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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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
  • 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.


Gift Card Scam Part 2 “Negotiations”

As promised, this is the end of the story about the man who received a letter in the mail from a Mr. Victor Milligan of Cambridge, MA, instructing him to cash a check (that turned out to be bogus), purchase gift cards, and then to send the gift cards to Victor  Milligan for a supposed commission.

The check bounced, and the victim’s Bank of America account became overdrawn, which prevented the man from having funds to pay rent.

So here’s what happened as a result.

I spoke with the branch manager directly on the phone on behalf of this 84-year old man. I expressed my horror and dismay that a customer service representative would cash a check from a third party that was greater than the funds available, and without holding the check to clear first. I said BOA had to take part of the responsibility.

I also expressed my unhappiness about the assistant manager confiscating every last dollar the man had, including the cash he had in his wallet, so that he was unable to pay rent for April. I asked the manager to make this right by releasing funds to the man in the amount due for rent.

I have learned that the best way to negotiate a settlement is to go to the top. What a customer service representative won’t or can’t do, a top executive will do.

For those of you working on negotiating settlements, I would like to point out that the assistant manager was only interested in helping the Big Bank–not the victim of the crime.

I’ve learned that the higher up you go, the nicer the person is.

The ending of this story is that the Bank of America manager wrote a cashier’s check to the man for his April rent. It is a loan of sorts, to be paid back at $300 per month. I thought that was fair and very decent of the manager.

The BOA manager showed himself to be caring, merciful, and ethical. I hope he also trains his customer service representatives on how to handle an odd, uncharacteristically large out-of-state check that is 600 percent higher than the balance in the account.

This incident, along with a copy of the letter, has been reported to the local police in California who is coordinating with the police in Cambridge, MA. I hope this scam is shut down pronto!

If you have experience with a negotiation, I would be very interested in hearing about it.

Stay safe from scams out there, everyone! The criminals are working overtime now.

Extension Granted for Credit Disputes and Credit Requests

If you are requesting your free annual credit report, or you are disputing an inaccuracy with either a credit bureau or a creditor, please note this change in response time.

Previously, they were required to respond to your letter within 30 days. Now, due to the pandemic, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has extended that time to 45 days.

With so many now working from home under a Shelter Order and others taking time off work due to illness, the CFPB has determined that it is appropriate to extend the response time.

I see this as both bad and good news for people disputing negative credit. It could take longer to receive responses, so more patience is required on your part. However, with such pressure, might creditors be more lenient and less skeptical in approving requests to delete negative items? I don’t know, but it’s a thought.

Additionally, for those who need to negotiate settlements, I believe you have more power to ask for a low settlement now. With people out of work and unable to pay anything at all, receiving an offer for money would be most welcome–even if it is a low offer.

Remember, to get the verification and pay the right way according to Chapter 15 if you Repair Credit 3Dwant that negative account legally removed from your credit report. Do not miss out on Repair Your Credit Like the Pros if you want the results that the professionals get.

If you want the CFPB announcement, send me an email. I was unable to link to it.

Gift Card Scam

He thought it was a legitimate offer to get paid to be a mystery shopper. He never expected to get scammed.

True story. Happened last week.

He received a letter in the mail with a check for $2,495. The instructions said to cash the check, then use the money to buy four gift cards: two $500 American Express, one $400 Walmart, and one  $500 CVS Pharmacy.

After purchasing, fill out the evaluation form rating the customer service he had received. Then mail the surveys with the gift cards to the address provided, and keep the extra $595 as his commission for work done.

Do this within 3 days.

He cashed the check at Bank of America, who freely handed him the money without vetting the check. He then purchased the gift cards with the cash and kept the extra cash in his wallet. But then something happened.

Just as he was to mail off the gift cards to the perpetrator, he said, “The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said to stop, don’t do it.” He listened to the inner voice.

The next day, he went back to Bank of America to confirm the check had cashed; and Lo and behold, the banker was waiting for him. His account had been flagged and drained of all his funds.

The check was bogus. Neither he nor Bank of America had noticed the fine print “non-negotiable” on the back of the check. BOA did not call to vet the uncharacteristically large check. Neither did BOA hold funds for the check to clear. Now BOA was out $2,495, so in response, they seized all of the money left in his checking account, about $400. He was left with a negative balance.

Bank of America demanded he pay back the negative balance, but they would not take the gift cards. The man had no other money. The BOA manager grabbed the cash out of his wallet and quickly filled out a deposit slip. Now the man had nothing to live on but two quarters in his pocket.

The man went back to the retail stores to return the gift cards, but gift card are non-refundable.

His rent is due tomorrow and he has no money and a negative balance on his checking account.

Bank of America told him when his next auto-deposit of his paycheck arrives, they will seize the money to pay themselves back for the bogus check they so willingly cashed.

The man has gift cards he can use to purchase food and gasoline. Thankfully, he hadn’t mailed those off to the scammer! But how will he pay rent? Will his landlord accept a gift card in lieu of a rent check?

I’ll post the end of the story when it plays out. Meanwhile, don’t fall for the gift card scam!

New Bill Would Suspend Negative Credit Reporting During Covid-19 Crisis

Thank you, Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) for  introducing a bill that would protect people’s credit scores during the coronavirus outbreak.

If this bill passes, creditors could not report late payments or other negative items to the credit bureaus during this time of economic hardship. While people are scrambling to make ends meet during layoffs and reduced pay, they would not have the burden of worrying about their credit scores on top of everything else.

Additionally, free credit reports would be made available for a year after the crisis.

If you agree with this bill, you can click “like” at  the bottom of the Senator Schatz’s page here.

Why You Cannot Get 0% Mortgage (Fed Rate Cut Doesn’t Apply to You)

Sunday, March 15, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board cut rates to 0% for short term loans. A short-term loan could be bank-to-bank for as little as one day. They could be short-term business loans. Could it be your mortgage? Let’s think about that:

Would you like to refinance your $350,000 mortgage at 0% for one day and be obligated to pay it back in full tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? No, of course not. A mortgage is a long-term loan. This rate cut does not apply.

However if you have a home equity line of credit with an adjustable rate, then you can expect to enjoy a low (not zero) interest rate.

Why Mortgage Rates are Up, Not Down

In the last 10 days, mortgage interest rates have risen dramatically. How odd, right? Looking at the market, there is no reason a rate should have spiked from 3.25% to 4.25% in a matter of days. Obviously, something else is going on.

With mortgage rates at historic lows, all lenders have been deluged with a massive number of refinance applications. Processors and underwriters are working 60+ hour weeks. Loan officers are pitching in doing processing work. Everyone in the mortgage business is maxed out. I’ll explain it this way.

Let’s say you had a food truck. You sold tacos at such a cheap price, that the line for dinner was a mile long. You saw that it would take until midnight to serve everyone a taco dinner. Would you continue to advertise 50 cent tacos and bid more people to get in line? No, that would ruin your reputation, because you can’t handle all the customers you have already.

Similarly, lenders have had to stop the avalanche of refi applications. This was accomplished by raising rates–not so much that people still couldn’t buy a home, but enough that it wouldn’t make sense for many to refinance.

We Expect Rates to Get Better Again

If you lost out on the opportunity to get that super low rate, then get your application in with all paperwork called for. Then when the current book of business closes and lenders can accept more refinance business, you will be ready to lock and go!

The second wave of refinances will happen–and it could be as short as a one-day window to lock before the pipelines are full again and rates are artificially raised.

Will we see rates at another historic low? I don’t know. My advice is to get ready and when you see a low rate that makes sense, lock and don’t look back. People who get too greedy, expecting an interest rate that cannot and will not happen are the people who lose out altogether.

Keep in touch with your mortgage broker. A broker can shop lenders for you to find you the best loan program at the best pricing he or she has available.

And now I need to tell you I am licensed to do mortgage loans in California and Washington states. NMLS license 1284134. Thanks for reading and stay healthy and safe.


Repair Your Credit Like the Pros

Due to the economic effects of the coronavirus, you can borrow money to buy a home at the lowest interest rates we’ve seen in many years. Now is the time you have more buying power, because with low rates, your payment is lower and you qualify for a better home.

Home owners are refinancing and saving tens of thousands of dollars. Many are shortening their loan terms to own their homes free-and-clear sooner.

You can be one of the people who take advantage of our current market if your credit qualifies. Credit it king. A high credit score has power and earns respect.

If your credit has issues, if your score is low, then now is the time to take control. No matter what your past has been, today starts the future.

Creating good credit and achieving a high score is in your hands. Embrace hope! Get to work repairing and building your credit like the pros. Others have done it, and you can, too.

A. Roberts wrote:
Three months ago my scores were 595 (Experian) and 606 (Equifax.)
Today my scores are 715 and 647. Thanks a million!

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