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Project Credit Smarts. What is Consumer Affairs?. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation empowers Massachusetts consumers through education and outreach and maintains a fair and competitive marketplace. Agencies:

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Project Credit Smarts

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Project Credit Smarts


What is Consumer Affairs?

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

  • The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation empowers Massachusetts consumers through education and outreach and maintains a fair and competitive marketplace.

  • Agencies:

    • Division of Banks (DOB)

    • Division of Insurance (DOI)

    • Division of Professional Licensure (DPL)

    • Division of Standards (DOS)

    • Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC)


What is Project CreditSmarts?

  • Educational campaign; knowledge sharing

  • Topics include:

    • Bank accounts and debit cards

    • Credit cards

    • Credit Reports

    • Student loans

    • Protecting against identity theft

    • Maintaining good financial habits


Banking


Bank Accounts & Debit Cards

  • Having a bank account

  • Choosing a bank account

  • Tips for debit card use

  • Debit card protections


GETTING CREDIT


Credit Cards

  • Good reasons to have a credit card

  • Choosing a credit card

  • Tips on using a credit card


DOTHEMATH


Minimum Payments Cost $$$


Credit CardsWhat if you can’t pay?

  • Late fees

  • Penalty rates

  • Negatively affects credit history


Building Credit: Credit Card Alternatives

  • In-store credit cards

  • Piggybacking

  • Secured cards

  • Paying other bills on time


Credit Reports


YOU ARE ENTITLED TO

A FREE CREDIT REPORT

www.annualcreditreport.com

or

call (877) 322-8228


Credit Reporting Agencies

The three major credit reporting agencies are:

EquifaxExperianTransUnion

800-685-1111888-397-3742800-888-4213

www.equifax.com www.experian.comwww.transunion.com


Check Your Credit Report

  • Background info

  • Account accuracy

  • Negative info

  • Dispute errors

  • Written explanatory statement


What is a credit score?

  • NOT free

  • Credit worthiness

  • How scores are calculated

  • What your scores mean


How do I improve my credit?

  • Don’t add more debt

  • Make timely payments

  • Maintain low balance (30% of credit limit)

  • Careful about new lines of credit

  • Dispute old negative information

  • Budget

  • Save money, if possible


Student LoansWhat You Should Know

  • Student Loan Process

  • Federal versus Private

  • Repayment

  • Delinquency and Default (not Bankruptcy)

  • Counseling and Information


Repayment

  • Monthly payment

  • Types of repayment (federal loans)

    • Standard

    • Extended

    • Graduated

    • Income-Contingent

    • Income-Sensitive

    • Income-Based

  • Consolidation

  • Forgiveness

  • Postponement


Delinquency and Default

  • Delinquency

    • “Grace period”

    • Begins the day after you miss a payment

    • Creditor must send you notice of delinquency

  • Default

    • Usually the entire loan comes due

    • Ways to get out of default

  • Beware Bankruptcy


More Information & Counseling Contacts

  • Government

    • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/

    • U.S. Department of Education: www2.ed.gov/students/landing.jhtml

    • Federal Student Aid: studentaid.ed.gov

    • National Student Loan Data System for information about your individual loans: nslds.ed.gov

    • Information about loan consolidation: loanconsolidation.ed.gov

    • Glossary of Student Loan terms: studentaid.ed.gov/glossary

  • Non-profit

    • American Student Assistance: asa.org


Protecting your money


Safeguarding your credit

  • Don’t lend your cards

  • Contact your creditor fast about lost or stolen cards

  • Notify any one of the credit reporting agencies

  • Junk Mail: Dangerous?

  • YOU CAN OPT OUT OF CREDIT CARD MAILINGS!Call (888) 5-OPTOUT / (888) 567-8688 or go online at www.optoutprescreen.com


Protect Yourself

  • How to spot identity theft

  • How to prevent identity theft

  • Fraud Alert


Think you’re a victim of ID theft?

Toll Free: (877) IDTHEFT

(877-438-4338)

TTD: (202) 326-2502

or visit:

www.consumer.ftc.gov/idtheft


Dealing with Debt


Overwhelmed by your finances?

  • Act fast

  • Contact your creditors

  • Ask for professional help

  • Keep track of finances


Who can help

Money Management Int’l

www.moneymanagement.org

Boston Branch31 Milk St., Ste. 515Boston, MA 02109

Randolph Branch247 N. Main St., Ste. 200Randolph, MA 02368

Worcester Branch340 Main St., Ste. 813Worcester, MA 01608

Lowell Branch40 Central St.Lowell, MA 01852

Woburn Branch800 W. Cummings Park, Ste. 1075Woburn, MA 01801


Who can help

Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20580(202) 326-2222www.ftc.gov

FTC Article on how to select a credit counselor

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor


Our Partners

Federal Trade Commission Northeast Region

Federal Deposit

Insurance Corporation


THANK YOU!

For more information, log onto

www.mass.gov/consumer

  • Or call the Consumer Hotline

  • at

    • (617) 973-8787 / (888) 283-3757


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