Taking credit

When was the last time you looked at your credit rating?

People take for granted that the information on their credit reports — personal or business — is accurate. That’s a big mistake. These reports are plagued with errors and inconsistencies. Each day, business owners are taken advantage of because no one speaks up.

Credit ratings are more important than you realize. As SBN Cleveland reported in “The credit crisis” in November 2001, a business owner can make a significant amount of money and have millions of dollars in the bank, but neither his income nor his assets are listed on a credit report.

Another point we noted: If you have a credit card with a limit of $5,000 and your balance is $4,000, your credit score will be lower because it looks as though you are overextended, regardless of your payment history. (To read the article, go to www.sbnonline.com and click on Executive Briefing.)

Of course, you can always report errors to the appropriate credit bureau, which has 30 days to investigate disputed items and resolve them. But you still have to go through the aggravation and legwork. The approach to credit scoring needs to change.

Here are four steps you can take to make a difference.

1. Contact your congressman. I know this is a hassle, so I’m making it simple. Listed below are the names and contact information for your local representatives. Let them know if you’ve been affected by the current method of credit scoring.

2. Contact the Better Business Bureau. While the BBB doesn’t wield legal authority, it has a significant voice in mending broken business practices.

3. Check your credit rating. Until the guidelines of these companies are changed, we have to play by their rules. Order a copy of your credit report each year to check for accuracy. If there are mistakes, put your complaints in writing.

4. Send me an e-mail. If you have had a legitimate complaint regarding a credit bureau in recent months please forward it to me and I’ll make sure they are all consolidated and forwarded to the right people.

SBN Cleveland contact info

Sherrod Brown: (440) 934-5100 [email protected]

Paul E. Gillmor: (419) 734-1999 www.house.gov/writerep/

Dennis J. Kucinich: (216) 228-8850 www.house.gov/writerep/

Steven C. LaTourette: (440) 352-3939 [email protected]

Stephanie Tubbs Jones: (216) 522-4900 [email protected]

Better Business Bureau: (216) 241-7678