Monday, May 21, 2012

Credit Sharks in Suits

Yesterday’s lesson was about understanding how credit collector agencies work and knowing your rights as a citizen.  There was a lot of good information for people to apply to their own financial messes or to use to advise other people who are in a tough situation.  There is power in knowledge and it's good to be able to approach creditors when you are armed with accurate information.  This lesson also talked about how to check your credit bureau reports and what to do about identity theft.

A really helpful tool that Dave taught in this lesson was the Pro-Rata plan.  Check it out if you don’t have enough money at the end of the month to pay all of your bills. This plan helps you stay afloat by giving a portion of your money to all of the people you owe.  It keeps creditors at bay because they see you have a plan and you are willing to work with them and give them something.

The piece of advice that Dave emphasized the most was that when you are in a financial mess, you need to protect your family by setting up what he calls the "four walls."  These four walls represent your family's basic needs: food/clothing, shelter, utilities, and transportation.  By paying for these items first, you will be in a healthier position to fight and do what is right for your family. 

Today I took some proactive steps to manage my financial situation for the long-term. I opted out of pre-screenings for credit offers.  You can do this too by visiting By doing this, you will reduce the amount of offers for credit cards that your family will receive.  I also registered both of our cell phones at In addition, we will be checking our three credit bureau reports at least once a year. Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the nationwide credit bureaus are required to provide you one free credit report every 12 months upon request. You can go online to and request yours. If you're really interested, you can get one every four months by requesting from each credit bureau one at a time. By checking your credit report frequently, you will be protecting your financial reputation.

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