2013: Third Credit Report Update

2013: Third Credit Report Update

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Dan Eriksson)

With an extra hour, I hope you can find a few minutes to order your next credit report.

By adding this reminder to my scheduled during the Planning for Success series, I didn’t forget our third credit report update this year.

Thanks to the SC Department of Revenue’s security breech, our family is still receiving monthly updates from our year of free monitoring.

Though I get an e-mail listing any activity, I still request a copy of our credit reports to stay on schedule and look over all the activity on our accounts.

If you are following my recommended schedule for requesting your credit reports or are just beginning, then check the date on your previous year’s credit report before requesting a new report.

Wait at least one full year from the processing of your last request for a free report to prevent incurring a fee. For example, my Equifax report printed on October 22, 2012, so I can request another this year for FREE anytime after October 23, 2013.

In using time wisely, I request our reports every 4 (or 5) months. For this third credit report update, I requested Paul’s TransUnion report and my Equifax report. When the reports arrive, I will follow this plan:

1. Review for errors,

2. Challenge discrepancies,

3. Run a FREE TransUnion credit score for Paul,

4. Replace last year’s reports with the new reports and credit score in the first file slot of Box 1 of our important documents, and

5. Put the file box away until February’s credit check.

The first time we ordered our credit reports, they were filled with errors from wrong information to incorrect credit limits. I spent months corresponding via mail and on-line forms getting the information corrected.

It took time. But in using time wisely then, I typically spend 5 minutes or less now reviewing our credit reports. The process is simple because I spent so much time getting it right the first time.

The lesson I learned from that experience was to fix errors as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more time and research it takes the company to fix it. Nipping inaccuracies early will save you frustrations later.

Keep using time wisely. Rest easy knowing your accounts are accurate by requesting your credit reports throughout the year. Finding an error early can save you money, energy, and time. Happy checking!

Question: Do you request your annual credit reports?

Missing a Requested Credit Report

Missing a Requested Credit Report

Photograph Credit: Fotolia

Losing thing makes me obsessed with finding the item. It’s like everything else gets blocked from my mind until I find the object.

Thankfully, this does not happen often. When it occurs, I will not stop until I find it which was the case with missing a requested credit report.

Missing a Requested Credit Report

In preparing to check our second round of credit reports, I checked our credit report file for the dates of our last reports.

As I looked, I was shocked to discover that the TransUnion report I ordered back in February was missing. OH, NO!!

In working through my panic, I checked the entire file opening and the surrounding sections. Not finding the report, I checked my desk where visions of tossing it in the trash enter my thought processes.

By now, I had worked myself up thinking of worst-case scenarios. Concerned that our mail might have been stolen, I contacted TransUnion.

To my relief, they never received my request, so no missing report. Aah . . . the sigh that relieved my panicked-stricken heart and lowered my blood pressure all at the same time. Whew!

Adjusting after Missing a Requested Credit Report

Now what to do? If I requested a new report, then I will need to reconfigure my rotation schedule. In considering other options, I turned to my FREE credit score with Credit Karma.

When I check my credit score, I can generate a FREE credit report through my account. Because Credit Karma is not a reporting agency or credit bureau, I can request my FREE credit score on time next year through AnnualCreditReport.com or 1-877-322-8228.

Though I was missing a requested report, the information was not relayed from Annual Credit Report to TransUnion. Thankful that my report was not in someone else’s hands, I have now added to my calendar an entry 3 weeks after requesting my credit report. The entry reminds me to check for those reports. This way, I can contact the company immediately to check on the status.

As you organize or maintain your important documents, check on your credit report order placement. If you are missing a requested report after searching your home, then contact the company to inquire. If they sent it and you did not receive it, then report it missing.

If you missed your scheduled time period, then check Credit Karma for TransUnion or Quizzle for Experian before requesting a credit report. By checking Credit Karma, I saved money, energy, and time from ordering another one and disrupting my schedule.

For those of you who request your FREE credit reports through the link on-line, you won’t find yourself missing a requested credit report. After this experience, the on-line option is beginning to look like a better way, but I’m not quite there yet. Happy requesting!

Question: Have you experienced the panic of missing a requested credit report?

2013: Second Credit Report Update

2012 Credit report update

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Dan Eriksson)

Having missed the July date I scheduled during the Planning for Success series, I ordered our credit reports upon returning from our family vacation. Since I order our reports over the phone, I wanted to use our home phone for security verification.

We are still receiving monthly updates from our year of free monitoring (thanks to the SC Department of Revenue’s Security breech).

Though I get an e-mail listing any activity, I still request a copy of credit reports to stay on schedule and look over all the activity on our accounts.

If you are following my recommended schedule for requesting your credit reports or are just beginning, then check the date on your previous year’s credit report before requesting a new report.

Wait at least one full year from the processing of your last request for a free report to prevent incurring a fee. For example, my Experian report printed on July 27, 2012, so I can request another this year for FREE anytime after July 28, 2013.

In using time wisely, I request our reports every 4 (or 5) months. For this second credit report update, I requested Paul’s Equifax report and my Experian report. When the reports arrive, I will follow this plan:

1. Review for errors,

2. Challenge discrepancies,

3. Run a FREE Experian credit score for Tracy,

4. Replace last year’s reports with the new reports and credit score in the first file slot of Box 1 of my important documents, and

5. Put file box away until October’s credit check.

The first time we ordered our credit reports, they were filled with errors from wrong information to incorrect credit limits. I spent months corresponding via mail and on-line forms getting the information corrected.

It took time. But in using time wisely then, I typically spend 5 minutes or less now reviewing our credit reports. The process is simple because I spent so much time getting it right the first time.

The lesson I learned from that experience was to fix errors as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more time and research it takes the company to fix it. Nipping inaccuracies early will save you frustrations later.

Keep using time wisely. Rest easy knowing your accounts are accurate by requesting your credit reports throughout the year. Finding an error early can save you money, energy, and time. Happy checking!

Question: How often do you request your annual credit reports?

2013: First Credit Report Update

2012 Credit report update

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Dan Eriksson)

Though you have probably already requested your first credit report this year, I wanted to remind you in case it slipped your mind. Having placed a reminder on my calendar during the Planning for Success series, I requested our credit reports in February.

Staying proactive in reviewing our credit reports alerts us to any unusual activity. Protecting our accounts with protective passwords and credit limits, we hope to deter identity thieves from our accounts.

To check those accounts often, we request one credit report every four months. With one free credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus, we can monitor our credit all year along without paying a monitoring service.

If you are following my recommended schedule for requesting your credit reports, then check the date on your previous year’s credit report before requesting a new report. Wait at least one full year from the processing of your last request. For example, I requested my TransUnion report on February 20, 2012, so I can request another this year for free anytime after February 20, 2013.

In using time wisely, I request our reports every 4 (or 5) months. During the first quarter of 2013, I requested Paul’s Experian report and my TransUnion report. When the reports arrived, I followed this plan:

1. Review for errors,

2. Challenge discrepancies,

3. Run a free Experian credit score for Paul,

4. Run a free TransUnion credit score for Tracy,

5. Replace last year’s reports with the new reports and credit scores in the first file slot of Box 1 of my important documents, and

6. Put file box away until June’s credit check.

By scheduling our credit report requests on my calendar, I stay on track while checking our reports. Though we have not had any unusual activity, I find reassurance in seeing the same information reported repeatedly. This process only takes a few minutes, but finding an error can save you money, energy, and time. Happy checking!

Question: Do you regularly check your credit reports?

Guest Post: Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

With budgets getting so tight already this year, you may consider selling unused items, refinancing your home, or getting a reverse mortgage to increase your income. Before accepting a reverse mortgage offer, please consider the pros and cons. To help us understand a reverse mortgage, I present Kay Winders of badcreditloans.org, our guest post writer today. Thank you, Kay! ~ Tracy

Guest postMany seniors find that they spend the majority of their adult, working life paying off the mortgage on their home only to struggle to maintain the taxes and upkeep on their homes once they retire and are no longer making the same income.

For many, a reverse mortgage provides the answer they need to solve their financial difficulties, either for maintaining their homes or for taking care of other obligations that become difficult on a limited income. Or, it can just provide the money needed to truly enjoy retirement.

With a reverse mortgage, the bank pays out a loan based on the amount of equity you have in your home. The money can be paid out in a lump sum, issued in monthly payments, or given as a line of credit.  You retain the title to your home (and the responsibility for taxes and repairs), and the bank is paid back when you sell your home (or your heirs pay it back when you die).

Like any loan, it is important to evaluate all the pros and cons to determine if a reverse mortgage is the right choice for you. Here are a few factors that you should consider when making the decision:

Your Age

Banks consider your age when deciding whether to grant you the loan and what interest rate to charge you. The older you are, the more likely you are to be approved for a loan. That’s because you are likely to have more equity built into your home and because the bank will assume that it will be responsible for the monthly payout for a shorter amount of time.

How Much You Owe

To qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must own your home or be able to pay off the amount you owe at the time of closing on the reverse mortgage. The bank can’t pay you for a home that you don’t legally own outright. If you still have many years to go before you pay off your home, just wait until you are close enough to the finish line to pay off the rest while still profiting from the reverse mortgage.

The Value of Your Home

You will have to pay back the reverse mortgage when you sell your home — or your heirs will have to pay it off when you die. It’s important to consider trends in the real-estate market before you choose a reverse mortgage. If the market tanks in the next few years, the value of your home may plummet, and you may not be able to sell your home for what the bank paid you for it. If the value of your home drops, you may pass on big debts to your heirs.

Inheritance Plans

Many people want to leave their homes behind for their children or other family members as an inheritance. If you get a reverse mortgage on your home, you won’t own it outright anymore, and you will risk not being able to leave it to your heirs. Even if you don’t sell your home and pass it on to your heirs, they will be responsible for paying off the reverse mortgage when you pass, potentially saddling them with large debts.

A reverse mortgage is a great way to get the money you need during retirement to either provide an income stream or to fund your travels or other retirement projects. However, you should carefully consider these issues before deciding if a reverse mortgage is right for you and your family.

Question: Have you secured a reverse mortgage on your home? Tell us why it was the right decision for you in the comments!

Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for badcreditloans.org, where she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach, and gardening.