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Too often at the beginning of a New Year, we don’t address one of the biggest problem areas in our lives: our finances. Instead of striving to be financially fit, our physical fitness is more important. While health and wellness should be a main priority in our lives, our finances should also take some type of priority as well. And as 2013 approaches, striving to be more wealthy should be another resolution to put on our list.
If you are looking to make a few changes in your financial part of life this New Years, here are a few suggestions of resolutions for your finances. Get in better financial shape in 2013!
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has found that one in five people who look at their credit report are seeing a version that’s different from the one that lenders see when they pull that person’s info.
According to The Huffington Post, the CFPB examined 200,000 reports from the three major credit reporting agencies (it doesn’t specify, but that’s usually Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) and found that between 19 and 24 percent of the time, the differences in the scores were significant. Credit agencies use their own scoring models to determine a person’s score. As you know, banks and other lenders use these scores to determine whether a person is too much of a risk to lend money to. They also determine the cost of the loan you’re getting.
HuffPo reports, ”[The discrepancy] could lead those consumers to waste time applying for loans they cannot afford or to take out loans with worse terms than they could get if they saw the same score as the lender, the consumer agency said.”
The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank law, which itself was a response to the Great Recession. The group has been charged with keeping an eye on 30 credit reporting companies, among other things. These findings demonstrate the need for an organization like this.
Unfortunately, if there’s information going to lenders that you’re not privy to, there’s not much that you can do. But, consumers would be smart to keep an eye on the credit scores they do have access to, making sure that there are no glaring mistakes and correcting ones that are found. Consumers are at a disadvantage, so they have to have a firm grasp on all the data they can control.
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Applying for a home loan can be overwhelming — what with the paperwork, credit requirements, terms and other banking jargon. But don’t be deterred. Just as you would comparison shop for any big-ticket purchase, do the same when it coms to loans. Various banks will offer you different rates and terms. Select the one that’s best for your financial situation.
There are the things you should do before going shopping, according to Charon D. Darris, VP and senior business banker for New York City’s, KeyBank Corp. “Know your credit scores and credit reports,” he said in an email. The three credit rating services are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. “These reports and scores can differ from company to company. It’s important you pull all three to ensure you have a comprehensive picture of your full credit profile and can proactively address any discrepancies you may uncover.”
Darris suggests using “an online mortgage calculator” to first do your calculations at home. “Most banks have a section of their website that will estimate what size loan you can handle given your income, property taxes, and other deductions,” he explains.
And before you hit the major banks, consider the smaller institutions. “Start with community banks. Often people start with the big names like Chase, Bank of America and Citi. However, underwriting standards and pricing are likely to be more negotiable at smaller financial institution,” advises Darris.
Now you’re ready to shop around. Here are a few tips from Darris on what you should ask each bank.
• Will you cover my closing fees? And if not, do you have a cap on closing fees?
• What is maximum tenor will you provide for my loan? (Tenor is the length of time until a loan is due.)
• What is the minimum down payment I will need to provide and when do I need it?
• Would an additional guarantor help the bank be more comfortable?
• Are there any government programs I qualify for?
Armed with knowledge, you’re ready to haggle for the best deal.
Ugh! You woke up after a late-night of dinner and drinks with friends. You drag yourself out of the house to grab some breakfast. You go to pay. And BAM! DECLINED! How did that happen? Are you sleepwalking to Bloomingdale’s?
It’s a real pain in the neck, but a lost or stolen card happens. Reporting that and getting a new card is a pretty simple process. The most important thing is making sure your credit isn’t all messed up by some baddie with sticky fingers.
The key to preventing major credit damage is keeping an eye peeled for anything strange. Look over credit card statements when you get them. If you use online banking, go to your account once per week with the expressed purpose of going through purchases to make sure you’re responsible for all of the transactions listed.
If you think something fishy is happening, act quickly. Contact the card issuer and the credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The bureaus can place an alert on your credit report, which will last 90 days or longer. This is a free and useful service. You can even ask for a credit freeze, which will stop anyone, including you, from getting credit in your name.
For your online shopping, look for “secure servers.” Oftentimes we see these security guarantees on big sites like Amazon, PayPal, and Ticketmaster. It’s just as important, if not more, to look for those advisories and the “s” (“secure”) on the “https” in the URL of smaller sites you’re unfamiliar with.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent everything. But being vigilant will save you a lot of headache down the line.
(Chicago Tribune) — TransUnion, the Chicago-based credit reporting agency controlled by the powerful Pritzker family, is fighting to preserve the use of credit checks in employment screening, even as several states, including Illinois, threaten to outlaw the practice in most circumstances as discriminatory.
The company is one of three major credit bureaus that collect information on the borrowing and bill-paying habits of most Americans. They make money from employers and financial institutions that use such information in helping guide their decisions about lending, extending credit, housing and hiring.