Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Personal finance advice at Arby's

Arby's is one of my favorite fast food restaurants and served as my lunchtime destination yesterday (I had a good coupon). I was the only one there (I took a late lunch at around 2:30pm) and I paid with my credit card with a rewards program. The cashier looked at the card and said, "Be careful, this is dangerous." My confusion was evident and he continued, "I mean credit cards. They're all thieves and liars!"

So I talked with him for a few minutes about the evils of credit cards. He told me he had cut all of his up and always paid in cash. It was triggered by a combination of high interest rates and identity theft. The credit card companies gave him a hard time about which purchases were fraudulent and he finally had had enough.

It's pretty rare that someone randomly starts talking about personal finance issues, so I was surprised and pleased.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Interesting things from my credit report

I just used up one of my three free credit reports from and found some interesting things.

  • I have a $1500 Belk card with no balance. At first I had no idea where it came from. 15 minutes later I realized it is from when I had to buy a suit for my sister's wedding and I wanted the discount that came with a new card. Funny thing is they never mailed me the card! I guess I should cancel it.

  • I had a $6500 Bank of America card when I was 10 years old. Luckily my 10 year old self never missed a payment. I think I vaguely remember that my (older) sister said she wanted to add me as an authorized user so I could start building a credit history. I guess she really did! The odd thing is it's listed as a joint account on my credit report. Maybe that's how authorized users are listed. I wonder if anybody who checks my credit report thinks "Whoa what was this kid doing when he was 10?" I'm also pretty surprised that a credit card company would add a 10 year old as an authorized user OR a joint account holder.

  • My car loan is not with the company I thought it was. I write checks to Southeast Toyota Finance, but my loan is with World Omni. Well, a little searching reveals that World Omni is the parent company of Southeast Toyota Finance. This explains why, a few months ago when I had to call my credit card company to authorize a large purchase (new computer), the person who was verifying my identity by asking me questions from my credit report sounded so skeptical about my answers! She even asked, "Are you sure your car loan isn't with another company?" and I was like, "No, it's definitely Southeast Toyota Finance." Even with one wrong answer I passed the identity check.

  • Discover Financial Services has made 15 credit checks on me in the last year. Apparently each check was followed up by sending me an incredibly thick envelope of credit card advertisements.

  • Household Bank is my biggest stalker, with 18 credit checks in the last year. I've never heard of them, never gotten a credit card offer from them, nothing. Maybe they run checks for other banks.

This is only the second time I've ever checked my credit report. It was pretty fun. Credit reports should be free and unlimited, though. It doesn't cost Equifax anything to let me access it on the web. Maybe they're concerned that some of their big customers, like car dealerships, would let people log in and get the free report rather than paying for it themselves. Oh well.