Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to shop during Medicare open enrollment. Also in the news: Don’t wait to apply for student loans for next year, 6 things you should add to your pandemic travel kit, and how to handle a suspicious inquiry in your credit report.

Medicare Open Enrollment: How to Shop
Two Medicare-related open enrollment periods offer a chance to switch your coverage. Here’s how to compare plans.

Don’t wait to apply for student loans for next year—some of the money could actually run out
Apply for the FAFSA now, there is ‘a lot of risk in applying late’

6 things you should add to your pandemic travel kit
It’s a whole new ballgame.

How to Handle a Suspicious Inquiry in Your Credit Report
Contact the lender directly.

Q&A: Weekly free credit reports

Dear Liz: In a recent column, you wrote that credit reports are now available weekly from AnnualCreditReport.com. Most people understand that they are entitled to a free credit report once a year via that site. Please explain what is meant by “now available weekly?” By signing up for a paid service from one or more of the credit reporting agencies, or for free, or what?

Answer: AnnualCreditReport.com was created to provide free annual reports, but now you can get your free reports every week.

If you navigate to AnnualCreditReport.com, you’ll see an announcement from the three credit bureaus that the site will provide free credit reports weekly until April 2021.

Free means free. You don’t have to pay or provide credit card information, although the bureaus may try to sell you credit monitoring or other services.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit score drop? How to diagnose why and what to do next. Also in the news: A new episode of the SmartMoney podcast on the safety of Bitcoin, what to do if you’re struggling with IRS delays, and what to do about your FSA contributions if your child care is closed.

Credit Score Drop? How to Diagnose Why, and What to Do Next
Time to check your credit report.

SmartMoney Podcast: ‘Is Bitcoin Safe?’
A look at the popular cryptocurrency.

Try these workarounds if you’re struggling with IRS delays
Tips on how to get help.

What to Do About Your FSA Contributions if Your Child Care Is Closed
The IRS has made some changes.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Be first in line for college aid by filing the FAFSA now. Also in the news: What to expect when requesting a credit line increase, four ways to supplement your college financial aid, and preparing your finances for the holidays.

Be First in Line for College Aid by Filing the FAFSA Now
Get it done today.

Requesting a Credit Limit Increase? Here’s What to Expect
You could see a “hard pull” on your credit report.

4 ways to supplement your college financial aid
Covering the costs beyond tuition.

It’s Time to Prepare Your Finances for the Holidays
Stores are already decorating for Christmas.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Charged an overdraft fee? Expect to pay $35 at banks, $26 at credit unions. Also in the news: This year’s important Black Friday dates, how to catch up on holiday savings, and why you shouldn’t use credit apps as a substitute for checking your credit report.

Charged an Overdraft Fee? Expect to Pay $35 at Banks, $26 at Credit Unions
Something to consider when choosing where to put your money.

When Is Black Friday? Hint: It’s Not Just One Day
Important dates to keep in mind.

No holiday savings yet? Here’s how to build your funds fast
There’s still time to catch up.

Don’t Use Credit Apps as a Substitute for Checking Your Credit Report
You still need to make sure your report is accurate.

Q&A:Closing credit accounts

Dear Liz: I paid off and closed two large home equity lines of credit in April, but these HELOCs still appear on my credit report. The lender says they reported the transactions to the credit reporting agencies “immediately” and that the delay in having them removed is the credit bureaus’ fault. Are they right? What is required?

Answer: Closing a credit account won’t remove it from your credit reports. Furthermore, positive or neutral information can be reported indefinitely. The only time limit applies to negative information, which typically must be removed after 7 years.

If the lines of credit are showing as open accounts on your credit reports, then you certainly can file disputes with the credit bureaus and ask that the account status be updated. But since closing credit accounts usually can’t help your credit scores and may hurt them, you probably don’t need to be in a rush to make sure this information is reported accurately.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to save money on health care. Also in the news: How to work from anywhere like a boss, one person’s homebuying journey in Seattle, and why employers check your credit report.

How to Save Money on Health Care
The three questions you need to ask.

How to Work From Anywhere Like a Boss
Reliable wifi is key.

How I Bought a Home in Seattle
One person’s homebuying journey.

Why Employers Check Your Credit Report
Lookimg for financial distress markers.

Q&A: Why it’s important to pay bills on time

Dear Liz: I recently checked one of those free credit score sites and saw three delinquent department store accounts from over a year ago. I was 30 days late but paid all three accounts in full last year. What can I do to remove that from my credit report?

Answer: You can ask the store credit card issuers, in writing, if they’d be willing to remove the late payments from your credit reports. If this was a one-time mistake, they may grant your request.

If they don’t, you’re pretty much out of luck. Accurate, negative information can remain on your credit reports for seven years. The effect on your credit scores will wane over time, but your scores may not be fully restored for as long as three years. This is why it’s so important to make sure all credit accounts are paid on time, since even a one-time lapse can have serious repercussions.

Don’t let your credit die of neglect

Certified financial planner David Rae says he used to think that “anyone who could draw breath” could get an auto loan. Then one of his millionaire clients tried to buy a car — and failed.

The 42-year-old client was turned down for a loan because he had no credit scores , says Rae, who is based in Los Angeles.

Nineteen million American adults are “unscoreable,” lacking enough recent credit history to generate credit scores, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They either have “thin” files, with too few accounts, or “stale” ones that haven’t been updated in a while. In my latest for the Associated Press, find out how having no scores can cost you.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Love that home’s view? See how much more you’ll pay. Also in the news: 3 months, 3 housing trends, how one woman ditched her debt, and how to get rid of bad marks on your credit report.

Love That Home’s View? See How Much More You’ll Pay
Comes at a cost.

3 Months, 3 Housing Trends: Seller’s Market, Higher Rates, HELOC Comeback
The 2018 housing market so far.

How I Ditched Debt: Tenacious Focus on the Goal
One woman’s triump over debt.

How to Get Rid of Bad Marks on Your Credit Report
Fighting back.