How Healthy Is Your Credit?

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There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit
report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

Use these tips to give your credit profile the “tune-up?it needs:

Tip #1- Check for Errors
Your credit report or profile is more than just a collection of who your creditors are and how much you owe them or have paid them.

The first thing you need to do is carefully check that your credit report is accurate. Nearly 70% of credit reports contain errors.

These errors may be as simple as an incorrect middle initial or address. Or it could be as serious as a creditor reporting that you were late with a payment when in fact you were not late at all.

This error might not seem like a big deal to you. However,to a future lender like a mortgage company it makes a big difference !

Carefully examine your credit report and if you find an error contact your creditor and the credit bureaus. Catchand correct these errors now before it hurts your chances of securing credit in the future.

Tip #2 – Correcting Errors
The two most common errors contained in credit reports are:

1) wrong account information
2) incorrect recording of late payments.

If you find an account reported that does not belong you, you need to contact the credit grantor or issuer immediately. Remember, finding accounts that you have not personally opened is a sign of possible identity theft.

Hopefully you’ll discover that this error is nothing more than an oversight and not an identity theft problem. Most often this occurs when they report an account belonging to a family member or someone with a similar name on your credit report.

If your problem is an error in reporting a late payment you will need proof to back up your case before this error can be corrected or removed. The most common error occurs when a payment is reported as “late?when it was actually a current or “on time?payment.

In either case, the problem can and should be corrected. You will need to correct the error in writing. Keep a journal or log of all calls and correspondence.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the credit bureaus and the agency reporting the information to the credit bureau to correct inaccurate information in your credit report. Therefore, it is important that you contact both the credit bureau and the creditor whose information is in dispute.

A sample letter is included here to help you in correcting your credit profile. Make sure that you clearly identify the information that you dispute, include copies of receipts or documents that support your position. Then request that the information be corrected or deleted from your file.

Send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt from the recipient. Keep all correspondence that you mail out. Give the agencies involved 30 days to begin their investigation. You can call them but be aware that phoning them does not protect your consumer rights! You must notify them in writing to protect your rights.

They must notify you of the results of their investigation. Although the process will take time, it’s important to do it. This is your credit profile, your “consumer identity?that is at stake. Don’t expect an error to correct itself.

At your request, the credit bureaus must send notices of corrections to your credit profile to anyone who has requested your report in the last six months. If you applied for a job and were turned down because of inaccurate information in your credit report, you can have the corrected report mailed to anyone who received a copy in the past two years.

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Sample Dispute Letter
Date

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute are also encircled on the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

Originally Posted at http://www.ftc.gov/

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Tip #3 – Budget Planning
You can also use your credit report to help you plan and implement a personal budget. Your credit report will show you where you are spending your hard earned dollars. While the credit card balances may not be completely current, you’ll still see which of your cards has the highest balance outstanding.

If you have more than one major credit card you should compare the annual percentage rate (APR) you are paying on each account. If you are working on a budget to “pay
down?your credit cards, start by paying down the one with the highest APR or interest.

Once that credit account is paid off, move toward paying off the account with the second highest APR. Using this method you will be able to concentrate your efforts toward paying down your outstanding credit obligations.

You should also check with your credit card company to see what’s the best annual percentage rate (APR) they can offer you. If you are a good customer, you can often qualify for a lower rate than what you are currently being offered.

Caution: Ask if the new rate you are getting is a “promotional?rate or a “contract?rate. A promotional rate will expire at the end of the promotional term, for example 6 months. A contract rate does not have an “expiration?as long as you continue to meet the terms outlined by your creditor for that rate.

Tip #4 – Making a major purchase
If you are considering a major purchase such as a car or a home, checking your credit report gives you the chance to see what a potential lender sees and uses to judge your credit worthiness.

You want to make sure that your credit report is accurate before you apply for that sports car or new home. Errors or problems can be corrected before your lender can use
those against you and deny your credit request. You’ll also have a better idea of what type or rate of credit you should expect from a potential lender.

Tip #5 – Check your credit report regularly
Check your credit report regularly. Guard your “consumer identity?as you would anything else you treasure. Use your credit wisely, along with these tips, and you will enjoy the benefits that your good credit and your good name deserve now – and for years to come.

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High Interest Credit Cards: Quick Tips

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Those of you who want to apply for major high interest credit cards to re establish or just to establish new credit should consider the price that they will ultimately pay, including interest, yearly fees, etc…

high interest credit cards

Most of the high interest credit cards are usually pretty easy to get and really the high interest rate only matters if you are going to roll over your balances from month to month. People that have been involved in bankruptcies, judgments or have a bad credit score, for some other reason are the most common applicants for these high interest credit cards. It might be possible to lower your interest charges with credit card balance transfers. If you are looking to consolidate all your debts or you just want to pay off your high interest credit cards, apply for a card that offers a low rate on balance transfers.

Those of you who want to apply for a major high interest credit card to re establish or just to establish new credit should consider the price that they will ultimately pay, including interest, yearly fees, etc… Those who have good credit may qualify for credit cards that offer a 0 percent interest rate on balance transfers for a full year, but be aware, if you make a payment late, you might end up paying higher interest than before you transferred your balance. A recent FDIC study revealed that the overwhelming rise in bankruptcy rates (up 400 percent in the last 25 years) is directly related to banking de-regulation and the use of high-interest credit cards.

Many credit cards can have interest rates, 15, 19 and even 24 percent or higher.?At these very high interest rates you are paying a lot of money in interest. If you are in a bind and missing payments, many credit card companies might agree to reduce your debt on a credit card dramatically if the borrower is able to pay off the balance rather than continue to miss payments, so it might be worth contacting a debt expert to negotiate on your behalf. If you have a good credit score, one way of paying all of your high interest credit card balances, is to take out a debt consolidation loan, which will mean that you can pay off all of your credit cards with one lower interest loan, possibly saving you quite a bit of money.

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2006 Economy: How to Avoid Overextending Yourself

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The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and is moving into its fifth year of expansion. The biggest risk is the housing market which is expected to slow this year and potentially drag the economy down with it. Many people are betting that the housing market will avoid a major crash but instead will plateau leaving prices stagnant. The resulting rise in interest rates could put a lot of families under financial stress.

finance, housing, credit card, economy, 2006

The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and is moving into its fifth year of expansion. The biggest risk is the housing market which is expected to slow this year and potentially drag the economy down with it. Many people are betting that the housing market will avoid a major crash but instead will plateau leaving prices stagnant. The resulting rise in interest rates could put a lot of families under financial stress.

A housing market that is not growing quickly turns into a buyer’s market. People will have a number of houses to choose from which will block any increasing value for current home owners. To most home owners this will not be a problem because they have conventional fixed-rate mortgages and only need to wait until the market improves. People who have unconventional 5-year arms and interest only loans may be seriously hurt; especially if interest rates rise.

“I think one of the principal risks is whether or not home prices decline and the impact that that will have in terms of influencing the savings rate and personal consumption growth as we have already seen in the U.K. and Australia?said David Rosenberg a U.S. economist at Merrill Lynch (Wolk, 2005).

A bigger problem is people’s personal savings rates. Because debt is so easy today and most families are at a maximum borrowing limit many people who will see a jump in their interest payments may begin to default. This default raises the interest rate even further due to increased risks associated with lending money. In the end many people will not have money to spend or save which could have serious consequences for the economy as a whole.

The best measure to avoid such pit falls is to put a larger sum down on your house during purchase which gives you a cushion to work with incase you need to sell your house quickly. The second measure is to avoid all credit card balances, home equity loans and charge cards. Finally, only engage in fixed-rate mortgages.

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