MyMoney.gov Resources: Credit

MyMoney.gov is dedicated to sharing the basics of financial education with all Americans. Family services and other Head Start staff will find useful resources to share with families about building credit, maintaining good credit, buying cars, getting a free credit report as well as other credit information. Whether you are planning to buy a home or balancing your checkbook, the resources on MyMoney.gov can help families do it better


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  • A Special Guide for Seniors and Families – Articles with information specific to Seniors (or all of us) on dealing with money management issues.
  • Accessing Your Free Credit Report – Educates consumers about their right to a free copy of their credit reports. Outlines the nine-month roll-out period beginning with the Western states on December 1, 2004. Explains the ordering process by Web, toll-free telephone number, and postal address. Also discusses other consumer rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
  • Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud – Steps to make it more difficult for a crook to capture your card or card numbers, and how to report losses and fraud.
  • Billed for Merchandise You Never Received? – Explains your rights and steps to take to correct the problem. Includes a sample dispute letter.
  • Building a Better Credit Report – Learn how to legally improve your credit report, how to deal with debt, how to spot credit-related scams, and more.
  • Car Ads: Reading Between the Lines – Many car dealers advertise unusually low interest rates and other special promotions. Learn what questions to ask to get the best deal for you.
  • Choosing a Credit Card
  • Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws
  • Cosigning a Loan – Lists your obligations if you decide to cosign on a loan for a friend or relative. At the top of the list: you may have to pay up to the full amount of the debt if the borrower does not pay.
  • Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What To Do If They're Lost or Stolen – Outlines procedures for reporting loss or theft, and how to minimize your risk.
  • Credit and Divorce – Encourages recently divorced consumers, and those contemplating divorce, to look closely at issues involving credit. Understanding the different kinds of credit accounts opened during a marriage may help illuminate the potential benefits - and pitfalls - of each.
  • Credit and Debit Card Blocking – Blocking often occurs when you use a credit or debit card to check into a hotel or rent a car. The clerk usually contacts the company that issued your card to give an estimated total. If the transaction is approved, your available credit (credit card) or the balance in your bank account (debit card) is reduced by this amount. Learn why blocking may be a problem, and how to avoid it.

  • Credit and Your Consumer Rights – Explains credit laws that protect your right to obtain, use, and maintain credit. Offers practical tips to help you solve credit problems.
  • Credit Card Loss Protection Offers – Since your liability for unauthorized charges is limited to $50, there's no need to buy loss protection insurance.
  • Credit Insurance: Is It For You? – Helps borrowers decide if credit insurance, which is usually optional, is right for them. Explains the four main types of credit insurance and offers shopping tips.
  • Credit Repair: Self-Help May Be Best – Explains how you can improve your credit worthiness and lists legitimate resources for low or no-cost help.
  • Credit Scoring – Explains the system creditors use to help determine whether to grant you credit.
  • Advance Fee-Loan Scams – Tells you how to spot a scam and avoid losing your money. Rule number one: Legitimate lenders never "guarantee" or say that you are likely to get a loan or a credit card before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, no credit, or a bankruptcy.
  • Equal Credit Opportunity – The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits the denial of credit because of your sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or because you receive public assistance.
  • Fair Credit Billing – The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit card accounts. Includes sample dispute letter.
  • Fair Debt Collection – Answers commonly asked questions about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that your creditor has forwarded for collection.
  • Getting Credit: What You Need to Know About Your Credit – Provides tips on shopping for credit cards, using cards carefully, and keeping your credit record clean. Also explains credit reports and credit scores, how to protect your identity, improve your credit record, and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft. A good source of information for people learning about credit.
  • Getting Credit When You're Over 62 – Under the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, it's against the law for a creditor to deny you credit or terminate existing credit simply because of your age. Explains your rights and offers tips for applying for and maintaining credit. [PDF, 181KB]

  • Gold and Platinum Cards – If you're looking for credit, be wary of some 'gold' or 'platinum' card offers promising to get you credit cards or improve your credit rating. Lists tip-offs to rip-offs.
  • Out of Work? How to Deal with Creditors – If you've recently lost your job, your first thoughts may be, "how will I make ends meet." The Federal Trade Commission spells out your rights when it comes to fair debt collection and credit reporting practices."
  • How to Dispute Credit Report Errors – Explains how to dispute and correct inaccurate information in your credit report. Includes a sample dispute letter.
  • How to File a Consumer Complaint about a Bank
  • Identity Theft – Identity theft is a federal crime. It occurs when one person's identification (which can include name, social security number, or any account number) is used or transferred by another person for unlawful activities. This booklet is designed to help you understand what identity theft is, how it happens, how to protect yourself, and what steps to take if your identity is stolen.
  • Keys to Vehicle Leasing
  • Negative Credit Can Squeeze a Job Search – Bad credit can affect your ability to get more credit and to get or keep a job. Employers often use a credit report when they hire and evaluate employees for promotion, reassignment or retention. Explains your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Plastic Fraud: Getting a Handle on Debit and Credit Cards – This pamphlet describes credit and debit cards and some common schemes involving card fraud with tips to help you avoid them.
  • Payday Loans = Costly Cash – Explains how these loans work, but cautions that they come at a very high price. Lists alternatives.
  • Ready, Set... Credit – For consumers who are about to get their first credit card. Explains how to qualify for a card, get the best deal, and manage your account. Stresses the importance of a good credit history. Discusses federal consumer protections.
  • The Credit Practices Rule – The Rule prohibits many creditors from including certain provisions in consumer credit contracts. It also requires creditors to provide a written notice to consumers before they cosign obligations for others about their potential liability if the other person fails to pay.
  • Understanding Vehicle Financing – Get the facts on dealership financing - what it is, how you apply, special financing offers, cash back and rebates you may be eligible for, and more.
  • Vehicle Repossession – If your payments are late or you default on your contract in any way, your creditor or lessor may have the right to repossess your car. Learn what repossession may mean to you.
  • Your Access to Free Credit Reports – Educates consumers about their right to a free copy of their credit reports. Outlines the nine-month roll-out period beginning with the Western states on December 1, 2004. Explains the ordering process by Web, toll-free telephone number, and postal address. Also discusses other consumer rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

See also:
MyMoney.gov Resources: Credit

MyMoney.gov Resources: Credit. Financial Literacy and Education Commission. 2006. English.

Last Reviewed: December 2010

Last Updated: September 11, 2014