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93 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just about everything you need to know
L.A. Times and MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston knows money and she knows credit, and in this information-packed, no-nonsense book she gives you just about everything you need to know about that "open sesame," that shibboleth of numbers, that Holy Grail of liquidity--your credit score!

First, what is your credit score and why is it important? It's a...
Published on April 23, 2005 by Dennis Littrell

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98 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad info - look to other books for real help.
This book only restates what the creedit industry wants you to know. It does NOT give you the truth about many aspects of the credit industry that you need to know.

I am not a lawyer, but I have won cases against the three credit reporting agencies. They paid me over $7,000, and it only required $100 of fees on my part. To do this I needed GOOD information --...
Published on April 1, 2006 by Eric William


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93 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just about everything you need to know, April 23, 2005
L.A. Times and MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston knows money and she knows credit, and in this information-packed, no-nonsense book she gives you just about everything you need to know about that "open sesame," that shibboleth of numbers, that Holy Grail of liquidity--your credit score!

First, what is your credit score and why is it important? It's a three digit number ranging from 150 to 950 (p. 16) that creditors use to determine whether you are a good risk. If it is low, they won't lend you any money, meaning you can't buy a car or a boat or a house unless you pay cash; and if it is somewhere in the middle, you'll pay higher interest rates than those with a higher score.

Second, how can you find out what your score is? As Weston explains there are three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion that calculate "real" credit scores (either FICO or NextGen). You can contact them over the Net or by phone (Weston gives addresses and phone numbers), but here's the rub:

"Congress recently did give US residents the right to get free copies of their credit REPORTS annually from each of the three bureaus. But that doesn't include the right to free SCORES; the bureaus can and will continue to charge for those." (p. 25, my emphasis) The point here is that you can get your credit report for free, but they won't tell you the score!

So I checked out some Web sites and found out that they wanted me to sign up for their credit monitoring services after which I would get my score, or I could get the score by itself for a flat fee. Since I found out my score a couple of years ago when I refinanced my house, I declined the offer. One thing I didn't like was having to give out my Social Security number to get the score. As Weston advises, under the heading of "Get Stingy with Your Social Security Number" (p. 108), you should "...keep your number to yourself. If the business insists that it needs the number, you can either do business with someone else or 'misremember' a digit or nine to protect your privacy." Hmm. Never thought of that.

However the credit bureaus mentioned above are presumably safe, and at any rate for most people there is no other way to get your score. (And of course, "misremembering" won't work in this case.)

Third, what information goes into making up your score and how can you improve it? And finally how can you repair damage done to your credit and lift your score high enough to get credit and good interest rates?

Weston goes into detail answering these questions. She relies on the experience of people who have been there and done that, and upon her personal experience as well as information culled from the many letters and emails she gets from readers. She makes "what makes for" good credit scores crystal clear.

By the by, it is interesting to note, as Weston does in Chapter 9, "Insurance and Your Credit Score," that bad credit can affect what you pay for insurance as well as what you pay for credit. She writes, "Insurers...believe credit is an excellent predictor of whether you'll file a claim--better, in fact, than almost any other factor, including your previous driving history." (p. 130) So what we have are credit-based insurance scores for all kinds of insurance, auto, home, health, etc. What insurers have discovered is that there is a strong correlation between low credit scores and high risk (for them). Although correlation is not causality, and does not in a scientific sense constitute proof, the insurance companies will tell you that they make money from those with high credit scores and lose money (through claims) from those with low credit scores. Weston even has some stats on pages 132-133 attesting to this fact.

Why the correlation? I think most people would say (and Weston makes this most reasonable surmise) that people who are careless with their money are likely to be careless in other aspects of their lives as well.

One more thing: you can get a fair idea of how credit worthy the credit people think you are by the amount of junk mail you receive offering to lend you money! I have a pretty good score and I must get fifty to a hundred offers a year. And of course I have no need to borrow; but isn't it always the case: those who least need credit are the ones who can most easily get it, and those who need it the most are the ones least likely to get it! Life is an eternal Catch-22.

By the way, another annoying Catch-22 of the corporate world is revealed by Weston as she quotes "Glen" whose insurance costs increased because his wife max'ed out her GAP card. He calls a number and is told that his credit is scored "according to how the insurance company wants" it to be scored. He is then told that the insurance company "can't discuss the criteria [because] it's proprietary"! Ah, yes, the old proprietary dodge.

Anyway, in this age of identify theft and other kinds of information fraud, this book belongs on the syllabus for Personal Finance 101, an ongoing, real-world, absolutely required course for all of us living in the postmodern age.
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98 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad info - look to other books for real help., April 1, 2006
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This book only restates what the creedit industry wants you to know. It does NOT give you the truth about many aspects of the credit industry that you need to know.

I am not a lawyer, but I have won cases against the three credit reporting agencies. They paid me over $7,000, and it only required $100 of fees on my part. To do this I needed GOOD information -- which I did not get from this book.

The author Liz Pulliam Weston did not do any hard-nosed investigation to write this book. She has taken the credit industry PR, which is NOT an unbiased source.

Most other books start with what Weston provides, and then gives you the other story. What people really need to know about your credit score, how it can be harmed, and how you can get the reporting agancies to fix errors.

With all due respect, please do not buy this book. Look further. There are BETTER books. I suggest you look at the ones written by Privacy Times (a great unbiased book) or any book on credit written by a laywer (there are many on Amazon).
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide to Cleaning Up Credit Problems, February 2, 2006
I picked up this book at the Airport, read it on the plane and then immediately ran my FICO - which was a very sorry 521! Using Weston's advice I was able to get to a much more respectable 680 and rising (over a nine-month period)! For the price, it is a much better guide than those kits (including Suzy's) offered on the Internet.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information!, August 11, 2005
By 
Liz S. (Warminster, PA) - See all my reviews
I picked this book up because I will be writing an in-depth review of it for a website. I spend a lot of time reading about credit scoring, analyzing it and talking to people about it. I might as well just save my time and hand them this book because it does a far better job debunking myths and explaining good and bad practices than I ever could.

She gives excellent background on the credit scoring industry and an outline of approximately how much each of the major categories affect your score (payment history, etc). Since the formulas are proprietary and there are so many of them, no one can say, "Hey, you just applied for 3 credit cards. That'll cost you 15 points!" The fact is that different activities will have different results for different individuals. Factor in the multiple credit scores and multiple revisions of each of those scores and you have yourself a complicated topic to cover.

One of the things I really liked about it is that she definitely approached it from the credit score improvement end rather than the personal finance end. Many times, they mesh perfectly, but sometimes, there is a difference. The specific example I'm thinking of in the book: always pay down your highest-interest debt first. Well, from a personal finance perspective, this is great advice. From a credit scoring perspective, the best approach is to pay down credit lines that are close to their limits since that will take a big hit on your score. I'm glad to see someone finally make the distinction.

Overall, an excellent book with the right approach to improving your credit.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete and accessible plan for improving a credit score, March 10, 2005
One of the most critically important aspects of sound financial planning is the establishment and maintenance of a sound credit rating. But sometimes "things happen" that result in damage to a credit rating. In Your Credit Score: How To Fix, Improve, And Protect the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future, personal finance journalist Liz Pulliam Weston provides the reader with a complete and accessible plan for improving a credit score that has been damaged through error, neglect, or debt load. Readers will learn what a FICO score is and why it's so important to their financial well being both short term and long term. Readers will learn how to lighten debt loads, cut credit card rates, review their credit history, improve their credit rating, save money, and employ a credit rating to their best personal and professional advantage. No personal or community library Money/Finance Management reference collection can be considered comprehensive or up-to-date without the inclusion of Liz Weston's Your Credit Score!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondefully concise book on your financial grade score, January 25, 2005
By 
John E. Van Kirk (San Mateo, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Liz Pullman Weston has written a wonderfully concise and easy to understand book on "Your Credit Score", a poorly understood system used to calculate our financial GPA. She uses her expert paragraph and writing skills to give us an easy to comprehend, information filled book with good examples and follow-up reference material where needed. She has taken a topic and material that has been kept in the dark for years and made it understandable and manageable for the average individual. She not only defines and explains the "Credit Score", but also illustrates what can be done to improve it, no matter what your present score is. This is an easy to read, concise book that will benefit anybody at all interested in their financial health. Five Stars all the way!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit weak, January 17, 2007
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While I do think that Ms. Pulliam Weston knows her stuff, I don't think she covered the things I need to know in enough depth, and some of my most burning questinos were not addressed at all.

She speaks mainly to people who have somewhat stable finances and are capable of following her suggestions. What do you do if you need to REALLY repair a VERY bad score? The scores she considers to be "bad" are in the mid 500s or above. She assumes that you probably want to tweak your credit a little and have a higher credit rating already, for the most part. She only briefly addresses the concerns of those of us who really have credit problems.

I'm giving this book a 3 for those reasons.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information and easy to understand, October 21, 2004
By 
M. Fisher (Southern California) - See all my reviews
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Everyone should read this book because today your credit rating affects whether or not you have a decent life, can rent an apartment, buy a car, everything. This book is easy to read and it explains all about credit and how it works. It tells how to fix your credit and how to improve your credit profile before you apply for a big loan like a mortgage. College students should be required to memorize this book before they are allowed to get credit cards! I am getting some copies for my friends for Christmas presents.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading before filling out your first application..., February 11, 2007
This review is from: Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
It's become pretty common lately to hear news stories about your "credit score." But it's one of those things that is not well-understood, nor are the factors that feed into it. This book cuts through all the confusion with clear explanations and great advice... Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future (2nd Edition) by Liz Pulliam Weston. A little knowledge can save you a ton of money and grief...

Contents: Why Your Credit Score Matters; How Credit Scoring Works; VantageScore - A Revolution or Just More of the Same?; Improving Your Score - The Right Way; Credit Scoring Myths; Coping with a Credit Crisis; Rebuilding Your Score After a Credit Disaster; Identity Theft and Your Credit; Emergency! Fixing Your Credit Score Fast; Insurance and Your Credit Score; Keeping Your Score Healthy; Index

Like it or not, credit bureaus have a large influence on what you pay for loans (and increasingly, insurance). Weston starts by explaining how the whole credit rating concept evolved, as well as the significant players in the game. She also explains how that credit score is used by banks and lenders to predict the likelihood of getting paid back. The lower your score, the higher the probability of payment issues, and the higher the interest rate will be. The book becomes *really* valuable when you start understanding the many myths behind credit scoring. For instance, conventional wisdom says it's a good thing to close out credit card accounts you're not using any longer, thereby improving your credit score. In reality, that action will usually hurt your score instead. Or another example... It's a good idea to have your credit company lower your limit to improve your score. Wrong! Part of the calculation of credit scoring is the ratio of used to available credit amounts. If you lower your credit limit, that ratio goes up (provided you didn't pay down your balance), and your score goes down. It's practical information such as this that makes the book so valuable and worthwhile. Oh, and you wonder why your insurance rates are higher than your neighbors, all things appearing equal? More and more insurance companies are following the controversial practice of charging higher premiums to people with lower scores. Yet another reason to be on guard.

Ideally, you don't run up credit charges and you pay cash for everything. Practically, society is geared towards being able to categorize people based on their credit history. You can use this book to position yourself well for credit expectations without having to go against your principles if you don't want to become caught up in the credit craze. This book should be required reading before getting your first credit card or loan...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but redundant, May 12, 2007
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This review is from: Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This Book will give you all the information you need to get the best credit score you can, and if you will follow the book's advice, most likely it will work.
However, the information given in the book could be found on any credit monitoring web-site for free with more accuracy to your situation.
It's nice to have the book at home, but not necessary. Take it only if you refuse to read the advice you get at the different credit report websites
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Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future, 2nd Edition
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