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Could your credit score be ruined by one typo? | Regional

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As we rapidly went from a healthy economy to worry about paying bills, more than ever, people need good credit. But three out of five Americans have inaccuracies on their credit reports that could make it harder to qualify for a loan or even a credit card.

Most people don’t know that they have a federal right to clean inaccuracies from their credit reports.

A single data entry mistake may cause you to pay higher interest rates and make it difficult to qualify for a home or car loan, or even get a credit card.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to investigate negative accounts on your credit report. If an account is not reported 100% accurately, you have the legal right to get it expunged.

Errors might include an inaccurate payment amount, which can affect your debt-to-income ratio. Or, your report might have negative accounts that aren’t even yours! Expunging these inaccurate negative accounts and moving credit scores from the 500s to the 700s enables people to qualify for homes, new cars, business loans and credit cards sooner. Persistence is essential.

Credit repair frees up your credit so you can get approved for things you want. The hardest thing is finding what’s inaccurate about a negative account. But there’s nearly always something.

What is a good credit score?

The lowest credit score you can have is 350; the highest is 850. If your credit score starts with a 3, 4, 5 or 6, you have negative credit. Credit doesn’t begin to get positive until you hit 680.

To have great credit, you need to be in the 700s. No one needs 800 or better. That’s more for bragging rights.

What affects your credit score?

Debt collections, repossessions, foreclosures, judgments, tax liens and bankruptcies can all cause your credit score to decline. But most people are shocked to learn that late payments should be feared the most. Late payments can’t be fixed and can drop anyone’s credit by as much as 125 points. That’s more than a bankruptcy! You’ve got to make 24 months in a row of on-time payments for a late payment to correct itself.

Credit scores increase according to how many positive accounts you have, after the inaccurate negative accounts are deleted. Ideally, you want at least five positive primary accounts in your name. You get points for paying on time and having a healthy mix of credit. In the credit world, history is also a huge part of your score. You’re more apt to get approved for a larger loan amount when financial institutions can see a track record of borrowing money and paying it back on time.

How does credit repair work?

If you’ve tried credit repair in the past, you may know that most companies dispute only two to three accounts per month. That pace can be discouraging. We prefer a more aggressive three-round burst strategy because we don’t believe in dragging out the process.

My team has learned that sending all the inaccurate negative accounts to the credit bureaus along with our legal documents is more efficient. We do this three times, with each round lasting 40 days. With this method, we will often see 50% of the inaccuracies on negative accounts deleted in the first round and raise credit scores by as much as 100 points. Once we get 90% of the inaccurate negative accounts deleted, we start using credit-building products, which can increase scores another 50 to 100 points.

Understand that removing inaccurate negative accounts from your credit report is not a form of debt consolidation. You still owe your legitimate debts.

How to spot the credit repair scammers

The credit repair industry is on fire. That has opened the floodgates for scammers who take the money and run. It’s illegal to ask for all the money up front before they do the work, so insist on affordable monthly installments. To find a reputable company, look at the provider’s education and industry experience. There are a lot of people doing credit repair without a professional background.

Also, check the reviews and confirm that they are registered with the Better Business Bureau. Look for a company that offers ongoing continuing education so you can learn how to manage your credit score moving forward.

What other strategies can improve your credit score?

• Have your own credit, separate from their spouse. A lending institution may look only at the one with the lower credit score, so you don’t want to rely on someone else for your own rating.

• Don’t max out your credit cards. Keep your balance below 30% of the approved amount.

• Keep a healthy mix of credit. That may include a revolving line such as a credit card, and an installment loan.

We all need credit to survive. I teach people how to make the credit system work for them instead of against them. We offer get a credit analysis at alexmillercreditreport.com.

Alex Miller is founder of Alex Miller Credit Repair, based in Houston, Texas.

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Every type of credit card explained – and how to know which one is right for you

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Confused about credit cards? Here’s an explanation from an expert (Photo: Shutterstock)

Getting into debt to manage day-to-day finances is never advisable, but with the current economic uncertainty, having a credit card to fall back on when unexpected costs arise can provide some peace of mind.

Credit cards have gained a bad reputation over the years and it’s easy to see why. They can encourage spending beyond your means, often have high credit limits and can take years to repay if you’re only making the minimum repayment.

But using a credit card efficiently can be a good way to manage your money. The key to using a credit card to your benefit is having a manageable credit limit, paying off the balance in full each month and ensuring you choose the right credit card for your needs.

Will you be accepted for a credit card?

Before looking at choosing a credit card, you first need to find out the likelihood of your application being accepted. Credit card lenders do not have to offer credit cards to anyone who applies and during times of economic uncertainty are more likely to become stricter about who they approve for a card.

The best way to find out your chances of being accepted for a credit card is to carry out a free credit score check. Once you know what your credit score rating is, you have an idea of your chances of being approved for a credit card.

For those with a poor credit rating, or who have had their credit card application rejected, a credit repair credit card is a possible alternative. Typically, these credit cards charge a higher annual percentage rate (APR) than other types of credit cards, but are designed for those with poor credit scores who are looking to rebuild their credit rating.

It is also important to note that your credit score rating does not just determine whether you are accepted for a credit card, but the rate you are offered as well.

Those with a good credit score are more likely to get a lower APR, while those with a bad credit score usually find they are offered a higher APR. It is important to be aware of the APR you are being offered on the credit card before accepting the card as the advertised APR might not be the one you are offered.

0% transfer credit cards

One of the most common types of credit cards on offer is 0% transfer credit cards. This type of credit card is useful to those who have existing credit card debt on one or more credit cards, as they enable the debt to be transferred to the new credit card and has an interest-free period in which to repay the debt.

In order to transfer the debt, you will usually be charged a transfer fee and once the interest-free period comes to an end, you will be charged the standard APR on the remaining balance.

In order to use a 0% balance transfer card efficiently, you should ideally pay off the balance within the interest-free period and not use the card to make further purchases during this period. Once the balance is paid off, making sure you repay the balance in full each month will prevent you from getting into further credit card debt – usually a direct debit can be set up to do this.

There are around 50 0% transfers credit cards available in the charts, as of 2 July 2020. Of these, six offer the longest interest-free period of 28 months, but three of these cards have opening restrictions.

Currently, M&S Bank’s Transfer Plus Mastercard, MBNA Limited’s Long 0% Balance Transfer Mastercard and TSB’s Platinum Balance Transfer Card Mastercard all offer an interest-free period of 28 months and do not have opening restrictions.

NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank all offer 0% transfer credit cards with a 28 month interest-free period, but these cards are only available to existing customers.

0% purchase credit cards

Generally, 0% purchase credit cards are often combined with 0% transfer credit cards, but borrowers looking to do both on one card should check as they are not always combined.

A 0% purchase credit card allows borrowers to make purchases during a set time period where they will not be charged interest for a pre-determined amount of time. These cards can be useful during short periods of time when spending increases, such as summer holidays or in the run-up to Christmas.

Although they can be a useful way to borrow money, it is important to ensure that the balance is repaid in full before the interest-free period comes to an end.

As of 2 July 2020, in the 0% purchase credit card chart, Santander offers the longest interest-free period of 26 months on its All in One Credit Card Mastercard. TSB, M&S Bank and Sainsbury’s Bank all offer the next longest interest-free period of 20 months.

Cashback credit cards

For those who use their credit cards regularly and who pay off their balance in full each month, a cashback credit card could be the best option. These cards offer customers rewards every time they use their credit card, although borrowers should be aware that the best cashback rewards are often on cards that charge a card fee.

For example, American Express offers 5% cashback for the first six months (capped at £125) and, after this period, 1% cashback on spend of between £1-£10,000 per year and 1.25% cashback over £10,000 per year, but this card charges an annual fee of £25.

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Imperium Group and WebMetrix Group On How Today’s Top 31 Entreprenuers and Investors Are Navigating the Post-COVID Times

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DALLAS, TEXAS, July 07, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Although the first wave of COVID-19 may be nearing its end, nothing has returned to normal – nor will it, for a long time. In times like these, entrepreneurs and business owners help each other. Today’s top 30 entrepreneurs and investors are doing the best they can to offer resources, share advice, and feature workable solutions to help one another and the nation. 

WebMetrix Group hosted an online forum for these entrepreneurs and investors to share their best advice to other business owners during this time. Here’s how they are navigating post-COVID times, advising others on how to, or lending a helping hand.

1. Immy Tariq, CEO of WebMetrix Group LLC. Immy Tariq is a digital marketing, SEO, and credibility expert, who has been helping his clients leverage credibility now more than ever. “Now is the time to double down on all markers of credibility and SEO to build trust with your target audience,” said Tariq. “As the economy slowly reopens, consumers only want to invest in people and companies that they trust.” 

2. Rudy Medina, founder of Del Mar Heritage. Medina is in the real estate industry, and foresees the following changes to people’s preferences for where they want to live following the lockdown provisions. These include Privacy, Additional outdoor or flex areas, Room for pets outside of the living area, proximity to entertainment and recreation, and a front yard to socialize with neighbors.

3. Salvatore Buscem, Managing Director at Dandrew Capital Partners. Buscem specializes in managing risk through his real estate investment portfolio, and advises other investors and entrepreneurs to invest in commercial real estate in areas with consistent ROI’s. “By researching an investment and going for commercial real estate, it’s a defensive play. Make decisions right now that have a verifiable ROI that extends far into the future.” 

4. Aimee Tariq CEO Of A Life With Health is a WSJ best selling author and health expert who has had many near death experiences in her decade-long battle with health. With the ever growing global focus on health and well-being, Tariq is helping more people to optimize their health through her new book on the oral microbiome (also known as the ‘second gut’ because of its importance), called Panic! Germs and the Inside of the American Mouth.

5. Matt Young, founder of Realply. As the founder of a LinkedIn direct messaging service, Young knows how effective cold direct message outreach is for sales. “With the emphasis on, ‘How can I help?’, automating direct messaging can spell the difference between life and death for businesses right now,” he said. “A steady stream of new leads can still be automated, which can be the strategy that keeps your business afloat.”

6. Jeremy Miner, founder of 7th Level HQ. An expert on neuro-linguistic programming for sales, Miner is helping salespeople learn sales techniques that assist prospective customers into persuading themselves why they need the product or service. Featuring his breakthrough research and years of testing, his course is a hopeful avenue for salespeople and entrepreneurs who want to help consumers but are potentially anxious about selling right now.

7. Stephane & Shalee Schaifaitel, Co-founders of Success Training Co. and Co-authors of the book, Master Your Mindpower: A User Manual For Your Mind & The Ultimate Guide To Mental Toughness. The Schaifaitels help executives and entrepreneurs resolve mental and emotional barriers through a series of impactful coaching sessions that will maximize your clarity, mental toughness and success. “The truth is, in a time of crisis, the people who have mental toughness and emotional resilience are more likely to succeed,” the Schafeitels emphasized. “We developed The BLAH Method to assist you to get through any ‘blah’ moment or crisis, large and small: 1) Breathe, 2) Look Up, 3) Access a State of Gratitude and 4) Handle it – go do what you need to do toward achieving your Big Effing Goals (BEGs).”

8. Haley Hoffman Smith, author of Her Big Idea and motivational speaker. As a motivational speaker and author, Hoffman Smith is encouraging more young people and female-identifying hopeful founders to consider entrepreneurship and go after their big dreams. Her fund, The Her Big Idea Fund, is in partnership with Brown’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and supports two female-identifying hopeful founders with $500 grants and a year of mentorship. “It’s more important than ever to support the dreams and visions of all people, and let them know they aren’t alone in bringing it to life – there is support and there are people who believe in you and want to invest in you,” she commented.

9. Kimanzi Constable CEO Results Global Impact Consulting. Kimzani helps consultants book corporate gigs with large corporations – and stress that right now, large companies are heavily investing in trainers, coaches, and consultants. “Understand that companies are making strategic pivots right now, and they need the brightest minds to help them get there. Position yourself accordingly, so you can help these businesses thrive while you thrive, too,” they advised. 

10. Sloan Foster, founder of AutoThinkUSA. Foster, who is in the business of providing convenient accommodations for consumers, encourages entrepreneurs to think about how they can get involved and collaborate with essential businesses. “Create a new opportunity in alignment with COVID-19 standards,” she advised.

11. Christine Haas, founder of Haas Media. Haas assists founders and CEO’s in landing TV engagements. “Investing in TV PR is critical for both exposure and creating credibility in your field of expertise — especially now,” shared Haas. “It can seem ‘exclusive’ or only reserved for certain types of people, but now more than ever, people are home and looking to the TV to learn.” 

12. Kerri Kasem, Founder of Kasem Cares, radio and TV Show Host. Kasem is using her platform to emphasize mental health. “With so much going on in the world that was unforeseen, it’s only natural to experience symptoms akin to anxiety and depression. It’s important to check in with ourselves, or friends, and our family right now and see how we can help,” she encouraged.

13. David Schloss, author of The New MBA. Schloss’ new book helps hopeful entrepreneurs build a clear blueprint for their first businesses. In these uncertain times, he advises, “A market-to-message match is key before turning organic traffic into paid traffic.” He insists that a product and market fit is the foundation for successful businesses when investing in marketing post-COVID.

14. Allison Caddy, CEO & Founder of Active Alie. Caddy believes in finding opportunity in unlikely places.  “My best advice is to take advantage of the times, refinance as much as you can because interest rates are currently low, and buy up more real estate that provides positive cash flow and builds your equity,” she offered.

15. Lauren Tickner, founder of Impact School MBA. Tickner teaches students how to sell through permission-based relationship marketing, in which a product or service is offered conversationally — optimal for seeing who your business can help right now, without any additional pressure. “The emphasis in selling right now is on seeing if you can actually help your target audience, and through natural messaging conversations, time is saved for the founder and prospects are more likely to buy,” she said.

16. Jeremy Delk, founder of Delk Enterprises. “Recognize the changes that are afoot, and use this time to adapt quickly,” said Delk. “The new mindset will now be on-demand help from our smartphones and tele-health. How can you lean into these shifts and stay relevant?” 

17. Stephanie Burns, founder of Chic CEO. Burns has always encouraged making ‘unreasonable requests’ – in other words, asking people or businesses for something you need that may seem ‘out of bounds’ to even ask, because sometimes the answer is… yes. “I think there may be a tendency to hold back on what we ask from others right now, out of an abundance of caution and empathy,” said Burns. “But remember that unreasonable requests often lead to symbiotic relationships and benefits for both parties. Keep putting yourself out there.”

18. Rohan Seth, Founder of Lydian Accelerator. “I’ve learned that building multiple marketing channels is the best way to sustain and embolden businesses,” said Seth. “Explore different avenues to market through social media and ads, and pay close attention to which of those deliver the highest ROI. 

19. Bobby Dillard, co-founder of Cielo Property Group. Dillard noted that “trying times will always reveal weaknesses in your business that you didn’t know were there. It’s important to remain calm and do all you can to get your business in top shape so that you can take advantage of the opportunities that arise in these situations.” Specifically, he advises entrepreneurs to use this time for personal growth in those areas of weakness.

20. Maggie Berghoff, Founder and CEO of high performance health agency, Celproceo. Berghoff helps entrepreneurs and high achievers biohack and optimize their health for their best performance, and mental health and wellbeing is a critical part of this. “Hone in on decreasing your own stress and working on a positive mindset,” Berghoff encouraged. “It’s easy to get sucked into the fear, chaos, and negativity you may see around you, but your top power will be your ability to maintain resilience and strength during this time.”

21. Jose Artiumo, Founder of VIP Media Solutions. Artiumo always emphasizes the importance of gaining media attention, but specifically, sees this time as critical for refining your skill. “Sharpen your ax with your skills so you can retain the attention you get when you get back into the media,” said Artiumo. “Now is the ideal time to invest in yourself and make sure you’re the best at what you do.”

22. Jeff Sekinger, founder of 0percent.com. Sekinger recently launched a partnership program that allows his business’s consulting clients to start financial services businesses such as funding, credit repair and insurance at no cost and virtually no barriers to entry. Specifically, they help entrepreneurs get the lowest business financing possible, so they can leverage business debt — one of the greatest resources available during these uncertain times.

23. Mcdonald Worley CEO of Mcdonald Worley P.C. Worley shares that after serving 30,000 clients, he feels that the difference between a successful business and a hurting one right now comes down to making sure that your business can give the clients what they need and paying attention to the details. If you go beyond what you can handle as a team, in order to bring more clients into the fold then the work will suffer, which in turn will hurt your reputation and this will cost you way more business than anything else. 

24. Drew Evans, CEO of Caifu Property. To date, Evans has built his personal real estate portfolio to over $10 Million Dollars, and with his business partner, has helped his clients invest in over $1 Billion in property. “There are still many real estate opportunities to build positive cashflow property portfolios and instant equity,” said Evans. “Even if you have never explored real estate before, it continues to be a worthwhile investment for the long run, even in economic downturns in the short run.” 

25. Thomas Graham CEO of Crosswinds PR. “Working as a PR crisis firm, we’ve learned that the best way to navigate crises is to be empathetic and transparent,” said Graham. “As your business faces inevitable crises of differing sizes during this time, make sure you stay genuine and transparent with your audience or customers and always position yourself as someone who can – and who wants to – help.”

26. David Pascht, digital marketing expert. Pascht offered his best advice for running a team, which applies at any time, but is especially pertinent as teams continue to work remotely or shift in the wake of the pandemic. “Although your team is looking to you as the ‘leader,’ make sure to treat them as equals. Invite creative ideas and the open space and encouragement for innovative approaches to the problems your business will face through the turbulent times. These ideas can only come in if your team feels safe to be ‘wrong’ – this is how they will be truly creative.” 

27. Travis Killian, expert in Amazon e-commerce. Killian has created a $10 Million business by selling physical products on Amazon, and recommends that founders with physical products make sure that they’re on Amazon. “Many founders spend 80 percent of their efforts on platforms like Shopify, for only a fraction of the ROI. If you haven’t tried Amazon or doubled down on it, now is a great time to build a presence there,” he advised.

28. Greg Vogel, expert in company exits. There is opportunity in everything that is shifting, too – Vogel noted that “There is no bigger payday than this if you position yourself correctly. Many company exits are in the works, and there are opportunities to buy up companies now and have wildly successful exits later, when the market bounces back.” 

29. Moshe Reuven Sheradsky, WeDu. “Your marketing approach could use some emotional intelligence: work right now to understand your customers’ emotions (as much as they are changing), and work to meet the customer where they are emotionally.” 

30. Iman Shafei, Founder of Keystone Investors. “Many are interested in investment opportunities right now because of the fluctuating market, and I definitely encourage people to follow that interest, if it’s financially feasible at this time,” said Shafei. “Specifically, cryptocurrency may be an interesting investment because of the way the global economy is currently changing.”

31. Jeremy Axel, CEO of Fluent Conveyors. “The most important things during these times is to make sure you communicate very well to your team about the importance of execution. Make sure you hold everyone including yourself accountable for the jobs required that will have a quick impact to revenue and cash flow or if its a long term value add. In essence you need to remain intentional and thoughtful as a leader and make sure your team does the same.”

Shazir Mucklai

CEO

Imperium Group

shazir@imperium-pr.com

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St. Louis Consumer Fraud Task Force Warns Public about Stimulus Payment-Related Scams during COVID-1

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The St. Louis Consumer Fraud Task Force (CFTF) warns area consumers to be wary of scams related to stimulus payments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The government’s issuance of stimulus packages during COVID-19 has opened the door to scammers who are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting people.

Scammers are attempting to get money and personal identifying information from consumers, using the stimulus packages and the pandemic as a hook.

Task Force members have received hundreds of consumer reports dealing with stimulus scams during the pandemic. A number of imposter scams have surfaced this year related to COVID-19. Many of the fraudsters use COVID-19 as part of their ruse.

A woman from the southwest Missouri town of Flemington reported to Better Business Bureau (BBB) ScamTracker last month that she was offered a “Corona Grant” through a text message. The text said the money didn’t have to be repaid as it was being given to the recipient by the government.

“They said they needed us to put in our full names and check with their database,” the woman said. “I gave my and my husband’s full names, and then they sent back via text a link for me to click on for me to get (the money). They were offering whatever money I needed in order to get the job done. I didn’t tell them how much I needed, but said I was interested in checking into this. I thought about it and realized that it wasn’t a real deal.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received nearly 60,000 COVID-related scam reports with more than $70 million in losses this year. In addition, consumers have reported nearly 18,000 cases of identity theft nationwide in 2020.

Last month, the FTC filed suit in the Eastern District of Louisiana against a marketing firm which allegedly used deceptive advertising with COVID-19 stimulus messaging. The FTC says Traffic Jam Events, LLC, of Kenner, Louisiana, sent mailers labeled as “important COVID-19 stimulus documents” and directed recipients to a “relief headquarters” to “claim stimulus incentives.” The mailers included checks from a “Stimulus Relief Program” account. The “relief headquarters” wound up being a used car lot in Florida that was hosting a sale.

The Task Force says consumers should be aware of several things to protect themselves against stimulus package-related scams:

  • Keep track of your payment. Millions of Americans have received their Economic Impact Payments, which have been distributed by direct deposit, check and debit card. Any debit cards will be sent in an envelope with the words “Money Network Cardholder Services” on it. To check on the status of your stimulus payment, check the  IRS website. The IRS has produced a video to help consumers with questions about their Economic Impact Payment.
  • Ignore any contact attempts. No agency is going to text, email or ask you to click on a link to activate your stimulus card or to receive your money. Unless you initiate the call seeking help, no one will call you about your Economic Impact Payment. If someone texts, emails or calls you about your payment, don’t give them any personal or financial information.
  • Monitor your credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers a free copy of their credit report every 12 months. The three major credit reporting companies have agreed to offer free weekly reports through 2021. Reviewing credit reports can help consumers catch signs of identity theft.
  • Report the bad actors. You can report stimulus-related scams to BBB ScamTracker, the FTC, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and your state’s attorney general.

 

The Task Force, formed in October 2002, is a coalition of local, state and federal government agencies and nonprofit business and consumer groups in Missouri and Illinois that work together to protect consumer and donor rights and guard against fraud.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Task Force has met on a monthly basis to share information in an attempt to keep consumers safe.

The group has tackled predatory payday loan offers, tax scams, timeshare fraud, credit repair and foreclosure scams, bogus sweepstakes, internet sweetheart scams, phony grant scams, home remodeling, elder fraud, payment scams and a variety of other issues.

To obtain information, or to report a scam, contact members of the Task  Force:

  • Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern and Southwest Missouri and Southern Illinois – (888) 996-3887; BBB.org
  • Federal Trade Commission – (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357); ftc.gov
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations – (314) 589-2500
  • Illinois Attorney General – (800) 243-0618; illinoisattorneygeneral.gov
  • Illinois Secretary of State – Securities Department – 800-628-7937
  • Missouri Attorney General – (800) 392-8222; ago.mo.gov
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department – (314) 231-1212; www.slmpd.org
  • U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri – (314) 539-2200; www.usdoj.gov/usao/moe
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service – (877) 876-2455; postalinspectors.uspis.gov
  • U.S. Secret Service – (314) 539-2238; www.secretservice.gov

 

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