Credit

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Your credit affects many areas of your life.  For example, your credit score can affect your ability to purchase goods and services on credit or to get a loan.  Poor credit not only impacts your access to loans and credit, but can even hinder your access to employment or housing.   Also, your insurance premiums for your automobile and life insurance can increase with poor credit. For active duty military, poor credit can also impact your security clearance.
Dangers of Easy Credit:
Easy credit can be costly.  Beware of credit offered with “no credit-check” or “bad credit OK”.  Annual Percentage Rates (APR) on such offers can exceed 300% and can result in a decrease in available funds for you to meet other monthly obligations.  Alternative financial products cannot only be costly, but may keep you trapped in debt and force you into a financial crisis.
Debt Repayment:
If you have debts and are having a difficult time making your monthly payments, you have some no cost and low–cost options to help you take control of your debt repayment.  Credit counselors from partners listed below can help you to develop a Debt Management Plan (DMP).  In addition, many credit unions offer DMP programs that can make your debt reduction goal more achievable. 
Benefits of Good Credit:
Having good credit can create greater opportunity for you.  A good credit score can:
  • ·     Reduce premiums on insurance
  • ·         Improve opportunities for employment
  • ·         Reduce the interest and fees paid for loans and credit cards
  • ·         Increase amounts you can borrow from traditional financial partners
Partners who can help you evaluate your credit history and take steps to improve your credit score and reduce your debts:
Local Credit Unions: 
Many local credit unions offer credit counseling services to their members at no cost.
Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia:   
Call: 757-484-0703  www.cceva.org
Offers free, comprehensive, individualized one-on-one financial counseling sessions that help clients set financial goals, develop spending plans, rehabilitate credit, increase savings and reduce debt.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling 
This is a great website to use when locating a trusted credit counseling provider.  There are many services that claim to help you out of bad credit situations and many of them charge fees for actions you can do easily for yourself.  This website also has  some great free money management and credit educational resources.


Free Credit Report  

Fight identity theft by monitoring and reviewing your credit report. You may request your free credit report online.  Free credit reports requested online are viewable immediately upon authentication of identity. www.annualcreditreport.com

Opt Out Prescreen 
Credit Bureaus provide your financial information to credit companies that  prescreen you for new offers which you receive in the mail. Optoutprescreen.com lets you opt out of pre-approved credit card offers and reduce the risk of credit card fraud that comes with them. That means less junk in your mail box! www.optoutprescreen.com

Get Your Chexsystems Report:
Every year you may obtain a Chexsystems report in addition to your annual credit report.  Chexsystems is the database financial institutions use to monitor your management of transactional accounts.  To request this report, visit www.consumerdebit.com

PowerPay  

Create a debt repayment plan using this interactive website.  Enter all debts, interest rates and monthly payments to create a repayment plan to reduce your time in debt.


My Money 
My Money is a one-stop shop for financial information on virtually any financial topic.  It is organized to point you to the array of financial educational resources available through the federal government.   Information includes free resources for education, credit, scams, debt collection, identity theft and money management. 

From Financial Planning Association:
Managing credit is a challenge that cuts across all socioeconomic lines. This brochure offers a step-by-step approach to help you improve your credit record.

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