Video: Seniors, Don’t Worry About Timeshares You Can’t Afford

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By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS
Nonprofit Law Firm

I just got off the phone with a senior couple who have a timeshare they can’t afford and don’t use any longer. They had called a company who advertised that they help people get out of timeshares. (I hear such advertisements on the radio and television regularly.) The senior couple had paid this company nearly $3,000. The next payment of $1,000 was scheduled to come out of their account in a few days. I took a deep breath and explained that they didn’t actually need to keep paying for their timeshare, let alone pay someone to help get out of it. The timeshare company couldn’t take anything from them if they simply stopped paying. The law protects their retirement income from collection – including wage garnishments and bank levies from the timeshare company. That includes Social Security, pensions, VA benefits …

Could Rent Payments Build Your Credit Score?

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Not All On-Time Payments Build Credit

You’re fiscally responsible. You pay your credit card bills and your rent on time, every month.

Paying your credit card bill on time is a major factor in raising your credit score. On-time mortgage payments also raise your credit score – but paying rent on time generally has no effect on your credit score.

Why is fiscal responsibility rewarded in one case and not the other?

While all credit card payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), most rental payments aren’t. Your credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report. Payments that aren’t reported can’t be considered – and not all credit-scoring systems take rental payments into account even when they are reported.

Lower-income Americans are hurt the most by this policy, since they’re more likely to be renters and to pay…

Credit Through History

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It may seem like you have been paying credit card interest since 3500 BC – but you might be surprised to learn that credit actually dates back to those ancient times.

Historians believe that the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia (in modern-day Iraq) extended credit to farmers in the rough equivalent of a consumer loan. The time lag between buying seed and harvesting grains to sell required up-front resources – just as it does today.

The first laws regarding credit were established in Babylon in 1800 BC. The Code of Hammurabi established formal contract rules for loans and caps on interest rates – perhaps an early form of consumer protection. To be enforceable, loans required recording and witnessing by a public official. Interest rate ceilings were high – 33.3% annually on grains and 20% on silver.

The concept of credit and interest continued through the ages, with occasional detours. For example, during Charlemagne’s rule in 768-814 AD, the charging of …

Chips Cutting Counterfeit Credit Card Fraud By 75%

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EMV cards, otherwise known as “chip” cards for the embedded information chips they contain, were touted as the next great advancement in credit card security. According to a new study from Visa, EMV cards have lived up to their promise.

Visa discovered that as of March 2018, counterfeit credit card fraud is down 46% for all U.S. merchants compared to September 2015 – but for merchants who have completed the upgrade to EMV chip readers, counterfeit credit card fraud is down 75%. That’s a significant improvement over 2017’s 50% decrease from 2015 fraud levels.

Decreasing fraud correlates with the greater acceptance of EMV cards. As of June 2018, 3.1 million merchant locations – approximately two-thirds of U.S. storefronts – accepted chip cards for payment. Fewer than 400,000 merchants accepted chip cards in September 2015.

Visa claims tha…

Credit Scores Hit All-Time High

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Credit Scores Trending Upward

Congratulations, America! Your average FICO credit score reached 704, continuing the upward trend of the last eight years.

According to a recent FICO blog, the 704 average score is the best average ever recorded on the 300-850 standard FICO scoring scale. America’s average score sank to 686 in October 2009 thanks to the housing crisis and subsequent recession, but credit scores recovered slowly along with the economy.

How did we reach these new heights? Mostly through hard work and better attention to credit scores, with a little help from policy changes.

Widespread Improvements

The FICO data shows that credit score increases aren’t isolated to a population segment. Average scores are improving in almost all demographic categories.

Perhaps the most encouraging news involves the lower end of the credit scale. The recent data shows far fewe…

Average Age Of Child Identity Theft Victim: 12

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How did your toddler rack up thousands of dollars in charges on an unfamiliar credit card?It’s not Junior’s fault if identity thieves have stolen your child’s identity and used it for fraudulent purchases.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, over one million children were identity theft victims in 2017, racking up over $540 million in direct cost burdens to affected families.

Your child’s identity is a desirable target for identity thieves because the theft is often undetected for years. Why would you expect an underage child to have credit activity? A new Experian survey finds that the average age of a child identity theft victim is twelve – implying that many years may pass before you find out about the crime. Even worse, your child may find out later in adult life when they try to open an account and discover their credit has already been abused and ruined.

When parents discover the fraud, how do they usually find out? Typically, either a bil…

Credit Reports Too Complex

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Do you know how to read your credit report? If not, it’s time to learn.

Your credit score is one of the primary items that lenders check when approving your credit request, and the information in your credit report is used to calculate your credit score. If you never check your credit report, you can’t catch any errors that might be dragging down your credit score unnecessarily – or you may not understand why your score rises and falls.

A new survey by WalletHub suggests that people are intimidated by the format of credit reports. Two out of every five respondents considered credit reports hard to read. Three-quarters (76%) of respondents thought credit reports should be simpler, and 68% said they would check their credit more often if it was presented in a simpler way.

Are you confused by credit reports? MoneyTips presents a very

Correcting Inaccurate Credit Information

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Many people never check their credit reports and find out at the worst possible time that they contain errors – for example, when they are applying for a mortgage. These mistakes could be caused by anything from a typographic error to an incorrect account posting to attempted identity theft. No matter what the cause, these errors can result in a higher interest rate, or prevent you from getting a loan at all. You are much better off looking for mistakes on a regular basis rather than discovering one by accident when you really need credit.

It’s important to check all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), because they do not all receive the same information. You can see your TransUnion credit score and read your credit report for free by

Have a High Credit Score? Banks Want to Reward You

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Further Rewards for Good Credit

You’ve worked hard to keep your credit score high. Why shouldn’t you be rewarded for your effort?

Banks agree and are looking for innovative ways to urge you to keep your credit score as high as possible. Financial institutions have always used negative reinforcement for poor credit scores – higher interest rates, lower credit limits, and further restrictions or outright rejection. The new approach targets positive reinforcement for score improvement.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, revealed in a recent Business Insider interview that his institution is looking for ways to entice consumers to improve their credit scores. The exact approach is unknown, but Dimon assures that the programs will offer real rewards – for a potential example, reduced loan costs when a threshold improvement valu…