More than 30,000 nonprime homeowners are now enrolled in Steps To Success(SM,) the first comprehensive program of its kind to help mortgage customers better manage their credit to help achieve financial success, Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) announced today. The consumer financial education program provides free tools and advice to serve the needs of mortgage loan customers who have less-than-perfect, or not well established, credit or have other reasons to choose a nonprime loan.
"I love the fact that every business day we have been helping some 250 of our homeowner customers get into a better financial position to achieve financial success," said Stephanie Christie, head of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage's retail nonprime lending business. "Steps To Success demonstrates how we want to work to help our customers not just when they make a loan, but also for the long term."
Christie added, "Every customer involved in Steps To Success represents new evidence of Wells Fargo's commitment to our Responsible Lending Principles. We designed the program as an easy way for customers to learn more and take steps to better manage their finances after research showed that some consumers hesitate to seek financial guidance because they find the process difficult."
Available to all customers who close on a nonprime real estate loan, Steps To Success launched nationwide last October. The program is bilingual and all materials and services are free. The program includes:
. Two easy-to-read credit reports with personal credit scores - one immediately and one in 12 months;
. Access through a toll-free number to credit education specialists who provide insights on understanding the credit report and how to address any issues with it;
. Consumer-friendly financial educational assistance through Wells Fargo's Hands on Banking?/ El futuro en tus manos?, a nationally recognized financial literacy program about establishing credit, budgeting and other financial strategies which is available online, or which can be provided via CD ROM or in printed curriculum at no cost;
. Information about automatic banking services and payment products that have proven to be valuable tools in helping customers achieve responsible money management.
Wells Fargo announced the 30,000-customer milestone in Denver, where company representatives took part in a seminar on foreclosure prevention hosted by the Colorado Division of Housing. Steps To Success was one of the agenda items.
"Carried out responsibly, nonprime lending has allowed millions to achieve and live the dream of homeownership," Christie said. "We did not design Steps To Success specifically to address foreclosures.
However, once the loan is made, Steps To Success offers the chance for customers to manage and improve their credit profiles and their financial situations so that a delinquency or foreclosure is less likely. Automatic money management through Steps To Success is a great way to reduce the chance of delinquency or foreclosure."
Christie said Wells Fargo was especially pleased at the number of customers who were not just ordering free credit reports but also have been signing up for automatic mortgage payment programs.
Christie also noted that the Steps To Success magazine, made available to customers in the program, includes tips that can help consumers boost credit scores, such as these:
. Pay down your revolving debt. Don't move debt around between credit cards.
. Use automatic bill payment whenever possible. Automatic mortgage payment can be free, as it is with Wells Fargo.
. Don't open a lot of new accounts. Instead, hang on to and maintain your older accounts.
. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or see a legitimate nonprofit credit counselor.
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $482 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 6,000 stores and the Internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and internationally. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is the only bank in the U.S., and one of only two banks worldwide, to have the highest credit rating from both Moody's Investors Service, "Aaa," and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, "AAA." Current Wells Fargo Home Mortgage customers who would like to learn more about Steps to Success can call 800-288-3212 to speak with a military mortgage specialist.
Other interested members of the military and their families can contact Wells Fargo Home Mortgage online.