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Jewish World Review August 9, 1999 /27 Av 5759

Bruce Williams

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'Pre-approved' doesn't
mean a thing -- DEAR BRUCE: I have received one of those "you have been approved" credit card proposals in the mail. It said very clearly that I had been pre-approved, and yet when I filled out the application and returned it into the issuer, I was declined because of one or two credit items on my report. How can they say you are "pre-approved" and then not give you the credit you require? -- F.R., Kent, Ohio

DEAR F.R.: If you read those solicitations carefully, you will find some reference to "subject to credit approval". Pre-approved cards are in no way universally pre-arranged. In some of their mailings to a "very qualified" list, it may well be that the majority are granted cards. Don't take it for granted that if it says pre-approved, you will automatically receive credit. This is not the case.

DEAR BRUCE: Recently, my wife and I applied for refinancing on our home. We have been in this house for the better part of six years and have never once been late with a payment. You can imagine how shocked we were, when we found out we were denied because a credit-card company had listed us as delinquent. I thought that the balance of $125 had been switched to another card. When this was brought to my attention, I immediately sent the money to the company with a letter of explanation. They have taken our charge privileges away and there is now a record of this activity on our credit file. Fortunately the bank understood and the refinancing is now in place. How can we get this bad information off of our credit file? -- B.A. Palm Springs, Calif.

DEAR B.A.: Because your balance was not transferred as you thought, you are stuck with this on your reports. The fact that you did it inadvertently is really not the issue. The only redress would be to insert a letter into each of your credit files with Equifax, TransUnion and Experian explaining what happened. Every entity that requests credit information on you will be provided with that letter of explanation. It may not help a whole lot, but it surely can't hurt. This is another example of why you really have to stay on top of your credit obligations. A simple miss can have enormous repercussions.

DEAR BRUCE: I moved to Las Vegas about four months ago. Like most people, I wanted to have a checking account. When I applied for one, I found my name is on some list. I have gone to four banks, and they all have the same information. Two years ago, when I was in a very serious financial situation, I did write a number of bad checks. I have since straightened out my problems, have a good job and am a solid citizen. Yet I am still being denied a checking account. They tell me that with this history it will be years before any institution will grant me a checking account. Can this be true in America? -- N.D. Las Vegas, Nevada

DEAR N.D.: It is very true. Banks have been seriously injured by people writing bad checks and then not making good on them. They are extremely reluctant to take on somebody with a history such as yours. It may be that you could strike a deal with one of your local banks and deposit a fair sum of money in that institution to guarantee your checks for a time. The writing of non-sufficient-fund checks is considered a very serious offense by most bankers, isolated incidents aside. When there is a clear pattern of that kind of behavior, you are considered a very poor risk.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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