BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Berkeley Parents Network >
Legal & Financial Services >
I have an unreasonable fear about checking my credit score! I
honestly don't know if my credit is bad or good, and I have this
huge mental block about learning the truth.
Should I find a credit counselor? I hear that there are honest
ones and profitmaking ones -- can you recommend anybody who can
help me with this?
Fear not! Just keep stepping forward like you are and you'll
make your way to clarity and power about your money. ... You
can get a free credit report from all of the reporting
agencies. Go to the Federal Trade Commission's website:
information and instructions. If you apply for your free
reports online, you can pass on all of the features that cost
money. ... Also click on the FTC's link ''Before you file for
Personal Bankruptcy: Information about Credit Counseling'' for a
good list of questions to ask credit counselors before you
begin working with them. ... I also suggest that you check
out http://suzeorman.com/. Suze is deeply committed to
educating and empowering women about money. ... Best wishes,
First, check your credit report (this is a report, not a score)
at annualcreditreport.com (or . something, just be sure it's
annual creditreport--there are lots of others that are not free,
this one is free) This will give you the info held by the three
main credit reporting companies; you can get a report from each
of them for free once a year. Once you have this, you can see
what ''blots'' you might have on your record, and even have a
chance to correct any wrong information. Then, if you want, you
can go ahead and see what your score is. It may not be as bad as
you think, and you might as well know what almost everyone else
in the world seems to be able to find out about you!
Join our Credit Union: Kaiser Credit Union in downtown Oakland.
The website is www.kaisercu.org.
When you become a Member we run your credit report with the
score. This is how we know what services you are eligible to
receive. We will then sit down with you, without judgment, and
tell you your score. We'll tell you how you got that score,
meaning how your available balance to outstanding balance,
unpaid collections, debts paid late, etc. We will also tell you
how to improve your score and what services you're eligible to
have based on your score: those services are not only with our
Credit Union, but what you could reasonably expect from other
We have English, Spanish and Tagalog speakers. You may schedule
and appointment or drop in.
As a side note, we have had Members come in with poor credit
scores (below 550) and improve them to good credit scores
(nearly 700) over the course of working with the Credit Union.
It's just a number - a number that you have control over.
Credit Union Mom
I was scared of this too! I went to the Experian website and
bought, I think, the $80 package. The website stinks and is hard
to navigate, but you do get to talk to someone about making your
score better, and I get a little email whenever it goes up (or
down). I've watched it rise steadily over the past year and feel
much better about it. Good luck.
As a mortgage/loan consultant, I deal with credit every day and
have learned a lot about the subject. I counsel my clients all
the time about this subject, and in many cases, I utilize a
special tool which can show how your score can vary depending
on how you carry your balances and when you pay them down.
Having/maintaining good/excellent credit is so important. It
can make a huge difference on interest rates on your home, car
financing, credit cards, etc., and it can make a difference
when applying for a job. Employers often times run your credit
(with your permission, of course), and it's true that low
credit scores are often perceived to be indicative of more
problems (lack of responsibility/self-discipline, etc.) and
employers can and do consider this with job applicants.
It's extremely important that you know your score so you know
where you stand, and most importantly, so that you can correct
any errors, which always negatively impact scores (I've had
clients with errors that negatively impacted their score by 80 -
Know that the more times your credit is run, the more your
score can be dinged. However, self-inquiries do not
hit/ding/impact your score, so if you're requesting the report
yourself, you can self-inquire all you want knowing that your
score won't be hit. But know that the **only** way your score
is not impacted by an inquiry is with a self-inquiry. If any
other entity (bank, store, mortgage person, credit agency, car
dealership, etc.) runs your credit, your score can be impacted
up to 10%. This is huge, especially if you are ''borderline'' in
Also know that when you receive a credit card solicitation in
the mail, your score is not impacted by this solicitation.
However, if you accept the card, it likely will negatively
impact your score (based on the credit scoring model for
mortgages, which I won't go into). You can get a credit report
at places such as www.MyFico.com, or learn about a free credit
report (required by law) at
As far as credit counselors, I can't recommend anyone, but be
extremely careful if you're going to use one. Many of them use
questionable practices that artificially inflate scores
(temporarily), and if any of them do run your credit, as stated
above, it can significantly impact your score. Hope this helps!
Over the past decade or so I have carried balances on about 5
credit cards. Embarassing and dumb, yes. But, finally, I have
paid them all off (Yeah!) Here the problem: I have heard that one
should not cancel all credit cards right away because doing so
can hurt your credit rating. I have read this in several reliable
places. Now, when is it okay to start cancelling these cards? I
don't want to keep them open forever. My husband and I now have a
shared card that we pay off every month. Other than that, I don't
want these other cards, but I don't want to hurt my credit rating
either, which is actually pretty decent (my rating is a 800).
Can anyone out there with solid information about the credit
industry help me out with this?
debt free at last
The information you've read is correct - you shouldn't cancel
the cards if possible. Your credit score is basically
calculated in terms of how much ''temptation'' you can handle. If
you have $10,000 of available credit (measured in terms of your
total available credit on all cards) that you handle
responsibly, that doesn't look as good as if you have $60,000
worth of credit and are *still* being responsible.
I understand your need to want to cancel those cards so you
can't get into trouble again, but instead, I would suggest
canceling only those that carry annual fees. As for the rest,
just cut up the *cards* and throw them away. Hide the account
number from yourself in a place you can't access easily. Then
you'll have the account, but you won't be able to easily get in
trouble with it.
No matter how much you want to close your credit cards keep them
open, (advice from Suzie Orman the financial guru). Also, use
them at least once every six months or you will get a notice from
the credit card company saying, ''due to inactivity your credit
card has been canceled.'' This too will hurt your credit report.
Again, keep those cards open to keep that amazing score! Good luck!
Does anyone know where I can get a credit report where there are
no hidden fees? Last time I signed up for something I noticed
they tried to charge me extra for an some special check I didnt
order..I'm in the process of trying to repair my credit and just
want to know where I stand so far. Thanks!
Here's the site where you can get a free credit report once each
year from the three major credit reporting companies. These
companies are required by law to make your report available for
free. They may try to induce you to buy extras, but the basic
report is free.
Got Mine Here
Hi - The law entitles you to one free copy of your credit
report per year. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com to
get copies from the three big credit bureaus (Experian,
Transunion & Equifax). Otherwise, you are only entitled to a
copy of your credit report if you are turned down for a credit
card, loan, etc.
I have heard there are services one can use or programs
you can go through to have 'blemishes' on your credit report
removed. Has anyone ever used one of these services?
I'm interested in hearing brief details of whether or not it
worked (were the items removed and did it enable you to
establish lines of credit afterward), how much should I
expect to pay for this service, and how long does it typically
I didn't see any previous posts that directly address this
issue, so I thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
You shouldn't pay for a ''credit fix''. Companies claiming to
repair your credit can only remove items which are incorrect or
have ''dated out'' already, you can do this for free. If you want
assistance with credit counseling and/or debt management, help
with correcting errors, great general information and classes on
repairing your credit (Credit CPR) check out Consumer Credit
Counseling of the East Bay. http://www.cccsebay.org/ They are
non-profit and all classes and services are low-cost or FREE.
Beware of these kinds of services. I am a consumer attorney and
know a thing or two about them. On the whole, they are usually
unnecessary, and are often a scam. If what you want to do is to
remove items from your credit report that are INACCURATE, you
have a legal right to dispute those items with the credit bureau
directly. Once you file a written dispute, the credit bureau
has a legal obligation to investigate your claims, and send you
a response. If you find their response inadequate, you can
pursue the matter further, either by additional advocacy on your
own behalf, or by contacting a lawyer and seeking assistance. A
creditor that continues to provide inaccurate information to a
credit bureau, even after notified of your dispute, can be
liable to you for damages. These statutes, that create claims
against the credit bureuas and creditors for inaccurate credit
reporting, provide for awards of attorneys' fees, so if you have
a good claim, you might be able to find a lawyer to represent
you for free. If, on the other hand, what you are hoping to do
is to remove items from your credit report that are, in fact,
ACCURATE, you have no legal right to do so, and a service that
claims it can accomplish this for you is probably a scam. The
law requires that derogatory credit information drop off your
credit report after 7 years (10 years for a bankruptcy). If you
have something like this on your credit report, you will
probably just have to wait for it to go away. Finally, there
are ways to improve your credit score even if the information on
your credit report is basically accurate. For example, it might
improve your score to transfer some balances to other credit
cards and cancel some cards, so as to reduce your overall
available credit. I have heard that there are now some
relatively new services that will advise you about how to do
this. Some of these services may be reputable, and if you are
trying to buy a house, for example, it might be worth your money
to pay for a brief consultation. In order to provide good
advice, though, the person must be very knowledgeable about how
credit scoring works, i.e., it must be someone with direct
experience in the credit industry. An outsider or lay person is
not going to know enough about the intracacies of the system to
I would like to inquire about banking and being on Chek
Systems. My partner has spent the past year cleaning up his
credit report and paying off past collections - after years
eluding debt and irresponsible money behavior.
He is currently trying to get two negative marks removed
from Chek Systems (after paying his debt and calling and
pleading with the company to remove him). He has not had
any luck with being removed from Chek Systems and as a
result cannot obtain a bank account.
My questions are: Has anyone had similar experiences with
being on Chek Systems? Is it legal for these marks to
remain indefinately, even after the debt has been paid?
How does one obtain a bank - checking and savings
account while having these negative marks on Chek
Systems?? He desperately needs a bank acct! Any help,
suggestions, insights appreciated.
from what I've experienced, once you are on chek systems you stay
there for five years even though you've paid your dues. after the
five years your name magically disappears but I have no experience
with that, it's just what the chek system man said. but your
husband can still get a bank account by obtaining a letter written
to chek system from the places that reported him saying that he
doesn't owe them anything. with these letters he *should* be able
to open a bank account.
My husband works as a banker. He says that information stays on
check systems for five years. The only time the reports are
removed before that is if the institution that made the report
requests it. Usually banks won't remove their reports unless
they caused the problem. Not all financial institutions use
check systems, try smaller banks and/or credit unions. Some
banks will still allow you to open an account, even with a check
systems record, as long as it is paid off.
this page was last updated: Oct 13, 2007
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network