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Man Posing as Students Convicted in $1.4 Million Loan Scheme

Man Posing as Students Convicted in $1.4 Million Loan Scheme


A Louisiana man was convicted on Wednesday of defrauding the federal student loan system of more than $1.4 million in an elaborate scheme that involved posing as students and hiring impersonators to get financial aid he then pocketed.

The man, Elliott Sterling, of Baton Rouge, obtained grants and loans intended for 180 students by using their personal information to fill out federal financial aid applications and enroll them in classes at Baton Rouge Community College from September 2017 to November 2019, prosecutors said.

Mr. Sterling, who was 32 when he was charged in September 2020, took most of the financial aid money for himself and spent more than $253,000 of it at casinos in Louisiana, Nevada and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

A jury in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana convicted Mr. Sterling on 15 counts of wire fraud, financial aid fraud and money laundering. The FBI had seized about $422,600 of the proceeds, which the jury ordered be forfeited.

Mr. Sterling, who does not have a law degree, represented himself in court this week, saying he was innocent and claiming that he was being punished for “making money,” The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, reported. Mr. Sterling did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Edd Cole, special agent in charge of the southwestern regional office of the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, said in a statement that the office was “committed to fighting student aid fraud and will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who orchestrates or participates in these types of crime.”

Baton Rouge Community College said in a statement that it hoped that Mr. Elliott’s conviction would deter others “seeking to deceive and misuse the federal student loan process.”

Kizzy Payton, a spokeswoman for the college, said on Saturday that the fraudulent activity was first brought to the school’s attention after the FBI received an alert from BankMobile, a banking service the college uses to process financial aid.

“We then partnered with the FBI and maintained our strong internal controls to help minimize the impact of the fraudulent activity and provided all the requested documents to support the investigation,” Ms. Payton said.

Mr. Sterling first approached potential students to enroll in classes in September 2017 and offered to help them for a fee. He also promised some of the students that they could get financial aid that they would not need to repay.

To collect federal grants and loans, Mr. Sterling used the students’ personal information and coupled it with fraudulent obituaries, fraudulent diplomas and other falsified details about their background to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA.

Most of the applicants did not qualify for federal financial aid without the faked documents, including 145 students who had not actually received a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as a GED, and students who were incarcerated, prosecutors said. The students typically did not have access to their accounts with FAFSA, the college or the bank accounts that received the financial aid.

None of the students made academic progress at the college and 172 failed or withdrew from every class they were enrolled in, prosecutors said.

In one case, Mr. Sterling collected nearly $7,000 in federal student aid on behalf of a student but ultimately only gave the student $1,000.

Mr. Sterling concealed his role in preparing the financial aid documents and signed a form promising to repay the Department of Education for the loan, a master promissory note, posing as the student.

Most students who were awarded money told investigators that they were unaware that they had applied for student loans and that Mr. Sterling was the one who had signed notes promising that they would repay the loans.

Mr. Sterling went with many of the students to the college campus to help them complete the financial aid process. He also occasionally presented himself as a student and offered to pay individuals to impersonate students at the financial aid office.

In addition to the student loan scheme, Mr. Sterling also received a $90,000 loan from the Small Business Administration for his business, Sterling Educational Consulting LLC, after he falsified his company’s revenue in the application for aid meant to help businesses affected by the Covid- 19 pandemic.

Mr. Sterling’s sentencing is scheduled for July 7.



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Toledo Council approves $2.8 million loan | News, Sports, Jobs

 Toledo Council approves $2.8 million loan |  News, Sports, Jobs








Tama County Economic Development Director Katherine Ollendieck updates the Toledo City Council during their March 14 meeting regarding the progress of the Iowa Juvenile Home site assessment for asbestos. On Monday the council formally entered into a loan agreement of up to $2.8 million to develop the vacant land surrounding the former juvenile home that will be renovated by South Tama Schools in the coming year. — Photo by Darvin Graham

Toledo Chief of Police Nathan Shepard (right) congratulates Sergeant Dan Quigley (left) on 10 years of service with the city department. Quigley received the award during the regular meeting of the Toledo City Council on March 14. — Photo by Darvin Graham

The city of Toledo formalized an agreement Monday for a loan of up to $2.8 million aimed at financing the infrastructure development for housing on and around the former Iowa Juvenile Home (IJH) property in Toledo.

The development work is planned for both the four acres of vacant city-owned land directly south of the IJH property as well as additional acres within the IJH property to the south and east of the main school building that will be the new home of the South Tama County Middle School.

The city’s infrastructure work will include construction of streets, water and sewer systems as well as sidewalks and stormwater drainage throughout the housing development.

Before the housing infrastructure work is to begin, the city will need to complete demolition of the IJH cottage buildings that surround the main school building so the land can be surveyed and formally divided between the school and the city.

An exact plan for the development has not been finalized though it’s expected to yield several lots for construction of single-family homes.

Toledo taxpayers will see an increase in their property taxes as a result of the city’s borrowing with the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation rising from 16.63159 during the current fiscal year to 18.03248 in the upcoming year.

City officials said they are exploring a tax increment financing (TIF) arrangement for the upcoming housing development area that could help offset some of the cost to taxpayers.

The loan agreement, which passed through a public hearing without comment and through the council by a 4-0 vote, will also serve to finance $60,000 for a new police vehicle and roughly $317,000 going toward refinancing the city’s outstanding loan for the Kid’s Corner Daycare Center .

The loan was taken out through the State Bank of Toledo for 15 years at a rate of 2.95 percent interest.

The city will retain roughly half of its $6 million debt capacity once the newest loan is in place. Other outstanding debt the city is holding includes a loan for the construction of the Toledo Water Plant in 2014-15 and a loan for the 2005 construction of the Tama-Toledo Family Aquatic Center.

The loan for the water plant is currently being paid for through city water revenues and the aquatic center is being paid for by the city’s local option sales tax fund.

In other business…

Spring citywide clean-up days were set by the council for April 27 and 28. The Toledo Public Works Department will be providing curbside pick-up for junk and garbage on the 27th and for brush on the 28th. Further details will be published as the dates get closer. For questions or more information contact Toledo City Hall.

Toledo Police Sergeant Dan Quigley was honored by his department and the city for 10 years of service to the Toledo Police Department. Toledo Police Chief Nathan Shepard also updated the council on the training process of newly hired officer Colin Price. Price recently completed his field training with the department and is now working full-time, primarily during night shifts.

The council approved advertisement for bids to mow three city-owned parcels at Toledo Heights, the Reinig Center and in the Columbian addition. The bids will be for a one-year contract. Previously the city issued three-year mowing contract bids, however it was decided to lower the term given the impact of gas prices on the bidding process.



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FBR offers to pick cost of loans

FBR offers to pick cost of loans

 

ISLAMABAD:

In a bizarre move, the Federal Board of Revenue has offered the pharmaceutical companies to pick the cost of loans that these firms have to take due to a delay in clearance of their genuine refunds by the tax machinery.

The decision by the FBR is tantamount to an admission that the cost of doing business of the medicines producing companies has gone up due to imposition of 17% sales tax on the their raw material through a mini-budget and subsequent delay in payment of their refunds .

It was decided that FBR and Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association would jointly evolve a mechanism to estimate the hike in cost of doing business on the back of amendments in the sales tax regime, according to a communication between the association and the FBR.

The official communication further revealed that both sides would find ways and means to abate the additional impact in the cost of doing business to the extent of markup which would result from additional borrowing as working capital due to enhanced Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) refunds cycle.

The FBR chairman had floated the idea of ​​picking the interest cost against the loans that the companies will take for meeting their day to day expenditures, said PPMA Chairman Qazi Mansoor Dilawar. However, he said that the proposal was not feasible.

In the budget, the government had slapped 17% GST on the APIs but promised to refund the amount within 72 hours.

But the FBR does not have legal authority to pick the interest cost of loans that companies take to offset the impact of blocked refunds on their working capital. This also reflects that the claimed tax collection included taxpayers’ money that is being used to show higher revenues.

After resisting temptation to use taxpayers’ refunds to inflate revenues for quite some time, the FBR has again started delaying the refund payments due to shortfall against the monthly targets.

Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Christopher Wilson said on March 7 that US companies had complained against blockage of their tax refunds by the FBR.

Last month, the FBR had given a presentation to the finance minister about the prospects of revenue collection in the current fiscal year. In its presentation, the FBR had informed the finance minister that the yearly collection will get a boost of about Rs75 billion due to a delayed mechanism in paying tax refunds to the pharmaceutical companies.

Dilawar said that the FBR currently owed Rs2 billion in refunds to the members of the PPMA for the period of starting from January 16 to February 15.

There are roughly 600 pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan and out of those, around 269 are the members of the PPMA. The pending refund amount is expected to be far higher than Rs2 billion since the figure is exclusive of non-PPMA members refunds.

While speaking at Express News show, The Review, Qazi Dilawar warned that the medicines prices may phenomenally go up, if FBR could not develop a mechanism to timely pay stuck up refunds.

FBR has issued rules which state that pharmaceutical companies would receive refunds only after the medicines are consumed but the companies are demanding that their refunds should be cleared at the purchase stage of the APIs.

The PPMA on Saturday held a meeting with FBR Chief Commissioner Lahore Tariq Chaudhry who agreed that the companies should get refunds at the purchase stage, said the chairman PPMA. But Chaudhry sought some time to work out a mechanism.

Mansoor said that the manufacturing companies buy the input material in bulk to save cost and sometimes it takes about a year to fully utilize the input materials.

FBR spokesman Asad Tahir was not available for comments. He had been requested to comment under which law the FBR was empowered to pay interest rate on the loans that a company will take for its working capital purposes.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin held another meeting with a delegation of the Pakistan Pharmaceuticals Association.

Tarin had reassured that the government was fully committed to addressing the issues of the pharmaceutical industry. The finance minister further directed FBR chairman to take possible steps for the settlement of the issues of the pharmaceutical industry related to sales tax on APIs in coordination with the representatives of the pharmaceutical Industry.

However like the previous meetings, the industry’s issues remained unresolved.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th2022.

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UAE: How will banks recover outstanding car, personal loans if I lose my job? -News

 UAE: How will banks recover outstanding car, personal loans if I lose my job?  -News


Learn the legal proceedings if you’re unable to pay back the loans



By Ashish Mehta

Published: Sun 20 Mar 2022, 10:21 AM

Question: I work in a Dubai-based firm and my job doesn’t look too steady at the moment. I have availed of two loans: One is a personal one, and the other is car finance. I have about four years to go before the loans are paid back. Can you please advise what the legal proceedings against me will be if I lose my job and am unable to pay back the loans?

Reply: Pursuant to your queries, the provisions of Notice No. 3692/2012 of Central Bank of the UAE pertaining to General Terms & Conditions and Loan Agreements texts drafted and approved by Emirates Bank Association (the ‘Loan Agreements Formats Approved by Central Bank of UAE’ ); Resolution of the Cabinet No. 33 of 2020 Amending Certain Provisions of Resolution of the Cabinet No. 57 of 2018 on the Regulations of the Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Code (the ‘Cabinet Resolution No. 33 of 2020) ; and Resolution of the Cabinet No. 75 of 2021 Amending Certain Provisions of Resolution of the Cabinet No. 33 of 2020 on the Regulations of the Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Code (the ‘Cabinet Resolution No. 75 of 2021 ‘) are applicable.

It should be noted that in the UAE, when a personal or a car loan facility is granted to a borrower, the lender may collect cheque/s as security against the loan amount. This is in addition to a signed loan agreement or a signed application form which contains the terms and conditions.

An individual failing to pay three consecutive installments or six non-consecutive ones on the repayment of personal loans may be considered as an event of default. This is in accordance with Article 4(4) of the Personal Loan Agreement format of Loan Agreements Formats Approved by Central Bank of UAE, which states: “The loan elapses and all the installations, interests and any other fees and expenses become due and payable immediately without having to give any notification or any court ruling and without prejudice to any other rights of the bank according to this agreement or in accordance with the law – in the event that the borrower failed to pay three consecutive installments or six non-consecutive installments of the monthly facilities without approval of the bank.”

For car loans, an individual needs to provide an undertaking to the lender stating that in the event of a default in repayment of installations, the car may be seized and auctioned. If the auction proceeds are less than the car loan due, the borrower shall be responsible to pay the remaining balance along with all expenses, fees pertaining to seizure and auction. This is in accordance with 4(4) of the Auto Loan Agreement format of Loan Agreements Formats Approved by Central Bank of UAE.

An individual failing to pay three consecutive installments or six non-consecutive ones on the repayment of the car loans may be considered an event of default.

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Therefore, in case of a default of personal loan and/or car loan, the lender may choose to deposit your security cheque(s) for collection. Should the said security checks be dishonoured due to insufficiency of funds, the lender may file a payment order case against you in accordance with Cabinet Resolution 33 of 2020 and Cabinet Resolution No. 75 of 2021.

Based on the payment order case judgment, the lender may commence execution proceedings against you if you do not file an appeal within 15 days of judgment.

Additionally, the lender may file a civil case against you in a court to recover the outstanding debt.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practice law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.





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Governments Cause Inflation, Not Banks Making Loans

Governments Cause Inflation, Not Banks Making Loans


Christopher Wynne is a US-born businessman based in Moscow. His company, PJ Western, owns and operates PapaJohn’s Pizza locations throughout Russia. His businesses employ over 9,000 people within the country, which at the very least is hopefully a reminder of who will suffer attempts by foreign nations to make “Russia” pay for the sins of its leader.

Notable about the 45-year old entrepreneur is where the financing for his businesses comes from. According to the New York Timesbackers include Alex Ovechkin, the future Hall of Fame hockey star for the Washington Capitals, the Russian private equity firm Baring Vostok, plus a Finnish private equity operation by the name of CapMan.

There are all sorts of businesses and businessmen in Moscow and around Russia since the happy dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, which on its own renders mention of Wynne’s sources of finance kind of humdrum. Figure that up until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US investment banking giants Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley could claim substantial commercial activity in Russia. Both announced a pullout last week, but it’s not unreasonable to speculate that their departure will prove short-lived.

What’s useful about the financing of Wynne’s PJ Western and Russian finance more broadly is that it illustrates yet again the global nature of capital. It knows no borders. Where money is treated well (and sometimes where it’s not treated well such that capital commitments are met with impressive rates of return) is the driver of capital flows.

This is worth keeping in mind as monetarist philosophers like Berenberg Capital Markets senior economist Mickey Levy opines oh so predictably on what the Federal Reserve should do about inflation. When it comes to interest rates and capital access, it seems we’re all central planners now. Members of the Right who were plainly influenced by the late Milton Friedman’s mostly free-market views also plainly embrace his embrace of the central bank as capital allocator. Which means Levy isn’t unique in calling for the Fed to “raise rates and take away the accommodative monetary policy that is fueling underlying inflation and rising inflationary expectations.” Please think about Levy’s expressed desires in terms of Wynne.

In doing so, try to remember that the United States isn’t some autarkic island of economic activity as Levy’s models would have you believe. Assuming the Fed can shrink credit access from the banks through which it projects its wildly overstated influence, banks are but a small and shrinking portion of total credit not just in the US, but around the world. Stated basically precisely because it’s basic, what the Fed takes will be made up for by market actors around the world. Goodness, assuming the Fed’s rate machinations actually result in more expensive credit (not very likely, but let’s pretend), that would merely mean that the central bank’s actions would create fatter margins for domestic and global capital providers.

But wait, can’t the Fed shrink so-called “money supply” inside banks through sales of interest-bearing assets to banks? Not really. The Fed buys highly marketable and liquid securities from banks, and by extension sells highly marketable and liquid securities to banks when its aim is to reduce their lending. Which is why all the fiddling is so meaningless. If banks find intriguing lending opportunities, there’s a big and liquid market for the securities on their books.

It’s all a reminder that the Fed can’t shrink money and credit availability where each will be treated well. Finance is lucrative. Money and credit follow opportunity. Levy’s alleged solutions to what he deems inflation will achieve much less than nothing. Neither would a reversal of what Levy desires. In other words, the Fed can’t stimulate what isn’t economically viable. Assuming a lack of credible financing options in and around the US, Fed fiddling won’t alter this truth. Basically, markets work. While economists continue to try to make markets do as they wish, reality always intrudes. The Fed can’t make Palo Alto a hundred poorer, nor can it make East St. Louis a hundred richer.

All of which raises a question: if the Fed can’t shrink credit, how can it tamp down inflationary pressures? It’s a useful question. The answer is that credit is produced in the real economy. We borrow money for what it can be exchanged for. Unless the productive around the world stop going to work, credit will always be abundant where it’s treated well.

Which brings us to inflation. Leave it to politicians and economists to blame inflation on lending. What a joke. Why on earth would delayed consumption by one party that is shifted to another party cause inflation? To find inflation in the shifting of resources from one set of hands to near-term better hands to redefine the word. Which is what Levy does. Leave it to economists to blame finance, as opposed to government, for inflation.

The economist also fears “a stock of personal savings” of $2 trillion+ will add to inflationary pressures. Translated, Levy fears a so-called “savings glut.” A non-economist by the name of Henry Hazlitt once marveled that even the ignorant could fear too much savings, but Levy does. Since he does, he wants the Fed to act. Back to reality, savings by their very name never sit idle. Levy would have readers believe $2 trillion has sat dormant only for it to suddenly emerge such that prices soar. Demand-driven inflation! No, and no.

First, no act of saving ever subtracts from demand. Second, demand doesn’t cause inflation in the first place. That is so because all spending is about tradeoffs. If our spending is suddenly focused on airline tickets such that demand outpaces supply and prices rise, that just means we have fewer dollars for other goods and services.

Inflation is a devaluation of the currency. Which means it’s always and everywhere a policy choice entered into by government. And since it’s a policy choice, the solution to what some deem inflation is a stronger, more stable dollar. Nothing more, nothing less. If Treasury wants a stronger and more stable dollar, it need only communicate that. Markets will comply. Indeed, if markets don’t “fight” an outsourced arm of Congress and Treasury (meaning the Fed), they certainly won’t right Treasury on the matter of a more credible dollar.

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Applications open for veterinary student loans through Illinois Farm Bureau – Shaw Local

Applications open for veterinary student loans through Illinois Farm Bureau – Shaw Local


The Illinois Farm Bureau is accepting applications for its Illinois Veterinary Education and Training loan program. Loans are available to second-year veterinary students attending an accredited college of veterinary medicine in the US and who are focusing on Illinois food animal medicine.

The IVET Program helps offset the high cost of veterinary education, according to a news release from the Illinois Farm Bureau. The program loans up to $40,000 to as many as three veterinary students each year. Loans are made over a period of two to three years.

IVET award recipients are given a $1,500 stipend during their fourth year in school to help pay expenses associated with clinical rotations. Loans are repaid over five years, during which graduates must commit to working in a food animal practice that services Illinois livestock producers.

“Illinois Farm Bureau encourages veterinary students to pursue a career in caring for food animals,” Tasha Bunting, IFB associate director of commodity and livestock programs, said in a news release. “To succeed, farmers need the services of a food-animal veterinarian to help them care for their beef cattle, swine, sheep and poultry. It’s an incredibly rewarding career field that has seen an increase in demand in recent years.”

Applications are due Sunday, May 15, and can be found online at www.ilfb.org/IVET. The selection committee will interview eligible applicants in spring 2022. Successful applicants will be notified by mail. Loan disbursements begin in August.

Since the Illinois Farm Bureau established the IVET program in 2005, the organization has awarded more than $550,000 to 27 veterinary students who focus on caring for food animals in Illinois. For more information about the program, contact Tasha Bunting at 309-557-2993 or tbunting@ilfb.org.

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How buy now, pay later loans could alter credit

Liz Weston    PHOTO CREDIT: The Associated Press


Expanding access to credit is a worthy goal. Too many people can’t get a mortgage or an emergency loan at a reasonable rate because they can’t show a solid credit history. They might pay more for insurance or make large security deposits to get utilities or rent an apartment.

Recently, the three major credit bureaus announced plans to incorporate “buy now, pay later” plans, a hugely popular type of point-of-sale financing that until now remained mostly outside the traditional credit ecosystem.

But no one should expect that their buy now, pay later purchases instantly will open the door to better credit. If you want reliable access to the largest number of lenders, building credit through traditional means is the better route.

BUY NOW, PAY LATER LOANS SOAR IN POPULARITY

If you bought anything online recently, you likely encountered a buy now, pay later option that offered to split your purchase into a few installment payments. Retailers partner with lenders such as Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna to offer the payment plans, which typically don’t require a hard credit check and might not charge interest. With the popular four payment option, for example, you pay off your balance in four equal, interest-free installments due every other week. Instead of charging interest, lenders get a percentage of what you spend from the retailer, similar to the interchange fees charged by credit cards.

Buy now, pay later services proliferated as the pandemic shifted much shopping online, but the plans are available for travel and health care and as an option at some brick-and-mortar retail stores. Nearly 100 million people used a buy now, pay later option in the past year, says Liz Pagel, senior vice president of consumer lending for credit bureau TransUnion.

Like all easy credit, these plans can tempt people to overspend. Buy now, pay later loans also are largely unregulated and lack the consumer protections that cover credit card and debit purchases. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating how buy now, pay later lenders use the payment and shopping data they harvest from customers.

CREDIT OFFICES ARE WORKING OUT THE DETAILS

The credit bureaus want access to that payment data, hoping they can offer more traditional lenders insights into how these borrowers might handle other types of credit.

The offices aren’t being altruistic, of course. They’re private businesses that want to profit. But in doing so, the bureaus could help expand access to credit by identifying borrowers who could likely handle credit among the millions of “invisibles” — people who don’t have a credit history — as well as those who have too little information in their files to generate credit scores. TransUnion’s Pagel has called buy now, pay later data the greatest financial inclusion opportunity in a generation.

How the bureaus will go about this is a work in progress. Two of them, TransUnion and Experian, say that for now, the information won’t be included in regular credit reports, but lenders will be able to request it. The third bureau, Equifax, says it will incorporate the data into people’s credit reports.

But the leading credit scoring company, FICO, is studying buy now, pay later data to see how well it predicts how people might handle other credit. There’s not even agreement among the bureaus yet about whether the loans should be treated as revolving debt, like credit cards, or as installment loans, which typically last much longer.

“It’s such an important question because how it’s reported makes a definite difference in how it will impact the score,” says Ethan Dornhelm, FICO’s vice president of scores and predictive analytics.

HOW YOU CAN BUILD BETTER CREDIT NOW

If you’re trying to build or rebuild credit, you probably don’t want to wait around for these details to get sorted out.

Consider asking someone responsible with credit to add you as an authorized user to their credit card. Other options include a credit-builder loan or a secured credit card from a lender that reports to all three bureaus.

Credit-builder loans, offered by credit unions or online, place the money you borrow into a savings account or certificate of deposit that you can reclaim after you make all the monthly payments. A secured credit card typically gives you a line of credit equal to the deposit you make at the issuing bank. These aren’t instant fixes for bad or no credit, of course, but they’re proven ways to expand your own access to credit now.

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston. NerdWallet staff writer Bev O’Shea contributed to this report.



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