Check Your Credit Report


check credit report Image Credit: Good Search

Unless you’ve had reoccurring issues with your credit file, it better serves you to avoid credit monitoring services, which can cost $180 a year. Even though many of  these services are owned by the credit bureaus themselves, they’ll do the same thing you do (for free) —discover the error on your record after it’s there. For free, you can get the same info monitoring services get. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled one free report from each of the three bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you’re applying for credit, a loan, or competing for a job soon, get all three reports now so you can look them over to ensure the information is correct. Otherwise, spread out the three yearly reports, requesting one report every three months: Maybe in January you request one from TransUnion. In May you request one from Equifax and in September, Experian.

Review the on-time payments listed on accounts you know you have. Check for addresses listed as yours, and spelling of your name as well as variations of your name. Most importantly, check for records of debt that aren’t yours, and for inquires for loans you haven’t applied for. This could be a sign of identity theft, or a legitimate mistake, perhaps a mix-up with similar Social Security numbers. Either way, according to Money magazine and SmartCredit.com, this issue is the most difficult to get fixed.

If it’s your issue, call the bureau with the incorrect information immediately. Ask them to put fraud alert on your file. Also, go to Consumer.ftc.gov.

If you find an error on your credit report, let the appropriate bureau know. You can do this online, or by mail. If you have documentation, mail may be best. Make copies, highlight the relevant, correct information, and briefly and clearly explain (type if your writing isn’t really easy to read) what the error and correction are. Make sure you have copies of what you’re sending before you send it certified mail, requesting a return receipt.

Again, check your three credit reports regularly. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site and is free. If you want your credit score, go to MyFico.com. There is a fee for the score. It’s good once in a while to check in on your score. It’s about $20.

Be Money Wise


Money-Wise image credit: Good Search

Be money wise.

None of these tips cost you anything but will save you and others headache if you keep them up to date.

  • Have three-to-six months of income put aside.

I prefer not to call it an “emergency” fund, but I advocate putting money aside for the future. The money’s in savings, so as you save more, you have more money put aside, even without an “emergency.”

So, you don’t lose your job, or don’t land in the hospital for months on end. You’ll have money saved  for a smaller unexpected something (a car’s flat tire, a dishwasher that conks out, a dog needing a visit to the vet.) Did you know 70% of people don’t have money put aside that could over three-to-six months of living expenses. Can you save $20 a week? Make sure it’s accessible; liquid.By putting this money aside, you build a cash-buffer over time. You don’t have to start big, but you do have to start.

 

  • Check your credit reports.

Credit reports are free (one a year from each credit bureau), just make sure you’re on the legitimate industry’s official website www.annualcreditreport.com. Eighty-one percent of people don’t check their credit reports. It’s not only about your money, but your identity that your checking. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Stagger your report requests every four months. Related post: Credit Report/Credit Score

 

 

  • Update your will.

Eighty-six percent of Consumer Reports survey respondents said they either didn’t have a will, and other  estate-planning documents, or hadn’t updated it in over five years. Even if nothing has changed in your life, check your beneficiaries on your will, insurance accounts, and retirement policies. I had a friend who didn’t update his will and when he died, his surviving wife was left with a mess. Some of the people he’d listed as beneficiaries had died years before. It complicated the process, and relatives had their hands out on behalf of the deceased beneficiaries. What a hassle. Update your will.

 

These are easy, free things you can do to keep your finances in good condition. Make becoming money wise a habit!

Your Credit Score


   image credit – Google.

 

Did you know there is no single number for your credit score? FICO, which stands for Fair Isaac Company, is the organization that created the credit score calculation.

Each of the credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax has their own system for scoring.

FICO scores range from 300-850. The higher the better. (According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2012, you’ll need a score of 760 or better for the best mortgage rates. 720 should be fine for getting you the best deal on an auto loan. A few years ago, a new competitor joined FICO, and the three credit bureaus. About 10% of lenders now use Vantage Score, which has a scale from 501-999 with corresponding grades from A to F. (A= above 900).

No matter what your lender uses, if you’re denied a loan, or given a rate less than the best, a lender must tell you the score it used, along with the range and reasons that worked against your score.

Monitor your credit throughout the year. You can get one free credit report from each of the credit bureaus through http://www.annualcreditreport.com. The free credit report does not include a credit score. The score is not free. You can get your credit score from http://www.myfico.com.

Most lenders, especially mortgage, will turn to FICO for your credit score, the one you pay for. I suggest getting your score from FICO rather than the credit bureaus.

I’ve heard people say, “It said ‘free trial’ and I got billed.” Avoid credit reports and scores that mention anything about a “trial” “subscription” or other similar words. Stick to the websites listed above. Check the web addresses to be exact, not close to the address you’re looking for.

 Related Posts:

Credit Report. Credit Score.

Your Fico Score.

Stop Credit Trouble Before It Begins


We all hit some bumps in the road financially. I’ve included a link to an article covering five common mistakes that will play havoc with your credit score. If you can avoid them, do.

Basically, missed and late payments are the most common pitfalls, and can cause big trouble to your credit score. At the very least, call the creditor and explain your situation. Sometimes, they’re willing to work it out with you one a 1:1 situation.

The higher your debt is compared to your income, can be a red flag. What if you lose your job? What if an unexpected expense arrises?

A store offers you 15% off today’s purchases if you apply for their credit card. Just say, “No.” Every time you apply for credit, it’s recorded, and if you apply frequently, it makes it look like you don’t have money – but continue to shop. Also, the more credit cards you have, the more you may feel free to use them. Ah, been using That one too much, I’ll leave it home—and use this one today! And then there’s the past mistakes that show up. Bankruptcies, tax liens and the like. These are called “public records.”

All this information stays on your credit report for seven years. Check your credit reports to insure what is on your report is true and timely.  Here’s a link to credit report info from an earlier blog of mine.

Save An Extra 15%


When stores offer you the chance to “save today” by opening a credit card with them. Smile and say, “No thanks.” Don’t save today to pay big tomorrow. The more credit cards you have, the more it effects your credit score (and it’s not necessarily for the better.)

It’s not a matter of using the card or not—it can still affect your credit report just sitting there.

The best way to save is to plan ahead. If you know you’re buying “it” anyway, have the cash in the bank (or credit union, as I prefer) before you head out to make the purchase. Buying on impulse will cost you. Even at the .99 cent store. It adds up. Think. Do I need this? It’s a gift? Do they need/want it?

It’s December—keep your head on straight. If you do, you’ll be walking tall in one month!