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6. Open a New Credit Account

If you want a nice boost to your credit and you want to help improve your credit utilization ratio, you can consider opening a new credit account. This is especially helpful if you find that your current credit utilization ratio is much too high.

Opening the new account adds to the available credit you have and will show that with the new balance, you are using less. However, this is not a good option if you are already juggling multiple accounts. You may end up hurting your credit instead of helping it if you try to stretch your credit too thin.

7. Open up Negotiations

Have you taken a closer look at the current debt you owe? Have you considered negotiating the debt you have in collections to rebuild your credit? Many collection agencies will be willing to negotiate because they really won’t be losing any money on the debt if you are able to settle for less because they most likely bought the debt account for a minimal price.

It never hurts to open a negotiation to try and settle the debt you have for a smaller and more manageable amount on your credit accounts. If you find that you are unsure about this process, or if you don’t know if it is something you should do, you can always seek the help of a credit counselor to help educate you on the process and offer suggestions as to what you can do otherwise.

8. Become an Authorized User

Another fast way to boost your credit could be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account. For this to be a viable and recommended option, you will need to find someone you trust, such as a close friend or relative, that is financially responsible and is willing to do this for you to help improve your credit rating.

As an authorized user on someone else’s account, their account will still show up on your credit report, and their payment history, credit utilization ratio, and credit card balances will become part of your credit history and may award you with a good credit score.  Not all credit card companies report authorized users however, so you will want to make sure that if you do become an authorized user, that the account information will show up on your credit reports.

9. Make On Time Monthly Payments

In addition to paying on your accounts twice a month, you should also make sure to make your payments on time every month. Your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your FICO score.

If you find it hard to remember your due dates, consider placing your accounts on auto pay with reminders so it reminds you that the payment is coming due and it will then automatically make the payment for you.

10. Mix Up Your Credit Choices

Finally, make sure you are mixing up your credit choices instead of focusing on using just your credit cards, for example. Using different types of credit can boost your score fast – even though it wouldn’t be a significant boost.

If you need an appliance, instead of using your credit card, you should consider a small personal loan instead. It shows that you can effectively and responsibly utilize different types of credit.

Fastest Way to Boost Credit After a Bankruptcy

One of the biggest hits to your credit is a bankruptcy and people are often anxious and ready to begin boosting their credit following their bankruptcy. In theory, someone looking for credit after a bankruptcy may actually appear to be less of a risk because they are not able to qualify for Chapter 7 for another eight years.

Following your bankruptcy, it is recommended that you make all your payments on time, learn how to manage your money efficiently, and find ways to reestablish your credit without trying to borrow money too soon and this could prove to be the fastest way to build credit.

You should also keep a very close eye on your credit reports and credit scores from the major credit bureaus and look for any errors or inaccuracies including any mistakes with your address, employment, or personal contact information.

The best way to start improving credit following a bankruptcy is to open a secured credit card account and make your first deposit into the account.

Conclusion

Although these ten strategies are a good start to finding the fastest way to boost your credit, you need to remember that it still may take several months for the credit reporting agencies to report the improvements on your credit report.

While they may be “fast” methods, they are certainly not miracle credit cures, so you need to have a fair amount of patience when it comes to seeing the positive effects on your credit report.

Be sure to dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau in question (you go here to learn how). You can also view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com as you monitor your progress toward building better credit.

The post What’s the Fastest Way to Boost My Credit? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Why You Should Not Buy a Credit Privacy Number (CPN)

What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

If you’re looking to repair your credit, you may have come across websites that advertise a credit privacy number, credit protection number or CPN. These numbers are nine digits like a Social Security number (SSN), and sellers claim that you can use them instead of your SSN. However, these CPNs are often actual SSNs lifted from real people, reportedly children, prison inmates and the deceased – and you can never legally buy a new SSN. In other words, a CPN is no solution to your credit rating problem. Under no circumstances should you try to buy a CPN.

Why a CPN is No Credit Fix

Websites have sprung up all over the internet, offering CPNs to people with bad credit or low credit scores. They advertise that this number can serve as a “get out of jail free” card for your bad credit. In theory, you can use a CPN instead of your SSN on credit applications to hide the poor credit associated with your personal SSN. If you have bad credit but still need a credit card or loan, this can seem like the solution, assuming you can pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

That price might seem worth it for a chance to wipe the slate clean. However, these offers are essentially a big scam. The CPNs you can buy online are not legally assigned credit protection numbers. Instead, they are usually stolen Social Security numbers, taken from children, the deceased or inmates.

Also, using a purchased CPN puts you in some hot water, too. Credit agencies can easily spot discrepancies if you try to use a CPN on an application instead of your SSN. Not only will this fail to help your credit, but it’s also committing fraud which is punishable by jail time.

How to Avoid CPN Scams 

What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

If you’re dealing with some bad credit, don’t turn to a CPN. Only scammers sell CPNs, and they in turn may cheat you out of your personal information as well as hundreds or thousands of dollars. Using a purchased CPN can also put you in jail, even if you didn’t know the number was fraudulent. This is why it’s important to be aware of this popular scam.

If you really need a CPN or new SSN, it will be free. The process will go through the Social Security Administration Office, since a new number would be tied to your old SSN. That said, it is very hard to qualify to receive a new number. Having bad credit is never a qualifying reason.

How to Get a Legal CPN

With so many fraudulent websites and companies trying to sell you a way to reset your credit, it’s hard to know how to get a legal CPN. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Some experts say that you can speak with an attorney to obtain a legal CPN. The attorney can then contact the Social Security Administration Office on your behalf. However, others maintain that all CPNs are illegal.

Generally, it seems that you cannot get a legal CPN unless you actually need one. These situations include celebrities, government officials and people under witness protection. You can also apply in other specific instances, like if you’re a victim of abuse, stalking or identity theft. A real CPN would be attached to your SSN, so it’s still not an escape from the credit tied to your SSN.

You may also stumble upon offers to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. The IRS does issue EINs, but only businesses can use them for business costs. This means that you cannot legally obtain an EIN as an individual looking to improve your credit. You also cannot make up a home business, apply for an EIN and use that new number for a credit reset. It is a federal crime to obtain an EIN under false pretenses. In any case, the credit profile for your EIN is still tied to your SSN.

Bottom Line

What Is a CPN, or Credit Privacy Number?

You shouldn’t ever, under any circumstances, try to purchase a CPN. These offers are fraudulent and don’t provide any credit repair or relief. At the very least, buying a CPN wastes money you should put towards repaying your loans in the first place. At worst, you could go to jail for fraud. There are better, more constructive ways to repair your credit. If you’re truly in a situation that calls for a CPN, contact your lawyer for assistance.

Tips on Rebuilding Your Credit 

  • Of course, the best way to legally clean up your credit is to pay back your debts and improve your credit practices. A good place to start is to pay off your credit card debt with the highest interest.
  • Sometimes you’ll just have to wait for your bad history to fall off your record. Generally, negative info stays on your credit report for seven years. If you can’t get a debt collection removed from your credit report, for example, it’ll stay there for seven years. However, as time goes on, the toll it takes on your report lessens.
  • Don’t go it alone. If you have a good income, but you’re just bad at managing your money, a financial advisor can help. With guidance, you can make smarter choices – and even start growing your wealth. To find an advisor, use our free, no-obligation matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area.

Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/becon, Â©iStock.com/Xesai, Â©iStock.com/Kerkez

The post Why You Should Not Buy a Credit Privacy Number (CPN) appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

How Does Credit Counseling Work and Is It Right for You?

A couple sits in bed with a laptop looking at credit counseling options together.

Debt can get complicated, especially if you have a lot of it. Credit counselors are trained professionals who help individuals and families work to get a handle on their debt so they can lay a stronger financial foundation for the future. How does credit counseling work? Find out more below so you can make a decision about whether this is a tool you want to use.

A couple sits in bed with a laptop looking at credit counseling options together.

In This Piece

  • What is credit counseling?
  • How does credit counseling work?
  • How much does credit counseling cost?
  • The pros of credit counseling
  • The cons of credit counseling
  • Does credit counseling hurt your credit?
  • Who is credit counseling right for?
  • Alternatives to credit counseling

What Is Credit Counseling?

Credit counseling is often promoted as the best option for consumers who are having trouble managing debt. In fact, the Credit CARD Act requires credit card issuers to publish, on card statements, a toll-free number for consumers to get credit counseling help.

Credit counseling is exactly what it sounds like: A trained and experienced financial counselor works with you to understand your debts and assets. They then help you work out a plan to deal with your debts or offer advice about what other options might be available to you.

This isn’t a magic potion that dissolves your debt or improves your credit, though. Credit counseling requires you to be an active participant in the process. The counselor might help you create a budget, for example, but then you have to be willing to tighten your belt and follow the budget to make it work.

It’s also important to do your research to make sure you are working with a legitimate, certified credit counselor. Credit counseling is unlikely to help you if your credit counselor isn’t trained.

How Does Credit Counseling Work?

The exact process can differ somewhat depending on what organization provides the credit counseling and what your situation is. Here’s a look at some common steps that you might be a part of when you seek credit counseling:

  • You schedule an appointment with the credit counselor. This may occur in person or via video conference or phone depending on your preferences and the policies of the organization. 

>> Learn how to choose a credit counselor

  • The credit counselor reviews your situation. Be prepared for this fact-finding meeting by gathering information beforehand. Copies of check stubs showing your income, a list of all your monthly expenses, and copies of all your bills for at least a month may be necessary. The credit counselor will want to know the balance on all your debt accounts as well as the interest rate you’re paying.
  • The credit counseling firm checks your credit. They run a soft credit check, so it won’t hurt your credit. This is to help ensure that all outstanding items are being looked at and help the counselor understand if you’re dealing with collections.
  • The credit counselor helps you create a plan. This might include options such as budgeting, debt settlement, consolidation loans, or debt management programs.
  • Once you agree to a plan, it’s often up to you to put it into action. Depending on what the recommendation was, you might work with other professionals to make that happen. 

How Much Does Credit Counseling Cost?

If you go through a nonprofit credit counseling service, the counseling itself is usually free. Even for-profit debt management companies often provide a free consultation to help you understand what your options are. If you work with your credit counselor to set up a debt management plan (DMP), you will make a monthly payment to your credit counselor who will pay your creditors on your behalf. These plans may come with a small fee as well.

Working with a debt settlement company is different and typically does come with some fees, though. A debt settlement company helps you negotiate payment arrangements with creditors that are satisfactory for both you and the companies you owe.

The Pros of Credit Counseling

  • You work with experienced professionals. Professional credit counselors are well-versed in personal financial management and may know about and understand options you don’t. This could help you find the best solution for you.
  • You get third-party eyes on your situation. Sometimes, you’re so caught up in the problem and the emotions and stress of it, it’s hard to make the most logical choices. Credit counselors aren’t caught up in your stress and can help you see the big picture and move forward logically.
  • You can get advice for free. If you work with an organization that provides free credit counseling or a free initial consult, you can get some peace of mind knowing what your options are without having to pay for it.

The Cons of Credit Counseling

  • Credit counseling isn’t a magic solution. If you don’t have enough money to cover your debts or you’re going to have to tighten the belt a good bit to do so, credit counseling doesn’t change that. You may still have a lot of work to do going forward.
  • You may have to pay for services. Not all credit counseling is free, and this can add to your debt expenses. In some cases, the fees might be high enough that they make it harder to pay off your debt. Make sure you read the fine print and understand exactly what you’re paying for and how much.
  • You have to watch out for scams. Choose a good credit counselor by reading reviews and working with organizations that are established. Consider looking for a credit counseling partner that’s accredited by a national organization such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. If you enter into a debt management agreement, you may want to track your credit to ensure payments are being made in a timely manner.

Does Credit Counseling Hurt Your Credit?

Whether or not you sought credit counseling isn’t something that shows up on your credit report. So the act of credit counseling itself does not hurt your credit history or score.

However, some of the actions that are recommended by credit counselors might temporarily hurt your score. Settling debt, closing accounts, or adding new loans or balance transfer accounts that help you consolidate existing debt can all impact your credit score. In some cases, it might be that you’re taking a short-term hit to your score to help improve your financial standing in the long run— but this is always something to consider carefully.

Who Is Credit Counseling Right for?

Whether or not credit counseling is right for you is a personal decision. However, the best candidates for this option tend to be people with a lot of revolving or unsecured debt who do have the income to be able to cover their debts. They just need help creating a plan and getting finances in order to be able to do so.

Alternatives to Credit Counseling

Credit counseling isn’t the only way to get a handle on your debt. Here are some other options to consider.

  • Debt settlement. This occurs when you negotiate with a creditor to pay a lower amount than you actually owe. The creditor considers the debt paid off, but it shows up as “settled” on your credit report.
  • Balance transfers. You may be able to transfer high-interest credit card debt to a card with lower interest or even a 0% balance transfer This could help you pay your debt off faster.

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  • Consolidation loans. A consolidation loan occurs when you take out one loan and use the funds to pay off existing debt. Then, you only have to deal with making one payment, which might help you manage the debt better.
  • Bankruptcy is a last-resort option that may be necessary if you simply don’t have the income to pay all your obligations.
  • Credit repair. If what you really need help with is removing inaccuracies from your credit report, you might consider signing up for credit repair services. 

Does credit counseling work? It depends on your situation and how willing you are to stick with what the credit counselor recommends. You also need to be sure you’re working with a reputable organization. Consider signing up for the Credit Report Card to keep an eye on your credit as you go through any type of debt management process. 

The post How Does Credit Counseling Work and Is It Right for You? appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com