Have a credit or debt question?

With the economy starting to turn around — although there’s a long way to go — how are your finances shaping up?

Do you have a credit, debt or mortgage issue you need help with?

Is foreclosure threatening your home?

Experts at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta are willing to help.

Please write your questions below. Starting Monday, some answers will be provided in this blog.

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20 comments Add your comment

Morrus

April 29th, 2010
8:07 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

ggs

April 29th, 2010
8:17 am

Can canceling a card lower your credit score?

Michelle

April 29th, 2010
8:23 am

When a debt goes to collection agency, can they increase it? Can they attach additional fees to it?

Upside Down

April 29th, 2010
8:31 am

The county that I live in is suffering tremendously and my home value is now half of what I paid for it. I don’t see things getting better any time soon. I am current with my mortgage payments, but i’m wonderig if I should do a short sale and cut my losses or tough it out and continue to pay for a home that I owe more than what its worth?

TailaMarie

April 29th, 2010
8:39 am

Upside Down, we did a short sale on my home and let me tell you, we had to get a lawyer involved after we lost 2 buyers cause the bank was taking so long to approve our offers. If you want to do a short sale, retain a lawyer.

John

April 29th, 2010
8:40 am

Auto/home insurance companies use an applicant’s credit score to determine the premium that will be charged for that particular applicant. If I have no outstanding loans (other than home mortgage) and do not use credit cards, my credit score drops (even though I’m in good financial shape). Lower credit score = higher premiums, meaning that I get punished for NOT being in debt! How can I live debt-free and still not get ripped-off by insurers?

clthurman

April 29th, 2010
9:05 am

My sisiter has a mortgage with SunTrust bank and they say they are limited in their options in loan modifying her loan because it’s an FHA loan. Is she being snowed or is the bank wanting the foreclosure because she lives in a North Fulton city Milton where home values are down but not as bad elsewhere and that they can get more money for it due to the fact she lives in a more affluent area? She has been in constant commmunication with them after losing her job for being laid off and her credit score was well over 800 when she got the loan. Is there an mediation she may be eligible for where this can be stopped as she put down the more than 20% when getting the loan but as I have heard SunTrust in particular is modifying little amounts of loans despite being one of the few banks on the hook still for millions owed from TARP? She is due to lose her house on June 13.

B

April 29th, 2010
9:17 am

I am debt free. Have no credit cards, no car loans, no personal loans. The only debt we have is our home. It doens’t seem right that my FICO score is getting lower. Isn’t a FICO score really a debt score? You have to borrow money to have a FICO score, right?

Walking in Debt

April 29th, 2010
9:26 am

I have 14k credit card debt and 15k owed for a repossesed car (rip-off…they sold the car for 1/2 of blue book). I am unemployed and have no assets except 1/3 ownership in a house. They are threatening to sue me. What can they get if they win? Since I have no assets now, can they be awarded future earnings if I get a job? My credit is shot anyway. Should I declare bankruptcy? I am highly qualified (MBA) but am not getting any interviews. Do you think my credit could be the reason. If so, which would look worse; collections and charge-offs or bankruptcy?

I don’t see how some idiots can blame Obama for this economic situation. G.W. Bush and all his greedy cronies put us in this mess. Obama is doing his best to get us out of it. Vote repub next time if you want Goldman Sachs to resume running this country.

Wanda

April 29th, 2010
9:53 am

We have alot of credit card debt. Over $40,000. We dont know where to turn. My husband had to take a big cut in pay and because of that we are having a hard time paying the house payment and credit cards. What is our options? Please give us some advice.

UGAgrad

April 29th, 2010
9:53 am

Walking in debt: I doubt you earned a bachelors degree, let alone an MBA.

Kate

April 29th, 2010
9:55 am

I have $40,000 in debt over 5 cards. I’ve stopped charging and have been repaying for a few years now. I have 3 cards that are 5% or less for life on the largest balances but 3 cards (with smaller balances) have all upped my percentage rate from below 10% to 19% & 23%. Now I am only able to pay $10-$20 more than the minimum each month. I have thought about going to Consumer Credit Counseling to see if I can cut deals with my credit card companies. How will this affect my credit score?

V

April 29th, 2010
9:59 am

My car is worth 6,000 and I owe 12,000 and my house is now worth half of what I paid. What do I do? I want to get ride of the car and try to stick it out in the house. Not sure if sticking it out in the house makes the most sence? Please advise

Sarah

April 29th, 2010
10:11 am

I purchased a house last year. My mortgage has a 4.875% interest rate for a 15 year fixed rate loan. I am considering refinancing at an interest rate for 4.250% (still with a 15 year fixed rate) with closing cost of about $2,500. I owe approximately $142,000 on my loan. Should I even considering refinancing since I’ve only been in my house for 1 year? I am currently paying $1,160.76 per month and was told that refinancing with this lower rate would drop my payments to $1,090.80 per month. Thanks.

big hib

April 29th, 2010
10:37 am

I am a teacher and I took out a student loan to complete my specialist degree in curriculum and instruction. My interest rate will be 8.9% and payments will start in early 2011. With a credit rate of over 800 what are my options for either lowering the interest rate with the lender or getting a more favorable rate with another lender? Please point me in the right direction.

Hanging in there

April 29th, 2010
10:39 am

Mr. Unger:

I have debts on two credit cards totaling about $13,000. With my other monthly debts, I am paying barely above the minimum payments on these, so not making a lot of headway reducing the principal amount. I have EXCELLENT credit. I am considering calling the higher interest rate card and asking that the account be closed but have statements continued to be sent so I can keep up the payments. TWO QUESTIONS: I have read that closing a long-term account (this one over 10 years) will harm my credit rating. Is that the case, and would you advise me to close this account?
Finally, would it harm my credit to call that card company and see if they would negotiate so that interest stops accruing? Again, I don’t want to harm my hard-earned credit and Fair Isaacs score. Would making such a call/working out an arrangement “ding” my credit? Thank you for your answers.

Old Man Tate

April 29th, 2010
10:50 am

I make money, but I spend more money than I make so I have to use my credit cards. I should not have tried to buy things out of my budget to impress friends. I will get out of debt and live below my means.

Rossy

April 29th, 2010
2:02 pm

When do accounts actually fall off your credit card reports? Also, are collection agencies or original creditor prolong the dates of activity even though the account is closed and/or charged off?

Doing It

April 29th, 2010
2:04 pm

What can you do to take off a negative listing? Is it legal for the creditors to do that? Or does it have to stay on your report?

Kurt Thomas

May 4th, 2010
11:17 am

Guys, closing a revolving credit card or credit line does lower your fico score. 2nd, collection agencies cant file a suit against you. However, a law firm can and usually creditors seek a judgment through a law firm due to nonpayment or the breach of contract. If you are behind and have a judgment then you can be garnished in Ga, have a lien placed on property, a levy against your bank account and a lien on your vehicle. This is allowed under georgia law. So yes, this can be serious as a garnishment can take a portion of your monthly income until satisfied and you will be better off to make arrangements with an agency or creditor to avoid any legal issues. People get garnished all the time and ignore their situation until its too late. I’m not saying you guys will do that, only that i see alot of others doing this. It does not look good for an employer to know that you have obligations that you are not taking care of, no matter what has happened. You can be served at your home or yes at your employer to appear in court.

Best thing to do is settle your debt, tax income is a money source, refinance your home, friends or family to borrow from because there is no intrest rate there! If needed, 401k or retirement, and your bank. If you can borrow a lump sum to settle all your creditors in one shot, this is the best thing you can do. Credit counseling is a rip off. Don’t pay someone else a fee to do something you can do yourself… roll your sleeves up and contact your creditor, tell them your hardship and just say you are considering bankruptcy, i promise they will work with you then! They won’t get anything form a chapter 7. If you owe up around 30-50k or more in debt and your swamped, then bankruptcy may be the best thing for you to do and start all over. It will be a long road to recovery that route for sure. I say this to people only with that kind of debt. If you are 20k or under, you could settle for half that in my opinion and i would never file bankruptcy owing that amount or less, i would get family help or co-sign with a bank or something. Bk is a last resort thing here, so i would only do that if my mountain was just to high. If you owe more than 30k or more in credit cards, you are in a tough spot to get out of.

I work in the collection industry and i’m only trying to help here. I see the bad outcome for alot of people. My opinion is alot of people do not know the laws and what can happen and choose to ignore it. A charge off does not mean you don’t owe anymore. It means written from their current books. You can have judgment entered against you and typically would after a creditor charges you off. Statute of limitations in georgia is 7 years people. However, if you made it 6 years then a judgment was entered then, it starts another 7 year cycle again and a creditor or law firm can do what’s called a RE-UP, before that 7 years is over and start the judgment cycle another 7 years all over again. All state laws are different. That is how georgia works and the liens and garnishents are most common once the judgement has been awared to the creditor. If you are not working now and have no assets, no car and no known banking account, i guess your safe for now. But with the re-ups on judgments, it’s just a matter of time before they either find your jobs as your credit reports say who you work for… or if you are on a deed and it doesn’t matter who is on there with you, you can have a lien attached to it. So you see, it’s just a matter of time before they do get paid and all the time while your not paying, your original amount you owed will grow due to accrued intrest and penalties and even court costs if you do have a judgment. A 3k debt in 2010 could be 8k in 2014. You signed a contract and the creditor will hold you to it and thats the way they make their money if you break your contract by default. Its a cause and effect system. I have been in collections for over 13 years and i’m very aware of the fair debt practices act and the statute of limitations in georgia and georgia laws. I wish you all luck and hope this helps some.

My best advice is if you have credit cards, keep a low credit line that you can pay off at the end of each month or just use cash. My dad always taught me not to spend what i didn’t have. In my line of work, i see what he was talking about. You never know if you will lose that high paying job, or face some type of bad situation down the road and if you live off your credit cards…my opinion is that your playing with fire so to speak. . I have 2 credit cards but not a high credit limit, and pay them off each month. You can never blame your creditor in these situations. You want the money and if you read your contracts, then you will know this. Alot of people complain when the creditors come calling wanting there money, but didn’t complain when they swiped their card. I understand some hardships are legit, but alot of this is people really living beyond there means. We must be accountable for our actions if we are honest with ourselves. Please don’t view anything as a negative spin here, i just want people to know what could happen and i promise what i wrote above is a path some of you could or will find out soon as time passes and depending on how delinquent you are. I think alot of folks are misinformed and want to do the right thing but don’t know where to turn in some cases. I hope this info helps those of you who do have the intentions of getting things turned around. Good luck!