Costa Mesa, Calif. Nov. 30, 2010 — Experian®, the leading global information services company, recently announced the 10 semifinalists in the Live Credit Smart Challenge, a contest for individuals and families facing credit challenges who are ready to make a positive change toward understanding and using credit wisely. Now through Dec. 15, Americans have the opportunity to help make a difference in five families’ lives by voting for the story they find most compelling at www.livecreditsmart.com.
In September, Experian initiated the Live Credit Smart Challenge, a program dedicated to helping educate Americans across the country about credit and empowering them with the tools they need to live credit smart by making wiser, stronger financial decisions.
Five winners will each receive $5,000 to help pay off their debts, as well as a session with a counselor from a local National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agency who can help them put together a personalized plan to rebuild their credit and take control of their personal finances.
Since the challenge began, Experian has received entries from people all over the country who shared their stories of personal and financial challenges and are ready to make positive changes in their lives. A panel of judges selected the semifinalists and now the public can cast their vote to help these families learn to live credit smart.
“There’s no question the economy has left many people facing real credit challenges,” said Maxine Sweet, Experian vice president of consumer education. “For families tackling years of debt or those who have experienced a major personal setback, the road to financial recovery can sometimes seem daunting. However, with a greater understanding of how credit works and a solid plan, anyone can start taking the steps towards rebuilding their credit history. Through the Live Credit Smart Challenge, we are very pleased to offer this educational opportunity to help people gain the knowledge they need to make smarter financial decisions.”
The semifinalists include:
1. The Milhoan family, from Simpsonville, S.C., struggles with credit card debt and loan repayments while supporting five children. Amanda Milhoan and her husband have both racked up debt from prior divorces and hope to become Live Credit Smart Challenge winners in order to help pay down their debts, start saving for their first home and learn personal finance lessons they can bestow upon their children.
2. Erin Zinicola is a social worker from West Chazy, N.Y. who lives in a small two bedroom house, never buys morning coffee and always brings her lunch to work but she is buried under a mountain of credit card debt and sky-high interest rates. Erin entered the Live Credit Smart Challenge to learn the way to financial freedom and smart financial choices she can make for the future.
3. Tricia Miller, from Rochester, N.Y., is a divorced mom who used an inheritance to open a restaurant in memory of her deceased mother and used credit cards to finance some of the costs associated with the restaurant. While Tricia already sought professional help to start paying down her debts, she hopes to be a Live Credit Smart winner so she can pay down her debt faster, stop living paycheck to paycheck and save the money she needs to buy a house.
4. Tiffany Pedroza, from Corona, Calif., was recently laid off from her job as a teacher and wants to find a way to help her family manage the debt she and her husband accrued from credit cards as well as student, auto and home loans. Tiffany has already started changing some of her family’s wasteful spending habits and the Pedrozas are ready to make more sacrifices to get out of debt and start saving for their son’s education.
5. Michael Pitts, from Winston-Salem, N.C., dreams of seeing his four children play in their own backyard but with a harsh pay cut, he is struggling to improve his credit score. Michael doesn’t have extra money to put toward paying down his debt and is unable to open a line of credit, but he hopes that winning the Live Credit Smart Challenge will help him fulfill that dream.
6. The Suttons, from Franklin, Ind., are as close to financial freedom as they’ve ever been after years of paying off medical bills and debt from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery they didn’t budget for. But with three daughters, one who is less than two years away from graduating high school, they need to start saving for college. They think that winning the Live Credit Smart Challenge could definitely help them bolster their savings.
7. Nicole Carmichael, a single mom from Charlotte, N.C., purchased her first house and a new car three years ago, which she was able to afford until she was laid off from her job in 2008. While she’s working now and going to school, she’s making less money than when she made these purchases and is worried that with the debt, she might lose her house and continue to see her credit score drop.
8. The Haights, from Hilton, N.Y., began their financial downfall 27 years ago when they married, bought a house and signed up for their first credit card. Then came three daughters, more credit cards and refinancing their house three times to get by. They’ve been working with a debt management organization the past year and are ready to live without credit debt.
9. Peter McCarthy, a father from Canandaigua, N.Y., got through a bitter divorce by relying on credit cards and found himself overextended without a good plan to pay down his debt. Now, Peter is determined to get out of debt by realigning his lifestyle and financial decisions to better fit his income level and aggressively pay down his debt with the assistance of a consumer credit counseling agency.
10. For the Munson family from Longview, Wash., having one car, two jobs and five children to look after makes life pretty stressful. Because of poor credit, they cannot get a second car and feel stuck in their current situation. If the Munsons win the Live Credit Smart Challenge, they will pay off some of their credit card debt with the goal of getting a second car to make it easier to get to work.
To learn more about how to live credit smart and to cast your vote, visit www.livecreditsmart.com. Winners will be announced in January 2011.
Edelman for Experian
1 323 202 1906
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 90 countries. The company helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score and protect against identity theft.
Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2010, was $3.9 billion.
Experian employs approximately 15,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; Costa Mesa, California; and São Paulo, Brazil.
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