IAPDA Features an Important Company Credential to Aid Consumers with Choosing the Best Debt Relief Company

IAPDA features the IAPDA Accredited Service Center accreditation. The company of qualified members can display the IAPDA Accredited Service Center logo on their company website and marketing materials confirming their company’s overall level of participation in IAPDA education and certification programs.

Companies of IAPDA members can qualify for this accreditation by committing to IAPDA training and certification of their key staff members. Levels of participation are determined by the number of company employees who complete IAPDA programs and attain certifications, including continuing education and re-certification every two years. Platinum level companies have over 100 currently certified IAPDA members, Gold level companies have 25-99 currently certified IAPDA members, Silver level companies have 10-24 currently certified IAPDA members and Bronze level companies have 2-9 currently certified IAPDA members.

Complete industry education and professional certification is more important than ever in the debt relief industry. IAPDA programs provide a standardized foundation for the debt consultant’s professional knowledge, as well as an objective measure by which consumers can judge the expert they turn to for help.

Laurence Larose, IAPDA Executive Director says, “Consumers deserve to work with debt relief consultants who totally understand all the debt relief options available and who can effectively guide them back to a debt free life.” Leading company owners and top consumer debt experts agree. They heartily recognize and endorse the complete debt relief education and the certifications earned by IAPDA members.

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Leading Debt Relief companies now offer compliant, performance based Student Loan Relief.

Student Loan Solutions is an important new resource for all Debt Relief Industry professionals interested in adding this important new profit center to their agency. IAPDA recently completed a thorough study of the very fast growing debt relief vertical Student Loan Consolidation and after months of research IAPDA chooses to partner with the best Student Loan Back-End Processing provider and the best Student Loan Document Processing & CRM Software provider.

http://www.studentloansolutions.iapda.org

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Get That Competitive Edge with the Debt Relief Expo 2014 Virtual Conference and Trade Show

Debt Relief Professionals, looking to gain a competitive edge in today’s market? Want to learn more about current marketing and business practices, industry case studies, compliance legislation and other industry hot topics?

Look no further than your office, home or mobile internet connection thanks to the Debt Relief Expo 2014 Virtual Conference and Trade Show.

Debt Relief Expo 2014 Virtual Conference and Trade Show is offering the debt relief industry’s only virtual conference and trade show so you won’t miss state-of-the-art concepts and latest business insights presented by leading debt relief industry insiders.

See and hear:
The Virtual Conference and trade show includes on demand access to all industry specific webinars, technical papers and conference presentations.

Cost:
Debt Relief Expo 2014 Virtual Conference and Trade Show access is FREE for Conference attendees.

All year window:
A growing list of presentations will remain available online to all attendees 365 days a year.

On Demand:
All of the audio/video recordings associated with the presentations can be downloaded on demand year round so you can view and listen on-the-go from the comfort of your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Top reasons to attend Debt Relief Expo 2014 

  • Watch presentations from the industry’s best, brightest and most passionate thought leaders
  • It’s the debt relief industry’s largest gathering of professionals
  • Learn new ideas that you can apply to your business and work environment
  • Get customized advice and tips to act on immediately
  • A first look at the newest innovations in marketing and business services
  • Plenty of time to network, learn from, and have fun with peers from around the industry
  • Hear from experts and insiders about new solutions that might change the way you approach your work.
  • View industry specific webinars and download materials such as whitepapers, eBooks and much more.

Register today for FREE at: http://www.debtreliefexpo.com

Sponsor, Advertiser & Exhibitor opportunities at: http://www.debtreliefexpo.com/pricing.php

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CFPB Report Shows Complaints Rose 80 Percent in 2013

Annual Consumer Response Report Highlights CFPB Help in Getting Problems Addressed

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today that consumer complaint volume nearly doubled from 91,000 complaints received in 2012 to 163,700 complaints received in 2013. The CFPB’s Consumer Response Annual Report also highlighted the many issues the CFPB is helping consumers address – from foreclosure alternatives to simply receiving better customer service.

“Consumer complaints have become central to the work of this agency. They enable us to listen to, and amplify, the concerns of any American who wants to be heard,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “They are also our compass. They make a difference by informing our work and helping us identify and prioritize problems for potential action.”

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB, established the handling of consumer complaints as an integral part of the CFPB’s work. When the Bureau opened its doors on July 21, 2011, it began consumer response operations the same day, accepting consumer complaints about credit cards. Since then, the Bureau has expanded its complaint handling in 2012 to include complaints about mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, vehicle and other consumer loans, and credit reporting. In 2013, it began taking complaints on money transfers, debt collection, and payday loans.

Today’s report covers the 163,700 complaints received by the CFPB from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2013. This is an 80 percent increase over the previous year’s 91,000 complaints. To date, including this year, the CFPB has received more than 310,000 complaints overall. According to the report, the top three complaints in 2013 by consumers were:

  • Mortgages: The number one most complained about consumer product was mortgages, accounting for 37 percent of overall complaints. For these approximately 60,000 complaints, consumers were most concerned with problems when they were unable to pay, such as issues relating to loan modifications, collections, or foreclosures.
  • Debt collection: Debt collection was the second most complained about category, accounting for 19 percent of overall complaints even though the Bureau did not begin accepting debt collection complaints until July 2013. For the approximately 31,000 debt collection complaints, consumers were most concerned with collectors attempting to collect debt not owed, communication tactics by the collectors, and collectors taking or threatening illegal action.
  • Credit reporting: The number three most complained about category was credit reporting, accounting for about 15 percent of overall complaints. For the approximately 24,000 complaints about credit reporting, nearly three out of four consumers were concerned with incorrect information on their credit report.

The Bureau expects companies to respond to complaints within 15 days and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take. The CFPB expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days. Companies have responded to more than 93 percent of the complaints sent to them for response, and consumers have disputed only 21 percent of those company responses.

Sometimes, companies respond through non-monetary relief. About 11 percent of complaints fall into this category; for credit reporting complaints, companies respond to about one out of three complaints this way. Through the CFPB’s complaint process, consumers have received a range of non-monetary relief in response to their complaints, such as:

  • Foreclosure alternatives: Consumers have received mortgage foreclosure alternatives that help them keep their home;
  • Protection from debt collectors: After CFPB inquiries, debt collectors have stopped engaging in excessive collection communications with consumers;
  • Restored lines of credit: Consumers have had their credit lines restored when they wanted, or removed when that was their desired outcome;
  • Corrections to credit reports: Consumers have had their credit reports cleaned up either by having correct submissions given to credit bureaus or by having credit bureaus correct inaccurate information about their consumer accounts; and
  • Customer service: Many consumer problems are related to unanswered inquiries or incorrect information. After CFPB involvement, many customers had their formerly unmet customer service issues finally resolved.

The Bureau has also seen monetary relief for consumers in about 7 percent of complaints. This includes:

  • A median amount of $460 for mortgages;
  • A median amount of $126 for credit cards; and
  • A median amount of $111 for bank accounts or services.

Information about consumer complaints is available to the public through the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaint Database. A complaint is listed in the database after the company responds to the complaint or after the company has had the complaint for 15 calendar days, whichever comes first. If a company demonstrates within 15 days that it has been wrongly identified, no data for that complaint is posted. The database is updated nightly and includes anonymized complaint information. The database enables the public to see what is being complained about and why; and it enables consumer groups to identify troublesome trends.

Complaints inform the Bureau’s work and help to identify problems, which then feed into the Bureau’s supervision and enforcement prioritization process.

The Bureau will continue to work toward expanding its complaint handling capabilities to include other products and services under its authority, such as prepaid cards.

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Credit-score age gap

The old adage “with age comes wisdom” appears to hold true when it comes to financial management, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report on debt.

Credit scores, which play a critical role in borrowing money, clearly go up on average as we get older. The generational divide is as deep with credit scores as it is with musical tastes for 20-somethings and those of retirement age.

In 2013, only 16 percent of consumers under age 30 met financial website Credit Karma’s good credit score threshold of 720 and higher, compared with 77 percent of consumers aged 70 and older. For the years in between, average scores steadily got better with each age group from young to old.

“I think you do make wiser decisions as you get older, although there are exceptions,” said Diana Dorn-Jones of United South Broadway Corp., a nonprofit community organization in Albuquerque that provides financial and mortgage counseling.

A joint University of Texas and Texas A&M research study, “With Age Comes Wisdom: Decision-Making in Younger and Older Adults,” analyzed why older people make better decisions and basically found that their decision-making experience makes them better at weighing risks and rewards.

The rise in credit scores with age also sheds light on the evolving relationship that the average consumer has with debt throughout his or her life, Dorn-Jones said.

(Russ Ball/Albuquerque Journal)

(Russ Ball/Albuquerque Journal)

The early years

The early adult years are often characterized by a lot of borrowing for what Vicki Van Horn of the New Mexico Project for Financial Literacy called “the start-up costs associated with becoming an adult” – primarily student loans, car loans and credit-card debt.

“They’re betting on success in their future,” said Sharron Welsh of the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust about the bubble of 20-something debt.

Borrowing by “the young and the riskless,” as the Fed debt report described the 19-29 age group, was a decisive factor in making 2013 the first four-quarter increase in total outstanding consumer debt since 2008. At the same time, it is an age group characterized by slim financial resources.

Credit, which produces debt, is critical to the economy because it enables consumers to purchase goods or services that they otherwise could not afford. The alternative of a cash-only economy would not be a very vibrant one.

Student loans, for example, enable young people to get the education or training needed for financial success later in life. The sheer volume of student loans, which is the fastest-growing form of consumer debt, has raised alarms about the financial future of many of the borrowers.

“The cost of an education has never been higher for the average student,” Van Horn said. “Young adults and their parents seem to take on student loans without doing a hard analysis of how the education will cost-justify.”

Welsh noted, “Not long ago, a student mentioned to me that a student loan doesn’t have to be spent on tuition, fees and books. It can be used for other expenses and often is. It’s an indicator that the under-30 group is sorely cost burdened.”

Student loan factor

A Fed analysis shows 40 percent of the under 30 group and 25 percent of the 30-39 group carry student-loan debt. The average outstanding balance is $23,300 per borrower.

The delinquency or past-due rate on student loan debt was 27 percent in 2011, with the highest delinquency rate among 30-somethings at 34.2 percent. Student loan debt is not dischargeable, meaning the borrower can’t get out of it by filing bankruptcy.

For comparison, the delinquency rate for credit cards and car loans tends to run at about 10 percent, according to a Fed analysis.

Since length of credit history is part of a credit score, student loans and other debt can weigh heavily on the scores of young people because they lack a track record of paying off debt, Van Horn said. In addition, defaults or other credit mishaps can take a toll on scores.

“Most of these folks recover and rebuild their credit as longer-term goals such as homeownership or getting married come into view,” she said.

The learning curve for making sound household budget decisions and understanding the consequences of debt can of course be shortened by some financial management instruction available in different forms by nonprofits such as United South Broadway, the Project for Financial Literacy and the Santa Fe housing trust.

“This is not something that’s necessarily taught in schools,” Dorn-Jones said.

Twenty-somethings can hurt their credit scores when they think they’re doing the right thing, like shopping multiple sources for the best car loan or credit-card deal, she said. Each time a potential lender or credit-card company runs a credit check, the individual’s score takes a ding.

“I always tell young people to be cautious as they venture out into the world of credit,” Dorn-Jones said.

Quality of credit

Into the peak earning years of 45-54, consumers are in an expansive mode financially, and their predominant form of debt is a mortgage on their house. Mortgage debt dwarfs all other forms of consumer debt.

“A small portion of the credit score is the quality of credit one has, with secured credit such as a mortgage seen as better-quality credit than unsecured credit such as credit cards,” Van Horn said. “Older borrowers are more likely to have a better quality of credit than are young adults.”

Taking on new debt tends to diminish later in life, Welsh said.

“By their 60s, they’re shoring up their finances and trying to hold things steady,” she said.

A few years ago, Welsh said her 80-something father encountered a problem with his car insurance carrier, which was threatening to cancel his coverage because he had no credit score. Her father owned his home outright, had bank accounts and paid his bills by check but hadn’t had any installment debt for years.

“It wasn’t that he had bad credit, he had no recent credit activity,” she said. “I thought it was kind of punitive on the elderly.”

The consensus advice is for consumers of any age to check their credit scores for errors. You can get a free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Regular checks are particularly important in New Mexico because there are so many common surnames, which increases the potential for information on someone with a similar name being posted to your account, Dorn-Jones said.

Richard Metcalf

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