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Especially in this tough economy, you want to protect your credit.  When the economy is in tough shape, lenders and business people and employers are more careful about what is on your credit history.  Businesses of all sorts want to cut their exposure to risk, and they are more likely to check your credit history first before doing business with you.  Employers are more likely to check your credit files now.  So, here are some ways you can maintain and improve your credit scores including legal and debt negotiation services in case you have problems of your own making.

THE MEDIATOR LAW GROUP WILL NEGOTIATE WITH BANKS, CREDIT CARD COMPANIES, HOSPITALS

Update April 24, 2014  There are many companies and organizations that will help you deal with your debt.  Some will set up payment plans and some will negotiate with your creditors.  Some will offer counseling and some will help your file for bankruptcy if they determine that bankruptcy is your best option.  Many of these organizations charge fees and some will want you to pay an upfront charge, or monthly fees.

But the Mediator Law Group is different because it is a consumer protection law firm and because it is a real law firm they not only can negotiate with your creditors, but they can also represent you in court if necessary.  The Mediator Law Group offers a free consultation, and if they take on your debt case and will charge you nothing -- no fees -- until they get you results.  That means they have a "contingency fee structure" which means you pay nothing up-front.

The Mediator Law Group will give you a free consultation.  Call them if you have credit card debt of $10,000 or more.  They can help you get a fresh start.  Sometimes they will help with filing a bankruptcy case and other times they can negotiate payments with creditors so that you can avoid bankruptcy.

In some cases, the Mediator Law Group can actually sue your creditors because the creditors violated laws about debt collection (FDCPA).  They use their knowledge to give you additional negotiating power to resolve your debts.  Our Best Buys TV Show report is below and in it you will hear about consumers who did not have to file for bankruptcy to settle their debts.

Mediator Law Group
877-517-4987
www.mediatorlawgroup.com 

ASK YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY ABOUT AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS

Update February 6, 2012  If you are making regular payments on a credit card ask the credit card company if they have a program for automatic payments direct from your checking account that will also lower your interest rate.  Some credit card companies have programs to help their customers pay down their debt faster.  In some of these programs, you allow the credit card company to set up automatic payments from your checking account for a set amount each month (usually the minimum payment amount or a bit more) and your interest rate is lowered.  This deal gets you a lower interest rate and a faster pay-down of your balance, and also gives the credit card company some assurance that you won't default on your debt.

Sometimes a credit card company will contact you about this option.  But you can call and ask them.  I've heard of interest rates being reduced as much as 7-percentage points under these automatic payment plans.

TIPS TO HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Update July 25, 2011  Here are some tips to improve your credit score.  You should revisit this page every few months to be sure you are on track.

  • Pay your bills on time.  If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.  The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score.   (Paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report and it will stay on your report for seven years.)
  • Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit”.
  • Pay off debt rather than moving it around.  Shuffling debt from one credit account to another will not help you.  Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score-- open but unused credit accounts might actually help your score.  Don't open a number of new credit cards that you don't need, because each new account might hurt your score.
  • If you have been managing credit for a short time, don't open a lot of new accounts too rapidly because new accounts will lower your average account age, which can look risky if you are a new credit user.

What You Post On The Web Can Hurt You...

Update July 25, 2011  A couple of years ago, I wrote an article here about an interesting conversation I had with a software consultant who works for several big financial companies.  His job was to set up software that will "crawl" the Internet looking for information that could affect the clients of the financial firms.  Well, everything he told me a couple of years ago has come true.

The discussion a couple of years ago was about online social sites such as Facebook and MySpace and YouTube and even Internet newsgroups and discussion groups.  He told me that the financial industry was working on software that will crawl or read through these sites, compile data about the individuals who use these sites, and then financial companies would be able to use this data to determine if they want to do business with certain clients who show up in these social networking web sites. 

In other words, he told me then, what you post in MySpace or on YouTube or on Facebook could be read by banks and mortgage companies and stockbrokers and based on what you post they could decide if you might be a bad risk for a loan or a business relationship.

And why not?  These same companies, he told me several years ago, use your credit file to determine if they want to do business with you or grant you a loan, or even if they will hire you-- so why not use anything linked to your identify that shows up on a social networking site such as Facebook or YouTube or MySpace.  

And as our conversation evolved back then, it became clear that these banks and financial services companies might also subscribe to dating web sites to see what you say to lure the opposite sex: do you brag about high roller trips to Vegas or Atlantic City or do you boast about your upscale tastes for diamonds and jewelry and furs -- it could all come back to haunt you.

I saw an interesting public service announcement on TV -- where a bus driver and others were recognizing a young school girl and commenting about her pictures posted on the web.  The message of the public service announce (the PSA) was to be careful about what you post online because the whole world can see it.  Well, the message is not just about photos, it applies to all sorts of data and information about you as a consumer, as an employee, and as a citizen.  It really can all come back to haunt you.

These kinds of software systems are in place and are now being used by banks and stockbrokers and mortgage companies so they can search the world wide web for information about you-- about what you like to buy and how you spend your money, and where you shop, and what your tastes are.  Just like they can search your credit files today.  And all of this information can be used to decide just what kind of a "credit risk" or "employment risk" you are.

CONTROL YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

Update June 1, 2011  Everybody asks for your social security number -- from your bank to the veterinarian you use to treat your pet.  Every time you give out your social security number, you increase your risk of identity theft.  This is why Congress and the White House and the Federal Trade Commission are now considering legislation that will limit who can ask for and who can use your social security number for their business.

I think that controlling access to consumers' social security numbers is a good idea.  I don't think my dentist or my pet's veterinarian need my social security number.  So, until federal laws are passed restricting the use of social security numbers, I urge you to ask "why?"   You can say to Fido's vet, "really, do you need my social security number?  Isn't my MasterCard account number what you really need?"

When it comes to banks and mutual funds and stockbrokers there is no question that they need my social security number.  But when everyone is asking for it, you know there must be other businesses who can find another way to keep track of their customers.  What's wrong with a list of customers' last names?

A STRATEGY FOR YOUR CREDIT CARDS NOW

Cuts by the Federal Reserve have lowered rates on home equity loans, personal loans and even plastic. Your best investment now is to pay down your credit card debt first.

If you are paying 20%, then paying off your plastic will immediately give you a return of 20% on your money.  You can't get those kind of returns anywhere else.  Do not close credit lines, as that can lower your credit score. Banks are cutting credit lines and while there is no way to prevent this from happening if your credit card account is active and in good standing with on time payments then you might escape the bank's credit line axe.

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.  Our Best Buys TV Show has the best TV deals and is the only regularly scheduled weekly best deals TV show in Southern California.  We show you the best buys and best deals on TV and more deals and bargains on www.alanbestbuys.com and www.bestbuystvshow.com and watch for our Las Vegas TV show Vegas Best Buys.  Some of the content can come from paid advertising and from our advertiser paid TV infomercial programs.  The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.  AlanBestBuys.com has the highest ranking among competitive sites in Southern California according to the independent website ranking companies Alexa.com and Quantcast.com and our Best Buys TV Show is the most watched shopping and consumer information show in Southern California.

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