Must-Have Information About Debt As a Homeowner

Homeowners tend to have this love affair with borrowing staggering amounts of money. With credit everywhere, we’re encouraged to borrow more, and buy more until eventually, debt sneaks up on us. It’s the perfect storm. What’s worse is, when debt does invade our lives, we ignore the obvious. So how can a homeowner tackle debt? Awareness is the first step in changing your future. Analyze the numbers to see just how bad it is.

How to Handle Secured Debt

A good rule of thumb when determining which bills to pay first is to pay more attention to any debt that is secured by collateral or assets, then pay unsecured debts. Usually, secured debts are fixed by an asset, for example, the loan you signed to purchase your car is secured by a lien on your vehicle, as well as the mortgage loan on your home is secured. If you stop making payments, providers can initiate a repossession or foreclosure. Continue reading Must-Have Information About Debt As a Homeowner

Credit Repair

Credit Repair

Credit repair has become a necessity. Prior to the recession you could afford to have blemishes on your credit report; lenders didn’t really care. If your credit score was a little low you would simply pay a modestly higher interest rate. Not the end of the world. But along with the recession came the most dramatic credit crunch ever. It started with mortgage lenders as they scrambled to mitigate risk in their real estate portfolios. Over the following year every other creditor followed in step. One thing leads to another and now millions of people are finding that without some form of remedial credit repair effort they are unable to purchase anything on credit.

The Credit Crunch

The severity of the credit crunch has taken many by surprise. In mid-2006 money was flowing freely. The economic froth was beyond anything the world had seen since the roaring twenties. Even then credit repair paid dividends, it’s true, but there was no desperate need. You could purchase a home with credit scores in the low 500s. You might even get an interest rate as low as one percent, albeit an adjustable rate mortgage. But, oh, how times change. Now, for millions of people, the lack of an intelligent credit repair effort can mean no loan at all. And the non-availability of credit can mean real hardship. Just think of something as simple as automobile financing. Can you do without a car? Urban dwellers might get by with public transportation, but that is not the case for most of us.

Continue reading Credit Repair

Improving Credit

Improving Credit

For many people with bad credit, it seems impossible to get out of debt, clean up their credit reports and improving credit scores. But there are millions of consumers who have been able to successfully restore their financial health by following a simple credit repair plan.

If you are determined to begin improving credit scores, start by following these five easy steps.

1. Develop a financial plan: Improving credit begins with a working budget. Financial mismanagement, in most cases, is what causes most credit-related problems. The best way to make sure you actually begin improving credit is to make sure you have control over your money. Cutting out unnecessary spending will provide you with more expendable cash to make sure your bills are covered and will help you later in the repair process. This step is extremely important if you wish to be successful in improving credit ratings .

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How to Get Free Credit Reports in Australia

Free Credit Reports

What you need to know

Consumers in the US, UK and Australia can all get their hands free credit reports to do a credit check on themselves. The systems in each country are different, and this article explains how consumers can go about getting  free credit reports if they live in one of these countries.

Free Credit Reports

In the United States:

Consumers have had the legal right to a free credit reports, annually, for a number of years now. The Fair Credit Reporting Act granted consumers free credit reports from each of the three US credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

There is only one authorized website in the US from which American consumers can obtain their free credit reports under their legal entitlement, and that is annual credit report. There is also a free toll number, 1-877-322-8228 where US citizen’s can order their annual credit report. A report can also be ordered by filling out the Request Form and posting it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Online, the service is instant, but security questions will be asked to verify identity. By telephone and post, it takes about 15 days for a credit report to arrive, but it may take longer if the agency needs to verify an identity.

The Federal Trade Commission, which protects US consumers, has warned people to be on the look out for what it calls ‘impostor’ sites. At one point it was estimated there were more than one hundred such websites in existence, some of which included domains that used misspellings of the authorized free credit reports website.

There are other online services offering free credit reports, using subscription free trial period schemes. With these credit report services consumers need to be aware that if they fail to cancel the subscription within the free trial period they are likely to have their plastic charged. The trial period schemes usually require consumers to cancel the subscription within the trial period, usually 30 days, or the company may start to charge a fee.

Also, in the United States, consumers can get afree credit reports if they have been turned down for credit, insurance or employment and they apply within 60 days of receiving notice from the company involved. The unemployed who are looking for work, those on welfare and people whose reports are inaccurate, because of fraud, can all get a free credit reports.

Free Credit Reports

In the UK:

There is not a legal right for consumers to free credit reports from the credit reference agencies in the UK, unlike the US. But you can go directly to the websites of the three credit reference agencies, Callcredit, Equifax and Experian to get one without having to pay a fee. All offer a free trial subscription service that provides afree credit reports as part of the free trial. To avoid incurring a charge, the consumer must remember to cancel the subscription with the credit reference agency within the free trial period, usually 30 days. Failure to do so may lead to the agency charging fees.

One website in the UK, annualcreditreport.co.uk, provides UK consumers with free yearly access to their credit report from one of the three credit reference agencies. This service doesn’t require people to provide their credit card details to get free credit reports.

While there is not a legal right for consumers to free credit reports in the UK, there is a right under Data Protection laws for consumers to get a credit report for £2. This is known as a statutory credit report. A statutory credit report can be obtained by writing to the credit reference agencies and sending a cheque or postal order for £2, with details such as name, full current and previous address, and date of birth to: Callcredit Ltd Consumer Services Team, PO Box 491, Leeds LS3 1WZ; Experian Ltd Consumer Help Service, PO Box 8000, Nottingham NG80 7WF and Equifax Credit Report Advice Centre PO Box 1140 Bradford BD1 5US. It usually takes around 7 days for a statutory credit report to arrive.

Free Credit Reports

In Australia:

Consumers have a right to free credit reports in Australia under the Privacy Act. Veda Advantage and Dun and Bradstreet, Australia’s largest credit reporting agencies, will both provide  free credit reports in Australia to consumers within 10 days of receiving a request. The Tasmanian Collection Service, which covers the citizens of Tasmania, provides consumers with a free credit report if they have been refused credit or an application is to do with the management of an individual’s credit commitments.

Australian consumers keen to keep an eye on their credit rating can get a free copy of their credit reports in Australia by writing to: Veda Advantage Public Access, PO Box 964, North Sydney NSW 2059. Dun and Bradstreet at Public Access Centre, Dun and Bradstreet (Australia) PL, PO box 7405, St Kilda Road, VIC 3004. Tasmanian Collection Service can be contacted at GPO Box 814H, Hobart, TAS 7001.

Tristan Dunston is a public relations consultant specialising in finance and privacy matters.

Free credit reports are available if you know where to look.