Equifax and Their Information

So thanks to the Home Depot debacle with my account information being pilfered (evidently it is still going on in Canada), however, thanks to that I now have unlimited Equifax reports for an entire year.

Thanks to this, I have found about 4 credit accounts that I must close, as I don’t use them, and my opinion is the less credit vehicles available, the less likely it is that someone could pilfer them.

Social Insurance Number Example

Yes, they did have my SIN Number right

There were two other more interesting pieces of information that I collected from these very interesting reports (I run them once a week, just for fun, and to get my moneys worth).  The first and most interesting piece of information is that Equifax has my first name completely wrong. For those who haven’t figure it out my first name is Alan, however the name Alan has many interesting derivatives and spelling:

  • Allan  (I pronounce as ALL-AN)
  • Alyn (Welsh, and is actually pronounced Al-un)
  • Al (fricken’ heck never call me that)
  • Allen  (I pronounce ALL-EN)

Strangely, Equifax has associated with my correct Social Insurance Number the Allen spelling of my first name?!? To their credit they have my correct name  under their “Also Known As” section, however, I have never been known as Allen in my life.

The other interesting thing on my credit report is that I am evidently still employed by Nortel Networks. For my regular readers, that has not been true for more than 6 years now, guess they don’t know I am a Civil Servant now.

I suppose I am going to have to fill in a bunch of forms to get all this straightened out, but without having this report, I suppose I would never have known?


Did Shylock Have the Right Idea?

In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock (the alleged villain) is portrayed as a loathsome character (Shakespeare shows how Anti-Semitic the times he lived in were) who wants to exact his vengeance on a “hero”, Antonio, by making the terms of a loan include a pound of flesh if money loaned by Shylock is not paid back by Antonio. Spoiler Alert when Antonio defaults on the loan Shylock never gets his payment, however, I have to wonder, did Shylock not have the right idea?

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Currently if I have a credit card, I can borrow money with very few physically painful consequences, other than adding more to my current debt load. Eventually I could get to a point where the credit card company might call a collection agency, and I might have to see a credit councillor or even worse, declare bankruptcy.

Still doesn’t really seem as bad as a pound of flesh, does it? Yes, it’s a terrible thing to live through, but let’s ask the question would anyone use credit as easily if the consequences were as severe?

In the horrible days that were the 1980’s loans were at 19%  and that was for a mortgage, not for silly things like credit cards (which weren’t being handed out like condoms during Frosh week). Would higher interest rates cause a less loosey goosey attitude towards borrowing in the 21st century? Maybe, but 15% for a mortgage and a threat of losing a toe if you miss a payment would certainly lance any housing bubbles quite quickly, and cause most folks to really figure out if they can afford the $500K condo they think they can afford.

Shylock’s only short coming was that he didn’t specify that he wanted a pound of flesh ,”… organs, blood, bone and all”, then again, if you are writing a contract where you are attempting to maim your customer, would the wording really matter that much?

Am I being facetious? Perhaps, but it will be quite interesting to see if (and when) interest rates finally return to a more normal level.


Credit Repair a Fallacy?

A valid question, can you actually repair your credit (and good name) after you have “gone off the rails”? I think the answer (as usual) is maybe, but it will most likely never be like your original credit profile.

Not The Best Thought Out Plan

I guess that is Kind of Repaired?

If you have had your identity stolen, or some other nefarious event happen which has caused your good name to be dragged through the muck and slime, it may be possible to get back to a relatively clear name (again, I am not positive on this one), however, if you have simply gone off the rails, and let things get away from you, Credit Repair won’t get you back to “good as new”.

Much like with your car, if you have a major accident you can repair your car so that it works again, but it will not be like the car you first bought, and if there is lethal damage that just cannot be cured (at least not in a short time), much like a bent frame in a car can rarely be repaired.

If you have declared bankruptcy, you are not getting your Credit Rating or Good Name back to Lilly White in a long time.

Is it worth paying to get credit repair? I suppose it depends is an answer on that as well, but if you have had everything “go pear-shaped” in terms of your credit (by your own hand), then maybe what you need to do is figure out how to live without credit for a while. If you have somewhere to live, then living on cash and what you make might be better than trying to get your “Credit Rating” back in line. My guess would be that Credit Repair is something you do (if at all) a good while after you start living within your means.


The Seduction of Spending

I like that title, in fact that could be the entire post, I like that title that much, but I will elaborate on this provocative statement.

Today’s consumers (myself included) love of things and what money can buy has turned into a full-blown obsession with money and it’s trappings.

Are you seduced by spending? Ask yourself these question:

  1. Does anyone really need to spend $8.00 on a cup of coffee? In my mind if the beans were picked my Marilyn Munro in the nude (and she delivered it to me in that same state), then I might think that coffee is worth the money I spent. Starbucks has seduced you to spend that money with its cache and marketing.
  2. Can you hear the difference of $10,000.00 speakers for your stereo over a cheaper set of speakers? I can’t, but I am also fairly deaf from younger days in printing plants and rock concerts. If you feel it is really important and you can tell the difference, you have been seduced into hearing something that may well not be there (except for your dog).
  3. Why would you pay $16,000.00 for a Toyota Corolla when you could pay $80,000 for a BMW or Mercedes-Benz? Do you live in your car? For that price, in some places you could get part of a house for the Benz. If you think people will be impressed by the Mercedes name you have been seduced into thinking people care what car you drive (I might care if you drove me to work).

These are pretty crass examples of the seduction of spending that we all fall for (I am not portraying myself as being lily white in this, I have bought things that afterward I have asked, “Why did I do that?”), but this is one of the hardest things to control, the urge to spend money.

We can stop ourselves from walking up to an attractive member of the opposite sex and introducing ourselves, simply by rationalizing the embarrassment we might feel and the fear of rejection in that situation, yet we can’t stop ourselves from spending money when we know we shouldn’t (and worse we know we can’t afford the thing we want to buy).

Should we all be taking Prozac or some other psychotropic drug to curb our spending urges? I don’t know, I don’t think they would stop us (they might make us so stoned that we might not do much of anything), so how can we stop ourselves?

No Credit Therefore No Buy

The idea I have is so simple but also very hard to do, for most of us, since we feel naked without a wallet full of credit.

If you go out with no credit cards and no money, you are going to be hard pressed to buy something, aren’t you? Yes, I know with instant credit it’s not impossible, but it will slow you down a fair amount. If you are going out to look at a high priced item or even just going “shopping” with friends, don’t take your credit cards, and maybe bring enough cash to buy a coffee (not a $6.00 one either).

If you are someone who can control your impulses to spend, I applaud you, and strongly suggest you should write a book about it, I’d buy it on the spot (anyone see the dichotomy of me impulse buying a book that is to stop me from impulse buying).


You Aren’t Poor

You are just broke!

That pithy one liner is from our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade‘s  TV show ’til Debt Do Us Part, and I really do like it.

Many times I hear from folks how poor they are, and how hard their lives are, then I talk to them and realize that their net income is nearly twice my annual income, yet they are having a hard time making ends meet? Say what?

An Interesting Video about BROKE Athletes

If you can barely afford to live in your rent controlled home, take the bus everywhere, and work 2 jobs to make ends meet, my guess is that you are Poor, you have no place left to cut spending on, because all you have left is the essentials of life. Poor is tough, and if you are in this situation you have my sympathies, and my hope that things get better for you.

If you feel poor because you can’t:

  • Afford a second car, and one of you must take the bus
  • Can’t go out to dinner as much as you want
  • Live pay cheque to pay cheque without lowering your debt, because you live in a house that has made you house poor
  • Feel hard done by because you can’t buy designer hand bags

Let me be clear:  You are not POOR, you are BROKE!!!!

The thing is that Poor is hard, Broke is fixable with lifestyle changes. Poor you have little or no control of your situation, however, Broke you can control things (you just choose not to).

If you are Broke, you can be fixed by simply spending less and altering your lifestyle to take lower spending into consideration.

  • If you can pay off your debts faster if you take the bus to work, and sell your car, why don’t you?
  • If you have 10 credit cards, and wonder why you have such a hard time paying them off, why not get rid of 9 (if not 10) of them?
  • If you complain that your only vacation is a visit to your parents cottage, and you really wanted to go south in the winter, why do you wonder why I might laugh out loud and threaten you with bodily harm?

If you have just figured out you are Broke, don’t be discouraged, be happy (in an obtuse way), it’s fixable! If you are Poor, keep working hard and try to get control of things (and if you do get out from under, remember how life was so you don’t end up Broke).


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