A big thank you is in order from Iowa consumers to the Legislature, Governor Kim Reynolds, and Attorney General Tom Miller for passage and enactment of Senate File 2177 . Beginning on July 1st you will no longer be charged fees to use a “freeze” on your credit report.
The Equifax Breach put many individuals in a pool of consumers whose personal information was compromised. Faced with potential misuse, one step to limit damage was freezing your credit report at the three credit reporting bureaus, but the cost was $30. In passing the new law, Iowa government officials reasoned that consumers should not be forced to bear the cost when a reporting bureau is negligent.
The credit bureaus are also making other changes: what data they collect; how it is reported; and credit score calculations.
- All public record information, except for bankruptcy, is being removed from files.
- Reports on medically-related debts are held for six months before posting to allow for insurance closures.
- Medical debt is given less weight compared to other consumer spending when calculating your credit score.
- Rent data can now be included in your credit report; only positive reports will be accepted.
- A series of auto or mortgage inquiries are treated as one event.
- Paid collection accounts will be removed from reports.
- Keeping a card open that is paid in full will not help your credit score if it isn’t used. A card that is not used in a 3-6 month time period is dropped from credit score calculations.
Checking your credit report for accuracy is a good habit to maintain. If you haven’t checked yours in the past 12 months, now would be a good day to start!
When you need credit, you need to make sure you get the best deal you can. Here are some tips:
- Shop around for the best offer and interest rate. Higher interest rate means more money out of your pocket.
- Think of credit as the use of future income. You need future income to buy things on credit.
- Don’t get a credit card just because they’re giving something away. If you are new to using credit, this can be very harmful to you. Think before you sign up for an offer.
- Pay bills on time, so you won’t have to pay late fees or jeopardize your credit history. Currently, 35% of your credit score is determined by how you have paid your bills in the past.
- Pay bills in full each month, so you won’t have to pay finance charges.
- Pay more than the minimum amount due. Debts will be paid off sooner, and you’ll save money. Credit card companies require you to pay around 4% of the total bill. This means you are usually not paying much on principal. A software program https://Powerpay.org can help you see how much you are actually paying on each debt.
- Know how much debt you can handle. Payments shouldn’t be more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay (excluding your mortgage).
- Get a free copy of your credit report once a year and make sure it’s accurate. . . To request a copy choose one of the following methods:
By phone – Call Toll Free Number – 877-322-8228
Copies of the form are available at www.ftc.gov/credit
Information you need when making the request: your social security number, date of birth, and address if you have moved within the last two years. Each of the three nationwide reporting companies may request information only you would know to maintain the security of your file.