Tag Archive | personal opinion

No Credit for Credit Bureaus

Soap BoxI’ve climbed onto MY SOAP BOX for today’s post, so if you don’t want to read my rant opinion, stop reading right now.

Last night on 60 Minutes (one of my favorite television programs), there was a story about a woman who found an error on her credit report. (It was reported that there are over 40 Million mistakes in credit reporting.) Like a good, responsible person she took great care to keep her credit in good status. Like we are all instructed, she checked her report often. When she found an error, she took action right away and called the bureau to report the mistake. She followed their instructions to get the error corrected, and after several weeks, nothing was done. That’s right, NO ACTION was taken. And as the story goes, this is the norm, not the exception.

Most Americans know credit scores have become the most important number in their lives. It has become a barometer of personal responsibility and character, which is totally ridiculous.

But, nonetheless, this woman in the story pursued her quest to get the error on her report fixed. She  eventually fought for YEARS with no satisfaction. I kid you not–SHE FOUGHT FOR YEARS!  She proved to the credit bureau that another woman with a similar name was responsible for the trouble. The error was indeed an error, and yet, the credit bureau did nothing to rectify it. In fact, when she requested a copy of her report, it was different from what the lending institutions received!

The other part of the story is these matters are not handled  handled by employees in INDIA. Yup, that’s right. People completely on the other side of the world are expected to fix these American boo-boos. And they probably could take care of the problem, IF THEY WERE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO.

See the vortex?  See the fraud?

The credit bureaus have turned out to be real-life “Big Brothers” — and corrupt ones at that. They control our lives in a way that no other agency does. This one arbitrary number affects rates everything financial and more. It affects rates you can get on loans. It affects credit card rates. It’s taken into consideration when you apply for insurance. And recently, it even affects your ability to get a job!  In addition, most people don’t realize that cellphone and cable companies, as well as landlords use the scores as part of customer background checks. Believe it or not, one late payment can cost a person thousands of dollars over the following five to 10 years because credit card companies base interest rates on credit scores.

These credit agencies are worse than organized crime! A loan shark might break  your leg to get his due, but after he’s taken his pound of flesh, it’s done. I love this one comment that appeared on the CBS blog: “The credit rating agencies will symbolically break every bone in your body, harvest your organs for sale to the highest bidder, and leave your carcass to the vultures to be picked clean.”

What was the end result for the woman in the 60 Minutes story? She ended up SUING the credit bureau and settling for a large amount of money. I’m happy for her. She deserved whatever she was awarded. But here’s the logic behind the settlement: The credit bureau finds it easier to deal with the problem this way instead of just  fixing the error in the first place!

What I wanted to know is what genius  bean counter decided that ONE LITTLE NUMBER is the determinant that we are a good people?  Who sees such vivid black and white in our complex gray world?  What about people who have earned a good wage for a long time, paid their bills on time, and managed their credit responsibility for years, who have fallen victim to an economic downturn and unemployment and underemployment for the past several years?  Personally, I’ve watched my 700+ credit score plummet over the past three years. It’s disheartening to know that in the eyes of the credit world, I am just a step above a felon.

So, I’ve decided to join the apathetic millions who don’t concern themselves with this ONE NUMBER issued by these fraudulent agencies who are too lazy to fix mistakes for good people. It really doesn’t matter. I’ve fallen into this credit black hole and have little recourse to solve the dilemma. My choices are–to die or pay cash.

A Little Storm is BIG News

Oak Trees In the Snow at DawnToday I’ve been struggling for a suitable topic for my blog. Usually when my feet hit the floor in the morning, I have some inspiration, but when I rose today, my head was only filled with thoughts of my mundane chores of feeding the critters and making coffee.

When I hit a dry spell, I turn to the Internet to spark my imagination. But this morning, I found no sparks to light my fire. The only option left is to I talk about the weather.

Today we’re bracing for a  BIG storm of four to eight inches of the white stuff . For any native Wisconsinite, this is just a winter hiccup. Anything less than eight inches is hardy a concern. But not according to the news media. In their eyes, everybody should rush to the grocery store for provisions to hunker down and wait out the blizzard.

Four to Eight inches! In Wisconsin! Come on!

When I turned on the television this morning reporters were stationed around the five-county area to report on the situation. (I don’t recall it even snowing in any one of the reports.) One reporter picked up a handful of snow that was evidently on the ground from a previous storm and showed how it was wet enough to make a decent snowball. Then there were stories about the readiness of the snow-plowing equipment and the abundance of salt to spread on the icy roads. They turned  a usual thirty- minute broadcast into a twenty-minute weather report, the rest of the news is squeezed into five measly minutes, and the sport’s report is lucky to get one minute of air time. (I know. I know. This doesn’t add up to 30 minutes, but don’t forget we have to have commercials to pay for this nonsense!)

Honestly. I laughed out loud!

Then I got angry. Why does the news media seem to be dedicated to scare everybody? No wonder we live in a culture of fearful people. Blowing such a minor storm out of proportion is a perfect example of how “news” promotes fear at all cost. I’m sick of this ridiculous reporting.  Come on, people! Get some perspective!

The only thing the television station proved was they have enough talented reporters to make a story out of NOTHING!


WARNING! There’s a “Hugger” the Loose!

hugsI’m a “hugger.” Yeah, I’m one of those gregarious nuts who reaches out and hugs people. Whether I’m saying “hello” or “goodbye,” if you’re in my world, you’ll probably get a hug from me. You see, I have this belief most of us suffer from “hug deprivation.”  Think about it. During the day, don’t you touch a machine more than any other human, right?

I’ve made hugging is my personal quest.

I attribute this trait from  my Italian heritage. When I was a child, I was expected to greet my aunts and uncles with a kiss and a hug when we entered their homes; we had to repeat the process when we left. It didn’t kill us. We didn’t think anything about it. It was normal. Our family greeting was a sign of love and respect. And if you didn’t do it the minute you stepped foot in an elder’s home, you’d get a clip on the back of the head with a parent asking, “Hey! You forgot something!”

Hugging is more than a gesture of greeting, though. It’s a human need. Our skin is our antennae that “feels” the world. We feel love through hugging. We feel acceptance through hugging. Even good chemicals that save us from heart disease are released when we hug each other. We NEED HUGS. And I’m not just talking through my liberal, touchy-feelly self, either. If you don’t believe me, take a look at all the studies out on the Internet. (And we all know that everything on the Internet is true.)

But seriously, this simple act of hugging has physical and emotional healing power. Here’s a list I edited from Kathleen Keating “Hug Therapy”:

– it feels good; it’s natural–even organic!
– it cures loneliness and depression
– it overcomes fear
– it opens doors to feelings
– builds self-esteem (WOW, SHE actually hugged me!)
– fosters altruism (I can’t believe it but I actually want to hug that old son-of-a-gun!)
– slows down aging (huggers stay younger longer)
– helps curb appetite (We eat less when we are nourished by hugs and when our arms are busy wrapped around others we can’t pick up a fork.)
– eases tension
– provides stretching exercise (if you are short)
– provides stooping exercise (if you are tall)
– it strengthens your immune system
– offers a healthy, safe alternative to alcohol and other drug abuse (better hugs than drugs!)
– affirms physical being and a connection with another human being

That’s a pretty long list, wouldn’t you say?

If you’re not a hugger, give it a try. Get comfortable reaching out to others. It’s been my experience if you hug a person who isn’t used to the activity, the next time you’re together, they will initiate the hug.  If they are a hard-core, non-hugger, it may take more than one hug to get the ball rolling. But it will be worth the effort for both of you.