Head's Up (Credit reports)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by GoingNorth, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Made a rather nasty discovery when I pulled my annual 3 free credit reports this year.

    You know about going insurance shopping (for car/home insurance)? Well, they confirm your eligibility over the phone.

    Turns out going insurance shopping screws up your credit because each company runs an inquiry on you. Same with going credit card shopping.

    I have done both in the past year. As a result, I have a mess of inquiries on my credit reports. This does not work in my favour. In fact, it cost me 20 points on my FICO score and I had nearly reached my goal of having a 720 (excellent) FICO score.

    The nut to the story is that one should ask if they are pulling a credit report on you.

    The only legit inquiries are one request for a line increase and one my insurer ran before renewing my policies. Those are no problem. It's this pile of unauthorized inquiries that is hurting.

    I've also got "short" credit as I've only had credit cards for 3 years and a car loan for a year. Never had credit cards before and always paid cash for cars (late model used).

    You can also ask the agencies to block automated soft inquiries that are generated whenever some kind lender sends you a CC or ins. offer. I was getting a LOT of that junk. I don't need more credit cards and am more than capable of doing my own research.

    I can ask for line increases if I need them and if I am dissatisfied with a card, can apply on my own elsewhere. I don't need to be solicited by mail.

    I have the limits I can afford. Some of this stuff is stupid, too. Walmart just increased my credit line from 500 to 1100 dollars. Not sure how one can spend that kind of $$ at Wallyworld unless one buys a couple snow blowers, or has mechanical work done.

    It's one more thing to watch out for and FICO scores affect everything nowadays. WI allows the use of FICO scores by employers and poor credit costs you a lot of opportunities.

    I have to send the three agencies a letter requesting that I opt out of automated "pulls".

    I plan to do that this coming week. Also, shred or otherwise destroy those "free" credit offers if you don't plan on taking advantage of them. The "reference/offer" number on them provides enough info if the lenders aren't secure to start the process on you.

    SHred bank statements also,and unused deposit slips. Those have your routing and account number and make it very easy for the identity theft bandits to drain your account.

    The Walmart thing amused in a twisted way as all I get there are my prescriptions and groceries. I got the WM card when I was still trying to become established and never got close to my original limit. What makes them think I NEEDED a limit increase? If I were right at the limit and my credit was good enough, I could see them increasing.

    Discover reviews your file for limit increases and interest rate cuts yearly. Citibank yearly also. Check with your lenders and see what their policy is. I've asked Discover and Visa to only raise my limits on request. Keeps the number of inquiries down.

    Also, it is now legal in all states for medical bills to be reported. Watch these. A bad medical debt drops off your report in 7 years. It is very common for them to place old debts due to expire with a collection agency. KNOW your debts and when they were incurred. It is illegal for them to try to reopen old debts that have expired, but if you send the collectors so much as a penny, it starts the clock again at zero. Another 7 years of black marks on your record.

    I know many of you already know this, but I also know that many of you don't use credit for whatever reason, or just started using credit.

    This is for those people.

    You get one free report per year. It's a matter of writing to the reporting agencies and requesting it. The three agencies are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

    I have had reports corrected before. There's no fee to do this. You just have to ask for the bureaus to correct the report and provide proof.

    I just got rid of an erroneous judgement on my transunion report. Someone else with the same name as mine (there are 9 of us in the US) had a medical bill go to judgement, lost the judgement and didn't pay on it at all.

    The investigation took a week. TransUnion sent me a letter confirming that the entry was in error and sent me a corrected new report.

    That's another thing. Different lenders use different bureaus. Check all three reports. The judgement only showed up on Transunion.

    Take control of your credit. Get your reports yearly and any time you've been turned down for credit, insurance, or employment due to information contained on your reports.
     
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Another suggestion is to sign up at credit karma. It is a truly free service that helps you monitor your score and your credit report. I have been using them for years to monitor my credit without fees, junk emails, etc.
     
  3. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Funny you should mention this now because I just yesterday checked mine online and now I'm more confused than ever! I too have only one credit card and use it very sparingly. I only applied to one cc company and was issued the card. But on my report there are inquiries showing for several other cc companies also ... is that them doing that? It sure wasn't me. And is that counting against me? I've gotten offers from other credit card companies in the mail and just tear them up.

    I got so frustrated trying to dispute an item on my report, I finally just gave up! And now, of course, since you just get one free one per year, I can't get back in to it! Back in 2001 I bought the only brand new car I have had since the sixties, financed through GMAC. I never missed a payment, never paid late. Years later, with only two more payments to make, about $500 total, a deer ran out in front of me and the car was totaled. My car insurance paid off the balance to GMAC and sent me the rest which I used to buy another car. Never heard another word from GMAC. This was several years ago. Now, checking my report, one of the credit bureaus is showing that I still owed GMAC over $2500 and that it was written off!! According to this, I just suddenly stopped making payments and still owed this big amount! If they really thought that, wouldn't they have contacted me, even tried to repossess the car? So I tried to dispute the charge - they give you one of those little squares to type in. It said my reply was too long, so I cut it down. Still too long so I cut it again. I got it down to one short sentence - still too long! I never did get it in and got so mad I was saying all the 4-letter words I knew! Moral of the story I guess is that you have to check it every year and stay on top of it.

    One thing though ... I thought medical bills could ALWAYS be put on your credit report. We learned that the hard way a few years ago. My son had applied for a job with a retail store that checks the credit of job applicants because they will be handling large amounts of money. It showed at least a dozen small unpaid medical bills, looked like co-pays for doctors visits and hospital ER visits. NONE of these were his and all were from the small town where his scum svcking father had lived, some even had his fathers address on them! We finally figured out that his "father" had used his name and SSN and all those co-pays the insurance didn't pay (and that he had no intention of paying) went right on my sons credit report as bad debts! And yes, he was low down enough to do that, and no, we never did figure out a way to get them off of my sons report.
     
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Donna, I think we (you and I and everyone over 55) have a big disadvantage. We truly believe that Honesty reigns. The biggest disappointment in aging (for me) is finding out that all the basic rules of "do under others...etc." are no longer in place. Based on GN's post I actually checked my credit. What a shock! It is close to accurate. on the other hand I now believe that at any time some "unknown" factor can put my reputation in jeopardy and it chaps me off. DDD
     
  5. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    It makes me crazy and I'm "only" 53. If you go to the internet and check "gethuman.com" (I think), you can get a direct line to the agencies that will let you talk to someone. I did this and started the investigation that way. They weren't exactly thrilled to hear from me, but if you go the regular number listed on the report, there is no way to get to a live person (or a dead one for that matter).

    I busted my tail to get re-established after losing the house and filing for bankruptcy in 2003 when my job went away (got outsourced to India). Credit is such a huge part of one's reputation these days that it's really scary to think of how easily one can be labelled a "deadbeat".
     
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I thought I was doing a wonderful thing back in 07 when I bought a new car, put a large down payment on it and paid it off 2 months early. I was never late, never missed a payment, it went perfectly. Well buying that car did nothing for my credit. I have no clue why. I havent had a credit card since 1984 when Tony and I got one for Sears and I went over the limit. Learned my lesson!

    When my car got totaled I decided to try to get a late model used car and put another large down payment and maybe owe just a few thousand which I could pay off in 2 years or less. Well my credit was bad because I have no credit! Or I have no revolving credit which is what they want. I keep trying to tell people, if I would rather pay cash so I can afford my bills, why is that a bad thing? I still dont understand. However I did do something which is probably idiotic to get revolving credit. I needed a new fridge back in Sept because mine died. I had replaced 3 of them in probably 7 or 8 years. I decided to get a new one when this furniture company approved my credit. I figured the new fridge which came with a great warranty would be good for me. We shall see.
     
  7. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Janet, a static loan alone won't work miracles. You need to get a secured credit card. This is where you put down $$ and the dollars you put down are your credit limit.

    Get a card like this, charge a little, and pay it off every month. That's what I did 4 years ago. Once I'd had the secured card for a couple of years, I was able to get 2 cards and a department store charge card that charged high interest. No problem if you pay them off monthly.

    My "progression" was secured card. Kohl's card. Had those for a couple of years with a good record. I then was able to get 2 bank cards with no fees but high interest.

    I did that for another two years with a good record and then was able to get a car loan. (I dumped the secured card asap once I got other cards. Got my deposit back with no issues).

    Recently, I reviewed my credit and called the bank card companies and told them that if they wanted to keep me as a customer, they needed to lower my interest and get rid of the annual fees. Discover took care of that. BofA refused. I transferred my balance on the BofA Visa to a card with much better terms from Citibank.

    IT takes TIME to restore credit. There are no magic fixes. It also takes discipline. You cannot skate by making minimum payments. The interest will choke you and it doesn't look good on your reports. At worst, you need to pay more than minimum. Ideally you need to pay the balance off monthly. You have to have the discipline to remember that the card is real money and that you cannot spend more than you can afford monthly.

    The first thing to do is pull your reports. This is especially important as you've had a family member steal from you. You want to be sure there are no cards in your name or bad checks out there.

    The other thing is that IIRC, you've got a judgement sitting out there. Those look awful to potential lenders. It takes 7 years with no activity for a judgement to drop off your report.

    You can't know what you're working with unless you pull the reports from the three agencies. That is your first step. You can contest entries that are incorrect and you can attach explanations to those that are correct.

    I think your judgement is from a veterinarian when your neighbour shot your dog? Not sure how you'd explain that, but it doesn't hurt to try.

    Meanwhile, keep on top of your bills, ALL of them.
     
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