two of you for that new home to begin your growing family.

 

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So you need to refinance a Conventional Mortgage?

You’re not alone. I’ve heard from hundreds of people about their interest rates coming up for adjustment on their 3, 5, 7 or 15 year interest only loans. The lower mortgage payments on these loans made them oh so tempting back when you were signing the note and deed on your home, but now the payment is about to, or already has, get or gotten really ugly. If you’ve tried to refinance in the past couple of years you’ve probably come across a problem or two, which leaves you unqualified for a much-needed refinance.

I’m sure a short sale or strategic foreclosure has crossed your mind but these should be done at an absolutely last resort. You may want to see if you can qualify for protection under the Housing and Mortgage Protection Act (HAMP). It’s a bit of a long shot but worth the try. If you qualify you could have a principle reduction or temporary lower mortgage payment applied to your mortgage. More than likely you are facing a lack of equity in your home or an ugly credit score.

Most of the recent legislation offering help to homeowners has applied to those with FHA home loans. With a conventional loan you are left out in the cold and facing a harder time qualifying for a refinance. You’re credit score as well as your credit history is two of the top few requirements to qualifying you for a refinance. Lenders are bumping their requirements on minimum credit scores thanks to incredibly low interest rates. It’s time to do everything you can to boost that score in the realm of the 700’s.

What to do:

1. Make all of your monthly mortgage payments on time - These types of late payments will not be received well by prospective lenders and are weighted more heavily than other types of late payments. If you are considering a short sale or foreclosure, WAIT! Let’s exhaust all other options first.

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So you need to refinance an FHA Mortgage?

Let’s look at the positives; at least you’re not trying to refinance a conventional mortgage! FHA loans have been made more easy to qualify for than they were a few years ago thanks to recent legislation. Typically one of the largest disqualifying factors is the homeowners credit score. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires a minimum credit score of 620 but good luck finding a lender willing to extend you a loan. Currently you’ll need a score anywhere north of 640.

In the past a low credit score plainly meant that you’d need to pay a higher interest rate, but these days it could mean facing the possibility of losing your home. If you find yourself struggling or unable to make your monthly mortgage, there is help out there. There are a handful of programs for struggling FHA homeowners. Check out www.HUD.gov for a comprehensive list as well as pertinent information.

By improving your credit rating you could qualify for a streamline refinance of your home. Yes, it is called a streamline because it is way more simplistic than a conventional refinance. It would be in your best interest to speak with a licensed mortgage professional to have your credit analyzed within the framework of the mortgage world. One piece of advice, avoid missing your mortgage payments if at all possible.

When refinancing, consider the various loan options available:

Fixed Rate Mortgages – The interest rate will never changed no matter what

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Something Different About Credit Card Debt

There is a major crisis with people falling into large Credit Card debt. Rather than going through the numbers, the statistics and ratios, to help you get a realistic view of your debt situation, this will give you a different perspective.

On any article site, e-zine, printed newspaper or magazine, there are literary millions of write-ups about the condition of our national debt problem. We see TV reports and talkshows about this ever-growing problem. There are millions of tips about everything from debt consolidation, refinancing, and personal debt relief to the all important Credit SCORE.

Now, here is a new and different mode of thinking. If you have credit card debt so extensive, that other financial problems have occurred in your life, why does the credit score really matter at this point? It’s really a low priority in the large scheme of more important life changes you need to start looking at making. If you already own a house, have a job and are to the point where you can’t make ends meet, that credit score will not help you now. So trying to repair it right away or keep it from getting worse is the least of your worries. If you are renting, now is the time to chalk your credit card debt up as a major life learning experience and start to change your attitude about the debt, to pave a healthy road towards future financial goals as well.

It boils down to this, and reading every technicality about how to get out of debt, what will happen if you do A or B, will not solve the physical, mental and emotional turmoil that got you into debt in the first place. This is a task that will require a whole lot more dedication than reading every Source of information on the internet. There are not a lot of articles that deeply cover the changes you will have to make and the majority of them make it all sound so easy. It’s not easy to break free from using credit cards unwisely when it’s a bad habit. It didn’t start out this way, but slowly it got out of hand, because after the bills started piling up and a few unexpected life emegencies happened, you became stuck. Stuck in vicious cycle and this is now the most important part of breaking that credit card habit. Some of the consequences are inevitable and can only be helped as time goes on, with your first decision to stop the cycle. Yes, it’s important to get help or advice if you have been subject to debt Collection agencies. Find out what your rights are by gaining wisdom from those who have experienced it.

People who are in debt are not happy with tendencies towards depression, stress and anxiety. They may start to incur physical health problems as a result. In turn medical care, especially with no insurance plan, causes more bills with added worry and stress. How will it all get paid? This is living a life, where falling apart financially has snowballed into physical, mental and emotional anguish. These three components are the core of your debt problem. There is definitely not enough focus on this aspect of it. Making a plan in your everyday to life start from there can and does actually help.

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The essential do-it-yourself credit fixes

Ok, so now that you have corrected all of the mistakes on your credit report, you are at the perfect starting point to really dig in on the do-it-yourself credit fixes. Take a deep breath and prepare for some painful introspection and an honest look at your financial situation. Wait, wait, don’t stop reading! It’s completely worth your time and effort, your credit score will thank you.

Take an hour or so and pull together all of your bank statements, credit card statements and that credit report you pulled after you finished correcting your credit report. Take an honest look at the report, specifically the derogatory accounts section.

What to look for in the derogatory accounts section:

1. Identify the problem -Get out your highlighter and mark up the “derogatory” items. You could see late payments, collection accounts, or a past bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale items. This will help you pinpoint exactly where to begin your restoration.

2. Interpret the problem - If you have a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale in your past there is not much you can do to “restore” your credit. You’ll need to focus on establishing positive credit instead. If the shadow in your past is mostly items like late payments or collection accounts, it’s time to establish automatic bill-pay or payment plans.

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The Identity Theft Epidemic : What The “Experts” Aren’t Telling You

Picture yourself walking down the street, all alone. It’s late at night. It’s a bit brisk, and the wind is blowing through the tall buildings on both sides of you. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone runs by you, knocks you over, grabs your
wallet, and takes off.

It sounds like a scene from a movie, and there may come a time in the future where this type of person-to-person crime
is only found in movies. Why would anyone rob a bank, or rob an individual, when they could simply use a person’s
information to obtain employment, credit cards, and lines of credit?

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The most important do-it-yourself credit fix

Managing your credit can be quite an undertaking, especially when you start with a less than perfect credit history. If you’re someone with great credit, congratulations! Just keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re like the rest of us there is room for improvement. Not to worry there are a few simple fixes to boost your credit score all by yourself.

To be honest, we’re not in the business of sharing our best strategies to fix a credit score, but there are a few simple steps you can take which will without a doubt improve your score. Follow these straightforward steps and you’ll be on the road to a credit score that won’t make you cringe.

1. You’ve got to start somewhere - Pull your free annual credit report from annualcreditreports.com.

2. Check & double check - Read it carefully! Double check all of the information is correct, if you have questions or doubts, highlight the item and research further. Lenders typically do a decent job of reporting items correctly, but there is more often than not at least one mistake on every credit report.

3. You’re the boss - Take charge of these questionable items. Contact the business with which you hold the account and see if they’ll work with you. If you face resistance write a formal letter to the business with copies sent to the 3 credit bureaus; keep one for yourself too.

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The State of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau

Thanks to such financial catastrophes as Enron, the recent real estate market collapse, and the overall lack of consumer confidence, Americans have cried out for a voice in the drowning noise of big business and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act has answered the call.Officially named the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, it called for the formation of an entirely unprecedented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to do just that; protect consumers.

 

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Weighting short sale vs. foreclosure? Read this first

Facing the very real prospect of having to choose between squeaking by another month of mortgage payments or paying other monthly bills and buying necessities like groceries has unfortunately become a regrettable realty for millions of Americans.Whether you’re struggling to make your monthly payment due to the loss of a job, an interest rate re-adjustment, ugly divorce, sickness or injury, the question millions are forced to ask, “Should I try for a short sale or go ahead with a foreclosure?” Only use a foreclosure as a last resort The buzzword “foreclosure” is everywhere these days; we all are talking about it.

 

Facing the very real prospect of having to choose between squeaking by another month of mortgage payments or paying other monthly bills and buying necessities like groceries has unfortunately become a regrettable realty for millions of Americans.Whether you’re struggling to make your monthly payment due to the loss of a job, an interest rate re-adjustment, ugly divorce, sickness or injury, the question millions are forced to ask, “Should I try for a short sale or go ahead with a foreclosure?” Only use a foreclosure as a last resort The buzzword “foreclosure” is everywhere these days; we all are talking about it. 

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What does that Equal Credit Opportunity Logo Really Mean?

Think of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) as a sort of a civil rights act for credit. Creditors are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you receive public assistance. This means they are not able to deny, grant or provide different terms based upon those factors. You probably have noticed that various applications may ask these types of questions, but they are not allowed to make a credit decision based upon this information; this information is likely used for marketing or other unrelated reasons. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act includes all credit companies including department store cards, mortgage companies, real estate companies, banks, small loan companies and credit unions.

Credit Companies may NOT:

 

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Credit Repair; Help is Out There

 

Credit Repair is not a losing battle. Any and all tactics to improve or repair your score are well worth your time and effort; but there are better ways than others to help best determine where to start and how to best allocate that time and effort to make the most difference.

 

 

There are many companies offering to help you repair your credit score and even more willing to take your money and repay you with just about nothing other than a big bill and still just as ugly of credit. It is important to understand that each persons’ credit history is different and if there is a company out there offering a quick and simple ‘one size fits all’ solution it is best to avoid them all together. An individual with a few late credit card payments should have an entirely different repair plan than the one fresh out of bankruptcy, foreclosure, or a short sale or two.

 

 

In order to repair credit, it is important to first and most importantly understand credit and how it works! If you’re one of the lucky ones with cash on hand to begin repairing your credit there are still quite a few things you should know before you do so. Simply throwing money at your overdue bills may get the creditors to stop calling, but it will not fix the whole problem and it certainly will not repair your credit. If you’re like most people in need of credit repair, you may just need a clear plan of action and a moment to breathe some fresh air instead of lying helpless under that mountain of overdue notices and stress.

 

 

Help really is out there. There are a handful of honest companies out there offering legitimate advice, counseling and education on how to best repair your own individual credit. One of the best ways to find great service and honest results are to ask friends, relatives or reliable individuals if they have any dependable referrals or if they know of a great credit repair companies.

 

Unfortunately for many, damaged credit can be a touchy subject and friends or family members may not be too willing to discuss such sensitive information. A good way to determine an honest credit repair company is to be sure that all of the information and advice they provide is drawn specifically from your credit report; in other words if they are able to bark our generic answers over the phone without looking at your scenario, hang up. Credit repair can be quite complex, that’s why you are looking for advice now isn’t it? There are no simple answers when it comes to credit, so be ready to face the tough question and don’t be afraid to ask even tougher ones.

Next Step

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