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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

Project Credit Smarts

What is consumer affairs

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 credit smarts

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



Bank accounts debit cards

Bank Accounts & Debit Cards

  • Having a bank account

  • Choosing a bank account

  • Tips for debit card use

  • Debit card protections

Project credit smarts


Credit cards

Credit Cards

  • Good reasons to have a credit card

  • Choosing a credit card

  • Tips on using a credit card

Project credit smarts


Minimum payments cost

Minimum Payments Cost $$$

Credit cards what if you can t pay

Credit CardsWhat if you can’t pay?

  • Late fees

  • Penalty rates

  • Negatively affects credit history

Building credit credit card alternatives

Building Credit: Credit Card Alternatives

  • In-store credit cards

  • Piggybacking

  • Secured cards

  • Paying other bills on time

Credit reports

Credit Reports

Project credit smarts




call (877) 322-8228

Credit reporting agencies

Credit Reporting Agencies

The three major credit reporting agencies are:



Check your credit report

Check Your Credit Report

  • Background info

  • Account accuracy

  • Negative info

  • Dispute errors

  • Written explanatory statement

What is a credit score

What is a credit score?

  • NOT free

  • Credit worthiness

  • How scores are calculated

  • What your scores mean

How do i improve my credit

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 loans what you should know

Student LoansWhat You Should Know

  • Student Loan Process

  • Federal versus Private

  • Repayment

  • Delinquency and Default (not Bankruptcy)

  • Counseling and Information



  • Monthly payment

  • Types of repayment (federal loans)

    • Standard

    • Extended

    • Graduated

    • Income-Contingent

    • Income-Sensitive

    • Income-Based

  • Consolidation

  • Forgiveness

  • Postponement

Delinquency and default

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

More Information & Counseling Contacts

  • Government

    • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

    • U.S. Department of Education:

    • Federal Student Aid:

    • National Student Loan Data System for information about your individual loans:

    • Information about loan consolidation:

    • Glossary of Student Loan terms:

  • Non-profit

    • American Student Assistance:

Project credit smarts

Protecting your money

Safeguarding your credit

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

Protect yourself

Protect Yourself

  • How to spot identity theft

  • How to prevent identity theft

  • Fraud Alert

Think you re a victim of id theft

Think you’re a victim of ID theft?

Toll Free: (877) IDTHEFT


TTD: (202) 326-2502

or visit:

Project credit smarts

Dealing with Debt

Overwhelmed by your finances

Overwhelmed by your finances?

  • Act fast

  • Contact your creditors

  • Ask for professional help

  • Keep track of finances

Who can help

Who can help

Money Management Int’l

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 help1

Who can help

Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20580(202)

FTC Article on how to select a credit counselor

Our partners

Our Partners

Federal Trade Commission Northeast Region

Federal Deposit

Insurance Corporation

Thank you


For more information, log onto

  • Or call the Consumer Hotline

  • at

    • (617) 973-8787 / (888) 283-3757

  • Login