Do You Have Multiple Social Security Numbers?

Did you know that 6.1% of Americans have at least two Social Security numbers associated with their name? A hundred thousand Americans have five or more associated with their name. Those are just two the amazing statistics out of an surprising report by ID Analytics. When you consider that there are 1,000,000,000 possible Social Security numbers, of which over 420 million numbers have been issued since November 1936 (according to the SSA’s FAQ), it’s amazing there aren’t more errors.

I experienced this first hand a few years ago when I discovered a keying error resulted in me having two Social Security numbers. It took a little while to fix the error with the credit bureaus, which I discovered resurfaced just a few weeks ago, but someone typed a 0 instead of a 6 and I was awarded a second number (the bureaus obviously don’t double check this stuff… they probably don’t care).

This underscores the importance of keeping tabs on your credit report, which you can review annually, because that’s really the first place where duplicate numbers can really hurt you. Sometimes the duplicates are the result of honest errors and sometimes it’s fraud, keeping tabs on your credit report will help you fix it as soon as possible.


How to Get Two Free Credit Reports a Year

Short answer: Live in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Vermont.

Long answer: In the seven states listed above, there are state laws that that require the credit bureaus to provide your credit reports absolutely free. These laws are in addition to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (technically, it’s the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act which amended the FCRA) that requires the bureaus to provide your credit reports once twelve months, which you can access through

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Does Settling Credit Card Debt Hurt Your Credit Score?

Reader Dan told me a story of his friend who was considering settling an outstanding credit card debt but wasn’t sure of the credit score implications:
(Dan): my friend owes like $1100 on a credit card, and he had the balance for like two years and didn’t pay a dime, because he felt he was being taken advantage of
(Dan): well, he went to lease a car last weekend and found out the importance of credit
(Dan): he had bad credit and his new wife basically had none
(Dan): I told him step one would be to clear his balance
(Dan): he called just now, and he mentioned (in IM) something about them offering to settle for like, $700?
(Dan): does settling affect your credit score?

There are a few things going on here at once but in general, settling a debt will improve your credit score. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’ll make sense in a few sentences.

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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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How to Cancel a Credit Card

MasterCard Visa WalletIn the last year, literature in personal finance focused a lot on financial defense like canceling a credit card. There was a lot of talk about credit, credit reports, and your credit score because it’s one of the cornerstones of the modern financial life, whether you like it or not. During that time, many card issuers started canceling cards, reducing credit limits, and otherwise reducing their overall financial risk. Rampant foreclosures and sinking home prices, issuers were scared and started cutting people based on where they shopped!

Now that the economy has recovered, many people don’t want to be in the position they were a year ago – feeling like the card issuers held them and their credit score hostage. The easiest way to do this is to reduce how much credit you use and the quickest way to do that is to cancel credit cards.

How do you cancel a credit card without significantly hurting your credit score?

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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 

Six Ways to Kill Your Credit Score

Feasting LionsSomewhere out there in the wild is a credit score with your name on it. It’s wandering the plains, being scoped by employers and lenders, seeing if it makes you worthy of a job or a loan. Perhaps you’ve even seen it, maybe once a year as the government would prefer, or perhaps you’ve just lived blissfully ignorant of what your little score has been doing all by itself. Well today I’m going to tell you six ways you can try to trap your credit score and kill it. I don’t mean hurt it a little, knocking it down a few points, I mean absolutely crush it so that it will be years before it can spread lies about you. I can guarantee that with these tips your credit score will never be the same.

Invariably someone will not recognize the sarcasm in this post so here’s the warning, prominently front and center: This post is a joke. If you do this and tank your score, I am not responsible because I’m telling you right now that by doing these six things you will lower your credit score and endanger your ability to get a loan, job, insurance, or cell phone in the future.

Let’s go credit score hunting!
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 Your Take 

Your Take: Common Sense vs.

Free Credit ReportIf you’ve ever watched a television in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials with the guy playing the banjo. In recent months, Experian, the parent company of, has come under fire because:

  1. The credit reports are free, if you remember to cancel the trial (big if!).
  2. Consumers have been educated by the FTC that they can get a copy of their credit report for free once every 12 months, no strings attached… except they have to go to, not
  3. Consumers are, knowingly or unknowingly, signing up for the trial service, getting their free credit score and reports, and then not canceling.

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