Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Do you know your credit score?

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do you know what your credit reports say, and whether they’re accurate? I don’t. I know that syndicated consumer talk show host Clark Howard often encourages listeners on WCLO to check with the major credit rating agencies to know their scores. After all, your credit rating can cost or save you lots of money when you seek loans.

Maybe I’ve never checked because I haven’t taken out a loan in the last few years. Our mortgage is paid, and my wife and I also have paid off our car loans.

An Associated Press report in today’s Gazette suggests that one in four consumers found errors in credit reports issued by the major agencies, according to a government study released Monday. The three major agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

So Howard’s suggestion seemingly makes sense. If errors can cost you money or even deny you a loan unfairly, and consumers find mistakes that frequently, it might well pay to monitor your rating. The Federal Trade Commission also said about 10 percent of consumers had their credit scores changed after a reporting agency corrected errors in their reports.

I found that percentage surprising after I watched a “60 Minutes” report Sunday. It suggested that when you call one of these agencies and complain, your concern generally will be ignored. Even if you talk to a live body—usually someone in some foreign country—that person has no power to investigate or correct errors. In summary, the TV news show suggested, you’re wasting your time unless you’re prepared to hire a lawyer and sue. The credit reporting agencies aren’t afraid of lawsuits because they cost less than it would to hire staff enough to properly examine all allegations of errors. One woman in the “60 Minutes” report did sue. Her case went to federal court after she compiled hundreds of letters and correspondence trying to clear a mix-up in her score that added some other woman’s poor credit habits to her rating.

What a nightmare. After watching that report, I’m thinking maybe I’d be best off not knowing my score, and if it does have errors, just hoping I’ll never have to take out another loan.

Just as I returned to work after lunch, I heard Clark Howard citing that "60 Minutes" report on his talk show.

If you found errors in your credit score, did you demand changes, and, if so, did your request succeed?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:25 am Monday, April 29, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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