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Chicago Nonprofit Wants to Make Credit Work for Everyone | Chicago News



About a year ago, forklift driver Dominiece Douchee was dismayed to see her credit score had just dropped 100 points. “At the time I was trying to increase my credit limit on my credit card and because the score was lower than the initial one I wasn’t approved,” Douchee said. So when she learned that her employer, People Against Dirty Manufacturing on Chicago’s South Side, was offering credit-building services as a benefit to employees, she was delighted. “I really needed their help to get back on track,” she said.

Douchee says she knew her credit score was important, but that she didn’t know how many ways a low credit score could cost her money – from inflated car loan interest rates to being locked out of rental properties in desirable neighborhoods. Douchee also says she didn’t understand all of the rules in the credit system generating the score that mysteriously governs her financial life.

Working Credit co-founder and President Amanda Carney says that people like Douchee, who are good money managers but under-informed about the credit system, are extremely common. “From our data, 40% of U.S. adults have subprime or no credit score. In low-income neighborhoods, that number is 84%. So there’s this widespread problem of people being unable to access market rates and terms,” Carney said.

Dominiece Douchee Dominiece Douchee

Douchee says the credit-building services offered by Chicago-based Working Credit have helped her get closer to her goal of owning a home in just a few months. The nonprofit organization partners with employers to teach workers of all income levels the ways credit can affect their financial lives through group workshops. After the workshops, counselors meet one-on-one with clients to offer a customized, detailed plan of action for improving their scores.

“In my one-on-one session, Niki highlighted the main factors impacting my credit score,” says Douchee. “She told me to pay down one of my credit card balances and gave me tips on how to get the derogatory marks off my credit. Using her advice I paid down my balances, settled one of my collection bills, and removed a collection because I wasn’t the responsible party.” Douchee also opted to continue counseling for 18 months. “Once Niki emailed me my updated scores and I saw that her suggestions were helping, I continued to pay down my balances more aggressively,” she said.

Prior to launching Working Credit in 2014, Carney and co-founder and CEO Ricki Lowitz had years of experience working with low- to moderate-income families to improve their personal finances, so they’ve seen first-hand the damage myths about credit can do. But they say that for most people, once they understand the rules, building credit is a straightforward process that can have outsize benefits, especially for those on a tight budget. “You can move someone’s score enough to have a very high impact in six to 12 months. So, someone who goes from 580 to 710, the car payment goes down to 5%, the car insurance goes down, refrigerator bought on credit card [instead of at a rent-to-own store] it’s one-third the price. That’s a swing of $3,000 a year, $1.50 an hour. There’s never been anything that’s had this kind of impact on someone’s bottom line. It’s not the silver bullet, but it’s a silver bullet.”

Carney is quick to make a few distinctions about Working Credit’s services. First, they don’t repair credit, they build it. She cautions against for-profit credit repair services that simply dispute all negative marks on credit reports to boost scores, saying the lift will only last a short time. With Working Credit, clients are educated on the rules of the credit system, so Carney says they’re armed with strategies to maintain good credit for the rest of their lives. Second, she says this isn’t the “knock it off with the expensive lattes” kind of budget advice people are used to receiving from their employers – they focus exclusively on how to leverage the credit system. And third, Working Credit’s nonprofit model means they have no motive to do anything but help their clients.

Those latter two points were especially important to Bilinda Pringle, director of operations at The Floured Apron and Working Credit client. For Pringle, Working Credit’s counselors’ lack of judgment about her expenses made her feel comfortable revealing the particulars of her financial situation. “There can be a lot of emotion based around money. I found my counselor nothing but professional and neutral. He explained my options and since they do not get paid by selling you anything, you know they only have your best interest in mind. I’m not far enough along to see improvement yet but it took the shame out of it and make me be able to face my credit issues,” she said.

Rush University Medical Center Vice President and Treasurer Patricia Steeves O’Neil agrees that Working Credit’s nonprofit status gives them credibility with their diverse employee base. “We heard of the work [Working Credit was] doing at universities and health systems on the East Coast. These institutions had similar demographics as we do. We particularly were interested in their work as a nonprofit that had no products to sell,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil admits that carving out the time for a program like the one Working Credit offers presents logistical challenges for a hospital, whose round-the-clock workers are constantly engaged in patient care. “These employees needed the time to step away from their daily work and have others fill in on patient care. It would not work with only email communication of the program. The key to the success of this program is the support of the managers and supervisors of these areas,” she said.

But if the employer is committed to the process, they can reap benefits too. O’Neil says as Rush employees have seen boosts in their credit scores, Rush has seen a boost in morale and productivity. “We have heard of some successful stories of many employees. The benefits are profound for an employee, particularly as they look to secure competitive rates on key investments: a car and home. Financial stability will allow the employee to come to work focused on providing the very best care to our patients and students,” she said.

Bilinda PringleBilinda Pringle

Clients Douchee and Pringle both say they’re impressed that their company offers Working Credit’s services as a benefit. Since she’s seen her credit improve, Douchee says she’s motivated to work harder and even overtime to help increase her savings.

Pringle says the benefit gives employers a competitive advantage in a tight labor market. “The economy seems to be on the upswing. Employees have more options. Whatever a company can do to show that they care about their employees should be considered. Why should they work for you as opposed to your competition?”

Now in its fifth year of operation, Working Credit is working on improving its own bottom line by scaling up to provide services to more large employers in Chicago and on the East Coast. “Right now and for the next couple of years, philanthropy is largely supporting our growth. The Community Development Group at Citibank provided a critical early grant to us that gave us the room to build out our program and begin to scale. As we increase our customer base in the next few years, earned income from employer customers will become our primary revenue source – so we’re a nonprofit with a revenue stream,” Carney said.

Almost a year after starting with Working Credit, Douchee reports that her credit score has improved by more than 100 points, putting her closer to her homeownership goal. “I have increased my savings. Niki has referred me to some homeowner workshops that I am looking to attend. Overall, having good credit has released a lot of stress off me. I no longer have collection bills coming to my house and I feel confident that I can get approved to buy anything that I may need. I think this has the potential to change a lot of people’s circumstances.”

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Working Credit co-founder and President Amanda Carney offers three rules for building credit.

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Millennials Credit Scores Had A Major Boost



New York, May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The unpredictability of the 2020 economy had very few positives to report on. However, one ray of light across the board was that the average FICO score for U.S consumers hit a record 710 last year, with millennials leading the way, boasting an 11-point increase.

Credit scores are important for millennials. Aged between 25-34, they are the generation who grew up during a changing financial climate, where more emphasis was placed on having a good FICO score in order to be approved for the likes of mortgages, auto loans and credit cards.

Yet not all US millennials had such a good year when it came to credit. Many are still struggling to gain the financial backing they need for both their personal and business life, and as a result aren’t benefiting from lower interest rates, higher credit limits, or access to better offers. 

If you’re a millennial looking for credit repair, the team at Credit Planned is helping your generation get back on track:

1. Who are Credit Planned?

Credit Planned is a platform that educates users on financial literacy to help them improve their credit and better plan their financial lives. A pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions, they offer free online advice and how-to guides, alongside free over-the-phone consultations, to help people repair, improve, and maintain great credit.

With over 1,500 happy clients, each month they secure over $50,000 in funding and boost over 100 credit scores.

2. How can Credit Planned help millennials improve credit scores and access financial funding?

Above all else, Credit Planned can provide clear, actionable consultation on a case-by-case basis. As they experts when it comes to the financial industry, you will be given help and advice that will truly make the difference.

If your credit score has become a barrier to entry and approval for the likes of mortgages and loans, there are basic things you can do to quickly improve your score. While some are achievable from your side, some will need expert knowledge of the financial industry, both of which Credit Planned can help with.

Securing funding from banks can be made more achievable with an improved credit score. However, where real gains can be made is through leveraging the relationships Credit Planned have with these banks to secure 0% interest funding (anywhere from 50-150k) for 1-3 years.

  • Corporate Credit Blueprint

Many business owners aren’t aware of the power of business credit, and some don’t even know how to affects your personal score directly. Credit Planned can help optimize your business credit, no matter the size of your business, and open the doors to help your business grow.

3. Put past decisions and improper financial education behind you

Credit Planned are helping millennials who didn’t receive a financial education build the knowledge to prosper once more. From debunking credit mythics to posting great tips via their Facebook page, their online resources are an invaluable addition for anybody who is looking to improve their credit score and secure funding.

Book a free consultation and get your credit score on track

A good credit score indicates that you know how to manage your budget and make good financial decisions. Woven into most key systems in our society, it’s something that needs to be addressed should it be halting your progress in any walk of life.

Book a free consultation via the website, or by calling (877) 650-5116


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Credit Planned are a pioneer in credit repair, personal and business credit building, and funding solutions. Don’t be afraid to scale your business or become financially independent. Read our advice, speak to us via a free consultation, and start building your credit today. Learn more via the website:

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How Much Do Credit Repair Services Cost? – News Anyway



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On average, one in five Americans has an unfair credit score. Mistakes on reports from bureaus are quite common. They range from misspellings to events that never happened. A false bankruptcy may tarnish your records for up to a decade! Experts may have such errors erased, so your FICO total will rise immediately. These services are not free, but what is the best value for money?

Credit repair is a highly competitive industry. As a result, the best credit agencies on Credit Fixed     have to offer reasonable pricing. Customers are always charged depending on the length of the billing cycle (e.g., 30-45 days). In addition, there could be an upfront fee.

Cost vs. Duration

Repair is a lengthy process. Although professionals speed it up, you still need several months (between 2 and 6) to clean your records. The most complex cases linger for a year. Trusted companies allow you to stop using their services at any time. Still, the longer — the more expensive.

Today, monthly rates from the most popular providers range between $79 and $129.95. If the upfront fee applies, it may be equal to the monthly payment or different. For example, with Sky Blue Credit, you pay $79 upon enrollment and $79 monthly.

Compare Service Levels

As you can see from this Sky Blue Credit vs Lexington Law review, not every company divides its services between packages. The first provider offers a universal solution that is also modestly priced. The competitor has three tiers, from basic to advanced.

This second scheme is the most common in the industry. Consumers choose cheaper or more expensive bundles depending on their needs. The tiers often include different numbers of disputes. For example, you may be able to disprove five items per bureau per billing cycle.

In addition to analysis and disputes, premium clients may get identity theft insurance, score tracking tools, and personal budgeting solutions. The biggest firms provide their proprietary apps — for instance, the Lexington Law app is highly rated in both Google Play and App Store. On the other hand, almost every company will let you track the status of your case through their web portal.

What You Are Paying For

While add-ons vary, the core services are the same. Any company will collect your reports from three major bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The staff will scrutinize the records in search of debatable inaccuracies. Next, they will collect evidence and send dispute letters to bureaus on your behalf. Eventually, the errors should be eliminated, which pushes the total up immediately.

This describes the mission of any repair firm. It will help you fix your status more quickly. After all, experts can identify the most damaging mistakes and collect sufficient evidence from the get-go. In the process, they may also send different types of correspondence to lenders and collectors. This includes:

  • debt validation letters asking the lender to prove that you owe the specified amount;
  • goodwill letters asking them to stop reporting particular items;
  • cease and desist letters to collectors, do they stop bothering you.

Repair companies may eliminate different types of mistakes. However, only some of them can delete hard inquiries. Ideally, such items are created when you apply for a loan and the lender checks your credit history. Too many hard inquiries over a short period are damaging to the total.

Money-Back Guarantee

No company can guarantee specific results. The professionals will not promise to increase the total by a certain number of points. However, you may get your money back if the firm is inefficient. Check the conditions of its money-back guarantee (if it exists).

Most commonly, clients are paid back if no entries are deleted within the first 60 or 90 days. Removal of a single item voids this guarantee. In exceptional cases, the policy is unconditional. At the moment, it is only provided by Sky Blue Credit Repair. You may stop using the services for any reason within the first 90 days and get a refund.

Choose Wisely

As there are so many companies, choosing the right provider is not easy. Consider the BBB ratings and genuine feedback from consumers on sites like TrustPilot. Check if the firm delivers on its promises. It must provide excellent support, while the absence of a money-back guarantee is a legitimate deal breaker.

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How Long Will It Take to Fix My Credit Score? – News Anyway



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Your FICO or VantageScore status depends on the contents of your credit reports. Unfortunately, data stored by TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian may be inaccurate. Correction of mistakes will make your score rise. However, this is not an overnight process.

The duration depends on the number of false entries, the bureaus involved, and the quality of the evidence submitted. Experts from top-rated credit repair companies at will give a tentative evaluation. If you open disputes by yourself, resolution may take longer. It may require a couple of months or half a year. Here are the basics of credit repair in the US in 2021

Why You Need a Higher Total

Many consumers suppose their credit score only affects borrowing. The lower the total — the more difficult and expensive it is to take out a loan. In reality, the consequences are more varied. Aside from banks, your credit history is accessed by landlords, insurers, and even employers. You may fail to land your dream job because your score is far from perfect.

Causes of Deterioration

This may happen fairly or unfairly. In any case, deterioration stems from negative information on your credit reports. Items like missed payments or evictions pull the score down. Some consumers have to remove bankruptcies and judgments that never happened. Even your personal details may be flawed, although correcting the wrong spelling does not affect the total.

Both systems (FICO and VantageScore) look at similar factors for the calculation. The three most influential elements for the first method are:

  • history of payments (35% of the score)
  • how much you owe in total (30%)
  • length of credit history (15%)

Your credit mix (use of different types of credit) and new accounts affect 10% each. As you can see, late or missed payments, bankruptcies, and defaults are extremely damaging. Another crucial aspect is your ‘credit utilization ratio’, which applies to revolving credit — i.e., credit cards.

The lower your balance in comparison with the total amount of credit — the better. For example, if the limit is $5,000, and you have used $2,500, the ratio is too high (50%). Experts recommend keeping it below 30% or 11%, depending on who you ask.

The Fixing Process

So, what should you do if your reports contain wrong amounts or false entries? First, you are not alone. On average, every 5th consumer in the US has mistakes on their official records. Fortunately, everyone can have errors deleted to raise the total. There are two ways to go about it. You could try doing everything by yourself or hire repair experts. Either way, here is what the process involves.

1.   Collection of Data

Every US citizen may get a free annual copy of their report from each of the three major bureaus. Due to the pandemic, the service is now accessible every week. Go to to collect data from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian at once.

Downloading it online is the fastest way, but you may also call the organization or send them a request by mail. If you hire a fixing company, they will collect this information for you. You may also get a free introductory consultation.

2.   Identification of False Derogatories

Next, you (or the expert) will need to establish inaccuracies. Note that credit reporting agencies do not share data with one another. Any or all of your reports may be flawed, which complicates the process.

As you can see from the score breakdown above, different categories of items affect the total differently. Credit repair professionals will prioritize the mistakes to fix the score faster.

  1. Collection of Evidence

When the report is inaccurate, it is your job to prove this. A repair firm will gather evidence on your behalf. This includes bank statements and other documents showing that the damaging entries are false. Professionals also send debt validation letters to your lenders. These ask them to prove that you owe the amount specified in the reports. As you can imagine, the duration of this stage varies. The more mistakes you want to be removed — the more evidence must be gathered.

4.   Formal Disputes

Armed with the evidence, you may now send formal dispute letters to the reporting agency (or agencies) involved. The bureau will investigate the claim and reply to you within 30 days. It may accept or reject the changes. Alternatively, additional proof may be required.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, fixing the score in under 30 days is next to impossible. You need to collect the reports, analyze them and gather evidence to support your claims. It is crucial to provide conclusive proof, so there is no back and forth between you and the bureaus.

The simplest cases may be resolved and just over a month. The most complex repair may last a full year. Generally, delegating this job to professionals will accelerate the result. The key is to choose a reliable firm that delivers on its promises. Check websites like BBB and TrustPilot for customer feedback, and make sure the company has a money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.

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