How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

A lot of times Creditors end up entering wrong data for your credit account which gets reflected on your Credit Report and seriously affects your score and chances of getting a credit or loan.

Mistakes are bound to happen but if you want to make sure that your credit report always displays correct data then you would need to step up for it. Next time you feel that something isn’t right with your credit score, just follow these steps and get the mistake rectified:

Step 1: Get a copy of your Credit Report

If you feel like there might be some incorrect or fraudulent data on your Credit Report, you should immediately get a copy of your credit report. Credit Bureaus collect your information from all the loan providers, credit card issuers, debit card collectors, etc. and store it together in a credit report.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can ask for a free copy of your credit report, one each from the three national credit bureaus which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and you can do this by either calling them up or by getting your report from the AnnualCreditReport.com. I’d personally recommend Lexington law as one of the best credit repair companies, however, I would encourage you to read Lexington law reviews before making the final decision. That advice stays true for any company that you might choose to go with.

Step 2: Spot the error on your Credit Report

Once you have your copy of the Credit Card, you need to inspect it carefully and check for any errors. Errors can be categorized in the following ways:

  • Account-Related: This includes old late payments, credit account and loan account which you haven’t opened or if an account closed by you shows that it was closed by the provider.
  • Identity Theft: Many times your Social security number could be stolen and someone might use it to create a new credit account in your name.
  • Derogatory Marks: This can include if a paid off debt still shows as unpaid or if a bankrupt account is still showing as active.
  • Personal Information: Wrong address, name or incorrect employer information will come under this category of incorrect data.

So make sure you check for all these errors and once you spot something, make sure to dispute it.

Step 3: Contact the Credit Reporting Agency once you spot an error

As soon as you spot an error, collect all the supporting documents and then contact your Credit Reporting Agency. You can ask the credit bureau to dispute the errors on your behalf. Once you have informed them that any information is incorrect, they will reach out to the respective creditor and inform them that you dispute the information and an inquiry will be conducted.

If the creditor doesn’t respond back within 45 days, then the inaccurate information will be removed. If the creditor replies and agrees with your dispute, they will then provide the bureau with correct information and that will be reflected in your report.

Step 4: Contact your Information Provider

You can also directly contact your creditor or the information provider and show them the proof that the data which they have is incorrect.

Once you do that, the information provider themselves would reach out to the credit bureau and provide them with corrected data.

Step 5: Follow-up on the dispute

Once you have disputed an inaccurate information, check up on it after a month. You will receive a notification from the bureau after 30 days and if your information gets corrected, you will receive a fresh copy of credit report with the corrected data.

If your dispute gets rejected, you can provide them with the proof and follow other steps to get the information rectified.

Read More →
California Officials Sink Their Teeth Into Illegal Shark Fin Operation

SAN FRANCISCO — More than a ton of illegal shark fins were seized from a vendor in San Francisco, state wildlife officials said Friday.
Michael Kwong, 42, of Kwong Yip was cited for having 2,138 pounds of fins, which violates a California ban that went into effect in July, said Lt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


Possessing shark fins, selling or trading them is a misdemeanor under California’s law, so Foy said it will be up to a judge to determine any penalty.
Investigators were led to Kwong during an investigation of an Emeryville restaurant that was cited for selling shark fin soup on Jan. 27.
“We consider this an extremely egregious violation of the law,” Foy said. “We will work with San Francisco’s district attorney and push the case forward.”
A message left for Kwong at his business was not returned.
Kwong has been an outspoken opponent of the state’s ban, and he was a member of a Chinese-American group that sued to challenge its constitutionality, Foy said.
Conservation groups have estimated that 73 million sharks are killed each year globally for their fins, which are often cut from live animals.
Opponents of shark finning praised the state’s bust.
“California’s shark fin ban is critical to ending the cruel practice of shark finning, and to protecting sharks and ocean ecosystems for future generations,” Jennifer Fearing of the Humane Society of the U.S. said in a statement. “This important bust by California’s ‘thin green line’ sends a strong message that breaking California’s animal protection laws has consequences.”
Kwong insisted that the fins be kept refrigerated during the investigation, in the hopes that he would get them back, Foy said.
The fins are often used to make shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese dish.
Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington also have state bans on the possession or sale of shark fins, according to the Humane Society.

Read More →
California Wine Growers Toast a Bumper Crop

From The Modesto BeeMODESTO, Calif. — California agriculture officials reported good news for wine lovers and vineyard operators alike: a record harvest of wine grapes.

Growers in the nation’s premier wine region brought in a bumper crop last year, thanks to expanded acreage and overall favorable weather.
Wine brokers told The Modesto Bee that two back-to-back years of large harvests will mean wine aficionados should find plenty of bargain bottles on grocery store shelves.
“Consumers are in a great position, because of the amount of wine that is coming out of California,” said Erica Moyer of Riverbank, a grape and wine broker for Turrentine Brokerage in Novato.
Wine grapes are one of California’s top commodities, a crop worth $3.16 billion last year, according to the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s preliminary figures show that the crop of red and white varieties combined weighed in at 4.23 million tons in 2013, up 5% from 4.02 million tons in 2012.
The industry is well positioned to take advantage of the large crops, said Heidi Scheid, chairwoman of the growers’ association.
“After short crops in 2010 and 2011, growers delivered two remarkable vintages, with record-sized harvests and exceptional quality,” she said.
While Napa County’s vineyards carry international cache, the San Joaquin Valley, stretching for 220 miles from Stockton to Bakersfield, is the U.S.’s most prolific grape-growing region and home to 44% of the state’s crop.
Along with raisins and table grapes, vast tracts of wine grapes are mechanically harvested for popular labels such as Gallo’s economy brands and Bronco’s popular Charles Shaw, a.k.a. Two Buck Chuck, and blended into higher-end wines.
Large growers in the valley are poised to profit from the higher volumes, analysts said.
“We had a good-quality harvest, and heavier than expected,” Fred Franzia, CEO of Bronco, said in an email. Bronco is California’s largest vineyard owner.

Read More →
Why Should Anyone Be Surprised by UAW’s Loss in Tennessee?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (TheStreet) — The United Auto Workers’ failure to organize the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant probably should not have come as a surprise.


Employees voted 712 to 626 not to unionize, a 53% margin in an election in which 53% of eligible employees participated.
The defeat was viewed as crushing for organized labor because it was a rare case in which a company with a plant in the South did not oppose the unionization effort with implied threats and a bevy of expensive anti-union law firms offering advice.
Perhaps, as it turns out, paying for all of that expensive advice has been a waste of money.
A lot of people had expected the UAW to win in this election, perhaps because of VW’s relatively benign position, perhaps because of the union’s continuing series of optimistic press releases, perhaps because the feel-good tenor of the 1979 movie “Norma Rae” still lingers for some. People like to root for the underdog.
In the rest of the world, VW runs its plants with group works councils that include union representatives.
Tennessee, like most of the South, is heavily Republican. The governor is Republican. The two senators are Republicans. Seven of the nine seats in Congress are held by Republicans. Tennessee is not the least unionized state, but in 2013 the share of workers represented by a union or an employee association was 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the 13th lowest in the country.
Obviously, most of the states below Tennessee are Republican states. As a matter of creed, Republicans in the South dislike unions, at least in part because successful politicans seek to represent the views of their constituents.South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said recently that “I wear heels, and it’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because we’re kicking the unions every day.”
After the election, the union said it was disappointed, several Tennessee politicians said they were pleased and VW said it would accept the results and move on.
“While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metal for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union,” said UAW President Bob King, in a prepared statement.
“While we’re outraged by politicians and outside special interest groups interfering with the basic legal right of workers to form a union, we’re proud that these workers were brave and stood up to the tremendous pressure from outside,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who directs the union’s transnational program. “We hope this will start a larger discussion about workers’ right to organize.”
While outside groups did become involved in the campaign to defeat the UAW, the most visible opponent was Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a former mayor of Chattanooga.
“Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future,” Corker said in a brief written statement.
Jack Nerad, executive editorial director at Kelley Blue Book, called the UAW’s failure in Chattanooga “a very serious setback for the union, a setback that will resonate throughout the South and, likely, around the world.
“In VW, the union had management that seemed neutral to positive toward its attempt to organize the plan’s workers, and it still failed to gain certification,” Nerad said. “The UAW’s attempts to organize other non-union plants in the United States are very unlikely to be greeted with as much cooperation from other manufacturers, so this could mark the end to UAW hopes to gain traction in these non-union Southern state plants.”

Read More →
Seattle Shouldn’t Be an NBA Expansion Pawn

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) — It’s been little more that two weeks since Seattle celebrated its Seahawks’ first Super Bowl football championship win and the city’s first major sports championship since 1979 with a parade, but that hasn’t stopped certain elements of the sports world from raining on it.
With the confetti scarcely swept off the streets, Seattle got a fresh layer of dark clouds and new deluge of bad tidings from the National Basketball Association this week — because of course it did.


The Seahawks’ parade could have doubled as a going-away party for longtime NBA Commissioner David Stern, who stepped down at the beginning of this month. Stern had not only signed off on the Seattle SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City in 2008, but last year played an instrumental role in blocking the sale of the Sacramento Kings to an ownership group that would have moved them to Seattle. With Stern gone, it was believed that new commissioner Adam Silver would be more amenable to giving Seattle an expansion team and bringing back the Sonics.
Not quite.
As Silver recently revealed to ESPN, the NBA is not only not planning on expanding right now, but seems to have every intention of bringing Sonics fans’ worst nightmare to life. As Sonics fans learned during the proposed Sacramento Kings deal — which ended with a Sacramento-based group buying the team with promises of massive public subsidies for a new stadium — Seattle is now the league’s bad cop to its benevolent owners. NBA front offices don’t want to move their teams because a city won’t mortgage its fortune on a new arena: They have to because Seattle’s has the money in place and appreciates a franchise more.
In other words, they have leverage and aren’t about to let it go. Fans in the National Football League have seen what an empty major market in Los Angeles can do and have watched owners in Minnesota and Buffalo use it to pry hundreds of millions in stadium dollars out of the hands of taxpayers. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke may be using a similar tactic by purchasing acreage in Inglewood, Calif., just as his team hit a stalemate with its host city over stadium improvements.
Seattle already scared Sacramento into jump-starting its arena rebuilding project, and now it looks as if it’s going to do the same for Milwaukee. Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered $420 million for 72% of the Kings and agreed to a $115 million relocation, $200 million to repay bonds issued for a new arena and $80 million to buy land in south Seattle for the new building. Keep that roughly $800 million figure in mind when considering that Commissioner Silver just told the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks in September that their home at the Bradley Center wasn’t good enough to host an NBA franchise.
In December, Bucks owner Herb Kohl said he wanted to sell a portion of the team to investors who wouldn’t move it, but insists he’d need some publicly funded upgrades to make that happen. Milwaukee, meanwhile, has the Bucks locked into a lease until 2017 and has no designs on letting them go early. City government doesn’t think much of Kohl’s and Silver’s begging, and gave the Bucks just $175,000 in parking revenue to spruce up the joint.
The Bucks have had exactly two winning seasons in the last 10 years and have been ushered out of the playoffs in the first round four times during that span. Since the season began in October, the team has struggled to reach 10 wins and went 1-14 in the month of January. We’re sure that Kohl and Silver will remind Milwaukee that the Sonics faced similar struggles before Oklahoma City owners snatched them away and that they should pony up something shy of the $800 million that Seattle is willing to spend unless they want a similar fate for their Bucks.
But what if Seattle doesn’t want to play the bad guy, you ask? Well, it could be a long wait and an expensive proposition for new owners. Silver and his owners know they have Seattle on the hook to spend at least $800 million, but what if the league could squeeze them for more? The league is angling for a sweet new television deal in 2016, and Silver can always lean on the diluting the talent pool argument while staving off expansion. In truth, however, the owners just want a bigger cut for themselves.
“I just think the price of the expansion fee has to be so high that the NBA owners think, ‘OK, we’re crazy not to do it.’ What that number is, I don’t know. But I’m open to it,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN earlier this year. “It just depends on the price. When you sit in the board of governors meeting, you give a price, and each NBA owner calculates his share. You balance it to what you’re giving up in TV and shared revenue, and you say: ‘OK, it’s worth it.’ Then you say you got to do it.”
Yes, they’re going to bleed Seattle as much as they can. The fact is the NBA isn’t exactly a pillar of financial stability. A third of the NBA’s teams has changed ownership since 2010. The league will point to its international appeal and growing worldly ventures including NBA China, but four of its teams — the Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers — failed to turn a profit last season. Three others — the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats — all posted profits of less than $9 million compared to top-tier teams that easily triple or quadruple that take.
If those owners can’t get a few extra bucks out of their own markets, they’d have no problem taking them from Seattle. Whether or not Seattle should put a little extra salmon on each of their plates is another matter.
Seattle’s King County still owes more than $50 million on the Kingdome, which was demolished in 2000, and won’t have it paid off until 2016. The city ended up paying 71% for the $422 million cost of the Seahawks’ new home at CenturyLink Field and is still paying that off as well. It spent $384 million building Safeco Field for the Mariners baseball team in 1997 and paid sales and car-rental taxes through 2011 just to pay it off. The only reason Seattle isn’t still paying debt on KeyArena that would have outlasted the Sonics’ lease there by five years is because it received a settlement covering those costs at the time of the Sonics’ move.
In the absence of baseball stadium debt, some of that Safeco tax money has since been shifted toward funding the arts in Seattle. Without the Sonics at KeyArena, the main attractions at the neighboring Seattle Center — beyond the Space Needle — have been Paul Allen’s EMP music museum and the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition hall that opened in 2012 and features the works of Tacoma glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.
Why that brief non sequitur, you ask? Because it shows what the city is capable of when it doesn’t have the burden of a team’s building hanging over its head. In two years, the Kingdome will be off the books and the city will have that off of its shoulders as well. Why allow the NBA to put your city in a situation where its only intention is to charge the highest price possible for something it already took away? Moreover, why funnel away more tax dollars from a city that already has the costs of waterfront development, transportation improvements and underestimated bridge repairs to deal with? (P.S. The 520 bridge toll is awful and the whispers about tolling I-90 are even worse.)
While writing about his time with the failed Seattle Pilots baseball club during their one season in 1969, Ball Four author Jim Bouton noted that the team’s Sicks Stadium was an absolute mess and ill-suited to a team that had to deal with rain for much of its season. Still, he came away with the idea that the city’s reluctance to just throw money at a building or franchise displayed a great sense of priorities:
I enjoyed living in the Great Northwest for most of a season, and I’m sad that Seattle didn’t get to keep its franchise. A city that seems to care more for its art museums than its ballpark can’t be all bad.
It’s one of the most-referenced quotes about Seattle sports and it remains true to this day. Seattle is a city teeming with culture and surrounded by natural wonders in all directions. It’s a town where the Mariners being awful only lets everybody enjoy some rare sun, bike the Burke-Gilman trail, hike Mount Rainier and take ferries out to the islands or the Olympic Peninsula. It doesn’t need professional sports, but when teams like the Seahawks and Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders treat it right it embraces them with equal fervor.
Seattle shouldn’t have to beg for its Sonics back and definitely shouldn’t have to steal them. If the city should have learned anything from the Kings debacle, it’s that the NBA doesn’t have its interests in mind. The league needs its playing chip more than Super Bowl champion Seattle needs it. It is still the largest television market without an NBA franchise and the only Top 20 Nielsen market without one. The league wants perfect, modern buildings that generate maximum revenue for owners while leaving a minimal return for host cities.
It’s why the Sonics moved from the No. 13 market in the country to the 41st: Because the NBA wants its cut from towns it can walk all over. It wants to convince cities that a franchise makes them world class and elevates their profile. It wants cities that are going to bend over backwards for it and tell it that the NBA is the best thing that ever happened to them.
In Seattle, that’s not even close. We know Sonics fans are still hurting and that every time Kevin Durant appears on SportsCenter or the Thunder are mentioned as NBA title contenders, it twists the knife a little bit. In an ideal world, that would be Seattle’s Durant bringing Seattle a little bit of glory. But it isn’t, and Seattle has a lot more going for it than an NBA franchise that didn’t want it anymore.
It has its first title since the Sonics’ NBA Championship in 1979, but it also has its identity, priorities and money. It shouldn’t ever let the NBA deprive it of that in the name of leverage again. read more

Read More →
Revisiting Surprise No. 1: Best of Kass

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners is known for his accurate stock market calls and keen insights into the economy, which he shares with RealMoney Pro readers in his daily trading diary.
Among the posts this past week was an entry about the global economic recovery.

The Global Economic Recovery Is Foundering
Originally published on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:59 a.m. EDT.From my “15 Surprises for 2014″:

“Surprise No. 1: Slowing global economic growth and fears of stagflation emerge.
“At the core of this year’s surprise list is that the U.S. economy disappoints (with domestic real GDP growing at +1.75% or less, half the expected rate offered by the consensus) relative to consensus expectations. Many (e.g., Harvard’s Martin Feldstein) are worried about the economy overheating, but global growth also fails to meet forecasts (and is only +2.5% against consensus forecasts of +3.6%+).
“The case for slowing growth is not necessarily quartered and dependent on rising interest rates. Rather, central to my surprise is a “spent-up not pent-up” consumer whose fragility may be exposed and an uptick in economic inequality as trickle-down policy grows increasingly ineffective.
“The recent rise in unemployment claims, higher gas prices, slowing population growth, the higher costs of health care, slowing retail sales and a pause in domestic automobile and housing activity likely presage that slowing growth is in store for 2014.
“U.S. real GDP growth is under 2%, and worldwide growth is under 3%, making the difference between anemic growth and recession increasingly one of semantics. (Note: The U.S. stock market has a forward P/E ratio of nearly 17 with a 2% real GDP growth rate, while China has a forward P/E ratio of about 7.5x with a 7% real GDP growth rate.)
“The Fed’s tapering will be put on hold in response to slowing growth, and some within the Fed, including Whirlybird Janet Yellen, argue for increased levels of quantitative easing. Half the Fed members are reluctant to add “more cowbell,” however, so there is no additional QE and the new Fed Chair’s more aggressive monetary policy views are repudiated.
“Pressure is placed on both parties in Washington, D.C., to introduce more radical and aggressive fiscal policies in order to stimulate domestic economic growth by year-end.
“Major droughts in the U.S., Brazil and Russia have a knock-off impact on much higher commodity and food prices, experiencing a greater-than-5% rise in 2014 (negatively impacting the consumer’s purchasing power).
“The drought brings on stagflation concerns. Other supply disruptions fuel some cost-push commodity price inflation even though economic growth is weak relative to expectations.
“The risk of an exogenous shock expands, and further downgrades of global growth could put the U.S. and Europe in a deflationary headlock, finding both regions in a light liquidity trap.

[Read: Why Game Developers Are Choosing IBM Over Amazon]

“Even though interest rates grind a bit higher in early 2014, the rise is mild, and the yield on the 10-year U.S. note spends most of the year between 2.5% and 3.0%.
“Surprisingly (with a stable rate picture), the housing market is further disrupted. Mortgage rate and home price sensitivity are underestimated, as double-digit home price increases in 2013 dwarf modest rises in incomes. As a result, affordability suffers, and real buyers are priced out of the market. Traffic and orders drop off as the year proceeds. The accumulation of homes to rent by new-era buyers (hedge funds, private equity, etc.) precipitates further weakness in the U.S. housing market — indigestion in the rental markets develops, as there is an inability to absorb the units. By the second half of 2014, year-over-year home prices turn mildly negative.
“A new homebuyer tax credit is considered in late 2014 in order to stimulate residential real estate markets.
“Refinancings evaporate, serving to put pressure on household cash flow and personal consumption expenditures. The unemployment rate remains sticky (hanging around 7%), and consumer confidence falls.
“The expected recovery in capital spending fails to materialize in 2014.
“Companies slow down their share repurchase programs (which buoyed EPS last year), balking at higher stock prices and recognizing that the economics of debt offerings to fund repurchases are less compelling from an ROI standpoint than they were in 2013.”

My biggest surprise for this year is panning out: The global economic recovery is foundering.
The economy is the lifeblood of corporate profit growth, so it is not surprising that the most hotly debated topic in the investment community is what the pace of worldwide global economic growth will be in 2014.
Many have interpreted the recent soft data as being weather-related. This group believes that the weak jobs number, in particular, should be dismissed and that the domestic economic growth rate will quickly return to 3% once the weather distortions have been passed.
Others view the strength in the November and December economic releases as a big fake-out, believing that overall economic activity is slowing.

[Read: Washington Goes to Pot]

I side with the view that 2014 will be a disappointing year for economic activity, even adjusting for the adverse impact of weather. I believe the reality of slowing growth will expose the structural headwinds that will produce a period ahead of subpar growth that is not anywhere near “escape velocity” — the solution to which is no longer ever-easier money.
Here are some signposts:
Jobless claims are rising, underscoring the uneven progress in the labor market.
Retail sales are weakening.
Away from the Northeast sector, which is crippled by foul weather, housing traffic and orders have been stagnating for months.
Capital spending remains moribund
Forward sales guidance, upon the release of fourth-quarter results, has been weaker than what the consensus has expected.
The projection of U.S. real gross domestic product for the first half of this year rose 4% in the third quarter and 3% in the fourth. However, that projection has steadily eroded under the weight of poor weather and with the loss of the benefit from inventory accumulation and replenishment. Most Wall Street economists are now looking for a sub-2% rate of growth in the first quarter.
Abroad, the European Union is only slowly emerging from recession. Japan’s Abenomics is getting roughed up — the Nikkei 225 was 220 points lower last night, has lost 3% in the last two days and is down 12% year to date. China’s economic growth rate is suspect.
“Growth slowing” is the message delivered by today’s bond yields. The 10-year U.S. note yield stands at 2.73%, and with the 30-year yield at 3.69%, the fixed-income markets might be sending a more definitive sign of slowing economic activity than is the U.S. stock market.
Often, the More Popular the Trade, the Harder it Might Be Hit
For now, the equity market has been embraced and markets are ignoring the signposts of slowing growth.
But, as I have cautioned, risk in markets happen fast. Just look to Japan.

A bullish observation could have been made at year-end 2013 for the never-ending rise in the Japanese market. But the overwhelming consensus of optimism only five weeks ago has abruptly changed as the Nikkei has gone from hero to goat.
The clock is ticking. Economic statistics in the U.S. better put up or shut up in the weeks and months ahead.
As I wrote earlier this week, while Mr. Market’s upward price momentum has been unshaken in recent days, the reward-risk scenario has deteriorated for stocks and is now back to unattractive readings.
Out of respect for the market’s momentum, this week I have been atypically cautious in expanding my short exposure, which is now only at 10% net short.
However, I plan to raise my short exposure on any further market strength as the upside potential for the market fades and the downside risk expands.At the time of original publication, Kass was short SPY.

Read More →
Bernanke’s Parting Words; Manufacturing Data: Best of Kass

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners is known for his accurate stock market calls and keen insights into the economy, which he shares with RealMoney Pro readers in his daily trading diary.
Among the posts this past week were entries about Ben Bernanke’s last major speech and the ISM index for December.

Bernanke’s Parting Words
Originally published on Friday, Jan. 3 at 2:59 p.m. EDT.
Ben Bernanke’s last major speech as Fed chief before he exits stage left provided no new information on future policy under Janet Yellen but was more of a pat on the back for what he has done since the financial crisis began.

Read More →