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Credit After The Holidays

by Vikki Nelson

We have done all of our shopping and have not totaled the costs of our celebrating Christmas with good cheer and gifts, but that will be coming shortly. It will be tallied up in our credit card bills that are right around the corner. Some will have to re-establish their credit even before Christmas arrives. Here are some clues to use in your effort to re-establish your credit.

While you’re re-establishing your credit, make sure that you monitor your credit reports, which are kept by a few large agencies and are accessed by banks, credit card companies and other organizations needing information before they extend credit. If you’ve been denied credit, free credit reports can be obtained within 60 days of denial. If you haven’t been denied, you’ll need to pay a small service charge for each report. To get a copy or a report, you’ll need to furnish your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and phone number. There are three major credit agencies, and you’ll need a complete picture of how your personal credit looks to anyone requesting information. They are as follows: Experian, P.O. Box 949, Allen, TX 75013 (800-682-7654); Trans Union Corp. P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064 (800-916-8800); Equifax, P.O. Box 105873, Atlanta, GA 30348 (800-685-1111).

Many different types of information appear on the reports provided by each of these agencies, including: jobs you’ve held, credit history (good and/or bad), bankruptcies, and even requests that organizations have made for your credit information. Now, if your credit reports contain information about missed payments or defaulted loans, do your best to pay off whatever is owed and then make sure in the next month or two that your credit reports reflect your payments.

Even after you have entirely paid off all outstanding loans and debts, you’ll need to continually monitor your credit reports to make sure that mistakes or outdated information don’t show up. Make sure you keep records to show that you have made the payments and payoffs have also been made, and be prepared to mail or fax that information to the agencies.

If you are making a lot of money now and pay off the entire amounts of your outstanding debts, ask to speak with an officer of the organization and see if they will delete the total accrued interest charges providing that you pay off the entire principal balance quickly. Many organizations won’t do this, but it never hurts to try.

Now, here’s the important part of this whole column. The advice is to keep out of debt - especially at this holiday time. Small gifts or just visiting your friends and family is “present” enough. Because they are your friends, they will understand and will welcome you into the NEW YEAR with open arms.

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