Tag Archives: Sands & Associates

creditreport-blog

How (and Why) to Check Your Credit Report

Even though it’s generally recommended to check your credit report about once a year, this is a financial chore that often falls by the wayside, even for the most financially-savvy of us.  Because an un-kempt credit history can be hiding a lot of hassle for those unsuspecting, we’ve put together a brief primer on getting your credit report to help you stay on top of this important metric:

How to check your credit report:

There are two relatively straightforward ways you can request copies of your credit history reports from both (that’s right – BOTH) credit bureaus in Canada.  Because these are separate agencies they won’t necessarily have the same information, which is why it’s important to review both.

  1. Online: If you visit the websites for Equifax and TransUnion of Canada you’ll find links to receive a copy of your credit history report online.  While this is a quick way to get the job done, it will come with a fee determined by the agency.  If you opt for this route, be sure you’re only paying for what you want – different “packages” are available that will contain varying information and reporting.  For financial housekeeping purposes, you’re generally only interested in the credit history report itself, not your credit score!
  2. By mail: If you’re not in a rush, and/or you want to save yourself the fees you can use the “Credit History Request Form” to request hard copies of your reports, a copy of which can be found in the downloads section of our website.  You can obtain copies for free once a year!  You’ll need to fill out the form in entirety, attach copies of two pieces of identification and either mail or fax the request form to both credit bureaus.

Why you should check your credit reports:

Correct Errors:  Sources estimate that there are errors in anywhere from 10 to 33% of credit history files.  Unfortunately, some of those errors may be impactful enough to stop you from obtaining credit, or getting credit on the terms you want, others such as an incorrect date of birth may add unnecessary delays when you’re seeking credit.

Tip:  If corrections to your file are required, there will be a request form sent to you with your credit report which you will complete then return to the appropriate bureau.  Try to include as much documentation with the correction request as possible.

Detect Fraud:  Identity theft and fraud are a modern-day nuisance that thousands of Canadians deal with annually.  If you’ve had your wallet stolen, or had a home break-in, it’s of added important that you monitor your credit history for accounts that may not belong to you.

Tip:  If you’ve been a victim of fraud you should contact the police, the affected lenders, and the credit bureaus immediately to get further assistance.

Avoid Surprises:  It’s easy to have a few bills slip from memory over the years.  Avoid being reminded about that old cellphone account or unpaid parking ticket when you go to apply for credit.  Likewise for credit cards or lines of credit that you haven’t used in years – these items can be taking up needless room in your credit report.

For assistance in eliminating debts that may be weighing down your credit report, contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.  We can help you achieve a financial fresh start!

With over 25 years of experience, Sands & Associates is BC’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused exclusively on assisting individuals and small businesses achieve their “debt free” goals.

To meet with a representative for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 15 BC offices, please contact us.

Avoid-Debt

Can a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal Cover Government Debt?

There are many different types of debts AND debt solutions available to Canadians, and not all are created equal.  Notwithstanding the appearance of a large number of debt resolution options, there are only two legislated debt options that will give a person relief from their debts, including government-related debts.  Here are some common types of government debts that many people are surprised to learn that a bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal can deal with:

Income tax debt – Outstanding debts with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can be included in a personal bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal.  This includes balances due for personal income tax, GST or corporate tax, as well as corresponding interest and penalties.  All accruing interest is halted, as are wage garnishments or bank account seizures that may be in place.

Did you know?  A Consumer Proposal is the only method that can be used to negotiate a reduced balance owing with CRA.

Student loans – If more than seven years have passed since your last study date, you can be released from your student loans using a bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal.  Even if you have not been out of school for seven years you would still get relief from making payment on those student loans during the bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal period.

Did you know? If only 5 years have passed since you last attended school, it may be possible to apply for your student loan to be relieved under a hardship provision following your bankruptcy.

Medical Service Plan (MSP) – If you were required to pay MSP premiums and incurred an outstanding balance, this will be eliminated with a bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal.  Ongoing premiums (if any) would then resume as normal after the date of filing.

Did you know?  MSP premiums are based on your previous years’ tax returns.  If you’re behind in tax filings this may result in not being eligible for premium assistance.

If you’re facing an unmanageable balance owing from the provincial or federal government of Canada it’s important to find out the facts about your situation as soon as possible.  Interest and penalties can compound very quickly and the CRA can be a powerful creditor.

Contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee if you have questions about how to manage these, and other types of debts.  Licensed Insolvency Trustees  are the only professionals legally able to provide debt solutions to work with these creditors on your behalf.  Consultations are always free, confidential – and at no obligation!

Ready to talk?  Contact us today to arrange for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 15 BC locations.

AskExpertQuestion

Ask the Trustee – September Edition

Licensed Insolvency Trustee Blair Mantin answers your questions about how to manage debts, including options such as Credit Counselling, Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcy in BC!

Q: I need help with my debt, but worry about damaging my credit rating.

A: Credit ratings alone don’t paint a clear picture.  Servicing interest without missing payments can mean good credit history – but it doesn’t mean you’re able to pay debts off in a reasonable amount of time.

Oftentimes a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy can break the cycle of a fading credit rating because it serves as a reset, a fresh start.  A first-time bankruptcy is reflected for 6 years from the date of discharge, and a Consumer Proposal for 2-3 years.  It is still possible to obtain credit in this time, provided you take steps towards rebuilding.

If your debts are causing problems, continuing to struggle will generally hurt your overall financial health and credit rating more in the long-run.

To find out more about your debt options, call us at 1-800-661-3030 or contact us here to arrange for a free, confidential consultation.

PiggyBankLadder-Blog

Sands & Associates: Our Mission

In Canada, Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the only professionals designated by the Federal government to provide legislated debt solutions to people who find themselves in financial difficulty.  Sands & Associates is British Columbia’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused exclusively on providing services to individuals and small businesses.  Founded in 1990, over the past 26 years Sands & Associates has grown to a network of 15 offices located throughout BC.

With changing legislation and often-confusing Internet marketing, the world of debt help and debt resolution providers has become increasingly complex for most consumers over the past decade.  At Sands & Associates we believe it is our job to help consumers understand their options and, day in and day out, we do this for free.  Licensed Insolvency Trustees are a trusted resource for hundreds of thousands of Canadians each year.

Our Associates, Deane Gurney, Geoff Orrell, Blair Mantin and Raj Hara have extensive knowledge across a range of restructuring, consulting, financial advisory and accounting engagements.  They believe “our strength is our people” and that continually investing in our staff has led to the growth of Sands & Associates, as well as our receipt of multiple Consumer Choice Awards in the lower mainland, for five years running.

We are proud to have a compassionate, non-judgmental team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees, qualified Insolvency Counsellors and Estate Managers available to assist those who contact us regarding their financial affairs.  We believe that money problems can happen to anyone and strive to increase financial literacy in the communities we serve.

We feel it is essential to fully understand all of your financial options in order to make informed decisions about your specific situation and are committed to ensuring that we give clear, concise information to those seeking our assistance and knowledge.

Where you can find us

Locations-All-Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Mainland

Vancouver Island

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Ready to talk?  Contact us today to arrange for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 15 BC locations.

BackToSchool

Back-to-School Budget Hacks

Read our top 7 back-to-school budget tips to help prepare your kids for the classroom, without feeling the financial pinch!

Click the infographic to enlarge.

Click the infographic to enlarge.

To meet with a representative for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 15 BC offices, please contact us.

CutDebt-Blog

How Much Debt will a Consumer Proposal Eliminate?

Although filing a Consumer Proposal is a debt management option that has been around for some time, it’s only in recent years that more Canadians have become aware of this powerful alternative to bankruptcy.  A Consumer Proposal allows you to make a legal arrangement with your creditors wherein you’ll only have to repay a portion of your debts – in full settlement – with no interest, fees or additional penalties.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for debts to be reduced by 70-80%!  Consumer Proposals can only be filed by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (“LIT”) and have substantial advantages compared to traditional credit counselling programs or debt consolidation loans.

One of the many benefits of a Consumer Proposal is that it is tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual.  Let’s review some of the factors that come into play when assessing a person’s ability to file a Consumer Proposal, and share some real-life examples of how much debt some individuals we’ve assisted were able to eliminate:

Consumer Proposal key success factor #1: Total amount of debt – The total amount of debt is important as a proposal can only succeed if you are able to repay a ‘meaningful’ portion of the debt outstanding.  If the debts are such that you are able to afford to repay at least 20-40% of the balance, then a consumer proposal can be a great fit.

Interest will automatically be frozen by law on the debt – this is significant as it means the debt will not continue to grow.  We often meet with people making large monthly payments on their debts, but because of accruing interest they’re never able to pay the debt off completely.

Consumer Proposal key success factor #2: Monthly household income – The household budget plays the largest factor in determining what sort of repayment terms will make for a successful Consumer Proposal.  Family-size and personal budgets need to be carefully considered to ensure that your Consumer Proposal gives you breathing room and allows you to have manageable finances, debt-free.

Here are a few examples that show how three Consumer Proposal worked for people who each had a very different set of circumstances.  You can see how the settlement to their creditors varied depending on income, the amount of debt, and their personal situations:

Example #1

  • 35-year old skilled tradesman with health issues
  • Held approximately $55,000 in consumer debts
    • Creditors were calling him daily
    • Minimum payments were taking up half of his $3,200 monthly income

His Consumer Proposal was filed, which stopped all interest, stopped all the calls and reduced the debts from $55,000 to $23,400 in total.   He agreed to make monthly payments of $650 over a 36 month period.

Example #2

  • 43-year old woman who had previous periods of unemployment
  • Was carrying around $9,000 of consumer debts
    • Multiple payday loans

For her Consumer Proposal she made monthly payments of $200 a month for a total of 24 months.  We were able to settle her debts in full at $4,800 total, with no interest or added fees.

Example #3

  • 70-year old widowed woman with increased living costs
  • Had around $17,000 of consumer debts

Her Consumer Proposal called for repayment of $6,300, by way of monthly payments of $150 for 42 months, which would reduce her debts by around 80% in full settlement. 

When trying to determine just how much of your debt could be eliminated using a Consumer Proposal it’s always best to meet with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee face-to-face.  There is no charge for this meeting and it’s also an opportunity to find out about other possible options you may have available to create a debt-free future.

Contact us today for a free, confidential assessment of your situation and options in one of our 15 BC offices.