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2006/Images03/fairisaacstarlogo.gif1. Feature Story / TVI MoneySideStories - 'Limit Your Applications For Credit -- It Can Hurt Credit Scores' / Who, Where and What is a FICO score - and why all the Power?
••• "There's a way around the problem: First, find out what your credit score is. You can pay Fair Isaac or one of the major credit bureaus to find out, or, if you have Internet access, you can go to http://www.eloan.com. This free service does not use the Fair Isaac model, but it's similar enough to approximate your FICO credit score.
••• Knowing your credit score can tell you whether you're likely to qualify for the lowest-rate loans. You can then shop for a loan more casually, simply asking lenders for their mortgage rates for good borrowers or by checking newspaper and Internet-based advertisements and rate comparisons."
••• •  FICO® is an abbreviation for Fair Isaac and Company, which pioneered the development of credit scoring models for credit grantors. There are many types of credit scores in use today, some of which incorporate rules and methods developed by Fair Isaac; others developed by third-party companies or by credit grantors themselves. The FICO score is one of the most recognized scores and it is often used by credit grantors in their decision process.
••• •  The FICO score attempts to summarize in a single number and at a particular point in time the level of credit risk associated with a particular consumer. FICO scores range from 300 to 900, with higher scores being associated with low credit risk.
••• •  For a complete explanation of FICO scores and how they are created and used, visit the Fair Isaac Web site located at www.myfico.com.

FICO and Fair Issac and Company are trademarks or registered trademarks of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and/or in other countries.
Fair Isaac and Company, located at www.myfico.com

••• The Fair Isaac company (a company located in San Rafael, California) is the developer of the models for the credit bureaus and though each credit bureaus model differs slightly and have different names at the beginning: (TRW-FICA, Transunion-Emperica, Equifax-Beacon) they have become commonly known as FICO SCORES.
••• Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE: FIC), founded in 1956 by engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac, provides consulting services and decision management systems. They developed the FICO scores, a measure of credit risk, that are the most used credit scores in the world. FICO scores are available through all of the major consumer reporting agencies in the United States and Canada: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. (FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation).
••• Fair Isaac's current corporate headquarters are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA with offices in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company employs about 3000 people (2006) with revenue of about $800 million (2005).

2006/Images03/experianlogo.gifPart 02 / It's a fact reported the Associated Press. U.S is the number ONE source of Credit infomation fraud, and FICO of Texas is part of the money making problem, firm says, the government sezure study group, NBS100.com
• • The United States generates more malicious computer activity than any other country, and sophisticated hackers worldwide are banding together in highly efficient crime rings, according to a new report.
• • Researchers at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp. also found that fierce competition in the criminal underworld was driving down prices for stolen financial information.
• • Criminals can buy verified credit card numbers for as little as $1, and they can buy a complete identity -- a date of birth and U.S. bank account, credit card and government-issued identification numbers -- for $14, according to Symantec's twice-yearly Internet Security Threat Report, to be released today.
• • Researchers at the security software company found that about a third of all computer attacks worldwide in the second half of 2006 originated from machines in the U.S.
• • As a breeding ground for threats such as spam and malicious code, the U.S. easily surpasses runners-up China, which generates 10% of attacks, and Germany, which generates 7%.
• • The U.S. also leads in "bot network activity." Bots are compromised computers controlled remotely and operating in concert to pump out spam or perform other nefarious acts.
• • The legitimate owner of the computer typically doesn't know the machine has been taken over. The phenomenon is largely responsible for the increase in junk e-mail in the last six months.
• • SpamAds promoting Credit Cards and clean-us, made up 59% of all e-mail traffic Symantec monitored. That's up 5 percentage points from the previous period. Much of the spam was related to stock picks and other financial scams.
• • The U.S. is also home to more than half of the world's "underground-economy servers" &emdash; typically corporate computers that have been commandeered to facilitate clandestine transactions involving stolen data and may be compromised for as little as two hours or as long as two weeks, according to the report.
• • The study marks the first time Symantec researchers have studied the national origins of computer attacks. The report focused on attacks during the last half of 2006 on more than 120 million computers running Symantec antivirus software. The company operates more than 2 million decoy e-mail accounts designed to attract messages from around the world to identify spam and phishing activity.
2006/Images03/equifaxlogo.gifPart 03 / More Than One Credit Card Could Be Bad--for Fair Issacs!
••• Question: I have obtained quite a few credit cards over the years. Most of the accounts have zero balances and I don't use them. What should I do?
••• Answer: Your question is common enough, and the answer complicated enough, that the rest of Part 03 will be devoted toanswering it.
Here are the secrets to boosting your credit score:
••• * Check your credit report for errors. If there are eroneous items, write to the credit reporting company and have those items removed.
••• * Close unused credit card accounts, but only if they were opened recently.
••• * Leave old credit accounts open, even if you're not using them, because part of your score is based on how long you've had credit.
••• * Apply for credit only when necessary. New credit applications can lower your score.
••• * Pay your bills on time, every time.
••• There are two opinions about owning too many credit cards. One says your credit rating will be affected by having so many credit cards. The other says you have a better rating because you have a very high total credit line combined from all the accounts and you use only a small portion. Which is correct? Should I close all these unused accounts?
••• But if you're in a hurry, here's the short version: Both opinions may be correct, and you may or may not want to close those extra accounts. Your ability to get credit is based on many factors, some of which are used to compute a three-digit figure known as your credit score. Your credit score incorporates information such as how long you've had credit, the total credit available to you, how much of that credit you use and whether you've had trouble making payments, among other factors, said Craig Watts, head of consumer affairs for Fair, Isaac & Co., the leading credit scoring company.
••• If your balances are small and your total credit limit is high, that indeed could help your score.
••• But that's not the whole picture. Your credit score does not include information about your income . . . so . . . many lenders ask how much you earn when you apply for a loan so they can determine your ability to repay.
••• Fair Isaac advises consumers to protect their credit score by applying for credit sparingly. (That's good advice for protecting your financial health, as well.)
•••• You also can do damage by closing an account you've had for a long time. A lengthy history of credit helps your score, so you may want to hang on to that credit card you had in college, even if you never use it.
••• That doesn't mean you should never close a credit card account, however. Having too many cards can be an invitation to disaster in other ways.
••• For one thing, it's hard to keep track of more than two or three credit card accounts. Credit card companies are constantly changing their terms, and a moment's inattention could lead you into paying more in interest charges or fees.
••• More accounts mean more of your financial information is floating around in the mail as well. Credit thieves love to steal statements and those pesky "convenience checks" from mailboxes and use them to run up charges in your name.
••• Having a lot of department store charge cards may not help your score much either. These cards tend to be easier to get, which is why they're a good starter card for people who are building or rebuilding credit. But they don't help your credit rating as much as harder-to-get credit cards issued by major lenders.
••• Finally, having a lot of credit cards could be catastrophic for someone who has trouble controlling his or her spending. Shutting those accounts could be the best solution in the long run, even if it does temporarily ding your credit score.
••• Thanks To: Liz Pulliam Weston, LA Times for this Q&A report.

2006/Images03/transunionLogo.gif4. Related Stories / Here are some things to keep in mind when closing accounts:
••• * Your best strategy, both for your credit score and your financial health, is not to carry a balance on any of your credit cards. If you don't carry a balance on any card, you can close as many accounts as you'd like without hurting your score.
••• * If you do carry a balance on any of your cards, make sure you don't start closing accounts right before you want to apply for a major loan such as a mortgage or car financing. Wait until after you're approved.
••• * Don't cancel an account that still has a balance. Pay it off first, or transfer it to another card. Wait a month or two to make sure you get a statement that reports a zero balance to ensure that you've paid all the interest charges and fees.
••• * Don't shut off longtime accounts. Opt to close department store cards and more recent unused lines of credit first.
••• * Call each credit card company to find out how they want you to close the account. If you're a good customer, expect the companies to give you the hard sell in an effort to keep you. You might wind up with better terms or perks, such as extra frequent-flier miles, that could change your mind about closing a particular account.
••• * If you want to go ahead with the cancellation, ask the company to report to credit bureaus that the account was closed at your request. Check your credit report in a few months to make sure that was done.
••• * After you've closed an account, keep the paperwork the company sends you showing the account has been shut. You might need it if there are disputes over the account.

2006/Images03/myficologo.gifWhat is a FICO score?
••• •  The FICO score attempts to summarize in a single number and at a particular point in time the level of credit risk associated with a particular consumer. FICO scores range from 300 to 900, with higher scores being associated with low credit risk. MORE STORY ON FICO - Money Side Stories Who, Where and What is a FICO score - and why was the power of financing given and by whom?

Collateralized debt obligations with a home mortgage, or CDOs, have been a hot product with many big investors for many years: says Troy Cory-Stubblefield, co-author of "BOA, The Tortfeasors". "In fact, in recent years Hedge Funds Collateralized by China U.S. Treasury Bonds have been used to help monitized the mortagage pools, and why not? It's their money. --SEE MORE ABOUT The Tortfeassors, AND MELVIN BELLI STORY.
••• The California Public Employees' Retirement System, for example, has steered clear of CDOs in recent years, said Curtis Ishi, a senior investment officer at the pension fund.
••• "We need to understand the management and how they produce returns," Ishi said. CDOs, he said, require "quite a bit of analysis."
••• CDOs - "Collateralized Debt Obligations", or MORTGAGE POOLS are home mortgages used as collateral, and in the 80s created a $600million dollar fiasco, which sent many mortage heads to prison. "Getting a handle on CDOs is a complex challenge," reports the LA Times. MORE CDO MORTGAGE POOL STORY.


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