NJ Senate Bill 1593: A Proposed 6 Month Foreclosure Stay

Because the number of New Jersey foreclosures continues to rise even as we are now reaching the mid-point of 2017, the NJ Senate and Assembly have proposed new legislation with the goal of generating positive change for underwater New Jersey homeowners.

Senate Bill 1593 proposes that a six month stay of foreclosure proceedings shall be implemented in New Jersey if such action is agreeable to the homeowner and lender. The bill also proposes that the court can impose the six month stay if it has been determined that it would be possible for credit counseling and/or negotiations to occur during the six months that would potentially eliminate the need for a foreclosure.

Homeowners who are offered a reasonable and feasible mortgage loan modification by their lenders prior to beginning foreclosure proceedings will not be eligible for the six month stay. If an acceptable loan modification agreement is reached between the parties during the six months, the forbearance will be lifted and mortgage payments will resume. Additionally, if at any time during the six month forbearance, the homeowner moves out of the residence or advises their lender in writing that they have no intention of participating in the formal foreclosure mediation program (required during the six month stay), the stay will be lifted immediately and foreclosure proceedings will commence.

This legislation is an attempt by the Senate Committee along with the Urban Affairs Committee to drastically reduce the overall number of NJ foreclosures that continue to plague the Garden State a full decade after the Mortgage Crisis that began in 2007. While most states’ real estate markets have bounced back, several states are still struggling with high foreclosure rates.

In addition to NJ, the following states still have excessively high foreclosure numbers as of May 2017: Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, Illinois, Maryland and Delaware. New Jersey tops the list with a foreclosure rate of one in every 515 residential housing units. Delaware, in second place, has a foreclosure rate of one in every 753 housing units. As you can see, New Jersey is the clear “winner” by a landslide.

In fact, the country’s two most foreclosure-stricken cities are also in New Jersey, with #1 being Atlantic City and #2 being Trenton. Jersey’s neighbor across the bridge, Philadelphia isn’t far behind, coming in at #5 even though Pennsylvania’s overall foreclosure rates are down.

New Jersey’s continued inability to pull out of what can now only be described as a foreclosure emergency has led to damaging effects like neighborhood blight, which greatly reduces property values. This, in turn, leads to more homeowners who are ‘underwater’ (owing more money on their mortgage than their home is actually worth), which then leads to more foreclosures. The cycle seems unending in NJ, and drastic measures are needed to put a stop to the deleterious effects on the state’s economy. We have high hopes that New Jersey will be able to come out ahead of foreclosure, and this bill is one giant step in the right direction.

 

Fixing Your Credit to be Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Loan

If your credit score is very low (under 500), you may feel like you’ll never be approved for a mortgage. Owning your own home is a life-long dream for so many people, and luckily, it’s not one that you have to give up. You will, however, have some work to do before you will be granted a mortgage loan.

Anyone who is looking to buy a house in the relatively near future should take a good look at their credit report(s). The higher your credit score is when you’re approved, the better your mortgage rate will be. This can save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly mortgage payment. First, request a copy of your most recent reports from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

As an aside, it’s wise to take a look at your credit report once a year on a regular schedule even if you’re not in the home-buying market.

Once you have a copy of your credit reports, the first thing on your agenda should be scanning it with a fine-tooth comb to check for any errors. This is the easiest way to give your credit score a quick boost.

If you find any errors (debts that are being reported incorrectly, satisfied debts that continue to show up as unpaid, payments marked as late when you paid on time), filing a dispute with the agency whose report contains the error(s) is the next step. Working with a New Jersey credit repair attorney is a good idea if you have errors and a lot of negative marks on your credit report. Your attorney will negotiate with your creditors, requesting forgiveness for lesser offenses like late payments. This “goodwill letter” is frequently an effective approach to jump-starting your credit repair process.

Once you’re sure that any errors have been appropriately dealt with, the following behaviors will give your credit score further boosts to get it up to your “goal range.” Your NJ credit repair attorney will know how much your score needs to increase in order for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Make your monthly bill payments early

Even better, if you can make an extra payment each month on your credit cards with the highest balances, you’ll be able to zap your debts faster.

Create a debt resolution plan

In addition to making more than one payment per month, create a plan to pay down all of your existing debt until it’s gone. The lower your credit utilization ratio, the better.

Raise your credit limits

Related to lowering your credit utilization ratio, you can also request a higher credit limit on one or two of your credit cards. Be careful with this tip, though, and only do this if you have the self-control to keep yourself from charging even more purchases.

Consolidate

If you have more than one card with the same lender, keeping your oldest card active and transferring balances from newer cards (and then closing the newer cards), the overall age of your debt will be older, which looks good to credit bureaus.

If you are diligent about reigning in your spending, paying all of your bills early or on time, and taking the steps listed above, it is possible to boost your credit score 50-100 points in six months to one year. Your results will be dependent on your starting credit score and the type and number of dings currently on your credit report.

Before you know it, you’ll be walking out of your lender’s office with a mortgage pre-approval letter!

How to Invest in Your Future When You’re Broke

If you find yourself “barely” living paycheck to paycheck, the worry of not having any money saved can eat away at you. The concept of planning for future events like sending your kid(s) to college, helping them get married, and enjoying your own retirement can feel impossible when you can hardly afford your current lifestyle.

Although it may seem completely unimaginable, you can make a plan for your future; in fact, strategic financial planning may be the one thing that also helps you live better now as well.

The main reason most people don’t have a real savings plan in place is because they simply feel they don’t have enough money to do so. The change that needs to happen isn’t in making more money (although that is obviously not a bad thing) but in getting a new mindset.

The first step in getting a new money mindset is to change your inner dialogue from “I’m broke! I can barely even pay my bills!” to “Let’s see if I can find ways to improve how I spend money.”

While you may feel that you are barely able to meet the financial demands of your life, most people find that they’re spending too much in at least one area that can be cut back. Take a good, hard look at where all of your money goes for at least one complete month. Write down each and every cent that’s spent, organized into three categories:

  •  Necessary/survival: Housing (mortgage payment or rent), utility bills (electric, gas, water/sewer, trash removal), all forms of necessary insurance (homeowners/renters, car, health, life), food (for eat-at-home meals only), vehicle payment(s), vehicle maintenance, gas.
  • Debt: College/student loans, credit cards, personal loans, and any other forms of debt.
  • Luxury: These are things that, while dearly beloved by many of us, can be eradicated without causing you extreme hardship. Examples include: cable/satellite tv packages, streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Now), high speed internet connection, Xbox Live membership, restaurant meals, magazine/newspaper subscriptions, cell phone(s) and their service plans, gym memberships, satellite radio, hair/nail services, frivolous (unnecessary) purchases like new electronics, expensive clothing/shoes, and other items that you simply don’t need.

Once you have a clear picture of exactly what you’re spending all of your money on, you will be able to create a plan to start saving money – it’s that simple!

Your mindset must remain steadfastly dedicated to saving money in order for this to work, however. See that list of luxury items? You are going to have to decide which of them you can either cut out entirely, or scale back. You will likely be surprised at how many companies will be happy to work with you to lower your monthly bill when you explain your situation. They’d rather keep your business at a lower profit than lose you altogether.

Instead of having your nails painted professionally, invest in the supplies needed to do your nails at home. Listen to the (free) radio in your car or pop in a CD rather than paying for satellite radio. Cut out your cable tv and keep your streaming services. Cancel your gym membership and get outside to exercise or start an indoor workout program – there are a multitude of free exercise videos on Youtube.

Even something as simple as not stopping before work to get a coffee and breakfast on-the-go can make a difference. If you spend $5 every day for a breakfast to-go, you can put that money directly into your savings account by eating breakfast at home. This habit can save you over $1,000 a year!

Another potential way to save money every month is to negotiate your interest rates with any lenders or credit card companies. You may also qualify for a loan modification (even for your mortgage loan) wherein the terms of your loan would be adjusted in order to make your monthly payments lower.

After you have found several good ways to save money each month – be sure to put the money saved into the right place! The best way to make sure this happens is to put a set amount into your savings account before you pay any bills or spend any money. That way you will train yourself to live on the money you have left after you’ve already invested in your future.

 

I’m Being Sued for More Money than I Owe!

Is a debt from your past coming back to haunt you in the present? Although not ideal, sometimes it happens. Perhaps you weren’t making sound financial decisions at that point in your life and accidentally (or intentionally) ignored some past due notices until they just stopped coming.

It can feel like it’s easier to ignore bills when you don’t have the means to pay them. However, the end result is almost always going to be substantially worse than your original debt.

While it can take some companies awhile to take action on smaller debts, the bad news is that your (once) small-ish debt has had a load of time to compound upon itself, rolling around in interest rates, gathering late fees and potentially even picking up attorney’s fees. If your original lender or credit card company has hired counsel to address getting you to pay up, it is possible for them to tack their attorney’s fees on to the amount owed.

What can I do?

Your credit card company is hoping that you’ll get scared by the big number they’re asking for – as you should. If you receive a summons and complaint that says you owe double, triple or quadruple your original debt amount – now is the time to obtain counsel yourself.

How can I afford an attorney if I can’t even pay my debt?

Working with a New Jersey debt settlement attorney on a matter like this is highly unlikely to cost you thousands of dollars. In all likelihood, the right NJ lawyer will have the required negotiating skills to bring the amount owed down to a much more reasonable number – simply by making a few phone calls and/or sending some letters.

Your attorney can then work to coordinate a payment plan that is manageable for you so that you can pay off the (now much lower) balance. The lender/credit card company will almost always be happy to get some form of payment from you as opposed to nothing.

What will happen if my case goes to court?

If, by chance, your credit card company does not want to settle via your credit repair attorney, New Jersey courts will set up a mediation wherein the same kind of talks will take place. A court appointed mediator will work with you and your attorney, along with counsel for the opposing side, to negotiate a resolution that everyone can agree to.

The bottom line is: if you have been served with a lawsuit to collect a debt in a much higher amount than you originally owed, you’re probably not going to get out of paying at least part of the debt unless you file for bankruptcy. If you have the means to pay back the amount that your lawyer negotiates for you, you should do so in a timely manner so that your credit score doesn’t take an even bigger hit.

On the other hand, if you are completely strapped and cannot imagine even one dollar of your debt (and likely other debts that you owe) being repaid, it is definitely time to consider filing for a NJ bankruptcy. This will wipe out a significant amount of your total debt, leaving you much more financially stable, which will allow you to “start over” with a much cleaner slate.

 

Image: “Breaking into your Savings” by Images Money – licensed under CC 2.0

Bankruptcy Law and Family Law: How They’re Connected

5135306732_7cd98b3e39_z
Anyone who has been through a divorce knows that, second only to your love life, your finances are often the hardest hit area during a split. Many people continue to have financial difficulties long after their divorce is finalized, as well. Family lawyers who handle divorce cases know from experience that financial strife can be a huge contention between divorcing couples.

While your family law attorney will assist you in creating a Property Settlement Agreement that settles some of your money troubles (you may begin receiving child support or alimony payments after the divorce is finalized), oftentimes divorced couples will struggle with things like losing their family home to foreclosure, credit card debt, and potential bankruptcy.

As much as your divorce attorney may want to assist you with all of the above money matters, they have to focus their attention on everything within their own wheelhouse to ensure that you (and their other clients) achieve the desired outcome from your divorce. Their duties are many, and include drafting your PSA, attending court dates, negotiating and corresponding with counsel for your soon-to-be ex-spouse, handling domestic violence matters, and much more.

Frequently, family law attorneys find it very beneficial to work in tandem with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy, real estate and/or debt relief. Because financial strain is a given in most divorces, it can be helpful for everyone involved to work as a team. Your divorce (family law) attorney will walk you through all of the steps of your divorce. With your permission, ideally he would then discuss your case with his tandem bankruptcy attorney, whom you would then work with to clean up your finances.

Of course, family law attorneys attend to matters other than divorce, like name changes, parenting time, grandparents’ rights, pre-nuptial agreements, child custody (unrelated to divorce), adoption, restraining orders, and domestic violence. Some of these matters can also be made easier by working with an attorney who specializes in finances. For example, the financial aspect of adoption matters can be quite intense. While your family law attorney will handle much of the adoption paperwork, he can refer you to a financial specialist like Veitengruber Law if you need more help organizing the necessary finances.

Every attorney has a lot on their plate every single day, regardless of their practice area(s). The best attorneys limit their focus to a limited number of practice areas so as not to get overwhelmed and spread too thin. If your family law attorney attempts to do it all himself, you may find that he’s too busy to set aside time to keep you updated on your case. On the other hand, a smart divorce lawyer will say, “Hey, while I’m working on negotiating your child visitation schedule, why don’t you go see George Veitengruber to start sorting out the fact that you can’t afford your mortgage payment?”

When attorneys work together, their clients always have a better result. Mutually beneficial relationships between experienced professionals give clients a well-rounded experience and optimal outcome. Veitengruber Law welcomes family lawyers in New Jersey (Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties) to reach out to our firm if and when your clients need our services. We will gladly return the favor so that our mutual clients are well-cared for and happy with our services.

Image credit: Kamaljith KV

NJ Student Loan Forgiveness & the Brunner Test

14222252894_16e2958be6_z

A plausible solution for student loan debt is urgently needed as the dollar amount of outstanding college debt approaches $1.4 trillion. That astronomical number means that student loan debt is now second only to mortgage debt in our country.

Currently, money that was borrowed to pay for college is considered nondischargeable in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means that, for most people dealing with (what feels like) crushing student loan debt, there is essentially no way to get out from under what may be $50,000 + in debt.

Has the cost of college gotten more expensive?

The cost of four-year college tuition in New Jersey has increased by 41% in the last decade. Additionally, living on campus at a NJ college or university is now nearly 25% more expensive than it was ten years ago. These numbers are even higher for out-of-state students who attend college in New Jersey.

It now costs NJ students an average of $24,000 for ONE YEAR of college tuition, fees, room & board, books & supplies and living expenses.

With that being said, there are proponents of an idealistic plan for two and four year college tuition to be free. Opponents of this utopian plan believe that offering free college won’t fix the problem because the problem ultimately stems from wages being too low.

What other factors have caused the student loan debt crisis?

There is evidence that the largest group of people who’ve defaulted on student loans are those who are earning the lowest income post-college. Data indicates that some of these defaulted borrowers are struggling because they didn’t finish college, and therefore didn’t obtain a degree. This leads to difficulty finding a job that pays enough for them to pay off their loans. Although there are a few student loan repayment programs that are based on earnings, they need serious improvements if they are to make a dent in what is quickly becoming the “student loan crisis.”

Hopefully there will be positive changes coming to the process of paying for a college degree that enable more people to finish college without being bogged down by debt. Until then, the only way to rid yourself of your student loans through bankruptcy is by demonstrating “undue hardship.”

What is undue hardship?

Relating to student loan repayment, the only reason you may be able to discharge your student debt is if repaying your loans would prevent you from being able to do literally anything else, like pay bills, buy food, etc. In New Jersey, the three part Brunner test is used to determine if a debtor demonstrates undue hardship that is significant enough to justify a discharge of student loan debt.

What is the three part Brunner test?

New Jersey bankruptcy court will require you to prove that the three following statements are true as relating to your finances:

  1. You will not be able to maintain even the most minimal standard of living (for yourself and any dependents) if you have to repay your student loans. The answer to this must be based on your current income and expenses.
  2. There is sufficient evidence to prove that #1 (above) will prove to be true for all or most of your student loan repayment time period.
  3. You have made a good faith effort to repay your student loan(s).

Most courts are fairly strict when it comes to the Brunner test, however, if you feel that you honestly would qualify for a hardship ruling in your favor, it is worth discussing the matter with a NJ bankruptcy attorney. As your initial consultation will be free of charge, you have nothing to lose by making a phone call and learning more about your options.

 

Image credit: COD Newsroom

Wage Garnishment: FAQ

7027595009_f3c5fc23e4_z

What is wage garnishment?

If you owe money to a person or company that you have failed to repay or even begin to repay, the creditor (entity to whom you are indebted) can obtain a court order against you. This court document will order your current employer to take a specific amount of money out of each of your paychecks. This money will go directly to the creditor to whom you owe money.

How much of my paycheck can be garnished?

There are federal laws in place that limit the amount of money that can be garnished from anyone’s paycheck so that the debtor can still manage their monthly expenses. Generally, no more than 25% of your income (after deductions) can be garnished by any combination of creditors who may be seeking money from you.

Can I lose my job because of a wage garnishment?

If you have only one garnishment against your wages, your employer does not have the right to terminate your employment, nor can they punish you or treat you any differently because of a wage garnishment.

Multiple wage garnishments filed against you will give your employer some rights to take action. For example, suppose your employer discovers that you are neck-deep in unpaid debt and your job duties include dealing with company finances. Your severely disordered finances at home send up a red flag, and many times employers do have rights against you when the garnishments keep rolling in.

What can I do to eliminate a wage garnishment?

If you feel that a wage garnishment has been filed against you erroneously, you can protest the garnishment at a court hearing. You may also have rights if you cannot manage your bills with the wage garnishments set as they are.

Additionally, you can immediately eliminate any and all wage garnishments by simply paying off the debts in full. If you are starting a new job and don’t want your new employer to know that you owe money to a creditor, your best bet is to try to work with your debt negotiation lawyer to lower the amount you owe so that you can pay it all off in one fell swoop.

Can I eliminate all wage garnishments?

While you can “cancel out” a wage garnishment for say, credit card debt, defaulted loans or medical debt, some garnishments are harder (and sometimes impossible) to remove. For legal reasons, if you owe child support, your NJ county court will automatically set a wage garnishment action in place once your Final Judgement of Divorce has been entered. This guarantees that your children will always be cared for appropriately with no missed payments.

The same is true if you owe money to the federal or state government in the form of back taxes, or if you have delinquent student loans. In fact, wage garnishments for child support, taxes and student loans can even be initiated without a court order.

If you are facing a wage garnishment in New Jersey that you feel is inaccurate or that is preventing you from meeting your other basic financial obligations, work with your NJ debt relief attorney to either modify the wage garnishment order(s) or eliminate them if they are unlawful.

 

Image credit: Tax Credits

Building a Good Credit Rating When You Have No Credit History

image2

For those people who are dealing with a sub-par or super-low credit score, there is an abundance of good advice available regarding how to improve a poor credit rating. From debt negotiation to loan refinancing, New Jersey credit repair attorneys are able to help their struggling clients watch their scores go up, up, up!

Obviously, on the other end of the spectrum are those people who’ve (almost) always made sound financial decisions, haven’t experienced any major catastrophes, and therefore have great credit scores with glowing credit reports. They obviously don’t need help in this arena.

There’s a much less talked about gray area of the credit spectrum, though, where some young people are finding themselves stuck. These people are generally either in their late teens to early 20s, or they’ve been living at home with their parents and may be approaching their mid-20s or even 30.

What does it mean to have “NO credit history”?

While the terms “bad credit and zero credit history” can often be confused, the two situations are entirely different and it’s important to know your options if you’re in the zero credit history category.

A bad (or low) credit score suggests that you have made some significant missteps in your financial history. This means you may have: had a number of late payments on any of your expenses, racked up too much credit card debt, co-signed a loan that defaulted, defaulted on a loan of your own, recently applied for a number of new loans, closed credit accounts that you don’t use (which lowers your credit utilization ratio), had your home foreclosed, or filed for NJ bankruptcy.

As someone with zero credit history, you’ll face similar problems as those with low credit scores when it comes to getting a loan, credit card, buying a car, purchasing a home, and sometimes even renting an apartment.

Having no credit history, however, is generally much easier to “fix” than having a bad credit history. That’s because you haven’t necessarily made any bad money choices – you just haven’t appeared on the credit system’s radar yet. You don’t have any credit cards, you’ve never applied for a loan or financed a vehicle. When performing a search for your credit history, lenders will simply come back with….nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Does zero credit history mean my score starts at 300?

Just because you have no credit history doesn’t mean you have to start at the bottom of the credit rating scale, which ranges from 300 – 850. Your credit worthiness will be given a score, but not until you have engaged in some activities that can be “rated.”

It can be frustrating when you have no credit history because, although you don’t have a bad credit score, creditors still can’t tell much about your credit worthiness. They don’t know if they can trust you to pay back money or not. Because of this, getting your credit history rolling can be tricky.

Naturally, everyone had to start with no credit history, so building a good credit score from your vantage point is definitely doable. Because lenders will be wary of you at first, you’ll need to start with baby steps.

What kind of credit will I be able to get?

Although you won’t be able to apply for a high limit credit card or a home mortgage right off the bat, there are low-risk ways for you to build a credit history. Start by asking your bank if you can apply for their secured credit card. If you’ve been banking with them for awhile, they’ll be more likely to approve you since they at least know your banking habits. For those who’ve never had a bank account, your first step will be opening a checking account. Do some research first so that you’re sure to open an account with a bank that offers a secured credit card.

It may be possible for you to receive a slightly larger loan, like a used car loan, but you may have to ask a parent or close friend (with good credit) to cosign the loan with you. Most importantly, no matter what your first loan is, you must be sure to make your monthly payments on time. Eventually your responsibility will pay off and your credit score will rise.

At first, your score will not start at the bottom (300) of the scale, nor will it skyrocket to the top (850) simply because you make a few timely payments. However, as soon as you are granted a loan and begin making payments, your credit history will no longer be a giant blank space. Your score is likely to start off somewhere in the middle of the range, and will only continue to rise as you demonstrate credit worthiness.

Namesake Credit Mix-ups and How to Repair the Damage

6995151913_462e27dff5_z

Although not as common as it once was, naming baby boys after their fathers is still a custom that is practiced in this country. Proud fathers naturally want to continue a family tradition that may have existed for centuries. In fact, some women also choose to name their daughters after themselves, however this is a much less common occurrence.

Aside from the cultural aspects that are intertwined with baby naming practices, giving your child the same name as one of his/her parents may be setting them up for a lifetime of headaches.

In addition to everyday confusion related to which person is being referred to (Are you talking about Big John or Little John, Junior?), sharing an identical (or nearly so) name can lead to financial mix-ups that are much more inconvenient.

Especially as the child grows into an adult and begins to acquire his own assets and credit rating, it’s unfortunately common for fathers and sons with the same name to have some co-mingling of their credit information.

How does this happen?

As much as we’d love to think that every financial institution and lender is doing their due diligence when processing loan applications and other important identifying documents, mistakes are made every day. Incomplete information leads employees to fill in the blanks of their own accord, which is where the errors begin.

Employees who are unfamiliar with the people involved are often on the paper-pushing end of financial transactions like loans. Given the task of ensuring that all documents are complete, these employees may have to search for a person’s social security number, for example. In a situation where a father and son share the same name (and suffixes have been dropped), matching up the wrong social security number is an easy mistake.

Will I have to change my name to fix my credit?

Although it may help in your future financial endeavors, changing your name won’t do anything for the errors that already exist in your credit report. You’ll need to be in close contact with all of the credit bureaus to dispute every instance of the wrong identity being used. As long as you follow through with your dispute(s), you should be able to have all of the incorrect information removed, which will improve your score if it was negatively affected.

In order to prevent this from becoming a never-ending problem that keeps coming back to bite you, take the following steps:

  • Always provide your social security number and give complete information when filling out any type of financial documentation, especially loan applications.
  • Sit down with your father (or other person with whom you share a name) in order to educate him about the situation at hand. Encourage him to fill out applications in full as well.
  • Be consistent with the name that you use on applications. If your name contains a suffix, like Jr., Sr., or III, use it without fail when you apply for anything. If you have always used a nickname, continue using the same name for all financial transactions into the future. Consistency is the key.
  • Check your credit report annually for any new errors that may pop up, and deal with them promptly to avoid serious consequences to your credit score.

 

Image credit: Francisco Osorio

Late Payments: Will They Affect my Credit Score?

27439557903_44b1e06d91_z

By now, you probably understand that failure to make good on your debts will definitely be reflected in your credit report and score. Regardless of your reason, leaving debts unpaid opens you up to numerous marks on your credit report, which will in turn drag your score down, down, down – until the debts are paid.

So, not paying your debts equals a low credit score, but what happens when you do pay, but you pay late?

Will late payments be reflected on my credit report?

The best answer here is “it depends.” If you make one or two utility payments that are only late by a few days, they probably won’t show up on your credit report. (But they might! Much depends on the company’s policies and the individual in charge of receiving payments for that company.)

Many times, medical debt causes significant headaches for consumers. Usually the headaches are caused by dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies are notoriously bad at responding to claims in a reasonable time frame, which leads to red marks on your credit report. Often, codes are submitted incorrectly or multiple insurance policies are not properly coordinated. Further, some claims are initially denied but may be approved if resubmitted through the proper channels.

The bottom line regarding medical debt is that human error combined with strict and sometimes questionable policy rules lead to long wait times for some claims to be paid by insurance companies.

Why is my medical debt marked “Late” on my credit report if it is the insurance company’s fault?

This question comes up often, and the unfortunate reality is that creditors, even hospitals, doctors’ offices and other medical providers, do not care who pays their bill as long as it gets paid. Most providers do realize that there may be a slight delay for payment due to the intricacies of the insurance industry, however, they are not willing to wait for an extended period of time.

Patients who are waiting for their insurance company to pay their medical bill(s) are often surprised to find negative marks on their credit report because they don’t understand that if there is a delay on the insurance company’s side, medical providers expect the patient to pay the bill and then be reimbursed by the insurance company.

If you’ve recently discovered that some of your paid medical debt has been marked as “Late” on your credit report, you may wonder if you can get your provider to remove the “Late” status now that they’ve received payment. Unfortunately they don’t have to and typically won’t remove the “Late” mark from your report because doing so takes up more of their valuable time.

Additionally, if your medical debt was in fact paid late then it is accurately denoted on your credit report. The fact that it is marked as “Paid” is important (even if marked “Paid Late”), and you can add a note to the entry so that future creditors know precisely why it was paid late. If, however, your medical debt was paid and your credit report does not reflect payment at all, then you have a right to have the information changed.

Image credit: NursingSchoolsNearMe