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Syble Solomon Head Shot-VA-

Financial Behaviorist Syble Solomon joined me on “Turn the Page” to discuss how her Money Habitudes card game, which has been used by hundreds of thousands of people globally, helps people to have their “best ever” conversations about money. These types of dialogues can support couples in staying together, the wealthy in improving their quality of life (affluence does not imply well-being!), and those who are financially challenged to thrive.

Listen to our episode for insights that will guide you in better understanding your spending and saving behaviors.
Lee Gimpel-head shot-VA
“Credit” is a topic that goes hand-in-hand with your habits and attitudes about money. Subsequent to our show, Syble and her colleague, Lee Gimpel, with whom she created The Good Credit Game, provided information that will assist you in optimizing your credit score. Given the variability in how credit works in different parts of the world, the suggestions they shared are best applied in the U.S. Here’s what they said:

Your credit score is derived from the contents of your credit report at the time that the data is requested. Different companies produce both general scores, and ones that are specific to particular industries and different types of credit requests. Your score answers the question, “How much does the financial system trust you?” It determines the likelihood you’ll be approved for credit or a loan, and the rates you’ll receive.

Your credit background is increasingly used beyond traditional places like getting a mortgage or car loan. It may figure into whether someone will rent to you, or if you qualify for a job, especially those that require security clearances. Lower credit scores can mean higher car insurance rates. Statistically, people with lower scores make more insurance claims.

It takes time to build good credit. If you plan on buying a house in five years, start improving your credit today – not right before buying that home. The difference between great credit and OK credit could mean that you get a loan that’s hundreds of dollars cheaper per month, which will save you thousands of dollars over the course of that loan.

The most important factor in your credit score is whether you pay your bills on time and as agreed.  This payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score.

Don’t max out your credit. Your credit score tends to suffer if you use a lot of your available credit at once, even if you pay your balance in full each month. A typical rule of thumb is to use a maximum of 30% of your limit. So if your card has a $10,000 limit, try to stay under $3000 in any given month. Increasing the credit limit on your account might improve your score in the longer term, if it enables you to use a smaller percentage of your credit limit.

Paying off your credit bill balance in full every month saves you a lot of money, while paying just the minimum will cost you a lot! Closing all old credit cards can lower your score. You can lose history and the lower overall credit limit can also hurt your score.

If you can’t pay your bill, contact the credit card company to work out a solution. Don’t ignore the bills. There will be late fees, and the balance will keep growing as interest will be charged on the new balance each month. This can lower your credit score, especially if outstanding balances go to collections agencies.

When you request your credit report, it is a “soft” inquiry and doesn’t lower your credit score. “Hard” inquiries are associated with financial commitments such as getting a loan or applying for a mortgage, credit card or line of credit. They can lower your credit score.

As long as you can make timely payments on what you owe, use credit! A minimal or nonexistent track record of paying back debt might lower your credit score and cause vendors to charge you higher interest rates. Since research shows that past behavior is indicative of future behavior, lenders want to see how you’ve handled similar situations.

Credit reports often contain mistakes that can lower your credit score and/or reveal fraudulent activity. Errors like a misspelled name or incorrect address may cause someone else’s information to impact your scores. There are lots of fake “free” services out there, so ensure that you’re utilizing credible sources. Check your report from each of the three main credit bureaus annually. It’s free at: http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Reading Syble’s “10 Tips to Talk About Money with Your Honey article, and using her Money Habitudes cards or on-line tool can help you to better understand your “money personality.” If you’d like to educate adults and young adults about credit reports, scores, and credit cards – in a fun and hands-on way – include the The Good Credit Game in your discussions.

Listen to my conversation with Syble to learn more!

Big Changes in How You Can Get Errors Off Your Credit Report

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Big Changes in How You Can Get Errors Off Your Credit Report


The big three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs)—Equifax, Experian and Trans Union—have come to an agreement with the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, to overhaul the way they report consumer credit which will benefit consumers nationwide.

“Credit reports touch every part of our lives,” said Mr. Schneiderman. “They affect whether we can obtain a credit card, take out a college loan, rent an apartment or buy a car and sometimes even whether we can get jobs.”

Under this settlement, the CRAs have agreed to leave medical collections off credit reports until they are 180 days delinquent. This will give you 6 months to correct any billing errors with medical providers before they negatively affect your credit.

In many cases, consumers have been hit with late payment infractions on their credit reports because insurance companies have delayed or missed payments. This new agreement will prevent that. Now you’ll have time to figure out what the insurance company owes and make sure they pay what is due or be reimbursed for your out of pocket expense without hurting your credit score. The agreement also says that any debts paid by insurance must be removed from the credit report. So if your insurance is still lagging on the payment, it will be removed once the payment is processed, rather than lingering on your report for years to come.

You never plan for an illness or accident. Even if you have an 800 credit score, your score can suddenly plummet because of an accidental slip and fall or car crash. That can make your score the same as someone who irresponsibly used his credit to purchase a 70-inch TV he couldn’t afford. This New York AG agreement with the CRAs is designed to prevent that unfair situation.

Along with the medical debt, the CRAs have also agreed to implement a new process for filing disputes on credit reports. Under the present system a file can only be disputed when you believe your credit report is inaccurate. The bureaus receive these disputes and put them through an automated process. In some cases, the mistakes will be corrected, but in most cases they remain unchanged. Under the new system the disputes will be reviewed by specially trained employees in order to resolve it.

Consumers have been complaining for years that the system makes it very difficult to correct errors and disputes on credit reports. If you have outdated information on your report, you may be able to get it removed. However, if you have been a victim of identity theft, you may be stuck with incorrect information on your report for years to come. Consumer groups estimate that 1 out of every 4 consumers has some kind of incorrect information on their credit reports. Updating and correcting this information has always taken take an abundant amount of time and money.

Since the CRAs will now have an actual staff of trained employees to review disputes, they will investigate deeper and fix incorrect information that has been overlooked by the automated process. These changes will be implemented nationwide within the next 3 years, though most the new procedures will go into effect over the next 6-18 months.

This agreement is a major victory for you, the consumer. The dispute process has been overwhelming with medical debt accounting for over half of all errors on credit reports. It’s important to know any factors that are impacting your credit score and to take action against any mistakes that have been made. If you haven’t checked your credit report in a while, now is the time to get a new report.

Credit reports can be confusing, and attempting to understand them can sometimes be like learning a foreign language. It is best if you get professional help to interpret your reports and begin the process of removing errors. My favorite credit experts are at Better Qualified, they will go over your credit report with you and identify all negative items that could be unnecessarily depressing your credit score. You can get one free Trans Union credit report and score when you give Better Qualified a call or contact them online.

After completing the credit analysis, the experts at Better Qualified will educate you on how to improve your credit score. If your report is plagued by derogatory accounts that are inaccurate, Better Qualified will attempt to remove them from the report using legitimate techniques they have perfected over the years. The less derogatory information on your report, the better your credit score will be.

If you’re one of the 77 million Americans who have debts that have gone into collection, you will benefit even more by the service offered by Better Qualified. Collections take time and money to pay off and will remain on your credit report for up to 7 years after they have been paid off. Better Qualified has a team of attorneys that look for violations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in the way you have been treated in the collection process. Their attorneys have been successful in not only getting your collections satisfied without you having to make any payments, but also getting them removed from your credit report.

If you become a client of Better Qualified, they will work to remove any errors on your credit report even after their original assignment has been completed.

Your credit score is the most important number in your financial life! Make sure it is as high as possible by getting rid of any errors on your credit report. Take action now to find out what is on your report and how your score can be improved. Go to www.TourDeCredit.com or call 732-413-8559 and get your free credit analysis from Better Qualified.

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