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Medical Debt Impacting Credit

Does Medical Debt Impact Your Credit Score?

By | Debt

Medical debt is no longer displayed on your credit report the same way it used to be, but it can still impact your credit if it goes unpaid for too long. With recent changes in reporting requirements, there are new rules surrounding how long you have to pay off your medical debt before it gets reported and starts impacting your credit.

Here’s what you can expect to happen to your credit once you start to accumulate any kind of medical debt.

When Medical Collections Show Up on Your Credit Report

Medical debt doesn’t show up on your credit card until it’s left unpaid and goes to collections. Early on, it’s treated like any other bill in that it’s not listed on your credit report. If it’s a large amount that you can’t pay off in a lump sum, it’s best to try and sign up for a manageable payment plan with your medical provider. However, if you don’t pay on the balance for whatever reason, your account could end up being sold to a debt collection agency.

At that point, the collection agency is likely to report your medical debt to the credit bureaus. Like many other types of negative entries, medical debt is listed on your report for seven years, unless removed by initiating a credit dispute. The seven-year period starts from the first delinquency date associated with your medical debt.

What Happens to Unpaid Medical Debt

On the plus side for consumers, there are some extra restrictions that the credit bureaus must abide by when listing medical debt. Even if the collection agency reports the debt to Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, the credit bureau must give you a 180-day grace period to pay off your balance. That period starts from the original due date, giving you a full six months to make arrangements to pay the bills.

So even if your health care provider sold the debt three months after your due date, you still have another three months to catch up. This also gives you time to potentially ask your insurance company to help you negotiate. The claims process can be a slow and tedious one, so this extended grace period is meant to make sure your credit doesn’t tank just because your insurance company took too long to pay all or part of the balance. Once the debt makes it onto your credit report, it’s listed as an unpaid collection.

How Credit Scoring Models Weigh Your Medical Debt

If you don’t manage to pay off your medical collections debt within the grace period, it will then likely be listed on your credit report. However, your score won’t suffer as much compared to other types of debt. That’s because the latest scoring models from both FICO and VantageScore don’t weigh medical debt as much as other types of debt, particularly credit card balance. It makes sense why — medical bills don’t generally indicate a pattern of poor financial decisions.

On the downside, not all lenders and financial institutions use the most current scoring models from FICO or VantageScore. Older versions may weigh medical debt equally with other kinds. Still, as companies continue to move forward and upgrade their lending platforms, it’ll be much easier to improve credit related to medical debt.

How Credit Disputes Work for Medical Debt

It is possible to get unpaid medical debt removed from your report so that you can fix your credit score before you reach the seven-year delinquency mark. Check your records for any credit errors. If you find any discrepancies in the debt amount, payment debts, or any other information, you may be able to start a credit dispute and have the entry negated. This entails sending a letter to the credit bureau. Regardless of their findings, the investigation should be completed within 30 days. Be sure to keep copies of all your communications related to your medical debt, both with the collection agency and the credit bureaus.

If you’re trying to fix your credit related to medical debt or any other negative items on your report, it can be helpful to get professional help. You certainly can execute the dispute process on your own, but it can be an extremely time-intensive process. And if you don’t research your rights adequately, you may end up doing more damage to your credit score.

Luckily, a professional firm like Ovation Credit can help. Our team of lawyers has years of experience in the field, plus knowledge of the intricacies of credit and debt law.

Get started with a free consultation today to start the credit repair process.

Sources:

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-happens-when-medical-bills-go-collections/

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/can-medical-bills-affect-credit-report/

Understanding Your Credit – Score, Reports and Bureaus

By | Credit Reports

Understanding Your Credit

Most Americans do not realize how credit scores, reports and bureaus actually work. In fact, 42 percent believe the myth that lenders must report to all three major credit bureaus. This is wrong and causes a huge headache at times. The truth is that your score could vary by as many as hundreds of points between your files at each of the bureaus.

This is just one of many examples of credit misinformation. When you research how credit works, there is a web of knowledge to uncover. It all helps you become a better borrower, as you can pay your debts and manage new credit more efficiently.

Credit Scores & FICO Explained

Your credit score, or “FICO score,” is something you need to mentally master. It is a single output that significantly impacts your borrowing abilities and creditworthiness. All credit score factors matter to you – therefore, it is essential to have a solid understanding of how they work.

The Types of Credit Scores

While there are many types of credit-scoring algorithms, the majority are a type of FICO score. This is why the term “FICO” goes hand-in-hand with “credit score” so often. If you hear the term “FAKO score,” it just means anything but a FICO score.

Here are some different credit-scoring models that exist:

  • BEACON
  • CE
  • Empirica
  • FICO
  • VantageScore 3.0

At least nine of 10 lenders use a FICO score to screen applicants.

 

(Source wwww.myfico.com)

How Does FICO Calculate Your Credit Score?

  • Payment History = 35%
  • Amounts Owed = 30%
  • Length of Credit History = 15%
  • New Credit = 10%
  • Credit Mix = 10%

Of course, each type of credit rating will have a slightly different algorithm. But, you should hold these rating factors as the most important variables. Focus on avoiding delinquencies or worse, and start bringing your total debt down.

Hint: pay revolving debt first. Your installment debts (such as student loans) do not count toward your utilization ratio.

Which Credit or FICO Scores Do Lenders Use?

FICO offers 28 main score versions to each of the three major credit bureaus. It provides a scoring algorithm for these bureaus to determine a FICO score to assign to each file. With the help of FICO, every credit bureau also has an in-house scoring model. They are as follows: BEACON (Equifax), FICO Risk Score (Experian) and Empirica (TransUnion).

A lender will decide on which credit bureau to pull your file from. That bureau will dictate the score that is provided – based on the type of account you wish to open. This means your score could vary for a car loan, home mortgage and so on.

Auto Score vs. Bankcard Score vs. FICO Score

There is an appropriate time for a lender to use each type of score. FICO Score 8 is the most generally accepted model between borrowers and lenders. Older FICO score versions are regularly used and more common in the mortgage market. FICO Auto Score is the go-to score when qualifying an applicant for an auto loan, and Bankcard Score is used to measure the worthiness of credit card applicants.

FICO Scores Used by Auto Lenders

FICO Auto Score is most common, but the version each bureau uses will differ. Equifax typically supplies FICO Auto Score 5 or 8. Experian uses Auto Score 2 or 8. Meanwhile, TransUnion falls to Auto Score 4 and 8. Since the FICO Auto Score 9 recently came into being, it might start gaining traction with any or all of the credit bureaus soon.

FICO Scores Used by Credit Card Issuers

FICO Bankcard Score 2 and 8, and FICO Score 3, are all sometimes pulled for the purpose of making credit card lending decisions. FICO Bankcard Score 9 also now exists but is not yet commonplace. The Bankcard Score focuses more on your credit card history and less on your medical debts, utility bills and any one-off missed payments.

FICO Scores Used by Home Loan Providers

A mortgage broker or private lender will typically use a dated FICO Score. This is because the underwriting rules for the U.S. mortgage industry require the use of older versions. As such, Equifax uses FICO Score 2, Experian uses FICO Score 5, and TransUnion uses FICO Score 4 to qualify mortgage applicants.

Even after reading about scores here, you no doubt have some questions. A good way to gain more knowledge is by reading the informative content on myFICO.com’s website. This will give you a better idea on how the credit rankers run things, too.

Credit Report Mystery

Reading and Understanding Your Credit Report

Confusion forms when you first look at your credit report. It is hard to know what is there, what is not and how things got there in the first place. But, this foggy way of thinking clears up once you get a good grasp of basic credit report terms. Below are some things you might find in your file:

Default

After you fail to pay, it will say you are in default on your debt. This happens after you fail to repay as scheduled. With credit cards, a default is usually reported after you go 90 days without making any payments. The default status will stay on your credit report for six years before it drops off.

Derogatory

A derogatory mark means only that the item is a negative one. It usually implies a late payment, charge-off or court judgment against you. It serves as a warning from a scorned lender and symbolizes a lack of creditworthiness. The derogatory status can stay on your report for up to seven years.

Satisfied

A satisfied item is anything that went into dispute with a creditor but is now fully resolved. As with all public record documents, a court judgment will stay in your file for seven years from the date you satisfy the debt.

Settled

A settled item is a debt that was in arrears but no longer exists because a settlement agreement was made between you and the creditor. This is a payoff that allows you to settle for less than what you actually owe – it is common when dealing with debt collectors since they pay pennies on the dollar to own the debt and will typically negotiate. Not paying the total amount back can harm your score, and the damage will stay on your file for seven years.

If you are a responsible borrower, the positive terms you might see include “Pays As Agreed” or “Paid/Closed Never Late.” Additionally, when you start running late on your payments, you might see 60 Days Past Due or 120 Days Past Due on your report.

What Else Your Credit Report Tells You

Your credit report contains many other pieces of information aside from the current account status for each debt. Take a look below to better understand what all is on your credit report and how to read it.

Personal Information

Your credit report will provide personal information, including your full name, where you live, your place of employment and your Social Security number. This data is gathered from the various accounts you hold that are being reported to the credit bureaus. A credit report will get an update to its information any time an account is updated. It can mix up information at times if your accounts are not up-to-date, so keep that in mind.

Soft / Hard Inquiries

Any time a lender pulls your file, it will result in an inquiry. This inquiry can be either soft or hard, with the latter having a short-term negative impact on your score. Soft inquiries mostly occur when employers run a background check for employment purposes. Many lenders will also perform a soft pull of your credit report to see if you pre-qualify for one of their offers before sending it to you.

Hard inquiries occur when lenders determine your creditworthiness at your request. A hard pull can drop your score a few points but will drop off of your report two years after it posts.

Public Record and Collections

Your credit report will include any public records in your name, such as bankruptcies, court judgments, foreclosures, lawsuits, wage garnishments and tax liens. The length of time these entries stay on your reports is variable. A civil judgment will last for seven years. Meanwhile, tax liens are very dangerous – they drop off seven years after the paid date, but leaving them unpaid can plague your file for 15 long years.

Credit Errors

 

Tackling Your Credit Report – and the Errors!

You have a credit report on file at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each bureau accepts information from credit reporting companies. The creditors submit details to one, two or all of the major bureaus. Thus, it is possible for your reports to contain inconsistent information.

Some lenders will pull from one credit bureau only. This means your chance to qualify for credit comes down to which bureau they choose. So, it is important to make sure your information is accurate. You also need to make sure that all your accounts show up on each of your reports.

Boost Your Score by Fixing Credit Report Errors

Did you know that the FTC’s 2015 follow-up study on credit report accuracy found that roughly 20 percent of subjects saw a credit score increase after fixing errors found on their reports? This news came after discovering that 20 percent of credit reports contain at least one inaccuracy.

These errors are often little details that get mixed up. This typically happens when lenders only report to one of the credit bureaus. The missing pieces of your payment history can make or break your credit score. Furthermore, having only part of your debt in each file will result in an inaccurate calculation of your credit utilization rate – for better or worse.

Credit Report Errors Worth Disputing

The hardest thing to decide is whether you should report an error or not. It is not wise to ignore anything that is incorrect, but many issues will not impact your score. Little discrepancies in your personal information, for example, will not lead to a points boost.

The best time to report an error is when you see a major issue. If something is literally holding your score down, then you should report it. Even as little as 25 points can influence how you are able to build your credit. Imagine a few unjust rejections as you apply for loans and credit cards – these further drop your score. Ultimately, you look like a less reliable borrower than you really are.

Here are the errors that can impact your FICO score the most:

  • Letting an account enter Collections status = up to 100 points
  • 30 days delinquent on a bank card debt = up to 100 points lost
  • Missing a single credit account = up to 100 points difference by file

Understand that if you have an error causing a 100-point difference, it is severely holding you back. Going from a 780 to 680 score alone can result in more than $450 annually spent on extra interest. Take advantage of the chance to improve your score whenever you can. However, make sure not to fabricate errors or exaggerate issues to get bad debts removed.

How to Find Errors on Your Credit Report

First, simultaneously obtain current copies of your credit reports from the big three credit agencies. Then, you can compare the data and determine where any inconsistencies lie. This will be effective for picking up on most or all errors, but further review may still be still necessary.

One thing to watch for is debt that gets sold and resold. The information can change with time, and even the amount owing might be different. Any discrepancies may be grounds for removal of the entry.

This can bring your score up, but, how much will it increase? Four in every 1,000 reports with errors will see a change of as many as 100 points. This is a staggering statistic, but you should look at the stats affecting the majority. Five percent of erroneous credit reports contain inaccuracies of 25 points or more.

It is free to dispute credit reporting errors. Do this if you find anything in your file to be unfair or unjustified. Your credit score will improve after the errors are removed. However, make sure to only report true inaccuracies; if the debt reappears, your score boost will reverse itself fast.

Step-by-Step Credit Report Error Guide

So, have you come to the decision that reporting your errors is the right thing to do? It can make a major difference and aid you in your journey to rebuild your FICO score. With that said, you will only get good results if you follow the proper protocols.

Here’s how you can go about reporting errors in your credit file:

Contact the Credit Bureau

Reach out to the credit bureau to report your claim with a dispute letter. Be respectful, and provide all evidence you have to back up the fact that an item should be removed. If the information is inaccurate with all three bureaus, make sure to report the problem to each.

Wait to Hear Back

The company that reported the debt will have a short period to dispute your claim. This is when any information against you can come into play. After that, the dispute can go into mediation for a final judgment. Typically, you will hear back from the creditor within 30 days.

Usually, the judgment will be completed within this short time frame. In difficult situations, though, it can run on for a few months or longer. Once all is over, your score will recalculate. However, it is important to note that the entries might drop off temporarily and return after evidence against you is found. So, if you report factually accurate entries, it could end up leaving you in a worse position later.

What if You’re the Victim of Identity Theft?

This is an entirely different situation, but the process for handling identity theft is somewhat similar to reporting other issues. You must contact the credit bureau(s) with your claim. However, to be better prepared, a copy of your FTC Affidavit should be supplied. You can also use this to obtain a police report at your local police station.

Supplying all this information, along with your proof, will be adequate. From there, you will wait for a reply and see if any further documents are needed. Identity theft entries can damage your score drastically, and they should be reported as soon as you notice them.

Furthermore, it is important to watch out for identity theft all the time. This issue hurts many Americans every year, and there are endless ways for fraudsters to target you. There are many free identity theft protection services that work wonders.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft and have contacted the credit bureau, you will also receive a fraud alert on your credit report. This lets lenders know to be careful when dealing with someone who connects to your file.

Read the FTC’s Disputing Errors on Credit Reports to learn the entire process.

Credit-Related FAQs

You should have a clearer view now of how credit works, but here’s extra info (and reminders) to help you out!

1. Do Lenders Report to ALL Credit Bureaus?

A lender can post information to one or all of the major credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This data will calculate into your FICO score. Eventually, a lender will use your credit rating to determine your loan eligibility. Your reports can get mixed up and have varying scores, which can result in unjust denials of credit.

2. How Do Credit Bureaus Collect Personal Data?

Information like your current employer and physical address can come from your credit card issuer, your loan provider or your utility provider. These data points are put in your file on a somewhat regular basis – monthly, quarterly, etc. This gives the bureaus what they need to try and keep your personal information up-to-date.

3. How Do You Get a Copy of Your Credit Report?

Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to make a request online. This is a service that allows U.S. citizens to request a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can pull your reports once a year, and per the FACT Act, it is your legal entitlement. You may view the reports online or request that printed copies be mailed to you. However, keep in mind that this will only get you copies of your reports – and not the associated credit scores.

4. How Often Should You Check Your Credit Report?

You should always stay up-to-date with what posts to your credit report at each of the major credit bureaus. Spread things out, and check one of your files every four months. Alternatively, a free or affordable credit monitoring service can help you keep tabs on things.

5. Can You Find Out Which Score a Lender Will Use?

Thanks to the FCRA Act, a lender must include “the range of possible credit scores under the model used to generate the credit score.” This means you will know whichever credit ratings a prospective lender receives. Not only that, but you will also be told the type (version) of FICO score that was pulled for your application.

6. How Long Does Stuff Last on Your Credit Report?

  • Unpaid tax liens: Up to 15 years from the filing date
  • Bankruptcies: 10 years – possibly seven years if you get a Chapter 13 discharge
  • Tax liens: Seven years from the filing date
  • Collection accounts: Seven years + 180 days from the first month’s missed payment
  • Foreclosure: Seven years after the date of your foreclosure
  • Late payments: Seven years after the date of the payment delinquency
  • Charge-offs: Seven years after the date your debt is written off as a loss
  • Soft inquiries: Two years from the date of the inquiry
  • Hard inquiries: One year from the date of the inquiry

Sources:

https://blog.creditkarma.com/personal-finance/how-much-do-americans-really-know-about-credit/

http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/credit-score.aspx

http://www.myfico.com/

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/01/ftc-issues-follow-study-credit-report-accuracy

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/02/ftc-study-five-percent-consumers-had-errors-their-credit-reports

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0151-disputing-errors-credit-reports

Freelancers – Follow These Tips & Better Your Finances in 2016

By | Budgeting, Personal Finance, Save Money, Your Credit

Get on Track this Year & On Top of Your Finances

Freelancing is both a blessing and a curse. As a freelancer you’re probably repeatedly told how lucky you are, how great it must be to be your own boss, and then there’s all that freedom. While freelancing does mean all those things it also means having to pay for your healthcare out of pocket, and often an uncertainty about where or when your next check will come from.

When it comes to personal finance, freelancers have to take extra care to stay on track. Still, more people are freelancing than ever before according to a recent survey from the Freelancers Union. They claim that 53 million Americans freelance, which is 34% of the population.

Whether you freelance full time or on the side, freelancing can be rewarding on a personal and financial level. Make the most of your freelancing efforts by staying on top of the following:

Report Your Income to the IRS

Paying your taxes is easy when you’re working for someone else. Taxes are automatically deducted from your pay, and you report your income at the end of the year when you file your taxes. When you freelance your expected to make estimated tax payments on a quarterly basis, which can get confusing especially if you have to pay both state and federal taxes.

Making estimated tax payments on time can be difficult when you freelance and paychecks don’t come in consistently. You might prioritize other expenses over these payments, but that may cause you to fall behind. Late payments can lead to back tax payments, penalties or an audit.

Making your payments on time is easier if you sign up for an online account. The IRS allows you to make federal tax payments on the EFTPS website.

Get Health Insurance

While health insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense when freelancing, especially if your young and healthy, out-of-pocket medical expenses can lead to significant debt. With the addition of Obamacare the federal government can now fine you $695 or 2.5% of your income for going without coverage.

Planning for Retirement

Many long-time freelancers have little if anything saved away for retirement. While corporations offer robust 401(k)s you might be finding it difficult to grow a retirement account. There are plenty of financial institutions and financial advisors who offer retirement advice and 401(k) management. It’s never too late to start saving for retirement.

Saving for Emergencies

While contract work is great it may not be consistent. Having an emergency fun or savings account is always a great idea, but it’s even more vital for freelancers. Short term loans and credit cards come with high interest rates and fees. By putting a small percentage of each paycheck away in a savings account can help you get through lean times.

It’s never too late to start managing your money better. Make the most out of your freelancing this year and master your personal finances.

How do you manage your freelance wages? Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comment section below.

Avoid the Student Loan Abyss

By | Debt, Personal Finance

Learn How to Manage Your Loans Now

Perhaps the best piece of advice anyone could give to their former-self is to manage student debt better from the start. Student loans are hard to avoid all together, but there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of debt you’ll eventually owe.

Whether you’re planning for yourself or your child, here are just a few ways to manage student debt better:

Before Debt

Before taking out a student loan try applying for any (and all) scholarships you qualify for. The application process isn’t easy, and often requires writing on your part, but they can help save you thousands in debt.

Get Organized

Multiple loans are often required to cover the cost of a four year university. It helps to get organized. To help reduce the time paying loans, create a “favorites” folder in your browser. By bookmarking your loan payment pages you can access them quickly and easily. Create an excel sheet to help keep track of usernames, login IDs, passwords and more. By keeping track of account numbers, logins and passwords you’ll never have to worry about forgetting your account details. Just make sure to password protect the excel sheet in case your device should end up in the hands of someone other than yourself.

Create a Budget

As a new member of the workforce you may not have the funds to pay your student loans. There are plenty of options for new graduates including forbearance and deferment of payments. The issue becomes mounting interest. It’s okay if you can’t make payments right away, but it’s important to figure out your finances and begin making payments as quickly as possible to reduce the amount you’ll pay overall. By creating a budget for yourself you can make timely payments, and reduce the amount you’ll owe and even rid yourself of debt sooner than the term of your loan.

Refinancing

Refinancing during the recession was near impossible, but start-up companies like SoFi now make it possible to refinance your student debt. By bundling multiple loans together you can reduce the amount you pay in interest, and even reduce what you owe each month. If you built up good credit in the years since graduating, refinancing could be a way to save on student debt.

Avoid Schemes

Don’t be swindled by would-be scammers. There are a number of fake websites dedicated to student loan “forgiveness” and student debt “settlement” that charge an upfront fee and monthly payments to help you rid yourself of student debt. Don’t fall for these scams. Do your research before taking any action against your student debt.

Automatic Payments

Many student loan lenders provide discounts to customers who set up auto-payments. You can decrease your interest rates by .25% by allowing the lender to remove funds on your due date automatically. It’s also an easy way to make sure your payments go out on time and you don’t acquire late fees. Just make sure you always have funds in your account so that you don’t overdraft.

Student debt isn’t abnormal, and it doesn’t mean the end of the world. If you manage your finances responsibly, and create a repayment plan for yourself you’ll be out of debt without financial burden.

Was this article helpful? How do you manage your student debt? Let us know in the comment section below.

Dos and Dont’s to Keep Your Pre-approved Mortgage Loan

By | Home Buying, Mortgage

pre-approved-mortgageAre you pre-approved for a mortgage and getting ready to purchase the home of your dreams? Before you get too excited, keep in mind that a fully approved loan can get denied for funding even after you have signed all the loan documents.

How does this happen? The answer is simple. Before funding, the underwriter pulls a new credit report, and any new findings can be used as justification to kill the loan. This isn’t likely to occur if the timeframe is within 30 days, but you can expect a new credit report to be pulled if the date of the application is more than 60 days out from actual funding.

Losing a loan after approval is very common. To help prevent this from happening to you, follow these dos and don’ts.

Do continue making your mortgage or rent payments

The key element a lender is looking for is responsible payment patterns. Any change in these patterns can affect your credit, thereby affecting whether your approval on a new loan still stands. Even if you have given notice, continue paying rent or your current mortgage until you have signed final loan documents and your loan has been funded.

Do stay current on all accounts

The quickest way to lose funding on a loan is making a late payment. Be sure to stay up to date on all loan obligations.

Don’t make a major purchase

This is what troubles borrowers the most. A large purchase can run up your credit card balance, thus lowering your credit score. The best tip is to avoid that big purchase until after you have signed your final loan documents. This includes buying a car, boat, TV, or (especially) furniture.

Don’t open a new credit card or cell phone account

Opening a new account requires a credit inquiry, which can lower your credit score. If you’re on the border credit-wise, that additional inquiry could lower your score enough to impact a decision from your loan provider.

Don’t close any credit card accounts

Closing an account lowers the amount of credit you have available, which can lower your credit score since your credit-availability-to-use ratio accounts for 30 percent of your score.

Don’t consolidate your debt into one or two cards

Doing this lowers the amount of credit you have available, which, again, can impact your credit score.

Don’t take out a new loan

This includes any type of loan, such as a car or student loan, or new credit card. Any of these obligations can have a negative impact on your credit and will likely not reflect positively to underwriters and investors.

The key takeaway here is to wait until after your loan closes before making any major financial changes, such as obtaining a new loan, consolidating debt, or opening new accounts.

If you’re considering purchasing a home, the first step is to ensure a positive credit score. If you have a poor credit score, it isn’t too late and you might be a good candidate for credit repair solutions. Let us at Ovation help you. We offer a wide range of credit repair solutions, customized to meet your unique needs.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

How to Resolve Duplicate Credit Reports

By | Credit Repair, Credit Reports

resolve-duplicate-credit-reportsIt isn’t unusual for parents to name a child after themselves or after one of their own parents; or even for people to have names in common with others who are unrelated.  Sometimes it can lead to credit problems in the form of a duplicate credit report, or “dupe.” It isn’t common, but it does happen.  Whatever the cause, it is wise to understand how to handle a dupe report, in the rare situation that one does arise.

I have two reports?

A dupe means that a credit bureau has two credit reports in your name, each with its own score.  The scores will be different because the details contained in each dupe won’t be the same and that can cause you serious problems when you apply for credit.

Dupes can be a sign of a co-mingled report, or “mixed file.”  This means that your credit data is confused with that of someone by the same name; perhaps your parent or someone you don’t even know.  This is the most challenging dupe to resolve.

An incorrect entry on a credit report is generally easy to correct; typically, the creditor who placed the entry has issued incorrect information.  When protested, the creditor acknowledges the mistake and rescinds the entry.

In a mixed report, the problem is far more complex because the credit bureau’s matching logic is confusing you and someone else, thinking you are both the same individual.

That isn’t mine!

The problem isn’t that lending institutions are sending incorrect information to the bureaus, but rather that the bureaus are placing it on the wrong credit report: yours.  In order to resolve it, you must have someone manually go through your report with you to verify each entry that belongs to you and each that does not.

Once that process is complete, the bureaus can suppress the incorrect entries from your credit report and restore your score to what it should be.

Load me up!

Depending on the bureau, you don’t have the ability to just load up your report to infinity.  Your credit score takes a beating if you apply for every credit card offer that comes your way, yet some people do so.  That means your credit report may be as long as the Great Wall of China.  By continuing to add entries to your credit report, you eventually max it out.

Let’s solve this.

Sadly, some ill-advised consumers seek assistance from the wrong credit repair companies who try to leverage the file size through a dangerous practice known as “bumpage.” By adding additional entries to the credit report, eventually certain data gets bumped off the report due to the size limit.  But it doesn’t just get dropped; in fact, the credit repair agency has just created a dupe because the excess data gets pushed into a second credit report.

Unfortunately, none of these issues are quick to correct.  Don’t push your file size and force it into a second credit report.  And if you end up with a mixed file, then you absolutely must track down someone at each bureau to manually remove each incorrect entry.  Further, they must be forever suppressed.

It is critical that you review your credit report annually to be sure incorrect entries don’t continually show up, especially if you share the name of a parent or have experienced similar concerns in the past.  It may help to seek the assistance of a qualified credit repair specialist such as Ovation.  Navigating the repair of dupes and mixed files can be a daunting task to resolve on your own and a little help could be a welcome relief. Contact us today to let us know how we can help.

How to Lose Perfect Credit in 5 Steps

By | Credit Repair, Credit Scores

lose-perfect-creditCredit scores are sneaky things that sound simple. You pay your bills in full and on time, and your credit stays perfect, right? Well, not quite. Here are some things that prompt bill payers may be surprised to know can hurt their credit score.

Credit Percentage Means a Lot

If you run up massive credit bills every month, that’s going to hurt your score. Yes, even if you pay them off in full and on time. The problem is using such a high proportion of your available credit. If you have ten thousand dollars credit available to you, and each month you run up six thousand, that high utilization of your credit limit doesn’t look good to the bank. Aim for using no more than twenty to thirty percent of your available credit each month.

For this same reason, you shouldn’t close a bunch of credit accounts all at once, even if they are accounts you never use. If you do, you’ll reduce the amount of total credit available to you and at the same time increase the percentage of credit you’ve used up.

No One’s a Friend in the World of Credit

Having other people entangled in your credit history is a recipe for disaster. Co-signing loans for a friend is one of the biggest risks someone with good credit can take. After all, if your friend had good enough credit of their own, they wouldn’t need to borrow yours. Should they ever make late payments on the loan, or worse, default, your credit score would be affected too.

The same goes for your spouse; navigating joint credit can be tricky. Anything borrowed from a joint account will affect both partners, but at the same time, putting all accounts in one partner’s name can make establishing new credit difficult for the non-named partner in the event of divorce. Joint credit works best when both partners can discuss finances and credit openly and act responsibly with money decisions.

Ovation Credit Keeps You Up-To-Date on Your Credit Score

The last way good bill payers ruin their credit is by not checking up on it. Remember, you’re entitled to receive a free credit report from each major bureau once a year. If you can afford it, check it even more. By checking regularly, you can make sure that mistakes or out-of-date information don’t linger long on your report and decrease your credit score.

If your credit isn’t what you want it to be, talk to an Ovation Credit specialist about ways to repair your credit and get you back on the path to financial health today.

Staying Strong as Your Credit Improves

By | Credit Repair

good-credit-practicesFor many of us, our first taste of financial freedom began with our first credit card.  We took our friends out to dinner, or maybe did a little shopping.  Then we did some more shopping; in fact, probably more shopping than we realized.  After a few bills came and went, our balance was much higher than we could pay off in a reasonable period of time.  Likely we got another card and perhaps it escalated from there.  Sound familiar?

Reality eventually sets in and we realize it is time to start paying off the debt and getting serious about our credit.  If you have accomplished that, here are some tips to keep you ahead of the game as you continue to build your credit:

  1. Refuse to fall prey to old habits.  As you have learned by now, the lowest interest rates and best reward programs are reserved for the elite; those who have the best credit ratings.  If you have worked hard to restore your credit, you may have found yourself included in that circle.  That means credit offers may start finding their way to your mailbox.While some of them might make financial sense, such as, an auto loan at less than 4%, it only makes sense if you actually need a new car.
  1. Weigh the options carefully when deciding to refinance.  With mortgage rates on the decline, refinancing can be a good way to reduce your expenses.  Understanding the process is key.  It is critical to understand that although you may be saving a few percentage points, the amount you spend in closing costs may counter-balance what you would have saved in interest.Further, mortgage companies and banks will make a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will cost you a few points for each inquiry.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, consult a financial advisor to properly guide you before jumping headlong into a costly endeavor.
  1. Carry your new lifestyle into a stable future.  You worked so hard to pay off your bills and restore your credit.  Take a deep breath and relax for a moment; then keep forging ahead with your new financial habits.  After putting in such effort, it would be a shame to backslide now and have to start all over again.You have established a strong foundation to build upon.  Your next step should be to build an emergency fund for surprise expenses, such as automobile repairs, unexpected medical expenses, and so forth.  Keep your emergency fund for strictly emergencies, and apart from your regular savings.

As you further develop financial stability, you can expand your credit opportunities with an improved credit score.   If you find yourself uncertain about how to manage your credit or finances, it may be helpful to speak to a credit repair specialist, such as Ovation Credit Repair.  Building healthy habits as early as possible is essential to securing your financial well-being. Our knowledgeable representatives are here to help.

Graduate with Honors by Mastering Credit Repair in College

By | Credit Repair

college-credit-repairA college education should include the basics: reading, writing – and learning how to manage a credit card. Mastering the latter is easy when you follow this C-R-E-D-I-T cheer.

C is for conquering your fears when it comes to credit cards. There’s no way to avoid getting a credit card as  it’s an important way to establish a credit profile, score, and payment history—all of which are essential for the future when applying for car and home loans.

R is for riding on another’s card. When it comes to credit cards, there’s a catch-22. Young adults need a card to build a good credit score; however, without a credit score, it’s difficult to get approved for a card. That’s why it helps to be added as an authorized user on a parent’s card first. It gives you a chance to prove you’re a responsible credit card holder.

E is for educating yourself about student cards. If you can’t be added on your parent’s regular credit card, you may look into applying for a student credit card. Although the limits are low, the opportunity to establish credit is high, as it will still afford you the chance to learn how to manage your budget and pay bills on time.

D is for doing what it takes to establish good credit. Typically this means paying the minimum fee every month. Preferably you can pay off the entire balance to avoid the cost of accumulated interest. Taking care to only charge what you know you can pay off right away is one way to achieve this.

I is for inspecting your credit report once a year to make sure it accurately reflects your history. This is your opportunity to right any wrongs associated with the report and make sure you’re always in tip-top shape.

T is for talking to an expert about your credit. Industry leaders such as Ovation can provide knowledgeable representatives who can personally help you build credit and create a credit repair plan that is tailored solely for you. To learn more, call us today for a free consultation.

Credit and Household Debit is on the Rise for Americans

By | Credit Cards, Credit Repair

According to a new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total household debt for Americans rose 2.1 percent, or $241 billion, in the fourth quarter of 2013. This increase was driven primarily by new mortgages, car loans, and student loans. After a long period without borrowing, it appears Americans have regained their confidence. However, an increase in borrowing could also be the result of the inability to maintain spending levels in the face of unemployment or stagnant wages.

An increase in debt is not always a negative sign. Mortgages and car loans could be positive economic signs signaling that people are investing in the future.  However, other types of debt, like student loans, can have a negative impact on the economy by not allowing discretionary spending for several years.

In addition to the rise in mortgages, car loans, and student loan debt, the average amount of credit card debt rose in the last quarter of 2013 as compared to the previous quarter. However, people whose credit score is well above average drove this increase. Despite this upward trend, the average amount of credit card debt did decline as compared to the last quarter of 2012.

In addition, the delinquency rate also rose in the final quarter of 2013. The delinquency rate is the ratio of borrowers who are more than 90 days late on credit card payments. The delinquency rate rose from 1.36 percent to 1.48 percent between the last two quarters of 2013. According to its study, TransUnion does project the consumer delinquency rate to rise to approximately 1.57 percent by the end of the first quarter in 2014.

TransUnion also reports the number of credit card accounts is up in 2013 as compared to 2012 from 329.48 to 341.40. At first glance, this increase appears to be positive, given there are still at least 40 million fewer accounts today than there were just five years ago. In addition, the demand for credit is much lower. This trend tells us that consumers are managing their current lines of credit more effectively.

If your personal amount of debt has recently increased, and your credit is beginning to suffer because of it, you should consider credit repair. Let us at Ovation help you. We offer several credit repair solutions, which are customized to meet your unique needs. At Ovation, we believe that no two people are alike; therefore, our approach is always unique.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

 

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