In 2004, a hospital staffer accidentally checked off “deceased” on a heart surgery patient’s discharge papers. That one little tick mark on one document resulted in years of headaches for that woman, as she has attempted time and again to prove to the three credit bureaus that she is not a zombie.
Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it was drafting new regulations that would allow for the oversight of the largest credit reporting bureaus and debt collection companies. The reason, explains CFPB head Richard Cordray is that many consumers are in the dark about these businesses and feel somewhat helpless when it comes to dealing with them.
Regular readers of Consumerist know full well that those websites like FreeCreditReport.com and FreeScore.com (you’ll forgive us for not actually linking to them) are not exactly what their names might have you believe. But there are new consumers born every day, so it doesn’t hurt clarifying once again that there is only one place to score your credit reports with no strings attached.
Shawn is peeved. He’s in the middle of securing financing on a new house and the last thing you need during that time period are any surprise people looking at your credit report. These inquiries can bring your score down. But he got exactly one of those, a “hard” one, thanks to an unauthorized peek-a-boo Time Warner Cable decided to do on his credit report when called them up to ask about reducing his cable package.
People talk a lot about credit scores. Bands play songs about them in TV ads that try to sell you credit reports. It’s generally known that a higher score is better than a lower score. But what really is the difference between a person with a 820 and one with a 620? Is one a better person than the other? Not necessarily, but the person with the 620 score can expect to pay $227 more a month on a $216,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Here’s the breakdown.
One way to protect yourself from identity theft is to “freeze” your credit report. This means that no new lines of credit can be opened in your name because lenders are prevented from taking a look at your credit report. This stops identity thieves from opening credit cards under your name and going on spending sprees. It also means extra hassle for you when you want to legitimately open credit. There’s always a tradeoff between security and convenience. Here’s how to do it.
How one’s credit score is computed is to most people a complete mystery, akin to figuring out a quarterback’s passer rating. Thus, there are numerous myths and half-truths that have attached themselves to credit scores, some of them having at least a partial basis in fact.
Right now, any medical debt that gets sent to a collections agency can remain on your credit report for up to seven years, even after it’s been paid off. This ding on your credit score can be the difference between qualifying for a loan or being denied. That’s why the House Committee on Financial Services is looking at a bill that would erase some paid medical debts from folks’ credit reports.
NYT reports that the three major credit bureaus each keep a special VIP list of important people who are given preferential treatment when fixing their credit reports. The list has the names of celebrities, politicians, judges and others on it. When they have errors on their reports, they are fixed by employees who work in America, and fixed swiftly. The rest of us get our requests shunted overseas to be dealt with in a cursory manner.
Andy and his wife were saving up for a trip for Hawaii. They had 87,000 points, which represented $87,000 they had spent accumulating these points. Out of nowhere, Citibank closed his account and gave him no chance to get his points.
Andy and his wife were just about to use their 87,000 accumulated rewards points to take a vacation when all of a sudden Citibank closed the account and took away all their points. According to customer service, there’s nothing that can be done.
Over 80% of credit reports have errors on them, errors which could be lowering your credit score and keeping you from getting credit or paying more for it than you should. Here’s how to fix them:
A reader just had his credit limit lowered on a credit card due to some bad credit history that he says isn’t his. He’d like to see what’s going on with his credit report, but Equifax says he’ll have to pay for the privilege, because they have no record of any inquiries in the past 60 days. The reader asks, “Has this happened to anyone else, where a credit card company waited over 60 days to notify them of credit limit reductions? Also, does this violate the FCRA?”
Several alert readers sent us this advertisement that ran on the front page of CNN.com today. Wait–is the census going to steal my identity? Is my name, race, and birthdate all someone needs to open a credit card in my name? No. You do not need identity theft protection because of the census. Equifax has just mashed up some good information about how to avoid census scams with a sales pitch for credit monitoring services.
Lenders can use the data from your credit report to deny you credit for any one of several reasons. If you are denied, you receive a letter identifying the credit reporting agency that provided the report, along with a risk factor reason code. Bargaineering published a list of the common risk factor codes that lenders use to deem you unworthy of credit. For all three reporting agencies, the cardinal sins are owing too much and failing to pay your bills. The list of codes, inside.
Soon consumers will only be able to see two out of the three credit scores lenders use to judge their credit worthiness. Out of nowhere, Experian announced it will no longer be selling its version of the FICO score through myFICO.com.
SmartMoney’s Anne Kadet looked into the process by which the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—investigate and correct errors on credit reports. What she found was that the process is “almost entirely automated,” and that “many lenders respond by simply rereporting the erroneous data.” Here’s how it works, and your meager options when something goes wrong.
Your credit score. It’s amazing how one little score can have such an impact on our finances and how misunderstood that number can be. We’ll debunk five common myths about it right here, right now.