Credit Debt Help – 5 Things a Creditor Cannot Do

When seeking credit debt help either at the beginning stages of the loan process or the end, a savvy consumer needs to be aware of his or her rights when dealing with companies that are offering them credit. Continue reading this article and I will give you 5 things a creditor cannot do, during the credit process. I will also give you a list of your rights as a consumer in the credit process and advice when seeking credit debt help.

Like everything else you buy, credit has a price tag and it pays to comparison shop. If consumers are not aware, they can find themselves in need of credit debt help very quickly. In other words, it pays to be aware. Don’t get caught uneducated when dealing with knowledgeable creditors and companies that may take advantage of you.

However, if you were not aware of the following tips and rights, and you find yourself in need of credit debt help, I have listed at the bottom of this article, our recommendation on how to get credit debt help on the internet.

Now here are your main rights as well as what a creditor cannot ask you…

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act protects you when dealing with anyone who regularly offers credit, including banks, finance companies, stores, credit card companies and credit unions.

When you apply for credit, a creditor may not:

o Ask about or consider your sex, race, national origin or religion

o Ask about your marital status or your spouse, unless you are applying for a joint account or relying on your spouse’s income, or you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington)

o Ask about your plans to have or raise children

o Refuse to consider public assistance income or regularly received alimony or child support

o Refuse to consider income because of your sex or marital status or because it is from part-time work or retirement benefits

You Also Have the Following Rights:

o Have credit in your birth name, your first name and your spouse’s last name, or your first name and a combined last name

o Have a co-signer other than your spouse if one is necessary

o Keep your own accounts after you change your name or marital status or retire, unless the creditor has evidence you are unable or unwilling to pay

o Know why a credit application was rejected. The creditor must give you the specific reasons or tell you how you can get them if you ask within 60 days

o Have accounts shared with your spouse reported in both your names

o Know how much it will cost to borrow money

Arizona Auto Insurance – The Real Secret To Lower Auto Insurance Premiums

Have you ever discussed auto insurance with a friend, only to find out you pay substantially higher premiums? Everything being equal, it probably has nothing to do with the type of cars you drive or the zip code in which you live.

About 90% of all insurance companies now use “insurance credit scores”.

When you call an insurance agent or insurance company for an auto insurance quote, the first step is to run your score. This determines what “tier” you are placed into. Some companies have up to 40 tiers. Once it has been established which credit tier you qualify for, other factors are then accounted for: your zip code, vehicles, driving record, and discounts.

Two neighbors could call around for an auto insurance quote and have the exact same vehicles, both with clean driving records, and qualify for the exact same discounts. The one with the better insurance score will pay less, some times a lot less.

What determines this score varies from insurance company to insurance company. The best advice is to call your agent and find out what tier you are in. Find out what factors their company uses to determine good scores from bad. It is possible your agent does not even know or understand. Ask them to call and find out. Scottsdale Car Insurance / Scottsdale Auto Insurance

Don’t be afraid to search for lower auto insurance. Getting lower cost car insurance is easy if you put the effort in. Finding a company that will ding you less for your credit score is the key. Try an independent insurance agency.

Some things to consider as far as improving your insurance credit score: Do not carry too many credit cards. You may have active cards with a zero balance but it is likely they are dragging your score down. These insurance scores do not like too many open credit accounts. Cancel the ones you do not need/use down to one or only two. Also, do not max out your credit line. If you have a credit card with a $12,000 credit line and have $10,000 charged, the scores will likely ding you. Have fewer cards and pay them down. The most obvious one of all? Pay your bills on time.

Gary Brown is principal owner of Choice Insurance of Arizona. He has been serving Arizona residents for car insurance and home insurance for nearly 14 years. Find more insurance and financial information at Arizona Auto Insurance Quote / Arizona Home Insurance / Arizona Car Insurance

Arizona Home Equity Loan For Remodeling Projects

Arizonians are among the millions of homeowners who have taken out almost $2.8 trillion in home equity loans in the last five years. Freddie Mac estimated that borrowers cashed out $170 billion of their home equity in 2006 alone. In 2005, the figure was a record $244 billion.

If you want to cash out some of your home equity, you have two options:

Home Equity Loan Or Line Of Credit?

An Arizona home equity loan will give you a set amount of money all at once. It can either be a fixed-rate loan or an adjustable-rate loan. Home equity loans makes sense when you need to pay for big-ticket items like major remodeling projects, or if you want to pay off high-interest credit cards or other debts.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is more like a credit card. You can draw on the line any time, up to the credit limit. HELOCs usually start with lower interest than fixed rate loans—usually one percent over prime—but the rate can climb quickly after the initial period. Once you draw on a HELOC, you will owe a monthly minimum payment on the outstanding balance.

Remodeling Projects

The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates that Americans will spend nearly $160 billion on home remodeling through the first half of 2007. And according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “A year ago, many remodeling jobs returned 80 percent of their cost or more when the owner sold the house. Some of the most profitable renovations, such as an upscale residing, actually paid off more – 103.6 percent – than they cost. Other profitable renovations included midrange kitchen remodelings, which paid off 91.7 percent, and window replacement, which paid off 89.6 percent.”

You can receive a free quote on an Arizona Home Equity Loan [] at Arizona Refinance Center [].It is a no-obligation way to see how much you can borrow toward your next remodeling project

Facts Behind Credit Card Debt

Are you in the habit of whipping out your plastic for every purchase?

Now days, most people have the same problem.

With gasoline and other everyday expenditure on a steady rise in cost, most Americans turn to credit cards to pay for their everyday expenses.

But with this influx of credit card use comes an influx of bills that become harder and harder to pay each month.

Sources of cash for many Americans are withering away, says Dick Reed, of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Atlanta. Reed has noticed a rise in business as more and more clients are mounting up credit card debt. He goes on to say that customers simply do not have a place to go and get cash. They are digging further into debt in order to pay for, not only standard everyday expenditure, but in order to make the minimum payment on existing debt.

National statistics exemplify this growing trend as the Federal Reserve reports that the average amount of credit card debt in America jumped 6.7 percent in quarter one this year and totaled around 957 billion dollars. Perhaps most troubling is that this increase developed in spite of the fact that most financial institutions are tightening the reins on lending.

In Atlanta, Georgia debtors reported, on average, 29,300 dollars worth of unsecured debt. The most of which was wrapped up in credit cards. This number is up over 4,000 dollars since the 2007 report. Debtors spend an average of 335 dollars on groceries and 242 dollars on gas, whereas one year earlier, those expenses averaged only 291 dollars and 181 dollars.

Many people admit that they’d rather not rack up credit card debt, but other options, like refinancing for lesser interest rates, are no longer readily available due to collapsing housing markets. This leaves many consumers with little option.

When faced with the rising prices of gas and food, many people find that they have no choice but to “charge it” in order to make ends meet.

People are unable to upgrade their income, yet expenses are increasing exponentially. Credit cards become the best way to compensate, says Sara Gilbert of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Lois Eldridge, a retiree in Arizona, has looked on in horror as her credit card bill doubled to 2,000 dollars in the last several months. High gas and food costs required her to charge these rudiments for the very first time last year.

She has been forced to reduce extra expenditures like entertainment, clothing, and eating out. Although this tactic has helped, she still charges an average of 100 dollars each month.

Lois was also forced to ‘come out of retirement’, so to speak, when she attempted to secure a job at the college in her area to complement her income from Social Security. Unfortunately, she learned that employers offered too little money, or informed her that she was ‘overqualified’ for the available position. Her only other option was a minimum wage job with a local retailer.

My earnings have remained the same even though my expenses are way higher than they were last year even taking into account my attempts at cutting back, says Eldridge, now 71, who has a plan to put her tax refund toward her outstanding debt. I am incredibly overwhelmed by the fact that I’ve had to use my credit cards. I’ve never needed to before. The last 6 months have been a constant worry.

She is not the only one in worry. Analysts declare that card balances and late payments are increasing dramatically, a sure sign that a large group of Americans cannot afford what they spend each month.

It seems that the most trouble seems to be in areas with a weak housing market where a large number of people are already under pressure with mortgage payments. With unemployment on the rise and employers unable to offer overtime, many people find they just don’t make enough to cover their bills.

Many claim they only use their cards for expediency sake and that they do in fact pay their statements on time, but it seems some fractures are appearing in that scenario.

Credit card delinquency rates reached a four-year in February, according to Moody’s debt ranking agency.

Once people have gotten behind, it’s growing more and more difficult for them to get back on track with their card payments again says William Black of Moody’s. We’re in a very taxing economic atmosphere. There’s a lesser amount of cash to go around.

In the meantime, credit card balances are sneaking up progressively, and have been since the beginning of 2006. They leaped nearly 9 percent during 2007. This is due to a growing number of people who spend more and pay less each month plus other exciting and attractive offers like Chase credit cards, 0% interest Visa card balance transfer, and more.

Another sad fact is, in spite of the troubles people incur with increasing credit card debt, the number of cards issued is also on the rise. At the close of 2007, there was a whopping 420 million credit cards in the marketplace, that’s up 7.6 percent from the year prior.

Growing balances and late payments are bad for the economy, which depends heavily on consumer expenditures, says Bill Hampel, of the Credit Union National Assn.

Many people will stop going to dinner or to the movies as they see their balances rise. This will injure the economy to a great extent.

If you’re buried in debt and can’t get out and would like to share your story, or if you’ve actually managed to climb out of the pit and want the opportunity to help others, let us know about situation, we want to help.

Credit Card Debt Reduction: Is A Time Bomb Ticking?

Many of us who carry balances on credit cards feel confident that we have our finances under control. We limit our charges to basic necessities (and the occasional extravagance), and we keep up with our monthly payments. Perhaps we even add an extra $20 or $50 to the minimum due in order to gradually pay down our principal. We are confident that we are being responsible consumers, and our confidence would appear to be well placed – after all, we are playing by the rules.

However, what most of us don’t realize is that we are sitting on a financial time bomb which threatens to explode at any time, wrecking sheer havoc with our finances. This hidden menace is often buried deep with the fine print of our credit card user agreements, and this hazard is deceptively simple and insidious. Worse yet, millions of consumers have fallen prey to this very trap in recent years.

What is this hidden menace? Simply a clause that allows many credit card companies to raise interest rates almost at will. A recent New York Times article detailed the case of an Arizona man who had accumulated almost $70,000 in credit card debt over a five year period. With an interest rate of around 9%, the man was able to keep up with his payments and was even slowly paying down his debt.

Then, without warning, his credit card company doubled his interest rate to 18%, causing his minimum payments to almost double to near $900 a month as well. That is a huge additional monthly burden, especially when it comes completely without warning.

Unfortunately, this man is not alone. Many credit card customers with large balances have been subjected to unexpected increases in their card interest rates. Bear in mind that many of these people have not been penalized due to late credit card payments or the like. Instead these people have been good customers of the credit card companies. Ideal customers, even. They have been staying current with their payments, including paying already substantial monthly interest.

But instead of rewarding these, their best customers, credit card companies have been increasingly surprising them with increases in interest well beyond any increase in the prime rate. What is the reason for this phenomenon? According to the Times, it is a practice called “universal default”, in which credit card the companies raise interest rates of customers they deem to be increased risks of defaulting on their loans. Anything from a late utility bill payment to a high credit card balance can trigger these higher rates.

That’s right, if your balance gets “too high”, they can double your rates because they fear you will be unable to repay your debt. The logic might seem a little shaky, but that’s how the credit card companies think.

So you are sitting on a time bomb. What can you do to diffuse it? Well, you can shift your debt to a secured loan like a home equity loan (bearing in mind that “secured” means your house is put up as collateral). You could also consolidate your debt on a personal line of credit, assuming your credit rating allows you to secure a reasonable interest rate.

But perhaps the best solution for many is simply to stop spending and start paying off your debts. It really can be that simple. Find ways to cut back. Everybody can cut some of their monthly expenditures. Maybe for you it means getting a cheaper cable TV package or talking less on your cell phone. Whatever your situation, find some ways to cut back and use the savings to start paying down your credit card debt immediately. If you find yourself procrastinating, remind yourself, the time bomb is ticking.

Credit Card Penalties and How to Avoid Them

For the well organized borrower, credit card penalties might be a subject of little interest. However most of us get hit from time to time with one or another of the multitude of penalties credit card issuers can levy.

There is a reason for this. The credit card companies rake in a lot of extra income by invoking these penalties. If it seems that they are becoming more common, it is because they are, with the lenders tinkering with the rules frequently to try catching you in their trap.

The main credit card penalty that seems to hit everyone from time to time is the late fee.

One of the lenders’ games has been to change the address the payment is to be mailed to periodically, hoping the customers won’t notice. For example, you live in New York and your check was mailed to a processing center in New Jersey.

Suddenly the processing center is moved to Arizona. You think 3 or 4 days is more than enough time for your payment to arrive on time, but now it might actually require 5 to 7 days for the mail to arrive at the processing center. Throw in the fact that grace periods are growing shorter all the time and your payment is more likely to be late.

There used to be a time when the banks would cut you a little slack. If your credit card bill was due the 15th and the check arrived the 16th or 17th, nothing would happen. Now, even if your check arrives before the next billing cycle date, the bank will consider it late if it doesn’t meet their sometimes arbitrary due date.

And worse than that, banks now will consider a check that arrives on the due date a late payment if it comes in past a certain time, say noon.

Late charges are now about $39 for everyone. If you aren’t late too often, a bank will sometimes reverse the charge if you call and ask. It’s certainly worth the effort.

Other credit card penalties are those charged for going over your credit limit and for bouncing cash advance checks. Depending on the bank these can be quite high, $75 or more.

Of course if your payment check bounces, you’re in for a real treat. First the credit card company will consider your payment late and hit you, at a minimum, with the late fee. They might also throw in a bounced check charge for good measure.

Then your own bank will get into the act and charge you for writing a bad check – all in all, not a pleasant or inexpensive experience.

Another surprise, although not considered a penalty by the bank, is the two cycle billing trick. If you’ve been carrying a balance and then pay the entire bill off, you will get yet another bill for unpaid interest.

Some banks calculate your interest charges over two billing periods, so when you pay the bill in full, there is still money owing. The only way to get around this is to prepay an extra month’s interest, but that really gains you nothing.

Not all banks do this, so find and use the ones that don’t.

And the worst penalty of all is if the universal default clause is activated. Usually this happens when you are late paying other creditors or go over their credit limit. It can also be invoked when your credit score drops because of excessive use of credit, even if you’ve never been late with a payment to anybody. Other triggers are not paying utility bills, parking tickets or even library fines on time.

This usually means you will, from that point on, be charged the penalty interest rate, usually the highest rate the bank charges and commonly around 29.99%.

If this happens call the bank and tell them you’re taking your business elsewhere. Sometimes they’ll lower the rate. Otherwise start shopping around for a cheaper card and close the other account as quickly as you can.

I am sure there are other esoteric charges the bank can hit you with, but these are the main ones to look out for.

One way to avoid a lot of these penalties is to use a financial software program like Microsoft Money or Quicken. With both these programs, you can download your transactions from your creditors, your own checking account and your investment accounts.

You can keep on top of your credit card and checking account balances that way. This is the only sure way to avoid being overdrawn, going over your credit limit or making your payments late.

These programs also offer online billing paying, but at a price.

If you’re willing to spend a little time, you can sign up for online access for just about all your accounts. You can then visit the website for every credit card company you have an account with to see what your balance is; what charges are pending; and pay your bill online, all without cost.

Watch the small print if you use a credit card company’s web site. Some banks are now charging fees, as much as $29, if you try to make your payment online and have it credited on the day it is due.

Plan ahead and pay a day or two early.

Or you can open a checking account, money market or brokerage account that offers free online bill paying. These accounts are usually free if you meet certain minimum balances or have your paycheck directly deposited into the account.

Online bill paying is very helpful in avoiding late fees, because you can schedule the exact date the payment will be made – you can even set up recurring payments to be made automatically. But even with this service, make your payment a day or two before the due date to avoid problems. And it is important to make sure you have enough money in your account to cover these payments, especially those that might be scheduled months in advance.

With a little attention to detail, you should be able to avoid credit card penalties permanently.

Tips For Building Good Credit Early On

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of establishing a good credit record early on in life and maintaining it throughout your maturity. A good credit score can gain access to better lending rates, new credit lines, and a host of other benefits. A poor credit score can potentially cost you employment opportunities, desirable rental residences, and a range of other financial advantages. Though there is often a caricatured portrayal of credit as primarily a means of spending beyond one’s means, the contemporary reality is far different from that outdated idea.

Considering the significant influence that your credit rating has over many different areas of your life, it is easy to understand that you should take all reasonable steps and possible actions to protect it. Many young adults reach college or independent living without receiving adequate preparation and guidance to help them avoid making poor financial decisions and mistakes that will interfere with their economic freedom for years to come. For those who become overwhelmed by financial obligations that are simply too great to be met by their income, filing for bankruptcy protection may be the best or only option to rectify the problem.

How You Can Help Yourself

For people who have not yet found themselves in pressing financial circumstances, there may still be time to take control over your credit future before you develop any serious problems that could inhibit your plans. Nothing is foolproof, but there are some fairly dependable ways to create a good track record so that you will be in a better position to take advantage of future opportunities. Not all may apply, but you can use the following list as a helpful collection of tips to improve your standing.

Open accounts with a bank – One of the factors that is considered in the evaluation of your credit risk is the length of your credit history. Checking and savings accounts offer a low-cost way for you to begin an official file.
Pay your bills when they’re due – Failure to pay on time is one of the most significant negatives that will appear in your credit history, and it is easy to dismiss it as minor. It is not.
Obtain credit cards in college – When you are still a student, credit card companies are willing to gamble that your future earnings will warrant the credit they give you. When you graduate, there is less likelihood that they will be so giving. Take advantage when you can so that you can start building a solid credit record.

Free Credit Reports Now Available From the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a new website ( where US residents can obtain free copies of their credit reports from the three major credit report bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). The FTC site was set up as part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act enacted last December. The site was set up in an effort to help fight the increasing threat of identity theft. The credit reports must be ordered from the FTC site to get them for free. If you order your credit report directly from one of the credit report agencies’ sites, you’ll be charged a fee for the report.

While a number of websites on the Internet currently offer free credit reports, these free reports require a credit card be put on file as a free trial membership of their credit report monitoring service. The reports have been free if you remember to cancel the trial membership, but can end up being quite costly if you accidentally forget. The new FTC site is marketing free and no credit card is required.

To request your credit reports, you’ll need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. In addition, the credit bureaus may ask you for other information to confirm your identity such as your current monthly mortgage payment. Consumers can also order their free credit reports by calling 877-322-8228 (toll-free) or by mail by writing to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

The free credit reports aren’t currently available to all US residents. They’re being phased in over the next year by region to prevent the system from being overwhelmed. Currently residents living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming can obtain the free credit reports. Residents in the Midwest can get their free credit reports beginning in March, residents in the South beginning in June and residents in the East beginning in September.

Instead of ordering credit reports from all three credit report agencies at once, you might want to consider staggering the three reports so that you receive one credit report every 4 months. This allows you to see how your credit report is changing over time and whether any mistakes you find have been corrected. It will also increases the chances that you will catch any attempts at identity theft more quickly. If, however, you’re considering a large purchase such as a home or car where your credit score will be used to determine your eligibility, you’ll want to get all three right away. This will allow you to take care of any potential problems as soon as possible.

Once you’ve received your reports, review each one carefully. The three credit reporting agencies handle millions of pieces of information each year and some estimates have errors in as many as half of the credit reports with a major error in ever one in four. By making sure that all the information contained in the reports is accurate, you will ensure that you receive the best rates from credit agencies in the future.

Now that credit reports are free of charge, there is no reason not to request them each and every year. Keeping tabs on your credit report is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against identity theft and make sure that all the information that your creditors are accessing is accurate.

Mortgage Problem Spillover To Credit Card Delinquency

The bank regulators and the Federal Reserves are paying close attention and expressing concerns that the rise in delinquency go beyond mortgages.

Bank of America executives said that credit card delinquencies in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida-states with the highest foreclosure rates-increased five times as fast as in other states, suggesting that consumers struggling with mortgage debt are also struggling to pay there credit card bills.

The sub-prime mess has left banks with tens of millions of dollars in debt and led them to tighten lending standards. This also led credit issuers to tighten there credits.

Despite the Federal rate cut the APRs on credit cards have rise. This rate increase are for individuals that are at higher credit risk because:

Your credit score has decreased
You applied for too much credit
You have too many balance transfers between credit cards
You are using more than 30% of the available credit limit
The credit card company uses universal default

Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess says that when they review the individuals account for risks, they also take into account other outside criteria such as taking out numerous loans and using all their available credit, or defaulting on loans to other lenders. She adds that only a small percentage of their customers are affected by higher rate increase and by law, customers are notified in advance. They have the option to reject the terms and pay off their due amount.

Only individuals with a high credit score can take advantage of the Federal Reserve rate cut. But if you are one of the few that are going to have a rate increase, it is important to read and keep all the statements and letters a credit card company sends you. Look to make sure you how much the increased rate is. See if there is an option to reject the increased rate and be able to pay off the outstanding balance at the original rate and close the account. Try to negotiate over the phone with the company to lower the interest rate and paying down the balance. If you can not do neither of these then shop around and transfer it to another low-interest credit card.

The Easy Way To Gain Access To Your Free Online Credit Report

When you apply for credit, those lending you the money want to know if you are going to pay them back. One way they decide if you are a good risk is to see how you’ve dealt with other people’s money. They find this information in your credit report.

Your credit is reported to three main credit bureaus and these bureaus then rate you. If you are planning to apply for credit, it would seem that knowing what is being said about you would be a good idea. This way, you can take care of any problems and be aware of them before you begin.

It’s Easy

Getting your hands on your credit report is easy. All you need to do is call the number of the credit bureau and follow their directions:

P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

Consumer Opt Out
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39288-7328

However, it is even easier to do online. Simply go to the listed website and get started. Here are a few things you will need:

# Full name – this includes middle, maiden, Jr., Sr., and III, etc

# Social Security number – you must have one in order to do this online

# Driver’s license information – your DL number plus state

# Current address and your address within the last five years – if you have had more than one in the last five years, you will need to have each of them

# Date of birth

# Signature – for online requests, you will have to type your name and follow their instructions

# Home telephone number

# Employer – if you are employed

# Credit Card or Debit Card to pay the fee – it is usually $8 to $10

Coming Free to Your Area Soon

Beginning in December 2004, you will be able to get a free yearly copy of your credit report. Then getting your credit report will be even easier. Instead of having to go to the three major bureaus, you will be able to go to a centralized source with a toll free number or a website.

Schedule for Phasing In Access to Free Credit Reports:

December 1, 2004: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

March 1, 2005: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

June 1, 2005: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

September 1, 2005: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories.

Getting your credit report online is easy and getting easier all the time. It is in your best interest to check out your credit reports yearly so that you can check for errors, and recognize problems quickly enough to correct them.