“Being mindful of your financial goals and knowing how credit works are important tools to effectively managing personal finances,” says ACA International CEO Pat Morris. “Good financial habits can help ensure a sound financial future, and being armed with knowledge can help you maintain that all-important good credit score.”To practice better money management, ACA International recommends the following:
- Protect personal information. Be cautious when giving out credit card, bank account or Social Security information over the phone or online. Require a certain level of authenticity from the third party. Monitor accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card provider. If you believe your identity has been stolen, check your credit report for activity and contact your local police department.
- Understand credit and use it wisely. When used properly, credit can be helpful when determining eligibility for things like home mortgages and auto loans. Too often, it becomes a difficult burden for households struggling to make payments. Know the terms and conditions of your credit cards, shop for low interest rates, make payments on time and understand the ramifications of making a late payment or missing a payment. Learn the ins and outs of credit reporting and its impacts on building a good credit score.
- Communicate with creditors. Don’t ignore calls or letters from creditors or debt collectors. If you are having trouble making payments, contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangement options to make things more manageable. After confirming with the debt collector that the debt is indeed yours, discuss applicable repayment options. Don’t be intimidated – legitimate debt collectors want to help you.
- Know your rights. Consumers have important rights when contacted by a creditor or debt collector. Visit www.askdoctordebt.org, a free and anonymous resource for more information about credit.
Source: ACA International