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Most Recent Alert
Capital One Sued
January 3, 2005 - Capital One has run some entertaining commercials lately. They've been promoting their fixed rate cards. But since, according to Attorney General Mike Hatch from Minnesota, 40 percent of Minnesota residents who got the "fixed rate" had it raised without notice overnight, it's really not fixed after all. The suit also alleges that when callers asked Capital One customer service representatives about the "fixed rate" the representative read from a prepared script meant to evade the question. Only if the caller probed two more times did the representative give an answer indicating that the "fixed rate" could not be guaranteed.

Capital One has stated that they've cooperated with the investigation and have done nothing wrong. Since one is innocent until proven guilty maybe we could give them the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe we should make a no notice overnight decision. I guess that's what they would do. Here's more information.

Camco's Going Down
December 8, 2004 - FTC Asks Court to Halt Illegal Camco Operation In March 2004, the FTC charged that CAMCO, RM Financial, and their principals were threatening and harassing thousands of consumers to get them to pay old, unenforceable debts or debts they did not owe. On December 8, 2004 FTC asked a U.S. District court to order a halt to the harassing, intimidating, deceptive, and illegal ‘debt collection’ practices.

At the agency’s request, the court has frozen the assets of the company and its principals and appointed a receiver to oversee the corporate records and assets, pending trial. The FTC will seek a permanent halt to the illegal threats and lies the defendants use to attempt to collect “time-barred” debts – debts so old that they are beyond the statute of limitations, and cannot appear on credit reports – and debts consumers never incurred and did not owe.

For more details read the FTC press release. If you have Camco on your credit report here's a letter that may help you get them taken off.

A Free Credit Report for Everyone
December 25, 2004 - Experian has announced that it is offering free credit reports to people in all areas of the country. This is a break for those who live in parts of the country other than the west. Get yours here. FreeCreditReport.com.

Your Free Credit Report
December 1, 2004 - Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you have the right to obtain, upon request, a free copy of your credit report from the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union once every 12 months. Your eligibility will depend upon where you live. Here is the current schedule.

Under Reporting Your Good Information
November 25, 2004 - Here's a little trick your credit card company may use to make you look less attractive to other companies. They will simply not report your credit limit. So what? Well the ratio of how much credit you are using to how much you have available is an important factor in determining your credit score. It's 30% of your entire score. So if your credit card company doesn't tell the credit bureaus what your credit limit is then when Fair Isaac calculates your score they will substitute your highest reported balance for your credit limit. This in many cases makes it look like you are closer to being maxed out than you really are.

This lowers your credit score. And that makes you less attractive to competing credit card companies. Of course it also means you'll pay more for a new home mortgage, your insurance rates may rise, and you may not get hired for that dream job. Other that that, it is probably no big deal.

Credit Report Accuracy
Accurate? Well not really. As reported in October 2004, according to a report by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, the credit bureaus got it right 21% of the time. Yep, 79% of the credit reports the studied had errors. While many of these errors were bad credit information that shouldn't have been on the report, there were also many times when good credit information was omitted.

You Don't Even Need to Pay Your Debts, Trust Me
October 23, 2004 - This old scam has been around in different forms for years. Oh, it's so tempting when someone says, "You don't even have to pay them because I've found the legal loophole. The small amount you'll pay me will save you thousands. Trust me thousands of people have done it and it will work for you too." They used to be talkig about the Federal income tax. Of course you don't have to pay Federal income tax but you should be prepared to go to jail if you don't. Now it's you credit card bills. Oh there's a loophole in the way the Federal Reserve operates and all you need to do is tell your credit card company that you know it and you bills will be terminated.

Well if you follow this advice my suggestion is to keep your attorney's phone number handy because you're gong to need it. Here's what the FDIC has to say about this scam.

Here's a good article that explains the Credit Card Debt Termination Scams.

What's Old is New Again
August 2, 2004 - Negative information can only remain on your credit report for seven years. But now some collection agencies have found out how to submit the information in a way that makes old debts appear new. This can have a dramatic impact on your credit score. Be informed and fight back!

Here's an interesting article written by a credit report expert detailing the practice of altering the date of last activity and a letter that you can use to file a complaint if this has happened to you.

D.C. Credit Services
July 16, 2004 - If you have D.C. Credit Services listed on your credit report please read this!

Briggs and Baker - Debt Resolution Specialists, Inc.
February 13, 2004 - The Federal Trade Commission has charged two debt negotiation companies and their principals with violating federal law. Read the FTC article.

The Bankruptcy Bill is Back
February 13, 2004 - The Bankruptcy reform bill has been resurrected. It was recently slipped into a bill that was approved by the House of Representatives. If you want it to be harder to declare bankruptcy and get a fresh start then you are on your way to victory. If you want to challenge this law, contact your Representative and Senator as soon as possible.

Write your Representative: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html
Write your Senator: http://www.senate.gov/senators/index.cfm

The bill is referred to as HR 975, the omnibus bankruptcy reform bill. It was attached to bill S.1920.

Identity Theft
September 3, 2003 - According to the Federal Trade Commission 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years. Now there's a good reason to keep your credit report current. Don't ever give personal information to people who call you or send you emails, even if, maybe especially if, the seem legitimate.

An Official check for you
August 9, 2003 - Alert - Read the fine print.

Here’s an interesting piece of mail I received today. It came in a self-contained tear-open envelope that looked like an official document. It even had a seal with an eagle on it. It told me in large print that a check was enclosed and a new Visa or Mastercard had been reserved for me.

There was indeed a check for $3.25. In order to cash my check I needed to provide them with a credit card number and authorize a payment of $89 a year on an ongoing basis. What did I get? Well I got an application for a credit card, some coupons, a wallet calculator and a no-risk guarantee. In addition I received a free personal credit report. They also provided me with registration of all my credit and debit cards. This was to be used in case my cards were lost or stolen. I could then call them and they’d call my banks and credit cards companies to notify them of my situation.

So is this a scam? Well they do provide a service and whether or not it’s worth it to you is up to you. Just don’t be fooled by the official looking presentation and the check. And, as always, before you commit to anything, read the fine print.

Posing as the Better Business Bureau
On July 17, 2003, the Better Business Bureau system issued a national alert to warn consumers about a loan scam that is distributing a counterfeit BBB Reliability Report. Read the alert

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Debt Calculator

See how long it will take for your debt to get paid off with one of these four options. We have listed a standard debt amount as a default on the debt calculator. You will need to enter your current personal or business debt amount below to see what your debt payoff amounts will reflect.

What's Best For You: Minimum Payments?

Debt Consolidation?

Credit Counseling? Debt Settlement?
Total Unsecured Debt $30,000.00 $30,000.00 $30,000.00 $30,000.00
Months To
Get Out Of Debt
430 60 60 36
Interest Rate 18.9 % 12 % 10-12% Ave None
Total Interest Paid $49,978.53 $10,040.01 $21,300.00 None
Monthly
Payment
$900.00 $667.33 $855.00 $458.33
Total Cost
To Be Debt Free
$79,978.53 $40,040.01 $51,300.00 $16,500.00
Monthly Payments   Months To Get Out Of Debt   Total Cost To Be Debt Free
$900.00
$450.00
$0.00
 
430
215
0
 
$79,978.53
$39,989.27
$0.00
Minimum Payments Debt Consolidation Credit Counseling Debt Settlement
Enter Your Debt Information Here:
Your Total
Unsecured Debt:
Your Average
Interest Rate:
Months To
Be Debt Free:

 

PLEASE NOTE: This calculator gives you an estimate of how much it will cost you to get out of debt, how long it will take and how much your monthly payment may be with the different options to pay off your debt. Keep in mind "Minimum Payments" assumes you NEVER make any further purchases on your credit cards and the credit card companies NEVER raise the interest rate on your cards in the future from the rate calculated above. The "Debt Consolidation Loan" example is usually only possible when taking out an "equity line of credit" or "second mortgage", which involves securing your unsecured debt with your home. This is a very risky option for most people because the home could be foreclosed if you cannot make the payments.