Credit 101

The Ultimate Credit Report Cheat Sheet

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You know you’re supposed to check your credit reports regularly, but you might not know what to look for once you have the report in front of you. Credit reports are lengthy, detailed documents that aren’t always easy to understand. But if you want to stay on top of your credit, you need to know how to read your credit report — and you need to know how to spot mistakes, inconsistencies and signs of fraud so you can correct them.  A working knowledge of the weak points in your credit can also motivate you to improve on those areas and build your credit.

To make it easier for you, we’ve taken a sample credit report and annotated it so you can use it as a handy reference for when you pull your credit report. While each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) maintains separate reports, the format is consistent. (You can use a free tool like Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card for a clear overview of the information in your credit report. If something seems amiss, you can do a deeper dive by getting your free credit report once per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.)

For an easy to understand overview of the information in your credit files, along with your free credit scores, try Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.

Click on the image below or download the Credit Report Cheat Sheet as a PDF.

Credit Report Cheat Sheet

Other helpful links:

A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

8 Rules of an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

What’s Really in Your Credit Report?

How Much Will One Late Payment Hurt Your Credit Scores?

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

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  • Joseph Peterson

    This was very helpful, thank you. Do you have any advise on my situation?
    I have paid child support for aprox 10 years, I was only req. to pay 1/2 while my son was with me. Every month the state child support receipting agency would add an erroneous bal. (the other 1/2) to my account though they had my divorce decree in hand and my repeated statements about having my son with me. They held my tax returns, contacted my employers, wasted countless hours listening to elevator music and drove my credit score to nothing.
    Another issue was snail mail, they did not allow adequate time to get the payment back to them from the time they would send the statement out. Some times I would pay a month in advance to avoid this problem and still they would send their erroneous unpaid balance to the CRA’s and send me threats of legal action.
    My LAST payment is in the envelope and I still cannot get anyone at the agency to give me a letter explaining the nature of the error to clear my name, just a statement showing a series of erroneous balances followed by a “balance adjustment”. Honestly, I feel discriminated against and would love to take it to court.
    Should I send a letter to the CRE’s stating the situation ? Or Put together the certified notarized letter to the child support agency w/ cc’s? I have spent about all the time I can afford being reasonable.
    Thank you for your input on this matter. Furthest thing from a “deadbeat Dad”,
    Joe Peterson

    • Wendy

      You are allowed to put a statement on your credit report explaining the situation. It is too late now.. but if you had processed the payments from your banks bill pay option that would be electronic proof. The Attorney Generals office may be quite helpful. Put together a concise, factual, easy to read cover letter leaving out emotions. Gather documentation.. the divorce agreement, bank statements etc. paper clip each group, and label. You want to put it in their lap as a complete case– I have had great luck with an erroneous mortgage company rate hike, and other banks/ credit card agencies acting in BAD FAITH.

      • Gary

        Joe, Sounds like the same problem I had when I was paying my child suppport, Go to the courthousr where you were ordered to pay child support and get a copy of all your child support payments, they have to keep record there, and if oyu paid thru an agency, they have to report to the courthouse of the payments you have made, Once you have this, File for a court date , take all records in and show the judge, letting him/her know the order specs, it will get straightened out. but dont expect a refund, they will just add what was paid over, to the balance owed

        • DJaxon1

          And you can stop your tax refunds from being taken or witheld. Proof of obligations met.

  • Brenda Doby

    I have a Lowes credit card, and I came into a little money and decided to pay down my card with part of the money it had 900.00 balance. I paid 500.00 on my account. They in turn reduce my card down to 500.00 from 1000.00. I will never pay the card down to a zero balance, that was so wrong what they did.

    • Vic

      I my personal experience this is very common and it angers me as it does you. It becomes a vicious cycle – the credit card companies lower your limit because it says it has reviewed your credit score. Then your % available goes down accordingly and your score goes with it. Then the cc company lowers your limit because your score got lowered and so on so forth. Try to pay them off and then when they come calling again write them a letter to f_ck off!

      • ValerieUK

        Lowes did the same thing to me so I paid it off and told them in no uncertain terms what they could do with their card. I never used it again.

        • Misty123

          Lowe’s reported me as late two or three times and I was never late, I don’t like their high interest rate and will never use their card again.
          this is nothing but Greed these companies having their own credit card with interest of 22% making a huge profit off the interest as well as the marked up price on the item.

      • willy D

        yes yes yes lowes are crooks and WILL take advantage of you.. ace is the place..

  • Steve Silva

    I filed a Bankruptcy over 5 years ago. I recently aplied for a Gas Credit Card and I was declined due to “to many delinquint open accounts” I was puzzled as I have zero credit cards, my car is paid off, the house is in my wife’s name and I have no monthly payments besides, cable, cell phone and car insurence. I was told by my Lawyer that I could probably go and buy a new car once my bankrupcy was final, which it is. How do I get this cleared up???????????????

    • Rob

      You Dont. You me and all the rest of us are just pawns of the banking system.They get you to to take out loans, credit cards then when you cant pay it back because you lost your job or you get sick they are allowed by the Feds to screw you.The Banking System is run by thieves wearing suits and ties.The Government is manipulated by the Banks and so in turn you ,me and everyone else are also.Go back and read all the information you can about how the Great Recession started. It was started by the very same Government And Banking system that is holding us hostage.

      • Theresa

        You can’t “clear it up”. Bankruptcies will remain on your credit report for 10 years. Although you are not legally obligated to repay any accounts included in the bankruptcy, that doesn’t mean that those accounts are considered by other lenders as being paid as agreed. They remain as delinquent accounts.
        Your lawyer was correct that it will probably be easier for you to get a secured loan like a car loan. A credit card is unsecured and is higher risk. Regardless of the type of credit you’re applying for, though, you should be aware that nearly all lenders will be more wary of lending to someone who has filed bankruptcy within the last 10 years.

        • Susan

          Chapter 7 is 10 years. Chapter 13 is 7 years.

        • DJaxon1

          That’s because NO CREDIT is twisted into being worst than Bad Credit. I bought a car after 2 years of bankruptcy. Dumb thing is my FICO was 690. Get a credit card. You must start somewhere, not meaning you got to max em out. I had 2 $300 and would fill my gas tank up once a month, and order bulk nessasary stuff online like razor blades, work socks.

      • Lea

        @Rob – I work at a bank in a small branch and just want to set you clear on one issue – a bank is a for profit business just like Nike, just like Apple, just like the NFL or NBA, just like Disneyworld well you get the point. But I don’t hear anyone gripe, as a matter of fact they are more than happy, to fork over big bucks for the newest air Jordans, they are lined up and happy to pay hundreds of dollars for the newest IPhone, they are more than happy to fork over plenty of money to have a tailgait party at the stadium and see a game, etc, etc, etc. So the next time you want to bit@h about the cost of doing business with a bank just remember they are NOT a Non-Profit. They are business providing a service for a cost.

        • Trish

          I believe Rob was talking about the Federal Reserve which is the banking SYSTEM where our government goes to borrow money. Our government does not make it’s own money which leads to a whole lot of problems, including a decent chunk of our national debt as our government owes interest on every single cent they borrow from the Fed. I don’t believe he was talking about individual banks which are necessary to exist with the Fed Reserve banking system our government insists on keeping around. This wasn’t a personal attack on you or the bank you work for.

        • Gary M Franklin Sr

          Mr. Lea: so in other words you are stating that BANKS have the right to run rampart over the common man that just so happens to not be well off financially, that actually works and Earns what little pay he gets. Contrary to what you state BANKS, or ANYONE ELSE do not have the right to run over the customer, because WITHOUT the customer the BANKS WOULD NOT EXSIST,PROFIT OR NO PROFIT. What is right is right and wrong is wrong your STATEMENT is ANTI CONSUMER of which YOU ARE A CONSUMER. One day You may be in THAT SAME POSITION, then be CRITICAL…

          • Misty123

            One example: banks do not have to charge a hefty $35-70 fee for each and every check that bounces and the bank makes sure it goes through twice racking up the $70 fee per check. Sometimes having a check to bounce is not the customers fault but due to other things beyond their control. This practice is nothing but robbing the customer and is not right

        • george

          @Lea,
          Now I’m not even reading Rob’s statement. But Lea since you want to talk about people griping and “Bit@h,

          The problem is corporate greed and idiots that cannot add, subtract nor listen to directions working in a bank. multiple times my check has been deposited into someone elses account with no apologies……nfcu

          anyhow they all are greedy!

          • Lori

            And just where does the responsibility of the consumer come into play. When a check is bounced or a payment not made you now are abusing the financial institutions (F.I.) money not the consumers. The F.I. is a service to hold YOUR money and when you bounce a check it may be paid, drawing your account into the negative. That is called borrowing! You have to pay interest or a fee to borrow. Just as in any business, it is a cost to the F.I. to process your insufficient funds check when you don’t have the money. If you don’t have money in your F.I. don’t write a check. Pretty simple idea, don’t ya think! Banks have investors who want a return on their money. A credit union is not for profit and for its members. But they still have bills to pay. Being a loan officer I have seen people who have the idea that they are owed a loan and that it is always the F.I. fault for their problems. As in my first sentence, who’s responsibility is it to be sure your bills are paid or you don’t have a check bounce. No bounced check no fee!

        • Jim

          All the more reason to use a Credit Union, I have not been near a bank in 4 decades

          • VJ

            Absolutely. Won’t ever go near a bank again. And I don’t know why anyone would now!

        • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

          Nice post Lea. I do think constituents are at the point where if they have $ to spend on things that will make them feel better, then purchases are made. You are absolutely correct…..no bitching in the kitchen if you don’t know the facts or have experience to make a luid comment.

        • Errica

          Those companies do not mess up your credit like banks do. Those companies do not have people who can erroneously make a mistake on your account and create financial havoc in your life. There is a BIG difference. That was the wrong analogy to use. Hospitals and insurance companies abide by similar government regulations as you do and they will affect someone’s credit too. Even though banks are for profit, they still have a greater advantage on getting over on citizens who use their services. GREED still runs rampant among them.

        • L.Murray

          My dear we bailed out those For-profit banks. The fact that they act as Monopolies which control the banking system violates the Glass Segal Acts, and their “success” as you refer to it, is merely manipulation of the banking system. It’s STACKED in their favor… It’s pretty bad when David Stockman (do you know who he is…bet you don’t) He thinks that the banks are nothing more than Hedge Fund Managers, and are not helping the economy. They are helping themselves. They are insured by the FDIC,.. and yet you don’t seem to think that they use their gains to give themselves HORRESDOUSLY insane bonues. You really are out of touch. What we have here is a plutocracy where the elite makes the rules, and benefits from them. NOT the mainstream folks. You know… the ones who buy those Air Jordans. What about the bankers who remodel their offices for $1,000,000,.. isn’t THAT excessive?

      • Gary M Franklin Sr

        Look up who owns the Federal Reserve, plus look up the act of 1871 and it is a sad state of affairs but The United States of America is actually a CORPORATION run by guess who, the Bans here and Foreign Banks and has been for a long time now. Congress has allowed in violation of the law PRIVTE INTEREST to use the printing press of the United States to PRINT MONEY. Please look this up before making any comment thanks.

      • Swann

        Rob, excuse me, but, your victims’ rant is boring. You’re perpetuating the tired class warfare swill that we heard at election time. I’m wondering, by the level of your intensity, whether or not you yourself are on the government dole somewhere, barking on command for your socialist handlers.

      • drew

        Bob, though your vehement outrage is plain to see, you failed to give them one ounce of help there. Take a chill pill and try to be helpful rather than rambling laments about a world we are all aware of. Thanks

      • Don’t Know

        You said it Rob: “* system” is a creation.

    • Tara

      I filed bankruptsy in 1991. It actually hurt me more than it helped. What I did to rebuild my credit was I went into Wells Fargo and got a $500 prepaid credit card. A year later I started getting other cards left and right.

      • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

        Yikes, Tara! That was back in 1991. You would never see that happen today. You cannot even get auto insurance without them checking your credit. I recently went through a Federal Credit Union to re-finance my auto and I was shocked when the bank manager told me that I had a great credit rating. My response to her statement was: how do you know? The credit union was clearly protecting themselves. The big banks like Bank of America, Chase, Citibank……they are all in for the money….they are clearly FOR PROFIT.

        • Staci Roth

          Lauren. In order for the Credit Union to refi your car, they have to check your credit to see if you are responsible and eligible for refi. Why would you be surprised to have your credit run when you are asking them for a loan?

      • Michele

        Capitol one and Wells Fargo have credit building accounts. Wells Fargo has been the best with me as far as not posting on my credit report. When ever they call because I don’t have a job, giving them $25 buys me 30 more days from reporting. Its a gamble and you can only do so much when you are not working.

        • Gerri

          I see no reason for the insurance companies to check anybody’s credit score. If you don’t pay your premium, they cancel your insurance. Also, the insurance companies will most of the time overcharge for what you are getting — especially auto insurance. I have three autos (one Caravan, one Saturn and one Chevy truck). My insurance is extremely high (no accidents in 20+ years). Neither auto gets anywhere near 12,000 miles a year. The one used the most may get 7,000. I do not drive over 12 miles a day unless I go to the nearest city (which is 25 miles away).

    • Phoebe

      Get a Capital One secured credit card. That’s what I did. I expected to only get $500 to use but they gave me a $2,000 limit. It helps to rebuild your credit (I’m paying for small things like gas, then paying it off to show my credit worthiness) after I have it a year, I’m going to swap it our for an unsecured card. I’ve only been bankrupt 1 1/2 years so if I can do it so can you.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Thanks Phoebe! Helpful to hear from consumers who are rebuilding their credit.

      • lance

        The Capital One secured credit card only gives you a credit limit equal to the money you “secure” with them. If you put 500 into the secured account your credit limit is 500. There is no way that Capital One simply gave you a 2000 dollar credit limit unless you secured 2000 dollars. I have had mine for a year now and in that year Capitol one did in fact up my credit limit by 100.00 without having to secure that amount.

        • david

          Not true! I gave them a $50 deposit and they gave me a $201 credit limit.

      • tinion

        in 2002, i lost my job at the time. i had one of their unsecured low-limit cards to try to repair my credit score. i kept the balance paid….. UNTIL – one of their salesmen called my new wife offering some sort of life insurance policy. she’s NOT EVEN ON THE ACCOUNT !!! and i was charged with it. i stay FAR, FAR AWAY from captiol one………… they are cheats and crooks! i tried to dispute it. but they told me that since she authorized it, it would remain valid!!!! like i said, she wasn’t even on the account!! yes, i got the account BEFORE her and i got together.

        • Credit.com

          Hi tinion – Because this incident happened in 2002, the incident is no longer in your credit report but if something like this ever happens in the future, you should dispute it as soon as you find it reported in your credit report. Your next line of defense would be to contact the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) to submit a complaint: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/

          They also have an option for consumers to tell their stories and they want to hear about issues like these. It helps address these types of practices and also helps them do their job of working to create a fairer marketplace for consumers.

        • kat

          I agree, stay FAR, FAR away from Capital One. They placed a lien on my home in 2003 for credit cards that I had filed bankruptcy on in 2007. I didn’t know about the liens until I tried to refinance my home a couple of months ago. The credit cards were discharged thru the bankruptcy but not the liens!
          They apparently have bought out every credit card everywhere, so be aware!

    • Kala

      I filed bankruptcy 6 years ago and still get turned down on applications. I get my free report every year and it shows that some cards included in the bankruptcy will not drop off for 7 – 10 years and the bankruptcy itslef will show up for 10 years! Times have changed..my ex husband filed in the 90s and his credit was back in a few years.

      • Paul H.

        It’s a sad reality. While we see lawyers lining up to “take care of our business”, leading us to think they can resolve our money problems in a short period of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one ever hears about the period of time that must elapse AFTER the bill is paid (generally 7 years, or 10 in bankruptcy), it seems to be an undaunted task to get back to normal. Two interesting facts, one of which you point out. One- the banks, while “people, according to the Supreme Court, get bailed out, and LOADS of money, they were never required to loan any money out, so they win. Second,if one is late in payment by one day, it’s a near permanent mark against you, and difficult to get back on track. It leads to a false impression.
        I myself, am on disability, and my payment date is different monthly, but always seems to be close to their due date, which, of course, they “cannot change due to a computer program”.
        I understand what you’re saying, and would like to see more reform on the industry, but think about this- how many people actually went to jail, after nearly ruining the world economy? Somewhere around ZERO. So, some “people” are created more equal than others, I suppose.

        • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

          Paul, I am sure if you ask your creditors, landlord, auto ins co….ect, to change the date/s on the day your payment/s are due, I am sure you are likely to find that given what this country is going through-you are likely to get a preferred date to pay your debt or premiums. I am ssdi and have been through the mill. Trust me, if the payment is late due to the government’s late deposit, I call one of my creditors who dares to slap on a $25-35.00 late fee payment. To my surprise, I have been able to have the late fee adjusted and removed and also have requested to change the date of my payment. I think if you begin this process again, you will find that the system is a little bit easier to work with.

          • Gay Burris

            @Lauren my husband had to take a medical retirment due to an old war injury and we only get income once a month we have tried to get our billing dates changed on just about everything from car ins. to utility bills the only thing sucessful is our rent the ins. co. said we have to terminate our policy and start a new one causing a lapse cause they wont write another one while still active, the utility companies said unfortunatly thats when they do the billing cycle for our area so they can’t change it, then they also after 5 yrs decided we needed to pay a deposit even thou our bill was paid in full every month because we were late so hopefully no one gets their hopes up to high thinking that they will work with them on changing dates, with that being said those late fees the get are a gold-mine remember it’s just business another way to get all they can out of you

      • mickisue

        Check your report for accuracy, Kala. If you filed bankruptcy 6 years ago, then, assuming that you defaulted the day you filed (I know, you didn’t) the longest that any of the creditors you owed back then can appear on your report is 7 years and 6 months from the day you filed.

        To be precise, the first date of default + 7 years and 180 days is the length of time they have to report. The only way they could be reporting past that is if they have re-aged your account, by changing the first date of default to a later date. And that’s illegal.

        All this is assuming a Chapter 7. If you filed Chapter 13, the bankruptcy itself will fall over earlier.

        Are you still making payments to the creditors? If so, you may not be able to afford another card. But if not, do what some of the people here have done, and get a secured card, no matter how small the credit limit. At least it’ll be SOMETHING to show that you are credit worthy.

        Another thing you can do is put $500 in a savings account at a bank that a)reports to the bureaus and b) allows passbook loans. Then borrow the maximum you can from your own savings account, and start to pay it back, on time. It will cost you a little interest, but it’ll also start you on the road to better credit.

      • Gerri

        With the economy like it is due to unemployment and a cost of living that is not in line with salaries, I suspect there is a lot of bad credit. If a person loses their job (through no fault of their own) and then maybe a spouse expires, how can they help but have bad credit? These companies do not empathize with situations. They cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes. There are some people who say the mortgage lenders loaned money to buyers who did not qualify. I have been a real estate broker for over 30 years, and I have never seen a loan officer that did not go by the 28/36 rule — mortgage payment 28% of gross income and total debt (including house payment) 36% of gross income. As a matter of fact, I qualified my buyers before we went to the financial institution.

    • Stac

      Bankruptcy and you debt stays on your credit report for 7 years with a chapter 13 and 10 years with a chapter 11. After you have gone 7 full years you then have the right to remove any old accounts that were included in the bankruptcy. Until the 7 or 10 years are over (depending on which it was) you debt is going to show. After the time limit then you can rebuild. To go further, you can probably buy that car as its used as collateral but a credit or gas card has no collateral and will be harder to get. Hope this helps.

    • Jessica

      Research & join a reputable Credit Union. Mine offers a rebuild visa. Credit Unions will work with you to help rebuild credit. Don’t get sucked into a Capital One or HSBC cc, the rates are high and you’ll pay high fees. Good Luck!

  • Diane1960

    Reading these responses only solidifies my feeling that many people lack the information and know how to solve thier credit problems. I’m considering starting a non-profit organization that can help people without charging them a fee. Joseph Peterson, Child Sopport, you should endorse the back of the check PAID IN FULL. Then mail it in certified mail return receipt requested. You should enclose a letter with your check providing formal notice that once the check has been cashed you consider that to be their confirmation your debt is paid in full. It’s called a limited endorsement check.

    Yes the banks got bailed out and we as consumers are certainly not their friends we are their customers and they make LOTS of money off of us. But FOLKS really need to take responsibility and I’m pretty sure by now ALL of us should know that. No one decided to buy that home, car, or big screen TV but you, Joe Consumer. As much as I think things are run by corporate America, if WE took RESPONSIBILITY for OUR actions, things wouldn’t have gotten so bad…. Possibly we have all learned alittle bit and do a better job with our finances in the future.

    As far as credit card companies lowering your available credit after making a large payment this is done primarily because they see you as a credit risk. There are many variables that come into play… slow paying on accounts (over 30 days past due), high balances against the total amount available (high debt ratio). These two are usually the culprits to lowering the amount of money they will let you borrow on a credit card.
    If you have a high interest account it probably would benefit you more to lower the amount that you owe bu making that large payment, but if your interest rate is low, then making minimum payments wouldn’t hurt. Also if after making a large payment, if you can afford it, make other large purchase(s) and large payments, they may offer a credit increase which could equate to a lower debt ratio. Having a low debt ratio increases your credit score.

    Bankrupcy… yes many companies will offer you new credit almost immeadiately but for a price. Many will offer master card/visa cards but only if you put a “deposit” like $330- $500 down before you could start using the card. So basically you have paid in advance and that will cost you too. You will ALWAYS pay a much higher interest rate on ANYTHING you are able to purchase, car, credit card, open installment loan after filing for bankruptcy. To rebuild your credit you are better off making a small jewelry store purchase with a new account or an installment loan with Conn’s or other companies who work with consumers with lower credit scores. Furniture rental companies are also a good source to use to build your credit.

    • AF

      @Diane – Just wanted to say thanks for your post. I have shared the frustrations of a lot of these folks on here, however I firmly believe you are absolutely correct. Most of the times it has a lot to do with our own actions, actions we need to take responsibility for. It is unfortunate, however that bad things do happen to good people and unfortunately there is no mercy. And personally, if the matter was between my health or my loved ones, I really don’t care what my credit says. People survived for a long time before having credit became a bad thing. These situation are usually bad for those who live paycheck to paycheck, because one bad move on the banks part can make for an ugly mess.

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  • http://prisonmarriage.blogspot.com Ginger

    Hi thanks so much for the helpful info. I did a fairly decent job of raising my credit score last year, it was 421 this year it was 629 not great but a definite improvement, all by getting old old accounts and questionable accounts off my report. The biggest thing on my credit now is medical bills, they are in collections, which would help my score more contacting the collections and making payments or paying them off (its like 4 for various amounts equaling 2500) one at a time?

    My second question, if I pay my most current medical bills on time with a payment plan are the good ontime payments reported to my credit.

    I’m hoping to up my score enough to finance me buying a house in the next 2 years.

    Thanks in advance.

    • SammJeffries

      Hi Ginger- Great question about how to handle lingering medical debts. Here’s what’s important to note:

      Medical firms are all too happy to negotiate settlements if you start talking cash. A great example is when I needed an MRI. The insurance cost was $2850. When I explained I was self-employed and effectively ‘insurance-less’ and would they settle for less if I coughed up the dough, that $2850 dropped to $750 faster than my Nan can pee. For three easy payments of $250, I got the scan I needed and got wise about medical bills and the power of cash. Armed with the experience, I headed to the surgeon with the scan results in hand and negotiated his surgery fee from an ‘insurance rate’ of $5800 to $1511. Now I was getting the hang of it and managed to have a splenectomy for the cost of an elbow instead of an entire arm AND leg.

      With old debts appearing on my reports as well (get fresh reports staggered over the year) I started calling the oldest accounts of whoever had control of accepting the money and started making offers at 25% the original balance — don’t let them bully you with the ‘the balance and fees on this account are substantially more than what you’re offering’ malarchy. I could tax my Gramma til the cows come home and wouldn’t ever see a dime of that either.

      In most instances, I settled well under 50%, only paid when they agreed to report as paid in Full AND send me a payoff letter once they got their money. You think they can be obstinate? A couple of places I called 4x everyday for 2 weeks, filed a BBB complaint until I got what they promised. He who is righteous shall claim the prize, or something like that.

      Suffice it to say, I systematically paid off everything on my report, waited 60 days, sometimes paying to have fresh reports pulled to make sure the accounts were reporting accurately, which of course at least half were not. A run through the dispute process of the three agencies, and my score jumped 200 points in 12 months (moral of the story – firstly, avoid divorce at all costs, second, marry up, third, watch who you are on paper by staggering the credit reports you pull thru-out the year and keeping them up to date).

      The biggest way to elevate your score:
      1. NEVER use more than 30% of any card and don’t fall for the ‘But it’s OK if you pay them off in full’ speech. That is communist propaganda. It’s a pea-shuffling game: don’t expect the credit reporting agencies to ever act in your best interests. In not in THEIR best interests to serve you any day of the week.
      2. Pay your accounts as early in the billing cycle as you can. Ex. Your due date is the 5th: pay your bill on the 8th EVERY month. NOT 3 days late, but 27 days EARLY. The LOWER your balance when it’s reporting the better. (A little trick that’s saved me a bundle in interest over the years).
      3. NEVER miss a payment. If you’re strapped for cash, carpool if you’re short on petrol and meet your minimum, then pay what you can first chance you get. The problem EVERYBODY makes is treating credit like money instead of the loan it is.

      Finally, as for paying on time and getting reported as ‘Playing nice”:

      I shall close with a quote my mother often said, “Don’t expect to be congratulated for stopping at a right light.”

      Which essentially translates to: paying according to agreed terms doesn’t earn you any cookies.

      Best of luck.

      Samm

      • Rick

        Ginger, I’d like to comment on Samm’s comments. He got a few things right but probably should not be consulting others in this area. I have a credit score of 819 and work in the medical industry. The medical fees that you owe may be discounted already on an income based scale rendering much of Samm’s and my comments useless to you. If though, those fees are full pop, then read on. I think what Sam was trying to refer to when talking medical bills is an insurance rate as compared to non insurance. It’s horrible, but those least able to pay are billed the highest rates. The higher rates are called UCR (Usual, Customary and Reasonable) fees, although I believe, they no longer match any of those descriptions. Before insurance was a standard in medical care, doctors had their UCR fees. Insurance companies negotiated with these doctors to pay a discounted fee in exchange for allowing the practice to be a plan provider, thus gaining business for the provider by being on a list the insurance company would provide to their clients.

        The difference between UCR and insurance rates has grown quite significant over the years. This is due to the cat and mouse game of negotiating rates with insurers who used an average of reported UCR fees to determine what they would pay as an insurer. The UCR fees were driven up as a means for doctors to try and maximize insurance reimbursement amounts. Because the UCR fees are indeed what are reported to insurance companies, the providers need to charge their non insurance patients the UCR fee, usually… Here is where you can usually change what they usually would charge you, both on what you owe and anything in the future. If a doctor or hospital accepts the fees allowed by an insurance carrier, it is reasonable to assume that they are OK with those fees. Obviously it’s easier to negotiate for those fees before hand as they stand to lose the business if they don’t accept but remember that you do have power after the fact given that they stand to get nothing for services they have performed if they don’t accept as well. They are no different than any other business in that they don’t want to let business walk out the door and they want to get paid for what they have provided. To figure out a fee, ask a close friend who is insured to call their insurer and ask for the reimbursement amounts for the procedures in question. It is best to get the procedure code that applies to the procedure before contacting an insurance company. (keep in mind that numerous codes are typically attached to performing a procedure) You can also try asking the provider if they accept United, Cigna, Blue Shield or any other major insurer. When they say yes, ask what that insurance company would have paid. If the provider starts screwing with you saying that it depends on the plan a patient is on, reply “the lowest fee you accept from any insurer”. If none of those options work, then keeping in mind that most fees are discounted by 30 – 60%, start at a 60% discount and work from there. Samm’s tactic of starting at a 75% discount assumes that you will never get that much and are beginning a negotiation process. Some people think it puts the person you are negotiating with in the mind set of providing a large discount. I think it just makes you look like a bit of an ass. Start reasonable and be stubborn to move. If you do move, do so very slowly and in small increments. Then, instead of looking like you are shooting in the dark, it looks like you just might know what you are talking about.

        When it comes to paying a card in full each month, if you can do it, do it. Life will throw you enough curve balls where you will have occasion where you will likely carry a balance that might take you a few months to pay off. Do use your cards regularly. Samm is wrong, (if you have the discipline to pay them off each month) treat your credit cards like money for everyday, usual purchases. Don’t use them as loans. Unless it’s an emergency situation, if you don’t have the money for it, don’t buy it. Save your money by making payments to yourself in a separate bank account instead of debt put on a credit card. If you use them regularly, there is no quantitative difference, when it comes to your credit score, between carrying a small balance and paying it off. There is though a significant difference when it comes to your finances. You pay no interest if you pay your cards off each month. Depending on when you make a charge and when your payment for that charge comes due, than can mean up to 45 days of no interest financing. That is far more beneficial than Samm’s plan. Let’s assume that in Samm’s plan he is carrying a $1,000 balance and his payments, made 27 days early, on his 18% APR card average $200. As he believes he needs to carry a balance, we will assume that he keeps his average purchases the same as his payments, thus keeping the balance at $1,000. Samm’s plan of paying 27 days ahead will put him ahead by 27 days, that is it. That means that in the first year, he reduced his expense by 27 days of interest. That is a savings of $13.32. If you ever revert back to paying on your due date, then the $13.32 is returned to the credit card company. Where he is confused is that he is not making an extra payment so it never benefits him more than the number of days ahead he is. If he really wants to stretch is theory, then you could look at interest on the $13.32 but that is so little it’s not worth figuring out. So Samm’s plan ends up costing him $166.68 during the first year then $180 each year after that. in 10 years that equals $1,786.68. If you follow my plan, you would pay $0 if you were able to pay off each month and certainly far less than Samm if every once in a while you carried a 2-3 month balance. Your credit score would end up within a few points of each other regardless of which way you went.

        Sorry to say that Samm missed it on his last comments as well. Paying according to the agreed terms is the exact thing that you are most rewarded for. There is nothing that will have a greater impact on your credit score than that. Indeed, making regular payments on a balance is a biggie as well. That is where your car payment (5 year loan and keep the vehicle for 10 years) and house payment come in. Your credit cards should not be the area you seek to establish your ability to pay an installment loan.

        Credit card companies make their money through people not having self discipline to avoid impulse purchases and then no paying them off each month. The interest is nuts. With the banks paying an overnight rate of .01 to the Federal Reserve Bank and about .25% APY on savings accounts while loaning that same money out at 18% plus, they are robbing us blind. They love for you to pay a few days late, consistently. Huge fees for them. Moral, pay your bills on time, pay them off monthly and put that money in savings so that you can continue to pay on time and pay off monthly when things get tight as well. If many that had a hard time paying their bills reduced the amount they paid in fees and interest each year from their expenses, they would likely no longer have difficulty paying their bills (that is of course, if they have the discipline not to convert the savings into unnecessary purchases).

  • space navigator

    Mr. Lea. Let me “set you clear” on your comment. No one has the right to engage in criminal behavior just because it is a way to make a profit doing business. Drug dealers do that. What you are really saying is that your bank is entitled to engage in activity like money laundering because it is a bank. You have also said that you have a right to lend money to unqualified borrowers using opaque terms in your contracts. The way you are headed Mr. Lea, is that some day, a few years in a very noisy prison dormitory will give you time to reflect, that is, if you don’t exclusively pontificate your kind of tripe to the other inmates.

  • http://yahoo Catherine Bradshaw

    3 years ago we had alot of credit cards, but they were paid on time every month, then we
    found out my husband had cancer and kidney failure, we got so far behind til we could not see day light, so we made settlements on all the accounts and have paid the settlements out, now how do we get our credit back in order our credit score was 521 it has gone to 545 anything to help get us back to a good credit before my husband was 798.
    thanks Catherine

  • http://none Susan

    Has anyone ever been a “target” of a group of people trying to extort money because they think they are entitled and the group thought you had money? Any suggestions?

    • h mo

      go to the police and whatever you do dont give them any money. if they have your pbone number and are calling you, change it, just give to those you can trust and dont talk about your life to anyone you dont know. also depending on how old you may be, you may be able to chg elder abuse.

  • Joyce Dinger

    Back in January 2012, I returned to my apartment to find my bed infested with bed bugs. I had lived in this development for seven years with a perfect record — my rent and utilities were always paid on time; I got along very well with the other tenants; I never had an altercation with either the management or other tenants; I also took good care of my apartment. There had been a bedbug outbreak in other apartments in that building, and nothing had been done to make arrangements to get rid of the problem in the whole building. Tenants who got bedbugs in their apartment (like me) were charged $150 for the exterminator to come in (although this was a retirement & 50plus rental community) and then evicted. I was unable to live in my apartment from January 2012, although I did pay the rent. However, in February I had to pack up everything in my apartment, and because of the building’s bedbug infestation problem, I even lost most of my furniture — when bedbugs infest apartment developments, and management does nothing to exterminate all units, bedbugs travel from apartment to apartment. Since I did not pay the rent for February (I had not lived in the apartment all of January and February), I was evicted. I got a lawyer because of the loss of a lot of personal items and furniture, and had to go to court — my lawyer got the charges dropped (at the time management was charging me $895, which of course I didn’t have to pay) because of the judge’s ruling. Several months later in May, 2012, management of the development sent me another notice through a credit collections agency for payment in the amount of $2,895. Isn’t this considered double jeopardy? It is now on my credit report and causing me no end of problems, especially when I tried to find another apartment to rent. Incidentally all of my personal belongings were packed up and put in storage before the end of February 2012. Can somebody please help me on this? I am retired and 81 years of age.

    • h

      CALL YOUR lawyer. call the clerk of the court. they might be violating the court decision. I dont know if the lawyer will chg you though.

    • h mo

      Also you may be able to file a law suit for elder abuse or disablily discrimination and you probably can get a lawyer to take that on without chging you up front

      • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

        Just go through elder services wherever you live now. They do not charge to help vicitims of fraud. Seniors today are taken advantage of everday here in America. It is very sad. Do not pay a lawyer when at 81, your shared story sounds like something these folks can help you with. Good luck and God Bless.

    • PATRICK ROBERTS

      In most states, the reporting of an outstanding balance to a credit reporting agency or collection agency where such has been ruled in your favor would violate both the terms of the FCRA and the court order. As one of the other replies mentioned, please consult an attorney that specializes in elder abuse or disability credit abuse areas.

      • marie

        you can take them to court and get $1000 penalty for violation of FCRA — also, before you ever pay/talk to a creditor, be sure to request, in writing, a validation of the debt. NOT a verification of your information, but a signed (by you) validation of the debt. This is their responsibility to insure that you owe whomever is trying to collect from you. If they cannot validate the “note” within 30 days, you can send a copy of your request and proof of mailing to cc reporting services to advise them that this is not a validated debt and it needs to be removed. and keep at it. nobody is really out there to help you, so arm yourself with as much information about the FCRA as you can find. It works!

  • ATB

    One of the best ways to restore your credit is by borrow against your savings (use your money as collateral)..its the lowest interest rate because it is a guaranteed loan (low/no risk)..it is usually the lowest interest rate of any loan…….for example- if you are getting a tax refund…..before you spend it..deposit it!….borrow against it….use the loan proceeds to pay for what ever your plans were for that refund…..pay the loan back overr 12 months…..at the end of the loan you still have your savings and its time for a new tax refund..deposit the new refund and borrow against it again….now you have twice the money in savings……its a great way to force yourself to save money. Most banks & Credit Unions dont want to be the first to lend you money after Bankruptcy..they want to “see how you do” after a bad spell of poor payment history….soooo this is a great way to establish new credit after bankruptcy and start a new improved credit history.

  • Jo

    I often wondered why, when we bailed out the banks, why we didn’t just pay off the accounts of people that owed these banks instead of giving the money directly to the banks. This would have given the banks an influx of cash and would have helped the normal citizen as well. It would have freed up money in the economy for those consumers to spend and would have been a spark to the slow economy. The banks would benefit and the consumer would benefit as well as the economy in general. Oh wait – then the CEOs wouldn’t have been able to get their multi million dollar bonuses – my bad!

    • Billy

      Oh yeah, that’s right pay off the bills of the stupid people who knowing borrowed to much money for a house they knew they could not afford. It is only a small percentage of people who actually lost their jobs that couldn’t afford to pay, not like most people think.

      • Manfred

        You obviously didn’t lose a job after thirty years of going to work everyday. I found another job within 4 months of the previous company closing then worked for the new company at HALF my previous pay for another year before THEY closed THEIR DOORS. I worked for three other contractors for about 4 months each and they ALL went out of business. That’s the loss of 5 jobs in 2 and 1/2 years after working everyday for over thirty years. This all started while BUSH was in office. The road to decline was well on its way before he left office. He and the banking industry plotted this when they changed the bankruptcy laws in 2002. When that happened the banks were handing out credit cards and mortgages like it was candy from 2002 on. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers went under while BUSH was in office.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Billy – I have to agree with Lauren here. You are more than welcome to disagree with our articles but there’s no need to be insulting.

  • Ann

    My husband and I both are retired now at 58 and 60. We were forced into Early Retirement. I’m going on my second year at 58 yrs old. My husband since this past Sept. he is 60 now. We decided to payoff some high end loans and to refinance our mortgage. We felt the need to do this with our new ‘fixed income’ life. When we refinanced which was a long process, because of a loan my husband co-signed for our son ten years ago. Ridiculous! Because of my sons irresponsibility over the years in making his payments on time, it cost ME my good credit. Yes, a lesson learned and will share…NEVER EVER co-sign for your children or family/friends…NEVER!!! We are in the middle of the refinance now. So far so good.

    My concern was the mortgage company said we had a mark on our credit report on our WEenergies bill. When I called the Gas/Electric company and asked why this is on our credit report. Their simple answer was…it is an ongoing open credit so to speak, we are a monthly budget with WEenergies and that is the amount that shows up on credit report. We were not behind on any payments. Most people don’t read that information correct. So, I am just sharing this information in case anyone else happens to run into this issue when applying for refinancing.

  • CHAZZ

    I don’t understand why my FICO scores drop as my credit history improves and debts are paid…also no new bad marks..collections..etc. I have worked many years to improve my credit after a “crash and burn” divorce. One month I exceed 700…then back to 690 plus or minus…even with my credit card debt greatly reduced..some paid in full..and never having a late payment for over ten years. Car loans paid in full. Banks grossly failed..let bailed out..and won’t consider me for a simple loan..with 10 times the collateral? What is wrong with this picture?

    • chazzy

      Yes, there is something wrong with the picture…YOU.
      Clearly there is something going on which you are not being completely honest about. Something which demonstrates you are a credit risk and unlikely to repay…even with collateral. As far as the collateral is concerned, it’s probably junk to a creditor, even if you think it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
      The only other alternative is that someone out there is working against you, and is very good at it. If I were you, I would reevaluate my situation and collaterally honestly, or be super paranoid that someone is out there to get you…and it’s working. You’re screwed Chazz-man. Time to get out of town and change your identity…sever all ties, quit your job, ditch those credit cards, find under the table employment – cash only. For goodness sake, get off the grid man!

      • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

        Billy-referring to people as being “stupid” just shows how much you really know about what this whole forum is about. did you even read the article…..and the following posts? Speak before you insult pal.

  • Ken

    I had paid cash for years not using credit.I turned 62 and started collecting Social Security and get a pension from the military.When I retired I bought and paid for a home,bought a 40 ft Motor home and paid everything off.I don`t owe a dime to anyone.This was two years ago.I went to Wells Fargo to borrow $1,000 to buy a new computer because I had spent a ton of money because my Mother Had Passed,and my computer blew -up.They told me “You don`t have a Credit History”,,,,,,,,,,,No Loan.The gal tells me to go and borrow from the Dollar General at a high rate and establish credit.I have borrowed for two years,have never been late never missed a payment Period.I am a Vietnam Vet and thought I would buy a home in the woods to die in as I get older(I live in the Desert) and close to lake Tahoe.I contacted a VA mortgage Company and they gave my S/S number out and my Credit score went from 700 down to 578 just from inquiries.I contacted the Senator`s office and saw on TV that this is being done a lot and they are not from bad credit just looking to see what your score is Trans-Union will cut you 10 points.When I was young there was only one credit reporting agency,,,now there is three and none have the same score. why?

  • Wally Usery

    Having read the comment from Ken on 22 Feb, I too wonder why the three different scores from three different systems. I had inquired as to the “formula” the credit bureau uses. The reply was to the effect that it is a “complicated formula” they use. I find it insulting to my intelligence that they want to keep secret the “formula” they use to determine how your life will be affected and the results from the effects. I believe that us the consumer should have a faster fix and better recourse to the problems incurred by the negligence of these third party companies know as the Credit Reporting Agencies.

  • PATRICK ROBERTS

    @Wally Usery: I have always wondered why any of this stuff was kept secret. About like your medical history. Even though it is about you, it does not BELONG to you and therefore you are not entitled to it free of charge. However, another doctor can request and receive your medical records free of charge.

    • http://yahoo Lauren Stone

      Patrick-if you go to see a physician or a surgeon or any doctor for that matter-the visit belongs to you and so do the results of the office visit. You paid either with cash, check, credit card or by the use of INSURANCE. All of it does certainly belong to you. You paid for it!!!!!! I have never pad a red cent for a copy of my medical records upon my phone request or on paper. I believe, by law-you are enttitled to your own personal records. If you are seeing another physician who would like to see your records from a previous doctor or dentist….ONLY WITH YOUR PERMISSION CAN THEY OBTAIN YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS. REALLY-I AM A PROFESSIONAL CANCER PATIENT…AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYONE HAVING MERCY ON ME. Did you have a situation where you had to pay for your own medical records? If so, look into it……I believe it is not legal to charge a fee. Just a written consent from you will do the job. just my two cents worth.

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  • Patricio Cordova

    Having read the comment from Ken on 22 Feb, I too wonder why the three different scores from three different systems. I had inquired as to the “formula” the credit bureau uses. The reply was to the effect that it is a “complicated formula” they use. I find it insulting to my intelligence that they want to keep secret the “formula” they use to determine how your life will be affected and the results from the effects. I believe that us the consumer should have a faster fix and better recourse to the problems incurred by the negligence of these third party companies know as the Credit Reporting Agencies.
    the money for my children is the nextel for el despido. sorry my inglhis

  • NICOLE

    My problem is this–I went to a credit counseling service(trying to purchase a home),at the time my credit score was 580–they told me to pay off old debt(did that),my score dropped to 540. they told me to open a secured credit card(did that), my score dropped to 540.,I asked how could this happen–fast forward 2 years–had some financial difficulty late payments on credit cards–went to a new counseling service(still trying to buy a house), they(mortgage counselor) told me that with a score of 500 and to pay my credit cards on time, that I could qualify for a mortgage by Sept–how is this possible?

    • mickisue

      Why, when you got terrible advice from a credit counseling service the first time, would you go to another one?

      If you have a relationship with your bank, try going to talk to the officer there. My credit took a dive after my business dropped by 80% in the wake of the bank fiasco, and it’s slowly returning (I’m now above 600 with two of the bureaus, and when my most recent efforts pan out, will be above with all, and close to 700 with two of them.)

      I tried to get a business loan last summer, and my banker was kind enough to tell me EXACTLY what, on my report, was keeping me from him being able to approve it. GIven that the information reported to the bureau where he checks reports was completely erroneous, that will be off the report within a couple months, along with three other erroneous reports, and I can try again with a much cleaner report.

      Bottom line: you can find out a lot about what you need to raise your score. But credit counseling agencies have a deserved bad reputation for really bad advice. They’ll tell you to pay people who don’t deserve your money, because you’ll pay through them, and then they get a cut from the supposed creditors.

      Do some research on your own. Check here, check other websites with reputable advice. They are FREE, and all you need to do is stretch your brain to hold all the new information!

  • chris

    It irritates me that with the econemy in shambles,plants closing everywhere in the country that a bad credit score can effect whether or not you will be considered to be hired. I had always had good credit, my husband and I both worked at the same plant, we each had over twentyfive years at the company. We showed up for work on a Thursday and were told that Friday would be our last day. Now we pay more for car insurance and our credit score can effect us on whether or not we get hired for a job opening. The banks should wipe our bad credit scores since we all had to bail them out for their unwise decsions!

    ay would be our last day of employment. We were not even protected by the warren act because they said the company was in dire straights,I always thought that they HAD to abideby that. Not true! Now we can’t find new jobs due to

    • Manfred

      If the want to renew the economy that is exactly what they should do. Start fresh because of the bad banks and restore your life you are the taxpayer. Then break up the banks as Warren Buffet has said and get the bank CEO’s to straighten it up and quit telling the LIE!

  • lisa

    My question is what can you do if you wrote a pay for delete letter, and the company goes back on their word, and. I also. Wrote. A. Goodwill letter to. A collection. Agency that’s. On my credit. Report. It was paid. But still went. To. Collections ,the. Letter was. Returned to sender. The. Address they. Had on the. Credit. Report was not. A real address.

  • phil

    a few years backi filed for bankrupsy i made my house payment to them faithfully when i recieved my year end statement from my morgage compant i owed more than original because they made my payments late.i feel i am only rentintg my home when it is no longer liveable they can have it.

  • palma holcombe

    i have found this sight is very helpfull, for someone esp that has been working 24 year’s and since 2005 was put out of work and lost everything, still tring to get straighten out ,leaveing in a camper & don’t know were to start to help myself this so far is very honest& nice i have a brain stem deteration have raised two boy’s and thay are married & have had to work as well. some credit places ther is no talking to some peaple that are worker;s of esp phone company & hold that agaist me.

  • Yasmine

    Hello,
    On my credit report, I have a delinquent account (about 5 yrs old). How do I find out the actual date of the last payment I made? The collection agency that purchased the account has the date as, when they purchased it but does not have the last payment date.

    Thank you,
    Yasmine

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  • Doug

    When an account shows sold to another lender or transfured to another lender BUT both are listed on your credit report as bad debt with different $ amounts.
    Some creditors show written off but all of a sudden some collection company is trying to collect and show it as a new debt, how can company write it off and sell it to someone else, then BOTH are listed as bad credit.

  • Dale

    Let me get this straight and also give you some other information to consider. Ever wonder why your car insurance is so darn high? The insurance companies are allowed by federal law to charge you through the nose when you get points on your license, get into accidents, and based on your credit score they will often double and gouge you before your policy runs out by tacking on a one last final payment even though you have paid your policy in full for a year. Imagine that, you pay for a full year and get a final payment surprise near the end of your policy. If you do not pay that so called final payment, they threaten you with turning it into the DMV. If you pay in cash, that should be the best credit score you can get. But, because you choose to pay in full instead of monthly payment to save yourself a hundred dollars a year or more, the insurance companies smile all the way to the bank, because they will get you one way or another, thanks to the Federal Government. This country is in one huge state of debt, mainly in part to the credit they shove down your throats. I ask this, If everyone in the US cut up their credit cards and paid cash for everything, this would certainly all change, right? In reality this is like kinda rewarding the crook for his crimes. After all, the ones with money do not need credit, but it is forced down our throats or suffer the lifetime penality wrath of dumb Federal Laws. Your supposed to be a policy holder, not a prisoner. Seems to me like they want us to charge all we can, then refuse to pay and file bankruptcy. At all costs, avoid insurance brokers, they have some rip off laws on their side and never tell you this either. As a broker, they gouge you twice. First of all they collect their commission from the insurance company, then they have you write a separate check at policy renewal time for a second commission that this Federal Government allows a brokerage firm to charge. Refusing to use any brokerage firm will eventually stop this rip off to the policy holders. They do not like our cash, they like our credit. Very poor policy if you ask me.

  • http://InternetExplorer/Yahoo Patrick Fernandes

    I was really impressed by some of the information provided. It is most definitely very educational. It gave me a lot to think about and also, do things to both improve and clear some of the accounts.
    In 2008 I was a victim of what I called identity fraud. Unfortunately, since I had moved to Europe, I was not aware about it. When I came back for a short time I was informed that I owed the TCF bank $ 2,500.00. I conacted them and told them I was not in the country during this time when this transaction occurred and have my passport to prove it. There response is that I should have reported it then. Now, it is too late and I need to pay this amount in full, or I will never be able to open a bank account in the United States. Also, not living here on a regular basis made it difficult to contest it.
    In addition, I had read in the credit bureau rules that this type of matter would drop off in four years or I would be able to open an account after the four ywar period. I have not been able to do that yet and also, still shows up as a negative.on my records.
    I was told by another banker to attend a six week class for responsible banking and the certificate issued upon completion would allow me to open an account.
    Could you please write me and advise me the correct thing to do in order to avoid this great problem.
    Thank you very much.

    • Mighty Me

      If I was you, I would begin with your state consumer affairs. There is also a financial reporting agency to complain and the federal trade commission. You should also file a police report. Get this started to show you had identity fraud. Research your issues. Don’t take no for answer. Don’t take anybody’s word for anything. Get it in writing. If you cannot get it in writing, then get an email and thank them repeating their comment to sum up the conversation. You have a big job. Take your complain in writing to the highest position until they respond to you. You don’t have to take that mess lying down. You have nothing but time to try to clear it up. Let your documents set you free. Send copies of the correspondence to other complaints you made to let them know you are serious. Document every conversation with the date and time. Finally, do you want to lay down and let the truck roll over you or stand up and fight with knowledge. Patience is the key buddy. You are going to need a big shovel to clean it up so get ready.

  • Gene

    FRAUD ALERT alert! My credit score is 800+ but when I recently applied for a car loan, I was turned down. What a shock! I had put a Fraud Alert on my report several years ago when I my wallet was stolen and cards were used. I have moved since then and have a new phone number. When I inquired about why my loan application was denied, I was told that when they encountered the Fraud Alert, they called the phone number contained in he alert. When there was no answer, they simply stopped processing the application. Never called my current number (on the application) because their “policy” is to call only the number in the alert. Of course I was basically outraged. This is one of the MAJOR
    banking/credit card companies in the US. I’m leaving my credit card account with them open only to preserve that good section of my credit report.
    I got my car loan BMO Harris Bank, through my car dealership, within 5 minutes of online application, and about a week later, I got a letter REDUCING my already very reasonable interest rate.

    • Mighty Me

      Why didn’t you update the phone number on your fraud alert. It is like a password protection. It prevents others from trying to use your information with a different telephone number. It could have been anybody trying to buy a car with a different phone number. SHEESH!! THE FRAUD ALERT WORKED JUST THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSE TO.

  • Lee

    Like it or not we are all pawns !!
    Look the banks supposively hate the fact we bounce checks, but their little sceams and how they charge you are crimanal . They take your checks and put in order that benefits them and charges you 40 bucks for nsf. nice of them. then threatens to cut you off . close your account. look at the money they scam from you.

  • S. Dwuye

    I’m going through issues of having my credit ruined on three seperate times. This time its a vacation out of town, with my social being used to aquire an apt. Where must I start to get my name cleared of this mess??? Cant even get any one to rent an apt to me?

  • ilene

    In December 2012, while checking my credit card card balance, I saw a window on the side of the screen offering credit check for $1.00 from the three major companies. to pay the $1.00 I had to type my credit card information. the $1.00 has been charged to my account.
    At the beginning of January I went through a major surgery and couldn’t check my card info.
    In February 2013 I was finally allowed to sit down and checked my credit card information and saw monthly charges of $17.95 paid to EXPERIAN. Immediately I called EXPEIAN and ask for explanation to the charges. Their answer was: they put me on a membership plan and the $17.95 is the monthly charge. Have I gave them permission to sign me up? Have I requested to sign me up?
    the person who I spoke with and who I told to stop the charges, started arguing with me. I had to tell her again to stop the charges and any membership I haven’t requested and refund the 3 payment they charged my account unlawfully.
    EXPERIAN stoped the charges, I have never received the refund and magically my credit score dropped !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve Ford

    The bogus stimulus giveaways that Obama has done was tantamount to stuffing all those millions down a rat hole. Has done not one bit of good. Banks took the money, divided up the money in bogus bonuses, and they all split for the Caribbean or Hawaii. In the reverse……if Obama and Co. had instead, given each of the 133 million real tax payers just 1 – One – $1 million each as a stimulus instead, that would have been tantamount to watering the plant at the roots, and not at the leaves. Most plants, trees, etc., are not stimulated by watering the leaves. But…….apply water to the roots, (ie; the hard working Americans), then just watch what would have happened. Washington would have had more money than they could have ever spent. We could have paid off the entire national debt within 5 years. New businesses, new jobs created, new and major purchases being made, on and on. Anyone have any comments on this?

    • Nathan Haigh

      You do understand that your suggestion would amount to 133 trillion dollars or almost 50% the total approximate value of the entire country. And it would create so much inflation that the million dollars would be worth very little once people had it compared to what it is worth now.

  • Manfred

    If you are doing a secured card then why not just get a prepaid vanilla visa card at any Walgreens or drug store. You load the card with the amount you want on it, pay a one time fee of $4.95 to activate it and then go to the website and you only have to register it with just your zip code for online purchases and you are good to go anywhere credit cards are accepted. If you are trying to build credit then this won’t help you. However if you need a credit card and don’t want to get a bill in the mail ever this is the way to go. No interest, no fee per transaction, and the website give you an online report of where you used it so you can print it out for your taxes or expenses. Plus nobody knows who you are because it acts like a gift card there is no personal information to fill out. The downside is you can’t get cash at an ATM and it is best to save the receipt and document where you bought it. I have used these for the last four years and have never had a problem anywhere I go. It’s safe, secure, and like you are carrying cash.

  • Charles Pruitt

    I have a bankruptchy from Dec 2001 when can I get this removed from my credit report?

    Also I have a home mortage with the Small Business Association and the told me they dont report credit history . Can I require them to send the payment history to me and then send it to the credit companies? Thanks Chuck

  • Donna

    @Steve I agree, we could have used some help. We have a funeral home and people couldn’t aford to bury their dead. We have had to foot the bill for over 100,000.00. and we were new in the business . We chose to make late house payments so we could pay our workers, and help those who had not counted on family dying. Because of what was going on there was at least 8 sucides . Older couples who couldn’t make mortage payments. Citibank took our home without even having the mortage to it. The judge told them they couldn’t do it, but they did anyway. We were only two payments behind. We still struggle because of my husbands kind heart and live on what people can barter for or trade for. One time we got a donkey. lol Life goes on for some of us , and it would be nice if we would have gotten some of that money the banks hold onto.

    • Misty123

      God Bless you and your husband for helping others in their time of need. If only we had more people like you.

    • Mighty Me

      Maybe you can. Please look into this matter and follow up with your bank. I read somewhere that some people were getting some money back from home foreclosure. Do your research. You are too kind to have this happen to you. take care

  • AV

    I’ve read good advice and thank you. It would be great if a pamphlet and info were put online for all to read and understand. I had the problem about internet identity theft and not receiving information until I returned from abroad. When contacting the company of the fraud they had already “sold’ the account to an agency and couldn’t offer information. Experian and the other two credit card companies plus the collection agency required much information which i was finally able to gather, including police reports. I learned one thing check the credit report faithfully and hopefully you will see only good scores if paying on time. Still I’ve had a late payment as a bank changed their policy of removing the online payment date and does this every year I was told. Another company changed banks! I am still working with the fraud alert on my credit report and hope it works properly with no problems. I’ve been told the credit reports will have all of the fraud account removed within the next months. I’ve also learned too late that asking for another credit card is not a wise policy and here I thought i was making my credit score better! (At least that’s how i learned of the fraud because I was turned down; so good came of it in that I learned of the internet fraud!) Believe me it’s time consuming and very stressful to be in this situation when we want to establish good credit. Another problem is setting up an internet system for payment and remembering all the account names and passwords. Best to pay by debit card or cash as much as possible but that doesn’t establish credit, does it! And canceling cards is something we are told is not a good policy. How about holding the cards but not using them? We need true guidelines!

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  • G. Shabka

    Can anyone decipher these Error Messages. My credit is good, but I am an American citizen living abroad and only Transunion is able to show and score my credit. Experion and Equifax seem unable to recognize my recent activity (I’m guessing their automated systems cannot deal with my foreign zip code, but I’m at a loss as to how to rememdy this. I’m going around in circles. Can anyone help!

    Experian- Risk score not available due to model exclusion criteria
    Equifax- Beacon not available, no recently reported account information

    • Credit.com

      G. Shabka – Depending on the score being used, there are minimum scoring requirements for a score to be generated. From the sounds of it, your credit reports do not show any recently reported account information — meaning there’s not enough credit enough information in your credit report to meet the minimum scoring requirements for a score to be generated. As an example, the FICO score requires that you have at least one account that’s been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been actively updated within the last 6 months. It doesn’t actually matter what your physical address is, it’s whether or not your creditors report your recent account activity to the US credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you obtain copies or your credit reports you should be able to verify whether or not your creditors are reporting your recent payment history/account information to the US bureaus.

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  • Annette

    I have perfect credit history in 09 had a 793 score. That is when I was unemployed and having serious medical problems. Now in 2013 my credit score is 680, why because I have too much credit for my income and my bank cards are to low they told me to ask Visa for a higher limit. Don’t need to I just pay off the extra bills and the credit score is at 708 now.
    My question is why is my husbands ex wife credit score higher than both of ours? She is on disability due to mental incapacity she has open up accounts that have never got a payment, got a 10,000 loan thru fraud did not tell her husband till it was going to default, so now he is stuck with this loan that he did not get with her but he signed for a 500 loan to get caught up on the 10, we think they combined the two loans and made him the main signer. The account now has been bought buy another company and we are waiting for their next move. Do we have any recourse because she obtained a letter from a friend stating she was working when she was not, she doesn’t even know what she did with the money. Beneficial would not send him a copy of the original loan just the 500 loan. When he was paying and getting statements one would come with just her name on it and then another with both their names on it??????

    • Credit.com

      Hi Annette — A couple things here:
      1. I think you’re confusing your credit card utilization with income. Your income has no bearing on your credit scores whatsoever. However, your credit card utilization does and by paying down the balances, it can help improve your scores.

      2. “My question is why is my husbands ex wife credit score higher than both of ours?” That’s impossible to answer unless she physically shares a copy of her credit report and score with you. Fortunately, credit reports and scores are not available for just anyone to access. You have to meet the rules outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (sec 604 for permissible purpose) to be able to legally access someone else’s credit report and scores. This is a protection that keeps just anyone from accessing your personal information. To learn more about your rights under the FCRA, here’s a pocket guide that can help: http://blog.credit.com/2012/12/the-pocket-guide-to-your-credit-rights/

      With that being said, do you know for sure that her score is higher? She may just be claiming that it is. Based on what you’ve explained, if all of this negative information and defaulted loans are in her report, it’s extremely unlikely that her score would be anywhere near your score of 708.

      3. If your husband did not actually sign on the loan for her and had no knowledge of the loan, this is illegal and we’d suggest consulting an attorney for legal advice on how to handle the situation which will most likely lead to pressing charges, etc. Another suggestion would be to follow the steps in this guide for identity theft victims — http://www.credit.com/credit_information/id_theft/Identity-Theft-Emergency.jsp%22 If your husband was not aware that his exwife used his identity to obtain the loan, then not only is it fraud — it’s also identity theft. This resource will help you with steps to take on correcting the problem and pressing charges, etc.

      Hope this helps.

  • Omar Kalgren

    When my wife and I went bankrupt two years ago our attorney failed to recommit to our mortgage lender. We have maintained the payments up to date after getting a refinance agreement that the President’s program provided at the first of he 1st term in office. Our problem is that Citicorp will not report our current payments to the credit bureau. I do not want or can not afford any new credit, I would like for Citicorp to report our current payments to them to the credit bureaus.

  • http://Idon'thaveone. Danny A Lee

    Dear Sirs, everything i have read sounds like you kind folks are who we need , since seems like there’s nothing you all don” have a solution (workable ) to help us out !My wife and I both on disability, are victims of identy theft going on 3 years after i found out what was going on ! I notified all 3 credit bearaus and they put a fraud alret on all 3 . What else can be done ? there are 4 of us living in this rental house falling down ,infested with roaches and rats! I have told hin i have spent a small fortune on my battle with these pests , only to be told ” you need to try this that or another ” TO NO AVAIL ,not to mention the fire ants ! HUGE PROBLEM . We also have 2 Grandchildren we have had for 8 years , the youngest being 8 since Dec. 27 and his older brother 19 now who has special needs similar to brother . These boys (my )boys will be with us till jesus calls us home. The problem is we need to buy a mini – farm , land and home , owner finance so maybe we can talk face to face and I pray the people are christians also . Please HELP , if you can. This one may be too big for tou . …….Sincerely, Danny A. Lee & Family

  • gary r

    5 years ago I worked for somebody and he put me om his amex acct,i no longer work for him but i’m still on his acct and have a card, which I haven’t used.Ive called amex to cancel card and they say he has to do it ,I’ve been trying to reach him for over 4 years

    • Credit.com

      Are you a joint account holder or an authorized user? Is the account being reported in your credit report? If it is, and it’s an authorized user account, you can dispute the account and the bureaus will remove it simply because they know authorized users have no legal liability. Joint accounts are another story… it’s impossible to get your name removed unless the account is closed.

  • Jon

    I lost two of my part time jobs back in Nov. 2012 and I have been barely getting by with what income I am receiving through SSI. I also have a car that I bought about a year and a half ago that I can no longer keep paying on. During the time I was working two PT jobs, I was more than able to pay for this car and still have plenty of funds at the end of every month.

    I managed to keep up with the $271 payments up till now. I really need to get rid of this car. I have tried selling it but no one wants to buy this car even when it is $2k under KBB value. I do have another vehicle that is paid for that I plan to keep.

    There is nothing wrong with the car, it runs and drive just fine but I just can’t get a buyer for it. My only other option it to give it back to the bank (Capitol One). I know this will wreck my credit (which is not bad) but I just don’t have any funds left at the end of the month for groceries, food, bills, and other necessities. What other options do I have? Will the bank make me pay the difference they sell the car for and what I owe on it? How will they make me pay when I’m on a very limited income? Will getting another car that I can afford payments on and returning this car to the bank help save some of my credit from a voluntary repo?

    • Credit.com

      Jon — If your credit is good, you may be able to refinance the car at a lower interest rate to help with the monthly payment.Otherwise, if there’s any way you can keep the car or get help from a friend or family member to keep it, that would be your best option. A voluntary repo is just as bad (from a credit perspective) as a nonvoluntary repo. With car reposessions, the lender will most likely sell the car at auction in order to recoup some of their losses. When they do, the selling price is usually much much less than what you paid/owed on the car, you’ll still be held liable for the remaining balance as part of the terms on the original agreement of the loan. Even if you give them back the car, you’re still going to owe the debt. In which case they can legally pursue collection action. If they’re unsuccessful in collecting the debt, they may attempt to sue you in order to collect. If it goes to court, it could result in a judgment, which causes even more damage to your credit. This is a worst case scenario but it is a very real possibility, which is why it would be better to either sell it or do everything you can to keep the car. In the end, if you can’t afford to pay the debt, you can’t pay it. At which point, if it reaches the worst case scenario where the collector takes legal action, you may want to consult with an attorney to see if bankruptcy may be an option.

  • Kristen

    I was married for 12 years then divorced. I am remarried but both of us has crappy credit due to failed marriages and loss of jobs which made payments late. My bank says one of the only ways is to get a credit card that is prepaid…. use it and pay back my money?? If it’s prepaid… it’s prepaid???? any suggestions????

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Thanks Derek for the advice. Just to clarify, though, prepaid cards do not report to credit reporting agencies. I believe you mean a secured card that reports to all three major credit reporting agencies. We recently published our list of Best Secured Cards In America: http://blog.credit.com/2013/07/the-best-secured-credit-cards-in-america/

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Arthur – Which creditor is it that shows the perpetual 30 day delinquency?

    You can sometimes get a creditor to reage their credit reporting when you are in a debt management plan. Many banks will do that without the request, and within 6 months of payments on the plan. Asking them to do something that is often typical anyway, is not a stretch. What did the agency you are using say about any of this when you asked them?

    You can add your own statement to each of your credit reports regarding this item. But it will not help your credit score.

    You mentioned your credit score is back in a great range. Whether you get the creditor to reage or not, the negative does not appear to harming you much at this point. Do you have a specific loan product goal in the near future?

  • mando

    doug I would also like to know how a written off account can be sold off to someone else and still show on the credit reports? it doesn’t seem right!!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Have you tried downloading it as a PDF and printing from there?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It’s hard to say how long it will take, but you will do well to use your card and pay it off on time every month. It will be best to keep your balance to under 30% of your credit limit (under 10% is even better). You can get your free credit score along with personalized advice on how to improve it from Credit.com. (That’s also a good way to monitor your progress.)
    You’ll find more tips here:
    How to Rebuild Credit
    Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress.

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