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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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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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 AnnualCreditReport.com.

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 Credit 
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comments

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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 NEWS 
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Adverse Action Free Credit Score Amendment

No Credit ChecksIf you are denied something because of your credit history (known as an adverse action), whether it’s a credit card, line of credit, or a job (or anything else), you will receive a letter that explains why you were denied. You will also be able to get a copy of the credit report used to reach that decision along with the applicable FICO risk factor reasons. This copy is outside the one you can get for free every twelve months because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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 Personal Finance 
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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 
72
comments

Your Take: Common Sense vs. FreeCreditReport.com

Free Credit ReportIf you’ve ever watched a television in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the FreeCreditReport.com commercials with the guy playing the banjo. In recent months, Experian, the parent company of FreeCreditReport.com, 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 AnnualCreditReport.com, not FreeCreditReport.com.
  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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