Archive for June, 2016

Credit Cards and Your Credit Score

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Getting out of debt can actually help you improve your credit score. Why is that important? Because your credit score determines credit card debtwhat kind of interest rates you will get when you apply for loans including mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. Your credit score not only determines the interest rates you’ll get, but also whether or not you’ll be approved for these loans.

So how does credit card debt affect your credit score? Let’s take a look at the important factors.

What Makes Up Your Credit Score?

There are five factors that make up your credit score:
•Payment history (35%)
•Amounts owed (30%)
•Length of credit history (15%)
•New credit (10%)
•Credit type (10%)

As you can see, payment history is the biggest factor when determining your credit score, but the total balance you owe makes up the next biggest contributing factor. Which means, if you owe a lot of money on your credit cards — and exceed the target minimum (more on that below) — it’s likely that your credit score will be negatively affected.

If you are having a problem with credit card debt, consider calling Carolyn Secor. Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.

IRS Fresh Start Program

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

For some people, getting your debt under control may start with an IRS debt. Bankruptcy may not be a solution for IRS debt. The following information is from the IRS web site.IRS

The IRS Fresh Start program makes it easier for taxpayers to pay back taxes and avoid tax liens. Even small business taxpayers may benefit from Fresh Start. Here are three important features of the Fresh Start program:
•Tax Liens.  The Fresh Start program increased the amount that taxpayers can owe before the IRS generally will file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. That amount is now $10,000. However, in some cases, the IRS may still file a lien notice on amounts less than $10,000.

When a taxpayer meets certain requirements and pays off their tax debt, the IRS may now withdraw a filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Taxpayers must request this in writing using Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal.

Some taxpayers may qualify to have their lien notice withdrawn if they are paying their tax debt through a Direct Debit installment agreement. Taxpayers also need to request this in writing by using Form 12277.

If a taxpayer defaults on the Direct Debit Installment Agreement, the IRS may file a new Notice of Federal Tax Lien and resume collection actions.

•Installment Agreements.  The Fresh Start program expanded access to streamlined installment agreements. Now, individual taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 can pay through monthly direct debit payments for up to 72 months (six years). While the IRS generally will not need a financial statement, they may need some financial information from the taxpayer. The easiest way to apply for a payment plan is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool at If you don’t have Web access you may file Form 9465, Installment Agreement, to apply.

Taxpayers in need of installment agreements for tax debts more than $50,000 or longer than six years still need to provide the IRS with a financial statement. In these cases, the IRS may ask for one of two forms: either Collection Information Statement, Form 433-A or Form 433-F.

•Offers in Compromise.  An Offer in Compromise is an agreement that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount. Fresh Start expanded and streamlined the OIC program. The IRS now has more flexibility when analyzing a taxpayer’s ability to pay. This makes the offer program available to a larger group of taxpayers.

Generally, the IRS will accept an offer if it represents the most the agency can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time. The IRS will not accept an offer if it believes that the taxpayer can pay the amount owed in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at several factors, including the taxpayer’s income and assets, to make a decision regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay. Use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool on to see if you may be eligible for an OIC.

If your debt situation is out of hand, consider having a consultation with Carolyn Secor.

Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.

Get a Free Credit Report

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

You can’t hardly turn on the TV without seeing an ad for a free credit report. Of course, many of those companies are just interested credit card, computerin getting you to sign up for a credit monitoring service. Somebody has to pay for those expensive commercials, right??

Checking your credit report can provide you with insights into how you appear “on paper” to potential lenders and creditors. Additionally, your credit report offers you a first look at the possibility of identity theft if you see fraudulent accounts.

Your credit score is the numeric representation of how lenders (and others) gauge your financial responsibility. The higher your score, the more responsible you appear to them – and the better interest rates you can receive.

So how do you get your free credit report and score online? Here’s how:

First of all, you should know that if you are rejected for a loan, or if you don’t get the best deal, or if some other “negative action” is taken as the result of the information in a credit report, you are entitled to a free report from the agency that provided the report. You must request the report in writing within 60 days of the negative action.

But you don’t have to wait for a negative action to get your free report. You are entitled, by law, to one free report once a year from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus. The federal government mandated that a special website to be created for consumers to get their annual free credit report – and that site is called You should visit there for your official free report.

That website will give you the opportunity to pull your report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can get all three at once, or you can space it out throughout the year, getting one from a different agency every four months. (Realize, though, that not all reports are identical, so one report might have something another report doesn’t.)

So that’s how to get your free credit report: just go to If for some reason you have used up your once per year free credit reports at that site, you can also try sites like, Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Quizzle. These are for-profit sites that are legitimate (not scams) which provide some information for free to users who sign up. While these sites don’t give you your official credit report, they do provide some of the same information that is on your credit reports.

Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida.  For more information, go to our web site
or call (727) 254-1704.