NEWS 
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Oregon Bans Credit History Checks by Employers

The Oregon Legislative Assembly has passed House Bill 1045, which would prohibit the use of credit history for use in employment purposes (it was actually signed by the governor in late March). In other words, employers in Oregon cannot use the information they collect in a credit report to make am employment decision such as hiring, firing, or demoting an employee. The law, obviously, goes into greater detail but the writing on the wall is clear – you cannot use credit checks to make any sort of employment decision.

My take on this is that it’s about time a state stepped up and stopped this practice. Not many employers do it, only about 35-40% according to an Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries spokesman, but that’s far too many.

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 Credit 
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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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 Banking 
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How to Request Your ChexSystems Consumer Report

ChexSystemsThe Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) give you the right to review your credit reports every twelve months. Most people are aware of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) but did you know that the rule applies to all consumer reporting agencies, which includes several other types of reporting systems.

One of those systems is ChexSystems. ChexSystems is a network of financial institutions that contribute “mishandled checking and savings account” information. This includes everything from how many checks you’ve ordered, if you’ve had any bounced checks, the number of financial institution inquiries, to instances of identity theft and fraud. Whereas your credit report discusses only loan-related items and your credit score focuses on the probability you’ll default on a loan, a ChexSystems report “fills in the blanks” on how you’d be as a customer of a bank.

You can request your ChexSystems Consumer Report here.

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 Credit 
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Do What’s Financially Right For You

Cutting up an AMEX Blue CardAfter my ABC News Now interview a few months ago, the cameraman, Chris, asked me a quick credit question. He told me that his goal for the year was to pay down debt, a laudable goal, in my opinion. Paying down debt, after you’ve saved for an emergency fund, is the best thing you can do for your finances. It’s especially important when your, and everyone else’s, personal economic outlook seems grim. Chris paid off and then canceled the first of his cards. He wanted to know whether that hurt his credit score.

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 Credit 
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How to Increase Your Credit Limit

If a recent Your Take post on credit card credit limits is any indication, there’s no secret to getting a higher credit limit on your card. I thought I was high with a near $70,000 credit limit but plenty of people had total unsecured credit limits in the $60,000 – $100,000 range. While it wasn’t a scientific survey, I wouldn’t surprised to read that, in general, unsecured credit limits are much higher than people expect.

That being said, I think a good way for a consumer to protect themselves from the somewhat unpredictable credit score system is by increase their credit limits as much as possible without increasing how many credit cards they have.

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 Credit 
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Fixing Credit Report Errors

Rusty WrenchA few years ago I had a little credit report error incident. I just started a new job and was going through a background investigation, which included a review of my credit history. In the course of that review, the investigator noticed that there was an address listing on the report that I hadn’t previously disclosed. The reason I never mentioned the address is because it wasn’t mine.

When he told me, I feared the worst. I thought I was joining the millions of people who have their identity stolen each year. In fact, just a year before that, a friend was telling me how it took him several months to get his identity recovered and even then everything credit-related was a pain. So my mind immediately jumped to ID theft.

Fortunately, it was an isolated, albeit strange, credit report error that was relatively easy to resolve. The error was the addition of an address, a Social Security Number (that differed from my SSN by one digit), and a telephone/cable package. I went through the usual protocols of disputing the information, thinking the onus was on the other party to prove that information was true, but I was wrong.

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 Credit 
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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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 Personal Finance 
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Is FreeCreditReport.com A Scam?

FreeCreditScore.comOne of the best financial things you can do for yourself is to regularly check your credit report. Identity theft is a huge business with billions of losses each year, not to mention all the time it takes to unravel the mess, so checking regularly is a great way to catch a theft early. That’s why you saw so many FreeCreditReport.com commercials on TV with the guy playing a guitar and singing about his ID theft woes!

So what’s the deal with them? Weren’t they sued? Is it a scam?

Let’s find out.

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