Credit Repair Answer Book: Your Answer for Raising Your Credit Score

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Anyone with credit problems can solve them and repair any damage if they have the right tools and take the right actions. The Credit Repair Answer Book explains that dealing with credit problems is a combination of understanding what credit is and is not; understanding what one's credit rights are; understanding to what extent a creditor can go to collect a debt; and, understanding what to do if an invalid or illegal action is taken by creditors in the collection process.

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Overview

Anyone with credit problems can solve them and repair any damage if they have the right tools and take the right actions. The Credit Repair Answer Book explains that dealing with credit problems is a combination of understanding what credit is and is not; understanding what one's credit rights are; understanding to what extent a creditor can go to collect a debt; and, understanding what to do if an invalid or illegal action is taken by creditors in the collection process.

A section on the most frequently asked questions with extensive answers helps the reader quickly grasp the value of good credit and know how to ensure that credit errors or potential credit problems do not affect your credit rating in the long term.

The Credit Repair Answer Book can get anyone back on the right track and turn their financial situation around.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572485730
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Series: Answer Book Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Gudrun Nickel received her bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas, her master's degree from the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee, and her law degree from Washburn University of law in Topeka. Licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, and Montana, Ms. Nickel currently resides in Naples, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Strategies Before Creditors and Collectors Call

Excerpted from Credit Repair Answer Book by Gudrun Maria Nickel ©2007

As soon as you realize that you may have difficulties in making your payments, you should contact your creditors. Do not try to hide your financial condition. Let them know what has happened-job layoff, divorce, illness, etc.-and that you will make every effort to meet your financial obligations. Offer to make minimal payments for a period of time, or perhaps suspend your payments (not make any) for a month or more.

Prepare Yourself and Your Creditors Generally, your creditors will be much more receptive to your suggestions for reduced or suspended payments if you notify them before they find it necessary to contact you. (Many will accept token payments instead of pursuing collection, as long as you explain the reasons for your inability to pay, and that you will make up the difference as soon as you are able.)

Prioritize You should also take stock of your current financial situation and place your debts and assets in order of priority. Your most important obligations may be your mortgage or rent, utilities, and car payment. Consider what you can sell in order to pay off some of your debt. Practical strategies, although perhaps a bit difficult to accept at first, will help see you through the tough times.

Perhaps you should sell your car, pay off the loan, and buy an older, used car, which would also lower your insurance premium. However, before selling any property to pay your debt, be sure you understand what will be exempt from judgment creditors and bankruptcy in your state.

The "Minimum One Dollar Payment" Myth Some people have the mistaken notion that a payment of one dollar per month is sufficient-particularly when it comes to hospital and doctor bills-and that no action can be taken by the creditor if that one dollar payment is made regularly. This is an incorrect assumption. Those creditors have the right to receive payment from you in the manner you agreed to pay them, or in a timely manner.

If you cannot reach an agreement with your creditor as to how a past due account can be paid, or if you reach an agreement and then do not pay, the creditor can send the past-due account to a collection agency, and ultimately (or in some cases directly) to the credit bureau. The creditor may also choose to pursue a judgment against you, often in a small claims court where cases can be handled without a lawyer. However, if your creditor refuses to work with you during your period of financial difficulties, then you may have a more sympathetic judge when you appear in court.

Wage Assignments Be wary if a creditor asks you to assign some of your wages to make the payments on the loan. This may be illegal in certain cases under federal law, and it effectively reduces your control over your income. Wage assignments in non—real estate transactions are allowed only if you are also given the power to revoke the assignment. (Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), Title 16, Section (Sec.) 444.2.)

Credit Counseling If you find yourself in credit trouble, credit counseling can often be helpful. Consumer credit counseling is available through local offices affiliated with the National Foundation for Consumer Credit. This is a national network of over 1,450 Neighborhood Financial Care Centers. It is a nonprofit organization, supported by contributions from banks, consumer finance companies, merchants, credit unions, etc. A consumer credit counseling service can work with your creditors to establish a realistic payment program.
You may find information about the services or locate your nearest center on the Internet at www.nfcc.org.

HUD Counseling There are approximately 750 HUD (Housing and Urban Development) approved counseling agencies all over the country. If you are unable to make payments under a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage, you will be referred to such an agency. However, counseling assistance is available to anyone, usually at no charge. The counselors can help you get employment, budget your income, and work out your credit difficulties. You may call 800-569-4287 for a referral to your local HUD approved counseling agency or call 800-767-7468 for additional information. You can also find information at www.hudhcc.org.

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Table of Contents

Introduction -

Frequently Asked Questions -

Section I: Building Good Credit

Chapter 1: Credit: A Vital Part of Our Economy -

Chapter 2: Types of Debt-An Overview -
- Secured Debt
- Unsecured Debt
- Debt after a Divorce
- Contingent Liabilities
- Business Debt
- Student Loans
- Child Support

Chapter 3: Your Credit Report -
- Information a Consumer Reporting Agency May Furnish
- Obtaining Information from the Agency's Files
- Items Your Credit Report Cannot Contain
- The "Quick Fix"
- Disputing Items in Your Report
- Cost of the Report
- Reports for Employment Purposes
- Reports Containing Medical Information
- Requirements for Users of Reports
- Use of Other Information
- Obtaining Information under False Pretenses
- Providing Information to an Unauthorized Person
- Reporting Agency Liability for Noncompliance
- For Further Research
- Sample Letter Requesting Removal of Information
- Sample Letter Reporting Inaccurate Credit Information
- Sample Letter Complaining to FTC

Chapter 4: Establishing Good Credit -
- Credit History
- Credit Application Process

Chapter 5: Using Credit Responsibly -

Section II: Understanding Credit Pitfalls

Chapter 6: Strategies Before Creditors and Collectors Call -
- Prepare Yourself and Your Creditors
- The "Minimum One Dollar Payment" Myth
- Wage Assignments
- Credit Counseling

Chapter 7: When the Collection Agency Calls -
- What a Collection Agency Can Do
- The First Call from a Collector
- What a Collection Agency Cannot Do
- If You Have an Attorney
- What You Can Do on Your Own
- For Further Research
- Sample Letter Requesting No Contact
- Sample Letter for Disputing a Bill
- Sample Letter to FTC

Chapter 8: The Internal Revenue Service -
- IRS Collections
- Assuming Incorrect IRS Bills
- Answering an IRS Inquiry
- Property the IRS Can Take
- Taxpayers' Bill of Rights
- What the IRS Cannot Take
- IRS Time Limitations
- Audits
- For Further Research
- Sample Letter to IRS
- Small Tax Case Petition Form

Chapter 9: Loan Disclosure Requirements-
- Truth in Lending -
- The Federal Law
- Required Disclosures
- Time Periods in which Disclosures Must be Made
- Finance Charge and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
- Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement
- Good Faith Estimate-Residential Mortgages
- Equity Line Mortgages and Your Right to Rescind
- Balloon Payments on Consumer Loans
- Refinancing
- When Disclosure is Not Required
- Lenders' Liabilities and Your Rights and Obligations
- Credit Application Worksheet
- For Further Research
- Sample Loan Application Form
- Sample Uniform Residential Loan Application
- Sample Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement
- Sample Good Faith Estimate
- Sample Error and Omissions/Compliance Agreement
- Sample Notice of Right to Cancel

Chapter 10: Credit Cards and Other Open-End
- Consumer Credit Loans -
- Information That Must be Disclosed
- Billing Disclosure Requirements
- Penalties for Violations
- Consumer Loan Billing Procedures
- Unsolicited Credit Cards
- Lost or Stolen Credit Card
- New Credit Card Fraud
- For Further Research
- Sample Letter Notifying of Incorrect Billing

Chapter 11: Consumer Lease Disclosures -
- Consumer Lease
- Disclosure Requirements
- Residual Value Calculation
- Liabilities for Violations
- For Further Research

Chapter 12: Real Estate Loans -
- Mortgages
- Contract or Agreement for Deed
- Deed of Trust
- Your Loan Documents
- The Mortgage Foreclosure Process
- Service of Process and Deficiency Judgments
- After the Sale-Period of Redemption
- Foreclosing a Deed of Trust
- Selling the Property before Foreclosure
- Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
- Negotiating with Your Lender
- If You Are in the Military
- Recap-Steps You Can Take after Foreclosure Is Started
- For Further Research
- Sample Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint
- Responding to a Foreclosure Complaint
- Sample Answer to Foreclosure Complaint

Chapter 13: Assessing Your Financial Situation-
- Personal Financial Assessment Chart
- Monthly Expenses Chart
- Assets Chart
- Assets Given as Collateral Chart

Chapter 14: Repossession of Personal Property-
- Restrictions on Repossession
- Sale of Collateral after Repossession
- Lender's Pattern of Accepting Late Payments
- Your Remedies
- If the Lender Already Has the Collateral
- Property Exempt from Creditors
- For Further Research

Chapter 15: When the Creditor Files a Lawsuit -
- Judgment
- How a Creditor Gets a Judgment
- Your Defenses to the Petition or Complaint
- Moving to Another State
- Confession of Judgment
- Possible Alternatives if the Debt Is Legitimate
- Effect of Judgment on Credit Report
- For Further Research
- Sample Motion for Modification
- Sample Complaint
- Sample Answer to Complaint

Chapter 16: Collection of Money Judgments -
- Actions by a Judgment Creditor
- When the Creditor Knows What Assets You Have
- Garnishments
- Writ of Execution and Levy
- Attachment of Property Not Yet in Your Possession
- Attachment of Property before Judgment
- For Further Research

Section III: Protecting your future credit

Chapter 17: Bankruptcy as an Option -
- Types of Bankruptcy and Changes to Bankruptcy Procedures
- Chapter 7-Debt Liquidation
- Chapter 13-Repayment Plan
- Bankruptcy Exemptions
- Reaffirming a Debt
- Pros and Cons
- How to File for Bankruptcy
- For Further Research

Chapter 18: Divorce, Debt, and Community Property -
- Marriage and Debt
- Property Settlements and Court Judgments
- Debt Assumed in Divorce
- Community Property and Debt
- The Innocent Spouse and the IRS

Chapter 19: Reestablishing Good Credit -

Chapter 20: Planning the Future -
- Making Yourself Judgment Proof

Glossary -
Appendix A: State Resources -
Appendix B: Federal Trade Commission Regional Offices -
Appendix C: Statutes of Limitation -
Appendix D: Frequently Referenced Laws -
Index -
About the Author -

Gudrun Maria Nickel received her law degree from Washburn University of Law in Topeka and is licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Montana. Ms. Nickel currently resides in Naples, Florida.

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