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Monday, December 15, 2008

How To Improve An Unsatisfactory Credit Score

By Chris Channing

One's credit score is the single number that will determine whether or not a potential borrower can get the money they need for things in life that are a necessity. Buying a home, car, or other expensive item is quite tough without a loan, so knowing how to improve this number is important in living a comfortable lifestyle.

The first thing to do before obtaining a loan is to check one's credit report. A credit report will detail why the score is what it is. Many times there may be errors or mistakes that credit companies have logged, which could negatively impact one's rating. Because of this, obtaining a free credit report is almost mandatory before visiting a lender for the first time in hopes of obtaining a loan.

Next to consider is to take out another loan- even if you don't need it. Parents should also take special note and perhaps take out a loan in a child's name so as to build their credit at an early age. This is essentially giving the bank more money for seemingly nothing, but actually this impacts one's credit score for the better if the payments are made on time and no problems ensue.

Be extremely careful on what goes on a credit card, and only put an product or service on a credit card if you think you can pay the full amount back within a month. If you don't, your payment will be considered late and over a period of time, this will negatively impact one's credit rating. Obviously being responsible is key to a good credit rating.

One situation where one is at a disadvantage in not having credit or being self employed is made better by showing a lender bill statements from the past. As long as you have kept up with payments, this in itself is a form of credit, although not as important as real credit. Every little bit helps in trying to convince a lender your worth, because it will equate into savings.

One thing most don't think about when marrying is that a credit rating will be altered in the process- whether for the better or worse. Your partner's credit rating will have a large emphasis on whether or not a lender trusts the applicant, simply because of the marriage association. This adds a new level of tactics to the mix.

In Conclusion

Credit reports usually aren't free, since they cost money to maintain and process. But there are some lenders and online websites that offer free credit reports, as long as special conditions are met. Look online for more information on this.

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How to Have a Debt-Free Christmas

By Ryan M. Healy

More people go into debt during the Christmas season than any other time during the year. With that in mind, let me offer a few strategies for having a good Christmas, minus the debt.

Trade Names

If there are three or more people in your family, consider picking names. Have each person draw one name and buy just one gift for that person.

Here's an example. Let's say there are four people in your family. Each family member would purchase only one gift, which means only four gifts would be purchased in total.

If each person bought a gift for all three individuals, that would be 12 gifts total. So by doing a name swap, you can cut your gift giving (and spending) by 200%.

Make Your Gifts by Hand

Do you have a talent for crafts? Make your gifts instead of buying them!

I'm fortunate that my wife is a incredibly talented. She makes jewelry, hair bows, and ornaments and gives them as gifts at Christmas time, which is a big money-saver.

Have a No-Gift Christmas

There is so much abundance and wealth in the U.S., we hardly "need" anything. So is it really necessary to go nuts and spend a small fortune on gifts?

Consider spending one Christmas without buying or giving gifts. Spend quality time with your family and friends instead.

Write a List

If you decide to buy gifts, then don't set foot in a retail store without knowing exactly what you're getting -- and exactly how much you plan to spend.

Just "shopping around" is a recipe for disaster. You will likely buy things on impulse and spend more than you planned. But if you create a plan and follow it, your bank account will thank you.

Leave Credit Cards at Home

When buying gifts, use cash or debit -- but avoid using credit. Since you're spending a lot of money in between the statement cycle, it's too easy to lose track of what you've spent.

And by avoiding credit, you won't get any nasty surprises in January when the credit card bill shows up.

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The Essentials of Estate Planning Retirement

By William Blake

Your retirement is one of the most important things you will ever plan for. It means enjoyment and peace of mind for you in the future. However you want your family to have that same peace of mind even after you are gone. Sometimes it is difficult to think about death and leaving your family. But it is important to be financially prepared so that in addition to the grief they feel over loosing you your family is not overwhelmed with funeral expenses and other costly financial obligations that you were not fully prepared for. So in conjunction with planning for your retirement it is good to also think seriously about your estate planning.

Retirement planning takes a lot of time and effort. When you throw in estate planning on top of that some people feel overwhelmed. It does require quite a bit of work on your part to determine what you have and how it will be distributed and as you develop a financial plan for your estate. But caring for your family's future needs is worth the effort.

A Working Plan

Once you have accounted for all of your assets it is time to put a good estate plan into action. There are certain things you will need to consider:

- List your beneficiaries

- Make a note of what each beneficiary will receive

- Come to an decision on whether the assets will be distributed by a trust or in a lump sum

- Take into consideration any business or real property you may have that will need to be handled

- Before setting it all in stone discuss your decisions with your family

Never hesitate to plan your estate because you are unsure of what you want to do with your assets when you are gone. Remember that any plan you make can be adjusted if necessary. What is more important is that you begin to get things on paper and put some sort of plan into action. As you family's needs change or as your circumstances change you can revise your estate plan. Even if you feel you have very little to distribute in your estate it is best to set out on paper how you would like it handled to save your family from having to make those tough decisions.

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The Continuing Agony Of Identity THeft

By Darren Cason

A person that becomes a victim of identity theft is a victim for life. This is because no matter how often the law reassures you that they are trying to fix the problem, they are lying. I was a victim of identity theft. The second time this occurred, I reported the problem to the police. Their reaction was to ask a few questions and give me a report number - no further action was taken. So I reported both this and the crime to the Federal Trade Commission (this was in 2000), but I am still waiting for a response - and the perpetrator is still committing the crimes!

When I informed the credit bureaus of my dilemma, they made no attempt to remove the charges. They simply put a comment on my records to the effect that it was "resolved". I am aware of other people who have faired far worse, some of whom have been summoned to court to answer for debts that they could not possibly have incurred. These people lived on the opposite side of the world to where the perpetrator was committing the offenses. How outrageous is it that the victims of crime have to suffer again and again because so few who could make a difference decide to act.

It is the case that with most instances of identity theft that is not involving a company, but rather an individual, they will receive little or no assistance at all. These individuals are denied credit because of the ramifications of the identity theft and are often placed in financial hardship. Some states place a "freeze" on credit reports. This should be the case in all states as it prevents anyone except the rightful owner of the credit to review the reports. The majority of states will place "fraud alerts" for up to three months on a credit report, but this achieves little - nothing is removed from the report. It can actually give the wrong impression.

It appears then, that it is our responsibility to protect ourselves from identity theft. Thieves are finding it increasingly easy, with the advancements in technology, to "steal" a person's identity. Government data bases are protected by sophisticated "firewalls", but still this is not enough to prevent thieves from hacking into accounts.

The newer credit cards available have microchips in them. These are supposed to prevent identity thieves from using them. This is not the case, as most identity thieves are already aware of the technology behind the chip and are able to bypass it.

The biggest and most "convenient" place for an identity thief to work is the world wide web. Even with firewalls and anti-hacker programs, anti-virus software and spy detectors, it is still not entirely safe to use the Internet. In 2004, an estimated eleven million people fell prey to identity theft, most of which were through the Internet.

It is the case that some cases of identity theft were perpetrated by friends, neighbors, family members or colleagues. One such case involved a couple, who moved from England to the States. When they arrived, they discovered that their identity had been "stolen" and they were left to answer a summons for debts they did not incur.

Some creditors and financial lenders will go so far as to accuse a victim of identity theft of fabricating the story of increase debts on your part or to avoid any poor credit rating, even when it has been proven that they were not responsible.

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Credit Cards To Rebuild Credit

By Dan Moskel

You can use a credit card to help rebuild your credit score. This card will help you build a positive payment history and will improve your ratio of available credit to debt; both these factors are heavily weighed in your credit score.

When you have a damaged score you will be faced with a sub prime interest rate. This means you will have an interest rate around 19%.

It is still important to remove bad credit items from your credit report. However it has been learned that after a bad credit item ages 4 years it will damage your score much less.

With your card you are going to have to pay an annual fee and around 19% APR. This is called a sub prime credit card because it is designed for individuals with a damaged credit history.

Your card will have a credit limit around $300. The other alternative is to get a secured credit card.

A secured card you will have to put a deposit down and the amount of your deposit is the credit line on your card. This card will report to the credit bureaus however it will not give you the same benefit as an unsecured card.

With an unsecured card it will be instant approval and your payments and balance will be reported to all major credit bureaus. It is important to double check and make sure your credit card will report to all three credit bureaus.

Another tip to help you get the most benefit to your credit is to keep your balance at roughly 10% of your credit limit. For example a credit limit of $300 you will want to keep the monthly balance at $30.

This shows the credit bureaus that you do have available credit; this is called your available credit to debt ratio. In addition it shows the bureaus that you do use your credit.

There is one other option that we strongly discourage and that is a shopping or catalog card. This is a credit card that is only able to make purchases through a catalog or a website online. We discourage this option because there is often a large down payment required and the card typically only reports to one credit bureau.

A prepaid card is another option. This is a good choice if you are unable to open a checking account because this card will work just like a bank account.

In sum we suggest a sub prime unsecured credit card to help rebuild your credit score. It will create a positive payment history and build positive credit.

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How To Get Loans When You're A Student With Bad Credit

By Dave Davis

Do you plan to attend college but you worry that your credit is too bad to ever qualify for a loan? Do not despair; there is good news for you. There are options for students with bad credit because there are some loans that don't look at your credit history to decide if you qualify.

Federal Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans are two loan options. Pell grants and various types of scholarships and grants all are options as well for a college bound student with bad credit.

Out of all of the loans that the government offers, Stafford loans are the most commonly used. They are available based on the need of the applicant, as determined by the school they are attending.

Stafford loans that are subsidized are given only to individuals who are in need, but are extremely helpful if you can qualify. The federal government takes care of the interest on these loans through school and for up to six months afterwards.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans are given to anyone who wants them, but are somewhat different than the subsidized version. The funds that can be taken are somewhat smaller then the subsidized version and the federal government doesn't pay for the interest that builds up.

Perkins loans are also available for students that have bad credit. Perkins loans are harder to qualify for in that you must have more financial need than those who can qualify for Stafford loans. You can qualify for Perkins loans even if you have a bad credit history.

A Federal Pell grant is only available for students with significant financial need. Your past income and possibly the income of your parents will be examined to determine if you qualify for a Pell grant. Pell grant awards can range in size from just a few hundred dollars to amounts that would cover all of tuition and expenses.

Since Pell grants are a reward from the federal government, they don't need to be paid back. Not everyone can qualify for them, but those that can should definitely get them, even before they take out loans. Credit history is not considered for the grant approval process.

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How To Dispute Experian

By Justin Hutto

To file a dispute with Experian credit bureau you must write a dispute letter. When they receive your dispute letter they will investigate the disputed listing.

However the first step is to request a copy of your credit report. This can be done for free from annual credit report. It is your right to have a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau once a year.

When you have your credit report you must identify what listings are inaccurate or incorrect. These will be the listings that you dispute.

You will dispute the items by creating your dispute letter and mailing it to Experian credit bureau. Once they receive your letter they will determine if it is valid or invalid.

If it is found to be invalid then they will write you requesting more information about the dispute. If this happens you will need to respond accordingly and provide the requested details.

However if they find your dispute valid they will investigate the mark. During an investigation they will contact the originator of the item and ask them to verify the account, the balance, and the dates on the account.

It has been found that investigations will often result in a listing being removed. This is a result of many businesses being unwilling to spend the resources verifying disputed debts.

A credit repair service can also be hired to remove negative credit from your report. With this option you only need to identify the marks you wish to dispute and the service will do the rest.

The benefit of a service is they can use advanced dispute techniques such as; debt validation, escalated dispute information requests, and creditor direct intervention.

If you have multiple bad credit items you wish to dispute then I suggest hiring a service, in addition they will have no problem getting a valid dispute submitted. However if you only have one or two bad credit items to dispute then you can do it yourself.

You should also know that a dispute letter must be sent to each credit bureau. Failure to do this and the other two major credit bureaus will still show the negative listing even if Experian removed it from your report.

In sum you can dispute Experian and have them remove negative credit from your credit report. You must either hire a service or dispute the listings yourself.

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Choosing a Visa, American Express, Discover, or MasterCard

By Darren Cason

Many American consumers have recently defaulted on their credit cards. Recent hurricanes along with high gas prices have affected consumers. However, having to pay more for gas should not be enough to push you over the edge, if you are using your credit card responsibly.

There are many excellent reasons to use credit cards. They eliminate the need to carry large amounts of cash, and many offer rewards points or cash back options. Discover Card in particular offers a well-known cash back program. Credit cards also come in handy during emergencies, as a convenient way to make unexpected purchases if you do not have cash saved up for such emergencies.

However, the bottom line is that if you can't pay cash for a purchase, then you should not charge it. Credit cards are often used to buy luxuries that you can't really afford. Being able to make the minimum payment is not the same as being able to afford the item.

If you have a balance on your credit card, particularly if you only make the minimum monthly payments, then you need to get control of your finances. First, read the fine print of your credit card agreement. If it has a yearly fee, cancel it. If it has an exorbitant interest rate, call the credit card company. Many will lower your rate just for asking. Next, compare the late fee, especially if you are often charged this fee because you pay late. By shopping around, you may be able to save money on the fees.

Penalty rates can be very high on credit cards. Over three quarters of credit card companies raise rates as a penalty for carrying a monthly balance and paying your bill late. However, there are still some companies who do not do this, so if you often carry a balance or are late paying, you should look for a credit card with lower interest or one which will not raise your rates. Another penalty fee to watch out for is the fee charged for going over the card's credit limit or when you desire for the best card to transfer.

Another factor to consider when choosing a credit card is the minimum payment. Minimum payment amounts are very important when calculating the total amount of interest you'll owe on the amounts you charge. If you're charging items because you can't afford them in full now, why would you want to pay interest on top of that amount? According to one study, paying the minimum payment on a $12,000 balance at 18 percent interest will take more than 60 years to pay off! And you'll end up paying nearly three times your original balance because of all the interest charges. Many people only make the minimum payment each month, but it will take you many years to pay it off if you do that. As a result, new laws require that the minimum payment is at least 1 percent of the balance. If you paid that on the same $12,000 balance, it would cut the payment time to 30 years, and the interest down to less than $6,000.

You must understand how credit card fees if you want to use them responsibly and avoid falling into debt. Think wisely, and avoid using the card if you can.

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Student Loan Default: How to Deal with It

By William Blake

The Department of Education has many different avenues with which it works hard to get money back from individuals whose student loan payments have turned into student loan default. Defaulting on a federal student loan can become such a costly event that it often becomes more expensive than an individual's original student loans ever were. This is mostly owing to fees that are charged by loan guaranty agencies and collection agencies that the Department of Education employs to get their money back.

The IRS can actually hold back your tax refund check until you finish making payments on your federal student loans if they have gone into default. This method of retrieving their funds is most frequently utilized by the Department of Education. When you have failed to make a payment within a ninety day period, the IRS will be informed that your federal student loans have gone into default.

You have sixty-five days, starting from when you receive notice of the default status of your federal student loans, to object that claim. In order to do so successfully, you must be able to furnish written proof of loan repayment, a negotiated plan for payments along with the payments themselves, bankruptcy filing, your own personal disability that prevents loan repayment, having dropped out of school, or any other applicable reason that would make the lender unable to demand the borrowed funds.

What You Can Do About Default Student Loans

There are some options regarding what you can do about your default student loans. Choosing the right option for your specific case might even mean being able to regain financial aid eligibility, make your credit rating better, and possibly have your student loan default stricken from your financial record.

Loan rehabilitation is the first, and often best, option to go with. Of all the options you have, only loan rehabilitation will let you protect your financial aid eligibility and recover your credit score. This option is only available to people who arrange to repay their default loan and then do so on nine consecutive occasions. These payments must be made within twenty days of their due dates and in full.

These payments must be voluntary, meaning that they cannot arrive to the lender by means of wage garnishing, lump sum payments, or legal proceedings.

When your student loan has gone to default, you can also keep your right to receive future financial aid by making arrangements to pay off your entire student loan by means of a one-time satisfactory payment. For payments to be acceptable, they must be made within fifteen days of their due dates six times consecutively. These payments are usually the accrued interest rate or fifty.

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Dental Health Insurance Quote

By Zul Rahman

How do you get the right dental insurance quote? There is no easy answer. Basically you have to do a lot of homework, sifting through string of data and crunching a lot of figures.

When comes to dental insurance, you can always get free dental insurance quote online. There are many insurance companies that offers various dental plan. One thing to consider, is the amount quoted worth the services offered.

One of the thing that you should look for in the quotation is, if there is any limitations or restrictions of the benefits offered. Make sure that all the benefits that you and your family needs are covered in the quotation.

All of the terms of coverage should be spell out clearly in your dental insurance quote. These are Common terms such as period of coverage, the cost of your monthly premium and your services benefits.

How to choose the right dental insurance quote?

Please be aware not to fall into the trap of looking into the cheap dental insurance quote. A good dental insurance quote should cover all the necessary dental services that you and your family need.

Family dental insurance plan works perfectly for those who want coverage for family members. It operates more or less like regular family plan for health insurance.

Ask your insurance agent to quote you the dental insurance for the whole family. Pay attention to the limitations and the waiting period that the plan has.

It is important to make sure that the dental needs for the entire family is covered in the quoted plan.

Make sure that your dental insurance quote includes all the basic features of dental care that you and your family needs. Features such as regular dental check up and annual check up are no doubt should be included. Another thing is of course the plan should be affordable to you.

What you should be looking for in the quotation is a savings over the long term. Another alternative is to look at the discount dental plan. They do provide a great savings and discount on many of the expensive dental procedures.

Last but not least, study your quotations carefully. Get a handfuls of quotations from various dental insurance plan. Also get quotations from various dental insurance providers. Compare them carefully before you come to a conclusions.

If you like any particular dental insurance quote, consult with people that you know who are on that plan in order to get a second opinion.

Having gone through the details of your quotations, don't forget to look at the scope of your benefits. Some plans impose a limitations on your claims benefits. Also check with your agent if you are entitled to any discount from the plan. There might be some discount available that you might not know.

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Credit Cards: How To Avoid Debts

By Don Pedro

The first truth about credit cards is, ultimately it has a limit. No matter what lucrative offers, gift certificates or cash prizes are associated with, you can not expend more than you are allowed to. And when you fail to abide by the limitations you end up in Credit card debt. Nowadays the online registration and purchasing of credit cards have made credit cards more available than ever.

And if the debt of some credit cards are summed up in another new credit card or two its called consolidate credit card debt. Sometimes its also used in an attempt to confuse the billing.

At the beginning, it took some time for credit cards to reach distant corners of the world, but now credit cards are even accepted in online trading sites. In fact, most of the money transactions of today's world is run through internet using credit cards. No need to drive the car for half an hour leaving the chores to go and buy something, you can now buy almost anything in the comfort of you home.

But above all, we all should be aware of not being in debt. Therefore, we need to change the habit of buying without keeping the track of the expenditure.

To help people keep all the record of money transactions and large business expenditures, business credit cards have been introduced. These cards can help the owners get an account of their business costs; it could be for analysis or may be for keeping record.

Though online buying has become so popular and there are billions of money being transferred through this media, is it totally safe to do financial interactions world wide web using your credit card? Well, if you can take the necessary defensive measures to avoid frauds only then you can enjoy the most out of your card.

Not all the credit cards are granted in every part of the world. But there are some which have acceptability in most of the countries. Among them America express, citi, diners club, JCB, MasterCard, visa and Discover are most popular.

Saying all these, its clear that credit card holders will only be able to enjoy the utmost freedom using their credit cards only if they use their card most wisely.

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