Cosby Accusers’ Testimony Points To ‘Signature’ Crime

(AP Photo)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The judge who presided over Bill Cosby‘s criminal case said he let five other accusers testify at the sex-assault trial because their accounts had “chilling similarities” that pointed to a “signature” crime.

A jury last year convicted Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, after hearing from her and the five others. Cosby, 81, is appealing his conviction based on the women’s testimony and other key rulings by Montgomery County Judge Stephen O’Neill.

Cosby began serving a three- to 10-year prison term in September at a state prison near Philadelphia.

O’Neill, in a lengthy opinion filed Tuesday, said he found “striking similarities” in the women’s descriptions of their encounters with the comedian long beloved as “America’s Dad.”

“In each instance, (he) met a substantially younger woman, gained her trust, invited her to a place where he was alone with her, provided her with a drink or drug, and sexually assaulted her once she was rendered incapacitated,” O’Neill wrote. “These chilling similarities rendered (their) testimony admissible.”

O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial in June 2017, when a jury deadlock led to a mistrial. Cosby was retried in April 2018, months after the #MeToo movement burst into view with sexual asssault accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood and beyond.

In the ruling Tuesday, O’Neill said the new defense team that handled Cosby’s retrial never directly challenged him on the difference in his two trial rulings about the other accusers’ testimony. At any rate, he said, judges are not bound by their prior decisions.

The defense, in outlining their appeal issues, have also argued that Cosby had a binding agreement with a former prosecutor, Bruce Castor, that he would never be charged in the case. O’Neill again rejected the claim Tuesday, finding the signed press release from Castor – used to bolster the claim – falls short of an immunity agreement.

Castor had investigated Constand’s complaint for about a month in 2005 before deciding not to bring a case, questioning why she waited a year to contact police. Before the year was out, 13 other accusers had come forward to support the lawsuit Constand filed against Cosby. He settled the case for $ 3.4 million.

When Cosby’s deposition testimony from the lawsuit became public in 2015, and the criminal case was reopened, Castor for the first time told his successor about the supposed “non-prosecution” agreement. He forwarded their correspondence to Cosby’s defense lawyer and testified as a defense witness at a 2016 hearing, O’Neill noted.

O’Neill also rejected defense efforts to have him step down from the case because of his alleged bias, and outlined the four-year legal process that led up to Cosby’s conviction and sentencing.

Cosby’s latest team of lawyers has been awaiting the opinion so they can proceed with the appeal in Pennsylvania courts. The lead lawyer, Brian Perry, did not immediately return a phone message on Tuesday.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt, in a statement, said “O’Neill has a habitual habit of always trying to cover his many errors, which continues to show his hatred towards Mr. Cosby.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

[ione_media_gallery id=”679847″ overlay=”true”]

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Maid of honour 101: How to score major brownie points with the bride

From maid of honour duties and hen party planning, to the truth around the speeches. Here’s everything you need to know…

Bridesmaids
REX

Words by Maisie Bovingdon

The wedding season is upon us, as Idris ElbaJude Law and Joe Jonas have all tied the knot within the last week.

With brides and grooms dishing out the honours to friends and families ahead of their big day, a lot of people in the wedding party are left questioning what their roles actually involve.

For the bride a maid of honour – or matron of honour as some refer to it – is considered the chief bridesmaid, so the pressure is on to fulfil all the duties necessary; plan a hen party to impress (not embarrass) the bride, and be at her beck and call for the months running up to the big day. But there’s more.

I have never been a bridesmaid, or maid of honour (obvs), but last year my sister said those all important words ‘Will you be my maid of honour?’ After I squealed, screamed and sobbed (and obviously said yes) a sudden fear enveloped me because I don’t know what I’m meant to do, or plan (aside from the hen) or if I’m meant to give a speech on her special day – if I do I’m going to be a blubbery mess and not get a word out, and most importantly I d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶  can’t let her down.

I spoke exclusively to wedding guru Sarah Allard – who is the Editor of Hitched – as well as, professional bridesmaid Tiffany Wright, and the Marie Claire team to get the top tips for being the best MOH, and to find out what a maid of honour’s duties really involve; from hen party planning to their role on the day, the speeches to their gifts, and whether brides need to have a maid of honour at all…

Maid of honour duties

The panicked question all maid of honour’s ask themselves is ‘what do I actually need to do?’ Answer: to plan the hen party and be the bride’s support.

Sarah exclusively told us: ‘As the maid of honour, your job is to be the bride’s right-hand woman for anything and everything they need throughout their wedding planning journey.

‘The maid of honour role has always been an important role in weddings. Helping to choose the dress and then organising the hen are the two biggies. The bride is going to have a lot on her plate, so being there to offer advice on the dress, and taking the pain of another event to organise out of her hands will really help her out.

‘Traditionally the maid of honour would spend several days with the bride leading up to the wedding day to make sure she was ready for the wedding.  But the rules are a lot more relaxed now.’

Similarly, professional bridesmaid Tiffany Wright insisted communication with the bride is paramount.

She said: ‘The thing I advice maid of honour to do is talk to the bride as soon as possible and find out what is important to her when it comes to the duties of the maid of honour. Some brides might just want the emotional support whilst others want practical help, so make sure you know where you stand from the beginning.’

Aside from organising the hen party and bridesmaids, as well as helping the bride on her special day, whether it’s holding her dress when she goes to the loo or her bouquet as she signs the wedding certificate, you are also a moral adviser listening to all the bride’s woes and dilemmas.

Tiffany added: ‘Although the most of the bridesmaids probably want to get involved in the planning too, it’s huge job to set up the bridesmaid WhatsApp group, book flights, arrange games. You are the sos girl when things go wrong.

‘On the day you have to look after the brides bouquet when the bride and groom go through their vows. If you have your own bouquet hand it to one of the other bridesmaids to hold.

‘But, most importantly, make sure the brides eats and drinks (water!) no one wants a brides to pass out from dehydration or lack of food on the day so keep an eye on her and check she is eating and drinking.’

TIPS: Where do we start?

Sarah advised: ‘Start by organising a brunch for just the two of you, bring a notebook and start brainstorming some ideas with her – what kind of hen do she might like? When is the wedding? What is the colour scheme?

‘By the time the big day comes around, all the planning will be done, so on the day it’s all about being there to support the bride. One job that is paramount on the day, but often forgotten about, is to straighten the train of the bride’s dress when you get to the front so try to remember that – it’ll bug her in all the photos if you don’t!’

Tiffany added: ‘Make sure you have a list of all of the wedding vendors and contact numbers of anyone important incase anything goes wrong.’

Noted!

bridesmaids, wedding invitation

Maid of honour gifts

Maid of honour gifts are subject to each bride, and will depend on their budget.  Some may gift their bridal party when they dish out the maid of honour title, others may give their MOH a token present on the day or on the eve of the wedding day, while others may gift something post-wedding to show their appreciation, but there are some brides who may wish to do all three – if they are feeling generous.

Sarah said: ‘It’s tradition for the bride to give her maid of honour and bridesmaids gifts too.’

Marie Claire’s Beauty Editor, Katie Thomas, shared her bridal party gifts advice. She said: ‘Buying your bridesmaids gifts is really lovely. I bought them each a pair of earrings to wear on the day and some pyjamas to wear the night before.’

But does the maid of honour give a gift?  Again, this is down to each individual.

Sarah said: ‘If the bride has asked you to pay for your dress you don’t have to. But if you still want to give her gift, then focus on something more sentimental and a small token rather than splashing the cash, such as a framed photo from your favourite holiday or a bag full of goodies for the morning after the wedding.’

hen party ideas

Bridesmaids

Maid of honour speeches

It is most common the father of the bride, best man and even the groom perfect a speech on the newlyweds wedding day.

However, it has become more common for the maid of honour or a bridesmaid to say a few words too. As daunting as they may be it’s your time to celebrate your bond with them.  After all, if the groomsman can brag about the groom, so why can’t the maid of honour do the same?

Sarah explained: ‘We’re seeing more and more maids of honour give speeches on the big day. It’s such a brilliant way to celebrate your friendship and the ultimate way to show her how much she means to you.’

But professional bridesmaid, Tiffany, has insisted it is a conversation you need to have with the bride.

She said: ‘It didn’t used to be tradition but recently more maid of honours are giving speeches. Ask the bride if it is something she would like you to do.

‘Don’t try and compete with the best man. Best man’s speeches are renowned for being risky so keep it classy with yours.’

TIPS: What should the speech include?

‘Remember that while the story of you both getting locked out of halls during your first year of uni is still hilarious for the two of you, not everyone in the room will want to hear 20 minutes of inside jokes. Instead, focus on a couple of anecdotes (how you met or a special milestone you share), and a poignant message for your friend. I love the idea of writing a poem’, said Sarah.

Tiffany advised: ‘Explain to everyone why the bride is your best friend, remind her of anecdotes when you were younger and tell her why her groom is lucky to have her. Sentimentality goes a long way in a MOH speech.’

Maid of honour dresses

What dress the maid of honour should wear is a common question every bride wants to know, as well as who buys them.

Sarah clears this up. She said: ‘It’s really down to what the bride would like on her day. She may want every bridesmaid in a different dress or prefer to have you all in the same, but it’s really up to her and the vision she has for her day, as well as her budget.

‘If you’re worried about your friend choosing something you don’t like, sit down with her beforehand to discuss her ideas and see if you can agree on some styles you both like and that you feel comfortable wearing. If you have a dress you really don’t like, think about how you might be able to alter or adjust it, and then choose the right moment to explain to your friend that you’d like to make some small changes to feel more comfortable.’

There can be a lot of dress fittings for the bride, her bridal party and the maid of honour too, but does the MOH have to go to EVERY fitting?

Sarah added: ‘If the bride asks you to! But if not, it’s not essential for you to be there so long as she is happy and confident to go on her own or with her mum.’

Tiffany has revealed dresses can be styled in different ways, which can suit the whole bridal party.

She said: ‘Fabulous bridesmaid dresses out there than can be worn in numerous different ways, so if you do want to stand out, suggest that you all wear the same dress but that yours is worn slightly differently.’

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Hen party

This is the main role the maid of honour is given the responsibility of planning, but where to start? There’s pressure to please the bride, the stress of who to invite so not to upset the bride, as well as friends of the soon-to-be newlyweds, the fear the bride won’t enjoy it, so there needs to be a happy medium between fun but not too rowdy, and affordable, as well as drama free.

Sarah shared her nuggets of wisdom to make the whole process stress free.  She said: ‘It really depends how well you know the other bridesmaids. If you’re all part of the same friendship group and you’ve planned things together before, then it can be easier to plan.

‘However, if you don’t know the other bridesmaids it can sometimes become tricky when everyone has a different opinion of what the bride would like. Ask the bride for a few bullet points of what she would and wouldn’t like before you get started, so you always have a point of reference to go back to.’

Katie added: ‘The hen party always reveals who puts the most effort in…it’s always very telling!  There’s always a bit of drama. I thought I was going to completely bypass it, but I think its unavoidable.’

But when the hen do has been planned the responsibilities continue. During the actual party the maid of honour has the additional responsibility of being in charge of the kitty.

Tiffany said: ‘It usually falls to the maid of honour to be in charge of the kitty and collecting any money needed for the hen do.’

TIPS: My top tips for planning the hen would be to start planning it as early as you possibly can. This way you can give the guests an idea of the cost immediately and manage expectations of whether it will be in the UK or abroad, and there is time for payments towards the total cost to be spread out and more manageable for those attending, especially if they have other holidays too’ Sarah advised.
With all the hen party planning – do not forget to factor in the bride, who the bridal party pay for.
Sarah continued: ‘Remember that traditionally, you need to add in the cost of the bride, so make sure you give the guests the costs up front – people will be annoyed if you keep adding more as the hen gets closer.’
Tiffany added: ‘Make sure you arrange a hen that THE BRIDE would like, not one that the bridesmaids want. If you bride has told you she doesn’t want penis straws and strippers then respect her and stay away from this.
‘Try and personalise a hen do to your bride. If your bride loves the countryside and good food then book a gorgeous cottage and bring in a chef’, or even opt for a zen do.

How to choose your maid of honour

Picking one person to be your maid of honour can be a huge dilemma for some brides, who fear they will offend the rest of their bridesmaids with their choice.

Katie shared her tips for picking her bridal party, and we are so here for it.  She advised: ‘I didn’t have a maid of honour as, to be honest, the whole asking people to be bridesmaids is awkward enough. I have so many best friends whom I love equally I didn’t like the idea of asking one to be top dog.

‘But choosing my bridesmaids was the easiest and toughest thing I have ever done. Easy because I knew exactly who I wanted by my side, but tough because I wanted around nine people. I’m not keen on lots of bridesmaids so I had to narrow it down, which broke my heart a little. However, I don’t think anyone would have questioned my choices.’

Marie Claire’s Fashion Editor, Penny Goldstone, said: ‘My maid of honour was my sister, which made it an easy choice, rather than picking a best friend within a group of friends. It meant she knew me best too, so was a great organiser, but also that I had that sister relationship with her that meant I didn’t mind telling her if there was something I didn’t like. She was just very good at taking stress off me.’

While some may opt for siblings or their best friend, others feel obliged to return the favour and choose someone to take the role because they were there maid of honour for their wedding, or because some are simply more savvy and organised (we’re not joking!)
Katie added: ‘I have one friend who chose her bridesmaids based on who was the most organised and would be able to throw the best hen do and be the most help in the lead up to the day.’
However, some brides may want to buck the trend and not single out one person as their maid of honour, and will stick with a group of bridesmaids to share the load, while others may even give the title to a male friend.
TIP: ‘Always stick to who you want. Don’t have someone because you feel you have to. Just because someone asked you, doesn’t mean you have to have them.’
You got this!

The post Maid of honour 101: How to score major brownie points with the bride appeared first on Marie Claire.

Marie Claire

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These 5 People Added up to 284 Points to Their Credit Scores by Making the Same Move

Everyone who’s saddled with bad credit has a unique story.

A man burdened with $ 6,000 in unpaid bills. A couple recovering from job loss and foreclosure. A woman who fell behind on payments while living abroad. A single mom with a terminally ill child. A young woman with so much debt she couldn’t even get a credit card.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, first you have to know what you’re dealing with.

Your credit report will give you this information. You can get a free copy of it once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus — but they can be tough to decipher.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and what you should do about it.

Folks who’ve used it tell us it’s a lifesaver.

5 People Who Raised Their Credit Scores Using Credit Sesame

We spoke with five different people who’ve had profound problems with their credit. All five turned things around with Credit Sesame.

James Cooper: +277 Points

James Cooper knows all about having bad credit. As recently as 2017, his credit score was a lousy 524.

“I never had a credit card,” he says. “I had $ 6,000 worth of unpaid bills.”

He vowed to sort out his financial situation and fix his credit.

Although there are legitimate credit repair services, there are also shady ones that demand money upfront and promise way more than they can deliver. Then they’ll milk you for money until you wise up.

Cooper and a friend went through this ordeal with three companies. Then they found Credit Sesame, and the free credit monitoring service taught them how to fix their credit.

Cooper raised his score by 277 points — from 524 to 801 — over the six months from June to November 2017.

Inspired by his experience, now Cooper teaches high school students the importance of good credit.

Jerry Morgan: +120 Points

In 2008, the housing bubble burst. The three-bedroom home in New Port Richey, Florida, where Jerry Morgan and his wife, Vivienne, had lived for 10 years plunged into the foreclosure process.

Then Vivienne lost her job.

By 2017, the family’s financial situation started to look up again. So in September, Morgan decided to address his credit score.

“Frankly, with the experiences we have gone through, I was embarrassed to even check my score,” he said.

Before coming across Credit Sesame, Morgan hadn’t bothered to check his credit score in, well, quite a while. He says finally getting his finances on stable ground encouraged him to take a peek at this three-digit number.

Following recommendations from the service, he’s raised his score 120 points in six months.

Elisabeth Nyang: +168 Points

At the end of 2016, Elisabeth Nyang was in debt to the tune of $ 17,500 — a mix of credit card debt, overdue bills and lingering student loans. She found herself there after two years of living in China.

In China, where it’s difficult to send money to the U.S., Nyang fell behind on her payments. In hindsight, she admits, the difficulty in transferring money was just an excuse — out of sight, out of mind.

But when she decided to move back to the States, she knew she needed to get her finances back on track.

“I can’t live like that,” she remembers thinking.

Since signing up for Credit Sesame in January 2017, Nyang has paid off that $ 17,500 pile of debt and raised her score from 495 to 663. That’s a 168-point jump.

Melinda Smieja: + 284 Points

In 2005, Melinda Smieja’s 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

“So here I am a single mom, and my daughter gets sick,” she explains. “And I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

Between continuing to care for her younger daughter and moving from Seabeck, Washington, to Seattle to be near her 13-year-old’s medical care, she racked up credit card debt.

“I used [a credit card] for dinners, I used it for food,” she says. “For a place to stay. It got to the point where all of my credit cards were maxed out.”

Her credit score was down to 480 by the time she checked. And she’d racked up somewhere between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 in debt on 11 credit cards.

In 2010, an email campaign led her to Credit Sesame, a new company (at the time) offering an easier way to monitor your credit history.

“It was something that I had been searching for [without realizing it],” Smieja explains.

It made her overwhelming situation manageable.

“I could look and I could say, ‘Okay, this is what’s all going on here. This is my debt. This is what’s happening. This is what’s making my credit [interest] high.’”

And she could finally tackle her debts, one at a time. The work wasn’t quick. It was slow and steady — but it paid off.

In 2016, for the first time, Smieja’s credit score hit 680, crossing the line of what lenders consider “good credit.” By late 2017, it was up to 764.

Dana Sitar: +68 Points

At 30, Dana Sitar’s history with credit cards, student loans and medical bills was pretty bad.

Student loan interest was piling up. Hospital bills were out to collection agencies. No one would give her a credit card. She landed a loan for a new car by the skin of her teeth. Her security deposits for car rentals and apartments were through the roof.

She wanted to fix it, but didn’t even know where to start.

Sitar, an editor for The Penny Hoarder, found Credit Sesame in 2016, and today, she’s breathing a little easier.

Credit Sesame, Sitar writes for The Penny Hoarder, is “answering all the questions swirling in my head, keeping me awake at night and threatening a panic attack every time I authorize a credit check.”

Since she started tracking her credit score with the app, she’s watched it rise — slowly but surely — by 68 points.

“Motivated by the easy access to my free credit report card through the app,” she says, “I haven’t been able to ignore my credit like I used to.”

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score

Your credit score is important.

And why is that?

The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.

To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a credit report card for free from Credit Sesame.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

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These 5 People Added up to 284 Points to Their Credit Scores by Making the Same Move

Everyone who’s saddled with bad credit has a unique story.

A man burdened with $ 6,000 in unpaid bills. A couple recovering from job loss and foreclosure. A woman who fell behind on payments while living abroad. A single mom with a terminally ill child. A young woman with so much debt she couldn’t even get a credit card.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, first you have to know what you’re dealing with.

Your credit report will give you this information. You can get a free copy of it once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus — but they can be tough to decipher.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and what you should do about it.

Folks who’ve used it tell us it’s a lifesaver.

5 People Who Raised Their Credit Scores Using Credit Sesame

We spoke with five different people who’ve had profound problems with their credit. All five turned things around with Credit Sesame.

James Cooper: +277 Points

James Cooper knows all about having bad credit. As recently as 2017, his credit score was a lousy 524.

“I never had a credit card,” he says. “I had $ 6,000 worth of unpaid bills.”

He vowed to sort out his financial situation and fix his credit.

Although there are legitimate credit repair services, there are also shady ones that demand money upfront and promise way more than they can deliver. Then they’ll milk you for money until you wise up.

Cooper and a friend went through this ordeal with three companies. Then they found Credit Sesame, and the free credit monitoring service taught them how to fix their credit.

Cooper raised his score by 277 points — from 524 to 801 — over the six months from June to November 2017.

Inspired by his experience, now Cooper teaches high school students the importance of good credit.

Jerry Morgan: +120 Points

In 2008, the housing bubble burst. The three-bedroom home in New Port Richey, Florida, where Jerry Morgan and his wife, Vivienne, had lived for 10 years plunged into the foreclosure process.

Then Vivienne lost her job.

By 2017, the family’s financial situation started to look up again. So in September, Morgan decided to address his credit score.

“Frankly, with the experiences we have gone through, I was embarrassed to even check my score,” he said.

Before coming across Credit Sesame, Morgan hadn’t bothered to check his credit score in, well, quite a while. He says finally getting his finances on stable ground encouraged him to take a peek at this three-digit number.

Following recommendations from the service, he’s raised his score 120 points in six months.

Elisabeth Nyang: +168 Points

At the end of 2016, Elisabeth Nyang was in debt to the tune of $ 17,500 — a mix of credit card debt, overdue bills and lingering student loans. She found herself there after two years of living in China.

In China, where it’s difficult to send money to the U.S., Nyang fell behind on her payments. In hindsight, she admits, the difficulty in transferring money was just an excuse — out of sight, out of mind.

But when she decided to move back to the States, she knew she needed to get her finances back on track.

“I can’t live like that,” she remembers thinking.

Since signing up for Credit Sesame in January 2017, Nyang has paid off that $ 17,500 pile of debt and raised her score from 495 to 663. That’s a 168-point jump.

Melinda Smieja: + 284 Points

In 2005, Melinda Smieja’s 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

“So here I am a single mom, and my daughter gets sick,” she explains. “And I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

Between continuing to care for her younger daughter and moving from Seabeck, Washington, to Seattle to be near her 13-year-old’s medical care, she racked up credit card debt.

“I used [a credit card] for dinners, I used it for food,” she says. “For a place to stay. It got to the point where all of my credit cards were maxed out.”

Her credit score was down to 480 by the time she checked. And she’d racked up somewhere between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 in debt on 11 credit cards.

In 2010, an email campaign led her to Credit Sesame, a new company (at the time) offering an easier way to monitor your credit history.

“It was something that I had been searching for [without realizing it],” Smieja explains.

It made her overwhelming situation manageable.

“I could look and I could say, ‘Okay, this is what’s all going on here. This is my debt. This is what’s happening. This is what’s making my credit [interest] high.’”

And she could finally tackle her debts, one at a time. The work wasn’t quick. It was slow and steady — but it paid off.

In 2016, for the first time, Smieja’s credit score hit 680, crossing the line of what lenders consider “good credit.” By late 2017, it was up to 764.

Dana Sitar: +68 Points

At 30, Dana Sitar’s history with credit cards, student loans and medical bills was pretty bad.

Student loan interest was piling up. Hospital bills were out to collection agencies. No one would give her a credit card. She landed a loan for a new car by the skin of her teeth. Her security deposits for car rentals and apartments were through the roof.

She wanted to fix it, but didn’t even know where to start.

Sitar, an editor for The Penny Hoarder, found Credit Sesame in 2016, and today, she’s breathing a little easier.

Credit Sesame, Sitar writes for The Penny Hoarder, is “answering all the questions swirling in my head, keeping me awake at night and threatening a panic attack every time I authorize a credit check.”

Since she started tracking her credit score with the app, she’s watched it rise — slowly but surely — by 68 points.

“Motivated by the easy access to my free credit report card through the app,” she says, “I haven’t been able to ignore my credit like I used to.”

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score

Your credit score is important.

And why is that?

The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.

To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a credit report card for free from Credit Sesame.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

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Santa Claus came a little late this year — but Wall Street is smiling anyway. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 1,086.25 points on Wednesday — its biggest single-day point gain ever — as solid retail data and a rise in oil prices helped ease recession fears. The historic pop more than offset the 653-point…
Business | New York Post

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She Ditched Her Debt Collectors — and Raised Her Credit Score Nearly 200 Points

Tabatha Pankop spends long days on her feet. She waits tables, sometimes working double shifts for 15 hours at a time. Like most hardworking Americans, she has dreams of financial stability and homeownership.

There was just one problem.

“I just never thought having a low credit score would really impact your everyday life,” the 31-year-old Tampa server says.

Some old, and apparently unpaid, bills had hurt her credit. They included an old cell phone bill and an old power bill, among others.

“I guess a deposit or some type of rent that I thought I paid off, but I didn’t,” she says.

With her credit score dropping into the low 500s, she and her boyfriend were living in an older apartment, because that’s all her credit would allow. Pankop dreamed of buying her own townhouse, but that looked out of reach.

The aggressive phone calls from debt collectors didn’t help, either.

“Debt collectors — ah, man, they just literally harass you,” Pankop says. “They will say things that are inappropriate, and sometimes they can make you cry because they will say things that are very rude.”

That’s when a co-worker told her about Collection Shield 360, a credit repair service that helps people clean up their credit reports and deal with collection agencies.

Quick Results: ‘My Credit Skyrocketed.’

She decided to give it a shot and signed up. She quickly saw a dramatic difference in her credit score.

“Within a few weeks — maybe three months at the most — my credit skyrocketed,” she says. “Before I started with Collection Shield, I was at [about] 520, 530. Now I’m almost at 700. It’s just amazing.”

Collection Shield 360 offers two membership options:

  • Basic membership provides free credit-repair services with no cost to sign up.
  • Premium membership provides faster results and includes automatic monthly updates of your TransUnion credit score and collection accounts. You can sign up for premium for $ 1 for a two-month trial; then it’s $ 9.48 a month.

Here’s what it does:

  • Contacts your debt collectors to have negative marks on your credit report removed.
  • Provides you with credit bureau dispute letters that can help scrub your credit report.
  • Connects you with consumer attorneys who provide free legal services to help you remove negative items from your credit reports.

In Pankop’s case, it helped her deal with lingering bills from T-Mobile, Bright House Networks and Verizon.

Now, Pankop has just signed a lease on a new apartment she never imagined she could get into. Next, she’ll start looking for a nice little townhouse to buy.

Then she’ll go to nursing school.

“With having great credit, I’m able to get student loans with a lower interest rate,” she says. “I plan on getting my RN within the next few years.”

For her, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

“This has put me in a position where I’m becoming an adult, instead of that young girl figuring out her life.”

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He knows what it’s like to get calls from debt collectors.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Trump points finger at opponents, media on day when bombs sent to Democrats and CNN

President Donald Trump pointed the finger Wednesday night at Democrats and the news media for the turbulent national political environment, on the same day explosive devices were mailed to the Obamas, the Clintons, CNN and other public officials.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

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