Credit Articles en Copyright 2009 2009-05-19T22:19:02+00:00 Who’s Looking at Your Credit Reports? You might have been surprised when your auto insurance rates went up. You did not get into an accident nor did you get a ticket. You can’t seem to figure it out, so you call your insurance man and find out that they checked your credit report and found that you were a credit risk. This may cause your rates to skyrocket and even worse if you look to change providers the new company may not accept you because of your credit score.

You might have been surprised when your auto insurance rates went up. You did not get into an accident nor did you get a ticket. You can’t seem to figure it out, so you call your insurance man and find out that they checked your credit report and found that you were a credit risk. This may cause your rates to skyrocket and even worse if you look to change providers the new company may not accept you because of your credit score.

Do you know who is looking at your Credit Report? You may be surprised! Your credit report is no longer just checked when you are applying for a credit card or a home mortgage. Did you know that insurance companies and employers are now checking credit reports? Did you know that there are a myriad of financial companies constantly checking your reports to see if they might want to do business with you?

Some of this peeping can be stopped by Opting Out with the credit bureaus. Simply call 1-888-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) and with one call you can stop the credit bureaus from selling your credit profile to the many businesses that are willing to pay for it. This is a great step to reduce your risk of identity theft.

Applying for a new job or looking to be promoted in your current job? You might want to check your credit report before your future boss does. Employers are starting to check Credit Reports to look for responsibility and promptness of bill paying. Many employers feel that a person who is responsible paying their bills and loans will also be a responsible employee. This may be especially true if you’re applying in the financial sector, a business with high employee theft rates, or may need a security clearance for the job.

What does your credit report say about you? Before you start guessing about it, order your credit report and scores. Now that you know the facts you can really start making a change. If you are showing late payments, non-payments, public records, or general negative listings you will want to work to have them removed. Start your credit clean up and optimization today, it’s a smart part of your overall financial planning.

Credit Reports, Who Uses Your Credit Report 2009-04-28T13:17:29+00:00
7 Ways You Can Get a (Truly!) Free Credit Report Are you sick of hearing about “free credit reports” that aren’t really free?  Us too!  So we’ve compiled a list of 7 ways you can get a REAL free copy of your credit report (without having to sign up for a 7 day free trial or other scam). 

In the United States, Government credit laws provide consumers with an ability to obtain free credit reports. There are a number of ways to get a free credit report (and no, they don’t all involve signing up with sites like!!).  Here are a few ways to get your free credit report. Keep in mind that while credit reports may be obtained free from the credit bureaus they are not obligated to give consumers credit scores for free. Getting your report just makes good financial sense as your finances are reflected on the pages of your credit report.

Are you sick of hearing about “free credit reports” that aren’t really free?  Us too!  So we’ve compiled a list of 7 ways you can get a REAL free copy of your credit report (without having to sign up for a 7 day free trial or other scam). 

In the United States, Government credit laws provide consumers with an ability to obtain free credit reports. There are a number of ways to get a free credit report (and no, they don’t all involve signing up with sites like!!).  Here are a few ways to get your free credit report. Keep in mind that while credit reports may be obtained free from the credit bureaus they are not obligated to give consumers credit scores for free. Getting your report just makes good financial sense as your finances are reflected on the pages of your credit report.

Each year every consumer is allowed one free credit report from each credit bureau. The one year period starts from the last time you received your free credit report.

When ordering credit reports from any source expect a check of security information. Have available; full legal name, current mailing address, previous address if you have not lived at the same address for 2 years, current phone number, social security number, and drivers license information (when mailing include a copy of drivers license & social security card with your request).


By Mail:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, Ga. 30374-5281
Phone: 1-877-322-8228

Here are some other reasons that entitle a consumer to additional free credit reports. If you are requesting a free credit report for one of the additional 7 reasons listed below you will need to request them directly from the credit bureaus (not the annual credit report site listed above).

Here they are.  Seven reasons you can use to get a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus:

  1. You’ve been turned down for credit or insurance (adverse action) in the past 60 days.
  2. You are a victim of ID theft or have reason to believe that inaccurate data are in your credit report because of fraud.
  3. You are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days.
  4. If you are on public welfare assistance.
  5. If an adverse decision related to your employment has been made based in whole or in part on information contained in the report.
  6. If your report has been revised based upon an investigation you requested.
  7. If you live in a state with a free credit report law: Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, and Georgia (Georgians are entitled to 2 free reports per year).

Here is the contact information for ordering reports from the 3 major credit bureaus:



P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, Ga. 30374

Trans Union:


P.O. Box 1000, Chester, Pa. 19022



P.O. Box 2002, Allen, Tx. 75013

Credit Reports, Free Annual Credit Report 2009-04-18T13:03:17+00:00
Been Denied Credit? Here’s What To Do Have you applied for a mortgage and been told you don’t qualify?  Or a new car loan, and told that your credit is not good enough to qualify for the special teaser rates?  Unfortunately, it happens all too often nowadays—more and more people are receiving credit denial letters.  If you receive one, here’s what you need to do.

If you are denied credit, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires that the lender give you notice that tells you the precise reasons your credit application was rejected or the fact that you have the right to learn the reasons if you ask within 60 days. Unclear and vague reasons for denial are illegal, so ask the lender to be specific.

Sometimes you may be denied credit because of information on a credit report. If so, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the lender to give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency that supplied the information. You should contact that agency and ask for a free copy of the credit report (you must request it within 60 days of being denied credit). The credit bureau can tell you what is on your report, but only the lender can tell you why your credit application was turned down.

If your lender says you were denied credit because you are too close to your credit limit on your credit cards or you have too many accounts, you may want to reapply after paying down your balances or closing some accounts (always be careful when closing accounts, these accounts affect your credit in different ways and you do not want to lower your credit score). Credit scoring systems update information and change over time.

If you’ve been denied credit, or didn’t get the rate or credit terms you want, ask the lender if a credit scoring system was used. If so, ask what characteristics were used in that system, and the best way to improve your application (or score). If you are approved for credit, ask the lender whether you are getting the best rate and terms available and, if not, why. If you are not offered the best rate available because of inaccuracies or errors on your credit report, be sure to dispute the inaccurate information with the credit bureaus involved.

Credit Reports, Who Uses Your Credit Report 2009-04-17T23:51:55+00:00
The Big Three Credit Bureaus: About the Equifax Credit Bureau Continuing our series of articles about the big three credit bureaus, here’s a look at the Equifax credit bureau.  Equifax has a long and interesting history.

The year was 1899 and the big business endeavor was called the Retail Credit Company.  By 1920 the company had setup offices throughout America and Canada.  By the 1960s, RCC was one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus.  For years, the federal government did not regulate collecting private information on consumers.  So RCC was free to provide as much information on consumers as possible and to anyone who requested such data.  Often times this data was very personal, far beyond what we know of as “credit” today, and comparable to a private investigation company.  However, by the 1970s the Federal Trade Commission began to regulate the information that could be found with a credit bureau report, stating that consumers had rights to their own credit history. 

Not only did this ruling limit the information that could be spread; it also stated that consumers had the right to check their credit and that at least one free credit bureau report could be requested every year.  Eventually the Retail Credit Company changed its direction and evolved into the Credit Equifax Company of today.  Now Equifax focuses its efforts on financial and demographic data.  The Equifax of today maintains credit files on 400 million credit holders across the world.  Though the company is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, it has offices in 14 different countries and makes over $1.5 billion dollars a year.

In considering credit and Equifax, understand that although the business primarily sells its data to professional clients, it still offers products for consumers who want to dispute or analyze their credit history.  The Credit Equifax Watch option lets consumers log into a website and obtain reports on their credit history and credit score with unlimited access.  Furthermore, they can also keep updated on any changes that are made on the file and get access to Credit Lock, which prevents any inquiries into a credit file without permission.

Should you order a report on credit with Equifax?  Yes, but in doing so don’t forget to analyze your credit from the other big three credit bureaus including TransUnion and Experian.  A credit bureau report from Equifax will only give you data based on Equifax’s findings.  However, a tri-merge report can provide much more detail since it includes information from all three bureaus.  You do have the right to request a free once-a-year credit history report from all three bureaus so take advantage of this opportunity!

Credit Reports, Credit Bureaus 2008-11-22T14:38:10+00:00
The Experian Credit Bureau—What You Need To Know About Them No series of articles about the Big Three Credit Bureaus would be complete without an article about Experian, one of the largest credit bureaus in the world. 

You may have already read about TransUnion and Equifax by now, two of the three biggest companies in consumer credit information.  Now meet Experian.  Experian is the youngest of three major credit bureaus, having been founded in 1980 in Nottingham, England as CCN Systems, a division of GUS PLC.  Experian has been active in the last two decades, first acquiring TRW Information Services for its United States business in 1996 and then acquiring FootFall LTD, another information provider, and offering its services under its own marketing division.  In 2006, the company was de-merged from GUS PLC and listed on the London Stock Exchange the same year.  Last year, Experian also acquired Hitwise, an Internet monitor that can collect data directly from information provider networks. 

It’s safe to say that though Experian is young, they are still one of the most progressive credit bureaus and one of the most powerful worldwide.  The Experian Credit Bureau currently operates in 36 countries and employs over 15,000 workers.  Currently, Experian Credit Bureau is based in Dublin, Ireland with other offices in Nottingham, Costa Mesa and California.  Unlike some other bureaus, Experian also collects more personal information for resale, including demographical information and voluntary lifestyle data taken from surveys.

Experian has stated that its database contain records on over 200 million United States citizens as well as 450 million vehicles.  The Experian Credit Bureau offers its services not only to professional clients but also directly to consumers.  Like all credit bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission regulates Experian in America, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  Now consumers have total rights to their credit report as well as additional rights to dispute false charges that appear. 

The first step is to request a free copy of your credit report.  If you request it once every 12 months then you will never have to pay a fee.  You can request it via the Experian credit bureau phone number, mail or through their online website.  However, Experian, like other online services, may charge a fee for additional information relating to credit score or a tri-merger report.  After analyzing your credit you have the right to contact Experian.  The credit bureau phone number may not be of much help so try to write any disputes via postal letter.  Experian may be one of the most powerful companies in the world, but you as a consumer still have rights to your credit and name.

Credit Reports, Credit Bureaus 2008-11-21T20:53:07+00:00
5 Great Resources To Combat Identity Theft Are you confused about what to do if you are the victim of identity theft?  Join the crowd.  Here are five great resources to help you fight identity theft.  Identity theft can ruin your credit report (and hurt your finances).  Fight back.

These five resources are all free.  They are all great resources to help you fight identity theft and protect your credit reports.

1.  Easy Credit Book—This is a free guide produced by to help you learn how to improve your credit score.  The guide includes a number of tips on how to respond to potential identity theft issues.

2.  ID Theft: What It’s All About - This is a short and sweet pamphlet from the FTC that details how thieves can steal your personal information and use it to commit fraud for long periods without your knowledge. Here’s how to protect yourself, and what to do if you are a victim.

3.  Identity Theft - This booklet is designed to help you understand what identity theft is, how it happens, how to protect yourself, and what steps to take if your identity is stolen.

4.  Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information  - this short pamphlet explains your right to opt out of sharing some of your personal information and lists the types of information that financial companies can share about you.

5. Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number  - Someone illegally using your Social Security number can steal your financial identity and your money. Find out how to prevent identify theft, how to report it if you suspect it, and if you can get a new Social Security number if you are a victim.

Credit Reports, News and Resources 2008-10-24T20:36:42+00:00
Your Credit Score: How Employers Use It You probably know that credit card companies, mortgage companies and car lenders use your credit report and check your credit score.  Did you know that your credit reports can be pulled by potential employers as well?

It has been stated that a credit report is like a story, one that well summarizes the personal character of the borrower.  After all, creditors want to be informed if their potential borrower is a high risk and if they should decline an offer or raise the interest rates to cover their own potential loss.  If a consumer has had problems with credit in the past that is a sign that he or she will likely abuse credit again. 

How would you personally feel if someone close to you (i.e. a son-in-law or a business partner) had a questionable pass in which they fell thousands of dollars into debt?  What if this person had a history of car repossessions?  What if they owed $20,000 to several credit card companies?  What if they had a history of late payments?  When the history is made personal, then you may start to appreciate poor credit score and how the creditors feel when they review a new applicant’s file. 

A little known fact is that even employers have the right to analyze a person’s credit report score.  As job fields become closed and increasingly competitive, you can bet that more employers are utilizing credit check options than ever before.  The latest statistics show that credit checks for employment verification have increased at least 50%.  If you have a poor credit score how might an employer view this?  Is the employer looking to hire someone that is responsible with money?  If an applicant has a history of making impulsive decisions, ones that he cannot financially recover from, then this could turn out to be the equivalent of a bad job interview.

Of course, you could rationalize that a credit score, and how you have paid your bills in the past, is largely irrelevant to most employers who simply want identity verification.  Relying on character references is becoming less reliable than verifying records and professionally screening workers beforehand.  It’s true that credit checks can verify demographic and location information.  They will include identifiers such as name, spouse, social security number, alias, address, phone and previous employment.  Financial information may not be the employer’s priority.

However, if an employer has to choose between a worker with a list of repossessions, charge offs, delinquent accounts and civil judgments vs. a worker with perfect credit, who do you think is going to be hired?  This certainly illustrates that having good credit pays off in the end.

Credit Reports, Who Uses Your Credit Report 2008-10-09T14:21:12+00:00
Prevent Identity Theft The Internet and easy access to information is great in many ways.  Unfortunately, there are some downsides.  For example, it is getting easier for thieves to steal your identity.  You need to know how to prevent identity theft.  Prevention, and careful monitoring, is crucial to the health of your credit reports.

Identity theft is a crime; if you’re a victim of this crime it can have serious consequences. For example, identity theft can make it difficult to improve your credit score.  It cal also lead to legal troubles.  Since your credit history can be affected, you may have trouble getting a new job, housing, or insurance. This is because employers and landlords usually check the credit records of their applicants.

The crime of identity theft occurs when a thief gets information about your credit card numbers, name, address, social security number, and other personal information that should be kept confidential. After they obtained your personal information, they will usually make purchases, open bank accounts, apply for loans, apply for new credit cards, get government benefits, and forge checks in your name.

If you’re a victim, there are ways to solve this problem; you can report the crime to concerned authorities and you can apply for identity theft insurance. Many companies are offering insurance for people to protect their personal information. You can apply for this insurance as an option for homeowner’s insurance policy. However, having identity theft insurance does not prevent identity theft; it will only help you recover if in any case you have been a victim of this crime.

People who become victims of identity theft or identity fraud usually do not figure out how their personal information was acquired by the thief. So, it is wise that you should be careful about your personal information.

The best way to prevent this crime is to be careful with your personal information. You first have to know how criminals obtain your personal information.

Thieves obtain personal information in many simple ways. Here are some examples:

•  By stealing your wallet containing credit cards, and other personal information.

•  By going through your garbage for items containing personal

•  By providing personal information online through email or
registration based websites.

•  By pretending to be a new creditor to obtain your credit report.

•  By eavesdropping on your phone calls or looking over your shoulder as you use your personal information.

•  By promising prizes or awards by contacting you by email that would require you to provide personal and financial information.

Here are some transactions that also create risk:

•  Online banking
•  Online purchases
•  Storing personal information in your computer
•  Using your social security information for identification purposes.

However, this does not necessarily mean that you should avoid these transactions. It means that you should be careful when giving away your personal and financial information.

Being conscious on how you use your personal and financial information can prevent completion of identity theft.

Here are some tips for safeguarding your personal and financial information:

•  Memorize your social security number

•  Memorize your PIN numbers

•  Don’t use easy to guess passwords, like your birthday or your mother’s maiden name

•  Secure your computer by using firewall software and always update your computer security to safeguard your computer from spyware.

•  Confirm if the website URL that is requesting your personal information is authentic or legitimate.

•  Beware of emails, especially with attachments, belonging to someone you don’t know. Emails like these contain viruses or spyware that can easily be installed in your computer and can send your personal information stored in your computer to thieves.

•  Websites that ask for personal information should be secure. A secured website usually has URL that starts with “https://” with the “s” meaning secured.

•  Beware of telephone inquiries asking you to give your personal information, unless you contacted them.

•  If you lost your credit card, report it immediately to concerned authorities. It could have been stolen by identity thieves.

•  Get your mail as soon as it is delivered.

•  Do not discard bank, credit card or any other transaction receipts in public areas. Someone might obtain these information by dumpster diving.

These are some of the ways to safeguard your personal information.

But even if you do take these precautions, how do you make sure that you have not been a victim?  It’s unfortunate, but the only sure way to check is to order your credit reports regularly.  You can also sign up for a credit monitoring service to notify you of any issues that may arise on your credit reports.

With identity theft, it is better to be safe then sorry.  You need to take quick corrective action to avoid long-term damage to your credit history.

Credit Reports, Credit Monitoring 2008-10-07T01:45:39+00:00
The Big Three Bureaus: Credit Reporting Powerhouses Who are the big three bureaus of credit?  By name they are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  Though they are often referred to as the 3 major credit bureaus they are actually known by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as consumer reporting agencies.  Their job is to collect personal information and financial data on consumers from their sources of information.  These data furnishers are made up of creditors that each individual has had previous dealings with.  They may include commercial creditors, lending institutions, debt collection agencies, courts or utility companies.  All relevant information, including payoffs, open accounts, late payments, delinquent accounts and bankruptcy will be reported back to the credit bureaus.  That information will be of great interest to future lenders that want to know how creditworthy their new applicant is. 

How do the bureaus of credit decipher all this data?  Because there are so many consumers who are filing for credit at once, the credit bureaus assign a number to a case, based on the credit history.  This number alerts potential lenders to any dangers or risks the applicant might hold.  As you can imagine, this saves a lot of time in personally analyzing each case individually.  The credit score usually ranges from 300 to 850, with 300 being the lowest.  After seeing a report and score from the bureaus of credit, the new lender may choose to decline an application or raise the interest rates significantly.

However, the commercial companies are not the only ones that can access this information.  Since this information pertains to you, you have a right to view it at anytime, as stated by the FTC.  Furthermore, you get one free report every year from each of the 3 major credit bureaus.  Don’t take this right for granted.  In fact, most consumer welfare advocates suggest that you check your credit once a year, even if you are not expecting any loans anytime soon.  This is to ensure that the reports are accurate and that no errors or fraudulent activities have taken place.

In addition to a free report, consumers can also request commercial reports from the bureaus of credit, which include information on credit score (FICO, or a score unique to each bureau) as well as credit monitoring, which informs a consumer through email whenever there has been a change recorded on file.  Along with credit insurance, this is an ideal protection against any accidental or criminal damage to your good name. 

Credit Reports, Credit Bureaus 2008-09-24T23:20:15+00:00
Credit Monitoring Reports: What Are They? Credit Monitoring Reports are frequently sold to consumers who want to keep track of their credit score and their credit reports.  Find out what they are, and how you can use them to improve your credit score.

What is a credit monitoring report?  Don’t confuse credit monitoring services with the simple free credit report that is legally available to all consumers via the three major credit bureaus.  In fact, some companies offering credit monitoring report services are not affiliated with the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion). 

While every American is entitled to at least one free credit report each year, companies may charge for other services, including a credit score and a credit monitoring report, which is a regularly updated report on all credit activity. 

Why would a consumer need to pay extra for a credit monitoring report?  Credit monitoring reports can help you keep track of progress (hopefully upward) in your credit score.  They can also help you keep track of any fraudulent activity or identity theft (so you can fix the problem quickly).

Credit monitoring reports are frequently sold on a subscription basis.  In addition to regular updates detailing critical changes to your history, the service might also include regular unlimited access to your credit report, credit scores and reports explaining various data on your credit report.  Credit reports are abbreviated and may be difficult to read or to understand, regarding how history relates to credit score.  A consumer looking to improve or maintain their credit would appreciate such an explanatory report.

A credit monitoring report is an important online service that protects you against identity theft and one that can help you improve your score on a daily basis.

Credit Reports, Credit Monitoring 2008-09-23T23:54:34+00:00