“Credit Cards – Consider The Differences” Lessons In Debt, Credit And Home Ownership

November 7, 2009

 

As a trained and experienced credit risk assessment planner, when counseling with families I am always amazed how few people ever shop and compare credit cards when deciding upon entering a world designed to keep you on the hook for a minimum of 25 years. What Is A Credit Card

 Oddily, people shop houses and give serious consideration to a 30 year loan.  People shop cars and give serious consideration to 10-15 year loan. But people DO NOT research the one thing that does the most damage to relationships, lives and cost the most in interest, the credit card !

  Not all credit cards are the same, nor do they all treat their customers the same. And like wicked step parents, they certainly do not discipline their customers the same for late payments or other random acts of misconduct. 

 Good credit cards aren’t necessarily easy to find, especially these days.  And the big boys in the industry may not offer them at all.   If you check out the website www.Bankrate.com  and perhaps: www.CreditCardGuide.com or www.CardRatings.com you will be able to shop and compare to see which would actually be best for your lifestyle personal spending habits.

 Consumers to protect themselves really need to research the offers, conditions and terms.  Remember: “The big print giveth, and the small print taketh  away !” The best way to avoid traps is to pay your balance in full every month.  However, it is wise to know the terms just in case you get into the position where you are not able to pay the full amount.

  • You should watch out for rates that go up for no reason, the new law will help slow this down, but you still need to watch for it.
  • Under the “Universal Default” is not your friend.  For example, because you are late on your car insurance, they raise the interest rate on your credit card.  Yes, I know, there is no connection, but through “Universal Default” credit cards can get by with it.
  • Know exactly what fees are in store for you in case you default in any way.
  • Know exactly what your grace period, and understand they change things without notice.
  • Know the ‘default rate’ which they will bump you to for the smallest infraction.  And it isn’t cheap.

 17 out of 22 credit card companies surveyed (77%) say they change terms at ANY TIME for ANY REASON !   July 2010, the game rules will change, many to your benefit.               

 Spectrum Resources has counseled for over 7 years families trying to live inside their income.  Our mission is to provide education and resources that make a positive difference. Call (863)-967-0660 or email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com

Facing a possible foreclosure ?  Visit our trusted resource: www.OneCaboodle.com  look at the HOME PACK a real money saver                                                                                                                     Wanting to raise your credit score ?  Visit: www.CreditJusticeServices.com/?ccc=1242  

and to learn more visit all our blogs: http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com               http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com & http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com and http://WomanToWomanMagazine.ning.com


“Stop Playing Favorites”

July 30, 2009

Master Card AMEX cardsYou know which one it is, your favorite credit card, shiny but worn a little from lots of use.  Oh, you might have many others, but for some reason you always pull out this particular one.  Is it the art, the style of font, the bright or subdued colors ?  Maybe it is because it is the only one that hasn’t lowered your credit limit down to your debt line. 

 Now is the time to stop playing favorites, show a little love to all of your cards. Even if it is buying just a pair of shoes.  Credit is just that CREDIT.  That is how the banks make money is you USING credit.  IF you don’t USE credit, then the banks see no reason to keep your account open.  It is bad, when creditors close your account. Really bad, when credit bureaus tally up points creating your credit score.

 So pull the stack out of the drawer and see IF they are still alive, and what is available on each of them, use them at least every three to six months..  Use them or lose them !  Obviously, having a credit card canceled hampers your access to credit.  But what happens is far more damaging. Your credit limit is lowered and that messes with your debt to credit ratio.  You will appear incapable of managing your financial affairs. Your interest rates will be raised because now you are seen as a risk to your creditors. It is a snowball forming and will hit you upside the head when you least expect it or want it.

 Don’t be a victim of the games the banks are playing. Stay knowledgeable.  To maintain your debt to credit ratio you must always be doing the math !  Ideally you’d use less than 10% of your limit.  But 20% can be acceptable if you are making timely payments. But when you go over the 20% line you are in the CAUTION ZONE.  30% is the cliff- STOP ! Going over 30% appears you are maxed out. You are in danger of your entire credit world crumbling down around your ankles.

 Quick fix before your score drops is to apply for another credit card, preferably with a high credit limit and DO NOT USE IT except to show activity.  The whole reason for the card is to give you breathing room, expanding your overall credit limit, to align your debt to credit ratio.  It is NOT meant for you to use to expand your debt load.  Be smart !                                                                                                                       422

Spectrum Resources offers counseling in issues of debt, credit and home ownership, including prevention of foreclosure. Our mission is to provide education and resources giving you options to explore.  Call 863-967-0660, email: SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com  Don’t forget to visit all our blogs to learn more:

http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  and http://FinancialEducationAndOptions.blogspot.com and here http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com


“HOW TO Play Let’s Make A Deal”

July 3, 2009

You would think that with the banks upside down along with the rest of America’s economy they would be more understanding.  You would think they would be sympathetic to their customers who are now facing debt, credit and home ownership issues.   It cost nothing to ask for different terms, but like any proposal, it’s how you ask that can make a difference.  Write, ( not call) your creditor with an offer that hopefully he won’t refuse. Your offer will be made in the form of a written negotiating letter, basically inviting the creditor to join you in a game of “Let’s Make A Deal !”

 Since you are the one offering the ‘deal’ you want the terms to be something you can live with over the life expectancy of the loan.  Similiar to a ‘hardship’ letter, you want something different than what you have,  and you want them to meet all your terms or at least half way. Your goal is position yourself to be able to continue meeting all your responsibilities through this time of transition.

 "Let's Make A Deal"Your negotiating letter is basically 3-4 paragraphs that tell your story that created the problem, the actions you are taking to resolve the issue, and finally your terms that you will be able to live with for the next 3-5 years.  These elements are as follows:

  •  WHY – is the reason you are unable to fulfill your obligation, and.
  • WHERE – your mind set, and commitment level is, and
  • WHAT – your plan of action is that will end their problem, and
  • WHEN – you will start making timely payments and end this agreement, and
  • WHO – will be helping you achieve this goal, such as a debt, credit counselor,  teacher in new education, etc.
  • HOW-  is your terms including the request that they remove all negative  comments from your credit history.  And that they do not telephone you again over this account, but to keep all communications by mail.

 Spectrum Resources in research and our continuing education sees many negotiating services available to people for hundreds of dollars.  Our suggestion is that you try negotiating on your own with a written proposal.   Then if all else fails, hire someone to write negotiating letters for you. 

 Spectrum Resource’s mission is to teach you how you can live, manage and dictate over all your financial matters.  Please add our link to your favorites and come back often to http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com and visit our sister blog: http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com or email us at SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com or call (863) 967-0660

Help Us Help Others with a tax exempt donation to our financial education fund.  Our fund raiser is a book on daily money managent from local author Jan Shore titled “Hey ! Where’s My Money ?” for a $10.00  tax exempt donation.

Use the online check processor www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985 or pay by money order mailed to: SRDC  2014 Brentwood Dr. Auburndale, FL. 33823


“The Credit Bureau That You Didn’t Know About”

June 30, 2009

You are about to learn about  PRBC.  A credit reporting bureau that produces a PRBC Report’ and a ‘Bill Payment Score’ (BPS) containing your “Non-traditional” credit. Non-traditional credit maybe  payday loans, rent, utility bills, insurance, cable, daycare, child support, timely payments normally not reported, but through PRBC it is used to supplement the history in the ‘Big 3’ reports.  ‘PRBC is different from the big credit bureaus, yet very important, because each and everyone has ‘Non-traditional’ credit that is not being taken into consideration when we make application for a loan or credit.   

PRBC‘  is the ONLY credit bureau that allows you to self-enroll to demonstrate how responsible you are on debts that are not normally reported to the other bureaus.  You can show that you have paid your bills on time, consecutively, for up to the past three years.  This bureau like the others holds your information for seven years. However, this bureau  does not charge you a fee to view your information !  Another really good point is PRBC also does not sell your private information to solicitors, telemarketers, direct mail firms, or for research purposes like the others.

PRBC is funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, and Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Citimortgage are major subscribers. This means if you are a young person just building credit, an immigrant, a recently widowed or divorced woman, or simply a consumer who has traditionally operated on a ‘cash only’ basis, and  wanting to build credit, these subscribers will see your ‘Non-Traditional” credit history.

You can use this credit reporting bureau to build your credit history.  You deserve recognition for paying your rent, insurance, phone cable, day care, child support and utilities on time.  Even positive payments to payday advance loans can be reported on your behalf !

Creditors look for credit worthiness. They want consumers who have shown responsibility.  Creditors are taking a risk and realize there are good people who are making timely payments, and not all are dealing with just banks and bank credit cards.   This bureau can save you thousands of dollars on an auto loan, car insurance, and applying  for utility hook-ups and phone service !

You can enroll in the PRBC service at no charge by visiting www.prbc.com and select ‘ENROLL NOW.   Insist your positive bill payment history in PRBC be counted in your favor when you apply for a lease, mortgage, auto loan, credit card, utility hook-up, phone service , insurance and employment  by using the sample statement shown on the website. 

As promised, Spectrum Resources continues to provide resources and options to you to save money.  Please come back to: http://SpectrumResources.wordpress.com  often and tell your friends about our site and to add us in “Favorites” .  Also visit our sister blog: http://MoneySavingTips.PolkVoice.com  .  If you have a website -Link us up to have your own personal credit risk assessment planner providing ongoing education in debt credit and home ownership issues.  Email back:  SpectrumResources@tampabay.rr.com or call (863)967-0660

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As a fund raiser we have the opportunity to offer, ” HEY! WHERE’S MY MONEY ?” a little 128 page book filled with big insight into daily money management written by local author Janet Shore. “HEY! WHERE’S MY MONEY ?” regularly sells for $12.95, but as a fund raiser Spectrum Resources offers it with a tax exempt donation of $10.00 including shipping,  in the form of a money order mailed to Spectrum Resources 2014 Brentwood Dr. Auburndale, FL. 33823 or through www.Checkman.com/pay4it/12985 a online checking payment service.

Ms. Shore’s book “HEY ! WHERE’S MY MONEY ?” is an easy to read and easy to follow instructional and motivational book. This could be a great gift for a young adult entering the responsibility world of debt and credit, and at the same time supporting our educational efforts. Please help us help others in providing financial literacy, all tax exempt donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.


“A Closer Look @ Medical Identity Theft”

June 26, 2009

Today’s topic is MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT, a subject that can bring harm both physically and financially. If and when you are lying on a hospital bed,  the last thing you need is to have your medical history in error due to someone else who has used your identity.  Plus we all know the cost and nightmare of correcting hospital and insurance billing errors..not to many people welcome that challenge especially when it is an insurance bill due to a thief.   My mission is to provide education and options that will assist you in living INSIDE your income.

With identity theft on the rise these days, most of us are already taking steps to protect ourselves. But did you know that there’s now a growing form of identity theft known as “medical identity theft” that can not only devastate victims’ finances, but also compromise their health, too. According to Joy Pritts, JD, author of “Your Medical Record Rights”, here’s what you need to know.

What is Medical Identity Theft?

Medical identity theft occurs when criminals access victims’ medical records. Since medical records contain a person’s social security number and credit card information (if bills have been paid via credit card), criminals can open accounts and make fraudulent charges. However, criminals also gain access to victims’ health insurance policy information and medical histories, and they can create forged health insurance cards to sell to people who are uninsured and need expensive medical treatment. A person who buys a fake health insurance ID card would then seek treatment using the victim’s name and policy number, and then disappear, leaving the victim with the bills to pay.

Why Should You Be Concerned?

Victims of medical identity theft not only have to repair their credit and convince credit agencies and service providers that bills are fraudulent, they also have to correct inaccurate medical information that becomes part of their health records. Victims could be denied life insurance or individual health insurance if their record shows treatments that they did not have. In addition, victims could receive treatments or medicines that could be harmful to them on the basis of inaccurate content in their medical records.

Steps to Take if You Suspect a Medical Identity Theft

  1. Read all bills and “Explanation of Benefits” statements from your insurance company to verify they are for treatment you received.
  2. If a bill or statement refers to treatment you did not receive, contact the employee in charge of investigating fraud at your insurance company and at the medical facility involved and explain the situation. Follow up with a letter sent via registered mail with return receipt once again explaining the situation, asking for any bills to be voided, and asking that your medical record be amended to state that you did not have this health problem or receive this treatment.
  3. Report the identity theft to the police department and state’s attorney general’s office.
  4. Contact the health care providers you use, explain the situation, ask if the erroneous information has been added to the providers’ records, and if so, ask them to correct the records.
  5. Report the fraud to the major credit bureaus and set up fraud alerts. Also, request free copies of your credit reports to make sure no new fraudulent accounts have been opened.
  6. Review your medical records every few years to make sure there are no errors.

To learn more about your medical record rights, visit http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html.