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Hard And Soft Credit Inquiries, And How One Hurts Your Credit Score

Hard And Soft Credit Inquiries, And How One Hurts Your Credit Score

Did you know that when a company checks out your credit report, it can damage your credit score temporarily? It depends on if the inquiry is “hard” or “soft.” Hard inquiries ding your score, soft don’t. If you’re going to get a mortgage or a car loan, a few points difference translates into a big chunk of change. So how do you know when an inquiry is going to be “soft” or “hard?”

On Heels of Bailout, Citi Raises Rates on Millions of Cardholders

On Heels of Bailout, Citi Raises Rates on Millions of Cardholders

We know the credit markets remain seized: late on Black Friday when no one was listening, the Federal Reserve issued a statement that its emergency lending to banks had increased over the prior week. Thus, massive amounts of money continue to flow to large financial institutions in an effort to stimulate economic activity, but by all appearances the money is not flowing into the broader economy. Quite the contrary; as the Fed lowers rates and adds record amounts of loaned cash to bank balance sheets, big banks are actually increasing consumers’ cost of borrowing and reducing their lines of credit. Witness Citibank’s recent adverse actions against cardholders.

Consumerist Attends Robert Allen's Get Rich Quick In Real Estate Seminar

Consumerist Attends Robert Allen's Get Rich Quick In Real Estate Seminar

I wanted to find out what Robert Allen’s “get-rich-quick in real estate with no money down” promise was all about, so when I saw a full page ad in the Daily Post advertising one of his free seminars recently, I went and checked it out. I’ll give you a full run-down later, but here’s the quick and dirty, and what I can tell about how the darn thing seems to function.

Despite Subprime Implosion, Robert Allen's Troops Still Pitch "Get Rich Quick In  Real Estate With No Money Down"

Despite Subprime Implosion, Robert Allen's Troops Still Pitch "Get Rich Quick In Real Estate With No Money Down"

Robert Allen promises to make you millions teaching you how to buy real estate with no money down. Unsurprisingly, Ripoffreport is littered with complaints about his company and those that use his name. Here’s the story they tell:

Report From Finovate '08: Round 3

Report From Finovate '08: Round 3

We spent yesterday at Finovate, a yearly roundup of new personal finance services available online. Here’s a recap of some of the afternoon presentations, including a mortgage comparison service that promises greater transparency, a new credit simulator feature from Credit Karma, and a site that uses reverse auctions to get banks to bid on your money.

Report From Finovate '08: Round 2

Report From Finovate '08: Round 2

Round 2 of the Finovate presentations includes online financial planning, the “match.com” of stocks, and Facebook banking. Let’s dive in and find out what they’re all about:

Report From Finovate '08: The Latest Personal Finance Tools

Report From Finovate '08: The Latest Personal Finance Tools

I’ve been dispatched by our cigar-chomping editors to midtown NYC to check out the 14 new personal finance software apps getting demoed at Finovate 2008. I’ll be reporting here and letting you know about the latest tools from the frontlines of the personal finance revolution.

Why Was Gas So Expensive?

Why Was Gas So Expensive?

Did you know that gas price gouging almost never occurs as prices rise? Rather, it’s most often when dealers keep prices artificially high even as their costs fall. As gas costs were near $5 a gallon until falling and oil companies earn around $100 billion each year, it’s a good time to question what really goes into the price of gas. The numbers on the gas station sign hide a complex set of transactions. Before gas can power your car, it must be discovered as crude oil, traverse three markets, and be refined from crude into gas. Inside, we’ll explain the three markets, walk you through the role of refineries, and show how oil companies use creative tactics to manipulate gas prices…

Ticketmaster Is Evil And Must Die

Ticketmaster Is Evil And Must Die

Ticketmaster is an evil monopoly that steals cash from defenseless consumers. They are infinitely more evil than their hated 30% surcharge would suggest, and they must be destroyed.

How Can We Save Our Debt-Swamped Government?

How Can We Save Our Debt-Swamped Government?

The United States is $10.2 trillion in debt. Like countless Americans, our government has spent beyond its means and needs help getting back on its feet. We recently received a panicked email from White House Budget Director Jim Nussle…

The Idiot-Proof Way To Securely Use Public Wi-Fi

The Idiot-Proof Way To Securely Use Public Wi-Fi

We talk a lot on this blog about personal data and privacy, but not so much about how to secure that data on your own computer. That’s because a.) we’re not Lifehacker and b.) the solutions frequently bloat into crazy, jargon-filled recipes that scare away the non-IT crowd. Not this time! For all you novices, here is a single idea you should consider that will help keep your personal data personal, and make your identity that much harder to steal.

What Does The Bailout Mean For You?

What Does The Bailout Mean For You?

So, Congress finally passed the bailout bill. You know about the Treasury’s newfound $700 billion, and you’ve heard about the snipped golden parachutes, but what does the 451-page week-old shotgun savior of a bill actually mean for you?

How To Write To Congress

How To Write To Congress

Writing to Congress is the single best way to express your view on public policy. The average consumer has a surprising ability to influence legislation by crafting a well written missive. Let’s find out what the common mistakes to avoid are, how the process works, and the best ways to ensure your letter has the greatest impact.

34 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

34 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

The story may be well and established already, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from their food product and package shrink-a-dink rampage. Here’s 34 more victims of The Grocery Shrink Ray spotted by the all-volunteer Consumerist tipster army, 25 of which are viewable using advanced pop-up slideshow technology…

15 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

15 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray

The Grocery Shrink Ray continues its miniature spree across the supermarket aisles of America. Here’s 14 more victims that have surfaced in the past week, as spotted by our watchful bands of deputized Consumerist reader-investigators…

Ben Popken On "To The Point" (And A Debate Over Personal Finance Advice)

Here’s the clip of the To The Point radio program I was on yesterday. There was a bunch of people on, you can hear me at 23:30 talking about the Grocery Shrink Ray and 37:30 talking about the customer service hotline Sprint set up for Consumerist readers. It’s a great show and I love Warren Onley’s voice, but I have some issues with the advice some of the other guests gave on the show that I need to address. Here’s what I would have said had I been asked some of their questions…

10 Secrets To Getting Better Tech Support From Asus

10 Secrets To Getting Better Tech Support From Asus

An Asus technician has stepped forward out the shadows to give us the 10 insider tips for getting through and getting better and faster tech support from the computer and computer parts maker. Some things just can’t be fixed though, but it’s at least to know the soul-crushing math they’re using to destroy the customer experience. Considering how bad their tech support is, you’re definitely going to need these tips…

Do You Suffer From CLH? (Consumer Learned Helplessness)

Do You Suffer From CLH? (Consumer Learned Helplessness)

Did you know that you can learn to be helpless? These days, a lot of people are showing signs of a new disease called CLH, or Consumer Learned Helplessness. Here’s how it works.