Credit 
8
comments

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 
20
comments

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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 Personal Finance 
11
comments

Notify Credit Bureaus of Death

Reader Kim emailed me a few weeks ago with a question I’ve, thanksfully, never had to deal with. Following the death of her mother, she was wondering if she should report her death to the credit bureaus. She’s already paid off and closed all credit accounts and by all accounts things are “settled.” Her lawyer didn’t know the answer so she thought maybe I did! (ha!)

My gut reaction is that you should notify them, and any other similar organizations, to prevent identity theft and fraud. By placing a “deceased alert” on your credit report, any potential creditors or lenders will learn, upon pulling the report, that the person is deceased and should not be extended credit (only relatives of the deceased can request this). I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to do this.

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 Credit 
20
comments

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 
20
comments

Don’t Pay For Credit Score Monitoring

MasterCard Visa WalletCNNMoney tackled the question of why you don’t need credit score monitoring. Credit score monitoring is when you pay one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) a set fee each month to tell you if your score goes up or down. The fees range anywhere from $15 to $20 a month (or more) and that’s $15-$20 too much.

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 Credit 
5
comments

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 
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 
21
comments

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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