Mortgage company not reporting loan payments to credit bureau

August 25, 2011 20:17 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

My mortgage company is not reporting my payments to the credit bureaus.  I always pay on time, and I feel this information would boost my credit score.  Are mortgage companies legally required to report this information to the credit bureaus?

Consumer Ed says:

Although mortgage companies usually report mortgage loans and ongoing payments to one of the major credit bureaus, they are not legally required to do so.

It is possible that your mortgage payment information is not being reported because of a clerical error. If you have not already done so, contact your mortgage lender, explain the situation and request that it furnish your payment information to a credit reporting agency. If your lender refuses to do so, there are some other things you can do to improve your credit score:

  • Review the information on your credit report to make sure there are no errors or collection items that you are unaware of.  You can access your credit report for free by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find  an error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency directly to dispute it.
  • Pay your bills on time, as late payments and collection items can send your credit score tumbling down.
  • Having a low debt-to-credit ratio will boost your credit score. So try to pay down credit cards that have balances at or near the credit limit. 
  • You shouldn’t necessarily cancel a credit card when it’s paid off, especially if you have had that credit card account for a long time. Keeping the account open, even if you don’t use the card, could help your score by improving your debt-to-credit limit ratio. In addition, older accounts contribute positively towards your credit score. 


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Is new home owner responsible for old propane bill?

August 17, 2011 22:49 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:  

I recently purchased a home in Albany, Georgia, which was foreclosed upon several months ago.  It is serviced by a propane gas company that is saying that since the previous owner did not pay for the gas in the tank, it is now my responsibility some four months later. The home was purchased as is. Do I have to pay for the gas?

Consumer Ed says: 

It depends.  You need to determine who owns your propane tank and whether there are any agreements or contracts regarding the tank.  Typically the propane company maintains ownership of and liability for the propane tank, unless the property owner has chosen to purchase the tank outright.

Ask the company for a copy of the agreement regarding the service of the tank, a record of the amount of propane that was in the tank when you purchased the home, and the billing and payment history for the gas. If the gas was not paid for and if you have been using the gas as the new homeowner, then chances are the bill is your responsibility. If the gas was not paid for, and if it was used by the previous homeowner prior to your purchasing the property, the bill would be for arrears (or past due amount) that the previous owner should be responsible for.   For future reference, have details like this one made a part of closing documents.

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Testing for Radon

July 15, 2011 01:18 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I saw an advertisement for radon testing. Do I need to have my home tested? How can I be sure that the person I hire to test and/or remedy any problem is reputable?

Consumer Ed says: 

For the answer to this question, we went to the Department of Community Affairs. Here is their response:

Yes, your home should be tested. Many people do not realize how dangerous and prevalent radon is. The facts are that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after tobacco smoking, the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and kills more than 22,000 people each year. Radon is an odorless, tasteless, invisible radioactive gas released by the natural decay of uranium in our soils and rocks. Outdoors, radon does not pose a threat because it is quickly diluted by the atmosphere. However, if radon seeps into your home from the soil beneath it, the gas can reach hazardous levels.

Although high radon levels are more common in northern Georgia and the metro Atlanta area, all homes in Georgia should be tested. You can do this easily and inexpensively by getting a home test kit. If the test results indicate a high radon level, you can have professional testing done to see if you need to install a mitigation system to reduce the radon level.

To ensure that the radon professional you hire is qualified, we strongly advise consumers to use testers and mitigators who are certified by one of the two national radon training organizations. You can visit their websites to find certified professionals in your area:

   •    National Environmental Health Association - www.radongas.org
   •    National Radon Safety Board - www.nrsb.org

To learn more about radon and to order a home test kit, visit the UGA Radon Education Program website at www.ugaradon.com or call Ginger Bennett at 770-535-8290.

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