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    • CDTV Launch! March 30, 2011
        Credit Dusters has just launched our interactive television show. The network is called CDTV and it will start out with a daily show about all things credit. You can go there now…tv.creditdusters.com.
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    • New VW and Other Purchases I Didn’t Make June 4, 2008
      It seems strange considering my profession.  I recently pulled a copy of my credit report through the credit watch service  I am a member of.  I needed to purchase a car so I wanted to see where my scores stood and shop for the best interest rate.  To my surprise I had purchased a brand new […]
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    • Loan Modification – The Best Chance for Success April 30, 2008
      This week we are discussing a painful, but important situation that a lot of American consumers are facing. It is so scary to think that you might lose your home, but we want you to know that there is hope. We want to be a resource to those folks because we have been there and […]
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    • Beauty in Simplicity Chapter IV – The Final Verse April 25, 2008
      My family lives in a small, rural town in Southern Indiana. We are surrounded by a soy bean field with hundreds of sprawling acres across the street and a large lake that adjoins our property in the back. Sounds nice, right? Why am I so discontented?What is it that continues to drive me toward always […]
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    • Beauty in Simplicity Chapter III – The Endless Road April 24, 2008
      I began writing about the subject as a result of my daughter and I going on a field trip to our county 4-H last week. All the modern day farmers talking about raising chickens, cows, rabbits, and living off the land made me yearn for a life like that. This is my journey…The truth is […]
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    • Beauty in Simplicity Chapter II – What’s in the Box? April 23, 2008
      In his book, Halftime, author and successful businessman Bob Buford comments on the purpose of money in the following manner: Mike Kiami is a strategic planning consultant. He is brilliant. He is intuitive. He is demanding. He slices through all the pretense and posturing, and hones in on the core. He does not believe in […]
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    • Beauty In Simplicity – Chapter 1 April 22, 2008
      “Stop this train, I want to get off!” – Vanilla Ice Yesterday I touched on the fact that I am soul searching for the simple life. My wife and I used to think the Amish had the answer. I now know, as I mentioned, that I do not have to buy a farm and work […]
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    • A Rabbit Meat Shortage, The American Consumer, and Something About The Simple Life April 21, 2008
      I went on a field trip with my 3rd grade daughter this past week to our county 4-H. I learned a lot about farm animals. It was quite amazing because I saw the farmer of today and even with all the modern technology, (like a $280K combine that has a stereo, GPS system, and two seats) it […]
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    • How To Not Blow Your Tax Refund April 2, 2008
      In my previous post I wrote about the importance of filing even when you owe. Today I am going to give some helpful tips on preparing for your refund. Whether you are getting $500.00 or $5000.00 it is human nature to spend your money two or three times before it even hits the bank. I would encourage […]
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    • How To Proactively Protect Your Identity March 26, 2008
      Freecreditdusters.com has a great article on ID Theft – Check it out
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New VW and Other Purchases I Didn’t Make

It seems strange considering my profession.  I recently pulled a copy of my credit report through the credit watch service  I am a member of.  I needed to purchase a car so I wanted to see where my scores stood and shop for the best interest rate.  To my surprise I had purchased a brand new VW (at close to $25,000)!  It turned out this new purchase had affected my scores somewhat and I would have to wait to get it off my credit before I could qualify for the interest rate I wanted.  The strangest thing of all is that I have never owned a VW and I also noticed that there was a strange address listed on my credit report from a nearby town. 

Coincidence?  I thought so until I went to my neighborhood Kroger to pick up a prescription.  When the pharmacy rep rang up my order, she confirmed my address as the nearby town I mentioned above.  Turns out the prescription was not even mine, but a totally different prescription from this ghost VW gal.  My best guess is that this mystery person has the same name as me, social security number very close to mine, and just happens to live less than 15 miles from my home. 

This sounds bizarre but you would be suprised how often these types of scenarios play out.  More commonly these mistakes are made due to family error or even family identity theft.  Are you a Sr. or a Jr.?  Better check your credit.  If you are a Sr. and have a Jr. floating around out there, it is likely you may have some things mixed up on your credit.  Have you been through a divorce?  Even more likely that the ex’s junk is showing up on your report  and affecting you long after their gone.  If you have ever filed bankruptcy, you better believe there is junk hanging around on your credit that shouldn’t be there.

Don’t be caught by surprise like I was.  I had to wait an extra 60 days to purchase my car while I was waiting for mystery girl’s junk to be removed from my credit (after I disputed the information to the credit bureaus).  Now I keep watch on my credit every 30 days through my credit watch service and have instant notification of changes or new inquiries.

How To Proactively Protect Your Identity

Freecreditdusters.com has a great article on ID Theft – Check it out

Good things come to those who are proactive!

consumerwatch.jpg 

Today we received a phone call from one of our clients. Carla and her husband called to thank us for sending them to the credit watch service. They had signed up a few months ago, but had never checked her credit since then.She was surprised when she received an email from Trans Union alerting her that several new trade lines had been added to her credit report. Carla knew that she had not applied for anything. She logged onto to her True Credit services and saw that 3 new collections had been added from the same company.

The ironic part is that these were her husband’s medical bills and they had been added to her account. She had just spoken with the collection agency and set up payment arrangement to avoid it reporting on her account.  They had assured her that the collections accounts would not be reported to the credit bureau.

“Because I was signed up with the service it alerted me immediately that something was wrong on my credit. This allowed me to be an educated consumer and hold the collection agency accountable. If I had not had the service with True Credit I would have not known about these until I applied for a loan. By then it would have been too late.”

We are working with Carla to get those items removed permanently from her report. Carla did a great job and we were happy to hear from her. 

FCRA Series: Protecting your child from ID Theft

 It’s Friday and I am feeling a little disillusioned about everything at the moment. I just received an email from one of my readers asking if it were possible for a 13 year old to be a victim of identity theft. The question left me stunned. I do this stuff for a living and everyday I am amazed at the audacity of the human condition.

The vultures always prey on the weak and the young. There is no greater display of this carnage than in the arena of identity fraud.  We are in the middle of major information crises in this country and yet we as consumers still believe that protection is possible, even expected.

Have we lost all sanity in this country? My first thought, was NO! She doesn’t have an IDENTITY to steal, right? So, I did some research.

The real answer is that this is an actual epidemic.  So the scenario goes like this: You have mom and dad they have horrible credit, but not just bad credit they also have legal issues listed on their bureau. They need to start fresh so Daddy uses his little princess’ social security number to turn the lights back on and keep the water running. Then times get really bad and he starts using her social to build credit. By the time she is 18 she has a fully established credit file, but it is not usually in good shape.

No one knows for sure how many children become victims of identity theft. In 2005, roughly 5% of all identity theft complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission were about victims 18 years old or younger. But that might be a significant underestimation since not everyone files a complaint with the FTC. For example, a large portion of child identity theft cases remain unreported because the thief is a parent or close relative.

It is amazing the information that one can get on another without doing anything illegal. We talked about in our previous post (Trans Union vs. FTC) about the fact that Trans Union was peddling “targeted” information to data warehouses for resell. I do not want to pick on Trans Union because they all do it. Even our supposed protector, the Federal Government, is a master of capturing information. They spy, tap, watch, and interrogate all in the name of…of…FREEDOM?

 So since, there appears to be no one really to help you protect yourself then it looks like you are going to have to do it. There are so many tools that can help you monitor those who are monitoring. Whether it is a family member or a scammer looking for its next victim you have to protect yourself and your family.

Here are a few tips:

1. One of the biggest things you can do is to check your credit on regular bases. We recommend working with a service that has a credit watch package. One of the cheapest and best we have found is Credit.com. They allow you to pull all three credit bureaus and also give you all three credit scores for $14.95.

  2. Take your name off as many lists as possible. We are pointing our clients to Proquo.com, a resource that allows you opt-out of prescreened approvals. This is a fantastic site, but be prepared to spend some time on the site because you have to get through each one manually.

 3. Next if you have kids it would not be a bad plan to order a free report via mail once a year just to make sure nothing is happening. I will give the contact info at the end. Do not assume this cannot happen to you.

Disaster response: Navigating the credit bureau maze

What if you find that your child has been a victim of identity theft? The credit bureaus claim this shouldn’t have harmful consequences if parents follow the necessary procedures to report the fraud. “We can investigate to see if the child’s information has been used and if it has, we can prevent it from being used in the future,” says Clifton O’Neal, a spokesman for TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. The procedures, however, differ widely among the credit bureaus and can be frustratingly confusing.

At Experian, for example, as long as parents provide a police report they can place what is known as a “victim statement” on their child’s credit file. That means the bureau will attach a note saying the credit information belongs to a minor and warns creditors not to approve credit applications until the child turns 18. TransUnion will “cloak” the victim’s file, hiding it from creditors entirely. Equifax said it will delete any fraudulent information from the child’s report; take it offline and flag the Social Security number as belonging to a minor, so it cannot be used until the child turns 18.

Bottom line: If your child falls prey to identity thieves, calling just one of the credit bureaus – a common scenario in adult identity theft cases, since each bureau is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to inform the other two – isn’t sufficient.

Carol Gomez, a homicide detective in Mesa, Ariz., experienced this firsthand when her car, an unmarked police vehicle, was stolen earlier this year while she was on duty. The car was later found, but her purse was missing, along with both her and her 11-year-old son’s Social Security cards. The credit bureau she contacted placed a security flag on her credit file, but not her son’s, since he didn’t yet have a file. “They said that since he was a juvenile, they wouldn’t be able to put an alert on his file,” she says. “They didn’t act like it was a big deal. And we know that it is.”

My question is as much technology and money as the credit bureaus have why could they not come up with a system that flags the birthdates that are under the age of 18. Then they could “lock” those files down until they are of age. The credit bureaus would probably tell you, based on past experience, that they cannot do that because it is a “violation of free speech.” 

CONTACTING THE CREDIT BUREAUS

Credit Bureau

Contact Information

The Procedure

Experian Call 1-888-379-3792, select the Fraud option. Parents have to mail in documentation, including proof that they are the parent or legal guardian for the child, such as a birth certificate for the child and driver’s license for the parent.If the child does not have a credit file, Experian will notify the parents in writing.If a credit file exists, Experian will provide a copy to the parent so they can dispute any fraudulent information. The bureau will attach a notice on the file that it belongs to a minor, to prevent lenders from issuing credit in the future.
Equifax Mail a request to:
Equifax Information Services
P.O. Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348
Attach documentation identifying you as the child’s parent (see above).If a credit record exists, Equifax will delete any fraudulent accounts, take the report offline and flag the Social Security number as one belonging to a minor. Parents cannot receive a copy of the fraudulent report.
TransUnion Email childidtheft@transunion.com TransUnion will email back instructions on requesting a file. If one exists, the bureau will lock the file until the child turns 18, so his or her information cannot be used to obtain credit.

Announcement: The Credit Authority Newsletter

Saying that you are an Authority on any subject these days is a pretty tall order. The quickness and chaos of information is coming at us faster than we can decipher it. It is the great paradox of our time – on one hand we have information at our fingertips and yet on the other had who has time to find it.

Enter Stage Left: The Credit Authority. We want to be your source for all things credit. One thing for sure it will never be boring.

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Matt Sullivan, CEO of Credit Dusters.  / Questions: matt.sullivan@creditdusters.com

The New Credit Face of FICO 08

Credit Hawk Blog has an excellent post as well as several resources about the new credit scoring system that is already out. Check it out: http://credithawk.blogspot.com/2008/03/new-face-of-fico-08.html

Thanks,

Matt Sullivan, CEO

My credit score went through the roof!

“Matt, I love you!”  

This is the exclamation Matt heard this week on the other end of the phone line.  Tonya, a resident of Hobart, Indiana and soon-to-be homeowner, could not resist calling and expressing her excitement at getting approved for a mortgage.  Less than three months ago Tonya came to Credit Dusters with a 588 middle score.  Processing got right to work and also coached Tonya to do things that would get her scores raised even higher.  Tonya informed Matt that her loan officer pulled her scores yesterday to discover she has achieved a 100 point increase.  I bet Tonya is now collecting boxes to start packing her things. 
Best of Luck, 
Matt Sullivan, CEO of Credit Dusters  
P.S. – Also, if you have not check out the credit watch service my wife and I recommend for our clients then you are in for a treat! You can check your credit from all three credit bureaus for $14.95! – Click Here