Top 10 U.S. States With the Highest Percentage of Residents in Debt

best-way-to-pay-off-debt

Did you take out student loans? Do you own a home? Do you have unpaid bills that have gone to collections? Do you have a balance on your credit card?


If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these four questions, chances are you’re in debt of some kind. Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, mortgages and students loans are essential for the majority of Americans in order to get the education required to make other dreams (like owning a home) a necessity. However, maxing out credit cards, bills going to collections, and bankruptcies and foreclosures aren’t good things to have on your record.


When it comes to debt, however, you’re hardly alone – and debt varies on a state-by-state basis. If you live in Minnesota or either of the Dakotas, for instance, you live in a state where the fewest percentage of Americans are in debt. Elsewhere around the nation, it’s a different story. That said, here’s a closer look at the top 10 states with the highest percentage of Americans in debt.

Top 10 States According to Residents in Debt

The following data is based on a December 2017 report from Forbesaccording to data tracked in 2016:

  1. Louisiana: Louisiana leads the nation in this category, as nearly half of its residents (46 percent) are in debt.
  2. Texas: Just slightly behind Louisiana, about 44 percent of all residents of the Lonestar State are in debt.
  3. South Carolina: 43 percent of all South Carolinians are in debt.
  4. West Virginia: 42 percent of West Virginia residents are in debt.
  5. Nevada: Nevada rounds out the top five, with 41 percent of its residents in debt.
  6. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico: Though this is a top 10 list, the five states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and New Mexico all tie for sixth place, with about 40 percent of residents, respectively, in debt.

Most Indebted States (By Value)

While the following list considers the percentage of residents in debt, we figured it would be noteworthy to include a separate list of the states where residents are the most indebted. Perhaps not surprisingly, the wealthiest states in the nation tend to lead this list because they’re buying more expensive properties, cars, etc. Unlike the list above, this one isn’t necessarily a bad list – just so long as the residents keep up with their payments in paying down debt owed. Here’s a look:

  1. California: With all that Hollywood glitz and glam, and high coastal property values, the average California resident is in debt at just over $336,000.
  2. Hawaii: Everything is more expensive in Hawaii, which is why the average resident is in the hole about $321,000.
  3. Maryland: The average Maryland resident is about $263,500 in debt.
  4. New Jersey: Though a bit surprising, the average New Jersey resident is some $257,500 in debt.
  5. Washington: Rounding out the top five is Washington, where the average residents is $243,800

IRS Private Debt Collectors Accused Of Pressuring Taxpayers, Breaking The Law

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Fact: There’s a new law in effect where the Internal Revenue Service now can pass along unpaid tax bills to private debt collectors. If you know anything about debt collection at all, you can get a sense for just how problematic this new law may be. In fact, according to Forbes, many U.S. senators have already come on record regarding the way that these debt collectors are handling certain taxpayer accounts. Specifically, Pioneer Credit Recovery has been among those that have been targeted by the concerned senators. ” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Fact: There’s a new law in effect where the Internal Revenue Service now can pass along unpaid tax bills to private debt collectors.

If you know anything about debt collection at all, you can get a sense for just how problematic this new law may be. In fact, according to Forbes, many U.S. senators have already come on record regarding the way that these debt collectors are handling certain taxpayer accounts. Specifically, Pioneer Credit Recovery has been among those that have been targeted by the concerned senators.

Issues with IRS Private Debt Collectors

So just what are some of the major issues when it comes to IRS private debt collectors? Forbes states that in their letter regarding Pioneer Credit Recovery, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have found the issues to be four-fold:

  • Concerns about properly protecting U.S. taxpayers from criminal debt collectors posing as IRS agents.
  • Pressuring taxpayers into illegal, illogical or complicated payment plans or transactions.
  • Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • Violation of IRS protocol and guidelines.

While all of the aforementioned issues are of grave concern, the one that the senators have found to be most alarming thus far is the potential violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is largely because of Pioneer’s short lapse in collection attempts regarding letters sent to verify debt and confirm debt collector legitimacy. Pioneer’s short five-day window has the potential to allow scammers to swoop in and capitalize.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”Additionally, Forbes reports that there are also major concerns about how much taxpayers are being pressured into settling debts or moving around assets to compensate for their unpaid debts, notably among low-income taxpayers. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it’s illegal for a debt collector to use any sort of threat, abusive language or unfair or deceptive practices when it comes to collecting debt. However, after looking into the call scripts of Pioneer, the senators have found concerns regarding the collector’s ability to stay within these set confines. ” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Additionally, Forbes reports that there are also major concerns about how much taxpayers are being pressured into settling debts or moving around assets to compensate for their unpaid debts, notably among low-income taxpayers. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it’s illegal for a debt collector to use any sort of threat, abusive language or unfair or deceptive practices when it comes to collecting debt. However, after looking into the call scripts of Pioneer, the senators have found concerns regarding the collector’s ability to stay within these set confines.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”It’s worth noting that in response to the senators’ letter and concerns about possible illegal collection practices, Pioneer has responded defending its integrity and claiming that all of its collections practices fall within legal lines. Forbes states that Pioneer is just one of four agencies that the IRS authorizes to collect debt on its behalf. The other three are CBE, ConServe and Performant.” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

It’s worth noting that in response to the senators’ letter and concerns about possible illegal collection practices, Pioneer has responded defending its integrity and claiming that all of its collections practices fall within legal lines. Forbes states that Pioneer is just one of four agencies that the IRS authorizes to collect debt on its behalf. The other three are CBE, ConServe and Performant.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Separating Scam from Legit: What You Need to Know” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Separating Scam from Legit: What You Need to Know

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”You’ll get an IRS letter if your tax account has been passed to a debt collector. Private debt collection agencies still must abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. All payments must go to the IRS – not to any debt collection agency (or those posing to be a debt collection agency). Debt agencies are unable to place tax liens or issue any sort of a levy against taxpayers. ” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

  • You’ll get an IRS letter if your tax account has been passed to a debt collector.
  • Private debt collection agencies still must abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • All payments must go to the IRS – not to any debt collection agency (or those posing to be a debt collection agency).
  • Debt agencies are unable to place tax liens or issue any sort of a levy against taxpayers.

Average Credit Score for Home Buyer Mortgage Loans: 2017 Update

According to Ellie Mae’s %22Origination Insight Report,%22 that was the average credit score among home buyers that went the mortgage loan route in April of 2017. Any credit score of 700 or above is typically considered a %22very good%22 score, characteristic of someone deemed to be a good consumer. When it comes to credit scores, higher is always better, and higher scores typically qualify consumers for lower home loan interest rates. This can represent a significant long-term savings on either a 15- or 30-year mortgage.

According to Ellie Mae’s “Origination Insight Report,” that was the average credit score among home buyers that went the mortgage loan route in April of 2017. Any credit score of 700 or above is typically considered a “very good” score, characteristic of someone deemed to be a good consumer. When it comes to credit scores, higher is always better, and higher scores typically qualify consumers for lower home loan interest rates. This can represent a significant long-term savings on either a 15- or 30-year mortgage.

Average Credit Score for Home Buyer Mortgage Loans” src=”http://keycreditrepair.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/trident-mortgage-group-mortgage-loan-approval-with-keys-960×350.jpg” alt=”Average Credit Score for Home Buyer Mortgage Loans”

Home Buyer Credit Scores Explained

While the 722 credit score is the average of all home buyers that sought a mortgage loan in the month of April 2017, the Ellie Mae report’s data analysis extends beyond just this. For instance, it includes credit score data based on the types of mortgages that were sought in the particular month. The average score for those who bought with a conventional mortgage was 753, for those who bought with an FHA loan, 684, and for those that purchased with a VA loan, 708.

While the 722 credit score is the average of all home buyers that sought a mortgage loan in the month of April 2017, the Ellie Mae report’s data analysis extends beyond just this. For instance, it includes credit score data based on the types of mortgages that were sought in the particular month. The average score for those who bought with a conventional mortgage was 753, for those who bought with an FHA loan, 684, and for those that purchased with a VA loan, 708.

Buying a Home with Good or Poor Credit

While the 722 number was the average credit score for purchasing a home in April 2017, that’s not to say that those with lower credit scores that fall into the %22good,%22 %22fair%22 or %22poor%22 range would be unable to qualify for such a loan. However, if they are approved, their credit score will likely reflect the interest rate that would accompany their home loan. Generally speaking, the higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate. Over time, the savings can add up. In fact, consumers with good credit and low interest rates may save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a home loan tenure compared to consumers with fair credit and high interest rates.

While the 722 number was the average credit score for purchasing a home in April 2017, that’s not to say that those with lower credit scores that fall into the “good,” “fair” or “poor” range would be unable to qualify for such a loan. However, if they are approved, their credit score will likely reflect the interest rate that would accompany their home loan. Generally speaking, the higher the credit score, the lower the interest rate. Over time, the savings can add up. In fact, consumers with good credit and low interest rates may save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a home loan tenure compared to consumers with fair credit and high interest rates.

So if you’re among the consumer base with a credit score that may be on the bubble of getting approved for a home loan or just want to boost your score to earn a better interest rate on a home loan, you might be wondering what you can do. Here’s a look at some credit repair tactics to think about:

So if you’re among the consumer base with a credit score that may be on the bubble of getting approved for a home loan or just want to boost your score to earn a better interest rate on a home loan, you might be wondering what you can do. Here’s a look at some credit repair tactics to think about:

Pay all bills on time. Late payments can cause your credit score to take a hit, especially if you’re regularly doing it. Set reminders and alerts, or arrange for auto bill pay if you can. Pay down debts: Try to always keep your debt-to-credit ratio, or credit utilization, at about 30 percent for a better score. For instance, if you have a credit card limit of $10,000, try to carry a balance of no more than $3,000 at once. Reduce your debt by paying off high-interest loans and credit cards first. Check your credit report for errors.

  • Pay all bills on time. Late payments can cause your credit score to take a hit, especially if you’re regularly doing it. Set reminders and alerts, or arrange for auto bill pay if you can.
  • Pay down debts: Try to always keep your debt-to-credit ratio, or credit utilization, at about 30 percent for a better score. For instance, if you have a credit card limit of $10,000, try to carry a balance of no more than $3,000 at once.
  • Reduce your debt by paying off high-interest loans and credit cards first.
  • Check your credit report for errors.

Old Debt – Beware of resetting the clock

Everyone makes mistakes, but when mistakes are committed pertaining to financial decisions, the consequences have a tendency to be more far reaching. For instance, things like foreclosure, bankruptcy and old debt can stay on your credit report and impact your credit score for many years before it is

essentially erased from your record. While it’s possible to enact credit repair strategies while you wait for the clock to expire on these negatives, your score likely won’t see the boost that you’re looking for until time expires on the debt. It’s important for consumers to be aware of the statute of limitations pertaining to debt in their particular state – but it’s also just as important for consumers to be aware of a variety of no-no’s that could potentially

restart the clock on old debt, keeping it on your record for many more years. This post will take a look at several of these things to stay away from so you don’t restart the clock on old debt that is soon to expire.

How Not to Reset the Clock on Old Debt

1. Watch the Clock: There are two “clocks” you need to be aware of – the statute of limitations clock and the credit report clock. The former varies by state, is usually anywhere from three to six years and basically sets a timeframe for how long collections may be forced on a debt. The credit report clock dictates how long old debt can stay on your record, which is seven years.

2. Know the Default Date: Seven years after you’ve defaulted on a debt, it must come off your credit report. Be sure you know this date and build good credit, as your score will likely progress the closer you get to the seven year mark. Judgments are the exception, as they can stay on your report up to seven years from the filing date.

3. Be Careful with Collectors: A debt collector’s job is to get you to settle or make payments on a debt. Some try to accomplish this by any means necessary. Be careful what you say if you choose to speak with them, as just an admittance that the debt is yours can essentially tick the clock back to the start.

4. Tell Collectors to Stop: If you’re being pestered by debt collectors, it’s your right to tell them to stop. This can be an ideal way to avoid a possible slip up – just be sure not to admit the debt is yours when you contact them.

5. Be Wary of Payment Options: Many collectors will offer the option of paying off a debt for a lesser amount than what you actually owe. Be wary of paying off debt and always be sure you have confirmation that it was paid in full if you proceed with such an option.

6. Hire a Lawyer: If you ever believe you’re in the wrong, seek legal representation.

Experian Fined by CFPB Months After TransUnion

Experian Fined by CFPB Months After TransUnion

Experian Fined by CFPB Months After TransUnion and False advertising is defined as misleading consumers or potential consumers with incorrect or unproven information. You might say that Experian, one of the major credit scoring agencies, was found guilty of this recently. Specifically, Experian was fined $3 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for incorrectly telling consumers that the credit scores it offered were used by lenders to make decisions.

In addition to the fine, the CFPB informed Experian that it must be honest and accurate when relaying messages about the credit scores it offers moving forward.

Experian Isn’t the First

In a not-so-surprising reaction, Experian released a statement that respectfully disagreed with the CFPB’s ruling (though it should be noted that it complied with it). Regardless of Experian’s thoughts on the matter, the argument can be made that the credit scoring giant should have known better. After all, it’s not the first time that the CFPB has punished an entity this year.

Yes, back in January Equifax and TransUnion were dinged for similar acts of deceit. Specifically, this punishment came in the form of a combined $5.5 million fine and $17.6 payout in restitution.

So What Credit Scores Do Lenders Use?

With this news coming about Experian – not to mention similar penalties levied against TransUnion and Equifax just months ago – you might be wondering just what credit scores lenders do use when weighing whether a consumer’s financial behavior is worthy of approval. If it’s not a score from one of the major bureaus, then where does the score come from?

In a nutshell, there’s no real good universal answer to this question. For starters, every lender is different. Mortgage lenders may look at one score or series of scores, where an auto loan lender may look at a different one. You’ve likely heard of the FICO score as one of the most important scores that lenders use. It’s true that the FICO score is still king, but what many consumers may not realize about it is that there are many different types of FICO scores that use different formulas to provide lenders with that valuable three-digit number that’s so crucial to the approval decision-making process.

Experian Fined by CFPB Months After TransUnion That’s why Experian – as well as Equifax and TransUnion – were punished by the CFPB, because while it’s entirely possible that lenders do use their respective scores to weigh their decisions, it’s also entirely possible that they do not. It’s also not to say that there’s no value in checking your credit score or purchasing it from one of the major bureaus – just be sure that you think of it as a general estimate and not something that’s set in stone.

Fannie Mae Deepens Credit History Checking

Like most Americans, you’ve accrued some credit card debt. You’re paying it off, but mostly sticking to just making the minimum payments so that you’re able to meet your other financial obligations. No big deal, right? Sure, you’ll pay more in the long haul because of interest, but credit card companies set minimum payments for a reason and you’re still making your monthly payments on time. Noting all of this, and considering that your credit score and credit history is in pretty good shape, you figure now is the time to apply for that home loan.

Surely you’ll be approved on your credit history and creditscore , right?

Not so fast.

Fannie Mae, the entity responsible for the issuing of government mortgage loans, is digging deeper into the credit history of applicants beyond just their credit history and credit score. That’s right, Fannie Mae is now taking into consideration how applicants are managing their debt as it pertains to approving or denying mortgage loans.

 

Fannie Mae’s trended credit history check

The latest version of Fannie Mae’s underwriter software is designed to more carefully analyze what it refers to as “trended credit data,” or details about how consumers are specifically managing their debt. Instead of just analyzing whether or not consumers are making their payments on time, the new software version also takes into consideration the following:

  • How much consumers are paying monthly toward balances.
  • The frequency that they are making their payments.
  • Their ability to properly manage debt overall.

For instance, consumers just making the minimum payments on their credit cards aren’t going to be seen as favorably as consumers making more significant payments toward debts or consumers that pay off credit cards each month. This new judging system, in turn, could prevent mortgage applicants from being able to buy a home. Arguably most alarming about these new standards is that Fannie Mae offers government-backed home loans to help make housing more affordable for low- to middle-income Americans. Chances are it’s these low- to middle-income Americans that have these types of debt repayment practices.

This is still in the early phases of rollout and unlikely to take effect immediately. However, Fannie Mae’s new standards may become routine before too long. It could even snowball so that other lenders judge consumers similarly, which could really make things difficult for Americans.

Navigating Fannie Mae

So how can you work around Fannie Mae’s more in-depth consumer considerations if you don’t qualify for a conventional mortgage? It’s all about enacting a viable credit repair plan. To show that even if you have a balance, you’re doing your best to eliminate it from your credit history check and credit score. Here’s a look at some tips for how to eliminate debt and improve your consumer status:

  • Pay off high interest cards first.
  • Contact lenders to see if they’ll give you a lower interest rate.
  • Consider debt consolidation so that you’re only paying off one balance as opposed to several balances.
  • Only spend what you know you can immediately pay off to avoid accruing more debt.
  • Stay disciplined.
  • Come up with a plan: In addition to a base budget, consider putting any additional income (i.e. performance bonuses, tax refunds, cash back rewards, etc.) toward debt repayment.

All credit cards have some sort of a credit limit, which is the maximum amount that you can charge to the respective account before any charges are void. However, this credit limit isn’t information that consumers are typically privy to – unless they apply for the card, that is. That’s largely because before a creditor can issue any sort of a limit, it has to know your credit score as well as other crucial information, like how much money you make, your monthly debt obligations, credit report history and more.

The Rule of Thumb

Just because you won’t get the specifics of your credit limit until you’ve gone through the application process – and become approved – doesn’t mean that you can’t have a general idea of what it’s likely to be. Generally speaking, your credit limit is about double your monthly income, minus any debt obligations you have. So, for instance, if you make $5,000 a month and have debt obligations of $2,000 per month, your credit limit is likely to be in the $6,000 range. While this is the general rule of thumb, the key word is “general,” as there’s no true universal method and each creditor typically uses their own respective formulas.

Anatomy of the Credit Limit

There’s typically a lot that goes into the credit limit that creditors issue when you apply for a credit card. Here’s a brief overview of what helps make up this limit, aside from your monthly income and debts owed:

  • Credit score: The better your credit score, the less interest you’re likely to pay on purchases. You’re also more likely to have a higher credit limit, as a good credit score shows that you’re a reliable, responsible consumer that can adequately repay any credit card debt. Data shows, for example, that consumers with a FICO score of 720 or greater had an average credit limit of at least $8,000. Conversely, those with FICO scores at or below 620 had a significantly lower limit at an average of $700. So if you want a high limit and your credit score is sub-par, we’d recommend enacting some credit repair best practices prior to applying.
  • Payability: Credit limit is also largely contingent on a consumer’s ability to pay. Noting this, things like debt-to-income ratio, debt-to-asset ratio and consumer income after any debt is paid are all major factors that play into credit card limit.
  • Risk: This factor isn’t so much pertaining to your potential risk as a consumer, but any economic risk based on what’s going on in the world. For instance, during the Great Recession, credit cards were issued with much lower limits than what was issued before and after the economic downturn. Creditors often don’t want to chance a situation where you’ll max out your limit and be unable to repay debt.

It’s also important to note that the credit limit you initially receive should be thought of as more of a starting point. If a creditor sees that you’ve been responsible with your card, you’ll often see your limit increase over time. If the creditor doesn’t do this for you, you can even put in a limit increase request.

The better your credit score, the better your mortgage rates.

While this rule of thumb is fairly common knowledge, most people are unaware of just how much savings homeowners can experience over the term of a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with even the most seemingly marginal difference in interest rate. For example, a mortgage rate of 3.75 percent, compared to a lower 3.5 percent rate, would likely cost a homeowner over $40 more a month – or about $500 more per year. If you multiply $500 by 30, that hypothetical consumer is paying about $15,000 more over the course of a 30-year mortgage than a consumer whose rate is only 0.25 percent less. That’s how big the difference can be between an excellent credit score and just a good credit score.

Yes, your credit score can wind up costing you – or saving you – a lot of long-term money when it comes to your mortgage.

Why Your Credit Score is Key

Would you want to lend money to a friend or family member who has a history of never paying people back? Lenders are in the same boat – and that’s why so much weight is put on your credit score during the mortgage loans application process. A good credit score tells lenders that you’re a responsible, reliable consumer with a track record of making on-time payments. A poor credit score can signify the opposite.

When there’s less risk with a consumer, lenders are more apt to do business with them and approve a loan with a low rate. However, when there’s more perceived risk, lenders throw in the caveat of a higher rate if the particular consumer is even approved for a loan in the first place.

What Are the Best Scores for Conventional Mortgages?

The higher the score, the lower your rate. That said, a FICO score of 720 usually puts consumers in excellent standing where they’re able to qualify for the lowest rates. Between 700-720 is considered good standing, where rates are still favorable, but not as low, and 680 is in the average range where rates are likely to be higher. Anything below 680 and you may be hard-pressed to get approved for a conventional mortgage.

If your score is short of the excellent mark, we’d recommend that you do some credit repair in order to get your score up where you can qualify for a lower rate. Though you may be chomping at the bit to buy a home now, the long-term savings of potentially tens of thousands of dollars can’t be dismissed. Here’s how to improve your credit score:

  • Improve your debt-to-credit ratio: Keep your credit card debt within 30 percent of your total credit limit. Anything higher and your score can take a hit.
  • Make all payments on time.
  • Pull your credit report and analyze it carefully for errors. It’s estimated that over 20 percent of all credit reports have some sort of error. Dispute any that are on your report.
  • Pay off high-interest credit cards before low-interest ones.

Debt Collector Suing you?

Nobody ever wants to be wrapped up in any type of a lawsuit, however if a past debt of yours has been sent to collections, then the possibility of being sued is there. That’s right, typically when an account goes to collections, the debt collector will take one of two routes based on the research he/she does on you. These are to either:

 

  • Regularly contact you as a means of getting you to settle the debt.
  • Take you to court.

Usually, the latter decision is made when the collector thinks they can get more money out of you that way. However, usually when a debt collector takes a consumer to court, they’ve very confident that they’ll be on the favorable side of the outcome. That’s because suing a consumer isn’t cheap – there are attorney fees and filing fees involved, which certainly can add up. In other words, taking a consumer to court isn’t a slam-dunk move that’s made – it has to make sense. first

So let’s say a debt collector thinks suing you makes sense in your case. Would you know what to do? Here’s a closer look:

A Debt Collector is Suing Me: What Now?

You just got the notice in the mail that you’re being sued for a delinquent debt. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Don’t ignore it: Ignoring the notice will only make things worse. Contrary to what many people believe, ignoring the lawsuit won’t make it stop or go away. So when the notice comes, be sure to sign it to make it known that you received it. If you ignore the lawsuit, the likely outcome is that the court will order a judgment for the debt that you owe – plus you may be required to pay any attorney fees the collector accrued. This is often completed through garnishing your wages, placing liens on any property you own or freezing your bank account until the debt is settled. We’ll say it again because we can’t downplay its importance – don’t ignore the lawsuit!
  • Lawyer up: After acknowledging the lawsuit, you need to seek legal representation. We strongly advise speaking with an attorney that specializes in the Fair Debt Practices Act so that you can get a complete and thorough understanding when it comes to your rights. It’s also worth noting that in most debt collection lawsuits, an agreement is reached outside of the courtroom that is satisfactory to both parties. But without a qualified lawyer, you’re likely headed for defeat.

Of course, we’d be remiss to mention that the best way to avoid this type of lawsuit is to stay on top of your finances, pay bills on time and don’t let your borrowing get out of hand. For those that are sued though, know that you can often reach an amicable agreement with the collector if you have the right representation.

 

There are three big complaints about the current credit scoring system in the United States – it’s confusing, it’s not always fair and it’s not always as accurate as it pretends to be. And considering that about one-third of all Americans have either poor or bad credit, it’s probably a good bet that a significant number of these individuals are “victims of the system” to some extent. In other words, their credit situation isn’t quite as dire as their FICO score indicates.

But soon this may be changing, thanks to a bill introduced in May by Rep. Maxine Waters dubbed the “Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 2016.” The proposed bill could help a number of Americans improve their credit scores – and they wouldn’t even have to do anything:

What the Proposed Bill Includes

  • Bad credit information (i.e. foreclosures, Chapter 13 bankruptcy) would be removed from credit reports after 4 years (not 7 as it currently stands).
  • Debts that have been paid and settled would be removed 45 days after the date of finalization.
  • Employers would be forbidden to check a would-be employee’s credit report for employment consideration purposes.
  • Disputes wouldn’t be handled so much by the consumer, but by the credit bureaus.
  • Credit reports and credit checks would be able to be accessed complimentary more regularly so individuals could monitor improvements. Presently, consumers are allowed one free credit report check a year.
  • Credit relief would be provided to those that have been victimized by predatory lending.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be in charge of monitoring and developing scoring algorithms and models.

Will it Pass?

While the proposed Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 2016 appears favorable (and practical?), it’s also another pitch in a line of credit reform proposals that have been introduced over the years. And these proposals have done little in the way of moving the legislative needle when it comes to credit scoring.

In fact, this is the second recent credit reform pitch from Waters herself, as her first attempt came in 2014. Last year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Steve Cohen introduced a proposal that would prohibit employers from checking credit scores and reports on job applicants. Both proposals didn’t pass. In fact, the last real notable change in credit reporting may have been way back in 2003 when an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act permitted consumers to receive complimentary annual credit reports. Based on this unfavorable track record, the Waters’ latest proposal may appear to be a long shot, but the Senator is still working to help raise support for it.

Stay tuned to see where – if anywhere – this bill goes, as it could spell some welcome relief for millions of Americans with less than favorable credit scores.