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Category Archives: Finance

About Bailiffs and Council Tax

Council Tax and Poll Tax are usually collected by private firms of bailiffs on behalf of your local council. They try to take your goods away and sell them, usually at auction, to raise money to pay the debt. The process they have to follow to say they want your goods is called ‘distraining’ or ‘levying’.

From October 1998 bailiffs who call must be “certificated”. This means they must have a certificate from the County Court allowing them to act as bailiffs. You can complain to the County Court about a certificated bailiff.

From April 1998 you should get a letter from the Council telling you how much you owe and warning you that a bailiff will call if you do not pay the debt within 14 days. It will also tell you who to contact at the council if you have a query. Contact the council and try to make an arrangement to pay what you can afford
immediately. If the council agrees then they can stop bailiffs calling out and save you extra fees.

DO I HAVE TO LET THE BAILIFFS IN?

IF THE BAILIFFS HAVE NOT BEEN INTO YOUR HOME BEFORE TO COLLECT THIS DEBT, THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO COME IN. THEY CANNOT BREAK IN. YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO LET THEM IN.

* DON’T open the door to them as they may try to push past you. If they get inside, they have a right to enter again and may break in to take your goods.

* DON’T leave windows open or doors unlocked – bailiffs can legally get in through these. Bailiffs
CANNOT get the police to help them break in.

* BEWARE! Some bailiffs may leave you a phone number, and arrange to come round to ‘have a chat’. Don’t let them in, even if they say it’s only to use the toilet or make a phone call.

* Bailiffs MAY try to break into sheds, garages, greenhouses etc., even though this is illegal. KEEP VALUABLES SAFE! They may be able to take cars, motor-bikes and other vehicles parked near your home.

* Politely but firmly refuse to let the bailiffs in. Offer what you can afford to pay. If the bailiffs accept your offer, ask them to return to their car, and go out and pay them. Make sure you get a receipt.

DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! If the bailiff leaves papers for you to sign and return, you do not have to do this. You don’t have to sign agreements posted through your door either.

THE BAILIFFS HAVE ALREADY BEEN INSIDE MY HOME

THIS IS MORE SERIOUS. If you have let them in before, then bailiffs have the right to return to you home and if you don’t let them in, they are allowed to break in.

* Contact the bailiffs straight away and make an offer to pay the debt in instalments. Show them a copy of your personal budget so they can see you are offering as much as you can afford. You will need to treat this as a priority debt as bailiffs could come back and take any goods they have listed if you don’t pay. Get a receipt for any payments you make.

* Contact you council and ask them to take the debt back. Ask your local Councillor for help.

Way Get Low Interest Credit Card

Another interest rate will usually apply, as well – the rate for cash advances. Cash advances are usually limited to a couple hundred dollars, but credit card companies often insist that when paying back the balance, the credit portion must be paid back first, then the portion that the cash advance applies to. So if you are going to keep a balance on your credit card, be aware that cash advance interest rates are higher than the regular interest rates. Cash advances can be incredibly helpful in emergencies, though, when a credit card cannot be used.

Visa and MasterCard are by far the most commonly accepted credit cards, so less commonly used cards such as American Express and Discover often offer special rates for new customers. These rates are worth attention, even if you think that you may not be able to use the card as easily as your previous credit cards, because transferring the balance to these new cards to obtain the lower interest rate may significantly lower your payments. While your AmEx or Discover Card may not be accepted as often, they can be a good tool to achieving your financial goals.

Even less commonly used are credit cards that are store specific, such as gas cards or department store cards, but these cards can offer incredible deals on interest rates. They rely on the fact that consumers will often switch their spending patterns to the new gas station or store, and this increased revenue makes up for the lower interest rates. A slight change in your habits, such as consistently using the new credit card at the new gas station, can lower payments and improve credit scores.

Information of Credit Establishment

Upon making your monthly payments to the Credit Card Company or bank, your information is electronically transmitted to a credit-reporting agency. Trans Union, Equifax and Experian are the three major credit agencies. Once you have made your payments consistently your rating will rise accordingly. Once your rating has hit 650 or better, your mailbox will become flooded with attractive offers for credit cards and loans. People will want to give you the world because you can pay your bills in a timely manner.

You may be surprised but if you do not act financially responsible, it can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment or even opening a bank account. The fact of the matter is that your credit rating is very important in today’s society. Your ability to keep it up to date by monitoring it is crucial. Once a year you can pull a free credit report from each agency. Check the report for accuracy, should it be reporting errors contact them immediately to resolve the issue. Some people might think a simple phone call can fix everything. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, repairing damaged credit takes time and only you can do it. Once you file a claim, stick with it and make sure it gets resolved. Once a correction has been made you will receive notification or an amended report from the agency showing the change. Your credit report has much more at stake for you in the present and in the future, watch it closely.

Establish Great Credit

If you do not know what is in your credit file, check with your local credit bureaus. Most cities have two or three credit bureaus, which are listed under “Credit” or “Credit Reporting Agencies” in the Yellow Pages. For a small fee, they will tell you what information is in your file and may give you a copy of your credit report.

If you have had credit before under a different name or in a different location and it is not reported in your file, ask the credit bureau to include it. If you shared accounts with a former spouse, ask the credit bureau to list these accounts under your name as well. Although credit bureaus are not required to add new accounts to your file, many will do so for a small fee. Finally, if you presently share in the use of a credit account with your spouse, ask the creditor to report it under both names.

Creditors are not required to report any account history information to credit bureaus. If a creditor does report on an account, however, and if both spouses are permitted to use the account or are contractually liable for its repayment, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act you can require the creditor to report the information under both names. When contacting your creditor or credit bureau, do so in writing and include relevant information, such as account numbers, to help speed the process. As with all important business communications, keep a copy of what you send.

If you do not have a credit history, you should begin to build one. If you have a steady income and have lived in the same area for at least a year, try applying for credit with a local business, such as a department store. Or you might borrow a small amount from your credit union or the bank where you have checking and savings accounts.

A local bank or department store may approve your credit application even if you do not meet the standards of larger creditors. Before you apply for credit, ask whether the creditor reports credit history information to credit bureaus serving your area. Most creditors do, but some do not. If possible, you should try to get credit that will be reported. This builds your credit history.

Save Money on Credit Cards

The first and most obvious way to save money is to pay the balance each month. However if this is not possible then there are ways to save money. Moving money from credit card to credit card to take advantage of interest free balance transfers and effectively borrowing money for free. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on each card before you transfer.

Pay your credit card bill on time and avoid late fees which can cost you up to $40 each time. Check the payment option and guidelines on your bill. The best method of avoiding late fees is to setup a direct debit for the minimum payment each month.

Keep a close eye on your fees and charges and manage them very closely. Check you balance statement every month. Avoid withdrawing cash from your credit card. These services will cost you from 2% upwards of the amount drawn.

Credit Balance Transfers

It is important to remember that a balance transfer does not mean that the debt has gone away. It just means you are not paying interest on it. You will still have to maintain payments.

This may seem obvious but many people do not get this straight in their mind.

The basic criteria for getting a balance transfer is when you regularly have an outstanding balance after making your monthly payments. This is the amount you should look to transfer to another card. This will mean that for the period of the offer you will pay no interest on the balance (provided you make the minimum payments).

You should be very wary of taking up a balance transfer, if your overall debt is increasing. A balance transfer is not a green light to spend more money. The money you save should be used to decrease your debt.

What should I look for in a balance transfer ?

You need to be aware of the following when looking for a balance transfer card

Good things

  • Length of offer period.
  • Offer Interest Rate.
  • The zero or low interest rate charged on the balance.
  • Possible transfers from loans and overdrafts.
  • On some cards you can transfer from existing loans and overdrafts and still get the offer.

Bad things

  • Cut-off period for the balance transfer offer.
  • Hidden Charges on transfers.
  • Some banks will charge a handling fee on the balance transfer.

How long the offer is valid for ?

There is usually a cut off point from the account opening when the offer is no longer valid. Be very aware of this otherwise you could end up transferring a balance to a higher rate !!

Unless there is also a 0% interest rate on new purchases then you should avoid making new purchases on a balance transfer card. This is because the banks will look to reduce the balance transfer debt quicker than the new debt. Provided your credit history is reasonable, there is nothing stopping you having several cards for different purposes. A good way is to have a card, which specialises in 0% on new purchases and another card for balance transfers.

When the balance transfer offer period finishes the debt will revert to the typical variable APR. The lenders hope at this point that the cardholder will retain the card and some of the debt, so they can then start charging interest and making some money! So take into consideration the low interest rate credit cards. However, there is nothing stopping the disciplined credit card holder from switching to another balance transfer deal and closing the account. The cycle then starts again. Always allow 6 weeks to 8 weeks before the end of the offer period to apply for a new card. This means you can get the balance transferred to the new card before the lender can start charging the higher rate. You have to be organised to do this, but if you are it does work. People who regularly switch balances are know as card tarts.

Importance Of Credit Cards

For all those of you who are oblivious to what this card is let us giving you some insight. Usually a bank might issue its customers a card that can be used as a method of payment. This is what a credit card does. It allows the cardholder to pay for any goods and services based on their promise to the bank to pay back later. The bank usually creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder from whom the cardholder borrows money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance. Most of the times retailers or people in other such businesses own card terminals through which they can charge the people for the required amount of bill that the people have acquired. The money you spend using a your card also helps you earn points in return. Nowadays many people earn money while sitting at home by selling credit card points.

There are many types of card terminals available in the market for the merchants to use in their daily lives. Most of the merchants usually choose to buy the same basic terminals and they are cheap and still provide them with all the services that may need to use them for. A merchant usually inserts, swipes or manually enters the required credit card information so as to transmit the data to the merchant service provider for authorization and finally to transfer funds to the merchant. However the latest models available in the market not only process credit cards and debit cards but can also handle gift cards, checks, and so on and so forth. Most of the card terminals that we see nowadays require a phone line over which they transmit all the data or in some cases through some internet connection (wired or wireless). Some terminals also have the added ability to store much of the transactional data and transmit this data to the gateway processor whenever a connection is available. These types of machines are especially useful in areas where the internet connection or telephone lines are not very stable and tend to disconnect after small intervals.

Tricks Boost Credit Score

PAYMENT HISTORY (35 percent)

Paying your current bills on time is the single most important factor in obtaining a high credit score. This category includes credit cards like Visa and MasterCard, retail accounts, installment loans such as those for a car or education, loans from finance companies, and home mortgages. Also included in this category are matters of public record such as bankruptcies, liens, wage garnishments, and collection accounts. The key to a higher score: Pay your bills on time!

HOW MUCH DEBT YOU CARRY (30 percent)

This category considers the amount of debt you owe on your various credit accounts. If you’ve “maxed out” your available credit, this could indicate that you are overextended financially and won’t be able to make your payments on time or repay your debts completely. This category also examines how many of your accounts carry balances and how much money you’ve already repaid. Closing accounts with a zero balance does not generally improve your score in this area. The key to a higher score: Keep your credit card balances low.

LENGTH OF ESTABLISHED CREDIT (15 percent)

The longer you’ve had credit accounts the higher you will score in this area. The age of your oldest account and the average age of all your accounts are used in determining your score. Old accounts that have gone unused are also considered. The key to a higher score: Establish good credit and keep accounts active.

APPLICATIONS FOR NEW CREDIT (10 percent)

Opening multiple credit accounts within a short period of time represents a greater risk of becoming overextended. Each time you apply for credit an inquiry is made into your credit history and these inquiries show up in your credit report. A high number of credit inquiries will lower your score.

Some inquiries are not considered in your score. These include: requests by you for your credit report, inquiries from companies for pre-approved offers or companies that already do business with you, along with inquiries from potential employers. Some requests for credit are treated as a single inquiry especially when you are shopping for the best loan rate. The key to a higher score: Only apply for and open new credit accounts when you need them.

YOUR CREDIT MIX (10 percent)

This category examines the types of credit accounts you have and how many of each. Can a person have too many accounts? Yes and no. It really depends on whether you have an established credit history or no credit history at all. The key to a higher score: Open credit accounts only if you intend to use them.

Credit Damage

there are legally accepted means for measuring loss of credit through the procedure of Credit Damage Measurement (CDM). CDM is fast becoming a potent tool for recoverable credit damage awards when the damage is not self-inflicted. Previously, both judge and jury, and especially the insurance companies, refused to acknowledge CDM claiming it was speculative because they could not define it as tangible damage.

However, in case after case, victims of credit damage who use the CDM method are getting compensation for credit loss. Many factors are changing the old mindset including credit bureau technology improvements, the application of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), risk scoring sophistication, and the development of CDM as an objective, repeatable method that measures out-of-pocket damage reliably.

Credit Ratings and Recovery

The impact of a bad credit rating is much more significant than most people think. Consider what poorly rated consumers face when they want to lease or buy vehicles, obtain credit cards, buy or lease or refinance their residence. In most cases, it’s an easy decision for the creditor: the credit application is simply turned down or the borrower is charged a much higher down payment – maybe thousands of dollars more with monthly payments that are typically several hundred dollars more.

“A person with bad credit is viewed with suspicion and is charged significantly more for future extension of credit because the lender feels the need to protect against a greater risk or default,” says Tom Key, a civil litigator practicing in Tustin, CA.

“Over the years I have heard reports of financial damages from clients who have been wrongfully terminated, defrauded, injured in an accident or suffered losses from breach of contract,” Key says. “These victims were especially distraught over the fact that their prime credit reputation, carefully nurtured for years, is destroyed overnight. It seemed to me that there must be a way to compensate victims for that type of loss.”

Key has witnessed the reactions of many jurors who failed to award a victim of credit damage their rightful compensation simply because they could not quantify the damages. “Jurors want a specific loss that they can count, hold and see,” says Key. “Their reasoning is that they need to know that it is genuine. They have a tough time awarding damages based on sympathy. In order for them to confirm authenticity of a claim, they want to see its quantification.”

Measuring Loss of Creditworthiness

Assuring authenticity has been a sticky situation when it concerns measuring out-of-pocket loss for victims of credit damage — until now. Attorneys who represent victims of credit damage are now utilizing the Credit Damage Measurement method to recover out-of-pocket losses for their clients.

“CDM measures the actual out-of-pocket dollars reasonably expected from loss of creditworthiness, which includes higher down payments, higher points and costs on loans, higher interest rates, higher monthly payments, or outright denial of credit,” says Key. “In addition, the CDM method also calculates the rates, costs and other terms applicable to the resulting credit rating by lenders and projects the results over the relevant number of years for the types of loans the client is likely to seek.”

Key continues, “For example, if a client’s credit was near perfect before a triggering event, and is subsequently damaged by the event, the CDM procedure can illustrate before and after analyses, calculating the cost of the same loans with the two different credit reports, Pre- injury credit compared to Post-injury credit.” In many cases, CDM clients have already realized significant compensation. In one such case CDM was instrumental in recovering $56,000 for damaged credit reputation. “That calculation is the difference between what refinancing a $140,000 loan would have cost my client with their prior rating, and what it will cost them out-of-pocket with their damaged credit rating –measured over a seven-year period.”

Some Ways Can Take to Get Paid

Gather together all the past due invoices, and stamp them PAST DUE.

If you have an email address or phone number with a contact name for your client, email them or call them and give them the information on the past due invoices and let them know their account is on hold.

Mail the invoices to your client with return receipt requested or send them in a flat rate Priority Mail envelope with delivery confirmation.

Send a letter with these invoices stating the age, invoice numbers, their PO#, your account #, total amount due, and any other pertinent information.

Tell them their account is on hold and you will not be shipping any more products or providing any services to them until these invoices are paid. You can include a self addressed envelope and state that you have enclosed an envelope for them to send their check. Give them a date, to have this paid to you.

Once they have received the package, email or call them. Ask them what they are doing with the invoices. Ask them questions such as:

Do they have to be approved by someone else?

If they have to be approved, who has to approve them and when will they give them to that person? Get that person’s direct number if possible. Find out if that person signs the checks.

Are there any discrepancies with the invoices?

When will the check be cut? When can you call back for the check number?

Once all the past due balances are cleared up, you need to think about future invoices. Do you want to extend credit again or do you want to have pre-payment or payment at the time of the order. Whatever you decide put it in writing. If you can both sign the agreement, that is even better. Remember, having a credit policy in place tells people you mean business.