Category: Financial Education

Fix My Credit- There Are Two Ways to Do It

American consumers are waking up to the fact that going through life with a low credit score, and thus having poor financial health, is going to impact their quality of life almost as much as their physical health. It seems that everyone wants to know how to ‘fix my credit’ and recover from the mistakes of their past.

The good news is you can recover and restore your credit score and financial health in two ways.

Fix My Credit

The first is to remove, as much as possible, negative items from one’s credit reports with Experian, Equifax and Transunion, the 3 major credit reporting agencies. There is a specific process governed by federal law that can assist in removing erroneous, obsolete and unverified items from a consumer credit report.

By law, a consumer has the right to fix my credit themselves through the major credit reporting agencies (CRA’s). However, one must understand that this is a major expense to the bureaus and does not generate them revenue. Therefore, within the boundaries of the law, they have put up some roadblocks for consumers in making this process accessible while at the same time making it seem very accessible.

That is why credit restoration companies exist. To help consumers navigate through the process and take the burden of time and expertise off consumers. Just like many things we can do ourselves such as work on our own cars, replace our own hot water heaters, etc., it just makes sense to pay someone else who has more expertise to fix my credit for us. So, removing negative or derogatory items from our credit reports is one way of improving our score. And, that is always the first step in improving our credit score.

However, we can also educate ourselves as to what we can do proactively to improve our score

. We first need to understand how our personal credit reports look against the scoring models of each of the CRA’s. In other words, what do we need to do to get more positive trade lines or accounts on our reports to add to a positive credit score increase?

Unfortunately not many people are in the business of educating people about how to fix my credit or offer services and solutions.

That is where our company has concentrated its efforts over the past few years and now offers a suite of services at a very affordable rate (just $89/month) to not only restore a consumers score by attempting to remove negative items but by educating them on how to proactively increase their score as well.

Here’s a list of services and solutions we offer:

  • Credit Restoration
  • Online Credit Monitoring- See an updated credit report and credit score 24/7
  • Education on Attaining a Positive Credit Score
  • An Attorney specializing in trade line removal and creditor harassment
  • Debt Payoff- a service that teaches consumers how to pay off their debts in up to half the time
  • Will, Trust and Powers of Attorney- protecting a consumer’s assets
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Document Security and Organization- identifies and records the location of all one’s important personal & financial documents
  • And, several money-saving services as well.
  • Restoring a credit score is important, or course. But getting serious about improving and securing one’s complete financial health is imperative in today’s economy.

For further information contact us at:
(619) 492-3040 or (727) 222-0120 or visit us at

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Identity Theft – What to Do Before and After It Happens

It has become evident over the past couple of years that the largest companies in the largest industries simply cannot unequivocally protect our data and personal information. So, the question isn’t whether we’ll be a victim of identity theft and have our social security number, address, credit card info, etc. in the hands of criminals. It’s when will it happen.

Identity Theft

It’s not for the lack of effort that companies cannot protect our data. Typically they have fire wall after fire wall built into their system. However, hackers spend 24/7 figuring out a way around and through these protections to eventually get their hands on our information.

So, is there anything we can about Identity Theft? The answer is, absolutely yes!

We have to build on our system of protection. It starts with identity theft protection where we will be alerted when someone is trying to sell our data or open up an account in our name. We must go further, however.

We must have the ability to monitor our credit report and credit score 24/7. We have to have the ability to view our credit history to see if there is any fraudulent activity on any of our 3 major credit reporting agency reports or any significant change in our credit score.

And then we must have the ability to fix any damage that may, and as we mentioned above, will occur as a result of a breach of our personal information. In other words, we need the capability of having a professional credit restoration company on call to assist when we need it.

Is all this possible to have affordably? Yes, it is. ERA Credit Services and Financial Education Services have teamed up to offer affordable identity theft protection, credit monitoring and the nation’ s most effective credit restoration service. In addition, we also have services to add positive trade lines to your credit reports, protect your assets and your family, and save you money on every day purchases.

For more information on these and other important services that protect your identity, credit, family, finances and future visit or call us at 727-222-0120 on the East Coast or 619-492-3040 on the West Coast.

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FTC Releases Latest Study on Credit Reporting Agencies

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 21, 2015 released its latest study on the 3 major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion). The study contains results about credit report errors. This was a follow up to a study issued in 2012 which discovered that, “that one in five consumers had an error that was corrected by a credit reporting agency (CRA) after it was disputed on at least one of their three credit reports. The study also found that about 20 percent of consumers who identified errors on one of their three major credit reports experienced an increase in their credit score that resulted in a decrease in their credit risk tier, making them more likely to be offered a lower auto loan interest rate.”

credit report errors

The follow-up study which surveyed consumers that had disputed one or more items on their credit report found that, “31 percent stated that they now accepted the original disputed information on their reports as correct. However, nearly 70 percent continue to believe that at least some of the disputed information is inaccurate. 45 percent said they plan to continue their dispute, and 50 percent plan to abandon their dispute, while others are undecided.

This latest study “also examined whether consumers from the 2012 study who had their credit reports modified after disputing information on their credit reports had any of the negative information that had been removed subsequently reappear on their reports”.

The study found that in only about 1 percent of the cases did an item such as credit report errors reappear after it had been removed.

The Commission issuing the study, “recommends that CRAs (Credit Reporting Agencies) review and improve the process they use to notify consumers about the results of dispute investigations, and that CRAs continue to explore efforts to educate consumers regarding their rights to review their credit reports and dispute inaccurate information such as credit report errors.

You can view the full study results here.

For information on how you can dispute credit report errors and derogatory items on your credit report contact us at: (619) 492-3040 or (727) 222-0120

Or, visit us at

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A Free Credit Score? Look Again!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shut down a marketing scheme by as many as 50 websites that lured consumers into unknowingly paying monthly fees to receive a free credit score.

free credit score

“View your latest Credit Scores from All 3 Bureaus in 60 seconds for $0!”, was one pitch to get consumers to actually sign up for a monitoring service that charged them monthly fees and was extremely difficult to stop.

Some of the websites that promoted these credit monitoring programs included,, and The FTC claims that hundreds of thousands of consumers unwittingly signed up for their ‘free’ credit score not realizing that they were also signing up for a monitoring program and were being charged a monthly fee.

How to Avoid Getting Charged for a Free Credit Score

Be aware that anytime you are asked provide payment information, you run the risk of getting charged for something other than what you intended. Free trial offers that require consumers to include credit card or bank account information can be something you want to avoid. And, always research the terms of offers. Buried somewhere may be contractual language that obligates you to pay for something you do not want and/or was not disclosed in the original offer.

How to Get a Truly Free Credit Report

If all you desire is to receive a free copy of your credit report from either Experian, Equifax, or Transunion (the 3 major credit bureaus), then visit This website will allow you to see online, print out, or save as a PDF document one free credit report from each of the bureaus once per year. However, be aware that you won’t receive a free credit score. If you want to also see your credit score you will be asked to pay a fee. You may also see an offer to pay as little as $1.00 to see your score but, as the information above describes, be asked to sign up for a monitoring program that will charge monthly fees.

About ERA Credit Services

ERA Credit Services provides a truly free credit score and credit reports ongoing to it’s clients as part of the overall service of restoring their credit. ERA Credit Services specializes in working with consumers to leverage their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and remove erroneous, obsolete and unverifiable derogatory items from their credit report. ERA Credit Services works with consumers in all 50 states and is located in San Diego, CA and Clearwater, FL. Agents are available to speak with clients about credit repair in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, San Diego, all cities in Pinellas, Hillsborough and San Diego Counties and all other states in the U.S..

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Proposed Overhaul of Credit Reporting Agencies

At the very least someone is paying attention to the practices of credit reporting agencies. Maxine Waters, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 43rd Congressional District (South LA County, CA), has proposed sweeping changes to the way the big 3 credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) handle consumer information provided by creditors.

credit reporting agencies

Proposed Changes under the Fair Credit Reporting Improvement Act of 2014

The Fair Credit Reporting Improvement Act of 2014 proposes the following changes which would increase millions of consumer credit scores immediately:

  1. Currently creditors have the legal right to report a derogatory credit item on consumer credit report for 7 years, or 10 years in the case of a bankruptcy. The new bill, if passed, would reduce these time frames to 4 and 7 years respectively.
  2. Paid or settled delinquent debt remains on a credit report as a derogatory account. The bill would eliminate this although it is unclear as to whether the item would be deleted, upgraded to a ‘Paid as Agreed’ status, or other.
  3. When a consumer’s account has late payments their credit report reflects those late payments for the previously mentioned 7 year period. The bill would allow for a consumer to make a certain amount of on-time payments (perhaps 9 consecutive months) and have the previous late payments dropped from the report.
  4. Currently when a consumer disputes an item on their credit report that dispute is reflected on the report preventing them from closing a home loan in some cases. The bill would eliminate reporting of disputes unless the dispute by the consumer is deemed frivolous. Of course, what is deemed frivolous is controlled by the credit bureaus so this may or may not have much positive impact.
  5. The bill would eliminate the credit bureaus from offering a ‘free trial’ program to obtain their credit score and then switching consumers to a ‘paid program’.
  6. Currently consumers have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the 3 credit bureaus but they still have to pay for their scores. The bill would force the bureaus to also provide free credit scores once per year.
  7. Approximately half of all employers run credit checks on applicants. This bill would drastically reduce the number of employers able to do so by categorizing those than can. How this will be done is still unclear.

But Are Positive Changes to the Credit Reporting Agencies Really Coming?

This may be a welcomed bit of news for those in the know of current reporting practices but it isn’t cause to get excited just yet. Business Week stated that the bill is “unlikely to pass”. Business Insider goes further and states that, “the newest credit reporting act doesn’t have a chance”.

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Consumer Debt is Still a Big Problem

Even though most recent reports signal a recovery of the U.S. economy from the worst financial crisis in close to 100 years, delinquent consumer debt is still a major drain of individuals and the economy as a whole. Reports indicate that there is a bigger problem in this area than experts previously thought. And, many consumers don’t even realize they owe this delinquent debt.

A report by the Urban Institute from late July, 2014 revealed that about 77 million adults have delinquent debt on their credit report. This excludes mortgage debt and takes only into account unpaid medical bills, credit cards, utility bills and other forms of consumer debt.

consumer debt

Income Level and Consumer Debt

This report also found large differences in the amount of consumer debt owed based on income level. Areas with lower incomes, such as the South, had collection rates as high as 40%. They also found concentrations of past due debt in Texas and Louisiana amongst other regions.

What was also interesting about this report is that creditors don’t seem very active in seeking payment of this debt. Many consumers discover that they have unpaid bills only when they go to purchase or lease a car, rent an apartment, buy a home, or make some other type of purchase that requires a check of their credit report.

Our Advice to You

Based on these findings our advice is to get a copy of your credit report. You can obtain a free copy of your Experian, Equifax or Transunion credit report at If you do have unpaid debt you can either call the creditor and negotiate a payment, or you can call us. Through our industry best credit repair service we can potentially get it removed from your credit reports on all 3 bureaus.

ERA Credit Services

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The High Cost of a Low Credit Score

A very good credit score is 720 or above. If you have this kind of score you still may want to increase it if you can to insure you are getting optimum credit opportunities and the lowest interest rates. However, the vast majority of people have a score of lower than 720. And, creditors love it! They simply make more money by being able to charge higher interest rates and deposits. This is when you experience the high cost of a low credit score.

Low Credit Scores and Mortgages The High Cost of a Low Credit Score

Regarding a home mortgage a small difference in the interest rate you pay can cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. For example, on a $200,000 loan a 1.25% difference in the interest rate will cost about $1,800/year and $9,000 in 5 years. With a very good credit score a borrower could save as much as $250/mo, $3,000/year and $15,000 over 5 years in interest payments.

Low Credit Scores and Car Loans

A car loan is even more dramatic due to the wide range of interest rates being offered depending on credit score. Someone with stellar credit can get close to 0% interest or perhaps less than 2%. However, interest rates up to and over 20% can be charged to borrowers with credit scores as low as the 500’s. The difference on a car that costs $15,000 is dramatic. 2% interest on a $15,000 car loan is about $25/month while 20% is $250/month just in interest. This is another example of the high cost of a low credit score.

The High Cost of a Low Credit Score

A low credit score may also cause people to have to pay utility deposits and deposits on mobile phones while others with higher scores pay no deposits at all.

And a low credit score can cost people employment opportunities. Approximately 60% of employers now do some sort of credit check on applicants.

Did you also know that a lower credit score can, depending on your insurance company, cause higher premiums for auto and home owners insurance?

Know Your Rights! Get Derogatory Items Removed

Based on the high cost of a low credit score it is a smart move to see if your score can be increased by removing derogatory items such as erroneous and obsolete items. As well, it is possible to challenge other items on your report to see if the creditor can or will verify the accuracy of the item. If they cannot or choose not to, that item must by federal law be deleted from your credit report thus increasing your credit score.

Call us today at 727-222-0120 or visit ERA Credit Services

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The Big 3 Credit Bureaus Are Not in Business to Fix Your Credit

In the last few years the amount of advertising on television and other media platforms by credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) and credit monitoring companies offering services to consumers regarding their credit has skyrocketed. credit bureaus

The reason for this is simple. Consumers have seen their credit scores rapidly decline due to tough economic times and are searching for ways to quickly and easily monitor their score. The credit bureaus and the companies they own are happy to oblige while making billions of dollars along the way.

What Consumers Need to Know About The Three Credit Bureaus

Consumers need to be aware of some facts regarding the credit bureaus and understand that they are billion dollar profit centers. Because we call them ‘bureaus’ many believe them to be government agencies created to help consumers. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Experian, Equifax and Transunion each generate over $1 Billion a year in revenue. Here’s how they do it:

  • Credit Services- They sell consumer information to prospective creditors. Lenders of money to consumers pay the credit bureaus to get a copy of a consumer credit report to make a decision of whether that person is credit worthy.
  • Consumer Decision Analytics- Creditors want to know the propensity a consumer has to respond to an offer of credit allowing them to better target their marketing efforts.
  • Marketing Services- Creditors also want to know what consumers meet their approval criteria so they can market pre-approved credit offers. Consumer information is also sold for non-credit related marketing efforts.
  • Consumer Services- This is the newest and fastest growing revenue stream for credit bureaus. Credit bureaus make money by selling services directly to consumers. Credit monitoring services, fraud protection, and identity theft solutions as some of the services they provide.

Beware of The Credit Bureau’s Consumer Services

Beware of the consumer services being offered by the credit bureaus. And, understand that the bureaus own some of the companies offering consumer protection and credit monitoring services on television. For instance, Experian owns

Experian is also marketing a credit monitoring services called ProtectMyID. When hackers stole personal information from 70 million to 110 million people who shopped at Target during the 2013 holiday shopping season, Target rolled out what’s become a common response for corporate hacking victims: an offer of free credit monitoring for a year, courtesy of Experian which may seem like the right thing to do and bring back favor to Target.

However, ProtectMyID tracks only what’s known as “new account fraud,” which occurs when someone uses stolen information to try to get a new line of credit, such as with a credit card, car loan or mortgage.
The far more likely type of fraud, though, is “existing account fraud” – when someone uses the credit information they’ve stolen to buy luxury items like Rolex watches and Gucci bags, which they then sell on the street for cash. The Experian service will not detect this type of fraud.
And, it only tracks the credit inquiries that are sent to Experian, ignoring those made to the nation’s two other major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax.

Credit Bureaus Do Not Fix Consumer Credit

Another point to be made about the credit bureaus is that they do not make money fixing consumer credit. Consumers can dispute items on their credit report that are erroneous or obsolete but this can be a frustrating process gaining little or no results.

In February, 2013 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that one in five consumers had an error on at least one of their three credit reports. The credit bureaus pay large fines for failing to update and correct consumer credit reports. It is widely held that the credit bureaus would rather pay these fines than correct the process they use to maintain accurate consumer credit information.

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Pull Your Credit Report and Check These 5 Items

One of the most important things to do regarding one’s finances is to pull your credit report periodically. Learning how your credit usage and payment history impacts your credit score can help you keep your credit score as high as possible. Understanding the factors that can lower your credit score can help you set financial goals.

You can get a free credit report at You are entitled by law to a free credit report each year from each of the 3 major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Pull Your Credit

When reviewing your credit report, pay close attention to these five areas of information to make sure your score isn’t being adversely affected:

What You’ll Find When You Pull Your Credit

Personal Information

Check your full name and any variations, your spouse’s name, birth date, Social Security number, current and past addresses. If there are misspellings or an incorrect address, these items might have been listed when a lender reported the data inaccurately, and can be corrected. It is important to correct these items especially if you have a more common name as creditors of another person with a similar name, even a relative, may wrongly report their information on your credit report.

Current Accounts

Each of your active accounts, such as mortgage loans and credit cards, will be listed along with the date the account was open when you pull your credit. They will appear as “in good standing” if you’re current on your payments, or “delinquent” if you haven’t paid your full monthly payment due or even show late payments from previous months or years. This information can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.

Closed Accounts

Closed and inactive lines of credit frequently still appear on your credit report. These items will stay on your credit report for different lengths of time but also up to 7 years.


Hard Inquiries occur when a lender checks your credit as part of the approval process. Having too many hard inquiries could mean that you are overextending yourself which could potentially lower your score. Furthermore, hard inquiries are the result of you requesting additional lines of credit from a lender. If you didn’t authorize the inquiry, this could be a sign of identity theft.

Soft Inquiries are typically made by companies that want to check your credit score to make a decision to market to you their line of credit such as credit card companies, retailers, and car dealers or manufacturers. These soft inquiries do not affect your credit score.

Negative or Derogatory Accounts

When you pull your credit you might see items such as past due accounts, bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgments, charge offs, late payments, tax liens and more. They will almost always appear on a credit report and are typically in a separate section on the report. These items can drop your credit score significantly. Time will lessen the impact these items have on your credit score as they can appear up to 7 years, or in the case of a bankruptcy 10 years. However, this is where going through the credit repair process and leveraging your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act may help.

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Credit Report Monitoring Services- Are They Worth It?

If you want to keep tabs on your credit report to catch errors, improve your score or keep an eye out for fraud, you might be tempted to sign up for a credit report monitoring service.

A credit report monitoring service tracks your credit report at one or more of the three major credit bureaus and immediately sends you an alert if any change or suspicious activity occurs.

Personal finance experts are divided about whether these services are worth the cost, but many say signing up can help some consumers. But it’s important to be able to distinguish exactly what these services offer, how much they cost and what you can expect in return for your payment.

The company we highly recommend and provide to our clients as part of our service is Smart Credit. Click Smart Credit to find out more.

credit report monitoring

Here are some tips to help you navigate the pros and cons of credit monitoring services:

The Basics About Credit Report Monitoring

Basic credit monitoring services usually track your credit reports at one, two or all three of the major credit bureaus –Experian, Equifax, and Transunion — and send you an e-mail, text message or letter, depending on your preference, if there’s an inquiry or other activity. Many also offer unlimited access to your credit report from at least one of the bureaus, tracking of your credit score, telephone help with fraud resolution and even reimbursement of some out-of-pocket expenses incurred while trying to resolve identity theft or other fraud.

Credit monitoring services can be helpful for spotting certain problems, such as if somebody opens a new credit account in your name using your stolen information. But they don’t necessarily alert you to every type of identity theft you could encounter. For example, if somebody is using your stolen personal information to get a job or a cell phone, something that wouldn’t necessarily be reported to a credit reporting agency, then credit monitoring isn’t going to pick that up.

Credit Report Monitoring versus Identity Theft Protection

For that reason, more providers have begun offering broader identity monitoring services that typically include credit monitoring along with other features — such as monitoring of public records, databases and websites for use of your personal information.

Total identity monitoring will check bank accounts for unauthorized changes to personal information and informs consumers of changes to account contact information or attempts to add new account holders to existing accounts. Ii also issues alerts for new credit account applications being made against your credit file so you can act quickly to resolve fraudulent activity.
It should also give you unlimited, 24/7/365 online access to all three annual credit reports and scores so you can check to see if information is accurate and up to date to better manage your credit, and help you identify important changes and see how your credit is trending over time.

Is Credit Report Monitoring Worth the Money?

Consumer advocates don’t all agree on whether credit monitoring, which typically costs $10 to $15 or more per month — a total of$120 to $180 a year — is worth the money. Some say it’s an extra layer of protection that’s smart to have, while others say it’s unnecessary.

Here’s our take. If you want to simply monitor your credit score and activity being placed on your credit report, perhaps not. However, if you also want to protect your overall identity than it most definitely is. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Having your identity stolen without any protection or insurance coverage can cost you thousands of dollars to recover from.

If You Want Credit Report Monitoring Only

Instead of shelling out cash for just credit monitoring, consumers could simply get their free annual credit reports from the three major bureaus at and closely watch activity on their bank and credit card accounts. A consumer who wants further protection could place a 90-day fraud alert on his credit files or even pay a one-time fee to enact a credit freeze which prevents creditors from accessing the credit reports until the consumer lifts the freeze.

If You Want Full Protection

There are several companies that go beyond just credit monitoring and offer full identity protection. We recommend LifeLock. If you want identity theft protection only they have LifeLock Identity Theft Protection that we can set you up with for just $9/month or $99 annually. Or, for full coverage including credit monitoring they have LifeLock Ultimate. LifeLock Ultimate provides identity theft protection and unlimited, 24/7/365 online access to all three major bureau credit reports and scores so you can check to see if information is accurate and up to date to better manage your credit. The cost for LifeLock Ultimate is just $25/month.

ERA Credit Services

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