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Truly Free Credit Report — Social Security Number follow-up

Well, despite its reputation for trickery, was useful for me today. As I mentioned last night, I’ve been having trouble with my SSN. So this afternoon I called them once I got home from work.

Very nice CSR took down my information, looked up my account, and explained to me that according to Experian (their parent company) I simply don’t have a credit report. None. Nothing good or bad. Nobody (including me) has used my SSN for a loan, credit card, anything like that.

I asked her about my cell phone contract and she said that unless I’d used the SSN for that (I don’t think I did), it wouldn’t have gone on my credit report. Other than that, neither of us could come up with anything that would lead to my having a credit report. I’ve only ever used it for a couple bank accounts and employment.

She said that if these sites were trying to get my credit profile, that’d be why they were coming up confused.

So that’s a relief and an annoyance. Dangit all being so responsible!

On Monday I’m going to call up Paypal and see if I can set up that money market fund over the phone.

The next question that pops into my head—should I apply for a credit card with no annual fees, use it once, pay it off and simply lock it away somewhere? Just so that I can get a credit report?

Of course, credit cards are potentially a slippery slope. On the other hand, I haven’t had any problems with wanting to use Micah’s in all these months we’ve been married—nothing, we paid it off and we left it alone.

Oh yes, and she made sure my account was canceled (she said it should have been automatic since there was no report, but she double checked) so it remains truly free. Heck, I’d have been willing to pay $14.95 to figure out what was going on.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Progress on improving my credit score and developing a credit history.
February 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm
How to Fix Your Credit Report (and Identity Theft) | Prime Time Money
March 7, 2008 at 11:23 am

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

deepali February 2, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Interesting. Banks often use credit reports to verify you are the person you say you are. It’s not the same as a hit from a credit card company, but I assumed there would need to be an existing report somewhere for them to check. The bank I used to work at used Equifax. Maybe try calling the bureaus themselves?

Also, maybe you can open a credit card at a credit union or something, and put some automatic monthly bill on there (cell phone?) that you can then set up an auto payment for from your bank. If at some point down the line you want to buy a house, you’ll need some sort of credit standing (ideally, a good one).

SJean February 2, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Yes, you probably should open a credit card to build credit history. If you want a home loan someday (or anything) you will need it. And you are obviously responsible enough to handle a credit card.

Kacie February 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Glad to hear nothing is wrong!

For people who follow Dave Ramsey’s advice: He says you don’t need credit ever. If you want to buy a house someday and have a sizeable down payment (or just pay for it in cash) and can prove your income and other bills, you won’t have to have credit to qualify for a loan.

And since your husband already has a credit history, so long as it’s good, you probably don’t need a credit card yourself.

Definitely something to look into, though.

JB February 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm

You should definitely open up a credit card to start building credit. I too was hesitant initially, but hesitance is a good thing. Use it infrequently for things that are an absolute need.

I waited until I was about 20 years old and all my other friends already had one. Of course, there parents were footing the bill! I think I just used it for books twice a year and paid it off promptly before any finance charges accrued.

Ryan S. February 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

I’m glad that it looks like things are okay with your social security number, Mrs. M!

Early Retirement Extreme February 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Ah, now it all made sense. Before I decided to start a credit history, I had to jump through all sorts of hoops (fax in a copy of SS card, call them, … ) to open mutual funds, bank accounts, etc. Now the procedure is quite transparent.

mrsmicah February 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

You and me both, Ryan! It was very comforting to hear that there wasn’t any record of any kind for it.

In Debt February 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I sometimes think that people in the PF section of the blogosphere are a little too skittish about credit cards. While I have some trouble with them right now, that’s only due to a lack of income to pay them off. Previously, I would pay off the entire balance each month.

And while I’m no fan of credit card debt, having it easily available has kept things from being too desparate while I’m between jobs.

To summarize: I think that it would be a good idea for you to get a credit card.

Simple Tam February 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Mrs.M, glad to know that nothing is wrong. I agree with In Debt, the credit card idea seems like a good one.

E.C. February 2, 2008 at 6:47 pm

I was very hesitant to get a credit card because I was afraid I’d suddenly throw a lifetime of sensible money management out the window and end up deeply in debt. I finally gave into my mother’s demands that I get one and start building a credit history. At first I used it only to pay for prescription medications because I knew there would be no temptation to overspend on that. Over the past year and a half I’ve become more comfortable using it for other things but am always careful to only spend what I’ve already budgeted and pay it off every month.

You should probably go ahead and get a credit card. (If you qualify for USAA membership, I’d go with them since they have awesome customer service and are regarded as one of the most reputable financial services companies around.) I’d go further than using it once and putting it away, however. If you could use it to pay for one thing a month, say your internet service which you’ve already committed to paying for anyway, and then pay it off promptly every month, you’ll build a continuing record of sensible credit use.

Melissa February 2, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I also vote you get the credit card. Dave Ramsey doesn’t think so, but he’s for people who cannot use credit responsibly–you are obv a pretty responsible type. And yeah, you prob can get a mortgage without it, but life is designed to reward those with credit histories. Not to get all morbid, but there are at least a few worst-case-scenarios where it matters that you have your own, not just Micah’s. Just how it is.

Becky February 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Here’s another idea. If you have yourself added as a JOINT ACCOUNT OWNER (not an authorized user) on Micah’s credit card, you should automatically get a credit card history that is as long as Micah’s had the credit card open! You don’t get the credit history of the credit card added to your credit report if you are only an authorized user, you have to be a joint account owner. This is what I did after my husband and I got married this summer.

RacerX February 2, 2008 at 9:05 pm

They are changing the rules in FICO 08 to not give you any or as much benefit from being added to someone elses report. If you are going to buy a house someday you need a credit report…unless you are going to pay cash…Which would be pretty cool!

You need the 720 Fico when you are ready nd length of credit history is an important market.

vh February 2, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Good lord!

You NEED to have a credit history. This is big. This is huge.

If you “don’t have a credit report” (say what???), then you need to establish some credit IN YOUR NAME, not jointly in yours and your husband’s name.

Let the jaded old voice of experience explain why: If anything happens to your husband, you will need to have credit. In the chaos that will ensue, you will need to be able to charge things; at minimum this will simplify your life, but under the worst of circumstances it will save your dainty tuchus. You also will need a credit history to rent an apartment, buy a car, even rent a car. Joint credit doesn’t count! If you and he are no longer together, either because he has passed on or because you have split up, the credit trail you have established is not regarded as yours; the assumption is that you probably can’t pay your bills without a partner’s income.

Get this credit established now, because it can be very difficult to open credit accounts and to accomplish anything that requires a credit history once you’re on your own. It does not matter how good your past joint credit was. Trust me: I’ve been through this and it is a bi***!

Obtaining and using a credit card and then paying it off in full at the end of each month is one way to establish a good credit history. Another is to go to a credit union, take out a small loan (say, $2,000), put it in a savings account, and the pay it all back two or three months later. The cost of this maneuver is minimal, and it looks good on a credit report.

Lauren February 3, 2008 at 6:15 am

I can tell you from experience that you NEED credit history. This is not a “you ought to have” you need it. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong and I know from personal experience.

I paid cash for everything. I paid cash for my own car, I graduated high school with 10k in savings. I got a scholorship to college and worked to pay for housing. Out of college I worked for a company that makes debt collection software (both for 1st and 3rd person collections). I was so afraid I would run up debt like peope in our system that I refused to open a credit card.

Fast forward a few years and I had zero debt and a good job (different company…that place was awful…working for the devil, basically). My husband had a fair amount of debt, but great credit since he always paid it on time. You would think that a couple of 25 year olds very well paid in the software development industry would have an easy time getting a mortgage.

This was not the case.

We talked to ten banks/mortgage institutes and were turned down by nine of them. Since I had zero credit history and it was an automatic no, despite my 60k+ salary and bank savings. We only ended up qualifying for an interest-only loan because my husband’s salary could cover the payments–none of my salary could go towards how much we could qualify to get. Otherwise we could have gotten qualified for much more.

You *need* credit history. Fifteen years ago when you got a loan from the bank where you probably knew the manger from around town, you would be fine with being an upstanding citizen. Today, computers do all the calculation and don’t know how nice of a person you are. They only know risk averages and having no credit usually means alot of horrible things.

I was told by my mortgage guy that having bad credit would be better than none. The super messed up thing is that if I had missed a payment on any of my bills and they had gone to collections, it would have hit my credit history and if I had paid that “debt” back, I would have had credit history and a much easier time getting a job.

That being said, having none makes it a lot easier to build good credit and now, six months later, I have decent credit (but 30% of the calculation has to do with length of accounts being opened so I’m hurt on that point only).

I was so upset because I never got a credit card and always paid cash for everything because I had been taught that this was the best way for me to prepare for one day having a mortgage and a future. Unfortunately, anyone who tells you this, no matter how well published, is giving you outdated advice. The way this works is totally counter intuitive and I just don’t want anyone to make the same uninformed mistake as me.

Follow JH’s advice above. It’s very true and should help you alot.

Good luck getting credit and I hope you avoid the same problems as me!

Catherine L February 3, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Mrs M – that sucks. I am in the same position over here in the UK. I have a house, but no mortgage and apparently no mortgage goes against you on your credit report. I’m going to remortgage part of the house to pay school fees and get a decent rating!

I was speaking to a girl from Puerto Rico and she said she had to take out a car loan, get a credit card etc, as soon as she arrived just to get a decent rating! It’s so unfair – if you don’t borrow you’re basically screwed.

Going Gazelle April 2, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Have you considered moving some of the utlity bills in your name?

Mine post every month to my credit report as a debt I owe and pay. I wish they wouldn’t.

The whole credit thing is totally overrated in my opinion. I work for a company that does sub-prime lending for auto loans. A lot of our customers are called “ghosts” because they have zero credit history. We do manual underwriting for these people. You can get a loan from us. But you really will NOT like the rate…. its up to 29% on a car loan…

Of course if you buy a car and only finance $500 over the course of 24 months. You won’t pay that much in interest….. The trick is to make sure the company you’re working with actually posts data to the bureaus. A lot of subprime’s do not….

I’d be interested to see if you could get a manual underwriting loan from Churchill mortgage with a zero FICO score or if Dave is just full of crap…. I haven’t met anybody who has confirmed or denied that yet…

I know for a fact you can get a car loan from the company I work for – but it won’t be at normal interest rates….

Personally I wish that so many different aspects of life did not come back to your credit report. House and car insurance rates, health insurance rates, life insurance rates, cell phone rates, utility, renting an apartment, etc….

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