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Dvorkin on Debt: One Emotion Dooms Your Finances

Each week, Howard Dvorkin talks about headlines in personal finance that aren’t getting much media attention – but are still important and revealing.

The unheralded research

Sometimes, interesting poll results get buried. When the Chase Slate 2016 Credit Outlook Survey was recently released, Chase touted this as the big result…

One-third of Americans (32 percent) are dissatisfied with their credit score and 28 percent lack confidence that their current score can help them accomplish their goals, marking an increase in discontent since March 2015 (up from 24 percent and 19 percent, respectively).

However, further down the report, I saw this…

Fear continues to keep some Americans in the dark. Two-in-five Americans (40 percent) do not know their current credit score, and at least 30 percent have not checked their score in the last year. Of those, 20 percent say they prefer not to know out of fear their score will be low.

That 20 percent is the most important number — not only in this survey, but in this country.

My opinion

If I can brag for a moment: Those of us who counsel Americans on how to get out of debt have done an excellent job in the past decade. Look at the websites and online tools that have sprung up, many of them using the latest technology and offering their services for free.

That’s why I became president of Debt.com: To make it even easier for Americans with debt to find their perfect solution for conquering it. Yet myself and my peers still struggle to reach everyone we want. I believe the reason is one word: fear.

These days, it’s easy to get your credit score. That wasn’t the case only a few years ago. Yet a significant number of Americans won’t do it — and not because they think it’s trivial. Indeed, they know it’s crucial. They’re just afraid of the results.

My solution

Those of us in the business of helping America get out of debt need to alter our tactics. Since the dawn of the Internet era, we’ve tried making it easy to get our of debt and learn how to manage your finances. However, easy is only part of the equation. Reassuring is the other part.

We consider fear in our educational efforts. That means telling Americans that learning bad news (like a low credit score) can lead quickly to good news —because you can boost that score with just a little effort, and we’ll guide you.

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