Back in 2005, a woman in Colorado went to buy a car at her local Subaru dealership. Little did she know she’d spend the next five years trying to convince people she was not a Colombian terrorist.
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.
Credit protection programs often cost money. So what’s a someone who can’t get the credit to buy such a program supposed to do? Well, in this case the answer was apparently “steal someone else’s credit card number.”
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.
Employers pull the credit reports of prospective employees as a way to determine whether they’re trustworthy and good at managing money. But now more than 25 civil rights groups, labor unions and consumer groups have banned together to demand that TransUnion stop selling credit reports to employers. They say the practice is invasive, discriminatory, and worst of all, doesn’t even work.
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.
We mentioned a few weeks ago that more Americans have begun paying down their credit card debt during the last two years rather than maxing out their accounts with stuff they can’t afford. Now comes another sign of more responsible behavior… the rate of late credit card payments is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — .That’s an entire Bieber!
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.
From 2004 to 2008, while we all were busy flipping houses and blindly investing in luxury condo developments in Appalachia, credit card users were also spending $2.1 billion more in purchases than they were in bill payments. Since 2009, that tide has turned drastically.
Social media may have created a culture of over-sharing, but what’s too personal to share with your Facebook friends? Michael was checking his credit report, and was surprised to see a “Share on Facebook” button directly below his credit score.
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.
When a romance goes south, it’s not unheard of for at least one of the parties involved to begin dreaming up clever ways to continue making the other person’s life hell. And one thing you definitely don’t want to do is try to screw with your ex’s credit score.
Michael wanted to pay a copy of his Transunion credit report. In theory, this shouldn’t be a problem: he gives Transunion money, they give him a credit report. If only it worked that way. It turns out that just buying a single copy of your report from Transunion is like trying to buy a mobile phone in America from a retail store: you can get it for “free” with a subscription to monitoring service, or as part of a package deal with other services, but you can’t just hand over cash for a credit report.
In what could be a boon to renters looking to build a credit history (or bad news if you have a roommate who always delays your rent), credit reporting agency Experian has begun incorporating data on rental payments into its reports.