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WEB EXTRA: EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE (R) -- Credit Reporting Error or a Big Red Flag? PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARY HUNT, Creators Syndicate   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 01:29

Dear Mary: I contacted TransUnion because there is a blatant error on my credit report. It states that I owe the federal government $80,000. A lien was filed in 1991, and the debt was discharged in bankruptcy in 1998. The TransUnion rep was not very nice on the phone. When I asked why something from 1991 is still on my report, he told me they can keep a lien on it indefinitely. What do I do now? – Linda, New York

Dear Linda: I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. What I can do is urge you to contact an attorney right away. I am concerned that this lien never was discharged as you were led to believe. My understanding is you can't discharge a federal tax lien. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out your personal obligation to pay the debt and prevents the Internal Revenue Service from going after your bank account or wages, but if the IRS records a tax lien on your property before you file for bankruptcy, the lien remains on the property. In effect, this means you'll have to pay off the tax lien in order to sell the property. For your sake, I hope I'm wrong.


Dear Mary: My adult daughter was talking about getting a part-time job (in addition to her full-time teaching job) to earn some extra money. My husband reminded her that "not spending" is really the best way to earn more money. By not spending on extras and by cutting back when possible, she could save money. She would have to earn at least $1.30 to make up for each dollar spent, by the time the government took out taxes from her paycheck. I thought this was sensible advice. – Lin, Michigan


Dear Lin: Wise advice, indeed. But more than that, your daughter needs to assess how much that second job would cost in terms of gas, parking, more restaurant and fast food because she's pressed for time, and myriad other job-related expenses that would nibble away at the true value of that second job.


Dear Mary: I work for a homebuilder and found an article in a recent industry magazine about a software program (with a hefty price tag of $1,600!) that is intended to help you pay off your 30-year mortgage in only 16 years. This seems too good to be true. I would love to know what you think. – Candy, Texas


Dear Candy: I know about those types of programs, and quite frankly, I am not a fan. You can do the same thing without buying any software or exposing yourself to undue risk. Here's how: Each month when you make your mortgage payment, write out a second check for one-twelfth of a payment. (If your mortgage payment is $1,200, you'd send that check and one for $100.) Write on that second check "Principal Prepayment Only." At the end of the year, you will have made 13 mortgage payments, with one of them going entirely to reducing the principal. Do this faithfully and you will lop many years and many thousands of dollars in interest from your mortgage payback. I guarantee your lender will accept the additional payment, and you will not have to pay a fee for some special payment program. And you can stop if you find yourself in a financial bind.

Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 18 books, including her best-seller "Debt-Proof Living."

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 December 2010 01:46