December 30, 2006

The Perfect Credit Score

Ever wonder what it would take to have a PERFECT credit score? Actually, Fair Isaac Corporation, creator of the FICO credit scoring system (maximum score = 850), is on record stating that a perfect score is impossible. Apparently the best you can reasonably hope for is 820 to 840. Approximately 1% of the population is in the 840 range. Who are these people and what does their credit look like? Here's what their credit history generally looks like:

* a very long history of credit use (something like 30 years!)

* a few accounts with about 20 years of positive credit use

* at least one installment loan (mortgage or auto loan) in good standing

* between four and six revolving accounts (credit cards) in good standing, with balances less than a third of the credit limit

* no late payments (more than 30 days past due) in the last seven years

* nothing derogatory, like a bankruptcy, a collection account or the purchase of a Chia Pet (just kidding on that last one!)

* and very few credit inquiries, less than three in any six month period.

The bottom line is, you don't really need a perfect credit score. In my experience, any score in the high 700's or the 800's will get you the best rates on any credit you might need.

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December 30, 2006

Warsaw, Indiana Couple Arrested For Auto Fraud

A Warsaw couple was recently charged with multiple counts of theft, odometer fraud and forgery arising out of the purchase and sale of luxury automobiles over the Internet. Police say that Chad and Karen Gottshalk would buy high mileage high-end cars off of E-Bay, replace or roll back the odometer, and sell the vehicles for $10-15,000 or more. Most of the vehicles were apparently sold to out-of-state Internet purchasers.

The couple attracted law enforcement attention a year ago because of paperwork submitted to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. An investigation spanned the past year.

Interestingly, Chad Gottshalk was arrested several years ago for doing the same thing at a Warsaw dealership he owned.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of money in cars. As a result, there will always be a dishonest few who will cheat to make a profit. Be warned.

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December 30, 2006

Indiana Car Repair Rip-Offs, and How to Avoid Them

Automobile repair fraud consistently remains one of the top five consumer complaints in many states, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Older Americans are often targets of this illegal behavior because they are perceived as more wealthy and more concerned about safety and liability.

What can you do to avoid being a victim? Several things.

* Find someone you can trust before major repairs are needed. Shop around while having minor repair work or routine maintenance done on your vehicle. Hopefully you will find someone you can trust, and, even better, establish a relationship with.

* Protect yourself in writing. Always insist on being provided with a written repair estimate itemizing the repairs needed and the cost. Request that all replaced parts be returned. Then, make sure that you get a detailed invoice of all work done, with an itemized breakdown of all labor performed and parts purchased.

* For major repairs, don't hesitate to get a second or third opinion.

* Lastly, if you really want to protect yourself or are already suspicious of the repair facility, mark your parts. Take a permanent marker and discreetly mark parts that you've been told will need replaced or you believe will need to be replaced. If you don't find your mark on the returned parts following the repair, you know to check the part in your car.

Making sure that you don't become a victim of fraud can be extra work - no doubt about it. But believe me, when you realize you are a victim, you'll wish you would have taken the time.

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December 28, 2006

Indiana Lemon Law Appellate Opinions 2006

As 2006 comes to a close, I thought I would take a look back at Indiana's courts of appeal opinions on the Indiana Motor Vehicle Protection Act, also known as Indiana's lemon law. Actually, there wasn't much. There was only one published opinion dealing with Indiana's lemon law.

On November 2, 2006, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided the case of Walker v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation. William Walker, though not apparently an employee of DaimlerChrysler, purchased the truck at a discount under DaimlerChrysler's Employee New Vehicle Purchase/Lease Program (remember the "buy at the price our employees pay" advertising?). In exchange for the employee discount, Mr. Walker signed an agreement giving up the right to file a lawsuit and instead submit to binding arbitration.

After the trial court dismissed his lawsuit, Mr. Walker appealed. Whether the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Indiana's lemon law allowed sellers to make mandatory binding arbitration part of sale was an issue of first impression in Indiana. The Indiana Court of Appeals, following the majority of states but going against the Federal Trade Commission's explicit opinion, first found that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act does not prohibit mandatory binding arbitration.

Continue reading "Indiana Lemon Law Appellate Opinions 2006" »

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