Record Low Interest Rates! ūüíįūüŹ°

Mortgage interest rates are the lowest in 50 years. But not everyone can get that 2.9% advertised rate.

Take this yes/no quiz to see if you qualify for the best interest rate on your home loan.

1) Is your true mortgage credit score over 740? (Credit Karma is not your true mortgage score.)

2) Is the property your primary residence? (A loan for a rental property is a higher risk to the lender, so the rate is higher.)

3) Do you have 30 percent or more equity? (Loan-to-value ratio is a major factor in the interest rate. However, there are loan programs that include monthly mortgage insurance that come with the lowest rate. Your loan officer can advise you further.)

4) Is your home a detached single family residence? (A condo, townhouse, co-op, or multi-unit property may have a higher interest rate, depending on equity. A condo with significant equity can still get the lowest rate.

5) Do you need a jumbo loan? (Jumbo loans are classified as high risk, especially now during the economic downturn due to the coronavirus. A jumbo loan carries a higher interest rate to offset the risk to the lender.)

Even if your loan doesn’t qualify for the lowest rate, it might still be worth refinancing.

As a general rule, you need to lower your rate by at least .5% to consider refinancing. In some cases, such as a small loan, your rate reduction needs to be more in order to make sense.

Loans are very much individualized to a person’s specific situation. The purpose of this post is to make people aware that the lowest advertised rate might not apply.

Additionally, interest rate is not the only factor. Lender fees and a possible buy-down fee are items you want to ask your mortgage broker about.

 

If You are Denied Credit

Have you been disappointed by a denial of credit? Have you felt confused as to why? Here’s how to handle the situation.

If a creditor rejects your application, they must provide you with a Notice or Letter of Adverse Action explaining why. Instead of ripping it up in disgust, take the time to read the reason stated, then you will know how to proceed.

Possible Reasons for a Credit Denial

  1. You have too much credit.

Yes, there is such a thing as having too much credit, even if all the accounts are paid on time. If you have a half dozen credit cards and they are all maxed out, that would be an example. Maxed out credit could mean you are living beyond your means. It could mean you are living off your credit cards, which is a slippery slope into financial trouble.

The cure is to stop using credit and work on paying down your balances.

2.  You have late payments.

If you paid more than 30 days late in the past year, that could cause your denial. Especially now when creditors are concerned about people getting laid off work, they are not willing to take a risk on you if you paid late to another creditor.

The cure is to establish a perfect record of paying on time before applying for more credit. You should also read your credit report to make sure it is accurate. You have the right to receive one free credit report each year. Send your request through the U.S. mail to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Simply write: Please mail my free annual credit report to me at (your address). Include a piece of identification such as a copy of your driver’s license and an electric bill showing your name and address. That way, they will know it’s you and not a scammer.

3. You don’t have established credit.Book cover 3D

Everyone has to start sometime. If you are a young adult or new to the United States, how can you establish good credit if no one will give you an opportunity?

The cure is to open a secured credit card with your local bank. You deposit funds, often $300 to $500, that guarantee the creditor will be paid. Use the credit minimally, keeping your balance below 30% of the limit. Pay off the entire balance each time the bill comes in. After six months, they will convert the secure account to a regular account and refund your deposit.

For more ideas on how to establish top tier credit in the easiest and shortest way possible, pick up a copy of Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros here.

 

How to Block Negative Accounts that are a Result of Identity Theft

If you are the victim of someone using your name or social security number to open an account without your knowledge or consent, this article is for you. (If it was someone you know, be sure to read about that at end of this article.)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), section 605B states that the credit bureaus are required to block any and all information from appearing on your credit report that is a result of identity theft or fraud.

The problem some people have had is that after they’ve written a letter to the bureaus instructing them to remove a certain collection account because it is not theirs, the bureaus (who don’t actually bother to investigate) send back a letter stating the account has been (so-called) verified and remains.

This, of course, is illegal and a violation of the law. They are not allowed to post negative information on your credit report that is false.

Steps to Take to Permanently Block Fraudulent Negative Accounts

In a nutshell, you first file a report with a government agency, such as your local police department that says you are the victim of ID theft.

Second, send a copy of the report with a letter to the credit bureaus demanding that, according to FCRA 605B, they must permanently block the account that you are not responsible for.

You can read the entire set of instructions here.

You can also get a letter template here.

Don’t Use 605B to Lie or Commit Your Own Fraud

It is illegal to file a police report that is false. It is illegal to claim you are a victim of identity theft if you are not. Only use 605B if you are truly a victim.

If Someone You Know Opened an Account in Your Name

I have been shocked and dismayed at the large number of people who have written me saying an ex-spouse, an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or a parent or an adult child has used their name and social security number to open a credit account.

It makes sense that the people closest to you have the easiest access to your personal information — especially family members. It’s heartbreaking when your son or daughter opens an account in your name and then doesn’t pay for the item so then it ruins your credit score.

Oftentimes, the victim tells me they are reticent to file a report, because it was a loved one who did the damage.

Listen, my friend: You do not give up your self-respect, your reputation, and your good name in the business and credit community for anyone! This is the same as if that person had broken into your bedroom at night and beat you up and broken your body. They have done the same to your finances.

Your credit score affects everything from the interest rate charged on credit cards to your auto insurance premiums. It is not okay for someone to violate your credit. No exceptions.

You must defend yourself and make this right! If you had a broken bone, you would go to the doctor and get it set and healed. Now you must go file a report and write to the credit bureau so your credit profile can be restored. You can use the easy letter template in the link above.

Please pass on this essential information to others who may be victims of identity theft. Thank you.

 

 

How to Prevent Your Credit Limit From Being Reduced

When your credit card limit is reduced, it might lower your credit score for two reasons:

  1. Your balance-to-limit ratio is reduced.
  2. Your overall credit usage-to-available-credit ratio is reduced.

“Can They Do That?”

Creditors have the right to reduce your limit. This can happen with a credit card and with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

Three Reasons Why Your Limit May Get Reduced

  1. When a creditor sees that you have several credit cards maxed out, they get nervous. They think you are using credit cards to live off of and are getting into financial trouble. So to minimize their risk (and possible loss), they will reduce your limit asap before you borrow even more.
  2. If you pay late on one card (or worse, on several cards), a different creditor will see that by monitoring your credit. They fear you will also pay them late and quickly lower your limit so that you can’t charge more.
  3. In the case of a HELOC, a downturn in the mortgage market can result in the lender lowering your line of credit, even if you have paid perfectly on time. This happened to a lot of homeowners in 2007-2009 who were taken by surprise. This is why you need to read your contract and understand all the terms.

The best remedy is prevention.

The way to keep your credit limit is to pay on time every month on all your accounts. Also, pay the entire balance due to show you can afford your charged purchases and that you are not living beyond your means. (This applies to credit cards.)

If you’ve read¬†Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros, you know that charging more than 50 percent of your limit will hurt your score; and that maxing out your credit cards will severely dock points off your credit score.

Thank you for reading and I hope this tip helps you get top tier credit that speaks well for your name.

 

Is Student Loan Forgiveness Real?

A young woman who works in my office received an offer for student loan forgiveness. Here’s what happened.

First came the emails saying there were issues with her student loans and to please call.

After repeated emails, she decided to call in. The person identified themseves as from the student loan provider asked where she worked and how much did she owe on her student loans. They wanted to know, because it looked like she qualified for student loan forgiveness.

But wait, shouldn’t the student loan servicer already know how much she owed?

“That is private,” she replied, wisely suspicious.

The person quickly hung up on her.

Next, she called the Dept. of Education to see if it was legitimate.

“We never make calls like that. There are a lot of student loan frauds right now,” the real student loan advisor said.

Beware if you (or someone you know) has a student loan. Any emails or calls asking for information (innocent at first, then proceeding to more personal) are from liars and scam criminals.

There are genuine student loan forgiveness programs, but they are included in the written contract of your original student loan. It tells you what the requirements are. There are no new forgiveness programs due to Covid-19 or anything else you don’t already know about.

As always, I’m watching out for your best financial interests. Thank you for reading and passing along to others who can benefit.
Carolyn Warren

How Much Does a Missed Payment Hurt Your Credit Score?

One missed payment (30 days late) can devastate your credit score. The better credit you have, the more points are docked for one mistake.

For example, one missed credit card payment can deduct 100 points off of a perfect credit file. It can deduct 70 to 90 points if your credit is A-. If you already have subprime credit, then another missed payment can deduct 35 to 50 points, depending on your overall credit profile.

Below is an illustration* of how one missed payment can hurt your credit score. Clearly, we all need to stay on top of our credit reports to make sure an error is not posted against us.

30 Days Late        Points Off Prime                   Pts Off Subprime

Credit card          70 to 90 points                                  35 to 50 points
Car loan               65 to 85 points                                  40 to 60 points
Mortgage             85 to 100 points                                20 to 40 points

60 Days Late     Points Off Prime                      Pts Off Subprime

Credit card          80 to 100 points                                40 to 55 points
Car loan               80 to 100 points                                40 to 70 points
Mortgage           100 to 120 points                                30 to 50 points

Charge-Off      90 to 130 points                                45 to 65 points
Collection      100 to 150 points                               50 to 80 points

The first step to managing your credit report is to request your free annual credit report by good old-fashioned USPS mail. Don’t be lazy and order your credit report online or you will be giving up some of your legal rights and make it more difficult to get errors corrected. Send your letter to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

If you need credit restoration and cannot afford or choose not to pay for a professional Book cover Repair Your Creditservice, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the Expanded Edition of Repair Your Credit Like the Pros¬†here. (You want the newest edition, that says “Expanded Edition” under the title, not the old 2015 book.)

* Chart based on data provided by myFICO

Real Estate Agent’s Mistake Turns into a Blessing

Many thanks to Charmalyn Thurman for sending me this message today:

I’m a real estate agent and had been looking for ways to help my clients improve their credit score to qualify for renting or buying a home.

During my search I heard a credit repair specialist mention Repair Your Credit Like The Pros during an interview.  I intended to buy Repair Your Credit Like The Pros but mistakenly ordered Build & Protect Your Credit Like The Pros.

What I thought was a mistake really turned out to be a blessing!

I almost returned the book.  However, as I read the back cover and browsed the table of contents, I decided to keep the book for my teenage daughters to read.  I also read it.  Personal Finance is included in their home school high school curriculum but credit literacy, as you provide in Build & Protect Your Credit Like The Pros, was lacking.

Thank you for such a concise, relevant, and practical resource to provide credit literacy.  Book cover 3DThe education you provide in this book should be included in all personal finance and even business math courses.

I recommend this book to everyone – high school students, college students, parents, tenants, home buyers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers & lenders.

Charmalyn Thurman PLLC, PSA, SFR
Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR)
Real Estate Professional at Your Service!
Call: (727) 821-1999 | Text: (727) 490-9450 
 Elite Properties

What to Do If You Cannot Make a Payment

If your income has been interrupted by the pandemic so that you are unable to make all your payments, here is the information you need to know.

MORTGAGE PAYMENTS

  • Your mortgage is your first priority. If you can’t pay anything else, pay your mortgage before it goes 30 days late.
  • Mortgage lenders do not accept partial payments, like credit cards. If you send in a partial payment, it will be rejected and you will be reported as late. This will plummet your credit score.
  • If your mortgage is late, you must pay the entire payment due including all late fees to get caught up. Again, no partial payment allowed.
  • If you cannot pay your mortgage, you must call your lender immediately and ask what type of forbearance plan is available. Then you must get it IN WRITING.
  • There is no such thing as free forbearance in mortgage. You will be required to make up the payment later, usually with interest added.

AUTOMOBILE LOANS

If you can no longer afford your automobile, do not do a voluntary repossession. There is no difference between a voluntary repo and a forced repo on your credit. You will still owe the balance between what is due and what they sell the vehicle for an auction. This will become a lien on your credit.

  • If you cannot sell your auto, truck, or SUV because you are upside down in what you owe and the value, then drive the vehicle into a dealership and trade down for something you can afford. That way, you avoid a repossession and future lien against you.

CREDIT CARDS

If you cannot afford the minimum payment, call the credit card servicer and ask for a plan that will not be reported late to the credit bureaus. Then get the plan, including a statement that it will not be reported as late, IN WRITING.

STUDENT LOANS

If you are unable to pay your student loan, call and ask what type of deferment you may be eligible for. Work out a plan and get it IN WRITING.

WARNING!

There is no such thing as DIY skip-a-payment or DIY forbearance. If you don’t call and get a written agreement, the creditor has no way of knowing what’s going on with you. They don’t know if you deserve a grace period, or if you got lazy and irresponsible with your payments.

Communication in advance is the key. And remember, any agreement must be in writing or it is no agreement at all. Verbals don’t count in the credit world.

As always, thanks for reading.
Carolyn Warren

 

Look Who’s Hiring Right Now

From retail to security officers to banking to  technology and more, lots of companies are hiring right now. Many positions are permanent. Some include training.

If you know someone who needs work, wont’ you¬† pass this encouraging list on to them?

Who’s Hiring

If you cannot see this list, which is on LinkedIn, here are some of the companies hiring:

  • Amazon, 175,000 employees for fulfillment centers and delivery.
  • CVS Health, 50,000 employees in various capacities.
  • Ace Hardware, 30,000 employees for open positions.
  • Pizza Hut, 30,000 permanent employees for cooks, managers, shift leaders, drivers.
  • FedEx, 35,000 employees for essential roles.
  • Securitas Security Services, 10,000 security officers.
  • TTEC, 10,000 work-from-home roles.
  • Tractor Supply Company, 5,000 positions in stores and distribution centers.

There’s more:

  • Trillium Health Partners
  • Capital One
  • Tetra Tech
  • Better.com
  • goPuff
  • Publix Super Markets
  • ¬†Regions Bank
  • United Whoelsale Mortgage
  • ¬†Fifth Third Bank
  • ¬†Ball Aerospace
  • ¬†General Motors
  • ¬†Love’s Travel Centers and Country Stores

Too many to list here. Many thanks to Andrew Seaman and #GetHired for this list.

Do Employers Have a Right to Look at Your Credit Report?

Yes, they do; but they must have your permission first. More about that next time. (Please consider subscribing. I usually post once a week; sometimes twice and sometimes once in two weeks.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Income and Employment Affect Your Credit Score?

Have you been temporarily laid off or furloughed? Has your income been reduced? Concerned about your credit? If so, here is information you need to know.

First, neither income nor employment are part of your credit file. The credit bureaus do not know if you are a minimum wage employee or a millionaire. They don’t know if you are working full-time, part-time, or not at all.

It is illegal to base credit on income, because that would discriminate against the poor. But beyond that, why would they care? Think about it.

Visa and MasterCard don’t care what your income is; they only care that you pay them on time, per your agreement.

If you make $2,000 per month and are debt-free, using your two credit cards as a convenience only, always paying the balance in full at each billing, you will  have a top tier credit score.

If you make $10,000 per month and have two automobile loans, have six credit cards that carry high balances (over 50 percent of the limit), and you missed a payment in the past year, then your credit score will be sub-par.

What If You Are Going Through Financial Crisis?

If you are unable to keep up with all your payments  due to the economic turndown from the pandemic, here is your priority:

  1. Pay your mortgage on time first and foremost. Mortgage lenders do not allow a partial payment. If you cannot pay in full, call the phone number on your billing statement and ask what type of plan they offer. Depending on who owns your mortgage, there are different options available. Whatever you do, don’t just stop paying.
  2. ¬†If you cannot afford your auto payment, do not do voluntary repossession. There is no grace for turning in your car voluntarily. It will ruin your credit and you will still be liable to pay the difference between what you owe and what they sell it for at auction. A voluntary repo is exactly the same as a forced repo. Don’t do it!
    Instead, drive your car into the dealership and trade down for a used vehicle that either has a lower, affordable payment or no payment at all.
  3.  Credit cards are the lowest and last priority. If you cannot make the minimum payment, call and ask for a plan in writing. A verbal agreement by a representative on the phone means nothing. You must protect your credit by getting the agreement in writing.

Why Not Repair Your Credit Now?

If you have some time, why not pick up a copy of this guide that has helped so many people get their credit back on track? Just yesterday, a book reader emailed me and said, “Thank you for changing my life!”

No matter where you are now, you have the power to take control of your future. Put the mistakes of the past behind you and build a credit profile you can feel proud of. Others have done it, and you can, too!

Keep safe and God bless you on your journey.