How Long Old Debt Can Stay on Your Credit Report

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Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, negative items have to be taken off of your credit report seven (7) years from the date you were first delinquent, such as when you first got behind. The exceptions are: Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, which can stay for 10 years; Judgments; Money owed to the government, which can be indefinite. Just because you pay the debt or settle it, it does not mean it will be removed from your credit report.


There’s An App For That, But is it Fake?

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The Federal Trade Commission warned of fake apps that look like well-known brands. These fraudulent apps can take your bank or credit card information and can also install malware on your phone. See if there are reviews for the app before you download it. The big retailers will usually have thousands of reviews for their app.


Don’t Pay for a Car with Amazon Gift Cards

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In January of 2017, the Federal Trade Commission warned people about scammers who are getting people to pay for big ticket items like cars, motorcycles and boats with Amazon gift cards. The scammer will tell you that they need to sell the car fast because they are in the military or about to deploy. Scammers will also try to get you to pay using the following methods, which you should not do: iTunes gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards, Western Union, and MoneyGram.


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.


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