Credit Cards Can Help

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Some people are afraid of getting credit cards, thinking they will get into heavy debt. But you can use your credit cards wisely and they can help you. Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score (more than one third of your credit score). If you charge some expenses on your credit card and then pay them off in full, this will increase your credit score. Try to keep a low credit utilization, which is the amount you owe as a percentage of your available credit.


Can You Hear Me?

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Beware of receiving phone calls where the other person says “Can you hear me?” Scammers can record you when you say “Yes.” Then the scammers will use the recorded Yes to put through charges on credit cards or do bank account withdrawals. You may even see a local area code, which makes you want to answer the call.


Illegal Robocalls

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In January of 2017, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on two massive robocall operations. How does the law apply to robocalls? If the telemarketer does not have a consumer’s written permission, it is illegal to make those calls. One robocall operation was trying to sell home security systems. In the other robocall operation, they were selling car warranties and SEO services.


Income Driven Repayment and Federal Student Loans

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Known as IDR’s, Income Driven Repayment plans are available for federal student loans. Payments on the student loans are based on income and family size, and are not based on the amount of the loan. If you are unemployed or have low wages, your payments could be as low as zero dollars per month. Some borrowers can also get interest subsidies and eventual loan forgiveness.


Reading Your Credit Report

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Your credit report will have your information listed in the following way:

1) Identifying information about you – name, social security number, previous addresses
2) Trade lines – mortgages, credit cards, car payments
3) Credit inquiries
4) Court information (bankruptcy, foreclosure, judgments) and collections accounts
5) Closed accounts, paid accounts and negative accounts


Store Credit Cards

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According to a December 2016 report by creditcards.com, retail credit cards (store credit cards) have higher interest rates and skimpier sign-up offers. The average APR on store credit cards has risen to 23.84 percent. Half of store credit cards have an APR of over 25 percent. But regular credit cards have an average APR of 15.18 percent. Why do store credit cards have such a high interest rate? Two of the reasons are: lower credit limits and high-risk applicants.


Credit Card Debt

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The average credit card debt in the US for 2016 was $5,700. The average credit card debt in Indiana for 2016 was $5,288. 38.1% of all households carry some sort of credit card debt. Households with the lowest net worth (zero or negative) hold an average of $10,308 in credit card debt. Average credit card debt rose in the last decade from $5,048 to $7,697. This means the average American today holds 52% more debt today than they did a decade ago.


Vantage Score®

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VantageScore® has gained popularity as a developer of credit scores. Their model is able to be consistent through all 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). They do not lower their credit standards. More than 8 billion credit scores were used with this company in a one-year period. The 3 credit bureaus are the only licensees of their credit score model. This company can be a useful tool in monitoring your credit score.


Paternity

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Paternity is the legal relationship between a father and child. There are various ways to establish paternity, including a paternity affidavit or court order. Paternity can also be presumed if the child was born during the marriage. See IC 31-14 for laws on establishing paternity in Indiana.


Costly Overdraft Protection

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In January of 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued TCF National Bank for tricking consumers into getting expensive overdraft protection. Banks are not allowed to charge you overdraft fees on ATM transactions and one-time debit card transactions unless they get your consent first. The lawsuit states that TCF was violating the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and the Consumer Protection Act.


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