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The impact of fraud alerts when checks and debit cards or stolen

Dear Experian,

My debit card and checks are being taken without my knowledge and being used. What can I do to protect myself? To stop everything the bank charges you money, of course. The retailer obviously doesn’t check identification. What are my options? My bank account was drained. Who do I turn to? I thought the fraud alert helped.

- SGT

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Not just anyone can get your credit report

Dear Experian,

Can anyone obtain a credit report on anyone else if they are not a lending company of any kind? There is an argument going on a message board and someone is saying that any individual can obtain a credit report on any other individual.

- GEL

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Bankruptcy and tax liens

Dear Experian,

I have a client who filed for bankruptcy over 10 years ago. The bankruptcy is no longer showing on his credit report but the state and federal tax liens are. What can be done to remove that information from the credit report?

- ATT

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College student facing eviction when roommate violates lease

Dear Experian,

My daughter – a college student – may be evicted from her apartment due to her roommate violating the lease. If this happens how will it affect my daughter, and will she have any recourse?

- JAG

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The difference between the three national CRAs and credit scores

Dear Experian,

What are the differences between the three national credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union? Is the credit reporting different, and why are the credit scores different?

- XOB

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Fraud alert may slow loan approval but shouldn’t prevent it

Dear Experian,

I recently lost my wallet, which contained my ATM card and my driver’s license. Although the card was cancelled within an hour of being lost, the person made one successful purchase with it. My concern is that they now have my driver’s license, which did not have my Social Security number on it. I understand that I can flag my SSN with the credit bureaus to report any fraudulent activity. Although I have a credit rating in the 800′s, will this flag prevent me from obtaining a car loan that I will be seeking in the near future? Is this flag something you would recommend even though my Social Security number wasn’t on my license?

- AAR

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The difference between default and bankruptcy

Dear Experian,

Which is the lesser of two evils, bankruptcy or default?

- DBU

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Settling accounts will hurt credit scores

Dear Experian,

I have an unsecured loan of $10,000 and the loan company has offered me a settlement of $5,000. It I take this settlement, will it affect my credit score?

- TPF

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Paying credit card debt with an installment loan

Dear Experian,

Do I save money if I pay my credit cards off with a loan that has a lower APR with a fixed installment payment, or is it better to continue to pay the highest APR credit card until it is paid?

- MYR

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Fraud security alerts can slow mortgage approval

Dear Experian,

I recently placed a 90-day fraud security alert on my credit history though Experian. Will that affect my ability to be approved for a mortgage?
- ITR

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Reporting utility bill payments will be beneficial to consumers

Dear Experian,

I got my credit report recently and was shocked to find that all of my monthly obligations were not listed, making my score very low. I pay my utility bills, Internet service provider, merchandise shipping contracts, telephone, cable television, and rent on time every month, and I have an open Paypal/Ebay account. If these were listed I am sure that my report would look more favorable. How can I get these items onto my reports so that a future lenders looking at my credit profile for a home loan will know that I am an honest hard working person, paying her obligations as agreed?

- DST

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Deleting an account did not raise the credit score

Dear Experian,

I recently had an account deleted from my credit report. Why didn’t my credit score go up?

- ENS

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How a minor may have a credit report

Dear Experian,

I am teaching a class at a local high school about credit fraud. A teacher mentioned to me that her daughter, who is under 12 years of age, has credit according to one of the credit reporting companies. How is this possible?

- RDE

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Debt management plans and your credit report

Dear Experian,

Companies can negotiate with credit card companies and reduce your interest rate. They close your cards and you pay them a flat amount each month that goes towards your cards. How does this affect your credit?

- YST

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PLUS Score, VantageScore available from Experian

Dear Experian,

I know that a lender I’m about to approach will pull up my Experian Scorex PLUS score. It doesn’t seem available to me at experian.com or experianscorex.com. How can I view this score of mine before going to the lender? Or, do I just cross my fingers.

- LLI

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Why previous names appear on your credit report

Dear Experian,

I am married for a second time. Can having my maiden name and two married names negatively affect my credit score? My “middle” score is 780 but I am trying to improve to 800 plus.

- TEV

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When roommates don’t pay their share of the rent

Dear Experian,

I’m a college student, and today I was given an eviction notice because my roommates didn’t pay their rent on time. I was wondering what happens if they pay the amount they owe before our court date. Does it still go on my credit score? Do I have any options because I paid my rent on time?

- STO

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Using secured credit cards to improve credit history

Dear Experian,

What is your opinion about using secured credit cards to improve credit history, especially if there is no current history (last entries were in 2004)?

- PAS

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Accounts are not removed immediately after bankruptcy

Dear Experian,

I have completed my chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. How do I have the creditors names removed from my credit report?

- HNS

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What to do when items are stolen from your car

Dear Experian,

Last night, a fairly sophisticated ring apparently swept through my neighborhood stealing from cars. Unfortunately, my wallet was stolen with my driver’s license, and yes, stupidly, my Social Security card.

Worse, an external hard drive was also taken that had tons of personal, financial information. While much of it was in a password protected document, there was also several years’ worth of statements from many of my accounts.

What is the best way to protect yourself if you feel someone may have every bit of information they would need including account numbers, Social Security numbers, etc? How can you feel secure beyond the initial 90 days?

- EER

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Collection account does not have to appear on your credit report to be legitimate

Dear Experian,

I received a letter from a collection agency asking that I pay almost $3,000 for a debt that was originally a credit card opened in 1996. It seemed to come out of the blue, and when I called to get some bearings I was not given satisfactory answers or clarification. When I mentioned that this hasn’t been on my credit report they replied that they don’t report to the credit bureaus. Isn’t that what would make them legitimate? If they don’t report to the credit bureaus are they a legitimate company?

- JCK

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Settled account status more important than who closed the account

Dear Experian,

How bad does it affect your credit when a creditor reports an account closed by consumer and settled for less then the balance owed?

- NIC

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The difference between a fraud alert and a security freeze

Dear Experian,

What is and where can I find my Security Freeze Personal Identification Number? I have an extended fraud alert on my credit report and would like it removed. I have drafted and put together all the information to send to have it removed; however, I am lacking this Security Freeze Personal Identification number.

- IDR

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Be cautious about adding statements to your credit history

Dear Experian,

I want to add a statement as to the reason of my bad credit from about seven years ago. How do I do it?

- ALC

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How long does it take for paid off accounts to show zero balance

Dear Experian,

If I pay off all of my credit cards to a zero balance, how long does it take for that payoff to show up in an improved credit score? I want to pay off all of my cards and improve my score for a mortgage application.

- ANG

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