According to the Wall Street Journal article,”Car Insurance: Rate Shopping Can Pay Off, But Your Credit History May Play a Bigger Role Than Your Driving Record,” by Karen Blumenthal in the October 7, 2009 Personal Finance section of the Journal, available online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703298004574457002796003522.html#printMode, a FICO Credit Score sold to insurance companies for determining what the cost of your car insurance will be is influenced mostly by “your payment history, such as delinquencies, collections or a pattern of late payments, followed by how much you owe, including your total debt and what percentage of your credit lines are used. Those two make up 70% of your score, with the rest based on factors like how long you’ve had your
accounts, your number of new credit inquiries and your mix of credit types.” This is according to the Fair Isaac Corp.’s website, www.insurancescore.com.
Attorney Gordon Leech
Representing Individuals in Consumer & Employment Matters
The Wall Street Journal, on October 7, 2009, ran an article that illustrates how important accurate credit reports are in our lives these days because the scores affect even the rate we pay for car insurance. See, “Car Insurance: Rate Shopping Can Pay Off, /But Your Credit History May Play a Bigger Role Than Your Driving Record/” by Karen Blumenthal in the Personal Finance Section at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703298004574457002796003522.html#printMode
In the article, the Journal gives the same advice I give consumers, “Make sure your credit reports are accurate by checking them, free of charge, using www.AnnualCreditReport.com .” You get a free report from the 3 big consumer reporting agencies–Trans Union, Experian and Equifax–once per year and at other times if you are the victim of fraud or are denied a job or credit based on your credit report. The Journal also explains how insurance scores are different from your typical credit score, but that financial behaviors do matter in your insurance score. In addition to the consumer report from AnnualCreditReport.com, the Journal identifies several other consumer reporting agencies that may be used in determining your insurance rates: www.ChoiceTrust.com for a C.L.U.E. auto report identifying your insurance claim history; www.insurancescore.com for your Fair Isaac FICO score; www.choicetrust.com for a ChoicePoint Attract auto insurance score; and some insurance companies have their own scoring models.
The Journal points out that if you pay more for insurance because of a credit score, the insurance company should tell you so. “Regardless of the method used, if your insurer raises your rates or penalizes you for your credit score, it should tell you so and be able to give some explanation for the change.”
I can tell you that if the insurance company does not tell you that your rate was higher because of information it reviewed from a consumer reporting agency, then it may be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If your insurance rate is higher because of a credit score or credit report, then you need to get a copy of the report used and review it for accuracy. If inaccuracies exist, dispute the information with the consumer reporting agency. Once the information is removed, let the insurance company know, and you may be able to get a rebate on your premium paid to date and possibly reduce your rate for the remaining period of your policy.
Attorney Gordon Leech
Representing Individuals in Consumer and Employment Matters
In Wisconsin, am employer may not take an adverse action against an
employee, like terminating employment, because the employee has lawfully
used a particular product. For example, if you work for ABC Drink
Company, and you drink XYZ Soda, it may be unlawful for an employer to
fire you for drinking XYZ Soda. Like any law, there will be exceptions
to this general rule. Where I see this scenario many times is an
employee’s lawful use of a prescription drug. An employee takes a drug
test, discloses the prescription drug use, and is then fired or maybe
not hired because of the prescription drug. As long as the use of the
drug does not impose a safety threat or otherwise impact the job, then
an employer should not deny employment or terminate employment for this
lawful use of the drug. I have also seen day care centers require
employees, typically single parents, to bring their children to the
center in order to get hired and keep their job. This is also a likely
violation of this law.
Attorney Gordon Leech
You need to submit disputes to the credit reporting agencies. I have some guidelines on my website for doing so, www.attorneyleech.com. Essentially, you need to notify the agencies that the information is inaccurate, explain why it is inaccurate and provide any documentation to support your position. While you can dispute items online, by phone or by mail, I highly encourage people to dispute in writing. The written document is more likely to have written support attached and then the nature of what you disputed is clear from the document. This process is not really “credit repair.” Credit repair usually has the connotation that you are trying to remove negative information that is accurate. If you have inaccuracies on your reports, you must dispute these directly with the credit reporting agencies. Do not rely only on disputes with anyone that reported or is still reporting the inaccurate information. If the inaccuracy continues after the dispute process, you may have claims against the credit reporting agencies or the furnishers of the inaccurate information.
Attorney Gordon Leech
When you have inaccurate information on your credit repoert, you can get them corrected through the dispute process. You dispute the inaccuracy by telling the consumer reporting agency about it. While you can use the internet, phone or mail, mailing your dispute is the method I prefer. I have an example dispute letter on my website www.attorneyleech.com, at the downloads page. You can learn more about your rights to accurate credit reports and the dispute process there too.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit reports once every year.
You can get a copy from any consumer reporting agency. The three major
credit bureaus, or consumer reporting agencies as the law calls them,
are Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. I typically recommend that
consumers get their free reports by mailing in the request form
established through the Federal Trade Commission’s directive to these
three agencies. You can download a copy of this form at my website
www.AttorneyLeech.com. Look at the Downloads page or the Credit
Reporting page. You can also find this form at
www.annualcreditreport.com. This is a website established through the
FTC directive too. It also has information on how to request your free
reports online and by telephone.
Background Reports or Background Checks that are inaccurate can cost you your job. These reports are often governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act as a consumer report. An employer must disclose or tell you in writing that it will obtain such a report and it must get your permission in writing and in advance of obtaining such a report. Your permission must be requested in a single document, not combined with an application. If the employer takes some adverse action, like firing you from your job or not hiring you, based on information in the background report, then it must also inform you of this fact in advance of taking the action, give you a copy of the report and an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies. When an employer jumps the gun and fires or fails to hire without the advance notice and opportunity to correct, the employer is likely in violation of your rights under federal law. Such violations carry the right to recover damages.