Credit 
5
comments

How Does Your FICO Credit Score Work

Credit CardsIf you thought that graduating meant the end of people grading and assigning you a number, think again. In the real world, it’s not your GPA that matters, but your FICO score. It’s a three digit number that is supposed to give creditors an idea of how credit worthy you are. Technically, it’s a measure of how likely you are to default on your debts.

It’s obvious why credit card companies, mortgage lenders, banks, and the like are interested in your credit score, but did you know that your employer, your landlord, your cell phone company, and your cable company are interested in it too? Anyone who may lend you something, like your cell phone company giving you cell phone minutes before you pay for them, is interested in how likely you are to make good on your financial promises. Your credit score has taken a life of its own, it’s about time you understood the beast.

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 Personal Finance 
31
comments

List of Free Specialty Consumer Reports

After my post on requesting your CLUE reports, Reader Bob sent me an exceptionally long and comprehensive list of all the specialty consumer reports that you are entitled to every year. When I wrote my first request your specialty report post, I had about half a dozen… this expands the list by a lot.

I was amazed by the sheer number of companies that collect information about me. I was aware of the credit report companies, LexisNexis, and ChoicePoint, but there are a lot of smaller companies collecting data like rental history that I’ve never heard of. While I’ve never been too fearful of the idea of Big Brother, the number of companies collecting information about me, and you, is a little disconcerting!

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 Credit 
21
comments

How to Improve a Good Credit Score

Credit Card on a KeyboardIn the last few years, the importance of credit scores and the publicity of that importance has shot up tremendously. With the loose credit era behind us, and banks fearful of taking on more under and non-performing loans (ie. loans not being paid on time and in full), your credit score and your credit report have become more important than ever.

So it’s natural that more and more people are asking what they can do to improve their credit score. If your score is low, then there are plenty of things you can do to improve it and plenty of places that will explain what you need to do.

But what if you have a decent or good credit score? What can you do?
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 Personal Finance 
17
comments

Annual Credit Report Reminder

This morning, I wrote about the importance of regularly checking your credit report. The hardest part about the whole process is remembering to request a report every four months!

So I decided to leverage the power of the Internet to create a mailing list that will remind you every 122 days (365 days divided by 3) to go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your report. The first email will remind you to request your Equifax credit report today. In 122 days you’ll get a reminder to request your Experian credit report. In another 122 days you’ll get a reminder to request your TransUnion credit report. Then in another 121 (to account for the extra day), you’ll get a reminder for Equifax again. You can sign up using this short form here:
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 Credit 
9
comments

Review Your Credit Report Annually

Credit Card on a KeyboardThe Fair Credit Reporting Act gives us the right to see our credit reports every twelve months. I’ve written in the past that I like to stagger my requests so that I get one report every four months, giving me the most up to date information as frequently as possible (without paying for a service).

Reviewing your credit report on a regular basis, whether it’s staggered or all three at once, is important because you want to catch identity fraud and credit report errors (errors are common) as early as possible. The worst case scenario is when you discover a problem because a lender, who pulled your credit to make a loan decision, has questions about some odd entries. Cleaning up a mistake early can pay dividends down the road, especially since it’s free and only costs you time.

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 Credit 
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comments

Go Direct To Credit Bureaus for Credit Score

Whether it’s driving on the highway or surfing on the information superhighway, I’ve been seeing a lot of ads for credit reports and credit scores. With the economy weak, people are looking to play defense and advertising are looking to capitalize. Like I’ve said in the past, checking your credit report annually is one of the best financial things you can do for yourself.

I have one word of warning for you: Don’t ever go to a company that isn’t Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, or Fair Isaac. Never ever.

Here’s why:

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 Your Take 
34
comments

Your Take: How Often Do You Check Your Credit Score?

Red LED ScoreboardI’m a numbers guy. I love seeing numbers, trying to find trends, and playing with statistics. That’s probably one of the reasons why credit scores fascinate me so much, they are able to distill a bunch of actions you take as a person and package it up into this convenient three digit number that lenders go nuts over. I’m not saying the system is good or bad, but it’s the system and you have to play by the rules of the game.

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 Personal Finance 
17
comments

Request & Check Your Specialty Reports Annually

Antique Magnifying GlassMost people are now aware that they can get a copy of their credit history from each of the three major credit bureaus every twelve months. We can thank the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for that right (which you can exercise by going to annualcreditreport.com). What most people aren’t aware of is that the FCRA also gives you the same level access for other “specialty” reports as well. There are several companies that don’t create “credit” reports but do collect your data into what are commonly referred to as special reports. Fortunately, you are afforded the same rights to those reports as well!

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