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CHECK YOUR CREDIT

YOUR CREDIT HISTORY. Credit history is important to everyone. It determines whether you will get accepted for a loan or mortgage, and if so, probably will influence the interest rate you pay. Those with bad credit can find themselves rejected when trying to open a bank account. These days, employers check the credit of job applicants, reasoning that anyone who would let their credit rating slip might not be a responsible or honest employee. And would you be comfortable seeing your offspring marry someone with bad credit? A good credit history is more important than it has ever been.


THE “BIG 3.” Your credit history is kept by three major companies in the United States. They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These “Big 3” compile a history of your credit, good and bad. Then they compute a credit score based on that information, a number usually between 400 and 850. The higher the number, the more credit will be available to you, the better your bargaining power, and the lower the rates you will pay (although your income and other factors also will affect this). Errors and mistakes lower your score. Companies that want to check your credit always subscribe to one of these services. Upon your written or verbal authorization, they will release your entire credit history to a firm to judge your creditworthiness. So, knowing this, everyone should want to make sure their credit score is accurate and correct when authorizing their credit report to be issued to a third party.


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ADOPT GOOD PAYMENT HABITS. Justizz recommends you adopt good payment habits to make sure all of those with whom you have dealings never have reason to report to the “Big 3” that you have been late, are in default, or not meeting the terms of an agreement to which you have signed your name. This also includes paying your taxes and not incurring tax liens or any other type of lien as a result of a lawsuit. Of course, there are some situations where falling behind is unavoidable. But we hope this will not be the case. Justizz can help keep your credit score accurate and correct, but cannot help you fix accurate late payment or other negative marks against your credit.


A Wall Street Journal article reported that the difference in payments for a car for someone with a 660-690 credit score, as opposed to someone with a 720+ score, is $468 per year! And now the automobile insurers are using credit scores to determine your car insurance rate (in all but three states, CA, HI and MA)! Low score-pay more.


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ERRORS ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT. Now the bad news. The credit reporting agencies have a notorious reputation for misinformation and errors in the credit reports they maintain. Here is where this site can assist you. You may have wrong or misleading information on one or all of your reports (remember the Big 3 each have a different file on you, with different information on each). It is up to you to read your reports regularly (we recommend at least once a year), and report any discrepancies to have them corrected. Below, we will show you how to do just that.


But more bad news. The “Big 3” are known to ignore consumer letters, or sending back a form letter in response to requests, which say essentially that they have verified the disputed information and it is correct. Which most of the time it is not. Why? Because it costs them money to investigate your request, and being profit greedy, it is cheaper for them to ignore you. Justizz offers you a fast and easy method to get your credit report accurate and complete.

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COMPANIES WHO PROMISE TO FIX YOUR CREDIT. A quick note about credit “fixing” companies whose ads appear everywhere. There is nothing these companies can do to undo an accurate, but bad, mark on your credit. They can write on your behalf to request deletion or changes, but you can do that using this site, and save the several thousand dollars they sometimes demand to help you. Many of these firms are a step ahead of the law, closing and starting again when they are “found out." Our advice: stay away from them and their glorious promises. Use the logical, free system this site offers you.

YOUR FIRST STEP-ORDER A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORTS.


Under government pressure, the “Big 3” have set up a joint website to enable all consumers to get a copy of their credit report free once a year, from each of the “Big 3." The second request within a 12 month period carries a charge of around $15, payable by credit card, BUT SEE BELOW WHICH MAKES THIS FEE NOW UNNECESSARY. The site is fairly easy to navigate, and once your personal information is verified, you can print out or download your credit report. The reports can be lengthly, 20 pages or more. We recommend downloading and saving the file on your computer. The site to order from is www.annualcreditreport.com.

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The site implies you can get all three of your reports at once. We found that you must get one, log back in two more times to get the next two. We find that, for unexplained reasons, they will not immediately issue one or more of the reports. In that case they ask that a form be filled out, and mailed with identification, or a call be made to their toll-free number. We found that the call in system worked well, but only eliminated having to mail in your request--those reports still have to be sent to you, within in 15 days. Whatever it takes, and whatever you must do, before you can start to check your credit reports you must follow the procedures set forth on the site and gather your three reports, before using our instructions below


RECENT GOOD NEWS FOR MONITORING YOUR CREDIT


Two of the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, have established a great site called Credit Karma (Google Credit Karma). It is quick and free. You can log on, establish an account, and view your credit report and score anytime! The site also explains the credit scoring factors. With this site you can easily monitor and improve your credit scoring.


Unfortunately, the third agency, Experian, the worst of the three for consumers in our opinion, does not participate. With Experian (Google Experian) they force you to sign up for a monthly plan at $30 (a rip off, of course--you do not need it). But for only $1 you can view and download your current report. And you can cancel within seven days and not be stuck with the stupid $30 monthly deal. You just have to go through the same procedure every time you want to view a copy of your report. Nonetheless, do so, and do not forget to cancel immediately after getting what you want. You do not know what reporting agency an inquiring entity will use, so make sure all three reports are correct.



YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR CREDIT REPORTS.

They must be analyzed. The format of the reports has become much easier to follow in


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past years. Start at the top, and review these items by following these steps.


  • Potentially Negative Items. These are the items that most hurt your credit and lower your score. They include tax and other liens filed against you (from public records), debts that were never paid and written off, or forgiven, by a lender, or monthly payments that are chronically late. These items by law come off your report after seven to ten years. You should check and make sure these are correct. If they are not correct, or not even yours, and should be changed, circle or make a note of each item.
  • Accounts in Good Standing. These are all positives for the most part. Read the colored symbols. You may have made 23 payments out of 24 on time, but the one lateness can cost your score several points. Check and make sure any late payments shown here are correct; if not, circle of make a note of those items.
  • Inquiries Shared With Others/Inquiries Shared With you. The first heading is important, the second one not. Any time you apply somewhere for credit, you must authorize your report to be run. Each time you do, your credit score lowers. The thinking is that if you apply for credit, especially multiple times, you may overextend yourself. Multiple applications within a short time span is viewed as a warning that you might get yourself into trouble. Make sure you do not give your social security number to any firm that you are not seriously considering requesting credit from! Check and make sure any inquiries shared with others shown here are correct; if not, circle or make a note of those items.
  • Your Personal Information. This lists addresses, variations of your name (most of which are the result of typos) and other information about you. Unless glaring, it does not pay to attempt corrections here, as this section does not negatively affect your credit.

HOW TO REQUEST A CORRECTION TO YOUR REPORT. Your next step is to write the “Big 3” with your objections. The form below assists you in doing just that. The Justizz procedure is to send a request letter. You will compose this letter using the information from your report, which when approved, is sent to your email address to be mailed. The “Big 3” are required by law to respond to your request within 30 days.


You will then be sent a reminder 40 days after your letter is sent, at which time you will have received notice that the correction you requested has been done to your satisfaction, or it has not, or you received no reply. In that case the email will give you the opportunity to send a second letter. A second email reminder will be sent after 40 days, either giving you the option of ceasing the matter, or continuing to either file a small claims summons against the credit reporting agency, or selecting from the Justizz site an attorney willing to assist you in pursuing your request.


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THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT. Some years ago Congress wisely passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can access it here.


The act provides many protections for the consumer when dealing with the “Big 3." The most important are:


  • The credit agency must investigate and respond to your request within 30 days. If not, they must remove or correct the misinformation. If they fail to do so, and you prevail legally, there is a penalty of up to $1,000 for each instance.
  • The act provides for legal fees for attorneys who prevail in matters against the “Big 3."

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HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

The "scoring process" is not made avalable to anyone. But we have determined that these factors most determine your credit score:


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Factors that affect your credit score minimally.


  • Total Accounts Open-You cannot do much about this; what exists cannot be changed.
  • Inquiries-Every time you authorize someone to run your credit report, it lowers your credit score, however minimally. Only allow access via a written authorization or taped phone conversation by the entity. Check your credit reports regularly--make sure no inquiry appears on your report that you did not authorize. If there are one or more, use the Justizz procedure to have them removed. But make sure you did not give permission or you will waste your time and that of the credit reporting agency.

Factor that affects score more than minimally.


  • Age of Accounts Open-as #1 above, not much you can do.

Factors that greatly affect your credit score.


  • Derogatory Marks-Any filed judgment or collection showing on your report will greatly affect your score. If you have any, make arrangements with the judgment holder or creditor to settle and get a release. The release must be filed with the Court so it will show paid. This is not automatic in all cases, and you may have to contact your local courthouse or the place where the lien was filed to submit the release docoument. In the case of a collection, require the releasing party to file with the credit agency. This is standard procedure for most collection agents.
  • Payment History-Late payments are a no-no. A payment is not reported late until it is 30 days or more past the due date. Please always try not to be late, but if you are, get the payment out before 30 days elapse. Late payment marks stay on your credit report for seven years and cannot be erased unless there is a reporting error. So please be vigilant.
  • Credit Card Usage-This is the most perplexing of all. Every month the agency calculates what percentage of your total credit card availability you are using. If you have outstanding, say $5000, and your credit card maximums are $20,000, then you are using 25% of you maximum credit. Use of under 30% is generally good. This rule applies to whether you pay off your cards in full every month, or carry your balances over.

To maximize your credit for, say, an important credit application like a mortgage, do the following; Don't use your cards for two months prior to making the application. Also apply for additional cards to raise your total credit, even if you do not use them. After you are approved, you can resume your normal usage. We have found that a 50-90% usage rate can reduce your credit score by up to 100 points!!! Try always to keep this ratio very low if you are applying for credit.


Justizz hopes and recommends that all of its members carefully watch their credit scores, and hopefully never carry balances from one month to the next. It is a terrible burden to pay banks 20% or more interest when they are getting federal funds for 2%! The consumer is being abused by these high interest rates. Sacrifice wherever you can and get rid of those old balances.


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Most consumers do not check their credit regularly, only finding out about the bad news when they apply for credit and are refused. Be proactive! Know your credit! But those who find a problem often take the laborious, unassisted, letter writing route and give up when the agency refuses to make any changes. If you follow the Justizz procedure, you can easily continue your request through legal channels. This is what strikes fear into the hearts of the “Big 3." But so few consumers go that far, that it is easier for the “Big 3” to settle the handful of cases they get, rather than respond and investigate as they should. If every American followed the steps below, credit errors would shrink to a very low amount. And happily most American judges give the benefit of the doubt to the consumer; the “Big 3” almost always experience a bad day in courtroom situations, and so they avoid court if at all possible. Don’t be afraid of the court system, whether you engage an attorney or go it yourself.

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A WARNING. This site is intended to help good, honest people correct mistakes in their credit reports. But there may be those who attempt to use this procedure in nefarious ways. If discovered, such misuse of this system will be grounds for immediate termination of membership.


LET’S GET STARTED. The forms that follow enable you to send a demand letter to the three credit reporting agencies. Have your information ready and fill out the form that follows.


Click here if you are ready to proceed.