Got Bad Credit? 

Recover from Bankruptcy
Credit Reports Contain Errors
Credit Score Basics
Every year more than 800,000 Americans file for bankruptcy for a variety of reasons. While bankruptcy has many negative effects, it does offer people with devastated finances a fresh start. While most bankruptcies remain on your credit report for 7-10 years, there are several things you can do to start re-establishing your credit immediately after filing.
Before you start to rebuild your credit you should check your credit report for errors. Check that your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian have accurately recorded your pre-bankruptcy debts as "Included in BK". Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only accurate debts can be recorded so contact the credit bureaus if anything is inaccurate. After clearing out any errors in your credit reports it is best to slowly rebuild your credit history. Keep your employment stable, be cautious with spending and pay your bills on time.
You may want to apply for a secured credit card that can be used in moderation and is paid off each month. Secured credit cards use your savings account as collateral for the credit limit and are easier to be approved for than a standard credit card. As early as 1-2 years after bankruptcy you may be able to receive a home loan. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) have specific guidelines for accepting borrowers who have filed for bankruptcy. For example, the FHA will insure mortgages to individuals who have filed Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy two years after the discharge if "the borrower has reestablished good credit (or has chosen not to incur new credit obligations), and has demonstrated an ability to manage financial affairs."
You may want to make contact with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselor, or local support program for advice and assistance with purchasing a home. Unfair lenders can sometimes target people recovering from bankruptcy so be sure to research your loan options, know your rights and read the small print.
After 7 years, the accounts that were marked as "included in BK" should be removed from your credit report. The bankruptcy record itself will be removed after 7-10 years depending on the chapter that you filed. If your records are not removed by the credit reporting agencies automatically, you can send a letter of dispute to have the records taken off your record.
The credit bureaus have to process over 100 million pieces of new information on a daily basis.  With the amount of data being managed, it is inevitable errors will occur.  Typically, errors occur when a report is incomplete or contains information about a different person. This typically happens because:
  • The person applied for credit under a different name
  • Someone made a clerical error entering name or address information on a credit application
  • The Social Security Number on a credit application was collected incorrectly
  • Payment on a loan or credit card were inadvertently applied to the wrong account
Credit plays a critical part in nearly everyone's life, but understanding what credit is and how it works can be a challenge. A great way to understand the role credit plays in your life, and to empower yourself as a consumer, is with a basic knowledge of two credit fundamentals: Credit Scores and Credit Reports.
Your credit score is a number based on the information in your credit file that shows how likely you are to pay a loan back on time; the higher your score the less risk you represent.
While lenders take into account many factors when making a credit decision, including your income and the kind of credit your applying for, your credit score only reflects the information in your credit report. Your credit score does not consider your ethnic group, age, religion, marital status and nationality. These are, in fact, prohibited from use in scoring by US law.
When a lender receives your credit score, up to four "score reason codes" are also delivered. These explain the top reasons why your score was not higher. These reason codes are more helpful than the score itself in helping you determine whether your credit report might contain errors and how you might improve your score over time.
The score from each credit reporting agency considers only the data in your credit report at that agency. One agency might be missing data based on a name change or an address change. This is why you may have a different score from each of the credit reporting agencies.
Credit Scores are calculated from a lot of different credit data in your credit report. This data can be grouped into five categories.
  1. Payment History
  2. Amount Owed
  3. Length of Credit History
  4. New Credit
  5. Types of Credit Used

Our research found an awesome resource for calculators that can help you. 


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Ways to Help Millennials Build Their Credit Scores

Millennials (those aged 18-29) have faced a rough job market and economy as adults, and therefore often have encountered a lot of difficulty building their credit scores. In fact, according to Experian, millennials have an average credit score of 628, the lowest for any age group and 50 points below the national average.  Unfortunately, many of these older millennials are coming to the age point where they want to purchase real estate and/or acquire financing, and have difficulty because of their credit.  As a real estate/financing professional, you can tap into this market, while bringing value and gaining customer loyalty, by sharing these tips and helping millennials with their credit.

Here are some easy ways for millennials to build credit:

● Acquire a credit card

Many millennials are wary of credit cards after seeing others’ debt struggles and unemployment. According to some surveys, over 60% of millennials don’t have a primary credit card.  Opening a primary credit card can be the easiest and quickest way to build credit, and can benefit a huge portion of millennials. Although a first credit card may have a very small balance, even small payments can build a credit history. You can tell millennials to put one low monthly expense on their card.

● Utilize secured credit cards

Even though credit cards are an easy way to build credit, some millennials won’t be able to get approval to open one. Another great option is a secured card, where a cash collateral deposit becomes a credit line for that card. These deposit amounts could be as small as $250-$300. Secured cards are still a great way to build credit if the payments are made on time.

●Keep balances low

When opening credit, millennials have to make sure they charge an amount they can afford every month. High balances can cause higher fees and big credit damage if they aren’t paid off in time. On the other hand, balances can also be used to boost credit scores. The utilization ratio (or balance-to-limit ratio) plays a large part in credit scores. Keeping balances under 10% of credit card limits will result in the highest score possible in this category. This percentage should be used a few months prior to applying for new credit cards or loans to ensure scores are at their best when the lender/creditor is viewing credit applications.

● Pay bills on time

Late payments from cards, and also from loans, debt, and other bills millennials face, can cause large score drops. On the other hand, timely payments can help millennials build their credit over time.

● Check credit reports regularly

Even if millennials don’t think they have a credit history, it’s important for them to check their credit reports from the three bureaus regularly. Millennialscan find things like a forgotten college medical bill or missed cell phone payment that has dragged down their credit score. Checking your own credit does not hurt credit scores. They can also contact us with any problems they find on their report to get it resolved quickly.

● Avoid signing for joint credit products

Although they can be tempting, things such as a joint account or signing a lease where others have promised verbally to pay but the account/contract is in one's name only can cause major credit damage.  Helping friends with limited, poor, or no credit by signing for a cell phone, rental lease, or credit card can dramatically impact scores later on if payments are made late or a default occurs.  The rule is "If you don't have control of the payments or are not prepared to pay the whole debt/contract then you should not sign for it".  It’s important for millennials to mindful of what they are signing, especially if it requires relying on someone else for payment.

Credit scores give lenders a fast, objective measurement of credit risk. Before the use of scoring, the credit granting process could be slow, inconsistent and unfairly biased. Credit scores have made big improvements in lending.
Faster Credit Decisions
Credit scores are delivered almost instantaneously, helping lenders speed up the loan approval process. Today many credit decisions can be made within minutes, even seconds.
Unbiased Credit Decisions
Using credit scoring, lenders can focus only on the facts related to credit risk, rather than their personal biases. Factors like gender, race, religion, nationality and marital status are not considered by credit scoring.
Forgiving History
If you have had a financial road bump in the past, your credit scores can improve over time as healthy credit habits become more pervasive in your credit report. Unlike so-called "knock-out rules" that turn down borrowers based solely on negative items, credit scoring weighs all credit-related information, both good and bad, in your credit report.
Increased Availability to Credit
Finance companies make informed risk decisions using credit scores and it enabling more consumers to get “approved”.  Specifically, it allows lenders to identify individuals who are likely to demonstrate financial responsibility in the future. 
The First Progress line of credit building credit cards is a new card program designed to help consumers establish credit records with the major consumer credit bureaus. Credit improvement information on each active card account is reported monthly to each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You post a security deposit to establish your credit line. Your security deposit serves as collateral for your obligations on the secured credit card account.

The First Progress Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card is a full-feature Platinum MasterCard®with a credit line based on a security deposit rather than on a credit score. The card is designed to advance the accumulation of new information in a credit file by reporting account activity to all three of the major national credit bureaus every month. And because it’s a full-feature Platinum MasterCard®, the card provides the protection, convenience, and prestige of the worldwide MasterCard® system.

Prepaid and debit cards are available to consumers with poor or inadequate credit scores, but these products generally do not offer credit and do not report to the major consumer credit bureaus. Some prepaid and debit card programs carry monthly membership fees or carry a charge for reloading funds to the card.
A secured card is a real credit card that extends credit based on a security deposit provided by the cardholder rather than relying on the applicant’s credit history. Aside from the security deposit requirement, a secured card works just like any major (Visa®, MasterCard® or American Express®) bankcard. The cardholder can revolve a balance by paying only the minimum monthly payment, or avoid finance charges by paying the balance in full each month. Activity on the First Progress Platinum Secured MasterCard® Credit Card is reported monthly to all three major credit bureaus to help speed the accumulation of new credit history in the cardholder’s credit files.

A prepaid card functions almost exactly like a debit card; you receive no credit and can only charge what you have deposited in the account. For many with low credit, this card might be the only way to build your credit score. Typically prepaid cards are a bad investment because they charge monthly fees and charge for every transaction you make with them.  

Secured Card. Today, maintaining good personal credit is more important than ever. A secured credit card can help in rebuilding credit, or to build new credit for individuals just starting out. The First Progress Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card is a full-feature Platinum MasterCard® with a credit line based on a security deposit rather than on a credit score. The card is designed to advance the accumulation of new information in a credit file, by reporting account activity to all three of the major national credit bureaus every month. Since it is a full-feature Platinum MasterCard®, the card provides the convenience and prestige of the worldwide MasterCard® system.
First Progress Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Cards are issued by Synovus Bank, Columbus, GA, member FDIC.
Why First Progress?
  • Get Approved Fast!
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • 24/7 Online Access to Your Account
  • Nationwide Program – though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • 11.99% Variable APR for Purchases 
  • 18.99% Variable APR for Cash Advances The Cash Advance Transaction Fee is $10 or 3% of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater
  • $44 Annual Fee

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