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Personal Finance Expert Jean Chatzky Introduces New Programs to Help Americans Improve Credit Scores and Get Out of Debt

May 11, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, May 11 /PRNewswire/ — FinovateSpring — Nationally-recognized personal finance expert Jean Chatzky unveiled two new programs at today’s FinovateSpring 2010 conference in San Francisco. The JeanChatzky Score Builder, an application developed exclusively with SmartCredit.com(TM), gives consumers a simple and secure way to understand their credit score and take action to improve that score in just 120 days. The Pay It Down!(TM) application, powered by DebtGoal, is an extension of Chatzky’s The Debt Diet(TM) program. The app simplifies and automates the development and tracking of a customized debt repayment plan. The Debt Diet(TM) program, developed with Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc., blends behavioral science, online exercises and Jean Chatzky’s time-tested advice to help people make long-lasting, positive change and pay down debt.

Score Builder, along with The Debt Diet and its Pay It Down! app will help Americans overhaul their relationship with money, improve their credit scores and reduce debt. “As our nation continues to emerge from a powerful and damaging recession, millions are struggling with debt and its impact on their credit scores,” said Chatzky. “We know that people are happier and less stressed when they have control of their finances. I’m pleased to offer these innovative, online solutions to help people regain that control by giving them a clearer look at their credit and debt issues, then helping them work logically toward improved credit scores and a life free of needless debt.”

Taking control of credit scores

In recent years, Americans have become increasingly aware of their credit scores and the important role these seemingly esoteric numbers play in their lives. Chatzky wants consumers to take responsibility for controlling and improving their credit scores and has introduced the JeanChatzky Score Builder app, developed exclusively with SmartCredit.com, to help them on this quest. Said Chatzky, “Consumers understand that their credit scores matter whether they’re applying for a mortgage, renting an apartment, buying auto insurance or looking for a job. Yet, they’re not sure how to improve them – and dealing directly with their creditors is often very difficult.”

Score Builder starts by helping consumers make sense of credit scores. With Jean as the ever-present guide, users are given an explanation of the positives and negatives driving their individual scores, and advice on how to improve the negative items one-by-one. Score Builder then facilitates Smart Actions(TM)–explicit steps users can take to remove or counteract the negatives–and tracks the status of these actions by interfacing directly with creditors. This direct contact with creditors makes Score Builder particularly effective in updating incorrect consumer information, since creditors typically quickly inform the credit bureaus of changes they make to consumers’ records. By following the action steps Score Builder provides, the average user will see his credit score improve in just 120 days.

The JeanChatzky Score Builder app is now available to all SmartCredit.com members for no additional fee; non-members may initiate a 5-day free trial of SmartCredit.com, which includes Score Builder, before committing to membership. Score Builder will soon be available as a stand-alone program that gives purchasers full access to the SmartCredit.com capabilities for a fixed 120 day membership.

Bridging the gap between advice and tools

Based on the tenets in her best-selling book, Pay it Down!: Debt Free on $10 a Day, The Debt Diet incorporates behavioral science techniques developed by Pro-Change to help people deal with the core of their debt and spending issues. Chatzky appears in online videos as a helpful co-pilot and mentor, inspiring and encouraging users as they make their way through the program’s easy-to-use, interactive activities.

“With The Debt Diet, I’m helping people make systemic changes in their behavior around money, to deal with debt at its roots,” said Chatzky. “It’s really different because it identifies the individual’s readiness for change and then provides customized tools and exercises. Some people need to learn how to pay down debt, while others may have little debt, but need to learn how to build an emergency fund and save for tomorrow.”

A new enhancement to The Debt Diet is the Pay It Down! app, powered by DebtGoal. This app looks at the debt each user is carrying and then creates a customized repayment plan that shows users the fastest way to get out of debt while paying the least amount of interest. The plan is based on DebtGoal’s proprietary algorithm and removes an enormous paperwork burden from users. It can also save users thousands of dollars in interest and shave years off of their debt.

The basic version of the Pay It Down! app is available at no additional fee to Debt Diet members. The standard version, which automatically updates the user’s repayment plan when interest rates and balances change, is available for an additional fee.

Says Chatzky, “Through my partnerships with SmartCredit.com, Pro-Change Behavior Systems and DebtGoal, I’m making it easier for people to overhaul their relationship with debt and improve their credit scores, starting at the core of the problem and progressing toward long-lasting, positive change.”

To learn more about JeanChatzky Score Builder, visit www.SmartCredit.com. The Debt Diet with the Pay It Down! app is available at www.JeanChatzky.com/debtdiet/.

About Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky, an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and nationally recognized television personality, has created a global platform that is making significant strides in helping millions of men and women battle an epidemic with a devastating impact–debt. Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC’s Today, a contributing editor for More magazine, and a columnist for the New York Daily News. She’s also the author of numerous bestselling books including Money 911, Pay It Down! and Make Money, Not Excuses. As one of America’s foremost authorities on personal finance, Jean has appeared on Morning Joe, Oprah, The View, Larry King Live, Sesame Street and numerous other television programs. For more information, visit http://www.jeanchatzky.com.

About SmartCredit.com(TM)

Founded in 2003, SmartCredit.com is an employee-owned company pioneering in new and unique ways of empowering individuals to control their credit and identity. The SmartCredit.com service integrates an innovative credit report with buttons and applications (‘apps’), and includes 24/7 credit monitoring and identity protection. Members can fix credit report errors, recover from identity theft, replace a lost credit card, get a better interest rate, or settle a debt directly with their creditors. SmartCredit.com is connected to over 36,000 creditors in the United States, making its action buttons fast and effective. Over 350,000 people have subscribed to its services. For more information, visit http://www.smartcredit.com.

About DebtGoal

DebtGoal is the industry leader in online personal debt management. Targeting the do-it-yourselfer, DebtGoal is helping its members organize, optimize and pay off nearly $1B in debt with its proprietary SmartPay Plan(TM) that calculates an optimal pay-down plan based on the user’s preferences and ability to pay. With its low monthly price and focus on helping subscribers build credit by repaying what they owe, DebtGoal represents a dramatic departure from previous debt solutions that charge high fees or significantly harm credit. For more information, visit http://www.debtgoal.com.

About Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc.

Pro-Change is a privately held research-based, behavior change product development company. Founded in 1997 by James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., Pro-Change is located on the campus of the University of Rhode Island (URI) in Kingston, RI, where several staff members are adjunct faculty. Pro-Change develops and delivers innovative programs based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM) that helps people make changes that promote well-being. Its award-winning programs are based on data drawn from more than 30 years of research, more than $70 million of funded grants, and over 120,000 study participants. For more information, visit http://www.prochange.com.

SOURCE Jean Chatzky


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