What is impacting homebuyers’ credit scores?

Founder and CEO of Credit Fix Solutions Victoria Coster discusses the key contributors to lower credit ratings and how her business supports brokers to leverage their customer base to increase customer loyalty.

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Priscilla Dickinson [00:00:08] Hello and welcome. I'm Priscilla Dickinson journalist at Mortgage Professional Australia. Today I'm delighted to introduce you to Victoria Coster, founder and CEO of Credit Fix Solutions. Victoria is one of the MPA Elite Women for 2023, which recognizes women within the industry for their exceptional achievement and passion, and who have influenced others in a positive way. As a dispute resolution expert for 10 years, Victoria focuses on helping people to improve their credit rating by removing adverse information from the credit report. How does this help them? Essentially, it improves their ability to borrow money, including to buy a first home or an investment property. Victoria works with clients directly and can also work with mortgage brokers to help their clients prepare for Residential Lending applications. Her vision is to create a safe place for people to go to discuss their credit position. Victoria, congratulations on being named one of the MPA Elite Women for 2023. And thank you very much for joining us today.

Victoria Coster [00:01:15] Thank you so much for having me. Very exciting.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:01:18] Thank you. So firstly, could you tell us a little bit about why you got into credit repair? And what makes Credit Fix Solutions different?

Victoria Coster [00:01:27] Well, I've been in the finance industry for over 20 years in one form or another. I started in mortgage processing and then moved into mortgage broking, funnily enough, but the year was 2[007, we were having the GFC, as you know, and it became pretty much impossible in Western Sydney, where I'm mainly based to write any sort of loans for anyone. And what I saw is that so many people had bad credit. So I jumped into the credit repair space, loved the work, but I didn't feel comfortable with asking people to pay money upfront. So I worked somewhere else for three years. And I jumped out because just I didn't like it ethically speaking. But then I thought, Well, why don't I do credit repair, because I'm very good at it. And I've learned how to do all the negotiations and discussions with banks on behalf of consumers and companies to try and fix up their credit reports. So I decided to create Credit Fix Solutions, which provides a very, very clear no result, no fee, credit repair space. But not only that, a safe space, as you just said, for consumers and brokers to come to, to get education around credit reporting, which as we know, has become extremely complicated.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:02:43] Could you share a couple of examples of great contributors to lower credit ratings, and how they're actually impacting people's credit scores?

Victoria Coster [00:02:50] That's a great question. I'm so happy you've asked what we're seeing in about half of cases where consumers are providing their credit reports to us or brokers sending their clients credit report to us, is negative data that we can't fix in about half the cases. So about half the time we're just educating people, what I want people to be aware of, is the importance of knowing not to inquire without seeing your finance broker first. So or any sort of broker first in your area an accredited finance broker, whether it's a car loan, Personal Loan Mortgage that you're applying for, every time you're inquire you're losing points. So every time we apply on a phone over a weekend, maybe we're planning a holiday or you know, want a new car, you know, the car keeps breaking down, we get the people are can be a little bit desperate at that point. So they don't understand that every time they're going online and hitting that inquire now button that that lender is going into our credit file and putting a hard hit. And that can cause a drop in score of about 50 points. Now putting that into perspective. For people who don't understand credit scoring, we all have a score that ranges between zero and 12[00. And you need to be sitting at 7[00 or up to gain access to certain types of finance, for example, personal loans and credit cards. They won't give you anything if you're under that. So let's say for example, you're sitting at 750. And you think, Oh, I'll go online and I'll apply the first one gets knocked back, second one gets knocked back, third one gets knocked back. You're on your credit report again, the following day, your score could be 6[00 could be 5[00 Could be lower depending on the type and frequency of inquiry that you're making. So being mindful of the fact that we need to understand and teach as a broker as well if you are a broker in your watching this, teach your clients the importance of protecting their credit reports and their credit scores. The other factor I'd like to talk about is repayment history information. And a lot of people are coming to us just because they've missed one or two credit card payments, and they can't get out of their current mortgage as we know right So through the roof, they're currently looking at a nine or 10%, home loan interest rate versus 7%. Just because they didn't understand that missing one or two payments was going to impact their credit file so badly. So the more that we can educate on those points, because this is stuff I can't fix, you know, I can only fix or amend incorrect or fraudulent data, for example. So half the time I'm spending my week, and I'm educating, and I feel so sorry for people, because that could potentially mean that they're out the market for several months or up to two years, if they've missed payments on their credit report.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:05:36] Excellent, thank you. And obviously, with our home loan application, you know, as you say, you know, you really need to start preparing quite a way in advance with these types of things and looking at credit history and building that positive credit history, which is, I guess, how and how you're helping as well. So in terms of MPA Elite Women 2023, what did it mean to you on the team to be awarded Elite Woman 2023 this year?

Victoria Coster [00:06:01] Well, I know who nominated me, because they sent me an email to let me know how amazing they thought I was, and that I deserved to be nominated. And I got a bit teary to be honest, because nine years, you know, I started the business with nothing, I was in Housing Commission, you know, single mom, no child support. And I started this with just a $20 business card from Vistaprint, and a surf Corp $1[00 A month office address. And to have worked so hard, like one broker at a time, one credit report at a time to be noticed to more by the industry and by our wonderful referral partners. I don't consider myself elite at all, but to be considered that I am making a difference. That was always the vision was to make a difference and change an industry that is seen as predatory to having a safe space like you can trust a credit repair service provider. It's yeah, it's it's great. It's great. Very humbling. I've been joking with husband recently, you know, do you know you're married to an elite woman? I don't see myself as that I just, I just love to help people.  

Priscilla Dickinson [00:07:13] Excellent. Thank you. And how does your business work with support finance brokers to leverage more out of their customer base and create sticky clients?

Victoria Coster [00:07:23] Oh, that's a great question. So with our services, if a broker uses us, number one, we save them time, because instead of a broker spending half an hour an hour explaining a low credit score, or, you know, maybe having to chat to customers who've got you know, three companies and they've got, you know, multiple credit report files, they can just flick them to us, we can help them get their reports, through their reports, understand reports, and send them back to the broker, either number one with education on okay, this is what you need to do moving forward, or maybe a DIY credit repair option that they can follow for themselves, or potentially something that we can help with. Fixing that in turn, number two will make the broker seem like a superhero, I suppose, because instead of saying, Oh, you've got a low credit score too hard basket go somewhere else. They've provided a service that number one helps that client that helps them be seen as the go to broker. So saving time, they look like an absolute superhero. So it doesn't cost them any time, any money. It's creating efficiencies within their business, but also the opportunity for them to write more loans as well. So there's potentially they might have a customer who has a default or a court action on their credit report, we're experts in removing those, potentially, we can remove that within a few weeks, and then the broker is able to move forward and write that loan.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:08:44] Excellent, thank you, and what is your vision for credit, fix solutions and the future?

Victoria Coster [00:08:50] I've got, I've got some really exciting and really big plans for Credit Fix Solutions. I want this to be a legacy that I leave behind, you know that I can leave others to run after I'm gone. But yeah, I mean to create a safe space where consumers and brokers can come to for credit reporting, education, and help is really the aim of the game with Credit Fix Solutions.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:09:18] Excellent, thank you. And I really also see a bit of an education, as you say, like a bit of an education piece in there too, with, you know, it is really helping people improve their overall financial position as well. Like, they may have an ultimate goal of applying for a mortgage, but as really as well, just creating that awareness and helping people and the future was there. Yeah, but if finances generally don't really

Victoria Coster [00:09:39] if you if you think about the number of inquiries that we're seeing, or we're boutique, you know, probably not seeing half the stuff that you know, larger competitor running heavy Google ads is seeing. Let's say we see 1[00 files a week that we can't help it's just behavioral. It's just they didn't know the impact of inquiring too much or they didn't know about missing a payment. If that gets worse, which as interest rates rise and the cost of living goes up, I believe it will, who is going to be able to qualify for a major bank loan in 12 months time, probably no one. So we need to educate this is imperative. Otherwise, you're just going to be lending the money in a year's time or 2 years time, because a lot of schools will be affected. And if nothing you can do just have to wait for the score to improve naturally, you know, so that information that's on there now too many inquiries to become so old, that it becomes redundant, which could take a year, two years, maybe up to five years. So very, very important, and definitely my passion.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:10:40] Right, thank you. And just finally, um, do you have any advice for women who are considering a career in the finance industry,

Victoria Coster [00:10:47] Come and talk to me, or come and talk to you or come and talk to any of the amazing women in industry, there's plenty of us. It's an amazing industry to enter. There's lots of information available within the Mortgage Association groups, maybe a local broker, you can go in and have a chat with one of your amazing local mortgage brokers. We all have to help. We're all in an industry where we help people we're helping people with one of the biggest decisions they're ever going to make. So we are very empathetic. We're very caring very kind, maybe to kind at some points, we ended up counseling a lot, but come and speak to us and have a chat, maybe come to one of our industry events and have a chat to all the amazing mortgage brokers in our space because it is a great industry. There's one asterisk applies once you're in our industry, you can't get out. So yeah.

Priscilla Dickinson [00:11:42] So that’s all Victoria, thank you very much for talking to us today about Credit Fix Solutions.

Victoria Coster [00:11:47] Thank you. 

Priscilla Dickinson [00:11:50] That wraps up this edition of MPA TV. We look forward to you joining us again soon.