Friday, June 6, 2014

Where is banking going in ten years?

There have been a lot of changes in banking in the past few years. Some changes are subtle, but some create a new paradigm, such as the advent of Mobile Banking. Mobile Banking has the potential to be bigger than Online Banking was at its introduction. Why? There is a much larger installed base of mobile smart phones today, 1.5 billion worldwide, than there were PC’s in 1997 when Online Banking went live. Mobile Banking acceptance by younger adults is off the charts. They do not fear using their phones for banking purposes and welcome the convenience Mobile Banking promises them.

So, what are some of the big changes we will see coming in the near future? For starters, it is a foregone conclusion that paper checks are going away. With the proliferation of online bill pay systems, there is very little need for consumers to sit at the old desk and write out checks once or twice a month. You won’t have to lick any of those nasty bill envelopes anymore! Yuck.

Today, it takes me five minutes to pay 7 bills. No stamps, no envelopes, no calculators. Just me, my bills and my PC and my bills are paid in 24-48 hours mostly. It is very easy even for beginners.

Another change will be the new EMV or EuroPay MasterCard/Visa. This is the new “chipped” cards that many have been talking about. Simply put, EMV (sometimes referred to as chip-and-PIN, or chip-and-signature) is the most recent advancement in a global initiative to combat fraud and protect sensitive payment data on cards. A cardholder's confidential data is more secure on a chip-enabled payment card than on a magnetic stripe (magstripe) card, as the EMV card supports dynamic authentication, while the current mag-stripe card does not (the data is static). Consequently, data from a traditional magstripe card can be easily copied (skimmed) with a simple and inexpensive card reading device – enabling criminals to reproduce counterfeit cards. Chip (EMV) technology is effective in combating counterfeit fraud with its dynamic authentication capabilities (dynamic values exist within the chip itself that, when verified by the point-of-sale device, ensure the authenticity of the card). The one thing that  cannot be copied  is the chip in the card. (A  lot of people are saying that if we had EMV cards, the Target data breach would not have happened. Incorrect. The EMV cards would not have protected anyone from Target’s failed attempts at data security on their systems.)

We still see a lot of paper loan applications around today. More and more, financial institutions are moving to paperless processes. Your application is online and all the loan underwriting will be done on line. You will sign with your electronic signature. Do you need to have paper copies of disclosures in your files at home? No, not if you can access them on your phone, tablet or PC whenever you wish. You can save a digital file of your documents on the security of your home computer if needed.

Teller roles are changing and that means that your bank will change as well over time. Some credit unions have installed video Tellers over the past few years. There is one CU that is currently experimenting with a holographic Teller. Tellers are now being trained to offer advice and show you how to use the latest technology, whether it’s online banking, a mobile application, or digital documents; the role of the teller is not what it used to be.

Consider that there is already a lot of automation in banking. Automatic Teller Machines, ATM’s, have become ubiquitous in our banks, convenience stores, airports, and even gas stations. Many of today’s ATM’s will give you a copy of the check you deposited for your records. Credit unions have really changed the paradigm of the ATM as they “share” their ATM’s; meaning that if I bank at Meriwest Credit Union, I can go to virtually any other CU’s ATM, nationwide, and make a deposit to my account at Meriwest. Credit unions have offered shared ATM’s for many years.

Other forms of automation are cash and coin counters. Certain new ATM’s are being equipped with cash counters in them. You deposit the cash in the slot and the machine counts and verifies your deposit. In most of our branches, we offer our members a coin counter. They can dump their accumulated coins in the machine; it counts them and gives them a receipt. Today we take that receipt to a teller who will deposit the amount in our checking account. In the near future, the coin counter will be connected to the financial institution and deposit the coin directly to your account. That is, if coins are still around.

It may be unbelievable, but actual physical money will make an exit from our lives. The dollars and coins with which we grew up will no longer be necessary to make transactions. All of our money will be digitally managed. Today, unless we physically use cash, most of our transactions are now digitally managed.

Your employer pays you by Direct Deposit. You go online and pay your bills with online bill pay. You get a check in the mail for a rebate. You use your Smart Phone to take a photograph of the check and use Remote Deposit Capture to deposit it in your checking account. Your financial institution never has a physical copy of the check, only digital. You walk to the deli and buy a sandwich and a soda with your debit card. We drive across a bridge and “beep,” our bridge tolls are paid automatically from our checking account. We can pay our taxes electronically and receive our refunds in the same manner.

I think it is easy to see the future is now and these changes are coming faster than we think.

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Our next Free Financial Workshop:
Car Buying 101
Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 10 AM

Learn how plan, select, and make your deal for your next new or used car. We will cover research, financing, and explain how to save hundreds of dollars on vehicle warranties.

Location: Meriwest Credit Union Main Office
5615 Chesbro Ave.
San Jose CA 95123




Friday, May 23, 2014

Unmarried? Buying a Home Together? Read This!!!

Buying a home means making a number of decisions with your money, investment planning (remember, your home is an investment), and we must consider how to accept title in our new home as part of our estate planning. Generally,  California is a community property state. In California, a 50/50 division of community property between a married couple is strictly mandated by statute, meaning that the focus then shifts to whether particular items are to be classified as community or separate property. If one owned property prior to the marriage, that property can be vested as “Sole and Separate Property,” meaning that it belongs entirely to one party in the marriage.

Typically, in the absence of a Living Trust, married couples in California take title to property as joint tenants or as community property. But what if you are not married? What if you are cohabitating with someone and you decide to buy a house together?

Unmarried couples have many of the same decisions to make as married couples when it comes down to home purchasing. One of the most important is how to take title of the home. This can determine what can happen in the case of a dissolution of the relationship or a death of one of the parties to the home’s purchase. Let’s take a look at the different vestings available to unmarried couples and some of the details involved with each particular vesting.

To be sure, I am not an attorney. The information I provide here is rather basic so for additional details, please consider consulting with a Realtor, a lawyer or an investment adviser who can help you with some estate planning.

Individual vesting: In this case, only one individual of the unmarried couple owns the property and owns 100% of it. The other individual has no ownership involvement or rights. If the owner dies, the surviving member of the couple is out of a home unless the beneficiaries selected by the decedent (dead) owner allow him or her to continue living in the home with a rental agreement. The owner can bequeath the property to their unmarried partner in a will but that opens up a can of inheritance taxes and Legal issues.

Tenants-in-Common: This vesting is most common for investment properties with multiple owners. In the case of unmarried couples, some people like to retain what is theirs or at least have a dividing line to say this part is mine and that is yours. This is particularly acute when one party to the transaction provides a larger portion of the down payment of a new home. Tenants-in-common allows each borrower to delineate their ownership percentage of the home. If two people have equal down payments and will share 50/50 in the mortgage, the percentage could be set at each owning 50%. If the down payments are unequal or one party will be paying a significantly larger portion of the mortgage, the couple must work out who owns what percentage; 40/60? 30/70? Also, in Tenants-in-common each can leave their portion of the home to their own selected heirs. Their ownership does not automatically revert to the surviving tenant or tenants. You can leave your ownership interest to the dog if you want! This creates some sticky situations if the decedent tenant leaves their portion of the home to someone with whom the surviving tenant does not get along.

Joint Tenants: In Joint Tenancy, the owners own 100% of the property together. There is no delineation of who owns what percentage of the home. Joint Tenants must both sign documents when transferring the property or using it as a security for a loan. Joint Tenancy is often written on title documents as “Joint Tenants with right of survivorship,” meaning that when one tenant dies, the other tenant inherits the property and owns 100% of it. That tenant now owns the entire home and has the right to select his or her own beneficiaries for the home in the case of their own death.

Community Property (with right of survivorship): This vesting is intended for married persons or domestic partners. Similar to Joint Tenants, the tenants own 100% together. There is no delineation of ownership percentages. Since all such property is owned equally, both parties must sign all agreements and documents transferring the property or using it as security for a loan. Adding the “with right of survivorship” may add some tax advantages. On the death of an owner, the decedent’s interest ends and the survivor owns all interests in the property.  

Trusts: Unmarried people may also take ownership in the form of a trust. The trust documents will determine each parties’ (trustees) ownership percentage and will determine what takes place upon the death of a trustee. In this case, funds could be left to the surviving trustee or decided in advance who will inherit the ownership. They can also designate who would manage the trust (successor Trustee) in the case both owners perish at the same time.

If you are unmarried and thinking of buying a house, this is a great time to do it. Despite the lack of inventory in some areas, interest rates remain historically low. There is a lot to take into consideration when purchasing a home such as the neighborhood, schools, transportation availability, shopping,  down payments, loan terms, and how you will take ownership; your vesting.

When the time comes to purchase your new home, don’t forget to check your credit union’s mortgage rates. Judging from the volume of home purchase loans we are doing today, our interest rates and loan terms must be very competitive!

Link for additional information: http://www.clta.org/for-consumers/consumer-holdingtitle.html

This link is to the California Land Title Association's website for vesting information.

***

Free Financial Education Class:
Credit Myths & Credit Repair
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Chesbro Financial Center
5615 Chesbro Ave, San Jose, CA

Your credit is one of the most important things you need to know the FACTS about. Protect your credit by learning about credit Myths vs. Facts.





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Understanding Biz Credit Cards







Here is a special bonus for our readers; the Credit Union Guy gets real about Business Credit Cards with Erica Sandberg of CreditCards.com.

Friday, May 9, 2014

You have your high school diploma. Now what’s next?


You got your diploma, went to grad night, and stayed out until morning. What are your plans? You may have plans for college locally or away. You may have a job lined up for the summer. That’s what’s next for you, but what’s next for your money?

1. Have you opened a checking account? Was it at a bank or a credit union? If you opened your account at a commercial bank, you must enjoy paying fees to the bank. If you don’t enjoy paying fees to a bank, you can open your checking at a credit union and keep more of your money. It is not that credit unions don’t charge any fees, they just charge fewer of them than the banks do. Are you required to have a minimum balance in your bank account to avoid monthly service charges? Are you required to have direct deposit for a free checking account? If you don’t maintain these things, how much is the monthly charge? $10? $15?

Generally, at credit unions that is not the case. Most credit unions often offer checking accounts that are free of fees. There are no monthly service charges or minimum balance requirements. Direct Deposit is encouraged but not a requirement for a free account. Credit unions believe it is better for their members to keep their money than to take it from them in the form of banking fees.

2. Are you working? Then you should be saving money. Save what you can afford. If you have a car, you will thank yourself for saving some money. Cars don’t take care of themselves. Tires will go flat, batteries will go dead, hoses will spring leaks, and belts will break, all costing you money. Put some money away for that inevitable day when something goes wrong with the car. Just to tow your car five miles may cost you $100! Do you have $100 in your savings today? If not, you should have that as a minimum start amount and keep saving.

While we are working on savings, let’s talk about an emergency fund. As time goes by, an emergency fund will be important to you. A general rule of thumb for an emergency fund is six months worth of income. The emergency fund exists to fill gaps in your budget when unexpected expenses arise. Not just for fixing your car, but for emergencies such as getting transportation to visit sick family members, or your own emergency medical bills, or paying for your insurance deductible after a car accident are just some examples of good uses for your emergency fund. That emergency fund exists in case we find ourselves unemployed. That six months income in the fund may be what we need to bridge our income gap between jobs! So what’s the best way to save? Try allocating a portion of your check into a savings account as part of an automatic deposit or transfer. Think about it. If you get paid twice a month, that’s 26 checks in a year, if you only took $10 per check and had it automatically deposited into your savings, that’s $260. Now what if you doubled that to $20 per check? That’s $520 you’ve saved! And since it’s being automatically deposited, you probably won’t even notice it coming out of your check.

3. Do you have credit? Pay your bills on time so you don’t incur any bad credit and to help build strong credit. An unpaid bill can become a collection and hurt your chances to access credit. A cosigner can be very helpful in accessing credit such as a car loan or credit card. The cosigner is on the loan with you so they would suffer if you fail to pay on time. The cosigner is essentially putting their good credit at risk to help you. This should be treated with great respect. You must stay on top of any credit commitments made with a cosigner.

Are you more independent? Don’t want a cosigner? Perhaps a secure Visa or Master Card is in your future. Meriwest Credit Union (as well as many other CU’s) offers a secure Visa card that can be started for as little as $300. Send a $300 check with your application and, if approved, your will receive a $300 Visa credit card. Want a higher credit limit? Increase your security deposit. Your incentive is that if you don’t manage the card well you are putting your savings at risk. If the card is not paid on time, it could be closed and paid off with your secured savings. You would receive whatever is left after pay off. Be aware that these cards usually have an annual fee as well.

Whether you initiate credit with a cosigner or through the secured route, it will take some time to get yourself established. Rome was not built in a day and we don’t build a credit history in three months! Check CreditKarma.com to see your credit score and watch it grow as you manage your credit.

4. Do you have a car? Do you have adequate car insurance? There are a lot of car insurance companies that advertise very low rates and for good reason! They mainly quote the cost of the California Minimum Insurance. What are those minimums?
$15,000 for injury/death to one person.
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
$5,000 for damage to property.

Let’s say you bought this exact amount of insurance. It is very inexpensive. Why? You have very little insurance. Let’s suppose you hit a new Mercedes Benz E-Class sedan from behind and the owner gets a neck injury like whiplash. If the car is totaled, it will cost you over $50,000 to replace it. How much do you suppose the hospital bills would be for whiplash? $100,000? $250,000? Whoa! More than that? Yep.

In this case, your insurance company will give the victim $5,000 for the damage to their car and $30,000 for the hospital stay. You are on the hook for the rest of it and it could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in your emergency fund, you might want to budget for adequate insurance. It may cost you more than the super cheap minimum insurance, but it will help you sleep at night knowing you are not at risk of filing bankruptcy for a car accident.

These four things, opening a checking account, starting your savings, establishing your credit and properly insuring your car can make your financial life so much easier and put you ahead of the game. Many college graduates are not ready for their lives financially when they leave college. If you start your post high school planning with these four simple ideas, you can build a financial foundation that will serve you and your future family for the rest of your days.

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All About Business Credit Cards
On Wednesday May 14th at 10 am PDT the Credit Union Guy, Meriwest CU's Community Relations Manager, Greg Meyer, will take part in a Google+ Hangout with the team at Credit Cards.com to talk about understanding Business Credit Cards. It's fifteen minutes that will bring you up to date on the differences and the proper uses of a business card. Here is the link to watch: http://bit.ly/1i20MX4 .

Free Credit and Identity Theft Workshops

Preventing Identity Theft
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Chesbro Financial Center, San Jose, CA
Identity theft is on the rise. After the Target Store breach, what more can we expect and how do we protect our hard earned money from these thieves? We share some answers with you.

Credit Myths & Credit Repair
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Chesbro Financial Center, San Jose, CA

Do you know all there is to know about credit? We review the top ten myths of credit and explain how paying bills, collections, credit inquiries, and divorce can effect your credit standing.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Ten Giant Wastes of your Money

Do you waste money? Do you misuse it to the point that you might as well set it on fire? Do you have money to burn? I am sure you don’t think you do. No one wants to waste money but we often do unknowingly. There are more money wasters out there than I can list in the blog. After you have read my top ten ideas for how we waste money, I encourage you to pass along your own ideas. I will compile them and put your ideas into a future blog. You can respond to this blog or send them to GMeyer@meriwest.com.

  1. Unused memberships for which you are still paying. Gym memberships, online gaming, dance clubs, fraternal organizations, etc. These memberships take money from us every month. If we are not using the advantages of these memberships, why are we still paying for them?
  2. The social life is cool, but at what cost? One or two nights a week out drinking and carousing can cost you $30-$50 a night depending on the bar. It’s not all booze because when you are out drinking you invariably want to go out to eat. Who’s going to run home and fix pasta after four drinks? Besides, all those cool people at the bar are not at your home!
  3. Regularly eating lunch in restaurants or take out. How much does it need to cost before you decide to start making your lunch at home and taking it with you? A cheap lunch of a deli sandwich and a soda can run $7 today, much more if you want something more elaborate. If I eat out four times a week all year long how much does that cost at my (low) average of $7 per day? Try nearly $1,500! It runs about a third as much to bring your lunch regularly.
  4.  Style. Addicted to style and fashions? Do you have fashion magazines coming to your door? Is the next thing from your fav designer the next must have fashion addition? Cool your jets. This is a problem for men and women. You can be helped; you just have to admit you have a problem! Now, repeat after me, “I am addicted to fashion!”  Good, now get some counseling!
  5. Gas hogs. Have you checked the gas mileage on your car lately? A ten mile per gallon difference, going from 20 mpg to 30 mpg, can be a $1,000 savings at $4 per gallon! (based on US resident avg. mileage of 15,000 miles annually)
  6. Cable Premium Services. Do you still have HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and the Movie Channel? It may be costing as much as $50 monthly/$600 annually to maintain these movie channels. Is it worth it? A subscription to  a streaming video provider is much cheaper!
  7. Tired of paying for cable? Did you know your local broadcast TV stations still broadcast on the air? Modern flat screen TV’s have digital tuners built into them. A $10 rabbit ear  style TV antenna from your local electronics store connected to your Flat Screen can bring in a lot of programming; 54 stations in San Jose alone without a cable box or a satellite dish! Local television stations now broadcast in digital, meaning they have a lot more programming available. What was one channel prior to the advent of digital broadcasts is now 3 or 4 different channels. You want more? Consider internet TV. There are a variety of inexpensive internet TV devices ($100 or less) that work with your high speed wireless internet to bring you 1,000 channels of programming such as Youtube, the major TV networks, and most cable networks. Your Smart TV or BluRay DVD player may have this access built in to it. If you have a fast internet connection and an antenna on your TV, you might be fixed and be able to tell cable and their rising monthly fees good bye. Typical cable bills can be >$100 monthly. Would that look better in your savings account?
  8. Still getting the newspaper at home? If you have the internet and a smart phone, is the newspaper necessary? Every news item in the paper was a news item 24 hours ago on the internet. Why do you want old news delivered to your door?
  9. Do you buy extended warranties? When you check out of electronics stores with your gadgets, you are often asked if you want the extended warranty. These are unnecessary as the manufacturers generally have pretty good warranties to begin with. The extended warranties have a laundry list of exclusions that often prevent you from using the warranty as it was originally intended. Extended warranties are seldom used and make a lot of profit for the store where you purchased your item.
  10. You don’t maintain a budget. You get paid and have no idea where your money goes because you don’t track it or pay attention to it. You hope that payday comes soon as you may be running out of money. That’s no way to live your life! Build a simple budget and use it to control your spending. You will save some money!


Get out last month’s checking account statement and see where your money went. How much was your cable bill? How much did you spend eating out? What was your gasoline bill for the month? You may find some fine incentives that can help justify one or two lifestyle changes that can help you save a few dollars here and there. The only question remaining is, are you ready to make that change? I am sure your savings account and your wallet would be happier. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Turbo Charge Your Retirement



Q:Hey, Credit Union Guy, I'm in my 40s and haven't saved nearly enough to prepare for retirement. How can I 'turbo-charge' my retirement savings to catch up?

 A: The good news is that you still have a lot of peak earning years ahead of you. Many people don't hit their professional stride until they reach their 40s, 50s and 60s, and they have their best earning years, by far, late in life. If you qualify for a traditional pension, so much the better, because many systems use your highest-paying three or five years to calculate your benefits. These traditional pensions, however, are getting quite rare.
   
The bad news is this: Interest rates are at or near record lows. That's great for borrowers, but it makes things a lot harder on savers. Chances are, you will need to save a lot more money to generate a given level of retirement income than your forebears did a generation or two ago.


Here are some ideas: 
Rein in spending sharply. Learn to enjoy cooking, rather than eating out. Cut back on cable TV packages and take up exercise instead. The lower your monthly expenses, the more free cash flow you will have available to invest. All solutions to your problem start with this one step.
  

Pay down consumer debt and credit card debt. With credit card interest rates in the high 20s for some people, this is often the very best return on your investment you can get. Every dollar you pay down in credit card debt sooner or later nets you a return on investment equal to the interest rate on the card - with no risk, and no taxes due. Pay it off early and keep your future dollars.
  

Next, make sure you are making the most of your tax-advantaged retirement savings opportunities. Are you working for someone else? Increase your 401(k) contributions. Maximize your IRA or Roth IRA contributions if you are eligible.


Do you own your own business? Can you start one? If so, you have some additional options: You can form and contribute to a SEP IRA, or simplified employee pension plan. This plan allows you to contribute up to 25 percent of your income from the business into a SEP IRA, or up to $49,000 per year, tax deductible. No taxes are due until you take the money out. Some businesses may be better off forming a SIMPLE IRA or Solo 401(k), depending on the specifics. Consult a qualified financial advisor with experience in retirement planning to find out which alternative is most appropriate for you and which will enable you to maximize your contributions.
  

Want more ideas? If you are self-employed and have your own business, you have few or no employees and a steady stream of cash flow, you can make nearly unlimited tax deductible contributions to an insured pension fund, under Section 412(i) of the Internal Revenue Code. (Make sure you have an experienced advisor working with you on these. This might not be a job for your nephew who is just getting started in the life insurance business).

Have you spoken to your investment advisor about the growth in your account? How much risk can you honestly accept? The saying is the higher the risk the higher the yield. Is that risk and the stress worth the yield? A good advisor will set you up with some options that can mitigate or modify your risk. 
  

Are you renting? It might be time to buy. That may sound expensive now, but interest rates are extremely low as of this writing. Even if rates rise to five percent or more, it would still be historically low. If you're in your 40s, you will have that 30-year mortgage paid off in your 70s. At that time, you may want to convert the equity in your home to a stream of income via a reverse mortgage. It's not for everyone, but if you rent rather than buy, you won't have that option. You can make that decision when you get there.
  

Above all, save money. Squirrel money away every way you can. Cash is still king, and there's no substitute for healthy cash reserves in your credit union account, whether in checking, certificates or other conservative savings options. You might not get a great return, but it's safe, secure and steady. Most of your success is going to come from controlling spending decisions, rather than from making brilliant investment decisions. Set things up so you don't have to be brilliant to succeed, just prudent.

  
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Meriwest’s Spring Pre-Owned Car Sale is this Weekend!
Sat-Sun: April 12th and 13th
Chesbro Financial Center, San Jose, CA


Sale Hours:
  • Saturday, April 12th:
    9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 13th:
    10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Event Location:

Take advantage of this special event!
  • Low auto loan rates
  • Huge selection of over 200 quality vehicles
  • Up to 100% financing available for qualified buyers*
  • Fast and friendly service
  • Trade-ins welcome
Plus PRIZES and more!





Friday, March 28, 2014

Zombie Debt

Even Zombies say, "Zombie debt bad!"

Zombies are more popular now than at any time I can remember. There are new zombie movies coming out, zombie games, zombie parties, and even self-defense products for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.  There is one more Zombie Threat you must protect yourself from, ZOMBIE DEBT!

Zombie Debt is a collection that has been “termed” off your report. In other words, it has reached its seven year expiration and been removed automatically from your credit report. Then collectors try to call and collect on “Dead Debts” or “Zombie Debts.” It is as if the seven plus year old debt has risen from the grave and come back to haunt us. Imagine your old debts doing the slow zombie shuffle to your door yelling, “Pay me, pay me!”

Zombie Debt Collecting is becoming more common. This is particularly true with people who don’t track their finances well and don’t follow their credit report. Bill collectors are taking advantage of their naiveté and making threats about legal actions if payments don’t start right away. These tactics are working in the lower income communities. Typically they are going after old credit card debt.

Consumers need to know their rights in regards to credit reporting. I present a workshop in the community and at my credit union titled, “The Myths of Credit.” The presentation goes over the top ten myths of credit and an emphasis is put on managing and understanding collections. Too many people don’t understand that a collection can only be collectable for seven years and not beyond that. However, these collection agents continue to attempt to collect debts that are well beyond the seven year period. Also, once families go into an agreement with the collector on a Zombie debt, they need to stick to it and make their payments as the collection agent could now make this a new collection for nonpayment due to the payment agreement/promissory note the consumer might sign.

How should a person handle collection calls and avoid Zombie Collections? Regrettably, it is not as simple as shooting a zombie in the head and ending the threat.

Before a collector calls:

1.       Access your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can access all three bureaus’ reports here. You will never be in the dark about your credit status. You will always know when a collection has gone on to your report and when it expires. This is a free service.

2.       Sign up for CreditKarma.com. They will notify you of any changes in your score and provide the info for those changes; such as a collector “re-aging” a collection or putting an old expired collection back on your report with a new date to make it appear current. This is also  a free service.

When a collector calls:   
  1. Don’t admit to anything. Don’t agree to payments. Your agreement to making payments  or even acknowledging the debt could provide the company the legal right to collect the debt and may reinstate a dead debt and make it a real Zombie!
  2.   Make them identify themselves and the details of the debt they are collecting; dollar amounts and the date the collection became active on your credit report (AKA First date of delinquency: The legal term for the first day a debt goes on your credit report). This date can clue you into whether they are collecting on a Zombie debt.
  3.  Don’t fall for the traps. Agencies will sometimes “re-age” the debt, (reporting the debt to the credit bureau as if it’s new). They might promise to wipe off the “red checkmark” on a credit report, of sometimes do a “bait and switch” where they tack on the balance of a zombie debt to a new credit card offer. 
  4.  Ask them to validate the date and amounts of the collection and send them to you in writing. This should also include asking them for the credit card agreement you signed. Double check the statute of limitations in your state. Generally, seven years is the accepted period of collection. If the debt was discharged thru a bankruptcy they cannot collect it.
  5.  If you have determined that you are not responsible for the debt due to age of the debt or other written agreements such as settled or paid in full, write a letter to the collection agency and inform them that you will not pay the debt and share the reason for it as well as any copies of evidence you have showing the debt is no longer collectible.
  6.  Collectors often like to threaten payees with court. “If you don’t pay this, we will take you to court!” With most modest credit card debts it is just not economically feasible to hire attorneys to go after the payees. This is a common threat with Zombie debt. If your debt is expired and the collector makes this threat, it is an empty threat with nothing to back it up. No one is going to spend big money ($500 per hour!) to hire an attorney and pay for court costs to collect small expired debts.  
  7.  Check your credit report annually. Review it and compare it to the previous year’s report and determine that all items on the report are current and valid.


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Save The Date!
Meriwest Spring Pre-Owned Car Sale
Sat-Sun: April 12th and 13th
Chesbro Financial Center, San Jose, CA
Sale Hours:
  • Saturday, April 12th:
    9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 13th:
    10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Event Location:
Take advantage of this special event!
  • Low auto loan rates
  • Huge selection of over 200 quality vehicles
  • Up to 100% financing available for qualified buyers*
  • Fast and friendly service
  • Trade-ins welcome
  • Plus PRIZES and more!