Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 things your credit reports won’t reveal. Also in the news: More credit card issuers are letting you pay off debt for free, everything you need to know about mortgage loan modifications, and how to stay debt-free during back-to-school shopping.

5 Things Your Credit Reports Won’t Reveal
What’s missing from your credit report.

More Credit Card Issuers Let You Pay Off Debt for Free
It’s never been easier to transfer balances.

All You Need to Know About Mortgage Loan Modifications
Modifications could help prevent foreclosure.

How to Stay Debt-Free During the Back-to-School Shopping Rush
Tips for getting it done.

Q&A: Are credit checks a scam?

Dear Liz: In July last year, I accessed the website for my free credit report before applying for a car loan. I have also been in recovery from cancer treatment and haven’t been great about checking my Visa statement until now. For the past year, my credit card has been charged $19.95 each month for some kind of “credit check” service. I never authorized this, nor did I request this service. I contacted the site, and they will refund me only one month of billing. Is this some kind of scam? How do they get away with this, and what can I do?

Answer: It may not technically be a scam, but the site’s business model profits from people’s confusion about how to get free credit reports.

The site you used is not the federally mandated site for free credit reports. It’s likely one that you found by typing “free credit reports” into a search engine and then clicking on one of the first results, which was probably an ad. To find the real site, you need to type www.annualcreditreport.com into your browser. You won’t need to give your credit card number to get your reports.

You may be able to get another month’s fee refunded by contacting your credit-card issuer and disputing the charge. By federal law, you’re supposed to make such disputes within 60 days after the statement containing the disputed charge was sent to you. Write to the issuer at its address for billing inquiries (not the address where you send your payments) and send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

uk-budget-greenest-government_233Today’s top story: How to simplify your finances in 2016. Also in the news: The questions credit carholders should be asking, what homeowners can expect in 2016, and how long different items stay on your credit report.

Four Ways To Simplify Your Finances In 2016
Making your financial life a little easier.

5 Questions Every Credit Cardholder Should Ask Once a Year
No better time to ask than the present.

9 things homeowners can expect in 2016
From higher home values to lower gas bills.

How Long Different Items Stay on Your Credit Report
How long under that late payment drops off?

How to deal with aging parents and money
Starting the conversation.

Q&A: Credit reports for the deceased

Dear Liz: How does one get credit reports for someone who is dead? My deceased husband is still on my mortgage and I’d like to review his report to make sure it is correct. The estate went through probate, so I have court documents showing I am the executor. I looked at credit bureau websites and attempted to contact them by phone but have not been able to determine what information they need or where it should be sent.

Answer: The only thing that needs to be correct about your husband’s credit reports is the fact that he’s dead. Any other mistakes are irrelevant at this point, but his identity can still be stolen if the bureaus don’t know he’s deceased.

This is no small issue. About 2 million dead people have their identities stolen every year, either because they’ve been deliberately targeted or because criminals filling out credit applications used made-up Social Security numbers that happen to match those of people who have died, according to a 2012 study by research firm ID Analytics.

Eventually, the credit bureaus should get word of a death. Bureaus periodically check the Social Security death master file, which is a database of all the deaths reported to the agency. Lenders also notify the bureaus when they receive information that someone has died.

Just to make sure, though, you should notify the bureaus directly. Ask that a “deceased alert” be added to his files. Send death certificates — the real thing, not photocopies — by certified mail, return receipt requested. The addresses to use include:

TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax, P.O. Box 740260, Atlanta, GA 30374

Monday’s need-to-know money news

check-credit-report-easilyToday’s top story: Five credit reports you may not know about. Also in the news: Money gift ideas for the holidays, why your nest egg could be at risk next year, and the top money scams affecting your pocketbook.

5 Credit Reports You Don’t Know About But Should
How’s your casino credit?

5 Money Gift Ideas for the Holidays
Financially creative gift giving.

5 Reasons Why Your Nest Egg Could be at Risk in 2016
Looking towards the future.

12 Top Scams Affecting Your Pocketbook
The latest scams you need to watch out for.

Your credit score may matter more than your driving record

CRO_TOC_Cover_09_2015The vast majority of auto insurers use credit information to help determine your premiums, except in the three states where it’s not allowed (California, Massachusetts and Hawaii). Credit scores don’t just matter–a new special investigation by Consumer Reports has found that sometimes your credit scores matter more than your driving record.

The researchers hired a company called Quadrant Information Services, which gathers the mathematical pricing formulas insurers have to file with the states. They used the data to create 20 hypothetical policyholders and analyzed what happened when various ratings factors were changed. In Kansas, for example, a moving violation would boost a single policyholder’s premium by $122 on average, but a good (rather than a great) credit score would increase it by $233. A bad score could drive it up by $1,3o1.

The credit scores insurers use aren’t the same as the ones lenders use, and you have no right to see the insurance scores that are being used to judge you.

The researchers get a bit off track when they imply that using credit scores discriminates against the poor, because that isn’t something that’s backed up by research. But you should have a right to see any score that’s being used to judge you, and to challenge the accuracy of the underlying information that goes into the score.

 

 

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

debt collectorsToday’s top story: Getting debt collectors off of your credit report is about to get easier. Also in the news: How to change a bad spending habit, the worst financial mistakes you can make during a divorce, and the worst markets in America to buy a home.

Why Kicking Debt Collectors Off of Your Credit Report Just Got Easier
Changes are coming to your credit report.

To Change a Spending Habit, Focus on Cause and Effect
Tiny changes could make a big difference.

3 Worst Financial Mistakes You Can Make in a Divorce
How to protect your best interests.

The 10 Worst Markets in America to Buy a Home Right Now
Where you buy matters.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Finding a credit card after declaring bankruptcy. Also in the news: Money mistakes for Millennials to avoid, finding relief for your student loan hangover, and what you need to know about the new credit reporting rules.

5 Credit Cards You Can Get After Bankruptcy
Easing your way back into the credit game.

Don’t Make These Money Mistakes, Millennials
Time to face the real world.

Relief for the Student-Loan Hangover
Beginning the slow emergence from years of loans.

What You Need to Know About The New Credit Reporting Rules
Fixing an error on your report is about to get easier.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Big changes are coming to your credit report. Also in the news: Excuses for not saving for retirement, how your social life changes when you’re saving money, and what to do as you approach retirement.

Big Changes to Credit Reports Are on the Way: What It Means for You
A new way of handling disputes.

5 Poor Excuses People Have for Not Saving for Retirement
No excuses!

Why Saving Money Means Changing, Not Eliminating, How You Socialize
No reason to become anti-social.

5 Things to Do Now if You’re Near Retirement
Start getting ready!

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

o-CREDIT-REPORT-facebookToday’s top story: Changes to the credit report dispute process are on the way. Also in the news: What to do with your tax refund, things you should consider as you approach retirement, and the biggest tax law changes you need to know about.

Your Biggest Credit Report Complaint May Be Getting Fixed
Changes in the dispute process are on the way.

What to Do With Your Tax Refund
Suggestions other than an Apple Watch.

7 Items for Your To-Do List in the Year You Retire
Things to consider as you approach the finish line.

The Biggest Tax Law Changes You Need to Know About This Year
April 15th is just around the corner.