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Newsletter #236

Construction Loans Mortgage

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

James Todd
May, 2005 - Summer is just around the corner.

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  1. A Primer on Credit Reporting and Credit Scores
  2. Thought for the Day
  3. Subscription Information
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1. A Primer on Credit Reporting

What is a credit report?

Your credit history, and other personal information about you, is collected and kept on file with major credit reporting agencies (“CRAs”), such as Trans Union, Equifax and Experian. CRAs legally sell your credit report information to businesses that, under the law, have the right to obtain and use your otherwise private credit information when, for example, you apply for credit, insurance, or employment. You have a credit record on file at a CRA if you have ever applied for a credit or charge account, a personal loan, insurance, or a job. Your credit record contains information about your debts and credit payment history. It also indicates whether you have been sued, arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy.

Annually, over 2 billion credit reports are sold to businesses, so most American consumers have had their credit reports looked at many times each year. However, every year, only a small percentage of consumers ask for and receive copies of their own credit reports. That means that hundreds of millions of consumers who have important decisions made about them daily, based on their credit reports, have never even bothered to look at their own reports.

What’s in my credit report?

Your credit report contains the following types of information:

  • Your name, and your spouse’s name;
  • where you live, where you work, and where you used to work;
  • your Social Security number, prior addresses, phone number and birth date;
  • whether you’ve paid bills on time, and how much credit you have available;
  • if you’ve been late with rent or a mortgage payment;
  • whether, and to whom, you have made an application for credit or a loan;
  • companies who obtained your credit report; and
  • bankruptcies, foreclosures, court judgments, convictions or tax liens.
Any particular company may not necessarily use all of these items in making determinations based on such reports.

What is a credit or insurance score?

The terms credit score or insurance score refer to a system used by companies to assist in determining what they consider to be a consumer’s creditworthiness, insurability, or employability. Businesses use a variety of formulas to translate a consumer’s credit information into a credit or insurance score. They may, for example, help predict how creditworthy the consumer is as compared to other consumers.

Who are the major credit reporting agencies?

There are three major credit-reporting agencies in the country, each of which probably has a credit file on you. They are Trans Union, 1-800-916-8800,; Equifax, 1-800-685-1111,; and Experian, 1-888-397-3742,

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Buying or Building a New House – Your credit scores could cost you tens of thousands.
If you are building a home or just buying one, you’d better check your credit score. Why? It’s simply really. Your credit score significantly impact your ability to borrow money. Erroneous or old entries on your credit report could result in higher mortgage rate., which in turn could result in tens of thousands of dollars of extra interest payments over the life of your loan. Worse still, these erroneous entries could result in you being UNABLE to get an loan at all. Don’t let your credit history become a headache in your new home building process. Check your credit. Get your free credit report today.

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Why should I care about possible errors in my credit report?

While a good credit report can help you, errors in your credit report can cost you money. The General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress (GAO) has stated that accurate credit reports are critical to the credit process – for consumers attempting to obtain credit and to lending institutions making decisions about extending credit. Similarly, the Federal Trade Commission has told consumers that, because businesses use credit report information to evaluate consumers’ applications for credit, insurance, employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), it is important that the information in consumer credit reports are complete and accurate.

Industry officials and studies indicated that credit report errors could either help or hurt individual consumers, depending on the nature of the error and the consumer’s personal circumstances. Although the GAO recently concluded that there was insufficient evidence to indicate whether significant errors were common or rare in credit reports, it did conclude that a good way to help ensure the accuracy of credit reports is for consumers themselves to review their own consumer reports.

If there are mistakes in your credit reporting costing you money, only you are in the best position to discover them and do something about it. You may think you have great credit and don’t need to worry about it, but you may be surprised at what is in your actual credit report. Your report may show late payments that were actually made on time. Or it may fail to show positive information about your credit, such as accounts that you have always paid on time.
On the other hand, your report may be completely accurate. Unless you check it yourself, you may not know. For that reason, Congress has urged all Americans to check their own credit reports in order to look out for potential mistakes that could be costing them money.

Can I demand to know what’s in my credit report?

Yes. If you contact any of the major credit reporting agencies listed above, they must give you the information they keep on file about you.

What do I need to know about free credit reports?

There’s no charge for a credit report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit-reporting agency. In addition, in a few states you’re entitled to one free report a year. Otherwise, a credit-reporting agency may currently charge you up to $9 for a copy of your report. Based upon new legislation, which will be fully implemented later this year, everyone will be entitled to receive, upon request, one free credit report, per year, from each of the credit reporting agencies. Since information in credit reports changes frequently, the federal government and credit expert’s advice consumers to check their credit reports regularly, even if they have already been provided an earlier report during the year. Even if you have not been denied credit or insurance, you may want to see the information in your credit report. Some financial advisors suggest you review your credit report for inaccuracies or omissions, especially if you’re planning a major purchase, such as buying a home or a car. Checking the accuracy of the information in your credit report could speed the credit-granting process

What is the Fair Credit Report Act?

In 1970, Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA limits, among other things, the occasions on which a company may receive a copy of your credit report. It also requires the company, if it takes adverse action against you based in whole or in part on information in your credit report, to tell you of its decision. The company must also tell you the name of the credit-reporting agency that provided your credit report to it, and information on how to contact that credit-reporting agency. The company must also advise you of your right to obtain a free copy of your credit report that was used to take adverse action against you.

How can I fix errors in my credit reports?

Additional information about these topics is available at the website In general, you may notify a credit-reporting agency that there are errors in your credit report and provide any documents you have to support your position. Under the law, the agency must conduct an investigation into the accuracy of the information. This includes contacting the source of the information that you believe is incorrect and obtaining verification. Generally, the agency has 30 days to investigate. After the agency completes its investigation, it has five days to report back to you. If the agency can’t verify the negative information, it has to delete it. If the negative information stays in your file, you have the right to have it marked as disputed information.

Where can I get more information about my rights concerning my credit report?

You can find helpful information at the following locations: (The Federal Trade Commission website); (the website for the National Association of Consumer Advocates); or (the website for the National Consumer Law Center).

4. Thought For The Day - Giving

If there be any truer measure of a man then by what he does, it must be by what he gives.

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