Resources

Credit Reports and Services:
Credit Reports

Fifth Third Bank

You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

If a company denies your application, you have the right to the name and address of that credit bureau.

If you question the accuracy or completeness of information in your report, you have the right to file a dispute with the consumer reporting company and the information provider.

You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction. Learn More @ The FTC Web Site

Annual Credit Report

This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Privacy Guard

PrivacyGuard offers a comprehensive credit and identity theft protection plan.

Credit Keeper

One of the most popular credit report sites around.

Credit Check Total

Another popular credit report sites around.

Equifax

Equifax is one of the main credit bureaus as well as a well-respected and established provider of consumer credit services. Equifax provides consumers with a wide range of credit monitoring services. Equifax also offers a plan for consumers who are looking to monitor their credit score, and there are several options for those who simply want to receive access to their credit reports and scores.

TransUnion

Experian

Identity Theft Programs

Trusted ID

TrustedID provides identity theft protection services that prevent thieves from stealing a victim’s identity and committing credit fraud, and it offers a $1,000,000 guarantee. TrustedID is the perfect solution for customers whose personal information has already been compromised or who want to protect themselves against credit fraud.

Life Lock

LifeLock offers consumers protection from identity theft and credit fraud. As an alternative to traditional credit monitoring services that alert customers after their credit information has already been compromised, LifeLock blocks access to consumers credit files before thieves are able to access them. They also offer helpful services to your customers such as stopping pre-approved credit offers and providing a smooth experience when trying to obtain new credit.

Identity Guard

Identity Guard offers credit monitoring and identity theft prevention services with a wide range of identity theft protection plans available to help your customers secure their personal information, and they also provide access to credit reports and credit scores from the three major credit bureaus.

Identity Truth

IdentityTruth provides credit monitoring and identity theft prevention services that can help protect your customers from credit fraud for less than $10 a month with a $2 million guarantee.

Credit Monitoring

Privacy Matters 1-2-3

Give consumers access to their credit report and credit score for free through Privacy Matters 1-2-3. As one of the most popular consumer protection programs in the nation, Privacy Matters 1-2-3 comes with powerful credit management and monitoring tools – making it easy for your customers to keep on top of their personal credit information.

MyFICO

myFICO is a part of the same organization that developed the FICO Score, which is the most widely established measurement of consumer credit that is used by financial institutions and lenders today. myFICO is also a well-respected provider of credit services and information, and they offer a wide range of options including credit report and score monitoring plans as well as several packages for customers that simply want access to their credit reports and scores.

Consumer Resources:
Consumer Rights
The Fair Credit Reporting Act

This is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) as prepared by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It is intended only as a convenience for the public and not a substitute for the text in the U.S. Code. Learn More

Identity Theft

A number of government and private organizations have information about various aspects of identity theft and fraud: how it can occur, what you can do about it, and how to guard your privacy. Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Secret Service, the Better Business Bureau, and more.

There is no “quick and easy” answer to this question. You should discuss your situation with a credit counselor or a bankruptcy attorney, to evaluate the costs and benefits of bankruptcy given your personal financial situation.

Not every debtor qualifies to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A means test is applied to determine if you will be able to repay a substantial percentage of your debt, and if you are determined able to do so you will be ineligible for a liquidation of your debts and will likely have to engage in a repayment plan as part of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The type of debt you owe can be a significant factor in whether you file for bankruptcy, as well as the form of bankruptcy you pursue. Factors which may affect your decision to file for bankruptcy protection are detailed in this associated article: Filing For Personal Bankruptcy Protection in a U.S. Court.

Your ability to rebuild credit after filing bankruptcy is better than it has ever been. After you get your discharge, you will receive many solicitations from lenders offering to finance homes, vehicles and credit cards.

Here are some tips to responsibly and successfully rebuild credit:
  • Open a checking or savings account. Lenders may look at this to determine if you can responsibly handle money.
  • Apply for store and gas credit cards that you would normally pay cash.
  • Apply for a secured card where you deposit cash and charge against it. Pay advances back over two months so that they will be reflected as positive marks on your credit report.
  • Pay your utility bills and rent on time for at least a year.
  • Find a friend or relative to cosign for you on a loan and pay it on time.
  • Look for car dealers and mortgage brokers that attest to be “bankruptcy friendly”. Buy a used car so you do not get hit with the depreciation that occurs during the first two years of a new car purchase.
  • Stay away from payday loans that are at high interest rates and are a “bad credit” trap.
  • Write a letter to each credit reporting agency explaining the circumstances that lead to you filing.
  • Live within your means. Do not unnecessarily increase your debt to income ratio by taking on credit to purchase luxury items that you DO NOT NEED. Your payments on consumer debt should equal no more than 20% of your expendable income after costs for housing and a vehicle.
  • Pay your reaffirmed, pre-bankruptcy debts on time.
Fallacy: My score determines whether or not I get credit

Fact: Lenders use a number of facts to make credit decisions, including your FICO?,® score. Lenders look at information such as the amount of debt you can reasonably handle given your income, your employment history, and your credit history. Based on their perception of this information, as well as their specific underwriting policies, lenders may extend credit to you although your score is low, or decline your request for credit although your score is high.

Fallacy: A poor score will haunt me forever

Fact: Just the opposite is true. A score is a “snapshot” of your risk at a particular point in time. It changes as new information is added to your bank and credit bureau files. Scores change gradually as you change the way you handle credit. For example, past credit problems impact your score less as time passes. Lenders request a current score when you submit a credit application, so they have the most recent information available. Therefore by taking the time to improve your score, you can qualify for more favorable interest rates.

Fallacy: Credit scoring is unfair to minorities

Fact: Scoring considers only credit-related information. Factors like gender, race, nationality and marital status are not included. In fact, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits lenders from considering this type of information when issuing credit. Independent research has been done to make sure that credit scoring is not unfair to minorities or people with little credit history. Scoring has proven to be an accurate and consistent measure of repayment for all people who have some credit history. In other words, at a given score, non-minority and minority applicants are equally likely to pay as agreed.

Fallacy: Credit scoring infringes on my privacy

Fact: Credit scoring evaluates the same information lenders already look at – the credit bureau report, credit application and/or your bank file. A score is simply a numeric summary of that information. Lenders using scoring sometimes ask for less information – fewer questions on the application form, for example.

Fallacy: My score will drop if I apply for new credit

Fact: If it does, it probably won’t drop much. If you apply for several credit cards within a short period of time, multiple requests for your credit report information (called “inquiries”) will appear on your report. Looking for new credit can equate with higher risk, but most credit scores are not affected by multiple inquiries from auto or mortgage lenders within a short period of time. Typically, these are treated as a single inquiry and will have little impact on the credit score.

If you are behind on payments and wanted to know what options are available, many time professionals forget the simple options to homeowners. For professionals in the foreclosure business, we use terms such as deed-in-lieu, forbearance, loan mod, and other terms that homeowners may not. I have come up with a few terms and options that homeowners should have available as options for available alternatives to foreclosure.

Forbearance

A company will attempt to stall or reduce your payment by submitting a hardship package on your behalf. Many times the lender will work with a “foreclosure assistance” company before working with an individual attempting to submit a foreclosure package.

Buy-Back-Program

With this option, you can actually sell your house and continue living in. Some investors offer a buy back program where they will step-in quickly, purchase your house, and allow you to rent it while you catch up on your bills and even allow you to purchase it back from them once you are “back on your feet”. (Be very careful, some companies are better then others, and of course, you have those predators out there)

Restructure (Most Popular Alternative)

Some foreclosure companies will negotiate with your lender to get your loan in good standing again. There are many options available to get a restructure approved like a separate payment plan for your delinquency or even adding the delinquency to the end of your loan. No one can guarantee to restructure your payments, so be careful.

Reinstatement

Pay your lender(s) your entire past due payments to bring your mortgage current. This option is rarely feasible. (However I know some private money lenders that will provide homeowners up to 90% for the reinstatement amount.)

Refinanace

Hardly available, through traditional lenders, however some foreclosure companies have established relationships with in-house lenders who can give loans on mortgages that are in foreclosure if there is enough equity in your property available.

Sell Your Home

You may simply sell your home before the Foreclosure Sale Date. Sometimes the home owner is unable to sell the home outright at the desired sale price and this is not an option.

Short Sale

In this instance the lender may take less than what you owe on the loan to avoid a lengthy and costly foreclosure process.

Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure

You or a foreclosure company can arrange for you to simply give the home back to the lender and walk away with a clean slate.

Bankruptcy

This is a last resort. This will only save your home temporarily. If you miss one payment during this process the lender will put you right back into foreclosure.