Credit repair education seminars
When: 6-7 p.m. May 21
Location: Braselton Library, 132 Broadway Avenue, Braselton
Info: April Angeles, a Braselton resident and mortgage originator, meets with individuals to discuss their credit and discuss possible ways to improve it. RSVP is required.
BRASELTON — Credit scores, interest rates, installment loans, debt payments — things can get confusing even for the people who are well-versed in how the credit system works.
But with help from people like Braselton resident April Angeles, local residents can get a better understanding of how to manage and possibly improve their credit.
Angeles, who works as a mortgage consultant, offers free credit education seminars at the Braselton Library to give people some one-on-one advice to bring up their credit scores.
"It's hard to go out there and find someone who really cares," Angeles said. "I try to share information as an educational-type thing. In the long run, society benefits and the people benefit. They feel good that they actually found someone who wanted to help without wanting something back from them."
Angeles conducts these seminars as a way to provide information most people aren't told when they apply for a loan, take out a credit card or try to pay off debts.
"There's just so much out there that we don't know. A lot of people don't know that they get a free copy of their credit report twice a year," she said. "As a trade, I'm a mortgage originator, so I see the things that work and the things that don't."
Factors affecting credit scores
A person has three credit scores which can change every day, and the scores are calculated based on "how a person manages debt over a period of time," Angeles explained.
Installment loans, such as a car loan, have the same interest rate each month, but revolving debt like credit cards impact the score the most.
"It is best to pay (credit card debts) off each month or keep the balances below 40 percent of the limit to increase your scores," Angeles said.
The time frame involved in someone's credit history also makes a difference in someone's score, she said.
"There's a phrase, ‘the older the credit, the colder the credit.' If you have a debt from 2004 and it's a credit card that has been charged up to $2,500 but in 2008, you establish some really good credit, sometimes that bad credit won't have as much clout as the new, good credit," she said.
But it's not just someone's financial transactions that make an impact on credit. The names and addresses people use over time when applying for loans or credit cars will be included in one's credit report, and inconsistencies will be watched, Angeles said.
"Whatever address you use, that goes on the credit report for the next seven years," she said. "If you're not consistent (with names), then that could affect your credit score because they could be seen as aliases."
Some of the credit debacles going on today are out of consumers' hands. Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama spoke to representatives from the largest credit card issuers in the country about keeping their rates reasonable and being transparent about the terms of credit card agreements.
And Angeles said that many credit card companies are increasing rates even for those consumers who pay on time.
"The people with the best scores, these credit card companies are coming in and closing accounts and raising the interest rates for no good reason," Angeles said. "So that is what the big uproar is right now - the people who are doing well are not being rewarded."
Credit repair advice
While Obama works with credit card companies on the national scale, Angeles works on the local level when it comes to credit repair education.
"When I sit with someone, I've got their credit report in front of me and I show them how to read it," she said. "Things have tightened up for people but if they know about it, they can prepare. They will think twice about charging something if they want to take out a loan later or buy a house later."
Though she can't speak about specific cases she's worked with in the past and how their credit improved, Angeles can offer general advice for people looking to bring up their credit score.
Taking advantage of prepaid cards at retailers or depositing money with a bank for a secured credit card are possible avenues, she said.
"They get a prepaid card and load the card for what they need to charge," she said. "The difference in the two is Wal-Mart doesn't report to the bureaus; the one at the bank does. It's designed to build people's credit, so the bank has to report to the bureaus."
Angeles also suggested people talk to credit companies about adjusting the rates.
"A lot of these credit repair companies charge to negotiate the credit. You can call them and ... ask them to reduce the rate," she said.