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 
30
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How to Remove Unauthorized Hard Inquiries

Reader Christine recently left a comment on the What is a good credit score? post in which she asked how she could get unauthorized hard inquiries removed. For her particular case, it’s likely that she agreed to the hard inquiries when she “clicked on a link on some website that I do not even remember now and got phone calls from about 5 lenders. I had very enlightening conversations but decided not to apply.”

Whether you apply for a loan or not, when you request quotes you will have agreed to the lenders pulling your credit report. They can’t give you a rate quote without knowing your credit score and credit history. Reputable companies won’t pull your credit without your permission because it’s illegal (it violates this: Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 1681b(c): Transactions Not Initiated by Consumer).

But there are cases where someone could make an unauthorized hard inquiry and the solution is to send a “remove inquiry letter” to the credit reporting agencies.

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 Credit 
9
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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 
21
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Credit Report Bumpage: Knocking Off Hard Inquiries

Credit Card BumpageBefore I started spending most of my time writing for Bargaineering.com, I spent many of my formative years at Fatwallet (as far back as 2001!). One of the big ideas in the Finance forums was the App-O-Rama, where you applied for a lot of credit cards in a short period of time (on the order of just a few days). The idea was that by applying for many cards over just a few days, you would be approved because the hard inquiries wouldn’t appear in time for the other issues to see them. By the time they showed up, you had a lot of unsecured credit card debt.

The consequence of the App-O-Rama strategy was that your credit score took a heavy beating as all the hard inquiries appeared. I wrote a guest post at Consumerist covering the difference between a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry, if you want the full details. While I never conducted an App-O-Rama, I was intrigued by the strategy and followed all the forum posts by people reporting back on their experiences.

So how does credit report bumpage come into play?
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 Credit 
22
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History of Credit Bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion & Innovis

Did you know that TransUnion started as a parent holding company for a railcar leasing company? Or that Experian is not based in the United States? I started reading about the history of some of the credit bureaus and was fascinated with what I found. For example, did you know Experian was founded in 1980 while Equifax was founded in 1899?

Read on to find out more about the major credit reporting agencies.

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 Credit 
10
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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 Personal Finance 
34
comments

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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 Angel's Advocate 
12
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Don’t Check Your Score Every Day

Angels Advocate Logo
This is a Angel's Advocate post.

The conventional wisdom is that you should check your credit reports at least once a year and your score only when you need it. This morning, I argued in a Devil’s Advocate post that services make it easy (and free, in some cases) to check your score all the time so you might as well do it.

This is part two of a two part Devil’s Advocate, Angel’s Advocate article in which I argue both sides of an issue. This is the Angel’s Advocate post, here is the Devil’s Advocate post where I argue you should be monitoring your credit score all the time!

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