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Message #604 Applying for credit or loans

mp3 #604 Your Rights and Responsibilities When Applying For Credit Or Loans (mp3 file)

When you apply for credit, you'll be asked for information about yourself that covers several different areas. The person from whom you are applying for credit from will want to know your past credit record and whether or not you have a large enough income to meet all your expenses. They'll want to know if your income is steady and how long you've been at your job. They'll want to know if you've shown signs of poor money management in the past. They'll also want to know how long you've been living in the community, how long in your present home, and whether you are renting or buying. And they'll want to know about your assets-- your home, your furniture, and your automobile. And they'll want references.

These are the most important things the person to whom you are applying for credit will need to know about you before they will let you borrow money. Usually your age isn't important unless you've just reached the age of eighteen and don't have an employment history. Or if you are a senior citizen who can't offer a steady job as proof of your ability to repay a loan, you may have some difficulty also. Usually, however, even people in these categories can get credit if they meet all the other requirements. And don't forget that good references do matter.

Before you decide to buy or borrow from anyone, become a comparison shopper -- look around for the best deal in goods and for loans. Deal only with recognized companies or agencies, however, and if you are in doubt about a company, ask for information at your Better Business Bureau or from your attorney or from the legal aid society.

When you get a loan or buy on time, make sure you understand exactly what you’re responsible for. Read all of the contract and read it carefully. Make sure all the details are spelled out for you. Don’t ever sign a contract that you don’t understand and always keep a copy of every contract you sign.

If you make application for credit and you’re turned down, you can get the name and address of the credit bureau which prepared the report used to deny you credit. That credit bureau has to tell you the nature, substance, and, in most cases, sources of the information on the report -- in other words, just exactly what's been said about you and who said it. There is no charge for this information (if requested within 30 days after turned down).

You can take anyone you like with you to the credit bureau -- this includes an attorney. If there is information on your report which is incomplete or incorrect, you can, in most instances, have this information re-investigated, and if it is found to be false, you can have it removed from your file. And if after all this you are still not satisfied with the accuracy of the report, you can have your own version of the material included in the report.

You can find out who has received a credit report on you within the last six months. If incorrect information has been sent out, the bureau will let you know whom it's been sent to.

You may have your credit report withheld from any business which does not legitimately need it, and you may sue an agency that uses a report dishonestly. If you sue and your suit is successful, you may also collect your own attorney's fees from the company.

Finally, there can be no unfavorable information about you reported after seven years. There are several exceptions to this rule, and the major one is bankruptcy.

If you are applying for a credit card, there are several things to watch. Credit cards usually don’t have the conditions and liabilities involved in their use printed on the card itself, so before signing and using a credit card, you should read carefully all the information that comes along with it. Be aware of finance charges, expected monthly payments, and types of accounts or use the card is limited to.

Notify the credit card company at once if your card is lost or stolen. If someone else is using your card, even if they don’t have your permission, you can still be held responsible for up to $50 charged on your card. So, let the company know right away – in writing—if your card disappears. Keep a list of your credit cards. You won’t be responsible for any charges on the card if you let the company know about its loss in a reasonable amount of time.

Credit cards are often stolen, so take care of your cards just as you’d take care of your money.

Remember, credit has responsibilities and rights. Make sure you always know those responsibilities and rights so you get the most for your money.

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