Credit 
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Three Credit Scores

Have you seen those advertisements on television where a guy is going to buy a television, only to get snubbed because one of this credit scores is vastly lower than the other two? Two of the “credit scores” look like Tom Brady while the third looks like Danny DeVito in a ski mask? The premise of the commercial is that you’ll want to use their credit score checking service because you might be at a store, ready to make a purchase, when you discover that one of your credit scores is bad and it derails the whole process.

But, how likely is that?

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 Credit 
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Credit Karma Adds Credit Alerts

I’ve been a fan of Credit Karma for as long as they’ve been around, met some of their people, and am generally very impressed with the service they offer. It’s been a cornerstone of my do-it-yourself identity theft protection system.

They recently emailed me to say they’ve developed a new feature that makes do it yourself identity theft protection even easier – they now actively report credit alerts.

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 Credit 
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The Credit Bureau VIP List

I was half-surprised to read about how credit bureaus have a two tiered system when it comes to their credit reports and how they resolve errors. Apparently, the three bureaus are quick to correct errors for the rich and famous, while the rest of us peons get relegated to their automated system that takes months to resolve even the simplest of problems.

According to the NY Times:

The three major agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, keep a V.I.P. list of sorts, according to consumer lawyers and legal documents, consisting of celebrities, politicians, judges and other influential people. Those on the list — and they may not even realize they are on it — get special help from workers in the United States in fixing mistakes on their credit reports. Any errors are usually corrected immediately, one lawyer said.

While the headline of the article is about the VIP list, I felt the most important part was the bit about how they resolve issues. I’m not so naive to think the world is fair and everyone is treated equally – it’s certainly not. However, knowing that all they do it send my request to someone overseas to code it is valuable. (“complaints are often electronically ferried to a subcontractor overseas, where a worker spends, on average, about two minutes figuring out the gist of the matter, boiling it down to a one-to-three-digit computer code that signifies the problem … and sending a dispute form to the creditor to investigate”)

If they aren’t spending more than 2 minutes, I’m not spending more than 2 seconds to get the ball rolling. If I see a problem with a credit report, I flag it immediately and let them sort it out. If they require documentation on my part, then I’ll waste my time trying to look it up and collecting it. Knowing they spend just 2 minutes is valuable, it lets me know that I shouldn’t spend much time either (at least in the beginning).

How do you feel about this VIP list?


 Credit 
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Most Common Credit Report Errors

In 2004, the U.S. PIRG did a survey of consumer credit report errors and discovered one in four reports had “serious errors” that could result in denial of credit. 54% contained incorrect personal demographic information. 22% had the same mortgage or loan listed twice. And 79% of the reports surveyed had a mistake.

You read that correctly, 79% of credit reports had an error of some kind on it. That’s absolutely stunning.

When I first read those statistics, I didn’t believe it but having reviewed my credit report many times since then, I’ve discovered my fair share of errors. I’ve discovered someone else’s credit card listed on my report, I’ve found incorrect demographic information, and the worst was seeing that I had a second Social Security Number listed on my account! That’s why it’s so important to review your credit report annually.

When you do, here are the very common errors you should look for:
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 Credit 
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Experian Credit Report Includes Rent Payments

Apartment for RentYour credit report and credit score are designed to calculate how likely you are to default on your loans. It’s increasingly being used in some surprising ways, such as determining whether or not to rent you a home. The reasoning for using credit this way, for determining whether or not to rent an apartment to someone, has to do with the reality that in many areas, it’s hard to evict a non-paying renter. You’re essentially “lending” them a place to stay with the hopes they pay you.

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 Credit 
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Mythbusting Four Credit Score Beliefs

With the economy improving and consumer spending on the rise, I’ve been getting a lot of credit report and credit score related emails. With more people buying things, some of which will inevitably be on credit, folks are looking to make sure they don’t make any mistakes that could jeopardize their good credit scores. and increase their borrowing costs. I like the fact that people are becoming more conscious of their behavior and how it affects their financial lives, it’s one of the more positive side effects of the crisis.

Unfortunately, there are still a few ideas out there about credit that are flat out wrong. While I’m no credit expert, I’ve been reading enough experts and am able to separate the fact from the fiction.

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 The Home 
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Should You Walk Away from Your Mortgage?

UnderwaterA lot of people are “underwater” on their mortgages, that is the value of their home is below the amount they still owe on their mortgage. Other people simply can no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments and are on the verge of being foreclosed on. Regardless of the reasons, some homeowners are considering walking away from their home and their mortgage and it’s important to understand what the actual costs are going to be.

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 Credit 
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Joint Cardholders Building Credit

Reader Carl recently asked me whether or not you build credit with a joint credit card:

I’m a nineteen year old guy, and opened my first credit card account at Best Buy, in order to buy a laptop for school, along with other “necessities.” Mind you, this was in 2009, and it was incredibly hard to find credit, so I had to co-sign with my dad.

Now I hold a total of three credit cards: Best Buy, Express Clothing (my first independent credit card), and my Bank of America Visa card. My BB card has a $2,300 limit, Express $250, and Boa $2,000. During a recent conversation with one of the bankers at BoA, they informed me that my BB card really doesn’t help my credit report, as it’s not necessarily my “own” credit card. Should I close the first account, and attempt to reopen one in only my name?


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