Thursday’s need-to-know money news

stack-of-billsToday’s top story: The bills you need to prioritize when you’re short on cash. Also in the news: Divorcing your financial adviser before your spouse, what to do when you get an inheritance, and the potential drawbacks to buying a home with an FHA loan.

Prioritize These 5 Bills When You’re Short on Cash
Creating an order of importance.

Before divorcing your spouse, consider divorcing your financial adviser
You’ll need someone who’s only in your corner.

What to do when you get an inheritance
Besides tapdancing, of course.

The Drawbacks of Buying a Home With an FHA Loan
Knowing the potential downsides.

FTC Shuts Down 12 ‘Rogue’ Debt Collectors
The tactics they used to collect a debt will stun you.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Offering AdviceToday’s top story: How to get rid of an old debt. Also in the news: Living on half of your income, how to get yourself in good financial shape, and dealing with the debt of a loved one that passed away.

The Secret Way to Get Rid of an Old Debt
Resolving an old collection account.

The One-Year Shopping Ban: How This Woman Lived On Just 51% Of Her Income
Could you do it?

Get fit: How to improve your financial fitness
Like Crossfit for your wallet.

Debt and Dying: Five Things Surviving Family Members Need to Know
Protecting your finances while grieving.

Q&A: Debt collection

Dear Liz: I am trying to help my daughter deal with enormous student loans.

She is a doctor and very busy and simply cannot deal with the stress of almost $350,000 of education debt. I want to help her refinance, but to get the best rate I would like to help her improve her credit score (even if it is already 712).

She had three small debts turned over to a collection agency after a visit to an emergency room a couple of years ago. We plan to pay them off. Do I have to ask the collection agency to erase them or contact the original creditor?

Answer: You mention that your daughter has a 712 score, but she actually has many credit scores that change all the time. Small medical collections can have an outsize impact on those scores — or they can have no effect at all. It depends on what credit scoring formula the lender happens to use.

The latest version of the leading credit score, FICO 9, ignores paid collections and treats unpaid medical debt less harshly than other types of collection accounts. The most commonly used version, though, is FICO 8, which ignores only those collections under $100 and doesn’t differentiate medical from other collections.

Some lenders still use older versions of the formula that punish people for even small collections.

FICO also has a rival, the VantageScore. The latest and most-used version of that formula, VantageScore 3.0, also ignores paid collections.

You can contact the lenders you may use to refinance the debt to find out which scores they use, and which versions. That could help you decide how hard to push to get these collections erased.

If paid collections aren’t counted, you can just pay them off and be done with it. (You’ll of course want to keep the paperwork showing the debts have been paid and have your daughter check her credit reports to make sure the accounts reflect a zero balance.)

If the accounts could hurt her even if they’re paid, you have a couple of options.

One is to ask the hospital to take back the accounts, since medical bills are often placed with collection agencies on consignment rather than being sold to them outright. Then you can pay the hospital, and the collections should disappear. (Although, again, your daughter will need to follow up to make sure.)

Another option is to try to negotiate a “pay for deletion” — which means the collection agency promises to stop reporting the account in return for payment. You’ll want this agreement, if you can win it, to be in advance and in writing.

Q&A: Mistaken address leads to debt collection

Dear Liz: A debt collector says I owe a small debt from a store credit card I opened about six months ago. The wrong address was on file, so I hadn’t received any documentation at all. After opening the account I had called the store customer service line to arrange a payment, but the representative told me I had to wait for my account number and card in the mail. It never showed up, obviously, because of the wrong address issue. I understand that it was still my responsibility to pay this, but I called the store and then the bank that issued the card and got no response. Do I have any right to dispute the collection or at least catch a break?

Answer: The Fair Credit Billing Act requires that when accounts are opened, lenders send written notice about the account holder’s right to dispute errors, said credit expert Gerri Detweiler. Lenders are also supposed to send you statements when your account has activity (such as a balance due).

You could make the argument that the lender violated federal law by sending the information to the wrong address, Detweiler said, and that your credit scores have suffered as a result.

Yes, you should have contacted the store again after the card failed to arrive, but the lender should have fixed the problem and called off the collector once it was notified.

You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at http://www.consumerfinance.gov and it will contact the lender to try to resolve the dispute. You’ll be able to log into the CFPB site to track the progress of its investigation.

You also should get copies of your credit reports and dispute any negative information related to this account, including any collections activity, said Detweiler, who writes about credit and debt at Credit.com.

Should the lender balk at removing the derogatory information from your credit reports, you can hire a consumer law attorney (referrals from http://www.naca.net) to press your case.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

130709154122-overdue-bill-debt-collection-620xaToday’s top story: 50 ways to improve your financial life in 2015. Also in the news: Why deferred interest rates on purchases isn’t always a good idea, how to decide which debts to pay off now or later, and the lazy guide to dealing with debt collectors.

50 ways to improve your finances in 2015
You’ll want to get comfy for this.

Why you should think twice about ‘buy now, pay interest later’ deals
Deferred interest can do a number on your wallet.

5 Debts You Should Pay Off Now – or Later
Not all debt is created equal.

The Slacker’s Guide to Dealing With a Debt Collector
Dealing with debt collectors while exerting the least amount of effort.

Will You Remain a Debt Slave Until Death?
Or will you see the light?

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

bank_fee1Today’s top story: Beware the dirty tricks of student loan collectors. Also in the news: Tax tips, the best strategy for holiday shopping, and busting some digital banking myths.

Watch Out for These Student Loan Debt Collectors’ Dirty Tricks
Stay on your toes.

Beat the Crowd With This Smart Year-End Tax Move
Understanding capital losses.

Top 5 Digital Banking Myths
Time for some mythbusting.

The Best Strategies for Your Final Holiday Shopping Countdown
The war plan for holiday shopping.

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Out Student Loans
Hindsight is your best friend/worst enemy.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

homebuyerToday’s top story: How to financially prepare for winter. Also in the news: How to determine if you should rent or buy a home, how to keep student loans from ruining your life, and how to avoid gift card fraud during the holidays.

8 Ways to Tackle Winter Money Challenges With Ease
How to reduce heating costs and holiday expenses.

Know Your “Rent-to-Price” Ratio When Deciding If You Should Buy a Home
How to determine if you should consider buying vs renting.

7 ways to top student loans from ruining your life
Taking charge of your loans.

How to Avoid Gift Card Fraud This Holiday Season
Protecting your purchases.

When You’re Most Likely to Get a Call From a Debt Collector
Prepare yourself.

Q&A: Debt obligations and voluntary surrender

Dear Liz: My husband returned a car to the dealer when he lost his job. Now the company says he owes it more than $7,000 (the difference between what he owed to the dealer and the price for which the car was sold). He refuses to pay any amount, but recently he received a letter from a law office demanding payment or they will take him to court. Is he obliged to pay this money? What options does he have to get rid of this debt?

Answer: A debt doesn’t disappear simply because someone decides not to pay it.
Your husband signed loan paperwork to buy the car, and this paperwork obligated him to repay a certain amount. Voluntarily surrendering the car didn’t change his obligation. Also, the surrender probably is being reported to the credit bureaus as a repossession, which is a big negative mark on his credit reports. Some people mistakenly believe that a voluntary surrender avoids credit damage. Typically, it does not.

Your husband could make matters worse if he continues his stubbornness. The law firm can take the collection to court, where it’s likely to win. That will add a judgment to your husband’s credit files and cause further damage to his scores. His wages could be garnished to pay the debt.

Your husband may be able to settle this debt for less than he owes, especially if he can offer a substantial lump sum, but negotiations with a collector can be tricky. He may want to consult an attorney for help or at least arm himself with more knowledge about what to do from sites such as DebtCollectionAnswers.com.

If this is just one of a number of unpaid bills, though, you both may benefit from talking to a bankruptcy attorney about your options.
In the future, keep this experience in mind when you go to buy another car. Making at least a 20% down payment and limiting the loan term to four years or less will help ensure that you’re never “upside down” like this again.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: What to do when debt collectors harass you for someone else’s money. Also in the news: Online tools to help manage your money, what the new FICO 9 credit score could mean for those about to apply for mortgages, and seven ways you’re misusing your credit cards.

Help! I’m Getting Debt Collection Calls for Someone Else
How to convince relentless debt collectors you’re not the person they’re looking for.

4 Online Tools to Manage Your Money in the 21st Century
There’s an app for that.

What FICO’s New Credit Score Formula Means for Home Buyers
The new FICO 9 could change your mortgage prospects.

7 ways you’re using your credit card wrong
Some of them may surprise you.

More seniors on hook for student loans
Over 700,000 families headed by someone 65 or older still carry student debt.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Five areas of personal finance that you can’t afford to ignore. Also in the news: How your unhappy relationship could affect your wallet, what to do when a friend sends a debt collector after you, and how you can be rewarded for waiting to purchase something online.

Personal Finance: 5 Areas You Can’t Ignore
Paying attention to the basics.

5 money habits of unhappy couples
When relationship angst affects your wallet.

Can a Friend Send a Debt Collector After Me?
With friends like these…

The Retailers Who Will Reward You for Abandoning Your Shopping Cart
Waiting a little bit could save you money.