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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – After enjoying historically low interest rates in recent years, economists are now predicting that interest rates will start to rise later this year or in early 2005. With the cost of borrowing expected to go up, TrueCredit.com, a provider of consumer credit management services, says consumers should start to take action now to minimize the financial impact of rate hikes, including working to improve their credit scores to qualify for the best loan deals. Among TrueCredit’s suggestions are: * refinance this summer: homeowners who haven’t already refinanced should do so this summer to take advantage of low rates while they continue. Before doing that though, the company recommends consumers make sure they fully evaluate the costs of refinancing before they decide to lower their rate. * consider moving up a purchase: consumers who have been thinking about buying a home in the near future may want to speed up that purchase. If they’re already working with a lender, they can ask to lock-in low rates for 30-60 days while closing the deal. * stress test your adjustable rate mortgage: homeowners with an adjustable rate mortgage should stress test their loan now by calculating their potential monthly payments if rates were to increase to the historical average of 7% or higher. If they find they’re not able to afford the payments, borrowers may want to look into refinancing to secure current low rates with a fixed mortgage. While the consumer’s rates will be slightly higher with a fixed rate mortgage, the consumer will avoid the risk of rising rates in the next year. The company also recently conducted a survey with Roper Public Affairs based on 1,107 interviews that found that four in 10 Americans know nothing at all or not very much about their credit scores. Commenting on the survey findings, TrueCredit President John Danaher said in a release, “Despite the explosion of media interest in consumer credit, spurred by trends such as historically low interest rates and rising identity theft, a significant number of Americans are still uneducated about their credit. The problem is even worse for Americans under the age of 24, 34% of whom report knowing `nothing at all’ about their credit score. They younger consumers are most at risk of developing bad credit habits.” -

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