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Christine Baker

Credit reports, credit scores, credit services, secured and unsecured credit cards
Updated March 3, 2006

You can order FREE annual credit reports at -- however, this will most likely result in the CRAs taking *** 45 *** days to process your disputes.  Even if you also PAY for a report because you really need your results fast, they'll still take 45 days.

General notes - READ before your order
Equifax + Beacon Fair Isaac credit score + on-line disputes
Experian (fka TRW) - On-line reports and disputes
Trans Union - On-line reports and disputes - The reports with the FICO scores
PrivacyGuard - tri-merged reports (not recommended, but only $1)
Lexington - the worst choice for credit repair
CreditFactors - how to improve your credit rating and scores
BayHouse - credit scoring recommendations and legitimate disputes (Household Credit Services, Inc.) Secured and unsecured M/C
Capital One - Alert!!
American Express -  variety of business and personal cards
K7 -  Get your FREE personal VM/fax number to receive your faxes in your e-mail. Keep your direct phone number private.

 General notes:

  • You can order your credit reports on-line and DISPUTE on-line in most states with all 3 bureaus.
  • Credit reports are free if
    you live in Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Vermont you are eligible for a free report once a year
    you were denied credit, insurance or other services based on THAT bureau's report
    - you were charged higher rates and fees or deposits based on THAT bureau's report
    you certify in writing that either you are unemployed and plan to seek employment in the next 60 days or
    - you certify in writing that you are a
    welfare recipient
    - you certify in writing that you have been a victim of fraud
    - starting this winter, you will be entitled to one free credit report per year.  Please check the CRA websites for details

  • MORE ways to get free reports.
  • If you don't qualify for the free reports, the cost for bureau reports is $10.00 except:

    California residents $8.00
    Connecticut residents $5.00
    Maine residents $2.00
    Minnesota residents $3.00
    Virgin Island residents $1.00

  • The credit bureaus often want you to provide them with your current employer, phone number and all kinds of info for resale and collectors.  

    You do NOT have to provide this information. Send your name, social security number and current address, and your check if you're not qualified for the free report. SMUDGE your driver's license number if you HAVE to send a copy for ID and they don't have it already.

  • Since credit bureaus offer on-line reports AND disputes, I can't see why one would order from resellers other than to get the reports with the FICO scores.

    Don't order tri-merged reports, they are INCOMPLETE and are missing some of the most important data.

  • Experian states that you can view the report only once, but you can actually view and dispute for about 90 days from the report date.

  • You will NOT incur inquiries lowering your credit scores when ordering directly from the credit bureaus or at myFICO.

  • Do NOT apply for Platinum and low rate credit cards if you know you have credit problems. The inquiries will only lower your credit scores.

    Avoid Cross Country Bank and be very careful with Capital One.

HOT topics:

My 9/17/04 submission to the Federal Reserve Board regarding credit reporting problems.
My 8/16/04 submission to the FTC regarding the credit scoring study mandated by Congress.
My CreditSuit blog
Only review the FICO scores, do NOT bother looking at bureau and other SNAKE OIL credit scores.
The smoking gun - TU reports as GOOD account to consumers - but gives lates to Fair Isaac
Trans Union: watch for the "date closed" for charged off accounts, it is rated as the last LATE payment by Fair Isaac even if the account wasn't late in years.
Experian DIFFERENCE in consumer v. creditor reports - the screenshots of the myFICO report with the derogatory data and the Experian consumer disclosure without the derogatory data - on the same day!
After paying Capital One through Genus Credit Management for almost 3 years, Capital One claims the payments barely covered the interest ...
Credit Scoring Basics
Creditors like Capital One can LOWER your credit score by NOT reporting your credit limit
Boost your credit scores with AU (authorized user) accounts.
My small claims complaint against Wells Fargo - now settled for deletion of the unauthorized inquiry and $1,000.
Announcement to creditors and collectors - rev. 3/29/03 - OSI compliance interview
CreditFactors - how to improve your credit rating and credit scores

Equifax: on-line reports and disputes

Equifax Score Watch -- you get alerts when your score changes. This service is very helpful if you're working on improving your scores or researching scores.

Credit Watch -- Equifax offers several options for monitoring services.  Disregard the identity theft insurance benefit, it's worthless. Instead, request your PIN.

  • Use PrivacyGuard (see below) to monitor your reports and disputes for 60 days for $1 (don't forget to cancel) if you only need basic info.
  • For serious credit work and if you need a score rated mortgage, you need the FICO scores.

Do NOT buy the tri-merged report! It's missing important data such as the DLA and is as incomplete as any consumer tri-merged reports I've ever seen.

To launch an investigation (dispute): 800-255-0801 9 AM to 5 PM, Mon - Fri EST  The number above didn't work for one of my clients.  So, after a great deal of stress, she got these "secret" numbers:

800-290-8749 and 888-588-0688 to get to a PERSON.

Phone orders: 800-685-1111  credit card and check order info and if you qualify for free or low cost reports, delivered via US mail.

To order by mail:

Equifax Credit Information Services
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

"If you have questions about your order, please e-mail us at or call us at 1-888-532-0179 Monday through Friday 8 AM - 8 PM EST"

Commission to BayHouse: 15% of sales


Experian 30 day FREE trial:

Free Credit Report from CreditExpert

ALERT: DISREGARD their "Plus" credit score.

It is NOT the Fair Isaac score used by many lenders and required for most mortgages.  They call it "Plus" score because it is often much higher than the FICO scores, so that consumers don't review their reports for errors.   Following their recommendations may actually lower your real FICO scores.

CreditExpert, the Experian monitoring service, only provides very incomplete reports. The FCRA requires that consumer disclosures are complete.

Important:  To get a much more complete report directly from Experian, go through the process of ordering the "real" Experian report at CreditExpert free of charge by following the instructions for online disputes.  You can actually view and dispute for 90 days from the report date once you have the report number.

Get your free CreditExpert 30 day trial only to get the Experian report with the report # free of charge.

Order by PHONE: 1-800-311-4769
To reach a PERSON if you already have your report
ORDERED from Experian: 1-800-493-1058
To opt out of direct marketing: 1-888-567-8688

Order by MAIL

Commission to BayHouse: None - on 3/1/04 I wondered why I wasn't getting any more checks, and according to the affiliate program, I'm blocked from accessing any CreditExpert material and I haven't gotten paid since November.

Trans Union: Order online - dispute on-line

Trans Union is also selling very incomplete reports.

Those reports are very incomplete: NO date of last activity, only 2 years of payment history, and other important data is missing.  My recommendations:

  • Purchase the report with the Fair Isaac score

    This is the most complete report available, but it only contains the "hard" inquiries as seen by creditors

Do NOT confuse their worthless proprietary credit scores sold through TrueCredit with the REAL Fair Isaac Trans Union scores.

Phone orders: 800-888-4213

To reach a PERSON if you already have your report: 800-916-8800
8:30 AM to 4:30 PM   MON - FRI
        closed on weekends.

Fax for dispute documentation: TU no longer accepts faxed disputes.

Order by MAIL:

Trans Union LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022

Commission to BayHouse: none - the reports with the FICO credit scores

The myFICO credit reports are supposedly contain the data the lenders get.

These reports are EXTREMELY difficult to read because the accounts are listed in random order and it's quite a challenge to see how an account is reported by all three CRAs.

The average report is over 30 pages long, often one account wastes over one page.  I try not to print.

If you're serious about credit scores, you have to review the FICO reports.

To benefit, you must have a solid understanding of credit scoring and score factors and if you have more than 5 or so accounts, you better have a LOT of time to cut and paste into one page how each problem account is reported so that you can analyze how each bureaus reports.

More on credit reports

Save the reports to your computer:

Click on "print report", close the window asking whether you want to print and then save the report.  Make sure the filename looks something like  11-7-05-Equifax--766.htm, i.e. have the date, bureau name and score in the file name so that you can later find it again. And of course save the files to a special directory.  The key to successfully raising credit scores is to analyze how changes in your credit data affect the scores.

Commission to BayHouse: none

PrivacyGuard - for $1 you can get a 60 trial for their monitoring service including unlimited free tri-merged reports - don't forget to unsubscribe.

These reports are the (Experian owned) reports and they are very incomplete:  No date of last activity and other important data is missing.  

However, this is a cheap way to see any drastic changes such as deletions or new accounts and hard inquiries.  It is especially helpful if you have been auto or mortgage shopping and you want to see how the inquiries are coded.  Although the best way to see which inquiries count for FICO scores is to review those scores.

ALL scores provided by PrivacyGuard are the worthless scores no lender uses - don't even waste your time to look at them, and definitely don't pay for them.

Commission to BayHouse: none

Lexington - this "law firm" specializing in credit repair is the worst choice you could make.

  • You will NOT receive copies of your disputes and they are known to dispute irreplaceable and extremely valuable GOOD accounts!
  • Lexington works off the INCOMPLETE tri-merged reports, never looks at FICO credit scores and does not know and does not care which accounts are legit.

Incompetence beyond believe.

Lexington, Bradley Ross and other credit repair companies have been discussed extensively at the Fight Back!!!.

A poster at the Fight Back!!! Forum received her $450 refund!

Publication works!

You are MUCH better off doing your own disputes as it takes LESS time and the results are the same or BETTER.

There is also a class action against Lexington and I'm aware of several individual suits. is the same scam.

Why can I say these horrible things about them and they don't sue me?

Obviously, it's all true.

CreditFactors -- $45 for a 3-months subscription

The "members only" Reference & Resource Forum.

What and how to dispute, analyzing credit reports and FICO scores and score factors.  How to get a 720+ FICO score 2 years after filing for bankruptcy.

On the other hand, the deletion of the only derogatory account, a paid charge-off, lowered the score by almost 20 points to below 650.  

That's how FICO scoring works and if your credit scores are important, you need to learn how this crazy system works.

Credit Analysis - Credit review and recommendations.  

Due to time constraints I prefer to work with "Credit Activists" with few derogatory accounts as that's how I document bugs in Fair Isaac's credit scoring software and CRA credit reporting procedures. Lots of free info! -- How to analyze your reports yourself and how and what to dispute. (Household Credit Services, Inc.)

Secured and unsecured M/C - minimum deposit for secured cards $200

General guidelines for secured cards:

  • Legal age in the state of your residence
  • A telephone in your home

Please post reviews at CreditForum.ORG

Commission to BayHouse: none


Capital One - ALERT!

  • Capital One continually violates the FCRA by NOT reporting the credit limit, possibly seriously lowering your credit scores

Do you know how to calculate your balance/limit ratio, one of the most important factors for your credit scores?

The detailed explanation and spreadsheet with the calculations.

  • Capital One routinely ignores consumer credit reporting disputes.
  • Capital One accounting practices make Enron look good.

How does an account with a $200 limit and $100 deposit turn into a $640 charge-off? Fees and 20.5% interest, charged until you pay or hell freezes over:

Capital One - exempt from FCRA and Truth in Lending Act?

Katherine paid on their Cap One $3,000 charge-offs for almost 3 years through Genus (now Amerix) credit counseling.

When they thought they were done paying, Cap One informed them that their payments barely covered the interest, as they had declined the Genus proposal. Katherine had NO idea that the proposal was declined because in those 3 years they didn't get a single statement and Genus failed to advise them accordingly. Genus refused to refund the payments and refused to refund the "voluntary" contributions.

After paying Capital One through Genus Credit Management for almost 3 years, Capital One claims the payments barely covered the interest!

While the government is jumping through hoops for wealthy investors, they do NOTHING for Capital One victims.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond approved the Cap One practice of charging interest after the charge-off while NOT sending statements.

No accounting is necessary when the victims are only working people.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond ignored my complaint about Capital One FCRA violations and business practices, and on 3/19/03 I filed my federal suit against both.

The complaint and the exhibits are published at 

Check the blog for more info on Capital One litigation


Blue from American Express - American Express offers a variety of personal and business credit cards.

According to postings at the BayHouse Forum you can expect great service, but if you ever ended up owing American Express or you discharged their account through bankruptcy they'll never do business with you again (don't bother to apply and get more inquiries for a certain decline.)

According to postings, the Optima secured card is NOT reported to the CRAs.

Commission to BayHouse: $25 to $45 for each activated account.

  Credit Cards - Auto Loans - Mortgages - Equity Loans - Realty Services "Get CASH back"


Commission to BayHouse: 10 cents per unique visitor and up to $3.00 for each completed application for Auto products and $1.00 per completed application for Credit Card products.

Free VM/fax numbers to keep your direct numbers private.

At you can get your FREE voice mail/fax #.  That's a great service if you don't have a separate fax line and that number is PERFECT to give to collectors and any other dubious characters.  You'll get a 206 (Seattle) area code - hopefully FAR from your real location. You have to use it once a month or the number will be deactivated.

You can set up the service to get your faxes and/or voice mails on their web site and/or have everything forwarded to your e-mail.  I still can't figure out what the catch is, have used this better than paid for service for years now.

There are many fax to e-mail paid services and I've been using - they have LOCAL numbers in many major cities and also offer outgoing fax service.  

Those fax services are FAR SUPERIOR to the slow, expensive and unreliable USPS certified mailings - they provide you with an independent automatic 3rd party VERIFICATION of receipt of your fax - conveniently sent to your e-mail.

For your outgoing calls to collectors/creditors who might trace your number, I recommend prepaid calling cards.  I've been using the Sam's Club prepaid AT&T card while on the road for years, currently around 2.5 cents/min, Costco's MCI card is about the same..

NEVER call toll-free numbers for delinquent accounts directly from your home or office phone.  Even if caller ID is blocked, your number WILL be captured if you call a toll-free number.

Commission to BayHouse: None

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