How Will Borrowing Money Affect My Credit?

Getting a Loan

Taking out a loan can help you build your credit.  But remember, to get that benefit, loans must be paid back in full and on time, and according to the terms of the loan agreement.  When these terms are not met, the lender can take steps to repossess collateral and collect any money that is owed.  As a result, the defaulted loan can be listed negatively on credit reports and lower your credit scores.

Let’s take a closer look at how this all works.

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Will My Car Be Repossessed If I Miss One Payment?

Woman making a car payment

It’s a frightening thought: Money has gotten so tight that you weren’t able to make this month’s payment on your car loan.

Now, you’re worried about car repossession, and imagining the day when a tow truck comes to your house and hauls away your only source of transportation.

But can the lender repossess your car after a single missed payment?

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How does a “Charge-Off” affect the consumer?

When payments on your account go unpaid, the creditor may stop you from making additional charges and list your account as a charge-off.  But even if the creditor stops trying to collect on your account, you still could be responsible for the debt.

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How Much Should I Spend on my Credit Card?

Credit cards can give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to your finances. When you get a credit card, you have the freedom to make purchases even when you don’t have any cash on hand. As long as you always spend within your means and make payments on time, your credit accounts can help build a well rounded credit history and reflect positively on your overall financial health.

Most consumers know that every credit account has a spending limit. If you exceed this limit, purchases may be declined. This doesn’t mean that you want to spend just up to your limit every month. If you consistently max out your credit cards, or come close to doing so, it will negatively affect your credit and lenders will see you as a high risk borrower. As well, if balances are not paid off at the end of the month, interest is charged on the remaining balance, plus all new charges.

How much credit do I have?

The easiest way to see your credit limit is to log in to your online account or check the monthly statements that you receive in the mail. You should see the available credit on the account clearly listed.

How much credit should I use?

Keep your credit utilization ratio low to continue making the most of your credit accounts. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than 30% of your available credit. This means that if your account has a $1,000 credit limit, you should avoid spending more than $300 each month.

If your available credit is fairly low and you’re having a difficult time keeping your spending below 30%, consider making multiple payments per month to keep your balance down. Credit companies typically report balances to the bureaus at the end of the month. When it’s reported, you want your usage to be above 0%, but below 30%. This shows that you’re a responsible borrower.

Can I increase the amount of credit that I have?

If you regularly use more than 30% of your available credit, it might be a good idea to see if the creditor is willing to increase your limit. The creditor will probably need to perform a hard inquiry to assess your creditworthiness. Hard inquiries temporarily have a negative effect on your credit.

Creditors are often willing to increase your limit if you make payments on time and in full each month, or if you’ve had an increase in income.

You could also consider opening another credit card. Each individual account has its own set limit, so opening a new account will give you an additional 30% of the new account’s limit. Keep in mind that opening another account also requires a hard inquiry on behalf of the creditor. For this reason, it’s best to choose between opening a new account or requesting that an existing creditor increase your limit. This way, you avoid two hard inquiries.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics.  Contact Us for a free evaluation of contact that collectors have made with you.

Do You Actually Owe a Debt?

When a debt collector contacts you to collect payment on an account, it can be scary and overwhelming, especially if the debt in question is unfamiliar to you. Collectors may contact you from an agency you’ve never heard of, and some may even threaten legal action against you.

It’s possible that you don’t recognize the debt because the original creditor assigned it to a collection agency or sold it to a debt buyer. Collection lawyers may also try to collect on debts in certain situations. However, it’s also possible that you don’t recognize the debt because you don’t owe it.

What to do when you’re contacted by a debt collector

Whenever you receive any debt collection contact, the collector is required to mail a letter within five days that tells you the amount of the debt and the original creditor. This letter should also explain your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you don’t receive this letter, it could be a sign that the collector may not be legitimate.

If you receive this letter and still don’t recognize the debt, write to the collector and request proof of the debt and how they’ve calculated the amount claimed. If you have proof the debt was paid, include these documents with your dispute letter.  Always keep a copy of any correspondence with the collector.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection contact.  Contact Us for a free legal evaluation of collection calls or letters that have been sent to you.

Do I Still Owe Money After My Car was Repossessed?

If you’re going through financial hardship or a difficult life event, it can be challenging to keep up with your car loan payments. Your vehicle is collateral, or your pledge to a lender that you’ll repay the loan. If you default on the terms of your loan agreement, the lender may choose to repossess your vehicle. They’re not required to contact you before the repossession.

If your car was recently repossessed, you may be wondering what happens next. Do you still owe the payments that you missed on your loan? Do you still owe the full balance after your car is sold?

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How to Spend Responsibly on Credit Cards

It’s hard to argue with the convenience of a credit card. Credit provides you with flexibility when it comes to spending. Your card is always available to use regardless of when you expect your next paycheck. Owning a credit card and making timely payments also helps your credit because it shows lenders that you’re a trustworthy and responsible borrower.

It’s important to establish responsible spending habits early so that you don’t find yourself with significant amounts of debt later in life. Carrying a balance each month can make it difficult to stay on top of payments. Here are some credit spending tips that you should practice now to keep your finances healthy for your future.

Set a Budget

The perk of using a credit card is having the ability to spend money you may not necessarily have at the moment. But this can be a dangerous. It can lead to spending above your means. Create a reasonable spending budget for your card to ensure that you don’t overspend.

Pay the Balance in Full Each Month

Carrying a balance from month to month like so many consumers do isn’t ideal. Many cards have high interest rates, which make it even more difficult to keep up with payments every month. Set a goal to pay your balance in full and on time each month so that you don’t end up paying exorbitant late fees and interest.

Keep Your Credit Utilization Low

It’s never a good idea to max out a credit card. Your credit utilization plays a major factor in your credit score. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than 30% of your credit limit. This means if you have a $1,000 credit limit on a card, you shouldn’t spend more than $300. If you have a higher budget and want to use your card more, pay the existing balance before it’s due to bring your available credit back to its full amount.

Find a Card with No Annual Fees

When you shop around for a new credit card, look for ones with lower interest rates, no annual fees, and useful perks. Many cards offer cash back on any amount that you spend with your card. Others offer travel perks like airline miles.

Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Get control over credit card debt as soon as possible. Making minimum payments will mean paying excessive amounts of interest over time and can make you feel as if you’ll never get out of debt. Cut your spending wherever you can so that you can focus on paying off your debt as quickly as possible.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics, credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues and wrongful vehicle repossessions.  Contact Us with your consumer credit concerns.  There is no cost for the consultation.

How do I Get a Better Auto Loan?

Shopping for a new vehicle can be overwhelming on its own without even considering the auto loan application process. But if you don’t take the time to research and compare auto loans, you may end up with a bad deal.

Before you begin to shop around for the best deal, check your credit report. Your overall credit will give you a general idea of what interest rates to expect. You should also consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend each month on vehicle loan payments. It’s important to make a purchase that you can afford. If you fall behind on loan payments, your vehicle may be at risk for repossession. A vehicle repossession negatively affects your credit for up to seven years. You should also keep in mind that shorter term loans will mean that you pay higher monthly payments, but less over the course of the loan.

When you apply for an auto loan, your credit score will take a slight hit. The credit bureaus will treat several loan applications made within a short time frame as a single application. If you were to receive credit denials from several potential lenders, your credit report could be impacted negatively and your credit score may drop.

Seek Legal Advice

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents victims of vehicle repossession.  If a borrower defaults on a bad auto loan and the vehicle is repossessed, Flitter Milz will evaluate whether the lender violated the borrower’s consumer rights.  If your vehicle has been repossessed in the past six years, Contact Us for a free evaluation.

Personal Finance Basics for College Students

The start of a new college semester is a busy and exciting time. As you prepare to begin new classes, it’s important to consider how you’ll manage your finances while you’re in school. Follow these tips to keep your finances in order and avoid any unnecessary additional stress.

Set a Budget

Whether you receive a stipend from financial aid, are working part-time, or get financial help from your parents, it’s important to set a monthly budget to stay on track with your finances. You should budget for mandatory expenses like room and board or rent, utilities, and groceries, but you should also consider how much you can afford to spend on dining out and entertainment. Sticking to a budget will help you stay organized and help ensure that you don’t spend above your means.

Start a Savings Account

If you work during school, make it a goal to save ten percent or more of your income and put it into a savings account. Even if it seems like a small amount, savings will help when it comes time to graduate and find an apartment or begin to pay off student loans. It’s also helpful to have some money saved up in case of an emergency.

Pay Off Loan Interest During School

Many students take out both federal and private loans in order to fund their education. If you have student loans, you likely already know that you’re not required to pay them off until after you graduate, and there is typically a six month grace period following your graduation as well.

However, it’s a good idea to pay off the interest that accrues on your loans while you’re still in school if you have the means to do so. Some of your loans may be subsidized, meaning they won’t accrue interest while you’re still in school, but unsubsidized loans begin to accrue interest from the date that they are issued. Not paying this interest means you’ll eventually have to pay interest on the interest that you didn’t pay previously.

Build Your Credit

It’s important to keep in mind that your credit history will begin to develop right away. Certain bills are included on your credit report, so it’s critical to pay them in full and on time to avoid negative marks on your credit. Student loans will also appear on your credit report and will help you establish positive history as you make payments on time.

In order to secure new lines of credit in the future, a lender will pull your report to determine your creditworthiness. It is possible to get denied for credit if you lack sufficient credit history, so it’s helpful to try to build credit while you’re still in school.

The Credit Card Act of 2009 placed restrictions on individuals under the age of 21 getting a credit card without a cosigner, but secure credit cards are still a good option. A secure credit card requires an initial deposit. This deposit then acts as your available amount of credit. You can also build credit as an authorized user on a parent’s credit card.

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – every twelve months. Checking your own credit report does not reflect negatively on your credit. You may choose to request a copy from one bureau at a time so that you can check your report several times throughout the year.

Always review your report for errors and inaccurate information. Incorrect listings can have a negative impact on your credit if they aren’t addressed. Dispute any incorrect information with the bureau and with the creditor and provide any documentation that supports your claim.

Successfully managing your finances and building healthy credit requires consistency and time. With these tips you’ll be well on your way to good credit.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics by debt collectors, and those with credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues.  Contact us to discuss your consumer credit concern.  There is no cost for the consultation.