Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Credit report with score on a desk

Credit report with score on a desk

Today’s top story: Why students missed out on nearly $3 billion dollars in financial aid. Also in the news: Things on your credit report that look like errors, but might not be, how to protect your loved ones from financial elder abuse, and how to protect inherited IRA assets from creditors via a trust.

3 Things on Your Credit Report That Look Like Errors, But Might Not Be
Analyzing your report.

Why students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid last year
The FAFSA is essential.

How to Protect Your Loved Ones (and Yourself) From Financial Elder Abuse
Protecting their assets.

Protect Inherited IRA Assets From Creditors With a Trust
Keeping your inheritance.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

o-CREDIT-REPORT-facebookToday’s top story: Tips on improving your credit score by Labor Day. Also in the news: How to get credit bureaus to remove errors from your credit report, the money moves college graduates should make, and how to decide between a credit card or a personal loan.

How to Improve Your Credit Score By Labor Day
Boosting your score over the summer.

5 Ways to Get Credit Bureaus to Remove Errors From Your Report
Be persistent.

Top 5 Money Moves to Make After Graduation
Don’t let your student loan debt overwhelm you.

Credit Card vs. Personal Loan: Which One Should I Get?
The pros and cons of both.

Catch The Company Stock Tax Break While You Can
The window is closing on a little known tax break.

4 hacks to boost your credit scores–fast

FICO-score-calculation-300x281Losing points from your credit scores is all too easy — and getting them back is hard. But if you know how credit scoring works, you can hack the process to rehabilitate your numbers faster. Here are four effective strategies to do just that.

(This article first appeared as “4 hacks to boost your credit score quickly” on DailyWorth.)

Pay your credit cards twice each month. Even if you pay your balances in full every month, using up too much of your available credit at any given time can hurt your scores. You can lessen the damage by making two payments each month: one just before the card’s statement closing date and another just before the due date. The first payment typically reduces the balance that’s reported to the credit bureaus, while the second assures that you don’t wind up paying interest or incurring a late fee on any remaining charges.

Dispute old, small collection accounts. The latest version of the leading credit scoring formula, the FICO 8, already ignores collection accounts where the original balance was less than $100. Not all lenders use this formula, though, so you might see an increase in your scores if you dispute that $50 parking ticket you forgot to pay or the $75 medical bill that slipped through the cracks of your insurer’s reimbursement system. The collection agencies that report these minor bills may not bother to respond to the credit bureaus’ investigation attempts, especially as the accounts approach the seven-year mark, where they’d have to be dropped from your credit reports anyway.

Get added as an authorized user on someone else’s account. Another person’s good history with their credit card could be imported into your credit bureau files to help burnish your scores. Plus, the other person doesn’t have to give you access to the account — you can be an authorized user in name only. Some card companies will allow this importing only if you’re a relative, so check in advance.

Pay off your credit cards with a personal loan. Paying down your credit card balances widens the gap between your available credit and the amount you’re using, which is great for your scores. If you can’t pay your cards off immediately, consider moving the balances to a three-year personal loan. Balances on such installment loans don’t affect your scores as strongly as balances on credit cards. Check with your local credit union first, since these member-owned financial institutions tend to offer the best rates and terms on personal loans.

For more of my DailyWorth columns, visit https://www.dailyworth.com/tags/liz-weston.

Big changes afoot for credit bureaus and your scores

check-credit-report-easilyCredit bureaus will have to hold off on reporting delinquent medical bills and supply actual human beings to review disputes under an agreement announced today with New York’s attorney general.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement, to be announced later today, will change how credit bureaus operate nationally. Bureaus will have to wait 180 days before reporting any medical debt on people’s credit reports. When an insurance company pays a medical bill, all references to it will have to be deleted from the individual’s reports.

This is a big deal, since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates about 43 million Americans medical collection accounts on their credit reports. One such collection can devastate an otherwise pristine credit report and cause credit scores to plunge.

Having human beings review disputes is another significant change. Currently, humans stick a code on disputes before they’re sent to lenders, but the process is highly automated. Errors that have been removed from a report can crop up again (and again and again) when the lenders upload their data files to the bureaus. Getting problems fixed can be a frustrating process when you can’t get a human being to intervene.

The changes won’t happen overnight. The bureaus have three and a half years to roll them out.