The Priority Pay program is a brand new addition to the many
other services offered at RethinkingDebt. This program is available
to clients who, due to financial restrictions, do not qualify for a
traditional debt management program. At your appointment with
RethinkingDebt, you will speak with a certified credit advisor and
create an in depth budget based on income, living expenses,
creditors, and amounts owed to each creditor in order to see your
financial situation as a whole. This will allow the advisor to
determine the most beneficial way to pay off outstanding debt.
Priority Pay allows our clients to start debt repayment while still
maintaining their everyday living expenses. Our staff understands
each individual has a unique financial situation, and we try to
assist each client in determining the best option based upon their
own individual needs. Unlike the debt management program, when on
Priority Pay, there is not a minimum payment requirement for each
creditor. Once a creditor is paid in full, the funds can be
reassigned to another creditor with an outstanding balance until
all debts are paid in full. There is no time restriction for paying
off the debt. This program simply allows you to start the process
to obtaining financial health by paying one, two, or a few accounts
at a time without disrupting your monthly budget. Our certified
advisors would be glad to schedule an appointment in person or over
the phone to review your current debt situation. Call us!
It's been a big topic in the news this year. The amount of
student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United
States. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, so will
student loan debt
RethinkingDebt has developed a new program to help
students and graduates with their debt. In the past, we have dealt
mostly with unsecured debt, not including student loan debt. More
and more people come to us each year asking for help with their
student loan debt. RethinkingDebt decided that it was time to
develop a program to help these consumers."
Take into consideration the following facts and you will
understand how great and wide reaching the need for this program
A student loan session with a certified credit advisor will run
up to 2 hours and consist of locating all loans, creating a budget,
reviewing eligibility for consolidation and seeing which repayment
option will work best for the consumer. There is a $60 charge for
the student loan counseling.
Contact RethinkingDebt for an appointment to evaluate
your student loan debt at 888-724-2227 or visit our
websites for more information- www.rethinkingdebt.org.
"Were you in Foreclosure in 2009 or 2010?"
Have you been involved in a foreclosure? Even if your foreclosure
has already been completed, there may be an opportunity to have
your loan file reviewed. If the review finds errors in how your
foreclosure was handled, you may be eligible to receive
Watch the following video for more information.
Owning your own home is one life's major milestones for
most people. Unfortunately the upfront costs of purchasing your
first home can deter many people from ever reaching that
milestone. It can be hard to save enough money for a down
payment, closing costs, inspection, attorney's fees, and the list
goes on and on. Luckily for you Consumer Credit Counseling Service
of Rochester in cooperation with First Niagara Bank and HSBC offers
a program that can help relieve some of that stress and anxiety.
CCCS of Rochester's First Home Club is a program designed to help
people looking to purchase their first home and people who haven't
owned their own home in the past 3 years. Participants in the First
Home Club are eligible for a $7,500 grant to be used towards a down
payment and closing costs on their new home after completing a
savings and education program. How the First Home Club works is
very simple, participants agree to save their own money monthly on
a plan ranging from 10 months to 24 months, during those months
they attend 2 free workshops hosted by CCCS of Rochester, and at
the end of the agreed time frame they get a $7,500 grant to use
towards the down payment or closing costs on their new home.
The savings plan consists of committing to save at least $79.00
a month for 24 months, or if you can save more money a month the
number of months you need to save is even less! At the end of the
savings term you will have saved $1,875, which is a great start
towards saving for your new home, but as a reward for your hard
work and perseverance, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York is
going to add $7,500 to your own hard earned savings. This is money
you will never have to pay back, as long as you stay in your new
home for at least 3 years.
During this savings period you will also get to attend the free
workshops provided by CCCS of Rochester, where you will learn about
creating a spending plan, deciding how much home you can afford,
and all there is to know about getting ready to purchase your new
home including closing costs, realtors, mortgages, attorneys,
inspections, etc. There will also be presentations by realtors and
attorneys that have helped hundreds of others purchase the home of
If owning your own home is one of your dreams, even if it is a
couple years down the road give CCCS of Rochester a call and talk
to one of our certified counselors for more information and to see
if the First Home Club is right for you!
If owning your own home is your DREAM, let CCCS of
Rochester help make it a Reality!
Often, consumers feel the pinch of needing something
immediately, whether it be money or a physical item. During these
times, consumers need to be very wary, as many of the options
available to them are sometimes well disguised traps meant to take
advantage of their situation. Two of the biggest traps to avoid are
Rent-To-Own stores and payday lenders.
Rent-To-Own stores prey on the consumer's desire to immediately
have material possessions. These stores have become popular with
people who have poor credit, and heavily target lower-income
Rent-To-Own stores lure in consumers with promises of providing
high-end merchandise, such as flat screen TV's and furniture, at
"affordable" payments drawn out over a long timeframe.
The problem with Rent-To-Own stores is that they are able to
hide extremely high interest charges and fees over time. Interest
charged at these stores can run as high as 50% and end up costing
you far more than the item is actually worth.
Alternatives to these stores include making a savings plan to
buy the item outright or shopping at second-hand stores like
Goodwill for more affordable items.
Consumers who feel the need for a smaller amount of cash in a
short timeframe sometimes turn to payday loans. These products are
short-term loans that are meant to give people money until their
next payday. Although this sounds like a noble, useful product, the
interest rates and fees can make it impossible for the
borrower to repay the debt in the anticipated timeframe.
The interest rates are so high that these loan products are
currently illegal in the state of New York due to usury laws. The
annual percentage rate (APR) of a payday loan can reach into the
hundreds, trapping the consumer in a cycle of being unable to repay
These loan products should be avoided at all cost. The best way
to avoid feeling the need to take out a payday loan is to prepare
an emergency fund into which you deposit a small amount each month
in case of unexpected expenses.
Identity Theft is quickly becoming one of the most organized and
costly crimes of modern times. Identity Theft is a crime in which
an imposter deceptively obtains identifying personal data and uses
it for their own personal gain. Some of this data might include
social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card
numbers and bank account numbers. The process can start with a
stolen wallet, pilfered email or an online data breach. Identity
Theft can affect anyone of any age, including children!
Over 8 million people are victimized by identity theft each
year, with identity theft remaining the top complaint to the FTC
for 11 years running. Overall losses from identity theft were over
$37 billion in 2010. The average consumer out of pocket cost was up
to $631 per incident.
National Protect Your Identity Week is October 16-22, 2011. To
mark this annual event, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of
Rochester is offering tips to help consumers protect their
identity. We will also be hosting an event at the Fairport, NY Tops
at 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Rd on October 22nd from
10am-2pm. Bring your documents and we'll shred them for you!
The best way to protect your identity is to be proactive and
through prevention. It is much more difficult to recover from
identity theft than to take steps to stop it before it happens.
If you are struggling each month to pay your bills, and you
don't seem to be making any progress, maybe it's time to consider
getting some help. A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a great option
if you need professional advice. The goal of any DMP is to help you
decrease your debt and allow you to take back your financial
A DMP can help with your unsecured debt. Unsecured debt is debt
that is not secured by an underlying asset or lien. Examples of
unsecured debt are credit cards, personal loans, and attorney or
medical bills. A DMP will take all of your unsecured debt and
combine it into one affordable monthly payment. It is not a debt
consolidation loan though and unlike debt settlement services,
there are no upfront fees. A credit counseling agency will provide
you with practical budget counseling services and work with you and
your creditors to build a budget you can live with. A DMP will help
you pay off your debt and improve your credit rating. An agency
that offers DMP's can offer helpful suggestions and assist you
•lower interest rates
•reduction or removal of late or over limit fees
•relief from collection calls and letters
Regardless of your specific need, choosing a good credit
counselor is extremely important. Some organizations, including
some non-profit credit counseling agencies, may be more interested
in their bottom line than in helping their clients. A 2005 Senate
committee, though, lauded the National Foundation for Credit
Counseling (NFCC) for its commitment to ethical credit counseling
that is provided at low or even no cost to consumers. The NFCC has
member agencies all over the US including Consumer Credit
Counseling Service of Rochester. There are some important criteria
to keep in mind when choosing an agency to work with.
•Find out if the agency belongs to a national organization such
as the NFCC to ensure it meets quality and ethical standards
•Ask the Better Business Bureau and other third parties about the
•Watch out for large upfront or monthly fees
•Be skeptical of BIG promises
•Make sure the agency will work with all your creditors
•Be wary of "fly by night" agencies- make sure the agency you
choose has many years of experience
Keep in mind that a DMP is not a "quick fix". No one can get rid
of your debt overnight. A DMP will get you back on track though and
improve your finances for the future. You must be committed though.
A credit counseling agency can help you lower payments but you
still have to be disciplined to make those payments and not incur
any further debt while you are on the DMP. Your patience and hard
work will be rewarded with a brighter financial future!
Occasionally, hackers are able to breach the
security precautions of companies and access protected consumer
However, there are some proactive steps you can
take as a consumer to safeguard your personal information.
The best method of monitoring your credit report
would be to pull all 3 credit reports annually, ideally spreading
them out over a course of a year.
You can acquire your credit report for free
through annualcreditreport.com; this site is a free,
government-sponsored site with no fees or temporary membership
If you feel that your identity has been
compromised, you can place a personal statement on your credit
It is important to place instructions for a
creditor to follow if they are trying to issue you credit,
including a method for them to contact you.
Make sure to update your passwords and contact
the bank or lender immediately.
Request the bank or lender to issue out a new
card, and change any PIN‟s associated with the accounts.
Contact companies that have recently solicited
you and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
To avoid e-mail solicitations, you can direct them to the junk
or spam folder. Then, each time you‟re sent a solicitation from any
company you sent to junk or spam, it will automatically go
NEW YORK, NY (09/01/2011)(readMedia)-- Superintendent of
Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky today announced that New
York's Department of Financial Services and Banking Department have
entered into an agreement with Goldman Sachs Bank, Ocwen Financial
Corp. and Litton Loan Servicing LP to adhere to landmark new
Mortgage Servicing Practices. The agreement was required by the
Superintendent as a condition to allowing Ocwen's acquisition today
of Goldman Sachs' mortgage servicing subsidiary, Litton. With the
Litton acquisition, Ocwen's mortgage servicing entity, Ocwen Loan
Servicing, LLC, will become the 12th largest servicer in the
nation, handling a very large number of customers in foreclosure or
facing possible foreclosure.
"This agreement provides important
consumer protections for homeowners who have found themselves in
dire straits due to the financial crisis," Superintendent Lawsky
said. "Our agreement sets a new higher standard for the residential
mortgage servicing industry, whose troubling foreclosure and
servicing practices we have been investigating along with other
regulators across the country. Goldman Sachs, Ocwen and Litton have
now all agreed to put the rights of homeowners ahead of their
profit margins by implementing these changes."
As a further condition to his issuance of
a "No Objection" letter on the Litton acquisition, Lawsky obtained
a commitment from Goldman Sachs to assist affected homeowners by
writing down approximately $53 million in unpaid principal.
Goldman's commitment will forgive 25 percent of the principal
balance all 60-day delinquent home loans in New York serviced by
Litton and owned by Goldman Sachs as of August 1.
Importantly, the agreement today is a
condition of the acquisition and does not preclude any future
investigations of past practices or release any future claims or
The new Agreement on Mortgage Servicing
Practices that Goldman, Ocwen and Litton have signed makes
important changes in the mortgage servicing industry which, as a
whole, has been plagued by troublesome and unlawful practices.
Those practices include: "Robo-signing," referring to affidavits in
foreclosure proceedings that were falsely executed by servicer
staff without personal review of the borrower's loan documents and
were not notarized in accordance with state law; weak internal
controls and oversight that compromised the accuracy of foreclosure
documents; unfair and improper practices in connection with
eligible borrowers' attempts to obtain modifications of their
mortgages or other loss mitigation, including improper denials of
loan modifications; and imposition of improper fees by
The Agreement makes the following
1. Ends Robo-signing and imposes staffing
and training requirements that will prevent Robo-signing.
2. Requires servicers to withdraw any
pending foreclosure actions in which filed affidavits were
Robo-signed or otherwise not accurate.
3. Requires servicers to provide a
dedicated Single Point of Contact representative for all borrowers
seeking loss mitigation or in foreclosure, preventing borrowers
from getting the runaround by being passed from one person to
another. It also restricts referral of borrowers to foreclosure
when they are engaged in pursuing loan modifications or loss
4. Requires servicers to ensure that any
force-placed insurance be reasonably priced in relation to claims
incurred, and prohibits force-placing insurance with an affiliated
5. Imposes more rigorous pleading
requirements in foreclosure actions to ensure that only parties and
entities possessing the legal right to foreclose can sue
6. For borrowers found to have been
wrongfully foreclosed, requires servicers to ensure that their
equity in the property is returned, or, if the property was sold,
compensate the borrower.
7. Imposes new standards on servicers for
application of borrowers' mortgage payments to prevent layering of
late fees and other servicer fees and use of suspense accounts in
ways that compounded borrower delinquencies and defaults.
8. Requires servicers to strengthen
oversight of foreclosure counsel and other third party vendors, and
imposes new obligations on servicers to conduct regular reviews of
foreclosure documents prepared by counsel and to terminate
foreclosure attorneys whose document practices are problematic or
who are sanctioned by a court.
Ocwen and Litton are immediately
taking steps to implement these servicing practices. Goldman, which
is exiting the mortgage servicing business with the sale of Litton,
has agreed to adopt these servicing practices if it should ever
reenter the servicing industry.
By: Rachel Douglas, NFCC certified Credit Counselor
Card skimming is a method used by thieves
to steal credit or debit card information. Skimmers place
counterfeit devices on ATMs which record your information when
cards are inserted into them.
This practices illustrates that credit
and debit card accounts are vulnerable even if the cards themselves
are never lost.
In part, that is because credit and debit
card numbers are usually stored unencrypted on a magnetic stripe on
the reverse of each card, which thieves can easily copy at low
Summer is the highest-risk season for
scams and thefts, so make sure you know how to properly protect
yourself to avoid becoming an easy target.
To protect yourself from card skimming
scams, practice the following:
Avoid ATMs that you do not
Thieves commonly put out-of-order signs on legitimate ATMs and set
up nearby counterfeit ones that skim information from your card.
ATMs positioned inside banks within view of watch cameras aren't
risk free, but they create more challenges for the thieves who
install skimming equipment.
Cover your code.
When entering your PIN into an ATM or card reader, cover the
keypad from the observation of hidden cameras or anyone in close
Use the "credit" option with your
If you must use a debit card, choose the option to have the
purchase processed as a credit transaction rather than entering in
This option is available at many point-of
sale terminals, and functions the same exact way as using the debit
option. This way, your debit PIN is more secure.
Card skimmers particularly target gas
stations, especially in vacation areas. Make sure to be extra
careful while filling up your gas tank!
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