January 14, 2020

Average FICO score hits record high-here's the average credit score in every state

The average FICO score in the U.S. hit a record high of 703 in 2019, according to the 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review. That's a two-point increase from 2018 and up 14 points since 2010.

A 703 FICO score falls within the range of good credit (670 to 739). The fact that many Americans have good credit scores is promising, since having a high score is key to qualifying for the best credit cards, mortgages and competitive loan rates.

If you have good credit, you may qualify for competitive travel rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or solid cash-back credit cards, like the Citi® Double Cash Card.

CNBC Select breaks down the key credit score findings from Experian's report, the average credit score in every state and some easy ways to improve your credit score.
  • Mississippi: 667
  • Louisiana: 677
  • Alabama: 680
  • Texas: 680
Read more at CNBC


Americans are feeling more optimistic about paying off their debts - poll

Only 7% of debtors expect to die in debt, according to a new poll.

According to's seventh annual debt-free poll, only 7% of debtors expect to die in debt.

That's a dramatically lower percentage than in 2019 (25%) and 2018 (30%) - and even smaller than the previous low in 2013 (9%).

And only 7% of respondents said they didn't know when they'd be debt-free, down from 2019 (41%) and 2018 (38%).

A strong economy boosts optimism about debt
Stocks hit numerous record highs this year, we recently hit the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years and we've enjoyed more than a decade of sustained economic growth, noted Ted Rossman, industry expert at

These positive stats have Americans feeling good about their debt levels as we enter 2020.
Read more at CBS8

AFSPA Partner

This IRS service has saved Americans $1.7 billion - so why have so few people used it?

People who want to submit their taxes for free can start preparing Friday with this season's launch of the IRS Free File program.

The program lets taxpayers with 2019 adjusted gross incomes below $69,000 per year file their federal and state returns for free using tax preparation software from ten providers including H&R Block and Turbo Tax.

Though eligible taxpayers can now start using the program to get their returns prepared, IRS will start processing the returns once tax season starts on Jan. 27.

That all sounds like a good deal, but the Taxpayer Advocate Service, a watchdog within the IRS, noted less than 2% of all individual returns, about 2.5 million returns, came through the Free File program in the most recent tax year.
Read more at MARKETWATCH


Modern day debtors prison? Mississippi is only state to still jail people for unpaid debt

During her shifts at a Church's Chicken, Annita Husband looked like the other employees. She wore the same blue and red polo shirt, greeted the same customers, and slung the same fried chicken and biscuits.

But after clocking out, Husband, a mother in her 40s, had to wait for a white van with barred windows and the seal of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on its sides. It delivered her to the Flowood Restitution Center, a motel converted into a jail surrounded by razor wire, nestled among truck stops and an outlet mall. Here, Husband slept in a room with seven other women, sharing a mirror to get ready in the mornings, enduring strip searches for contraband at night.

A judge sentenced Husband to the restitution center in 2015 to pay off almost $13,000 she owed from an embezzlement conviction in 2009. The corrections department would not release her until she earned enough money at her $7.25-an-hour part-time job to clear her debts and cover $11 a day for "room and board" at Flowood. Read more at MSN



We are accepting applications for our Advisory Committees

To ensure that the CFPB hears from a variety of external experts with diverse viewpoints, we established the Consumer Advisory Board, the Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council, and the Academic Research Council. These advisory committees provide the Bureau with information about emerging trends and practices in the consumer financial marketplace. They also allow us to hear directly from small financial institutions.

Starting Monday, Jan. 13, we're accepting applications for membership on all four of our advisory committees. We're inviting applications from individuals who can provide us with insight and advice as we carry out our work. Here are some examples of the types of applicants we're looking for:

Experts in consumer protection, community development, consumer finance, fair lending, and civil rights.

Read more at CFPB


California reportedly launching its own CFPB

California already has one of the most active state agencies in terms of regulating and (when necessary) punishing the financial services industry: the California Department of Business Oversight.

But the state could soon have a financial regulator that rivals the New York Department of Financial Services in terms of clout, reach, and scope.

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom will reportedly unveil a plan for the state to enact its own version of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, overhauling and increasing the power of the state's Department of Business Oversight.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the proposal to create a state-level CFPB will come in Newsom's 2020-2021 budget, which Newsom is scheduled to reveal Friday.
Read more at HOUSINGWIRE



10 Things to Know About the New California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. As one of the United States' most expansive consumer protection laws to date, businesses are setting in motion new policies and procedures to ensure compliance. Here are 10 things to know about the new CCPA:
  1. The development of the CCPA was driven by the 2018 widespread breach of privacy by the Cambridge Analytica data-mining firm that shared the personal data of tens of millions of people. This drove a series of congressional hearings which led California legislators to more thoroughly examine the way that personal data is collected and shared and draft what is now The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, or CCPA.
  2. Assembly Bill 375 was signed into action as The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 on June 28, 2018. However, it does not take effect until January 1, 2020. The California Attorney General released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action on October 10, 2019. The public comment period includes four public hearings and comments can be submitted to the Office of the Attorney General by public hearing, mail, or email before 5:00 PST on December 6, 2019
Read more at National Debt Holdings


CENTRAL TEXAS: 5 Financial Services Locations

Cash Use Has Not Changed in the U.S.
  • Over the past 12 months, 70% of consumers rate their use of cash as 'stayed the same'
  • Over the past 12 months, 15% of consumers claim to use more cash & 15% of consumers claim to use less
  • Cash is used for 49% of payments under $10
  • Cash is used for 35% of transactions conducted in person
  • The IMF reports that US cash use is average compared to other large developed economies
  • The U.S. has seen a slow decline in total cash transactions over the last two years, but not dramatic
  • The resilience of cash is notable given the recent rise in alternatives




How Businesses Can Grow Revenue Through Extending Low-Risk Credit.

Organizations are always looking for avenues to grow revenue and profits. One way to do so is by extending credit options to customers in need of financial assistance.

Unfortunately, millions of individuals in the US are unbanked or underbanked. As a result, they have zero credit history with any of the traditional credit institutions. Without access to this important info, businesses face considerable risk in extending credit to these customers with unknown credit histories.

Thankfully, the availability and growing popularity of alternative credit reporting can significantly reduce these risks associated with serving the unbanked and underbanked. Below, we'll explore exactly how businesses can grow their bottom lines by extending low-risk credit to such customers.

Why Should Businesses Offer Credit Options?

Many businesses don't realize that extending credit is an effective way to attract customers and build lucrative, long-term relationships.
Read more at MicroBilt NEWS


Changing Court Attitudes on Bankruptcies

Recent court rulings could show more willingness to let people discharge student loans through bankruptcy, but advocates say need for legislation remains.

A decision this week by a federal judge in New York illustrates how some courts have in the past few years made it easier for people with crippling student loan debt to file for bankruptcy, say consumer advocates and legal experts.

But while advocates like John Rao, a National Consumer Law Center bankruptcy expert, see the trend as positive, they still believe federal laws need to be changed to make it easier to discharge student loans through bankruptcy.

The issue has risen in prominence as the number of Americans with student debt has grown to an estimated 45 million, with many unable to repay their loans.



How Does ACH Processing Work?

Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments occur electronically through the ACH network. A customer can give another party (an institution, company or other originator) authorization to debit directly from that customer's bank account to make a payment. ACH credits occur when a payer initiates payments through the bank, which proceeds to deposit the funds electronically into the recipient's bank account. With both credit and debit, the funds move electronically from one bank account to another, making ACH an inexpensive and convenient way to process payments.

It's also a popular way to process payments. According to the website (the website of the administrator of the ACH Network), the value of ACH payments totaled $51.2 trillion in 2018 - almost a 10% increase over the year prior. Most people have used ACH payments, even if they aren't familiar with that terminology. Anyone enrolled in direct deposit to receive wages from their place of employment or who pays bills online directly from their checking accounts has utilized ACH payments. Read more at PAYLIANCE


Maximum robocall fine is $10,000 under law signed by Trump

President Trump signed a law increasing fines of spam robocalls to $10,000 and requiring service providers to authenticate calls across networks.

The landmark bill, known as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrance Act (TRACED Act), was signed by Trump on Monday.

In addition to upping the fines, the law requires carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to use a relatively new technology known as STIR/SHAKEN to help consumers know if they are being targeted by a robocaller with a fake number.

"I applaud Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to combat illegal robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing," Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a published statement. Read more at FOX2DETROIT


The biggest downside to America's sweeping new retirement law

The SECURE Act - which stands for Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement - went into effect on Jan. 1.

The goal of the new law is to boost retirement savings, in part by giving small businesses new incentives to provide retirement plans for employees. And of course anything that's done to get more people saving for retirement is a win.

Americans are woefully behind on their retirement savings. According to a 2018 survey of nearly 6,000 U.S. workers from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, just 24% plan to retire at that magic age of 65, while 54% of American either expect to continue working past 65 or don't plan to retire at all. Only 22% say they will retire before age 65.

Michael Goodman, president of Wealthstream Advisors and a member of the American Institute of CPAs, says he likes a lot in the new law. There is one big downside, though.
Read more at YAHOO FINANCE



CFPB hosts savings summit to find opportunities to help people save

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Bureau hosted a savings summit to learn about innovative savings initiatives and discover opportunities to make it easier for people save.

Participants included non-profits, credit unions, community banks, and financial institutions from across the country.

This convening has followed numerous round tables with consumers, employers, community groups, and financial institutions as part of the Bureau's Start Small, Save Up initiative. The initiative aims to increase opportunities for people to save and empower them to achieve their emergency savings goals. To do that, we are focusing on collaborations with community groups, employers, and financial organizations.  Read more at CFPB

Dreher Tomkies LLP


Alternative Financial Service Providers Association

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