I’ve been a bankruptcy attorney for about 20 years and when it comes to credit, I’m the Grim Reaper. I am Charon, and I ferry you across to the land where your debts have deceased. For a small fee of course. Sometimes your debts die a long slow death and usually it’s quick and painless. However, Good Credit is the collateral damage. I ruin credit for a living.
So when my own credit needed a spit and polish some years back, I did what most people do, I looked up a credit repair service or credit repair attorney and paid them to repair my credit. For a bunch of money they said yes. Great, I handed over my money and then a little later, we went in for an appointment to sign some paperwork.
The paperwork consisted in a bunch of letters disputing everything in my credit reports which impaired my potentially positive credit rating. Once I saw those letters and how they were written, I realized that I could have done all of those letters myself without much difficulty. I hadn’t had any idea that the process was going to be as simple as it was. I was wholly annoyed at how little work it would have been for me to figure it out on my own. I’m an attorney so that was something that I was good at to begin with. I had just been so busy that I didn’t feel like trying to figure it out because that would have required digging into code sections of the federal codes that I hadn’t been familiar with at that time.
Even worse, I happened on the fact that they were using a handy dandy guide to do the work. A book with templates and instructions that would have told me exactly what I would have needed to do in order to repair my own credit myself without having to pay anyone to do it for me.
Get the same Guide and Follow the program to skyrocket that credit score.
Identity Theft is not just someone opening a credit card in your name, though that still happens all the time.
No, it’s more likely that you have to move back in with your dad and when you’re at work, your step-mom puts all the utilities in your name and then doesn’t pay them for several months.
Your brother or sister gets pulled over for DUI and for some reason she or he gives them your driver’s license or your old expired one and gets booked for DUI and a ticket for the expired license and guess what, she or he looks so much like you the police are fooled into thinking it really is you.
When your sister-in-law and her friend who are a Realtor and a Notary Public suddenly come into money, but eventually you stay home sick and you actually get to the mail first and find out you have a second mortgage that you didn’t know about. Or soon enough you find out that you don’t own your own home anymore. Turns out there was a “For Sale” sign hanging on the Zillow.com website over your head for months. I know these both sound like extreme situations but guess what, I’ve seen both happen.
It can also be done basically as a con-game. The con-artist induces you to extend credit but since you don’t have cash, you end up using your own good credit to do it. Of course, the con-artist never pays you back. That’s not even the worst part of it, the con-artist may not even know that the con-artist is a con-artist. He or she is just down on their luck and you’re the only contact they know, so you’re the only mark. You happen to be the “rich uncle” in the family but unsurprisingly, you also happen to be broke just not as broke as they are . . . at least not until they get done with you.
When you’re helping family, maybe they do help themselves to new credit cards in your name because you’re always at work and they therefore get the mail before you do and suddenly your daughter-in-law has expensive tattoos, long red hair and liposuction in places you didn’t know she knew existed or ever cared about on her sorry behind.
How did she possibly pay for the make-over when your son has a full-time job making good money but they’re saving up, because they want to buy a house. Somehow got this wonderful make-over? Eventually, you’re going to find out that your good credit also has a wonderful make-over, or perhaps a make-under. . . .
Identity Theft Comes From Friends Too
Cosigning for friends or family who then don’t or won’t pay the car payment or the loan payment might leave you holding the bag.
Again I’ve seen this happen a few times. You cosign for the car for your “bestie” who then doesn’t pay for it and in fact disappears with it.
When the bank sues you, they’re going to sue you for the whole balance, you won’t even get the benefit of the repossession reducing the balance that you owe.
Not only does the bank sue you, they report you to the police as having stolen the car or being an accomplice to the theft. I mean, that probably won’t stick, but you won’t really know until you talk to the Public Defender who gets assigned to your case.
If you’re lucky they’ll just garnish your wages until you file a bankruptcy, and even worse, you can’t claim Identity Theft if you signed the loan.
Beware of Fake Collection Calls
Sometimes people are just flat out not who you think they are. You think he’s your savior and he turns out to be just another guy.
Sure your good credit might be destroyed by your boyfriend or girlfriend who memorized your credit card numbers and so you closed the accounts but she or he then called the credit card companies posing as your husband or wife and asked that the accounts be reopened. Yes, I’ve seen this happen too.
But nowadays most of the time, it’s a phone call. Someone calls who knows everything about you, your current unlisted number, your current address and you’re not even on the lease, your addresses for the last fifteen (15) years. The account number of the credit card they are saying you still owe from 2004; even though you haven’t paid on it since 2005 and you filed a bankruptcy in 2007 listing that card. For some reason they’re now threatening to sue you, or send a 1099 to the IRS or to blow your security clearance with your command.
Can they do all that? Of course not. The bankruptcy took care of it. If you didn’t file bankruptcy, then the Statute of Limitations took care of it, unless the card in fact sued you but if they’re not saying they have a judgment, and what they want to do is to send a 1099 to the IRS, then there is no judgment. And for some reason they won’t give you their address, and their company name is a mashup of two legitimate debt collection agencies you find on the Internet. It’s crap, they’re liars and they’re trying to commit fraud and you’re the mark. Hang up and block the number.
My favorites are the fake IRS calls. The IRS doesn’t call you to ask you to pay up. They’ll send you letters telling you to call in or they’ll put a lien on your house. They’ll write to you to tell you to call in or they’ll garnish your wages. They’ll write to you to tell you to call in or you might be arrested. But if the IRS tells you anything like that, it will come to you in a SNAIL MAIL LETTER. THEY DO NOT CALL YOU ON THE PHONE TO TELL YOU THOSE THINGS.
My second favorite are fake calls from creditors several years after bankruptcy using information from your bankruptcy to make you feel like it’s a real account and who are asking you to pay an account which was included in your bankruptcy and saying that it wasn’t included in your bankruptcy. Call your bankruptcy attorney if you’re not sure. If you signed a reaffirmation agreement they might be right that you owe the money, but if that’s the case, then it will be easy to prove that a legitimate collection agency actually does exist and where they’re located.
Did a creditor sue you in bankruptcy and win a judgment stating that your debt to that creditor was not going to be included in your discharge order, those are the exceptions to your bankruptcy discharge. If that’s the case then again, finding out who the collection agency is will be easy and quick. The fake calls come from untraceable numbers through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone lines and you’re never going to figure out who called or from where.
The famous Nairobi email scam, I actually had a client who got caught by that one.
You Thought you had Great Credit
Now your house is gone, your car is gone, your woman or your man is gone. You must pay attention to your surroundings, and your credit.
Or it turns out, you’re no longer who you thought you were either.
Everyone nowadays, before a first date, has perused all the social media available to make sure that the new person isn’t unemployed or an alcoholic. Back in the day, a nice man asked a wonderful woman to marry him, well, before she would answer, she drove down to the Family Court and looked up his divorce file. Turns out he had been an abusive husband who didn’t pay his support payments.
That’s still a good idea of course because most of the stuff in divorce case files isn’t online. You can look up who sued you and usually find a copy of the summons and complaint but not in a divorce case, so a drive to the court house is still a good idea.
However, before the second or third date you could just ask to look at Credit Karma on his or her phone. My Wells Fargo account on my phone will give me my credit score.
Pretty much the same way you do from any kind of bad credit, you go to work repairing and fixing your credit reports. The disputes are still required they just have a different message.
Credit repair requires some work, but if you do it right, it’s quite effective and can shoot your scores right back up to where they are supposed to be. How do you best repair your credit? Where do you get the best advice to do your own credit repair?
Is that a make sense way to get out of debt though? Even my fifteen year old son who was in car with me asked, “how is it getting out of debt when you’re getting into more debt?”
That sounds like an express train to Bankruptcyville, and as a bankruptcy attorney, trust me, I know. However, yes Marcus, that’s right, it really does matter how you get out of debt. What counts is that every account that gets paid off with the new loan must also be closed at the same time, whoever you happen to get the new loan from. That’s what counts.
A new loan to refinance your old debt can be a great way to get out of debt if the new loan makes sense in your budget and if you close all of the credit cards as you’re paying them off. I’ve done that before, we took a 2nd mortgage on the house and paid off $40,000 in miscellaneous credit cards and loans. We reduced our $1200 per month credit card payments down to about $450 per month for the 2nd mortgage payment and then continued to pay the $1200 per month on the 2nd mortgage. Most of the time at least.
Consolidation loans are great if you can qualify for the loan or if you have sufficient collateral to qualify for it. Try contacting Marcusand find out if it works for you. Of course it doesn’t hurt to try out several possible lenders. Most of the time it’s going to be a non-starter. It took me about a year to be able to do it myself because my home didn’t have a high enough value to do it when we first applied.
Budgeting When a Consolidation Loan Won’t Work
Budgeting can be very hard, particularly if it is an unfamiliar task such as if a loved one who used to take care of the task is now gone because of a death or divorce in the family or your parents finally told you to move out.
Another challenge might be that a source of income has terminated such as if you were fired from one of your jobs, or there were a death or divorce in the family or your parents finally told you to get a job or move out.
In any case it might feel tricky. Sometimes you may have to take completely drastic measures. I knew a family who would wash laundry when the parents took showers, and they would put the clothes on the floor of the shower and stomp on them as they washed their hair . . . and their feet.
Helping children, brothers, parents, grandchildren, and sometimes even just friends will force you into the poor-house. I’ve seen people lose their homes because of it many many times.
Of course, you can’t be heartless and turn them away, but I’ve seen it happen so many times that they move in with you, and because they’re so familiar with you they don’t respect you, so they think that they don’t have to pay any rent, or that they don’t have to pay a regular rate of rent. So they don’t help you out. But your mortgage is the same or your lease payment on your apartment is the same, car payments, car insurance, day care, home insurance, life insurance, car registrations, and pet food all the stay the same. However, your utilities, groceries, gas for your cars, maintenance for your cars, and credit cards all skyrocket.
Next thing you know you’re co-signed on a new car so that your son-in-law can get to and from work, and your own mortgage is several months in arrears and they still won’t pay the rents so that you can pay your mortgage and you’re about to be foreclosed and on top of that your credit cards are about to sue you if they haven’t already and then your son-in-law leaves your daughter and stops paying on the car note and it gets repossessed.
Or maybe you request, hey, I’m going to lose my home, you know, the one that keeps a roof over your head, and I need you to pay rent and pay that car payment and then for some strange reason, even though your daughter and son in law both have jobs, they don’t pay any rents, don’t pay your wife to babysit, and they won’t leave either.
If you want to help out your kids, then they must agree in writing to pay rent to you at a fixed rate which includes the utilities, and includes the groceries and if they don’t have a job, then they must get one immediately, not just look for one, or they can’t move in. They must sign that agreement before they move in. Or, you can write them a letter that says “You’re a guest in this house and I can throw you out at a moment’s notice because you are not a tenant.” In that case, if they won’t help out, if they won’t even clean up after themselves, then they can come home and find all their stuff on the lawn. You won’t get any rent out of them but you might at least get a clean kitchen or garage.
(It happened to me, so I know how it goes). Of all the things I’ve seen people do to get themselves in financial trouble, this is by far the biggest and most egregious one and it happens all the time. Be wary of helping people whom no one else will help.
Oh and by the way, never cosign anything for anyone if you value your good credit and your good name. Don’t do it. If no one else will give them a loan, why should you?
Moving on to Mundane Matters
Eliminate Things From Your Budget and Save Big-Time
Stop drinking lattes and switch to regular coffee Savings $3/day or $90/mo
Stop buying regular coffees at Starbucks and get them at the doughnut shop, (but don’t eat the donuts because you’ll get fat instead, trust me on this one) Savings $1/day or $30/mo.
Stop buying coffee at the doughnut shops and pick up a big can of coffee at Ralphs or the Piggly Wiggly Savings $20/mo
Only drink water instead of coffee and Save that last $10/mo
Stop drinking sodas every day or when you go out to eat (if that’s what you do) because you’ll lose weight, avoid diabetes and save money on prescription drugs and early death Savings $20 to $50/mo
Stop Drinking alcohol and Stop Smoking, Savings $Your Marriage, $Your Health, $Your Liver, $Your Lungs, $Your Job or Career and probably around about $5 – $20/day or $100-$500/mo
Eat less meat and buy more vegetables Savings about $50/mo
Don’t eat out as often or eliminate it altogether
Stop air-conditioning the whole house by shutting vents, and buy a whole house fan, Savings about $200 – $300/mo during the Summer which will pay for the whole house fan in the first Summer you buy it.
Cancel your cable TV or DirecTV or other TV service because everyone has Internet and abc.com, nbc.com, and a whole lot of others are online Savings $50 to $110/mo
Still have a home phone? Cancel that too because most of the calls will be from your Visas and Mastercards anyway. Savings about $40/mo.
Get Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime but not all three because don’t watch so much TV all the time you’ll get a lot more done and that’s good for everyone, especially if you spend some of that time walking or exercising
Cancel the Gym Membership Savings $20/mo and work out at home or go for long walks or jogs with the dog
Ride your bike to work (if you can)
Use a generic brand to wash your dishes Savings $10/mo and use it to wash your clothes too Savings $15/mo and you can use it to wash your hair Savings $8/mo.
Clean your home a lot, Savings indeterminate but the savings in down time from being sick alone will be worth it.
Wash your laundry as already elaborated above
Cook at home if you can make the time for that
Pack a lunch to work Savings $5/day x 20 = $100/mo
If you can’t make the time to cook at home, then even microwave dinners are still cheaper than drive-through fast food which again helps you lose weight, and avoid diabetes and heart disease and therefore those nasty prescription drugs
Of course going shopping at thrift stores, such as Good Will, Salvation Army and etc. It’s a great idea, particularly if you can get to the ones in nicer neighborhoods because they will have nicer stuff
Have you ever been to a food bank, it’s kind of like second hand food but the food is still good, which is not to say that it will taste good but it won’t have gone bad yet. We picked up a box and they gave us a few little bags of what must have been an experimental flavor of Doritos chips, tequila lime. They were the worst flavor ever, but they also gave us an excellent tasting gallon of milk and an excellent half gallon of chocolate milk and lots of vegetables and big bag of jalapenos which I gave to the Mexican couple in line behind us. The box was $25 but the amount of groceries would have filled an entire basket at the store, Savings about $100
Switch from a name brand phone service to basically a generic such as Boost or Cricket or Metro PCS, Savings $30 to $150/mo depending on family size and plan
Buy a Wahl groomer for your boys and dogs and Save $20/mo each
Grow your own vegetables at home, Savings $50/mo and they’ll also be organic and taste home-grown.
Find a cheaper car insurance (but don’t cancel it or you might wish you hadn’t)
Find a cheaper life insurance (but don’t cancel it or you might wish you hadn’t)
This is not an exhaustive list of things you can change or expenses you can cut. Maybe you’ve cut them all already, and there’s nothing left to cut. If that’s the case, maybe a bankruptcy is a good idea.
Marry a Doctor, Lawyer, Established Actor, or an Oil Tycoon
Just kidding, when the doctor I was interested in all those years ago found out I was going to be a lawyer she was more interested in not being a doctor at all and why couldn’t I be a rich lawyer so she wouldn’t have to work. I said hey that’s my idea, you’re the one in medical school after all. And I was on an airplane headed home shortly after that. Didn’t work out, long distance relationship and even longer apart in philosophy. Not to mention I didn’t speak Mandarin.
How Do I Budget to Pay Off My Credit Cards, Medical Bills, Etc?
Assuming you can in fact adjust your budget, or you demand and in fact receive some extra money as rents from your relatives, or maybe you find an additional job or something, or anything. Somehow you can also afford to pay all the minimums on your credit cards too.
Assuming all that’s true and you can also squeeze an extra $100 per month from your budget and then use that to pay part of your credit card payments, then there is a method to pay off your debts.
If for instance you have ten (10) credit cards, and they range from $500 to $10,000. Let’s say the amounts are $500, $800, $1000, $2000, $2500, $3000, $4000, $5000, $8000, $10,000. If, just for instance, it turns out that the payments are $25, $50, $75, $100, $120, $130, $130, $180, $220 and $240 respectively, you now have a plan to pay your debts.
First take that extra $100 per month that you’ve saved by switching to Folgers and a generic dish washing detergent for everything, and you add that $100 to the payment for the smallest credit card with the payment of only $25 and a balance of only $500. At that point, you also continue to pay the minimum payments on all of the other credit cards at the same time. You pay that little credit card $125 per month for four (4) months until it is paid off.
Then, once that smallest credit card is paid off, you take the payment that you were paying to that smallest credit card and you add that payment of $125 to the regular minimum payment for the credit card up from the $500 card. The next card up has a balance of $800 and a payment of $50. Add that $125 to the $50 giving you a new payment on the $800 credit card of $175 per month. It will take approximately five (5) months to pay off that 2nd credit card.
In the 10th month you start paying on the 3rd smallest credit card, which has a payment of $75 and a balance of $1000. Adding $75 to $175 gives a payment of $250 per month. But the balance is only $1000 so it will take approximately four (4) months to pay off the 3rd credit card.
The next card, the 4th card, has a balance of $2000 and a monthly payment of $100. Add that $250 from the other paid off cards to the minimum payment of $100 for this card and your new monthly payment for the 4th card is $350. It will take approximately six (6) months to pay off the 4th credit card.
Card number five (5) has a balance of $2500 and a payment of $120. Adding $350 to this card’s minimum payment gives a new payment for this card of $470 per month and your fifth card will be paid off in about five (5) months.
Assuming you continue to do the same thing until all the accounts have been paid off, your final payment will be of about $1370 and it will be paid approximately forty-five (45) months from your start date of doing something as simple as switching to Folgers and reading more because you’ve cancelled your cable TV.
Yes, I’ve ignored the interest and minimum payments.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan would be for sixty (60) months and the payment would be about $740 per month. It’s a great payment plan if you need to do it. You would pay a total back of about $45000. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy wouldn’t have a plan but you do have to have low enough income to qualify to file a chapter 7. And the chapter 7 qualification test called the Means Test is unforgiving if you have a higher income. And the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee‘s job is to take things away from you if they can, sell them off or liquidate them, and pay your creditors with the proceeds. So to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would have to have a low enough income and fewer assets than you can keep if you file a bankruptcy.
The plan to pay your debts without a bankruptcy outlined above requires you pay significantly more than the Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan would, but that’s because you’re not bankrupt. Because you’re not filing a bankruptcy, you’re still paying your minimum payments which in the beginning are about $1270 per month. So in the non-bankruptcy payment plan where you pay off the smallest one first and then move up the chain one by one until they’re all paid off, you’re going to pay that same $1270 per month plus that initial $100 per month or $1370 per month for about forty-eight 48 months. So the total paid back is about $65,000 give or take. Of course your credit is perfect, you’re still not bankrupt, you’ve got $35,000 in available credit and probably a lot more, and you did exactly what you originally set out to do, borrow some money in good faith, do some good with it, and then pay it off.
Veteran’s Benefits or VA Benefits, cannot be garnished, seized or levied by general creditors.
Because the code section in question 38USC§5301, specifically states that VA Benefits:
“shall be exempt from the claim of creditors”
There are limited exceptions for spousal, child and family support payments that you may owe as a matter of divorce but those are the subject of a different article, not this one.
So guess what? That means that Visa, Mastercard, medical bills, collection agencies, collection attorneys and payday loans, among others, cannot collect from your VA Benefits.
Likewise, if you were to file a bankruptcy, then because a Bankruptcy Trustee steps into the shoes of the creditors then the bankruptcy trustee assigned to administer your case does not have a better claim than the creditors for whom he is collecting, the bankruptcy trustee has only the same rights as the creditors, not better.
Therefore VA Benefits cannot be used by a bankruptcy trustee to pay your creditors either. This is true whether your VA Benefits have already been deposited into your bank account or not. Creditors cannot take your VA Benefits and Bankruptcy Trustees cannot take your VA Benefits.
According to the Bankruptcy Code, the chapter 7 qualification test, also called the Means Test cannot include Social Security as part of the analysis. However, VA Benefits are not excluded by the Bankruptcy Code from the Means Test.
It makes the two codes contradict each other. The VA benefits if calculated into the Means Test cause you to fail the means test, then the bankrupt person, or person who filed the bankruptcy, should sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that the bankrupt person does not want to pay those veterans benefits into a monthly consolidation plan or chapter 13 plan. This will solve the problem.
The chapter 7 Means Test or qualification test determines if you make too much money to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, and if you do make too much, then the United States Trustee’s Office invites you to file a consolidation plan type bankruptcy called a chapter 13 bankruptcy. But if you don’t want to pay your Veteran’s Benefits into the consolidation plan, you only have to say so. They cannot make you pay your VA Benefits into a chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan.
So, in practical terms therefore, VA Benefits are not going to affect your eligibility to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy.
However, as stated above, your ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-spouse or children may be able to, but that’s a much more involved article than I’m writing today. I don’t do any divorce work, so if that is a question you need answered, then I recommend you find a competent attorney familiar with divorce / family law and who is also familiar with veteran’s benefits in your area.
Navigating the twisty turns from Millinocket to Norcross can be horrifying late at night when your engine is running on only three cylinders and your flashlight’s batteries are dead in the days before cell phones which don’t work out in the deep woods even today.
Navigating the Fair Credit Reporting Act to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act can be just as intimidating.
Creating the right letter to send to the right person to settle a debt, without help of any sort, is not so simple as it sounds. I’m an attorney, and I didn’t want to do it either. What if the debt is now with a debt collector, such as Portfolio Recovery or Midland Funding, and the debt collector has sent letters to explain that they are now on the account, can the debt be settled with the original owner, such as Macy’s or Capital One?
If Hunt & Henriques, Attorneys at Law, have already obtained a judgment for their clients, Cavalry Portfolio, what percentage of the debt would one likely have to pay in order to settle it? Or what if the judgement has been turned into a lien on the borrower’s home already, how much then? Will it be ridiculous?
Maybe a bankruptcy would be better, and sometimes it is. But bankruptcy should be the last resort. If you have no resources, no extra car to sell, no 401k to borrow from, no jewelry left over from a previous or unrequited love, or no one in the family who might make you a low interest loan, or if the creditor won’t take a payment plan, (they seldom do) perhaps a bankruptcy is the right next step.
But assuming bankruptcy is not right for you, knowing what to do next to restore credit to its good health is important. Buying a car might have to be put on hold, or buying a house might never happen. Paying for a vacation might have to wait years because all the money that would have been saved for the vacation is going to pay high interest rates on the car and truck so mom and dad can get to work.
On the other hand, credit repair could be as simple as that there are not enough good things on your credit reports. I remember when I realized that once all the bad things were off my credit reports that there was basically nothing left on them. My credit reports looked like I was a high school graduate. I had to open a couple of credit cards in order to make things right.
So I went to my own bank and gave them $1000 and they gave me a credit card with a $1000 credit line. It’s called a secured credit card. For me that was step two in the credit restoration process, adding good trade lines to my credit reports. You can do it with a lot less money than $1000, usually you can start with as low as $300. Then, after using the card, don’t pay it off all at once, pay it off over three (3) months instead. Save up the amount of the credit line, buy the thing for that much money, and then pay it off in thirds.
Credit card companies prefer to see that a customer actually needs the credit card before they increase a customer’s credit line.
Do that a few times and your credit line will increase over a year or two, and so will credit ratings increase over that year or two and if you do it with at least two accounts, there’s a big boost to all credit ratings in not much time at all.
There are plenty of other things you can look at to attack on your credit reports and other things to nurture. Do them all at once and you can raise your credit rating by tens to hundreds of points over relatively short periods of time.
Do your Credit Goals and your Dreams seem out of your reach?
▪ Credit repair is not easy without help. However, repairing credit is not an insurmountable task. Many have done it and anyone can. Bad credit is the ultimate dream-thief. But good credit can make dreams come true. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Because, what does it take to make dreams come true in America today? Given some thought, is there anything important or fun that doesn’t require either money or credit? Buying a dream home? Having children? Putting them through college? Donating to charity? Even getting others to donate to charity? Or buying that dream car? Or even just buying a reliable car that doesn’t break the budget.
One person wrote: “I had a 423 Credit Score 10 years ago. I wrote letters, agreed and paid 50% on the debts I owed and pretty quickly recovered from it and was able to buy a home. . . . My mortgage broker calls me a success story. I took his advice and wrote the letters, negotiated my debt and today . . today, I have amazing credit and have since been able to buy 4 homes, including my dream home I now live in!”
That was a clever broker who was able to tell what to do and how to do it. Fortunately no litigation was required, just the basics. Anyone can do this. Most all of the steps required for most credit repair doesn’t require more than just the right letters, and negotiating a few of the debts if they are still fresh enough that they will have to be paid.
Most of the time, credit repair won’t require more than this. Writing the right letters to the right people and speaking to them in the right way, and on top of that settling debts when necessary. I asked if I could use the testimonial got the yes, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this post right now.
For the SAME information from that clever Broker CLICK HERE
This is not one of the easier things to remove from a credit report.
The first question is: Has the judgment been paid or satisfied?
And the second question is: Has the judgment been vacated?
Third: On which credit report does the judgment appear?
And Fourth: Did the creditor sue the right person to begin with? Or was it Identity Theft or a Case of Mistaken Identity?
I just wanted you to see this up front because it’s important: Just because something is not listed in your credit reports, this has nothing to do with whether or not you still owe the debt. Many things that you do owe, won’t show up in your credit reports. That’s not a bad thing unless you cannot remember whom you owe money to, such as if you want to file a bankruptcy.
An unpaid judgment is the worst thing to have on your credit reports, well second to a foreclosure and about equal to an eviction. An unpaid judgment means that there is a creditor, or the plaintiff, who sued you and won. That creditor/plaintiff can use that judgment to, at any time, garnish your wages if you have a job, levy your bank accounts and take all of your money, (with some exceptions such as social security), and put a judgment lien on your home or other real estate holdings if you own any.
If you need to buy a car, potential new car lenders won’t want to lend to you because if your wages start being garnished then you won’t be able to pay for the car and the lender will have to repossess any car he might sell to you. Property managers won’t want to lease or rent to you because you might miss months of rent, because your bank account was drained by the judgment and then they might have to evict you and that costs extra money they probably will never recoup and might not be able to afford.
Assuming a couple of things up front, such as that you are the person who owes the money and that you haven’t paid the debt off yet, then you’ve got to do something about the debt.
Pay the judgment or settle it
Have the judgment vacated or set aside
Fight the judgment’s validity
Paying or settling the debt will mean that a satisfaction of judgment can be filed with the court where the judgment was entered. The creditor usually does this but if they don’t, then you can do it yourself. Eventually the satisfaction of judgment will be reported on your credit reports and that’s good for your credit. However, you’ll still have a judgment on your credit reports. Paying it off doesn’t take it off of your credit reports. But still it’s better than being garnished or having your bank accounts levied which is what will happen if you do nothing. (Unless of course you’re self employed or unemployed, because then you can’t be garnished. If you don’t have a bank account or don’t keep money in your bank account then your money won’t be levied when the creditor serves the bank the bank levy.)
Vacating the judgment or filing a motion to set aside the judgment gives you the best result possible. If you can afford to pay the debt or to settle the debt for close to the full balance, or if necessary, over the balance, then the creditor might be persuaded to file paperwork with the court to vacate the judgment. Vacating the judgment takes some extra paperwork on the creditor’s part and that plaintiff usually won’t bother for less than a very high percentage of the balance. A vacated judgment if you can get it done has the effect of basically telling the world that the lawsuit never happened. Credit reporting agencies don’t report judgments where there is no judgment. Sometimes however, you have to ask them to remove a vacated judgment and sometimes you have to threaten them with a lawsuit and sometimes you might have to sue them to get the credit reporting agencies to comply. However, most of the time it won’t come to that.
Fighting the Judgment’s Validity can sometimes work too. Rarely, but sometimes, you might have a viable defense against the judgment such as you were out of the country or out of state when it was “allegedly” served on you at your place of residence or work at a time. When you can proven that you were in Figi or Cancun passed out on the beach and you have the Facebook and Instagram posts to prove it, you might have a good defense to the judgment. there are very few defenses to a judgment once it is entered, but if you weren’t served, that’s a defense that can still work for you.
No service of process, no judgment. In other words, the lawsuit or summons and complaint must be served on you at the start of the case and if that service of process never took place, but the process server says it did, then the court never had jurisdiction over you and could not enter a judgment against you and so you can petition the court to set aside the judgment.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA) a judgment will remain on your credit reports for seven (7) years but longer if the length of time that the judgment will remain valid is longer than the seven year period. For instance in California, a Judgment is valid for ten (10) years from the entry date of the judgment. However, a California Judgment can also be renewed for an additional ten years and then it will be reported on your credit reports for an additional ten years.
If you do nothing about the judgment, then if possible, the creditor will garnish your wages, put liens on your home and other real estate and every few months levy your bank accounts. They can also do something embarrassing and potentially devastating which is to have you brought into court for a judgment debtor’s exam. You receive a subpoena ordering you to go to court to explain the nature and location of your assets under oath under penalty of perjury and if you don’t show up, the court issues a warrant to arrest you. You make an illegal right turn and go to jail. But if you’re Judgment Proof, in other words, you’re on social security disability or are otherwise unemployed with no income or a protected income and you don’t have any bank accounts and you don’t own any real estate, then they can tell their tale to the judge like an moron suffering cacophonous anger and still obtain nothing from you.
If you file bankruptcy against the judgment creditor, then at least the judgment will be void, but it will still be on the credit reports for the full seven years from the entry date of the judgment. However, the judgment creditor will no longer be able to renew the judgment because a void judgment cannot be renewed. If the creditor attempts to do so, then you can sue him for violating the discharge injunction as provided by the bankruptcy code.
In cases of Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity, you are supposed to be able to get the creditor and credit reporting agencies to vacate the judgment based solely on the mistake. You must of course prove the mistake. If you were a victim of Identity Theft and the identity thief opened several accounts in your name, it may be easier to prove that this judgment was also one of those incidents of malfeasance. With a Mistaken Identity, it may be a little harder. Especially if you have an extremely common name such as Smith, Jones, Nelson, Guerrero or Patel. A friend of mine, an Attorney name Bill Johnson, was contacted by a guy named Bill Johnson who was being sued by the Los Angeles County Child Support Enforcement Office. Bill went into court and said: “Good morning your Honor, I’m Bill Johnson representing Bill Johnson and he’s not the father and neither am I.” The account was considered “satisfied” and the case dropped.
In Summary, if the judgment is unpaid, then the creditor can collect from you. If you have not assets nor income that can be collected from, then he can’t collect from you. If you file bankruptcy, then he can’t collect from you unless the bankruptcy code allows it. If you are able to pay then the debt will eventually reflect that the judgment was satisfied and that’s good for your credit scores and also tells future creditors that this judgment is at least benign and can no longer cause trouble. If you can pay in full, close to it, or sometimes over, you could get the creditor to help you to petition the court to set aside the judgment or vacate the judgment. The credit reporting agencies such as Trans Union, Equifax and Experian don’t report vacated judgments. However, you may have to ask them to remove the judgment or even threaten them to get it done.
This Just In: According to an article published by Experianin June of 2018, they no longer routinely report judgments. This article is still important because they apparently haven’t gone back into your credit reports and removed all the judgments which were already reported. Those are still there. However, they are no longer collecting new public records of judgments and reporting them except for bankruptcies. Click Here For More Information.
If you actually had to look up all of the statutes and codes involved as well as knowing the correct case law to reference in the letters, this would be a daunting task. It’s even a daunting task to try to tell you how to do one.
You can repair your own credit yourself. There are several basic guidelines, and knowing them will help get you started.
First, you’re going to need your credit reports so that you know what is in them that needs to be disputed. You can get all of your credit reports for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com and there are other places too as long as you have previously gotten them for free within the last twelve months.
Second, you have to write letters to the credit reporting agencies disputing the validity of the information in your credit reports. You write one per credit reporting agency. In each one you dispute the negative information if it is incorrect and you can put multiple disputes on one letter but you must write separate letters to each of the credit reporting agencies.
Third, you have to make sure that you sign and date them.
Third, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. The code says that the credit reporting agency, such as Experian, Equifax and Trans Union must “re-investigate” the disputes you send in and that means that if they reject it the first time, and if you know that the information in your credit reports is inaccurate, then you can ask them to investigate it again next month. And when you do, they have to re-investigate your dispute as many times as you send it in.
Fourth, don’t forget to dispute all of the inaccurate information. If you used to work at PetKo and your credit reports say that you worked at MedKo, dispute that too. If they say you used to live on Free Street but it was Fred Street, dispute that too. Get rid of extraneous addresses where you were only for very short stints that didn’t really count because they were so short or your credit reports will make you look like a gypsy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but do you realize potential employers also run your credit reports during the interview process? Employers want stability not nomadic millennials trying to find themselves by traveling around like Bob Dylan as a boy with a guitar and a harmonica. You’re probably not a poetic genius. Inquiries, if possible, and if disputable, get rid of them, you don’t want employers and potential new lenders to think you’re irresponsible with your finances by trying to run up as much debt as possible because that’s how multiple extraneous inquiries make you look.
Fifth, you can dispute anything that is incorrect. If the credit report indicates you owe $5000 but you know that it’s $5500 then it is incorrect and is supposed to be removed from the credit report. If when you make the dispute, the credit reporting agency makes it’s inquiry into the matter with the creditor, if the creditor doesn’t respond within a prescribed allotment of time required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, then the credit reporting agency must remove the item from your credit reports.
Sixth, remember that the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act states that a credit reporting agency must “re-investigate,” a disputed item. So if you dispute an item on the credit report and the credit reporting agency or the creditor instead verifies the incorrect information, you can still dispute it again. You can dispute it over and over again. You can also threaten the creditor directly with the proper kinds of law suits in order to express your legitimate concerns that they aren’t taking you seriously.
Seventh, the specific language of a letter to dispute an item on your credit reports, or to threaten a creditor with a lawsuit can be found in The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. Download it now and get started right away. You can repair your credit yourself, with the Guide in hand, it’s easy, affordable and guaranteed by the author, Attorney Shapiro.
I’ve gone to credit repair services myself, and I’m an attorney. At that time, I didn’t yet know that someone had already written a simple easy to use of Guide to Credit Repair.
At the time I didn’t know that I didn’t know what I didn’t know about credit repair.
Now, of course you’re probably wondering if he’s an attorney, why didn’t he just do it himself. There’s a simple answer to that. Attorneys are busy people, me included. For me it’s even a little bit worse than for other attorneys because I like to manage my cases from the start to finish and from the ground up. I don’t use paralegals and my wife is my part time receptionist. I even answer the phones. It streamlines the way I do my legal business and my area of practice is bankruptcy. So I know a lot about ruining your credit. That’s easy, don’t pay your bills, get sued, have a car repossessed and voila your credit is toast. I should have added a picture of a toaster instead of my cat.
In my law practice I pretty much only take bankruptcy cases, I don’t have a lot of spare time to learn a new kind of case, or at least I don’t have time that I want to devote to learning new types of cases. Being a bankruptcy attorney is time consuming enough, especially when you’re also a full time paralegal, full time secretary, and sometimes I have to empty the bins and vacuum. I like it, it’s a quiet simple life that I enjoy, I love getting people out of debt.
However, all that said, and especially at that time, if I had had to spend the time to learn how to fix my own credit, I really didn’t have the time to do it. There are dense Federal Codes to study, and then the State of California has plenty of statutes that sometimes add things that aren’t in the Federal codes. Combing through the statutes and codes takes time, figuring outhow to write credit repair letters would have taken a lot of time, effort and I knew that I just didn’t have that time. And sure once you’ve got the letter written, you can reuse it, we do that all the time but I hadn’t yet done my first one. And I didn’t want to learn.
So I started researching for a credit repair company or service near me. There were a few, so I asked a couple of attorneys I know and received a couple referrals.
$1500 dollars later I was on my way to clean credit and a new life and a new house.
So, I’m not a complete dork, and I know that the paralegals do most of the real work so I spent a little time letting my wife speak to the attorney while I walked around getting lost on the way to the restrooms and what I learned was that the paralegals were using basic templates to write letters and that those basic templates came from a credit repair guide book which had been printed out, three hole punched and clipped into a binder. You see, I had seen a guide to credit repair on the Internet but I thought it was a scam, because I was an attorney. I ignored it. Yet, here it was, the company charging me $1500 was using the guide that I had ignored.
So I said earlier that what I found out that these companies do, surprised me. And it did surprise me, because while they’re doing proper legal work for you, they’re just doing basic DIY credit repair for you that you can do for yourself. You can repair your own credit.
Yes, there is a big secret to credit repair: you can do it yourself. The guy doing my credit repair so that I could refinance my house and buy a second house was using a guide that he had downloaded from the Internet, three hole punched and shoved into a three ring binder. I guess the binder made it official.
I know that most of the time, in most law practices we use those kinds of things. They just normally come from a seminar costing $500 to $5000 and the books are an extra $500 to $1000 with an annual update costing $250 to $500 and still requiring a lot of expertise to make sure that they are properly implemented. Yet to repair my credit, it cost that firm around $37 or $47 and he was charging me $1500. That’s a good deal.
Of course you can do a lot of kinds of legal work yourself, people do their own divorce work all the time, but it’s complicated, fraught with pitfalls and you can easily make mistakes. And if you make enough mistakes, you can prejudice your judge against you and then you’re in a world of hurt. That’s true with most types of legal work.
But in credit repair work, you’re almost never in front of a judge, and because of the way the laws about disputing things on your credit reports is written, if you do it wrong this month, you can try again next month. And if you have the proper guidance, say from an attorney who has written a guide to repairing your own credit, (not me, I didn’t write it) then you can write those letters correctly the first time. Attorney Shapiro even guarantees his own guide: The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair.
So all along I could have been doing my own credit repair myself and saved about $1,450. That floored me. So, was there some credit repair secret that I didn’t know, YES!
I could have downloaded the same book and saved nearly $1500. Back then I could have gotten my family annual passes to Disneyland with the savings. Nowadays I could get the family into Disneyland for one day but we would have to split a meal . . . but only if we brought that meal in with us in our pockets and purses.
Times have changed, if you want Disneyland season passes for a family of four nowadays, the first thing you have to do, is:
Do you feel like you’re having trouble communicating with your creditors? Or collection agencies?
Things were going great when you borrowed the money you spent on the credit card. You had to buy clothes for the kids, take a short trip, fund all or part of a funeral, or you had to put a down payment on your car and then work slowed down or you lost your job. Then work picked up again or you got your job back or you got a new job. But now, no one will listen to you.
You got your job back, and if you could just get your credit score back to the way it was, you could refinance everything and all your creditors would be paid, or consolidated and everyone would be happy. But no one will listen to you.
And when that happens you feel like your financial life has been poisoned. It’s temporary, like being out of work turned out to be, it was only temporary. You were only out of work for six or eight months, but then you find that your Target card has already been sent to a collection agency. You call and they’re short with you, rude, or even worse sometimes. Sometimes they’re great people who just have a cruddy job and their job is to make your life miserable, like it or not.
It’s too little money to file a bankruptcy on, and too much to just hand them the full balance. What do you do?
Download the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair and you’ll have your leverage in hand. Your knowledge that you need of the law and how it can help you will be at your fingertips. You do have options. Options that the collection agencies won’t tell you about. Options that an attorney would charge you much more than you need to pay in order to understand. Download it now.
What you need to know before you decide to sell, refinance or file bankruptcy.
Have you ever found out your home had a lot of equity? If you’re like me and everyone else in the world, you thought that if you could just refinance and pay off the credit cards, that would fix everything.
Maybe it would. It might help a ton in fact. But it would depend on how much equity was in your home. How much equity we’re talking about. Let’s say for example that Tarzan and Jane owe $30,000 in credit cards and own a home worth $450,000. They each make $40,000 per year. They have two children, bad credit and their monthly credit card payments add up to $1050 per month.
Upside Down or No Equity
If their house is upside or has no equity, they might just file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and be done with the credit card debt. As a married couple with a family of four and eighty thousand per year in income, they would qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy in California and wouldn’t lose the house to the Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to administer their bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy Trustees are only interested in equity that they can actually impound, in their case, there is little or no equity at all.
The only risk is that Tarzan and Jane are paying for a house with a loan of over, or equal to $450,000. That’s a big loan with a big payment. They should probably fix up their place as much as possible, do it fast, and sell it to buy a house they can afford. Their payment on $450,000 is probably $2700/mo depending on the Homeowner’s Association Dues and Escrow Impounds and whether they have had the loan modified or not. So, they could file bankruptcy, get out of the credit card debt and if they can budget really well, they might stay in the house or sell it or even short sell it and find a rent that they can better afford.
Small Amount of Equity in the Home
See above but now the short sale is off the table so that at least when they sold, if they did, then they wouldn’t have a bankruptcy plus a short sale on their credit and that’s good for everyone. It also means they have a lower balance on their mortgage and that means maybe they should stay, at least they’re on the positive side and their payment is likely lower than in the first example supra.
Significant Equity in the Home
Of course this is where I wanted to get to in the first place. Now there are some real decisions to be made and not all of them are rosy. Let’s assume there’s $140,000 in equity, so that on the $450,000 house they only owe a mortgage with a balance of $310,000.
At least, at $310,000 in mortgage debt, Tarzan and Jane probably have a mortgage they can afford of something in the neighborhood of $2000 per month depending on impounds and etc. For a family of four, that’s comparable to what rents would probably be if they moved. So they wouldn’t want to move because the equity and the affordable house payment.
So what are the options?
a) Just Keep Paying Your Credit Card Payments
The average monthly credit card payments are probably about $1050 per month or even more if they just continue paying them. It will take a long time to pay them all off if Tarzan and Jane are only paying the minimum monthly payments. In the end they will have paid off nearly $100,000 because of all the interest. So this is not a good plan.
b) Sell Their Home and Buy Another
This is a terrible option for obvious reasons outlined above, there’s plenty of equity and an affordable payment. Selling in order to pay off credit cards is a terrible idea. Besides where would they go? They would have cash but bad credit and a decent income. That and a couple dollars will get you a cup of coffee but not another house.
c) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
I like chapter 7 bankruptcy more than chapter 13 in most cases, but not this one. Tarzan and Jane are too young and healthy. Chapter 7 is the Straight Bankruptcy or also called a Liquidation Bankruptcy where you’re in and out again in about four (4) months, however, the Trustee’s job in a Chapter 7 is to collect assets from you, liquidate them and pay them to your creditors. Tarzan and Jane have $140,000 in equity, but in California they can protect only $100,000 in equity in their home at best. Have a look at Calif. Code Civ. Pro. 704.730.
Certainly, if one of them were permanently disabled, on social security, or had a letter from the VA so stating then they would be good to go. In that case they could protect up to $175,000 of home equity in a chapter 7 bankruptcy, in California. (See Link above). Even if no one has stated that they are totally and permanently disabled or close to it, and if one of them cannot participate in gainful employment, then they should go to the doctor and get one or two of them to sign off on it. Or if either were over sixty-five (65) years old, then that works too, and they could protect up to $175,000 in home equity.
There’s another option for people over fifty-five (55) and low income, (but that one hardly ever works). If Tarzan and Jane could protect more equity than they actually have, then they could file a chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep the house no problem and since $175,000 is greater than $140,000 in equity, they could file a Chapter 7. Unfortunately . . .
Turns out that we’ve already decided that Tarzan and Jane have two munchkins still at home. Tarzan and Jane are probably young-ish and they are not disabled since both are working and making $40,000 each. So the disabled protection for home equity is not going to work for them and the low income over fifty-five (55) is not going to work either. So they can protect only $100,000 of the equity or $40,000 less than the equity that they have.
In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy the Trustee would sell their home and give them a check for $100,000. But where can they move with only $100,000 and bad credit? I think we may have seen this movie before. But with a bankruptcy too? That’s even worse.
Perhaps one might think that the Trustee couldn’t obtain enough money from the sale of the home to cover the costs of sale, and while it may be close to true, Chapter 7 Trustees have other things up their sleeves. Realtors will sometimes reduce their fees. Even more importantly, sometimes the mortgage lender will take a reduction in pay off as well. Because a bankruptcy trustee does not need to be able to collect very much in order to go through with taking a home and selling it, in this case he or she probably would. It gets even worse. During the time that Tarzan and Jane’s bankruptcy were to be pending, and before the home sale were complete, if the value of the house went up and the bankruptcy trustee could take advantage of it, then the bankruptcy trustee gets the additional appreciation, not Tarzan and Jane.
So if you don’t mind the Chapter 7 Trustee selling your house for you then maybe a Chapter 7 is for you. But I don’t recommend it, not in Tarzan and Jane’s case.
d) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy gives a type of protection that a chapter 7 does not. Remember that in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy the Trustee’s job is to take things away, sell them and pay creditors. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the Trustee takes monthly payments from Tarzan and Jane only. They would get to keep their home.
In this case, it would work like this, the home equity that Tarzan and Jane can protect is $100,000 but the total equity is $140,000 leaving $40,000 not protected. The $40,000 which is not protected is greater than the $30,000 that Tarzan and Jane owe in credit cards, therefore, Tarzan and Jane must pay 100% of that $30,000 in credit cards into the payment plan for up to five (5) years.
At least the payment plan would require little or no interest. It would require a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan payment of about $625 per month in Southern California. This is almost certainly a much better cash flow than just paying the credit cards directly by about half or so. Remember that they were paying $1050 per month on credit card bills before?
It’s not a bad monthly payment really. If you need a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Southern California including San Diego, LA, Orange and Riverside Counties, call me 951-200-3613.
e) Debt Consolidation Plans
There are three main types of debt consolidations: The First is the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy discussed above. The second collects payments from Tarzan and Jane and negotiates with the credit card companies. They form agreements with creditors to reduce payments by obtaining lower interest rates and on rare occasions also reductions in principal as well. The payment would be about what a Chapter 13 payment would be.
The third type collects regular payments from Tarzan and Jane but lets their credit cards go unpaid for a while until those debts are sent to collection agencies and then the consolidator settles the debts with the collection agents for a one time payment for less than the full balance. This is also called Settling the Debts or Debt Settlement.
Often they work out great. Other times, not so much. Sometimes what happens is you place your five (5) or ten (10) accounts, including credit cards, small loans, medical bills etc that you owe on the table in front of him, and if he’s been doing debt consolidation work long enough, he must immediately know which ones will play ball with him and which won’t. However, what he won’t do, is tell you which ones won’t work with him. Think about it, if there were one or two that wouldn’t work with him and he told you, you would call me instead.
Next thing Tarzan and Jane know, one of their credit cards has sued them. If the attorney who sued them was unscrupulous, as collectors sometimes can be, then Tarzan and Jane might not even know that it has happened until they find out that their wages are being garnished. Wage Garnishments can take up to 25% of a normal paycheck. Or they might find out because their bank account has been emptied by the sheriff via bank levy.
f) Refinance or Second Mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit
But how do Tarzan and Jane take a loan against their home when they have bad credit? Even if they have enough equity in the house to borrow enough to pay off the $30,000 in credit cards, who will lend to them?
It’s not a question of WHO but WHEN will they lend to you? Credit Repair is what you need.
Did you know that you can repair your credit yourself? It’s easy too. You just need to know how. If you could raise your credit score enough, then you could refinance your mortgage, obtain a second mortgage or qualify for a home equity line of credit.
A second mortgage would give a much better cash flow than a chapter 13 bankruptcy would by at least half. The second mortgage payment might be only about $325 per month. So, from a payment of about $1050 per month, down to about $325 per month. That’s a huge improvement and all you have to do is follow the Guide and it’s real simple.
While it is true that you may be able to strip these off of your home in a Chapter 13, in a Chapter 7, you may still be able to effectively ignore it (for a while) and keep your home. However, the 2nd Mortgage or Heloc would still have a lien on the property. You would then have to settle the lien or deal with it in some manner later on.
Your 2nd Mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit – Heloc
. . . has two things over you . . .
a) they have the promissory note that you signed promising to pay
b) they have a deed of trust or trust deed on the house which is a lien on the house also called a mortgage.
If you have filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, then the Chapter 7 discharges the Loan or Promissory Note, which means that the mortgage company or lending bank cannot collect money from you directly. They cannot sue you, garnish your wages, levy your bank account, or even ask you for money or anything like that.
If you still own the home, then you still have that 2nd Mortgage Lien called a Trust Deed or Mortgage on your property. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy does not remove that kind of lien from your house, not in the 9th Circuit Appeals Court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, if the value of the house is high enough, then your 2nd mortgage lender can foreclose that lien, but in order to do so, it must pay off the 1st mortgage and any unpaid property taxes first.
Some Things You Can Try Include, But Are Not Limited To:
1. Refinance Your Second Mortgage:Yes, it may be an actual option. And as unlikely as it may seem or feel, if you have home equity now (at this writing in 2018) then a refinance may work but only if you have good enough credit. But how do you manage that after having filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Believe it or not, most credit repair services use the same techniques outlined in this Guide. In fact many use the very same Guide. Follow this guide to repair your credit including how to write letters to settle debts such as mentioned below. Download the Following Link Now and Get Started Right Away with The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.
2. If the Value of the house is higher than the balance on your 1st mortgage then you must deal with your 2nd mortgage now. If it is lower than the balance on your first, then you don’t have to deal with them immediately, but you must deal with them eventually, because, remember, they have a lien on the house.
3. If the value is relatively close to the balance on 1st mortgage then you will have to deal with the 2nd mortgage sooner rather than later because in not too much time, the value of the house will go up high enough for the 2nd mortgage company to be able to foreclose. If you cannot afford to settle it, you should consider trying a loan modification.
4. What most clients will do is make an offer to settle the 2nd mortgage lien in one payment, one time with no balance owing afterwards, and you must get that in writing from the bank before you mail your cashier’s check. You might have to take a massive 401k loan in order to be able to make such an offer, but if they take it, it would be worth it.
5. If you have previously filed a bankruptcy and then the 2nd mortgage lender cancels the debt and sends a 1099 for the “forgiven” balance next year, then you are able to deduct the amount because it was already previously “forgiven” or when you filed your chapter 7 bankruptcy and received your chapter 7 bankruptcy discharged.
6. Most clients will save as much as possible and then when they get a tax refund next year, they add that with the savings, and if possible, sell a car or some jewelry and then use that to make an offer to settle the lien. (Dear Reader, when I originally wrote this several years ago, most homes had much lower values and so it was so much easier to offer to settle such a second mortgage. However because home values have gone up considerably, it’s nearly impossible to do now.)
7. In any case, your Discharge Order from your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy prohibits all kinds of collections. Therefore, they cannot hound you, dunn you, or bother you, whether by phone, email or letters demanding payment of the loan or promissory note. They have only one legal option, they can foreclose. It doesn’t mean that they won’t but knowing your rights, that they cannot, at least you can protect yourself. REMEMBER however, that the 2nd Mortgage must pay off the 1st Mortgage in order to foreclose.
8. If your home has significant value which it probably does, the loan modifications are an option to protect your home, and if necessary, selling your home as a method of preserving the home equity is also a great option. Not that those are the best options, but they are options. Additionally, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be a viable option as well.
THEREFORE, the probability of them foreclosing is lower and lower when the value of the house is lower than the balance on the 1st mortgage. It’s simple math, they won’t pay off a $200K loan to get a $150K asset that they can then resell and only recoup $150K and they’d have to pay closing costs to sell it so they’d only net $120K. That would be a loss of $80K plus they would also lose all of the 2nd mortgage too which is probably another $50K or more on top of the $80K.
HOWEVER, when the 1st and 2nd are held by the same company and particularly if that company is a credit union, it may be possible that they’d foreclose anyway but if the payment on the 1st is getting paid, then it’s still not very likely.
Overall, when dealing with a 2nd mortgage, it’s risky, no matter what happens. Achapter 13 which would allow stripping off the 2nd mortgage, is risky too. Even more so because your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy requires that you immediately go back to paying your regularly scheduled monthly mortgage payments on your 1st mortgage, and if the 1st was not yet modified on the date of filing the bankruptcy, then you’d be stuck with the unmodified mortgage payments. Also, most Chapter 13 Bankruptcies never get completed. More than 70% don’t get a chapter 13 discharge because something happens that derails the payment plan such as a work stoppage or an illness, or even something unexpected such as a busted transmission. Stripping the 2nd mortgage off in a chapter 13 requires that you complete the three to five year payment plan, so it’s majorly risky because if you have a hypothetical plan payment of $350/mo and you pay it for 2 1/2 years and then if you cannot pay anymore and you don’t get your plan completed, guess what, you just tossed $350 x 30 months out the window. That’s $10,500 that you’ll never get back, and that’s only if you get a payment that low to begin with. Most are higher.
Offer to Settle Your 2nd Mortgage
So, in summary, making an offer to settle the balance on the 2nd after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, should aim to pay (I originally wrote 10% of the balance or less, but nowadays the percentage at this writing in 2018, must be much higher). However if the house is seriously upside down on the 1st mortgage already, you may be able to offer lower. But it does have to be paid in one payment once they accept and you must get them to accept it in advance in writing. You must not pay them unless you have it from them in writing that they will accept your settlement offer and that they will RELEASE the lien once they get the payment.
I’ll say it again just in case you didn’t hear me, they must agree to RELEASE the lien in writing once they get your payment. If they don’t agree to release the lien, don’t send the check.
Or Refinance Your Second Mortgage
Yes, it may be an actual option. And as unlikely as it may seem or feel, if you have home equity now (at this writing in 2018) then a refinance may work but only if you have good enough credit. But how do you manage that after having filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Believe it or not, most credit repair services use the same techniques outlined in this Guide. In fact many use the very same Guide. Follow this guide to repair your credit including how to write letters to settle debts such as mentioned above. Download the Following Link Now and Get Started Right Away with The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair. It’s Fast, Easy and Guaranteed.
What you need to know before buying a car on credit after a bankruptcy, or after bad credit?
They love to say, they will sell you a car with bad credit, of course they will, at 25%, I might sell you my own car.
After a bankruptcy one of the easiest things to do is to buy a new car, or at least a newer car. A new to you car. It sounds too good to be true but oddly enough, it’s not.
If you filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the more common type, then your new car creditor knows that you can’t file again for eight (8) more years from one file date to the next. So, they know that you can’t file again, and if you can’t file again, I’d sell you a car too. If you default on the new car loan (for the new car to you which is probably an older car) then we can sue you for another however many of those eight (8) years are left. Then I can garnish your wages, levy your bank account, and record a judgment lien on your house. Creditors love doing all of those things. Especially car creditors, car creditors love to be the first one to sue you. One attorney who represents car lenders told me that if “we’re the first one to sue, maybe the debtor puts up with one wage garnishment, ignores one judgment lien on the ol’ homestead. However, when the second judgment comes along, they call you. ” In fact I might as well mention, if you need a bankruptcy attorney in Southern California, give me a call, 951-200-3613
If you do have to buy a car, and sometimes you must, then your interest rates will be absolute murder. Don’t do it. If you can avoid it, avoid it. However, with a little effort and just a little time, maybe only a couple of months, you can repair your credit enough to buy a car with a decent-ish interest rate.
If you do nothing, and you wait long enough, your credit will be rehabilitated on its own rather like a cut on your finger will get better even if you just do nothing. Keep working in your garden or garage where it’s filthy without washing it, without a bandage, in the filth and dust and dirt and your finger will get infected and in spite of that in the long run, it eventually gets better anyway.
But if you clean it, put some Neosporin or a salve on it and bandage it, and keep it clean, then it gets better a lot faster. And what’s wrong with faster? Nothing of course.
But you just had a bankruptcy, what can you possibly do to repair your credit after a bankruptcy? Bankruptcy is the Credit-Reaper.
There are a few things.
Be sure of course, that whatever credit you still have, whatever debts you still have to pay after your bankruptcy, be sure that credit stays in good condition during the months and years after the bankruptcy is over. Don’t get into any new debt that you cannot handle, if you have reaffirmed any debts from the bankruptcy, make sure that you stay current on those and everything else including your utilities. Utilities won’t report your good payment history but they’ll definitely report your bad payment history if things go wrong.
Good credit is a combination of not too many bad things on your credit reports compared to the good things on your credit reports. Great credit is few or no bad things compared to lots of good things.
You can increase or improve your credit rating by removing bad things and adding good things to your credit reports. One of the easiest things to do to add good credit to your credit score is to buy a car, but you don’t want to do it until you’ve already improved your scores.
Check your credit after your bankruptcy is over. It’s almost a certainty that not all of the accounts included in your bankruptcy discharge are listed in your credit reports as “an account included in bankruptcy” or “bankruptcy” or “bankruptcy discharge”.
Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and check. If even one, just one of the dischargeable accounts that existed prior to your bankruptcy is not listed as included in your bankruptcy, then that account is dragging your score down. You can correct that with the appropriate letters to the creditor or to the credit reporting agencies directly. Prove that they have you listed wrong in your credit reports and they will have to fix it.
Where you do sometimes run into some fun, and by fun I mean it like Michael Jackson did in the 80s when he referred to good things as Bad: What if the account which is bringing down your score is also an account which for some reason was not listed in your bankruptcy in the first place, also called an unlisted or omitted account. Now what do you do?
Unlisted or Omitted Accounts are considered not discharged by the bankruptcy code unless two (2) things didn’t happen. See 11 USC 523 (a) (3). However, you can see from that code section that an omitted debt is nevertheless discharged if those two things didn’t happen. Here’s a hint, there is a case called In Re Beezley in which the Ninth (9th) Circuit Court held that the code section really does mean what it says that it means.
The first thing that had to NOT happen was, 1st) Did the Trustee on your case figure out that you may have assets which means that he would set a deadline called a claims bar date for creditors to turn in a proof of claim? When a trustee finds that you have assets, it’s called an asset case, and if no assets, then it is a no-asset case. In a no-asset case, the Trustee files a report with the court called a No-Asset Report. In the bankruptcy court’s court docket it will probably be listed as a Chapter 7 Trustee’s Report of No Distribution. If the Trustee did impound assets and distribute to creditors and the one you now have found was never listed, then you still owe that creditor his money because under 11 USC 523 (a) (3) it was not included in your discharge.
The second thing that has to NOT happen is 2nd) Even in a no-asset case, did you commit Fraud, Embezzlement or Malicious Injury to Person or Property against that creditor. Then if you committed any of those but you left this debt out of the bankruptcy, then the creditor was never barred from filing a non-dischargeability action against you in the bankruptcy court like would normally happen at discharge time because they never knew that a bankruptcy had been filed. Phew long sentence. Basically, at the beginning of the bankruptcy a temporary restraining order prohibits any collection efforts or lawsuits against you, except for suits in the bankruptcy itself for fraud, embezzlement or malicious injury to person or property. At the end of the case, the discharge order is a permanent injunction prohibiting collections and lawsuits against you even in the bankruptcy court for those same types of actions. A discharge does allow secured creditors to collect cars and houses if you stop paying for them.
If the omitted creditor had been listed in the bankruptcy petition and received a notice of your bankruptcy, and nevertheless, didn’t file that lawsuit in the bankruptcy, then at the end of the case, they would have been included in the discharge. How’s that for irony. Most of them won’t bother once they see how low your income is, how few assets you actually have and they might think that suing you in the bankruptcy court to prove you are a fraudster is throwing good money after bad. But if you left them out of the bankruptcy then, therefore, they can now sue you if they want to. But they would still have to sue you to prove that you did the fraud, embezzlement or malicious injury, that’s not going to be an automatic.
If you’ve just had a bankruptcy and afterwards, if you have no debts, start by going to your bank with a little money, say $300 to $500 or $1000 and ask for a secured credit card. It may take a while to save up, but go ahead and do it. Using it sparingly and then paying it down or off quickly will help your credit scores immensely.
If you can afford to, get two of them, from different banks. Two accounts is much better on your credit reports than only one. However, unless it’s an emergency, don’t buy something unless you have already saved up the money for it first. Here’s a hint: Most things you think are emergencies are not.
In other words: Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.
Once you’ve purchased something with your new card, you can pay it off over two or three months that way, because you already have the money saved. Do this and it will improve your credit scores.
Meanwhile, a couple or a few months after the bankruptcy discharge, go to Annual Credit Report and download your credit reports to see what is on them. If there is anything that was included in the bankruptcy that is not showing as “an account included in bankruptcy,” or “bankruptcy” or something like that, then you can ask the credit reports and even the creditor to correct the situation.
If a creditor was left out of your bankruptcy but it pre-dates your bankruptcy, then you can ask them to fix it too by sending a letter explaining the in Re Beezley ruling and that it applies to that creditor.
Once you’ve taken the opportunity to clean your credit first, then you can buy a newer car than you would have been able to, and with a more favorable interest rate than you would have been offered. That means that you can buy a better car, a safer car and more a more reliable car.
Want to repair your credit but keep hitting a brick wall?
Did you know that according to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, when you dispute something on your credit reports such as Experian, Equifax and Transunion, the Credit Reporting Agency you’ve written to must investigate your dispute. That makes sense and is perfectly easy to understand. No problem so far.
However, the code section actually requires that the credit reporting agency, (usually Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) “shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation”which of course means that you’re in luck, which means that there is even less than no problem so far.
So what if you dispute something and the credit reporting agency investigates the information, and the party who furnished the information to Experian, Equifax or Trans Union reports back to the credit reporting agency that the information is correct? If you believe that it is not correct, then you may send in another dispute of the same information outlining why you believe it is incorrect, and the credit reporting agency must “reinvestigate.”
So, I was trying to buy a house, ages ago, but I had loads of student loans on my credit files listed, in some cases, as many months late because it was shortly after graduating and passing the bar and for a long time I didn’t yet have a job or career to speak of, and so I got into some financial trouble. We did eventually flip a couple of houses and pay off all of my student loans, so I wasn’t a complete loser, but my credit was still shot from it all. And this last house, I didn’t want to flip, I just wanted a good interest rate and couldn’t get it. In retrospect I should have taken the bad interest rate, closed quickly and flipped it anyway.
So, I checked my credit reports and realized that almost all of my old student loans had been listed inaccurately. They were listed as most of them over 120 days late. Hahaha! But I knew better, most of them were over 180 days late. So I sent in a dispute. And month after month, Sallie Mae kept reporting that they were right and I was wrong.
However, at long last, after about six (6) disputes and ten (10) months later, suddenly all of them disappeared all at once from my Experian credit file. I can only guess what happened, either they finally agreed with me, or maybe the person who worked for Sallie Mae verifying information for credit reporting agencies must have been on vacation or maternity leave or died or something.
Credit Repair works, and you don’t have to be an attorney nor hire one in order to get fantastic results! For the proper form of such dispute letters and so so much more, go to the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair for fast easy guaranteed results.
Is this the door to your mortgage broker’s office? Or does it feel like it is?
It looks like what a Hufflepuff might expect when trying to sneak into the Gryffindor wing of Hogwarts.
Obtaining a mortgage loan is a tough business, but so worth it, in most cases. When you own your home, yes, it is true that you have to fix the toilets, pay for new screens and fix the cabinet doors when your children use them to swing on. But you also cannot be evicted by a landlord who has decided to sell the property because he’s getting divorced or because his mother died and you’re really her tenant and he was just the property manager.
Of course you have to pay the mortgage or the bank will eventually ask you to leave, but how do you make sure that you have an affordable mortgage payment? One of the easiest things you can do, is to make sure that you have good credit. Good credit, means low interest rates. Low interest rates mean low monthly mortgage payments. That low monthly house payment is what makes keeping your home possible. You don’t want to be house poor, which means you have a house payment so high that you cannot afford new clothes or car repairs.
Times have been tough, your income is finally what it must be to buy the home that you’ve promised yourself and your family. But times were tough and many of your debts went unpaid when you were out of work, or work was slow, or during the divorce or after the car accident. Whatever it was, while we all understand that times were tough, banks don’t. They never did. Yes, you want a home loan, but if your credit is bad, they have to charge you a high interest rate. The idea is to get their money out of you as fast as they can before you eventually default again.
Maybe it won’t happen, but if your credit score says you’re basically a viking and the raiding parties have been slow lately, then they have to base their interest rates on something. They can’t take your word for it, nor mine. The only objective method is to look at what all of your creditors have been saying about you. Sometimes creditors get the information wrong, sometimes it’s negligence, sometimes a sin of omission, sometimes they just don’t care and you’ve been slandered and libeled and your mortgage broker can’t do anything about it. What then?
Good credit isn’t magic, Harry Potter is going to wave his wand and yell, “Experian Patronis!” at your mortgage broker. You have to do something. You could spend a lot of money and hand it off to an attorney and hope that the wheels of justice grind faster for this attorney than they do for every other attorney in existence. Fat chance. And yes, that’s expensive. Or you can take the matter into your own capable hands and get started now.
If possible, rather than working on cleaning up your credit when you start looking for house, start right now. If you’ve already started looking for a house, just get started right now anyway. It just takes some effort on your part. But the effort is easy enough, affordable and best of all, guaranteed.
The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair is your guidebook, your road map and the leader in credit repair. The attorney who created it, Robert Shapiro, has been an absolute leader in credit repair law and practice for years. He has boiled his experience and know-how into this convenient guide. Do it now.
You’re not entirely remedy-less. Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act or FDCPA, did you know that a refusal to pay carries the implicit instruction to consumer collection agents to cease and desist all contact with you by telephone? It does. It works the same as the cease and desist notice which is also part of that code.
But many creditors don’t realize that this is so. Rather than sending a cease and desist notice, why not send a refusal to pay? And if you send “I refuse to pay and you can’t make me,” as your refusal, the collectors will probably violate the cease and desist portion of that refusal to pay within only hours or days of receiving the refusal to pay and perhaps do it a couple or even several times.
Under the FDCPA if a creditor violates the cease and desist notice, they can be subject to owing to you, $1000 per violation. In a short time, they might owe you more than you owe them.
According to the code you do have to sue them to get them to pay you, but the least you have is leverage. The fact that they have violated the law can be used to settle out of court. Let’s call it even, more or less. Under the FDCPA you also have an attorney’s fees clause in the code, so that if your collectors won’t settle and you have to sue, then they have to pay your attorney to sue them. This is of course my favorite part of the code.
While you’re doing this, you should also be paying attention to your credit rating. Credit repair isn’t as complicated as many might say. It does take some effort on your part, but you can do it yourself, affordably and quickly. As you repair your credit, you will need a road map, or a guide. Doing it yourself is tricky if you truly try to do it with no help at all. I’ve read the code sections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and they are on your side. They provide the framework for your successful repair of your credit. However, they don’t tell you how to write the letters or truly explain the content required to be successful.
I wish I could say that I had written the guide you need to use to repair your credit, but at least I can refer you right to it. The Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair is exactly what you need to effectuate your credit repair. It’s easy, fast, affordable and it works, provided that you do the work.
I used to charge lots of good money for this kind of work before my bankruptcy practice got too busy. They are practically giving this information away. And, the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair guarantees your fast, effective, credit repair success.
Your good credit is about to take flight, and you don’t even know it yet. If some of your debts are particularly old, you’re in luck.
In California and in many states, (you can look them up) the statutes of limitation, or the amount of time allowed for another party to sue you, are sometimes shorter than you think.
For most debts in California, the statutes of limitation are only four (4) years from the breach of contract. You are in breach of contract from the first month you stop paying. Now, this is not exactly a great strategy for getting out of debt. If you’re planning to use this as a strategy to get out of debt then you’re probably in for a disappointment. A bankruptcy is a better choice if you have a significant amount of debt and if the debt is not very old yet.
Usually one or a couple of creditors will sue you and obtain a money judgment against you and once that happens, the creditors with judgments have now extended their statutes of limitations to up to twenty (20) years in California.
However, for those that didn’t sue you, or in rare cases, where no one has sued you, then you’re in luck. But as I said, it’s relatively rare that no one sues you at all, if you have had a significant number of credit cards and/or medical bills in the past.
It’s also tough to gauge if you haven’t been sued because you might think, well I’ve never received a summons and complaint before, also known as service of process, so, therefore, you think no one has sued you. Think again. Many times people have been sued and they didn’t even know it. If you were divorced and had to move, if you lost your job and couldn’t afford the mortgage or rent where you were living, if the job you found was required you to move to a different state, if you maybe had that happen more than once or twice, then the creditor didn’t know where to deliver the summons and complaint and probably served the new tenant at your old apartment or served the new owner at your former home. Sometimes even if you tell a creditor your new address, when they send it to their own attorneys, they somehow conveniently forget to tell their attorneys that you told the creditor your new address. At least, that’s what the attorneys will say and it’s probably true.
So you must do a check of the courts where you were used to live to make sure that you haven’t been sued. Most of the courts can be accessed online. Riverside, San Diego, Orange, LA and San Bernardino County courts are available online although some charge fees for name searches but usually it’s a small fee.
Just because a creditor hasn’t sued you and the statute of limitations has passed, does not mean that collection agencies will not blow up your phone and harass you all day begging or threatening you to pay the debts. However, if they have truly missed the statute of limitations, you can send them an appropriate letter and the matter is done.
You do have to be certain of when you quit paying though. If you’re wrong and they still have time left, they may at that point file the lawsuit. I remember one client who had a joint account with his wife, but they divorced, however, she kept paying the account for another six (6) before she quit, so the client had the date wrong by six (6) months. Also, and this is indeed rare, a creditor or collection agent might falsify records to show additional payments later in order to extend the statute of limitations. If you’ve moved a couple times then you might not be able to prove them wrong if you cannot locate your records. At that point a bankruptcy might be the best solution, call me if you need one, Call 951-200-3613 for a free bankruptcy consultation.
But if your creditors and collections truly missed the statutes of limitation then by writing to them and saying: “Hey, you missed the statute of limitations, and stop calling me.” Then they have to stop calling. And if you’re right about the correct amount of time having passed since you last made a payment, then they can’t sue you either.
But sometimes what they’ll do is to sell the account to a different collection agency and you will hear from them in a month or two later instead. Send them the same kind of letter.
For more information I would like to refer you to the best guide on how to write letters like this and no doubt you’ll probably need other letters that you can write and this guide tells you exactly how. I wish I could say that I wrote it, but the information is fantastic, clear, easy to use and affordable. For the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair, Click Here.
No one is going to fix or repair your credit for you, not without some significant money exchanging hands first. But you can fix your own credit. You can repair your credit with the appropriate guidance from someone who knows what they’re doing.
Unfortunately with my busy law practice I don’t have that kind of time to help you with you efforts to rehabilitate your credit. I can steer your in the right direction though. With the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair, you will know the next step to take.
It’s fast, affordable, and real. Credit Repair you can afford because you are making the effort yourself. The step by step guide will bring you confidence in the market place and can give you the credit scores you need to buy a home, a car with a low interest rate, or perhaps open a business loan, provided however only if you make the efforts.
Credit repair to most people is a mystery. Why is the sky blue? I don’t know, because it is. Why is my credit score below 600? Usually you have some ideas if that’s the case. However, when you ask but how do I bring it up to 700 or more? Lots of people will tell you that they’ll do it for you for only, a lot more money than you have in the bank. Many will tell you that you just have to write the appropriate letters to get credit reporting agencies such as Experian, Trans Union and Equifax to correct the information in your credit files. But how do you do that?
I’ve reviewed the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s code sections and the laws regarding Fair Credit Reporting are on your side. In my bankruptcy law practice I would charge quite a lot of money just for a consultation on the subject, but when I found the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair, I was floored. They’re practically giving you all of our secrets for pennies on the dollar.
At that point, I couldn’t see why I wouldn’t just refer you to Click Here!
First, take a breath, for a little while, have a cup of cocoa and relax.
Afterwards, there’s plenty to do.
Bankruptcy is to credit repair as spiders are to a good nights’ sleep. Bankruptcy is the Credit Reaper. Nevertheless, sometimes bankruptcy is all you can do. You have to be able to pay for rent or mortgage, feed the family put tires on the car and gas in the tank. How can you do that if your wages are being garnished or you find your bank account empty one Saturday morning when you know your check was deposited yesterday?
If you need a bankruptcy, call I can help. Call 9512003613.
On the other hand, two of the easiest things to do to repair your credit or rehabilitate your credit, is to open a secured credit card and/or buy a car.
Don’t buy the car unless you absolutely must and there is no reasonable alternative. If you have to buy a car, the interest rate will be ridiculous. So, if you have the ability to borrow from a relative, or if you have been able to save since your bankruptcy, or if you can take a small 401k loan to buy a reasonable car, go ahead. Make it reasonable, you don’t need a lot of options, so skip the bells and whistles. Get an AM/FM radio and air conditioning that both work. Stop there because the lower your car payment, the better your credit will be. If you want to buy a house down the road, avoid buying the car on credit if you can.
The next thing that is easy to do, in general, is to get a secured credit card. You go to your bank or a bank and bring in say $500 cash and ask for one. Usually if you’re paying the amount of the credit line you want down, they’ll do a credit-check light, or in other words they might not even do one. At my bank, because I was already banking there, they only checked their own records. I gave them $1000 in cash, and they gave me a card with a $1000 credit line with very few questions. The interest rate will be horrible but keep reading and you’ll see that it doesn’t much matter if you do as outlined below.
So do you buy something and pay it off? No. You can of course and that will help, but is actually not the best strategy when trying to improve your overall credit health. So you now have a credit card with a $500 credit line, what do you do? Save up another $500 first. Then find something you need to buy for $500, such as a new computer or a TV or something. Then don’t pay it all off at once. You’ve got the money saved, so you pay it off 1/3rd at a time.
By doing it 1/3rd at a time, the credit card company will like you. You’ve paid it off quickly so you’re a good risk. But you also had to pay some interest, and that makes you a great risk. Pay it off too fast, means no profit for the credit card company. Pay it off too slow and that means high profits for the credit card company but also high risk and that is not so good for them. They want want profit and high performing contracts in their portfolio because that has a positive impact on the stock price.
In a year, not only will you get your deposit back but they’ll double your credit line or more. And that increase in credit-line is the most important thing that happens to your credit rating. It can’t happen unless your payments are in good standing, so yes those are important too. But you need both to have good credit, exceptional credit means you have good standing in your payment histories, but also high credit lines and low balances.
Note that I said histories. So you want more than one account open and in good standing for at least twelve (12) months after your bankruptcy is over, or in a chapter 13, twelve months after your confirmation of your chapter 13 payment plan. After the Great Recession, many couples each got a secured card and then put each other on each other’s cards. Then each had two (2) cards.