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Encontrando la ayuda que necesitas, en el idioma que entiendes – La historia de Higinio

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Imagina que alguien te dice que tú debes dinero por una deuda que ya pagaste. ¿Te molesta y te frustra, verdad? Además, te cuesta más dinero y más tiempo.

Eso fue lo que paso a Higinio cuando encontró una deuda en su reporte de crédito que él ya había pagado varias veces. Él trató por años de eliminar la deuda de su reporte, pero la compañía insistía que Higinio le debía el dinero. Después de cientos de dólares y muchísimas llamadas, Higinio presentó una queja con la ayuda de su amiga Marta, usando los recursos de consumerfinance.gov/es.

“La ayuda en español fue formidable porque yo entiendo bastante inglés. Pero no es lo mismo
cuando uno tiene un problema y explicarlo en otro idioma que no es el de uno, jamás es lo mismo.”

Nosotros sabemos que entender cómo funcionan los productos y servicios financieros puede ser confuso y que el idioma hace que sea más difícil para mucha gente. Estamos felices porque Higinio recibió la asistencia que necesitaba, y pudimos ofrecerle los recursos que le ayudaron.

Para compartir la cuenta o saber más de nuestros recursos en español, visítenos en consumerfinance.gov/yourstory.

Getting the help you need, in the language you understand- Higinio’s story

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Imagine being told that you owe money for a debt you’ve already paid. It’s not only annoying, but frustrating, right? Not to mention expensive and time-consuming.

That’s what happened to Higinio when he found a debt on his credit report that he had paid multiple times. For years, he tried to work with the credit card company to remove the debt from his record, but they were insistent that he owed them money. Hundreds of dollars and countless calls later, Higinio submitted a complaint with the help of his friend Marta by accessing resources on consumerfinance.gov/es.

“The help in Spanish was amazing because I understand English, but it´s not the same when you
have a problem and try to explain it in a language that´s not yours; it´s never the same.”

We understand that navigating the financial marketplace can be confusing and that language can often be an additional barrier for many people. We’re glad that Higinio got the assistance he needed, and that we were able to offer him resources that he found helpful.

To share your story or learn more about our Spanish language resources, visit us at consumerfinance.gov/yourstory.

Hosting a financial coach in your community

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It’s no secret that having a trusted, well-informed advisor or financial coach can increase your odds of financial success. We know that some people who are transitioning, perhaps from military service, being unemployed, or another tough financial situation, might especially benefit from this one-on-one service focused on their financial and life goals.

That’s why we announced an initiative last year to place trained financial coaches in organizations to provide coaching to consumers, including veterans and those who are low-income or economically vulnerable. Following a full and open competitive procurement process, in April 2014 we contracted with the Armed Forces Services Corporation (AFSC), a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB), to run this initiative. The financial coaches will work in organizations that are already providing other services, including job training, education, social, and housing services.

Here’s how you or your organization can help

AFSC is looking for 20 organizations, in geographically diverse locations across the country that serve economically vulnerable consumers, to host financial coaches. To be clear, this is not an opportunity for a grant, contract, sub-contract, or funding – just to have a financial coach placed on-site at an existing service delivery location. Check out the criteria and see if your organization or one in your community might be the right fit to host a financial coach. If you think it is, send a submission by October 15, 2014.

New Project Catalyst research pilot to study early intervention credit counseling

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Today, we’re announcing a research pilot aimed at assessing the potential impact of early intervention credit counseling. We know that defaulting on credit card debt is a very stressful event for anyone and impacts consumers’ ability to access credit in the future. We’d like to use this opportunity to explore what ways may help consumers better manage their credit card debt and avoid default.

Many people who are having trouble paying their credit card debt could benefit from the help of credit counselors, who can help them create more practical budgets and more manageable schedules to repay debt.

Barclaycard (Barclays Bank Delaware) and Clarifi (Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley) have partnered on a pilot program in which Barclaycard will offer cardholders who may need help with managing their credit card debt the opportunity to get help from Clarifi. Cardholders can then choose to enroll in Clarifi’s credit counseling services at no cost to them. As part of our Project Catalyst initiative, Barclaycard and Clarifi have agreed to share insights from their trial project with us. The information shared by Barclaycard and Clarifi will be de-identified, and appropriate precautions will be taken to ensure that individual consumers cannot be identified through the data. The program can help inform our work and our understanding of what strategies may help consumers better manage their existing debt as well as improve their credit scores and their access to credit in the long run.

As part of Project Catalyst, we continue to encourage consumer-friendly innovations. Through collaborations such as this one, we’ll have the opportunity to improve our understanding of what works best for consumers in the consumer financial marketplace.

Updated reverse mortgage guide: Two things you should know

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More and more homeowners are considering tapping their home equity as they approach retirement age. Getting a reverse mortgage is one way that some older homeowners can do that. Reverse mortgages are a special type of home equity loan sold to homeowners aged 62 years and older, which are repaid when the borrowers sell the home, move out, or die. It’s a complicated type of loan that works best for homeowners who carefully consider all of their options.

Things to consider

Before borrowing, seniors and their families should consider:

  • The cost of homeowners’ insurance and taxes
  • Plans for staying in the home or leaving it to family members
  • Plans for dependents or others living in the home
  • Alternatives to reverse mortgages

Because some important things about reverse mortgages have changed recently, we’ve updated our guide to reverse mortgages.

First-year payout limits

One of these changes limits the amount of money you can draw from your loan in the first year. Borrowers often get into trouble by taking a lump-sum payment early on. It may feel great to get a big payment up front, but borrowers can outlive this money – which spells financial trouble for borrowers who live longer lives.

This limit encourages borrowers to make their money last longer. Borrowers can still take out lump-sum single payments – but this is still a risky choice. Borrowers should strongly consider the monthly payment or line of credit options before choosing to get a lump-sum. These options provide more long-term security than lump-sum payments.

Protections for non-borrowing spouses

Another important change is for couples considering a reverse mortgage. In the past, couples who took out a reverse mortgage loan in the name of only one spouse ran into trouble when the borrowing spouse passed away. When a borrower died, the “non-borrowing spouse” had to pay back the reverse mortgage or move out. Many surviving spouses were surprised to learn this, and lost their homes. With recent changes, a non-borrowing spouse may be able continue to live in the home under certain conditions, even after the spouse who signed the loan passes away. However, the non-borrowing spouse will still stop receiving money from the reverse mortgage after his or her spouse dies.

For couples considering a reverse mortgage, borrowing together makes more sense. If both spouses sign the reverse mortgage, then the surviving spouse can continue to receive monthly payments or use an existing line of credit. It also ensures that a surviving spouse may live in the home after his or her spouse (co-borrower) dies.

These changes help protect reverse mortgage borrowers, but make no mistake—reverse mortgages are still not right for everyone and can be risky and expensive. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, get the information you need to make an informed decision and give yourself time to weigh your options.

Check out our guide to reverse mortgages for older homeowners and their families.

We can help you fight improper actions by debt collectors: Venida’s story

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Consumers often come to us with complaints about problems with debt collection and related credit reporting issues. We forward their complaints to the companies and work to get a response from them. In Venida’s case, within weeks of submitting her complaints, she was able to get the inaccurate information on her credit reports removed.

“Now that I have received the help from [the] CFPB”, she said, “I feel as if I can go along with my life enjoying my grandchildren and my children…and not worry about… whether I’m going to be sued.” She continued, “It’s so important because older people my age get taken advantage of. These collections agencies have them thinking that they owe this, they owe that. They don’t know that there’s a resource out there that can help them like the CFPB.”

We’re glad Venida got the help she needed, and we want to make sure that you know that we’re here for you too. To share your experience or learn more from others, visit us at consumerfinance.gov/yourstory.

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