Credit Associates, “Step in it” AGAIN! (Pt 1)

*As always, let me point out I write these blogs for informational purposes based on my own opinions, my 15+ years of experience in the industry helping people navigate the sometimes “complex” world of credit and finance and no two credit issues are the same so I always recommend calling me for more specific information and direction for the best course of action for you and your family, not some company.*

That being said, I do (if you have read previous posts) prefer to write these posts as if we are simply two friends enjoying a cup of coffee, and I keep the talk straight, there’s enough companies out there hoping to sell you all  the “secrets the credit companies don’t want you to know” (see previous post regarding this little gem of a lie) to “help” you with all your credit and debt problems… (insert eye roll) So let’s just avoid all that and keep it real & direct. And on that note, let me share something that recently happened and I have been just itching to get to!

Now, this post is actually a little different than previous Credit Associates posts, because this time I was dealing with someone (let’s call him ‘Mike’) that had not only spoken to a CA representative, but had a detailed lengthy conversation with them he even received a CONTRACT for me to review!!! Now, how did he go from receiving a contract from them to talking to me you ask… EASY! Just while simply READING the contract he spotted more than a few rather major lies that certainly did not add up to what the representative on the phone had told him- which after all was all in hopes of getting him to “sign up”.

-Now we all know ANY time you call a company looking for help in some capacity or to sign up for some service you are talking to a salesperson. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves (Associate, Rep, Agent etc) they are a *trained* Salesperson that has quotas and incentives to meet! This is simply the world we live in, and sales and clients make the world go around (as well as their profit margin).

As I said, “Mike” had a feeling things just weren’t quite right, did a little research and came across me and previous posts and knew giving me a quick call would likely confirm any suspicions he may have had. During our first quick convo I asked if he would send me the contract to look over, assuring him I would not post it or any personal details, and Wow! It was like a gold mine!

For this post (Part 1) I am going to simply give an overview of the Credit Associates ‘Agreement’, and point out the little “gotchas” that an average person who hasn’t been in the industry over 15 years would likely not understand (they do that for a reason) or would just skim over thinking it was “normal”. *Again, read my disclaimer at top of post that these are my opinions*  to avoid any legal hawks swooping down at me!

  Unfortunately, but fortunately for companies like this, consumers call them when they’re in distress, and when you are emotionally drained you are more susceptible & compromised to believe when anyone tells you they can help just sign up and let’s get started. After all, we just want to be DONE with it. And Salespeople absolutely know this!

>Now, agreement in hand, the first thing I see in their Client Enrollment kit states the following, “the key points discussed in our initial Consultation are summarized here as well as incorporated into the attached agreement.”

*The one thing that I’ve always said I personally hate about this company is the direct lies that they tell customers. The customers are told on the phone that “in order for us to get settlement offers for you when you’re”current” on your account is you have to stop making your payments. (We’ll go into this in more detail later but it’s super important) and in the contract itself it explicitly states that you the person signing the agreement has been told that they didn’t tell you to do that.  Now there’s really no other way to spin this one it’s  A DIRECT LIE.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s many customers that contact Credit Associates, Freedom Debt Relief or National Debt Relief (probably the 3 biggest) and the customer is already behind on payments, and it’s because of this that it makes the whole settlement process easier to begin. 

>Now, a question I get a lot about this company and others like Credit Associates is: “ is this company a scam?” Well, I always ask them, to define for me what their definition of a scam is… because, at the end of the day,  Credit Associates, National Debt Relief, Freedom Debt Relief, to name a few, are legally registered companies, they have employees, they pay business taxes so they are legitimate operating companies. *People then see all the fine print in contracts and think, “that’s a scam” But I point out to them, “Well have you ever looked at a cell phone contract? Everyone knows fine print is necessary but never works to your benefit you just need to make sure that certain sections in the contracts don’t take away what the salesperson told you to get you to sign up.”

And that’s where I am always seeing problems with this company! I know that approximately a year or more ago in Credit Associates commercials (both TV and radio) used to say, “If you have more than $5,000 there’s a secret the credit card companies don’t want you to know” that was the initial line that started me down this rabbit hole in particular, since it’s a bold face LIE! (there is no actual “secret”, but more on that later)

Well, they have just within the last year or so changed that number to $10,000. Why do you ask?  Well if we crunch the numbers, I was initially under the impression they charge a 20% fee on top of whatever discount they get you. But this contract shows me they actually charge 25%. Example: if you owe $10,000 and if they got a 50% discount for you then you would pay $5,000 to the bank (that could be in one payment or a breakdown of payments) BUT….  you then have to add the 25% which was their “Success” fee to the numbers. So if we add 50%  Which is what you’re paying + 25% obviously that’s 75% which means you saved $2,500.

  Does that sound like a deal to you? Overall the number is decent but I don’t know anyone that thinks 25% is worth it! Call me crazy, but I’ve certainly never charged anyone that amount and I think that number is a little ridiculous, personally.

 But most likely the reason why they bumped it up to $10,000- I guess their Finance people realized there is either too much work and too little pay for people coming in at only $5,000 so they need to bump it up to $10k in order to profit the amount of money they want to profit off of customers. Profit Margin once again!

I find it interesting in their example of their “Success fee” in their contract  they still state $5k even though they post on commercials “if you have a minimum of $10,000” So I assume no one told their Legal Eagles to update contract,It’s minor yes, but to me still deceptive.

>In that same section I found their “guarantee”. It seems their “guarantee” is you will save at least 5% of your total debt balance.

 I’ll be honest with you, I was scratching my head on this one, because if you were delinquent you could literally call yourself and ask for a 10% discount and they would give you a 10% discount without even blinking, so I’m unsure why they would post such incredibly small guaranteed amounts but you’d have to ask those higher-ups on that one.

I would think if they’re so confident and if all those reviews that they post on their website are 100% legitimate then they’d have more confidence to post a higher number.

Heck i tell people i can help and get a 50% discount without even blinking but im greedy and always want even more of a discount.

(I noticed researching other big companies post something very similar which raises my eyebrow, maybe it should yours too?)

*Now, one thing I do like about this company, or should I say at least I can appreciate, is once you sign a contract there’s something called the “Right of Rescission” – where you have 3-5 business days (depending on the state you live in) to cancel the agreement and not be out any money. \

This company actually offers a 10-day timeline to cancel this agreement once they accept it in writing. Now reading into it a little bit more, once they accept your contract they state that they will mail you a confirmation letter (which we all know that the post office could take 5 + days) but should still give you more than enough time to rush and sign the cancellation page on the back and email it or fax it to them. *If you ever do decide to cancel if you mail it it’ll never get to them in time for the 10 days and then that might be a problem emailing it whether it’s your email or you send an email through a friend or family members computer something where you can document is always the smart thing to do.*

>Back to agreement!

Client & Company Obligations:

Now this section I think is pretty “standard” and pretty simple BUT there are a few things that make you scratch your head on some insight to how they plan on treating you

-For the client portion, you obviously have to maintain open and honest communications with them, return paperwork to them when you get it signed, return phone calls when they call you, all of that obviously makes total sense. 

But here’s another quick “gotcha” IF you write one of the creditors names on that list BUT you then decide, “Hey I’m just going to do this myself” you still have to pay the company their  25% “success fee”! Which is pretty shocking, but they do say “unless the company has no involvement in obtaining that settlement offer otherwise client understands that “companies guidance, experience, advice, support and service surrounding the receipt of the settlement offers is valuable and important.” (Pretty much all creditors you put on list are they helped if they mentioned it, so boom they helped! And you have no documented proof they didn’t so pay them)

Now for the company obligation: 

There are the basics that they’re going to hold and maintain confidential information on you, respond to you back within a reasonable time frame, doesn’t define what time frame “reasonable” in their opinion- but reasonable is relative. 

*A part that concerns me that says “client specific creditors may include amounts that require the client handle a negotiation directly with the creditors in which case the company will assist the client. -Now if the bank or creditor will only deal with the client I’m not really sure how the company is supposed to help if they’re not allowed to be on the phone call with them, which means your doing it yourself but it says “clients participation in this still means the company earned their fee”.  So I guess at that point they’re stating that if we gave you advice we’re still entitled to 25%. I could be reading that wrong but I don’t think so.

   Settlement

This is the section that basically says all offers will be presented to the client for review of acceptance. But again there’s also a section that says “if the company has not received a communication from you the customer within 48 hours that they provided the notice clients direction to accept the settlement will be acted upon by company.” 

Now I personally read that as, they send you out notification of a settlement offer, you get busy with life or God forbid something happen with a family member yourself and you cannot respond then *They’re accepting the offer on your behalf after 2 days (even though many companies allow you several weeks to consider the offer).

 I’m not saying this may not be standard protocol for the industry, but personally I don’t want some company saying “yes we can pay this account” with my money without me actually saying yes or no. Again, call me crazy right?!

>Now this was a very broad stroke of the “Agreement” and I plan on getting into more later but I just want to end with the Most Common Complaints I receive from clients of Credit Associates & companies like it..

“Client understands that their credit rating will be adversely affected should client default or be delinquent in their payments to their creditors.”  

 “Client understands that this program will not improve their credit score.”

*This is a common question that gets asked by people because they are under the impression that by paying this debt off, it’ll actually improve their credit BUT it’s a double-edged question. (More details later, suffice to say, yes obviously paying something you havent “can” improve but it doesn’t happen overnight and other factors are involved)

Client agrees that company has not provided them with any advice or recommendations either orally or in writing, regarding reduction or termination of payment to creditors and that company has been engaged for the sole purpose of debt settlements.”

Client hereby confirms that client has not been advised by company to stop making payments to clients creditors

This was the one that made our friend Mike in the story really, really mad because and I quote from his email to me “this is so COMPLETELY FALSE!”  the Rep told me that is exactly what we need to do in order for them to help. *I think you guys know the answer to that one- which unfortunately is just a part of the sales game. 

Now these companies may have at the corporate level have all the best intentions, but like any company, each department tells you what you can or cannot do with a wink of the eye, (which is not an acknowledgement that can be shown in court or proven).

So my standard disclaimer because I never want people to think I’m just picking on companies like this because don’t get me wrong they do help some people but I’m kind of a cheap individual and value my money so I want to keep as much of it as much as possible and I’m assuming if you’re researching & reading this you feel the same way.

 I always tell people feel free to call me or email me. My email address is:

Wayne @ Wayne the credit guy. Com 

and it’s spaced out to prevent spam, or click on the contact us portion of my website and give me a call, tell me your situation and I will tell you what’s in the best interest of you and your family not the best interest of some company. 

Wayne

Maxed out credit Cards? Read this before calling Credit Associates, National Debt Relief and others first!

READ ALL OF THIS !!!!!!!

 

A blog for you to read with a solution FINALLY that i found for those of you smart enough to read this.

 

** let me start by of course pointing the standard disclaimer that these blogs are my opinion and my opinion only. I ALWAYS point out tell me your situation and I will tell you what I would do if I was in your specific situation given the knowledge I have accumulated over the last 14 years in the credit and finance industry.

 

Earlier in the year I saw a credit associates commercial one too many times and snapped. Being in the credit industry for almost a decade and a half it drove me nuts that they lie with literally the first sentence.

I called them twice acting like a possible customer to see what they tell people calling them for help and do they lie as much on the phone as they do in their commercials. As for all the details you can look back into my archive blogs in 2018.

I was bombarded with email responses….

Many were people who saw an ad about either the two companies above or many similar ones and read what my seasoned opinion was as PERSONALLY I do not care if you hired them or not I was pointing out what I did not like them doing as certain things they were saying were manipulating them and taking advantage of people who were in a tough spot for a variety of reasons and their whole point was there to help them not trick them into hiring them WITHOUT giving them the full story or what will happen OR not fully painting the exact picture of what they are doing.

PLUS I found out that most of these companies charge 20% of their services so if they get you a 50% discount its really 70% you’re paying which is only a 30% and you could do that yourself.

So there were basically 4 groups people were in that emailed or called me looking for help or calling for nonpartisan advice on their SPECIFIC situation.

NOTE: I have classified everyone into 4 groups that everyone should fit into to help you put together what I need to best direct you below and at the end of this blog.

 

Group 1:

ALL or most credit cards are maxed out, they are only able to pay the minimum and the statements show it will take 15-30+ years to pay off. The credit score is still above 660 + so it’s only the debt that is killing them and their credit score and they do not need credit repair

Some make very good income, others make good income.

 

Group 2:

Most or all credit cards are maxed out, the monthly bills coming up they are not able to pay them or pay a part of them or all of them (or very soon). The credit score is still above 660 + so it’s only the debt that is killing them and their credit score and do not need credit repair.

Some make good income or very good income.

 

Group 3:

Payments are at least over 30 days since paid, credit score has taken a major hit and unable to see any daylight to get out of this.

Income can be good but just too much month and the end of the money with all that credit card interest being paid. If late payments are the start of their problem then paying someone for credit repair is a waste of money.

 

Group 4:

Have not paid any of the credit cards from 4 months plus, Credit score is destroyed and just not sure what to do and exploring if debt settlement can help them. They definitely need credit repair but they also have several other immediate issues that need to be addressed that they are unaware of.

Income varies.

 

*** the one thing all groups have in common was they were smart enough to be hesitant when talking to these types of companies and realizing that they are making it seem like all their problems will go away once they are hired.

 

As with most people, If they could just get all of these bills consolidated into one payment and not get killed with the monthly interest they could get back on track (group 4 is excluded from this part).

 

The first thought by all groups is to get a debt consolidation loan. The problem is they are going to get declined. This was recently mentioned to me last week. The gentleman who I did find an avenue for ( will share in next blog “Debt Consolidation Loans” has a 740 credit score. He Is 95% maxed out on most if not all credit cards (I can’t remember exactly) and the bank told him no.

The reason: His credit cards are too maxed out…..

 

WTH????

 

Isn’t that the darn (not word I wanted to use) point? To consolidate all the credit card debt into one loan.

It’s the typical B.S that we all know about the banks and the banking system, they want to lend money to the people who don’t need it and not the ones who need it and could make the most use of it.

 

Thus began my research into this oh so fun world to help those reading this find a path that’s best for them and not the sales persons company that they are talking to.

Below is a mini chart to help you classify possible options based on the way I grouped people and their situations.

My email is listed below so when you email me please include the answers to the questions needed to best direct you.

I do this because just like a thumb print every credit report is different and thus there is no clear cut if this is the problem then this is the solution as a full financial snapshot is needed to properly give you solid advice that can become a game plan/way out for your situation.

Group 1 info needed:

  • A breakdown of how many credit cards you have, total amount owed and minimum payment and the monthly finance charge.
  • Yearly income ( if 1099 then what is claimed to government)

 

Group 2 info needed:

  • A breakdown of how many credit cards you have, total amount owed and minimum payment and the monthly finance charge.
  • Yearly income ( if 1099 then what is claimed to government)
  • Do you own a home, if so what is owed and value.

 

  • As you can see group # 1 & 2 are similar just like groups 3 & 4 are very similar but there are differences based on other aspects of financial snapshot.

 

Group 3 info needed:

  • A breakdown of how many credit cards you have, total amount owed and minimum payment and the monthly finance charge.
  • Do you have any money saved in order to pay these if you had to (we know you do not want to but we have to ask).

 

Group 4 info needed:

  • What is total amount you owe and how many credit cards are there.
  • When was the last time you paid on them?
  • Have you been sued on any of them? (Listed on credit report as a judgment under public records).
  • If you had to do you have any money saved to pay/settle them IF you had to.

 

 

If you are in groups 1 or 2 I will be discussing what I will be posting about debt consolidation loans and the problems as to why the banks will not give you that loan so you will be able to get ahead start to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The reason… I finally found a solution to benefit you

(And man it was not easy..)

 

 

* Want to learn more about how the credit system works?

   Have questions about your credit where you may need my help?

Or

  Buy my book for easy to understand concepts of how the credit system works and how lenders look at you.

 

Wayne @ wayne the credit guy.com    (REMOVE ALL THE SPACES)

 

 











What the Debt Settlement companies DON’T SAY

I have received a lot of responses concerning the debt settlement blogs I have written which surprised me a bit. It was nice to hear people thanking me for the detailed information and tell me how it helped them understand more.

With all of the conversations I have had I noticed a few things that seem to be a pattern and I wanted to go into a little more detail on it for everyone.

While the below will apply to any company regarding debt settlement after these conversations this specifically applies to National Debt Relief, Credit Associates and Freedom Debt Relief as these were the three main companies people inquired about.

What I have noticed is a lack of transparency and only telling you half-truths or not the full story.

Now is that because they are doing it on purpose because let’s face it, whatever their “title” is they tell you at the end of the day they are there to get you signed up so they are sales people. While there is NOTHING wrong with that the behind the scene issues is what can get you.

If you remember the recent Wells Fargo scandal with employees signing people up for credit cards and lines of credit without their consent there were financial incentives when employees meet certain goals.

So one of the things people have a great concern when calling these companies looking for relief is their credit score. A good majority of people I have talked to do not necessarily have credit problems or really need credit repair, it’s just that their credit card bills have snowballed into a mountain and it’s too overwhelming and they see so relief in sight anytime soon.

These representatives seem to be steering people calling into what is best for the company and not the person calling. Now is that all representatives…. Of course not but these are the stories I am hearing we be wary.

If you are looking at trying to get the credit card companies to drop their interest then you are looking at what is called a Debt Management Program. Anything else will destroy your credit score. Now while there may be programs out there that are different that settling debt for pennies on the dollar the only way that can happen is for you to damage your credit score.

How much damage is hard to calculate as a credit score and report is like a fingerprint, every fingerprint is different thus the damage will be different for each person.

Credit is so specific that as I tell people who contact me that unless I can see the exact credit report for them that they are seeking advice on I can only give them general advice and I HATE giving general advice for someone with a specific goal they are trying to accomplish.

Andi am hearing that people are feeling like they are being double-talked into something they are not 100% sure is best for them.

One thing I have to point out was a story that still sticks in my head and it was from someone who spoke to National Debt Relief, they told him that they could get his then credit card that he owed approx. $19,000 down 30% and save him almost $6,000 ($5,700 to be exact). Now what were they going to do? Basically not tell him that in a few months the credit card company he owed the money to they were going to wait a few months and then the company would contact them offering a settlement of 30%.

So what in the world did they do? In my opinion (and probably yours too) nothing. But welcome to the world we live in. He wanted to see if I could help and I helped him settle it for a total of $8,000.00 saving him $11,000.00

As I have mentioned in past blogs at the end of this will be my email address, broken up to prevent me getting killed with spam but feel free to contact me. While seeing the credit report will help me assess you situation the standard disclaimer is I’m not dispensing legal or financial advice but I will look at your report and tell you what I would do in your situation with my 13 years of hands on experience in this industry.

When calling looking for relief of the financial sorts do not just jump on board with a company and be what the sales term is called as a “one call close”.

Get the information from these companies, think about it, make a pros and cons list. Good question for you reading this is the companies you called did they give you a pros and cons of what they are trying to sell you? if they didn’t then do not think for one second that there isn’t a plus and minus for you with what you are trying to do.

This like most things is a game of leverage, be smart always have a pad and paper with you to write what these companies are telling you (even if you bullet point it) as you will not remember what they tell you as it is your first time hearing this information and studies show most people only retain 15% of new information given to them. This way you now have reference to go back and if you contact someone like me your able to provide me the inforaiton they told you in order for me to provide you an educated opinion on the specific matter in question.

My email is below if you want to email me but please provide me a solid summary in bullet points to what is owed what you hope to accomplish and any additional information you may think I need.

 

Best of luck!

Wayne

 

 

* Want to learn more about how the credit system works?

Or

   Have questions about your credit where you may need my help?

Or

  Buy my book for easy to understand concepts of how the credit system works and how lenders look at you.

Store

EMAIL:             Wayne @ wayne the credit guy.com    (REMOVE ALL THE SPACES)











Update to Previous Debt Settlement Blog PART I

UPDATE to the PREVIOUS Debt Settlement Blog PART I

 

So welcome back, I have to tell you I have never received so many phone calls in regards to a blog than this one AND AFTER SOME OF THESE CALLS NEVER REALIZED JUST HOW SLIMEY THESE COMPANIES ARE.

 

So email me with questions and your experiences with companies and their names, I will review the email, make my own call to them to verify the kind of tactics they use and let all who read these know what is done and why they try to do it to you!!!

 

Let’s just dispense with the standard chit chat and talk about what has occurred and been asked of me over these last several weeks. And I will also throw out some specific information and company names along with some of the company’s ways they “explain” the process and what they tell and don’t tell you.

That information will not be coming from me but from people that have emailed me with their stories (keep them coming!),  so if a debt collector reads this if it mentions their company name you can take a leap as I have proof of what was said and it wasn’t me making up stories.

Now that I got that part out of the way, let’s recap and point out the one question you can ask that slaps “Credit Associates” (And most likely others if they say this also) in the face with a bold face lie on TV.

Their commercial says “if you have more than $5,000 in credit card debt you have the right to let us settle that debt for a fraction of what you owe”.

Now they also mention “there’s a secret the credit card companies don’t want you to know”.

So mini recap – Tell them that you have a question first before you explain your situation. What is the right/law/rule that allows you to settle your debt for a fraction of the money owed?

Possible answers:

1) The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA)

WRONG—- that has NOTHING to do with money you owe or settling it. It is in regards to the reporting and accuracy of information reporting on your credit file.

2) The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)

WRONG—- this is basically to protect people from unfair billing practices regarding billing statements NOT debt settlement.

3) The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

WRONG—- protects consumers from discrimination based on race, color religion, etc.

4) The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)

WRONG— this deals only with Collection Companies and their practices when trying to collect debt and what they can and cannot do.

 

The above is just a few popular laws that may be quoted and how you can respond to them to see their response and I guarantee you will see them moonwalk backwards and get back to trying to SELL YOU and should be pretty apparent to you that they are.

 

I just recently spoke to a gentleman we will call MIKE, he contacted a company called National Debt Relief. Mike owed $20,000 on a business card he used and had 2 other cards in good standing totaling with the first card $29,000.

He told me the company said they would have to take all 3 cards to help….                           REALLY?

When he asked what they think they could help get it down to they said approximately $21,000.

WOW!  That is sad….. I just had a $70,000 debt a client had and helped get it down to $15,000.

 

INSIDE INFORMATION

What these companies don’t talk about or “forget to verbally disclose to you” but its most likely in the fine print of the contract is what this method would do to his good standing cards is not pay on them for 3-4 months (destroying his current 750+ credit score) .

Here how this works…..

This is basically a game of leverage, if there is too much month at the end of the money and you’re paying on time or going 30 days late every so often then if you think about it what leverage do you have? Why would they lower the rate, you’re paying them and they actually want you to pay for years as look at your statement. It should have how long it will take to pay off and how much money they will make.

Once the money stops coming in and they stop getting paid and you hit the 90 days late part they really start to worry about their business agreement with you so now they are interested in doing a settlement but they don’t tell you how the process works so they hit you with what they call their payback plan or whatever term they use which typically does not benefit you at all.

What you need to understand is you can ask for discounts, now of course someone who deals with these people all the time is better qualified than you. As the companies you’re calling are trained to do this so while yes, you can try to do it yourself and “wing it”. But it does make sense that the more you do this the more you know how each company works behind the scenes.

 

IF the companies brag about being an A rated with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) then you may want to google the ABC investigation of the Better Business Bureau. It shows how they are a paid member and how members get more favorable ratings. The general public thinks this is done for free but it is a ploy, there are statements all over the internet where business owners say the “Sales” reps said we can help you with your rating if you become a member.

Most business owners hate the BBB as they have created the illusion of how they work for the public, but they just leverage their own made up “rating” system with what they think and just recently starting allowing consumers to rate the businesses.

Take me for example, the people who rated me 5 starts on the BBB site told me they and I have their affidavit’s saying so but as our business is filled with slime-balls even though I have 8+ years with NO Complaints and all reviews are 5 stars they rate me a C+?

I’ll keep you up to date as when I have a little time I will be suing them so that will be an interesting blog.

With the holidays coming I should be able to get in at least one more blog in but hoping for two so please email me your stories and experiences and if you need to speak with me my number is on the website.

I promise to give direct and straight advice, I may not be able to help if you do not fit the guidelines I use BUT I will point you in the right direction.

NOTE:

If you email me, then please send me a synopsis of your situation so i can be of more help to answer your questions…    =)

 

Want to learn more about how the world of credit works? Contact me today and get my book in full blown color. No nonsense direct answers and easy to understand.

                              How the “Real world of credit” works. wayne@ waynethecreditguy .com

(NO SPACES as that was done to prevent me getting spammed).

 

And of course if you need some credit work to increase your credit.