Category Archive: Repairing Credit


Repairing Credit


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Convicted NAACP exec Carmen Johnson was allegedly drugged and unable to defend …

When asked how she’s holding up, Carmen Johnson responds assuredly, “Paying attention to the details in the journey.”

The former head of the Prince Georges County NAACP branchs housing committees journey took on a new meaning this past February when she was convicted on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and making a false statement on a loan application, arising from two residential mortgage fraud schemes.

“When people are in a situation like mine, they turn into sleep walkers because you are told when to eat, when to go to bed … when to do this, when to do that.” Determined to keep her head high, Johnson, 48, is just a few months into serving a 57-month sentence in a federal prison which will be followed by five years of supervised release.

And she was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to financial lending institutions for their losses on 10 foreclosed properties.

“Eventually my story will be told and I can’t miss one detail of this whole journey,” Johnson says hopeful that she will be released soon and will return home to her family.

Johnson claims her innocence because as she puts it, “Personally, I never did mortgages a day in my life. I am an activist. I was helping people with foreclosures.” The owner of CJ Lending and its predecessor Able Estate amp; Company, which provided credit repair services, is adamant she did nothing wrong.

Witnesses testified that in both schemes Johnson reported to credit bureaus and provided her fellow co-conspirators with false credit histories showing backdated lines of credit that were used to convince lenders to give mortgage loans.

Why did her co-defendants plead guilty? “I don’t know any of them. I know two are realtors at high-end real estate agencies. The only reason I can say they plead guilty is because they were absolutely guilty.”

Johnson persists she’s innocent of the charges. Read what else she has to say.

What do you want your constituents to know about your case?
Innocent people can go to jail.

Legally, you’ve never done a mortgage but you have been charged with fraud?
Exactly. [I was charged] with 24 counts.

Why weren’t you able to prove your innocence?
I had fired three high-profile attorneys. By the time I got to trial, I was heavily sedated on Klonopin, which is a medication the psychiatrist prescribed for me. I was ordered to go through therapy once a week. I did that for almost 18 months or so. I couldn’t even function.

[An anti-anxiety drug, Klonopin has harmful side effects which includes addiction, withdrawal, hallucination, delusional thinking, irritability, depression and suicidal thinking. Rock star Stevie Nicks is the poster child for the dangers of Klonopin addiction. “The only thing I’d change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years,” she told FOX news. She also told US Weekly, “[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie.”]

Why were you “ordered” to go through therapy?
I am not sure. I don’t know if that’s part of the process. I know that I needed it, but I should have gone to my own therapist instead of a court appointed-therapist. I hear that a person should be on Klonopin 30 to 60 days. I was on it for almost two years.

Did you have any related therapy prior to the court order?
Yes. Most people need therapy or someone to talk to. Not once a week, like they ordered me to do or not being placed on some type of meds.

How are you adjusting to your residency at Alderson Federal Prison Camp?
It’s a no security campground. It’s where Martha Stewart was. I have not unpacked emotionally and mentally. I know that I am going to get out of here. There is no way that God is going to allow me to do four years and some months for something I didn’t do. As far as the adjustment aspect, meeting different women with PhDs, judges and a couple of prosecutors in here and lots of attorneys – there are a lot of professional women here. Just meeting with them and hearing their stories it just really breaks my heart. I wish God had a better plan for me, a more comfortable plan, where I was hearing these women’s stories outside of prison.

He wanted me to be in prison. Just listening to their stories, them ministering to me and healing me – making sure I am OK to complete this journey. The women have been good and sympathetic for whatever reason. As far adjusting to the rules, I am the perfect inmate. However, I refuse to sleep walk.

When you say that you are aware of every step and that God has a plan for you, do you really believe that you will get out early?

Yes. I do.

In regards to your psychiatric care, I am trying to connect the dots. Did you have an outburst?
No. A lot of people go through that. I wasn’t aware of the [processes of the] court system. A lot of women here have told them they went through the same thing. When you go through what I have been through, you’re terrified, afraid. You can’t think. Especially if you are innocent, you don’t know what is going to come next. You don’t trust anyone especially as a professional and you have an attorney. It does something to your psyche to know that people have your life in their hands. I had anxiety and felt I was going to have a heart attack. No one knew what I was going through because I continued with my activist work. I was the housing chair of the State of Maryland NAACP and an executive for them. People came to me to save them from foreclosure. Being on the therapy once a week started off being a good thing because of all the anxiety I was experiencing.

The story behind the story: How Johnsons nightmare started
in the first scheme, which operated from March 2007 to November 2008, Johnson was accused of conspiring with real estate agent Edgar Tibakweitira (aka “Edgar Julian,” “Charles Edgar Tibakweitira,” and “Edgar Gaudious Tibakweitira,”), 46, and others, to fraudulently obtain residential mortgage loans by making false statements during the loan application and approval process. In the second scheme, witnesses testified that between April and July 2008 Johnson conspired with real estate agent Nsane Phanuel Ligate, 42, and others in a similar mortgage fraud scheme involving two properties in Baltimore.

A resident of Severn, Maryland, Tibakweitira’s co-conspirators were Flavia Makundi, 42, of Severn Park, Maryland, Ayoub Luziga, 35, of Bowie, Maryland, Raymond Abraham, 48, of Silver Spring, Maryland, Mokorya Cosmas Wambura, age 42, of Takoma Park, Maryland, Abdallah Suleiman Kitwara, 44, of Bowie, Maryland, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the first scheme. Luziga was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $999,726. Kitwara was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $290,954 in restitution. Abraham was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $999,726 in restitution. Annika Boas, 37, of Mount Rainier, Maryland, was convicted after trial and sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $511,147. Makundi was sentenced to time served.

The US Department of Justice says Tibakweitira “used his position of as a real estate agent to build a group of co-conspirators who obtained mortgages for properties at values well above the properties’ actual market value and pocketed the excess funds.” He was sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered to repay $2,482,856.05 in restitution.

In Johnson’s “second scheme,” her co-conspirator, Ligate, a resident of Ashburn, Virginia, was sentenced to five months in prison, followed by five months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in connection with a separate, but related mortgage fraud scheme. Ligate was also ordered to pay restitution of $352,091.82.

In comparison to those involved in the first scheme, Ligate’s co-conspirators also received much lighter punishment. Cane Mwihava, 43, of Bowie, Maryland, Larry Johnson, 58, of Capital Heights, and Gladyness Silaa, 36, of Bowie, Maryland plead guilty to their roles in the second mortgage fraud scheme. Johnson was sentenced to eight months in prison consecutive to the current sentence he is serving on an unrelated case and ordered to pay restitution of $352,091. Silaa was sentenced six months home detention and ordered to pay $378,602 in restitution. Mwihava was sentenced to six months home detention and ordered to pay $352,091 in restitution.

The US Attorney’s Office contends defendants used stolen or false identities, false documents – including W-2 forms, earnings statements, and bank statements – and false credit information to induce lenders to provide residential mortgage loans to the straw buyers.

Through her company CJ Lending, the Gambrills, Maryland resident, was accused of creating fictitious lines of credit for the straw buyers to fraudulently enhance their credit worthiness.  Large amounts of the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained loans were disbursed from escrow accounts to Destiny Property Management, LLC and Destiny Property Management Company, which were shell companies owned by Tibakweitira, for repairs and renovations that were never made to the properties. These funds were paid to the defendants. The defendants did not make or stopped making the mortgage payments and allowed the properties, including 10 properties located in Severna Park, Baltimore, Hyattsville and Silver Spring, to go into foreclosure.

As a result of the conspiracy, lenders provided over $3.5 million for fraudulently obtained loans, which resulted in losses of almost $2,309,646 to the lenders, the Federal Housing Administration which insured some of the loans, and the Federal National Mortgage Corporation (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), who purchased some of the loans in the secondary mortgage market.


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CFPB Monthly Report turns its attention to credit card products

The CFPB issued its Monthly Report this week. The report is a high level snapshot of trends in consumer complaints and provides a summary of the volume of complaints by product category, by company and by state. Additionally, each month it highlights a product type and a geographic area. This months report highlights credit card products and provides some forecasting of areas regulators are likely to focus on in upcoming examinations.

Each month, the Report breaks down complaint volume by product looking at a three month average and comparing the same to the prior year. As has been the case in prior months, the Report continues to indicate that the three products yielding the highest volume of complaints are debt collection, mortgage and credit reporting. If there is good news to be had, the Report indicates that debt collection and credit reporting both showed a significant decrease in complaints in September 2015. Debt collection showed a 10% decrease and credit reporting showed at 15% decrease. Interestingly, the products showing the largest increase in claims in a 2014 vs. 2015 comparison were debt settlement, credit repair and check cashing. Taking this into account, we are likely to see a continued increase in enforcement actions in the debt settlement and credit repair industries.

This months report focuses on credit card products. According to the CFPB Reports, credit card products are one of the most complained about financial service products, fourth only to debt collection, credit reporting and mortgage. Credit card providers and servicers should pay close attention to this months report as it highlights what are likely to be points of emphasis with regulators in upcoming examinations particularly with regard to the application of payments and billing disputes.

  • The most common complaint involves billing disputes. According to the report, consumers are confused as to how and when late fees can be assessed. Other consumers indicated confusion as to how to properly and timely make a billing error dispute. 16% of all credit card complaints are categorized by the CFPB as involving billing disputes.
  • Another issue highlighted by the CFPB is the concern with credit card accounts being closed without notice due to concerns by the credit card companies as to fraud and identity theft.
  • Consumers also complained about their inability to allocate payments as they desire and expressed confusion where portions of accounts were subject to differing interest rates, promotions, and expiration dates.

Overall, the Report did not contain any surprises. So what might the credit card industry expect to see from regulators? Based upon the current complaint trends, the credit card industry is likely to continue to see a continued focus on to their application of credit card payments, as well as scrutiny as to the accuracy of their disclosures for 0% balance transfers and other promotions.


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Cass & Polk County Sheriff’s Offices report IRS scam phone calls

Cass County (Valley News Live) The Cass and Polk County Sheriffs Departments have received multiple reports of scam phone calls claiming to be from the IRS.

According to reports the caller is demanding money to clear up a tax situation and claim that legal action will be taken if they do not receive payment.

The Cass County Sheriffs Office believes these calls are a “phishing” scam, to collect personal information.

The Cass County Sheriffs Office says the IRS and other legitimate organizations do not conduct business in this manner and offer these tips to avoid additional scams:

oBe cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.

oBe leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or contest.

oBe cautious if you receive a telephone call stating you are the winner in a lottery or a prize

oBeware of lotteries that charge a fee prior to delivery of your prize.

oBe wary of demands to send additional money to be eligible for future winnings.

oIt is a violation of federal law to play a foreign lottery via mail or phone.

oNever give your personal details to people you dont know – If you receive a call from someone who claims to be from your bank or any other organization, dont give them your details. Call the organization in question to check it is really them calling. Never click on a link or call a phone number in an email – use a phone directory to look up the correct number.

oCheck your bank statements – If you see any unusual transactions, contact your bank or credit card provider.

oReview your credit report – Get your credit report from a credible agency. This allows you to check that no-one is using your name to borrow money or run up debts. See credit reports and credit repair for tips on how to check your report.

oCarry only essential information – Avoid taking important documents out of your home to minimize the chance of them being lost or stolen
oSecure personal documents at home – Store your important documents in a fire and waterproof container or a safe deposit box in case your home is burgled or damaged.

oDestroy personal information – Shred or cut up your bills, statements and expired cards to prevent thieves from using them.

oSecure your mail – Secure your letter box with a lock and collect your mail regularly. If you move to a new house, notify the post office to redirect your mail. Mail sent to the wrong address could be used to steal your identity.

oProtect your mobile or Smartphone – Be wary when installing applications onto your phone. Scammers may send you applications designed to download malicious software onto your phone and steal bank account details.


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Late Fees, Credit Reports Result in Most Frequent Credit Card Complaints

Late fees and credit report problems due to confusing payment processing schedules, are consumers’ most frequent complaints about their credit cards, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s latest monthly complaint snapshot released this week.

At the beginning of 2015, US consumers carried more than $700 billion in credit card debt, according to the CFPB.

Credit card debt represents 10 percent of is the revenue collected in the credit and collection industry, after healthcare-related debt (37.9 percent) and student loan debt (25.2 percent) according to the ACA International and Ernst Young study on the Impact of Third-Party Debt Collection on the US National and State Economies in 2013.

The CFPB has accepted credit card complaints from consumers since it opened in July 2011. As of Oct. 1, 2015, the CFPB has handled approximately 79,500 complaints related to credit cards, representing about 11 percent of total complaints, according to the monthly report.  

In September, many consumers complained about problems making payments–representing 16 percent of complaints related to credit cards, according to the CFPB. “Consumers who complained about billing issues frequently mention that they are charged surprise late fees because the company did not make it clear that payments would not be credited the day the payment was made.”

Consumers also reported problems resolving inaccuracies on billing statements and closure of their credit card account without consent (7 percent) and identity theft/embezzlement/fraud (9 percent.)

Overall, as of Oct. 1, 2015, the CFPB has handled 726,000 complaints about financial products and services in the US

In September, the CFPB received approximately 6,800 complaints about debt collection out of 23,354 total complaints that month.

“Overall, the CFPB saw a 9 percent reduction in complaint volume between August and September 2015. In a year-to-year comparison, complaints about debt settlement, credit repair and check cashing showed the greatest percentage increase,” the CFPB stated in its report.” Complaints about these products, which the bureau classifies as ‘other financial services complaints,’ rose 97 percent from the same time period last year.”

Follow ACA on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector or Facebook for news and event updates. ACA’s LinkedIn Group includes news updates, member discussions, event promotions, jobs and more. Visit the group page and request to join today.


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Home ownership dreams?

Almost everyone has the American dream to own a home, but not everyone has the traditional 20 percent saved for a down payment.

More than 82 percent of Americans do not qualify for a conventional mortgage. Life events such as bankruptcy, insurmountable medical bills, divorce and career changes can be major roadblocks.

Although many don#x2019;t have cash to put down, they do have good monthly incomes. Many have put their financial hardships behind them and are moving in a positive direction.

Pre-Property Solutions (PPS), in Northborough and Newport, Rhode Island, offers an alternative to the traditional home-buying process with its rent to own program. According to Chris Prefontaine, the companys owner and founder, this program helps home seekers with poor credit, no credit and/or a limited amount to invest.

The rent to own program is straightforward. The buyer deposits 3 to 10 percent of the homes market value price. Pre-Property Solutions then connects the buyer to a third-party loan repair consultant who works with the buyer to repair his or her credit situation. Typically, the buyer is able to qualify for a conventional mortgage within 9 months to 5 years, says Prefontaine.

During the credit repair process, often a portion of the rent payment is applied toward the purchase of the home.

The rent to own program hinges on the fact that Pre-Property Solutions is a private real estate investor that buys and sells houses. All properties are either owned by Pre-Property or the company has a purchase contract and/or option with the owner of the property, which Pre-Property may assign to third parties. Pre-Property is not a real estate brokerage and does not provide Realtor services to the public or to any of the parties to which it has contractual relationships.

The company works with sellers who are flexible on price and terms. Pre-Property Solutions pays cash for the home and can close in about a week if that best suits all parties. The goal is to create a win-win sale that is good for everyone, says Prefontaine.

A 24-year veteran in the real estate industry, Prefontaine adds, We offer an avenue to home ownership that most are not familiar with. This is a solid, proven, step-by-step process to help Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut residents achieve their home ownership dream. We have helped dozens of families achieve home ownership and we are anxious to assist others.

Prefontaine was a licensed real estate agent as well as a broker-owner.

#x201c;The rent to own program all starts with the home seller, he continues. We can buy homes using all cash with a quick close, but that is typically for a distressed property or a mortgage in arrears. We can also purchase with lease/purchase or owner financing #x2013; both of those with fairly short-term cash-outs at market value. When we meet, we can decide the best purchase option. For property that is in good shape (which is 95 percent of what we purchase), we can purchase it via a lease/purchase or owner financing (depending upon your underlying mortgages). Sometimes PPS will be the buyer and sometimes we#x2019;ll assign a buyer to you from our list after we sign a contract with you to purchase.#x201d;


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Chase free credit score program reaches only 1 in 10 Slate card customers so far

Six months after Chase Bank started offering free credit scores to Slate credit card customers, only 10 percent are enrolled.

Chase, the nations largest bank, began offering free FICO credit scores to its 10 million Slate customers in late March. As of late September, 1 million people enrolled in the banks Slate credit score and more program, Chase spokesman Jeff Lyttle said Tuesday.

The roll out to Slate customers will continue through year-end, he said. People who want their credit score and a new card with an EMV chip can contact customer service by calling the phone number on the back of their credit card, Lyttle said.

When Chase and Bank of America, the nations second-largest bank, finish launching their credit score programs in the next two months, that will mean more than half of US adults will have free access to their credit scores through their credit card issuers.

For now, Chase is getting customers credit scores from Experian, one of the three big credit bureaus.

Before getting their credit score, customers need only give Chase permission to pull their score. Chase said it will pull a customers score periodically, not necessarily every month. The practice will not affect consumers credit scores, either positively or negatively, Chase said.

Chase is telling consumers its offering credit scores because we intend for you to learn more about your credit score and the factors that impact it. It notes that Chase isnt a credit repair company and also cant dispute information with a credit bureau on a customers behalf.

While other major card issuers introduced credit scores several months to more than a year ago, Chase was trying to craft a service that was more than just providing scores. Chase plans to give customers a summary of their credit history to help them understand why their score is high or low because of their payment history, use of credit, length of credit history and inquiries. The bank also wants to educate people about how to improve their score.

Slate accounts are only one of the cards Chase offers. At this time, there are no plans to roll out the credit score and more feature to other Chase products, Lyttle said. Chases other two credit card brands are Freedom and Sapphire.

Its notable that the banks are offering FICO scores using the formula from Fair Isaac Corp. of California. Consumers sometimes get credit scores that are calculated with other formulas and arent close to being the same number that lenders see. Some other models dont even use the well-known 300 to 850 scale. (Anything above 720 is an A rating; a 760 or higher is considered A-plus.)

Credit card customers who receive free credit scores generally get them with their monthly statements. Some, such as Citi, offer them to customers only online.

Heres a rundown of other major banks and their free credit score services:

Ally Financial: Started offering FICO scores in February through a pilot program and expanded the program this summer to offer free scores to all 2 million auto finance customers. Ally said its doing it so customers can monitor their credit health and work to improve it and also know whether their identities have possibly been breached.

Bank of America:Is launching FICO scores to credit card customersby year-end.The free service will give customers their updated credit scores every month.

Barclaycard: Started providing free FICO scores to credit card customers online in 2014, and sends email alerts when the score changes. It also gives customers the top two factors that affect each persons score.

Capital One: Started offering non-FICO scores (the TransUnion educational score) in 2014. The credit tracker service also alerts customers to changes in their credit report and provides a credit simulator that shows how various things — good or bad — would affect the persons score.

Citigroup: Started offering free FICO scores in January to 23 million consumers. It applies only to Citi credit cards, not store-branded credit cards that are issued by Citi, such as Sears.

Commerce Bank: Provides free FICO credit scores to consumer credit card holders on its monthly statements. Also lists two key factors that are affecting the cardholders score. Jointly held cards are not eligible. Started in May.

Discover: Was the first major credit card to offer free FICO scores on monthly statements, starting in late 2013. Scores are also available online. The service also notes the two factors with the biggest effect on the persons score.

First Bankcard: This credit card company, part of First National Bank of Omaha, started providing FICO scores to credit card customers online in late 2013.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Started providing free FICO NextGen scores online to customers in mid-2014. Affects people who have credit cards, lines of credit, checking accounts or installment loans.

US Bank: Offers credit card customers free Experian credit scores online. Theyre not FICO scores.

USAA: Started offering all card holders their Experian VantageScore — not the FICO score. While something is usually better than nothing, that may not be the case with Vantage scores. Vantages scale used to be 501 to 990, but as consumer advocates pushed back because of the confusion, the scale was changed to 300 to 850 to match FICO. Vantage still doesnt use the same formula though.

Wells Fargo: It has sporadically provided a Vantage score through Experian. It is not a regular service at this time.


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CFPB October 2015 complaint snapshot: credit cards

On October 27, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or the Bureau) released itsOctober Complaint Snapshot. The Bureau accepts and publishes in itsConsumer Complaints Databasecomplaints regarding consumer financial products, including credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, credit reporting, money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans. The CFPB states that it expects companies to respond to complaints and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint within 15 days of receipt. The CFPB further expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.

The October 2015 Snapshot focused on issues and complaints surrounding credit cards. As of October 1, 2015, the CFPB had handled approximately 79,500 credit card-related complaints. Some of the issues identified by the Bureau include:

  • Late FeesThe CFPB noted that the payment process was the primary issue many consumers complained about (16% of credit card-related complaints).
  • Billing StatementsThe CFPB notes that many consumers complained that they did not have clear information on the amount of time they had to dispute charges they believed were wrong. Others complained that they were not made aware that their credit card company would not assist them in a dispute with a merchant.
  • Account ClosuresThe CFPB stated that 7% of consumer credit card complaints involved accounts being closed without advance warning, mostly because of suspected fraud on the card.

In general, the financial product or service complained about most during September 2015 was debt collection, representing about 29% of complaints submitted. Complaints about debt settlement, credit repair, and check cashing (classified as other financial services complaints) showed the greatest percentage increase. Complaints about these products rose 97% from the same time last year.

The CFPB relies on the Consumer Complaints Database to identify trends and inform enforcement and supervisory focuses. Moreover, the complaints are available to the public and may include a consumer narrative describing the issues leading to the complaint. Industry participants are thus well served by maintaining an awareness of complaints that may impact their businesses.


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How financial experts use modern technology to repair credit and for other tasks

The global economy’s competitive dynamics have been drastically changed due to modern technologies such as social, mobile, cloud and big data. Companies that know how to create and establish digitally enabled business models that leverage modern technologies are absolutely thriving in the market. In contrast, leaders who are still dependent on traditional business models are putting their employees, shareholders and companies at serious risk. CFOs or chief financial officers have come to recognize the value of modern technologies such as cloud delivery mechanisms for finance and the business as a whole.

Financial officers are dedicated to upgrading the skills of finance professionals through modern technologies and applications, which boast mobile, analytical and social capabilities that are embedded directly in the workflow. Today, more and more financial officers are opting to sponsor enterprise-wide transformation projects where technology and finance can be combined to bring analytical insights, operational knowledge and budgetary discipline. With the increasing needs of day to day, more and more people are seen looking for help with repairing credit, and there are a number of ways in which modern technology has proven useful for finance officers in helping these clients. Some are outlined below:

  • Technology can aid in delivering value and insight

Previously, historical data was reactively analyzed and static reports were produced. However, with the use of modern technology in finance, it is easier to understand what is happening and the reasons behind it. The tech also proves handy in providing guidance about the actions that should be taken for supporting the business objectives as well as helping with the credit improvement. Financial officers ensure that their teams take advantage of sophisticated and modern applications and analytical tools that are embedded with business intelligence. This allows them to do some forward-looking and real-time planning and enhances decision-making capabilities.

  • Technology acts as a strategic, service-oriented partner

The combination of finance and technology is that of collaborative strategies and service providers. This enables analysts to become a part of key lines of a business and assists them in decision-making and analysis. Apps, smartphones etc. can be used by financial officers for getting access to drill-down reports, self-service, etc. which can be used for analyzing information. Arian Eghbali, the credit repair specialist at, writes that the latest mobile, social and collaboration tools can be used today in order to aid clients in staying connected and linked to the strategies, vision and activities of other business partners.

  • Technology brings about maximum operational efficiency and productivity

Financial officers can make use of modern technology for achieving operational excellence in all service dimensions. This is accomplished by using a common finance language that’s based on globalized and standardized business processes and real-time data. Routine transactions can be outsourced and automated when possible in order to speed up the delivery of data and information along with insights to other departments where it can be used for making further decisions. This frees up analysts as their task is simplified and they can focus on other important ones.

As a whole, modern technology has revolutionized the finance industry as financial officers are able to use it for compliance and reporting, measuring performance of various projects and business as a whole, improving efficiency, cutting back costs and calculating returns.


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The Smart Way to Save Thousands on Your Next Home


Note: rates are current as of 11/2/2015

Lets put these rates into context. Suppose you plan to buy a $250,000 house, and put 20% down, meaning that youll need a $200,000 mortgage. If you have a top-tier credit score, you can expect to pay $901 per month toward principle and interest, while a borrower in the lowest tier would pay $1,088. This might not sound like a dramatic difference, but the top-tier borrower would pay $67,226 less on their mortgage over the 30-year life of the loan. Thats why I say credit is the most effective way to get a great deal.

There is a significant difference among adjacent tiers as well. Lets say that you currently have a 690 credit score and want to buy that same $250,000 home. By improving your score by just 10 points and jumping to the next tier, you can save nearly $7,300 in interest.

You can have an impact in a short time period
It can take several years to have a big impact on your credit score, but you may be surprised at how quickly you can boost your score by a few points and get to the next tier. There are several ways you can do this, including:

  • First, know where you stand. You can obtain a full credit report and FICO score for about $20 from websites such as or Experian (make sure youre buying a real FICO score). Considering how much you could save by boosting your score, the investment is well worth it.
  • Dispute any inaccurate information. According to the FTC, as many as 42 million Americans have errors on their credit reports. If you find one on yours, you can dispute it online with each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). The bureaus must either verify the information on your report, or remove it within 30 days.
  • Pay down your credit cards. 30% of your FICO score is made up of the amounts you owe on various accounts. More important than the balances themselves is the percentage of your available credit youre using. Therefore, by aggressively paying down your credit cards, you can have a quick impact on this part of your score. Experts generally recommend that you should be using less than 30% of your available credit, but even if you can only afford to pay down a small portion, it could add a few points.
  • Dont apply for any new credit. On your credit report, youll see a list of your recent hard inquiries, which are the times you applied for credit. The scoring formula only takes into account inquiries from the past year, so by simply letting a few inquiries fall off, your score could gain a few points.

The Foolish bottom line
These are a few of the ways you could potentially boost your score by a few points, and move yourself up to the next tier of mortgage rates. However, if you have a mediocre credit score (say, in the 600s), it may be beneficial to put off the home search for a little while and focus on credit repair. After all, a five-figure savings on your next home may be worth waiting for.


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IRS scams becoming plentiful: Cass County Sheriff offers tips to avoid being …

o Check your bank statements. If you see any unusual transactions, contact your bank or credit card.

o Review your credit report. Get your credit report from a credible agency. This allows you to check that no-one is using your name to borrow money or run up debts. See credit reports and credit repair for tips on how to check your report.

o Carry only essential information. Avoid taking important documents out of your home to minimize the chance of them being lost or stolen.

o Secure personal documents at home. Store your important documents in a fire and waterproof container or a safe deposit box in case your home is burgled or damaged.