Questions Others Are Asking

  • Name: Jane
    City: Winton
    Question: I have more debt than income; finding a second job is almost not an option with the unemployment rate the way it is. Is it better to withdraw money from a 401K and pay off debt or continue to get behind and who knows what the end result will be. I would like to get out of debt and protect my credit.
    Answer: Jane, I would first suggest you no longer use your credit card (if possible) When you borrow from your 401(k), you do have to pay it back, so that just increases your debt load (you may owe taxes and penalties, please consult a tax advisor). Try to negotiate a better interest rate from a new credit card company and then transfer the balance (Be aware that some credit card companies charge a transfer fee, typically 3%).
  • Name: Cathy
    City: Atwater, CA
    Question: I have been making my credit card payments on time - barely. Now I am finding that my interest rates are more than doubling. I will never be able to get out of debt at this rate and probably will not be able to afford the minimum payment. How can a person negotiate to get a better interest rate or is something being done to force credit card companies to stop this policy and go back and make it right?
    Answer: Legislation is pending to preclude financial institutions from increasing interest rates on balances. Try to operate by just using cash for the interim. Also, try to negotiate a better interest rate or consider a balance transfer to a company that charges low rates, such as a credit union. www.creditunionsonline.com
  • Name: Kat
    City: San Marcos
    Question: I filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in 2003 and have been paying payments on it ever since. My attorney abandoned me, as he's being brought up on charges and I need help to modify my 13 to a Chapter 7...can you help me? I'm 65 and feel like I'm drowning in these payments..... thanks so much....
    Answer: Contact Legal Aid www.legal-aid.org in your city for advice. There are also Senior Centers who can recommend the right advisors for your situation. Always check www.bbb.org (Better Business Bureau) before you contact for services.
  • Name: Anna
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: I have a rental unit and my residence mortgage, both homes mortgages are more that the homes are valued at now. Credit cards are almost maxed out, is there a program for me where I will not lose either home?
    Answer: Contact Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions (http://www.bydesignsolutions.org ) in your area and make an appointment to help you with your options. Also check www.nfcc.org before contracting for credit counseling services
  • Name: Kristi
    City: Palo Alto
    Question: Now that I am unemployed, I am unable to pay on my credit cards, as my unemployment amount only covers the COBRA health insurance, mortgage, food and car payment. My accounts have now gone into collection and I feel terrible about this. Is there something I can do to have the debt reduced or forgiven?
    Answer: Consumer Credit Counseling can help you write letters to your creditors, possibly reduce the balances and set up a practical payment plan, visit www.nfcc.org for credit counselors in your area.
  • Name: B. L.
    City: Santa Rosa, California
    Question: I have been unemployed for 18 months; have used up all my savings; I cannot pay more than $25/mo on my credit cards as I only receive Social Security and can barely survive on that. I simply cannot see where any additional money can come from to even negotiate any relief other than filing bankruptcy.
    Answer: Consumer Credit Counseling can meet with you to possibly reduce the balances and set up a practical payment plan, visit www.nfcc.org for credit counselors in your area. If this solution does not work for you, then consult with a bankruptcy attorney or contact Legal Aid www.legal-aid.org in your city for advice.
  • Name: Jean
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: Does Bank of America honor the credit card debt? They told me that they did not honor it.
    Answer: I am not sure what you are asking, but you need to contact several financial institutions to see if they honor credit card balance transfers.
  • Name: Janet
    City: Ontario
    Question: HI! 11 years ago (at least) I allowed a phone(landline) to be put in an apt my daughter rented. After a few months-she left and owed $260 To this day she won't pay me. About 6 months had gone by. The company 'found' my address. To this day I thought I had paid-it off when I re-fied a home about 7 years ago. Less than a month ago I got a bill from a credit agency saying I can pay a partial and I'm done. Please be aware I had heard nothing from them until about 2 years ago. I have never called, spoken or otherwise to this telephone co. I was told if they don't get you-after 4 years they can't do a thing. Advise me please. I divorced my husband 5 years ago and I couldn't find the paperwork if I wanted to.
    Answer: Does your daughter have a job? If so, you could consider filing a claim against her in Small Claims court for all charges she is responsible for. You might want to fully digest the impact on your relationship before you act. In future financial dealings with family members, money given to family members should be considered a gift, unless you formalize the transaction by drafting a note, getting it notarized, etc.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: Can your wages be garnished, and can they take property (real estate, bank acct.,etc.) if you owe a good amount?
    Answer: Call Consumer Credit Counseling www.nfcc.org and the Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: Is debt consolidation with a private company wise? If so, is there a reputable one? I owe a great deal and it is not going down.
    Answer: Call the Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org in your area and ask them about this private company, see if they can recommend a good one.
  • Name: Lillian
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: My husband and I owe about $80,000 in credit card. My husband lost a lot of our income. He lost his two jobs and had to take a new job that pays less than either of his other two jobs. We have cut back one everything we could, but we can't make ends meet. We are both 50 and we have our only child that is ten years old. A couple of friends (including an attorney friend) have told us not to pay the Credit Card debt any more. Can we just not pay without declaring bankruptcy? If we don't declare bankruptcy what will be the consequences?
    Answer: Contact Legal Aid immediately www.legal-aid.org. Not paying is a bad idea! Also, I would get at least 2 more opinions for legal counsel before I moved forward.
  • Name: Carlos
    City: Sacramento
    Question: Is there a way you can help me consolidate 20k in debt and pay a low monthly payment? That includes 4 credit cards and a car loan.
    Answer: Contact your local Consumer Credit Counseling. www.nfcc.org
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: What if you are disabled and cannot work and unable to repay your credit bills? should you file for bankruptcy or ignore the debt collectors?
    Answer: Contact your local Consumer Credit Counseling. www.nfcc.org
  • Name: A
    City:
    Question: My credit rating used to be excellent and then my mother died after a long illness and I could not cope. My credit rating is now very poor. I want to buy a home next year or so. What can I do to improve my credit rating? Does the negative information ever get erased? Will I have trouble buying or even renting? Help.
    Answer: To improve your credit score, the number one factor is your payment history. Going forward be sure to pay your bills on time and in full. Credit history does not get erased, but negative credit items (i.e.-foreclosure, bankruptcy) typically take 7-10 years to clear from your credit report. You should be able to rent a place to live; you may be required to put a larger deposit. It will take time, but you can recover.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: If you have over $20,000 in credit card debt and can make the payments at this time, should you still keep the credit cards active or cut them up? It is very hard to function without credit cards. Perhaps I have become too dependent on them. I make $140,000 a year. What do you advise? I am 68 years old but do not plan to retire for another five years if not longer. What should I do? Clara
    Answer: I would suggest not using your credit cards for additional purchases until the entire balance is paid off. I would operate in a cash only mode. I would suggest one credit card should suffice. Find a bank or credit union that will negotiate a good interest rate and potentially consolidate your debt.. When you are back on solid footing, slowly close your credit cards over a two or three year period to minimize the detrimental effect on your credit score. Retain one credit card with the longest history.
  • Name: Doris
    City: Long Beach
    Question: I recently learned that I need surgery to restore my ability to function properly. I was in an automobile accident in 2006. My Workers Comp check stopped in Dec. 2008. I was working and en route to a school in another city when the accident occurred. I consistently requested seeing my own Orthopedic physician but was denied until this year. I have lost several precious items in my life. Inability to work to compensate my income, inability to perform my former occupation which was Field Interviewer for Health/Education. I am not making it financially due to my injuries. I need assistance ASAP.
    Answer: Depending on your employment and employer, were you covered by a union? If so, I hope you have met with union officials as they may be of assistance. If not, I hope you have retained legal counsel as they could best spell out your options. I would also contact your creditors and put them on notice of the situation. Communicate!
  • Name: Leigh
    City: Hawthorne
    Question: How can you get your bills paid off the fastest when your interest is very high, and you'll be retiring in about a year and a half, and the banks won't lower your interest? Thank you.
    Answer: I would first do a budget and look at your current spending. Next, I would direct every extra dollar towards your highest interest rate debt first, then the second highest, and so on. Lastly, I would contact a Consumer Credit Counselor to see if they could assist you www.nfcc.org
  • Name: Theresa
    City: Rancho Cordova
    Question: The credit card company recently dropped my limit without notice. I contacted them as to why and was told because my mortgage payment was late. I stated that I have been an excellent customer since having the card in which I have never been late, over the limit, etc. and have paid the card off several times. I am current to date and just do not agree and understand what other accounts have to do with me my agreement with them. In addition, this has further lower my credit score without notice.
    Answer: Unfortunately, in the bad economy, financial institutions have lowered their limits, increased interest rates, etc. to address the risk they are carrying on their financial statements. To address this, I would create a budget, try to minimize your spending, and try to open another credit card with another company. Once you are accepted, consider a balance transfer.
  • Name: Marcine
    City: San Diego
    Question: How do I get around huge interest charges on credit cards?
    Answer: Find a company who will guarantee a reasonable fixed interest rate and transfer your balances to them. Put small charges on your credit card which you can pay off each month on the other cards and slowly close them out over time to minimize the impact on your credit score.
  • Name: Kenneth
    City: Chula Vista
    Question: How can I lower my rates to pay off my credit cards? How can I combine my credit cards to have just one? What is a good credit score? How can I raise my credit line?
    Answer: You need to contact a Consumer Credit Counseling agency www.nfcc.org
  • Name: Shirley
    City: Gilroy
    Question: Bank of America just increased by interest rate to over 26% which means I will not be able to make that high a payment. They have done this with 3 credit cards I have through them. What can be done? Thank you.
    Answer: Try not to make any additional purchases on the credit card. Join a credit union and transfer your credit card balance.
  • Name: Steve
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: I have a about $40,000 in credit card debt. I've been able to make all my minimums, and keep the interest rates fairly low (none over 10%). But just making the minimums is getting harder and harder. I've heard stories about banks accepting 50 cents on a dollar to settle up totally, reducing interest rates, reducing minimums etc. How can I explore this since I don't think I'm going to be able to maintain the current minimums, but I don't want gigantic interest rates to take hold, or to totally mess up my credit. What are my best options?
    Answer: Contact a Consumer Credit Counseling agency by visiting www.nfcc.org and www.bbb.org. They can possibly negotiate a lower rate or possibly reduce the principal. They might suggest a debt management plan, which is usually reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: How can I reduce the amount of interest I pay on my credit card?
    Answer: Call and try to negotiate with them, or transfer to another card company with guaranteed rates. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the new card before you sign the application.
  • Name:
    City: Vacaville
    Question: My husband and I are paying less than the required payment on 5 of our credit cards. We can only send them $30 a month. We have asked them to close our accounts on these cards but they still add finance charges to the balance each month. Can they do this?
    Answer: A credit card is a loan, and you still owe the financial institution money. They could charge a finance charge on the balance regardless of the account being closed or not. If you are paying less than the minimum due you are being dinged for late payments and most likely being charged late fees with finance charges on that. You need to check with banking regulators to see if the practice is legal or not.
  • Name: Norma
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: Why is it important to have a good credit rating?' (If the answer is ... To be able to get credit ... Then why should someone need credit?) Thank you for any information, Norma CuriousCreations.com
    Answer: Pay cash for most everything, given that philosophy, and it shouldn’t concern you one way or the other. I would continue to keep at least one, possibly two credit cards, charge something you need on the card every 60 days and pay the bill off in full.
  • Name: R
    City: Kelseyville
    Question: How can I have all of my credit cards made into just one? I keep trying. However, I am 66 and living on social security so, I keep being denied. How can I be approved for so many and not one large one? The interest rates go up and up and up! Then, the due dates change. I pay on the 1st when I receive my Social Security check. So, when they change the dates sometimes I am charged a late fee (I have never been late - NOT EVER) when I have always paid on the same date (in some cases for many, many years).
    Answer: I would contact a credit counselor www.nfcc.org and they will help you construct a budget and possibly negotiate on the credit cards and possibly put in place a debt management plan. A DMP is typically reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Name: Mary
    City: Santa Rosa
    Question: I have a current credit rating of 724. However, while I paid off one major ($5000) card already, and was beginning on the other, fees have pushed it over the maximum allowed by about $150. This overage includes insurance on the card balance. Is it possible to negotiate a lower payoff amount without having to pay it all at once? What will that do to my credit rating? Thanks.
    Answer: I suggest you contact your credit card company immediately and ask them to lower your payoff amount. If that is not successful, contact a Consumer Credit Counseling agency www.nfcc.org. In the short term, your credit score could go lower, but if you make timely payments, it should improve over the next year or so.
  • Name: Karin
    City: Modesto
    Question: I have massive personal loans and credit card debt. It has reached the point where I can no longer both pay my taxes (I am partially self-employed and have high estimated taxes) and pay my debt. I have been late a number of times and most of my credit cards have interest rates of 29.99 percent. At this rate, I will never get out of debt. Can Consumer Credit Counseling help me, or do I need a lawyer, and how do I know if a firm advertising debt relief is legitimate or not?
    Answer: Contact Consumer Credit Counseling www.nfcc.org and Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org for answers.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: Why hasn't the government put a lower limit on the percentage that a credit card company can charge on an unpaid balance? An AARP card is only issued to people over 50 years old. Currently my AARP Visa is charging a 24% fee on any unpaid balance. Cost for goods and services have gotten more expensive every year. For lots of people it's difficult to keep up with these charges. My lowest credit card interest rate is 14%. I think charges any higher than that are ridiculous. But the government hasn't addressed this issue. One of the major reasons that many Americans are drowning in debt is the outrageous interest rates that are being legally charged by the credit card issuers.
    Answer: There is pending legislation to address these types of credit card practices. For now, try to operate and only use cash if possible while you are searching for a credit card transfer. Most credit unions do not charge a credit card transfer fee and the rates are generally under 19%.
  • Name: Diane
    City: Oakland
    Question: Given my family's current financial situation, I have switched from paying my balances in full to paying little more than the minimum. Therefore I am now more concerned about my interest rate. Normally I would call and ask for a lower rate, but I am afraid that question will trigger some negative action on the part of the credit card company. I have heard news stories that card companies are lowering credit limits and raising rates for no contractual reason. Should I ask, or lay low?
    Answer: Try to find an institution that will guarantee a lower rate and transfer your balances. You might be charged a 3% balance transfer fee, so be sure to ask. Also, many transfer cards won’t allow you to make additional purchases or the entire balance could be subject to a higher rate, so again be sure to ask.
  • Name: L
    City: Banning
    Question: Is it possible for me to ask my credit card companies to lower my interest rate?
    Answer: You can ask anything. Tell them you are thinking of transferring to another company and you would hope they would work with you, especially if you have been a loyal, long-term customer.
  • Name: Dan
    City: Westminster,Ca.
    Question: I have 6 credit cards with a debt of $7500 and just signed up with "Credit Solutions". Are they a reputable company? I have had to take early retirement from Social Security after being laid off of my job. I am 62 and I needed some money coming in. I am unable to pay on these cards and they told me they would be able to "settle" with the card companies at up to 60% off my total debt. Their program would take at least 2 years. Does this sound right to you? Please advise. Thank you, Dan.
    Answer: Contact the Better Business Bureau right away! www.bbb.org
  • Name: Olivia
    City: Northridge
    Question: Is there any type of relief from paying credit cards while collecting unemployment benefits? I have recently lost my job and will not be able to cover all my payments with the money I will be receiving from unemployment.
    Answer: Consumer Credit Counseling will help you negotiate smaller payments. www.nfcc.org
  • Name: Regina
    City: Lancaster CA
    Question: I have several credit cards that I cannot pay. One is Chase Bank who is now trying to get a summary judgment and attach any thing that they can. I am a notary, and not working very much. My husband is on Social security retirement, that is or only means of survival. My husband and I have a joint checking account. Can I stop any attachment to our account? We are trying to modify the home loan so that we don't lose our home, we are seniors, we are not making enough to pay the adjusted mortgage. Our lender is working with us, however if there is a lien put on the property that might cause us not to get the modification.
    Answer: Call Legal Aid immediately! www.legal-aid.org
  • Name: Switchtinder
    City: 92354
    Question: If my only residence is a motor home and I owe more than it's value, can I redo my loan like a house? I am a senior on a fixed retirement income. I also have credit card debt of over $30,000.00 can I do something about that too? Sorry about not giving my name, but I have lost my trust in our gov. Please respond.
    Answer: Call Legal Aid. www.legal-aid.org
  • Name: Jenny
    City: Simi Valley, Ca
    Question: I have the lowest APR on my credit cards and have been living off them since health issues and have good credit rating but payments are high. How can I get them lowered without penalty since I'm a good customer for them? Thank you.
    Answer: Call them and ask. Or consolidate with one company who will offer a decent interest rate. Consider credit counseling www.nfcc.org to find a credit counselor in your area.
  • Name: Mohammad
    City: San Jose
    Question: I want help consolidating my credit card debts and improve my credit rating.
    Answer: A non-profit consumer credit counseling agency would be able to review your financial situation and help you determine your options. You should look for an agency that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau. 30% of you credit score is based on your total outstanding balances; so paying down the debt is an important step towards a better score. Moving the debt around or simply consolidating the debt is not always the best solution to improve your score.
  • Name: Leota
    City: San Mateo
    Question:I cannot pay back all of my credit card payments. This is the last week of my unemployment insurance, my last check. After that I have no income, and no savings, so I probably will become homeless. My unemployment payment has been $1400 a month, my rent $875. What can I do? I've been out of work for over a year, since Feb. 2008. I'm 56 years old, and an administrative assistant. No one will hire me.
    Answer: A non-profit consumer credit counseling agency would be able to review your financial situation and help you determine your options. You should look for an agency that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau. You may need to look for work in a different field than the jobs you have had in the past and you should find out your eligibility for any free re-training programs from your local unemployment office.
  • Name: Jim
    City: Lakewood
    Question: I just returned from living in Thailand for the last 10 years, I was turned down for a credit card and see all kinds of bad stuff on my report, which are not mine, even for Social Security numbers that are not mine, no financial transaction has occurred in my name in the last 10 years, but even if these were mine, should they not have been removed after 7 years? What is your advice to get my report corrected? Thanks, Jim.
    Answer: Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. Once you have your report you can dispute much of the incorrect or inaccurate information online. You will need to tell the bureaus exactly what information you are disputing, what about the information is incorrect and what you would like them to do to correct the information. A non-profit credit counseling agency may be able to assist you in understanding what information is being reported. There is also a great deal of information available at the Federal Trade Commission website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: Some credit card companies are severely increasing their annual percentage rates on PREVIOUSLY EXISTING balances, even though we have never been late with a single payment. The "option" they give is to refuse the percentage rate increase AND pay off the balance by a given date. However, our fixed incomes are not increasing; we are retired and disabled, so we don't see options for increasing our incomes. So these increases feel especially abusive to us. What do you advise?
    Answer: Most credit card companies reserve the right to change the terms of your account with them at any time for any reason so long as you have an outstanding balance on the account. You could look to transfer your existing balances onto an account that has a lower interest rate, but be wary of short term balance transfer offers. You could also contact a non-profit consumer credit counseling agency would be able to review your financial situation and help you determine your options. You should look for an agency that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau. One possible option may be a Debt Management Program where a repayment plan could be negotiated with your creditors. In many cases creditors may reduce the monthly interest rate, accept lower monthly payments, and suspend late and overlimit fees until the debt is paid in full; a Debt Management Program can usually get you out of debt in 5 years or less.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: How can I get out of debt? Was out of work 3 years had a medical disaster without insurance. Spent my retirement funds to avoid bankruptcy. Now have job and want to recover but am finding it difficult. Lots of credit card debt.
    Answer: A non-profit consumer credit counseling agency would be able to review your financial situation and help you determine your options. You should look for an agency that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau. One possible option may be a Debt Management Program where a repayment plan could be negotiated with your creditors. In many cases creditors may reduce the monthly interest rate, accept lower monthly payments, and suspend late and overlimit fees.
  • Name: J R
    City: Davis
    Question: I owe about $30K on five credit cards that were all used primarily for my business travel, hotel and subsistence needs while working overseas. All cards were maintained on a current basis throughout their history and formed essentially my working capital for my business activities since business loan facilities to foreign consultants in overseas locations were not available during the 15 years I worked in South East Asia. Shortly after returning to California last June, my overseas business project was put on hold when the client company experienced a banking freeze and property price collapse and was unable to pay for my fees and expenses and those of several of my associates since last August. I maintained all credit card debt through December last year when I ran out of remaining savings. I wrote to all card companies involved to explain the circumstances and that I could no longer afford to keep the cards current. I have not been able to find alternative consulting work since nor have I the means to pay down any of the debt. I am quite sure that this has damaged my credit rating and has caused other accounts to be closed due to this. I have to remind the companies involved that this problem was none of my doing and that they must take a lot of the responsibility for this disastrous situation. How is one supposed to deal with this when banks still are not lending to SME's even when the SBA offers a 100% loan guarantee program for sums up to $35K and pays interest directly to the banks when none of the banks want to participate?
    Answer: Even thought you used these credit card accounts for business, it sounds like you are personally responsible for these outstanding debts. A non-profit consumer credit counseling agency would be able to review your financial situation and help you determine your options. You should look for an agency that is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is in good standing with your local Better Business Bureau. One possible option may be a Debt Management Program where a repayment plan could be negotiated with your creditors. In many cases creditors may reduce the monthly interest rate, accept lower monthly payments, and suspend late and overlimit fees. If you’re unable to repay the debt, you might need to consult a legal professional about your options; preferably one with experience in business law.
  • Name:
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: I am drowning in debt. My husband has been laid off for awhile and unable to find work (he's in his 60's). I would like to pay off all credit cards and loans that I have, but need some direction. I have closed the majority of my accounts, have talked to most of the creditors and most have been willing to work with me on payments, (but there are the hardball ones who will not). I do not want to file bankruptcy -- but I am finding it hard to just make it from paycheck to paycheck (i.e., food, gas, roof over our heads -- the basic things). Any suggestions and/or directions you can give would be appreciated. Thank you.
  • Name: Mike S.
    City: Bakersfield, Ca
    Question: I am 68, my wife is 56. Due to my late Mother's Alzheimer's illness...which came at just about the time my wife lost her job in 1996...we got deep into debt and used up my small IRA account to survive (I was self-employed and lost time and clients as a result of caring for Mom). Then we went to those 'consolidation' offers of the credit card companies. The business never fully recovered and is now closed. Our current credit card payments are $700+ against about $22,000 owed. We were coping, but the economic events of the past few years have dealt us a severe blow. We have income of about $1300 in S/S, no savings left and now have had to draw on my wife's remaining IRA for the last 10 months to just 'stay afloat'. Thankfully our home is paid for, although worth much less now. Chase Bank recently raised the interest rate to 10% on one of the cards and now their minimum payment up from 2% to 5% and we are afraid others will follow. We no longer use credit cards, except for one local low-balance account. What can we do?
  • Name: Julie
    City: Gilroy
    Question: My husband and I racked up a lot of credit card debt over the past two years - some due to our own carelessness, and some due to helping family members who got in financial trouble. We are both still employed and are able to make a little more than the minimum payments, but it's just not enough. We've never been late. Now, our limits are being cut, and our interest rates are sky-rocketing. I'm afraid that if they raise our minimum payments to 5%, as some cards are doing, we won't be able to make the minimum payments. Is there something we can do, even though we're not yet late? Is credit counseling even an option at this point? We'd like to keep what's left of our credit rating. Even though we seldom use them for personal expenses any more, we'd prefer not to give up cards totally, as we both use them for business. How do people do things like reserve hotel rooms or rent cars without credit cards?
  • Name: Annie
    City: Novato
    Question: Question 1- how is a consumer to know what address to send the request for validation letter when companies have several addresses? Question 2- is fax notification equal under the law to certified mail , return receipt if you have the printout that the fax went through? Question 3 - Fair Issac still is calculating scores as usual but credit card companies are maxing us out by lowering available credit. and even below our limits. We are not to blame but Fair Issac and congress apparently do not care. How can the score mean anything now that they are doing that to thousands of people? Question 4- my bank gave me an incomplete account number when I opened the acct. I changed my info on line and made my payments but they were all returned. The bank wrote a letter stating their mistake but the credit card companies have all charged me return fees, upped my interest to 29.9% and refuse to reverse the fees and interest. What can I do? Discover card is the only one who reversed the fee. They never asked for a letter and they are the ones that notified me that the payment came back "no such account. " What do I do ? My payments on one acct went from $56 to $295 next month. ?? Question 5- if your only income is now SSI or other income that is judgement free what do you tell the creditor or collection agency? Thank you so much. This has been 2 horrible weeks of writing letters sometimes 4 hours a day trying to do it correctly, find main offices etc. each collection agency calls with a different number almost every time so many questions but others have questions too, so I will just say thanks again.
  • Name: Helaine
    City: San Pedro
    Question: I have a past due balance from many years ago. I keep getting a letter and even a paper resembling a court document saying that a judgement was placed against me in 2007. My credit report shows no judgements. The mail is coming from an attorney's office. If I had a judgement against me should it show up on my credit report? And if a judgement were placed why is this collection agency trying to make deals with me. I have heard that some collection agencies resort to sending fake documents as a scare tactic so people believe they have a judgement against them. Is this legal? Also I am on and have been on disability for over a year and have been in previous years. Please advise.
  • Name:
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: Is consolidation an option? Is this another way of bankruptcy and will ruin my credit score? is student loan excluded?
  • Name: Jannette2007
    City: Bellflower
    Question: I have 4 credit cards totaling $21,000 i not behind on them but the interest rates are really high on them - one card interest rate is 27%. If i go to a consolidated credit counseling business or some or type of firm to have them help me will it ruin my credit? I work for the state and I have already have a 10% cut in my pay. I don't know how much longer I can stay current with my cards.
  • Name: Joyce
    City: Elk Grove, Ca
    Question: Are the debt consolidations programs that I see advertised on TV legitimate? If I can get into a program to consolidate all of my credit card debt how does that impact my credit score?
  • Name: Rebecca
    City: Lincoln
    Question: I am having a hard time making the payments on my credit cards, which I either maxed out or have almost maxed out. I owe in total around $46,000 and my rates are as high as 25% or more. This is the first month I have missed any payments. Should I negotiate lower rates, etc.? Is there a company that can help me with this and if so, how do you make sure that they are not a scam? What is the best course of action? My concern is that even if I can get the payments lowered, I still may not be able to make the payments because I have 4 cards total. Is there a way to estimate what the lowered amount would be if the credit card companies will even lower the payments/rates for you? Thank you for your help!!
  • Name: Tamra
    City: Los Banos
    Question: By unwisely using credit cards to pay for what I don't have left over after housing costs, I have accumulated approximately 13,000 in debt. Is there any way to get help without totally messing up my credit? As of right now I am still in good standing but it wont last long.
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: I owe about $30,000 in credit card debit. There are several companies offering to cut my debt in half and be out of debt in 36 months making payments of $450 a month. Are they legitimate?
  • Name: Mike
    City: Anaheim
    Question: I just received a notice from Chase Bank credit card issuer that they are changing the minimum amount payable from 2% to 5%. I have always paid more than the minimum due plus the interest charge per month. (I have a 750 credit score.) This new change will really drastically hamper my financial situation What can we do?
  • Name: Hope
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: We currently owe over $80,0000 in credit card debt, which quickly started adding up when we went from a two income household to one income. We also owe approximately $115,000 to Sallie Mae for Parent-Plus student loans which we used to help pay for our children's college education. We have put the Sallie Mae loans on deferment for one year, and have been struggling to make our minimum payments on the credit cards on only one income. We are at a point where we fear cannot continue making even minimum payments on the credit cards and have been talking about bankruptcy as an option if things don't change pretty soon. We are near retirement age, but don't see how we can retire at this point as we owe so much in credit cards and in Sallie Mae loans. We did not plan for the bad economy, and we always thought our children would help us repay the student loans - but, they are also struggling. Our credit was excellent until now that we are struggling. What can we do? Are parent's Sallie Mae student loans forgiven if you file bankruptcy? How do we protect our home from creditors? Also, due to our age (50's) , it may not be so easy to get jobs to keep working.
  • Name: Julio
    City: La Puente
    Question: I have several credit cards, and I've been unemployed since September 30, 2008. The balance is about $14,000 and I'm struggling to pay every month. My question is: "How can I consolidate without damaging my credit with affordable monthly payments?" I have a great FICO (over 800)
  • Name: Barbara
    City: Compton
    Question: How can I find a lower rate credit card?
  • Name: Belinda
    City: San Jose, CA
    Question: My husband and I sold our home, a short sale as the mortgage company called it. They of course pulled out all of the equity in the home for their investments and of course fees for the privilege of not losing our home. They talked us into a loan using a staff member who had higher credit rating. They agreed to pay half ($1,800.00 of the new mortgage (for fees) and we were to pay the other half $1,800.00 Turns out our fee was over $2,300 a month - of course we could not pay it, and were forced to sell it to them. They always gave us the offer to buy it back from them which of course we could not. We walked away with $20,000 only. Our credit is ruined... how do we get back on track to someday buy another home when using a Credit Counseling Services goes as a negative on your credit report? Where do we start?
  • Name: Genny
    City:
    Question: What are the risks in enrolling in a consolidation (all credit card balances) with entities such Credit Answers and others of same? I'm not behind on payments. I just have a problem with the high interest rates applied to my credit cards. If there is another answer to lowering the interest rates, what is it?
  • Name: Julie
    City: Van Nuys
    Question: My husband and I are struggling right now because of loss of employment. He is an independent contractor and has not been able to find work in over a month. My work has also decreased and we have very little income right now. We are both looking for work. The interest rates on our credit cards have been raised since last month, so the minimum payments have increased and I am afraid we will not be able to make the July minimum payments. I hate the thoughts of missing payments and completely ruining are credit rating. What should we do?
  • Name:
    City:
    Question: I have outstanding credit card debts. How can I clear my credit record?
  • Name: Michael
    City: Piedmont, CA
    Question: I understand that arranging to settle credit card debts for less than the full amount owed (in cash) can leave as bad an impact on your credit report as a charge off. Is there a way to avoid the lasting impact? Or a program under the stimulus and bailout arrangements the federal government has made with financial institutions?
  • Name: Judith
    City: Junction City
    Question: Am I financially responsible for a credit card debt my husband has incurred? It is not a joint account.
  • Name: Anonymous
    City:
    Question: If I stop paying on credit cards without filing bankruptcy, can the issuing banks garnish my wages at any point? Which would be worse for credit - non-payment or bankruptcy?
  • Name: Marie
    City: San Francisco
    Question: I had two hip surgeries in two years. I had to live on my credit cards and now I am in over my head. The money in my savings had to be used to pay my medical bills. I think I have $15,000 in debt. I pay the bills on them, but I have nothing left at the end of the week. how can I get assistance? I am a senior. Thank you.
  • Name: Colleen
    City: Sacramento
    Question: #1) My husband & I have about $15,000 in credit card debt. A lot of the debt was cash advances made by my husband on his credit cards-not in my name nor am I authorized. Am I legally responsible for his debt? When I make the payments, the credit card company tells me I am not responsible for his debt. This is like a memorized statement they state right before they take the payment over the phone. #2) Who do I talk to at the credit card company to negotiate a lower finance charge? Is this really successful? #3) Can you file bankruptcy on credit card debt? I really do not want to do this but I am not making any headway by, for the most part, making the minimum payments. #4) Would I be better off financially divorcing my husband to get away from this debt and future debt?
  • Name: Lorraine
    City: L.A.
    Question: I have a multitude of credit cards, and am about $10K in debt on them in total. Despite paying promptly and more than the minimum, one credit card company recently raised my APR to 24.99! Two others lowered my limits, causing the balances to now be very close to the limits. I have the option of taking out a credit union loan at 9%. Should I take out a loan and pay off several of the cards and then cancel them? Or would that negatively impact my credit score even more than the tight balance-to-limit situations? Or should I pay them off and use them only occasionally, maybe? Thanks!
  • Name: Mary
    City: Merced
    Question: I have a credit card that raised the interest rate from 9.9% to 23.24% in April. Is this legal? They said it is for all customers and they won't look at changing for 6 months. What about the credit card reform that the President promised? I can't believe in this economy a company could do that; seems like they are just forcing customers to not have the ability to pay.
  • Name: Daryl
    City: Upland
    Question: I just received a notice from a credit card issuer that they are changing the minimum amount payable from 2% to 5%. This is on a credit card that I took advantage of a 1.99% interest for the life of the balance the current balance is 7500.00. I have always paid more than the minimum due plus the interest charge per month, my plan was to repay this within 5 years. With the increase in minimum payment amount it will accelerate the payback time shorter than I planned. This will place a hard ship on me due to the raised payment amount. Is there anything I can do about this? Thanks.
  • Name: Linda
    City: Windsor
    Question: I pay my 3 credit cards on time and pay more than the minimum however one of the card companies has increased my interest rate - what can I do?
  • Name: Annette
    City: South San Francisco
    Question: What can be done with these banks, mortgage companies that are giving people the run around in regards to a loan modification. I know I am not the only one. I have had to mail my packet twice and fax the packet a total of 9 times and they keep saying that they do not have it. But I have had if faxed 6 times from the bank itself and they always get a confirmation. I am not behind in my mortgage, but because of health reasons, I am no longer working and on disability. According to Obama's plan with my income change, good credit, I should qualify for a modification. But I am told that they are only focusing on people that are delinquent. This is not fair to the rest of us. Please look into this for all of us. Thank you.
  • Name: Julia
    City: South San Francisco
    Question: What can be done with these banks, mortgage companies that are giving people the run around in regards to a loan modification. I know I am not the only one. I have had to mail my packet twice and fax the packet a total of 9 times and they keep saying that they do not have it. But I have had if faxed 6 times from the bank itself and they always get a confirmation. I am not behind in my mortgage, but because of health reasons, I am no longer working and on disability. According to Obama's plan with my income change, good credit, I should qualify for a modification. But I am told that they are only focusing on people that are delinquent. This is not fair to the rest of us. Please look into this for all of us. Thank you.
  • Name:
    City: Long Beach
    Question: I have a very good credit rating but I have run out of unemployment and have not been able to get another job. I would like to be proactive and save my credit score. 1. Will credit companies work with a person whose credit looks good? 2. Will credit relief lower my credit score?

  • Name: Anonymous
    City: San Francisco
    Question: I'm the founder of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) whose public service work is dedicated to community health and education programs locally and internationally. With the financial crisis, our NGO has not received any funding to support any of our community programs. Thus, we've been paying the minimum on our credit cards, and our funds are being depleted. About two months ago, the credit card companies raised our finance charges from 13% to 25.9%. It seems rather unethical and unjustified. Without revenue coming in, we cannot afford paying it off as similar to other small NGOs that are financially strapped. Nevertheless, our commitment to the community hasn't stopped. We continue to offer our community health and education service and programs to the community without the prospect of an infusion of revenue soon in site. We can't make these payments any longer. Unlike banks, car companies and mortgage companies, we are not being "bailed out" nor receiving any "stimulus packages." It's just mind boggling. Any suggestions?
  • Name: Karen
    City: San Jose
    Question: Do you have plans for live chat also? Hearing impaired people, many of the AARP, have trouble hearing key information over the phone. Thanks!
  • Name: Louise
    City:
    Question: I had a credit card from AARP with a 27.9 interest rate. Why are they presenting this venue? They are among the worst usury "providers" available. I never moved, I never tried to avoid payment, I was only late less than a month in payment, several times. I paid them and cut up my card. I resigned from membership. They are a nasty group of people.
  • Name: Debbie
    City: San Jose
    Question: I am currently working with my lender to secure a restructuring of my home loan to a more reasonable level (under the Obama plan) and am awaiting word. In the meantime, I've been trying to pay down my credit card debt. It's been extremely hard even meeting the minimum payment each month and I would like to work with someone who can talk with the credit card companies and get them to either lower my monthly payments or set up some sort of stop measure to permit me to continue paying down my cards, without the continuing interest rate charges each month. I have not used my cards in a while and don't plan to until I get them paid off. I've tried talking with the credit card folks directly and they simply won't agree to no fees until my bill is paid off. I'll never get this paid off at this rate.
  • Name: Becky
    City: Riverside
    Question: I have about $60,000.00 in credit card debt. I am now not working and have applied for disability due to being on oxygen 24 hours a day. Should I file for Bankruptcy?
  • Name: Lianne
    City: Sacramento
    Question: I pay my bills on time and have never been late and still my credit card companies insist on raising my interest rates. I get the notices that if I don't respond, my rates will go up and if I reject the increase I have to destroy my card. How can I get them to work with me on lowering rates and still keep my accounts open?
  • Name: Michael
    City: Santa Ana
    Question: I have $35,000.00 in credit card debt. Currently I am unemployed and living on SSI. Every time I click on a debt consolidator online, they without permission to call me, make calls which are annoying. I am simply wanting to reduce this debt with a reputable company. Please help.
  • Name: Jackie
    City: San Jose
    Question: How can a credit card company close down due to lack of bond money coming in from a separate source? (advanta) Yet they still ask for the customer to move balances to their card, keep the payments coming, but cancel all the credit cards and refuse to honor the balance transfer checks. This sounds pretty odd to me and they claim to cancel any extra fees, etc. yet still tack on a huge charge each month. Last month I had no activity and they sill charged me in fees as much as my bill was the month before when I had used the card. What would happen if the customer just stopped paying on this card? The company is not making their commitment to the consumer, why should we?
  • Name: DMR
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: Does it hurt your credit rating to negotiate down your credit card debt? How much should you pay a company to do this?
  • Name: Lisa
    City: Los Angeles
    Question: I just moved my credit card balance to a 0% acct but didn't know at the time that they charged 2% of the balance each month, instead of 1% like my previous card. My payments have doubled and it's too much. Is there anything I can do, is there a way to find out which cards only charge 1%? I lost my job and am overwhelmed. Thank you.
  • Name: John
    City: Redondo Beach
    Question: Are there any companies that specialize in assisting people whose credit card accounts have been turned over to a collection agency?
  • Name: Mason
    City: Carpinteria
    Question: Are there ANY debt consolidation firms that are reputable and don't just take you money for months for up front fees while creditors continue to call and harass you?
  • Name: Susan
    City: Elk Grove
    Question: I am making my minimum payment plus some and the credit card companies are lowering my credit limit to my current balance. Every time I get a little bit ahead, there they are making it look like I am maxed out. How do I get the credit card companies to stop doing this or is it possible to ask them to increase the limit back up?
  • Name: Steve
    City: Bakersfield
    Question: How can I get my rates lowered and pay off these (deleted) cards without hurting my credit?
  • Name: Vladimir
    City: Irvine
    Question: I've discovered a few new tricks from credit companies. They change old credit cards numbers for new numbers using security reasons. As a result, you are registered by Experian and Other Agencies as a newcomer with a short Credit History. Your credit Score is decreased immediately. Next step of Credit companies, based on low Credit Score - to reduce Credit Limit close to the Card Balance. This step gives to Experian the right to reduce your Credit Score further. Next step of Credit Card Companies - to gain you Interest Rate, based on lower Credit Score. Everything looks very legal and fair. For example, I've discovered recently, that my Old Business Credit Card Co. ADVANTA Corp. increased Interest for Cash Advances to 35%! I was never late in payments to any Creditor for many years. This fact is documented by Experian and others in their Credit Reports. However, due to tricks shown above, I've got reduced Credit Limits and High Interest Rates. Is it possible to do something with this unfair Practice?
  • Name: Patti
    City: Sacramento
    Question: What's more important - paying off credit card debt or moving my balances from card to card to get more gift points?
  • Name: Anonymous
    City: Natomas
    Question: Are credit repair agreements pretty common and are credit companies legally able to charge a fee for such similar services for repairing credit?
  • Name: Sherry
    City: Elk Grove
    Question: I am having a hard time making the payments on my credit cards, which I am almost maxed out on. Although, I have only been late only once ever with one card, how can I manage this in the near future? Should I negotiate lower rates, etc.? Is there a company that can help me with this? What should I do?
  • Name: Anonymous
    City: Sacramento
    Question: If you pay less than the minimum amount due because that's all you can afford, are the credit card companies legally allowed to "charge off" your account after 4 months?