How’s Your Credit?

One of the things that makes me chuckle in these times of ‘credit crunch’ is just how easily some lenders are giving out credit.  Take me for instance, some of you may not know this but Mr Omneo is a bad credit risk yet lenders are falling over themselves to give me credit.

Around 10 years ago after I returned from a period of time in Australia I became a student and with the title came the bank account, credit card and overdraft.  However things had changed since I was a teenager and I had returned at a time when you got a student loan and not much money to see you through and due to the fact that I was pretty rubbish at managing my money in the first place, it didn’t get any easier when I didn’t have a regular income but did have a regular party lifestyle I wanted to maintain.  To cut a long story short, I ended up in debt, not just up to my ankles in debt no siree, if Mr Omneo is going to get into debt he might as well get right in there up to his ears!

So, eventually it got to the point where I got tired of throwing the bills in the bin without opening them, I had reached that point where it didn’t even make me flinch to see that I owed ten grand to one bank, seven to another, five here, four there and another couple between this store card and that one.  When you have nothing it’s pointless worrying about whether you owe £30,000 or £30, you have nothing… so who cares?

OK, obviously the companies you owe the money to care but do you care about them?  No, me neither.  However eventually I had to sort it out; I got in touch with a company who offered free advice and together we worked out a deal whereby I would enter into an IVA, a five year agreement and pay back what I could afford; you’ve probably seen similar companies advertised all over the internet and the TV and Press – take my advice, DO NOT be fooled by companies that tell you that you can pay a lump sum and walk away debt free.  PayPlan do not charge upfront fees from the debtor, they get their money from the lenders.  Those companies asking for money from you are just greedy and probably not very honest with their advice, no doubt signing you up for a scheme that will make them more money and prolong your debt misery.

The first couple of years were hellish, suddenly I had to budget, no more just withdrawing cash willy-nilly and spending it on this and that.  Anyway, I still have about 18 months left to go and I can’t wait to suddenly find myself with money to spend again but I digress, as usual, the whole point was one of the conditions of the IVA is I’m not allowed to have any credit, as far as lenders go I should be persona non grata“What’s that? You want to borrow money? Are you joking? With your history?! hahaha” at that point I should be laughed out of the bank.  Yet my bank has seen fit to not only give me a personal credit card with almost £1,500, they have given me a company credit card with a limit of almost £4,000.  I also have 2 other credit cards with limits totally £2,500.

Yes, these wise financial institutions have given a known credit failure £8,000 to play with.  Luckily for them I’ve reformed my ways and I have only dipped my toes into the credit pool offered to me but would you be wrong to think it was their own fault if I had been just as fool hardy and run up a bill I couldn’t pay?  I don’t think so.

Now, here in the UK there are 2 main companies that lenders check with before giving you credit, the theory is if you’re blacklisted there, you’ve no hope in hell of getting any.  Well, I guess I’m living proof that that’s a myth, sure I’ve applied and been turned down here and there but not always.  I did however decide to have a look at my credit report, just to see what it was that these ‘smart financiers’ were missing.

If you apply and get turned down they tell you to send £2 to either of the companies and they’d send you a copy of your report so you could see if it was right.  Well, now you don’t even have to do that, you can sign up on-line with Credit Expert from Experian and have a months access to your credit file, totally free of charge.  You’ll see every application for credit you’ve ever made, if you’ve defaulted on your mobile phone bill, loan, store card or credit card, it’ll be listed there for potential lenders to see.

You may think you needn’t have to look but do you know that your credit rating could be affected by someone who you live with?  Even if it’s just a flatmate or even an ex-flatmate, if they have bad credit it could affect you.  Even worse, what if someone has applied for credit in your name?  Suddenly that offer of a free look doesn’t sound such a bad idea after all does it?  So what are you waiting for?  Go have a look and if you find your credits good, perhaps you could consider throwing a few sheckles my way, I’ve still a few grand to pay off ;)

American visitors should have a look at the offerings of ID Watchdog who offer a more comprehensive identity theft management service. (If you click the link from outside the USA you’ll only see an ad as they don’t offer their service outside the 52 States, or is it 53?)

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