Financial Advice

I’m Getting Sued by National Collegiate Trust and I Don’t Know What to Do

Question:

Dear Steve,

I’m being sued by National Collegiate Trust for $6345 and I don’t have a clue which loan this is in regards to or even the original guarantor for that matter.

What are my options, rights in regards to this lawsuit? How can find out if this is legitimate?

Answer:

Dear Ann,

I certainly would not disregard the suit. If you do you will lose by default.

National Collegiate Trust loans have a number of issues and problems that can be raised in the defense of such a suit. Click here to learn more.

When getting sued your option is to get competent legal representation or just try to figure it out on your own. A good lawyer will probably get this case completely eliminated or get you a very good settlement on the amount owed.

One place to look for a consumer attorney would be here.

While the suit may be “legitimate” it is questionable if NCT can actually prove you owe the debt and they can validate the debt. If they can’t then they can not legally pursue you for this debt. But you’re not going to learn if they have the right documentation unless you push them to prove it.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

How Can I Settle a Private Student Loan I Co-Signed For?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I consigned on a private Sallie Mae student loan for $6000 10 years ago. It has been taken over by Navient. The borrower has paid minimum payments, put it into deferment many times and has now stopped paying. Loan is 60 days past due. There is no contact with the borrower, who is living in Saudi Arabia.

As the cosigner, what are my options for negotiating a settlement? Do they have to sue the borrower first? Could I be sued for more than is owed?

Lisa

Answer:

Dear Lisa,

Do you know what the current balance is? You could be sued for that amount plus legal fees.

It is possible to negotiate a co-signer release.

As the co-signer you guaranteed the loan repayments. That’s the job of the co-signer even though many don’t understand that when they “help a friend” get the loan.

You can talk to Navient about a release but you may find better offers await you once the loan gets to be 120 days past due.

Since you have no experience in handling such a situation you might want to get a talented debt coach to guide you through this process. I would suggest contacting Damon Day for personalized assistance.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

The FTC Doesn’t Need Your Bank Info

Here at the FTC, we’re known for getting things done on behalf of regular people. Unfortunately, sometimes scammers try to take advantage of our good reputation.

The latest example: Some people have gotten an email that claims to be from Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC’s Acting Chairman. But it’s not. The email asks you to give your bank account information – so, it says, you can get money from the government’s settlement with Western Union. The email is a scam to steal your financial information. And it’s just the latest variation of an imposter scam. In 2016, consumers reported more complaints about imposter scams to the FTC than any other fraud.

If you get an email like this, don’t respond or click on any links. You can forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov.

The FTC is involved in a $586 million settlement with Western Union, but the U.S. Department of Justice will run the refunds process. And it hasn’t started yet.

This email is a good reminder that scammers are skilled liars. They’ll say anything or claim to be anyone to get your financial information – then they’ll use it to steal from your financial accounts or commit other crimes.

The FTC does shut down scams and return money to people who lost it to dishonest or unfair business practices. But we will never ask for money, your Social Security number, or any banking information so you can apply for a refund or cash a check. If the FTC needs to get money to you, we usually send a check through the mail.

Got a question? We’ve got more information about our current refund programs and our procedures for refunding money at FTC.gov/refunds.

Want to stay ahead of the latest scams? Sign up for our free scam alerts by email.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

How Much Is Envy Costing You?

Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage ~ Webster’s Dictionary

No one wants to admit to feeling envious. Yet envy could be driving you to live beyond your means. If you are constantly spending more money than you earn, you could be the victim of envy and it could be costing you big money.

According to a December 2016 debt survey at Nerd Wallet, the average American household carries $16,061 in credit card debt. That means you are paying about $1,300 a year in interest alone. That is a sobering figure. You don’t want to add to it with envy. Here is a guide to determine if you are suffering from envy.

Social media has upped the opportunities for envy a thousand fold. It used to be that you only had to “keep up” with your neighbors and friends. Now, practically everyone is on social media and seemingly has the perfect life. Pictures of perfect picnics in landscaped yards, gorgeous homes, lavish lifestyles, and pricey electronics fill the screen. Every “like” you click on could be a hidden dart of envy. If you are constantly checking Facebook or Pinterest and obsessing about what everyone else has, it could be a sign of envy.

How do you feel when you click on those images? Does it make you reach for your credit card for an online shopping frenzy, even though you are dangerously near the credit limit? Do you justify your purchases by comparing it to someone else’s $3,000 couch or $10,000 vacation?

Are you envious of your neighbor’s brand-new SUV? Does it make you want to trade your old reliable van in for a brand-new model, even though the monthly payments would be cutting into your household budget? According to Edmunds.com, the average car payment is $479 over 48 months. That would put a serious dent in most people’s budget. Stifle those feelings of envy and practice a more sensible approach by learning how to cut costs on everything from insurace to fuel.

Your friend just walked into work with a brand new pair of boots. Instead of pretending that stab of envy is indigestion, figure out if your budget could afford a little splurge. I needed a new pair of boots, as my old pair had developed holes in the sole. I checked prices at several stores and the average was about $30. Then I went to Gordmans and found a nice pair on clearance for $15. I used a 20% off coupon and a bonus $5 off coupon for being a loyal customer and the final price was only $7.50! The clerk was so flustered she kept trying to give me the wrong change.

So how do you combat the painful effects of envy? Contentment is the opposite of envy. When you are spending less than you earn, you can embrace the concept of enough. You can work towards that goal by acknowledging envy, but not giving into it. Be happy with what you have and create a spending plan that doesn’t balloon past your budget. Make sure to include a few little treats so that you don’t succumb to feelings of jealousy.

Don’t let envy eat into your bottom line. Learn to embrace the concept of enough and let contentment enrich your life.

This article by Shaunna Privratsky first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Can Credit Repair Services Actually Improve My Credit?

Having bad credit is a situation that has a negative impact on your financial health. It’s why there are thousands of credit repair services that exist. These places aim to help people improve their credit standing, and that’s an exciting proposition for many people dealing with bad credit. But what exactly do these places do? And can what they do really work?

What Credit Repair Services Do

Credit repair services are companies that say they can “fix” your credit for a fee. But what does that entail? Here is a rundown of the services they typically offer. They’ll:

-Identify and dispute items on your credit reports that are false, unverifiable, inaccurate or made in error. These include complete inaccuracies, negative items being reported past the legal time limit, items that are being reported more than once, and more.
-Use their relationships with the three national credit bureaus to try to remove negative items from your reports.
-Collaborate with the bureaus to make sure all records are accurate and up to date.
-Provide credit counseling and personalized solutions to improve your credit after they evaluate your situation.
-Monitor your credit and provide updates on changes so you know exactly what’s going on.
So, these places can make a difference, especially if your credit reports contain errors. A 2012 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study found that one in five consumers have an error on at least one of their credit reports, so it’s very possible that yours might, too.

The Problem

However, there are two glaring problems surrounding these credit repair services. These issues are the reasons why you’ll read plenty of skepticism if you research these types of companies online.

The first is that there are scams and untrustworthy companies out there posing as legitimate services. These unscrupulous places have been known to steal identities or get consumers to commit credit fraud. So, watch out for companies who loudly boast of promises that seem too good to be true.

If a company is legitimate, they will be upfront with what they can and cannot do for your situation. They will also be lawful, which, among other things, means they will provide a written contract with specifics and can’t accept payment until they fulfill the terms of the contract.

The second issue is that you are able to perform all of the services credit repair companies provide on your own. So, while these services can be effective, the issue is that you can be just as effective at credit repair. Plus, going solo will be cheaper than having to pay any fees and it won’t be that difficult.

Should You Use a Credit Repair Service?

The world of credit can be confusing, but it’s not rocket science. Most experts agree that there is no need to pay a company to tackle issues with your credit because you can do it yourself.

Many people are drawn to these places because they believe they can quickly and easily “fix” their credit. That won’t be the case. Simply put, there is no magic solution that can instantly improve your credit. Any reputable and ethical credit repair service should tell you the same.

You can take charge when it comes to improving your credit. It’s simply a matter of:

-Getting current on all accounts.
-Disputing errors or inaccuracies on your credit reports.
-Paying all of your bills on time, every time.
-Keeping credit card balances below 30% of their limit.

Those are the main things you can do, but not everything. And, of course, you need to put time, effort and commitment into your credit repair efforts.

On the other hand, many people like the idea of having experts on their side. The best credit repair services that have been around for awhile know what they are doing. They know the rules surrounding credit reports and know how to best navigate them to get things done.

Many people find these companies can provide support, guidance and resources to truly help them out. Plus, many services offer a free consultation, so it could be worth looking into.

The Bottom Line

It can cost more to live with your bad credit than it does to use the services of a good credit repair company. However, these companies cannot guarantee a credit improvement and can only provide services you can perform yourself.

This article by Auto Credit Express first appeared on Auto Credit Express and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Where Are You in Your Financial Lifecycle?

A financial lifecycle is a term that financial professionals use to describe where we are in our life and how it affects our financial situation. It’s a way of measuring where we are and where we should be in the next few years. Many of us tend to lag behind in the financial lifecycle, having the good habits that served us well in the previous stage of our financial lifecycle, but not having suitable skills for the stage we are at present and barely planning for the next stage. If you know where you are in the financial lifecycle you can then judge where you fall short and which skills you can learn.

1. The Early Years

The first part of your financial lifecycle is your childhood and early adult years. In these years you are mainly studying and the jobs that you can pick up tend to be part time, unskilled and poorly paid. They are more useful in teaching you what work is like rather than the spending money that they bring in. It is OK to be financially dependent on your parents; they don’t want you to drop out of education in order to get some quick money now. It is also OK to build up (some) long term debt as your education should in the end pay for this several times over.

2. The First Jobs

You then have the period of early earning. This is the period of the first few jobs, when although the pay is lower than it will be later in the career, costs are so much less as there are no spouses, children or homes to pay for. Salaries also rise rapidly. During this period a large chunk of student debt can be paid off, it is also a period when a new career can be tried out with little being lost. Starting a pension and getting on the housing ladder may not be the most fashionable things at this age but doing these things now will pay dividends later.

This period is also a time to start dabbling in investments as money lost now can easily be replaced, and so high risk investments can be considered. A big win now could be worth an enormous amount later while lost money can easily be replaced. All the time lessons, from both winning and losing investments will be learned that will pay off later.

Many people don’t fully use this exciting period. For a start they may put this period off by getting more and more college degrees with no idea of where they will be in the future. They may also still spend more than they earn, remaining dependent on their parents into their thirties or building up greater debt. More importantly there is not much desire to learn about saving or investing at this age, missing out on the best time to start a pension.

This early stage continues on into the early stages of marriage. It is a period of relative affluence that should be enjoyed, but it is also a period where a good deal should be learned about investing and saving, as you will need those savings later.

3. The Young Family

Most people remember the early years of having a family as one where there never seemed to be any money. At this time one of the spouses often stops work for a few years, or sharply cut down their hours. The other spouse would see their pay rising slower than it had been previously, and there are sudden expenses. Children are never cheap.

In these times there needs to be a new frugality. Investment needs to be maintained, if for no other reason to keep in the habit. Debt will seem to get larger, but it should be a different type of debt from student debt, being for a larger house. Purchases will also be more practical and less glamorous. The sports car is replaced by a station wagon, and the flat in the fashionable area of town is replaced by a house in the suburbs. There is also a need to start (or continue) saving for college funds.

There is a desire to retain the old lifestyle which can mean that debts build up more easily. This is made possible by greater access to credit as the house is now a substantial asset and while the pay is not rising at the fast rate that it was, the pay rises have still compounded and so the money that is being earned is more than ever before.

Debt to fund a lifestyle is the biggest problem at this stage. Unfortunately the lifestyle does take a hit when children come along. This is not easy when friends from school and colleagues at work are still enjoying exotic holidays and constant nights out.

4. A Growing Family

The next stage is when the children are growing up. The expenses start to seem less. The pay is still rising, and in fact many people are at the peak of their earning power at least in real terms (the pay may still keep on rising after this but for most people inflation starts eating away at the pay rises). The spouse who may not have been working can now restart a full time job.

The temptation here is to keep the savings at the same rate as before. The idea here is not to maintain the savings and investments that were made when you were, to all intents and purposes, quite poor but to expand them. Debts should no longer be treated in maintenance mode; this is no longer something that is excusable as it was when the children were very young. Credit card debts should be paid down quickly, and then the mortgage needs to be attacked and preferably paid off. The mortgage in particular will be more manageable as inflation will make the amount of the mortgage seem far lower. At the same time there should be a step up in payments to the investments that were being maintained over the early years of family building.

5. The Empty Nest

After the family has left, there is an empty nest period. The children are out of college and earning a living and even if they are at home they are paying their own way. It is OK to enjoy yourself at this time, as the disposable income will rocket. However this is not a long time.

One of the things that should be done is to start de-risking investments. Losing a bundle at this stage is going to have far more long term effect than it will at any of the earlier stages as you will not have the time to make this money back. A cold hard look at investment accounts should be made and your investment portfolio should become far more boring. Also debts should finally be paid off (if they have not been already). This will be fairly easy, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it should be shunned.

One of the shocks at this time, particularly if you put retirement off for a while to continue working, is that wages can often start falling. This is not just the case for lifestyle reasons, as part time working or a job close to home suddenly makes more sense, but for the very fact that employers want younger people who aren’t about to retire.

6. Retirement

Finally there are the pension years when you are living off past earnings. This is a time to live off your past good habits. The disposable income will start to drop off, and inflation can be bitter during this time (even if the pension is index linked). However if you have saved up enough these are likely to be golden years.

This is a period where people tend to hold on to things that they don’t need to. The main example is the large family house. It is a good idea to downsize and to live off the money. At a later stage a reverse mortgage may be a good idea so that you can benefit from the equity in the house. Your children may not be ecstatic about the choice, but they have got a career and a home and should be in a saving habit. It is also time to put the investment portfolio into income generating assets; high risk fast growth companies aren’t much use now.

Everyone will hit different stages of the financial lifecycle at different ages. However your investment and spending needs do change throughout your life, and if you are not consciously recognizing you will be playing catch up as you use the good habits that you obtained in the last stage of your financial lifecycle but learning the habits that you need in the current stage only by your mistakes.

This article by Maiane Cassanego first appeared on Credit Zeal and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

5 Things to Consider Before a Small Business Loan

If you thought the economic meltdown was hard on the big banks, just take a look at what America’s small businesses had to go through. According to one survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a third of small businesses reported that they weren’t able to get any credit lines, almost a fifth had their loan or credit-card terms changed, and a quarter say their survival is now in question.

And unlike the situation with the financial giants, no one’s arriving with a big pot of bailout money. But while getting funding for your small business might be increasingly difficult these days, it’s not impossible. You just have to be realistic, get your paperwork in order – and know where to look.

1. Think small. While many of the banking behemoths are gun-shy about lending right now, it’s often a different story on the local level. Approach a smaller institution that knows your business and your community; find one at FindaCreditUnion.com. Then shop around for the best rate, by getting quotes from at least two or three banks, rather than accepting the first lending offer that comes along.

2. Use credit wisely. Small business-oriented credit cards are a handy way to secure a credit line, without as much paperwork as a more formal loan. Offerings like the American Express Plum card, for instance, boast perks like discounts for paying your bills on time – or extra time to pay, with no additional charges. In addition, many other credit card companies offer similar cards for business owners, including Chase and Capital One.

3. Seek out investors. Venture capitalists and angel investors could also be the ones to take your operations to the next level. Particularly in the technology space, it’s a time-honored way of securing startup cash – although you may pay a heavy price, in terms of handing over a percentage of the company. Find the right VC to pitch at the National Venture Capital Association. Also, Inc. magazine keeps a directory of Angel Investor networks and groups. Another common route to early cash for your start-up is to seek help from friends and family.

4. Work with your clients or suppliers. Another thing to remember: banks aren’t the only ones with money. If you have a longstanding relationship with particular clients or suppliers, those organizations might be interested in making loans themselves. It can be a win-win; they’re keeping you in business, and making interest on the loan, probably much more than they could get by stashing cash in a savings account.

5. Make the stimulus work for you.The federal government may even ride to your rescue, in the form of the Small Business Administration. Part of the stimulus money is dedicated to helping small businesses who need a funding lifeline – up to $35,000, in fact, with zero interest and plenty of time to repay (up to five years). For the latest on such funding programs, check out the Small Business Administration’s website.

This article by Steven Millstein first appeared on CreditRepairExpert.org and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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