Friday, September 30, 2005

George Mindling Column 9-30-2005

Making Sure Your Free Credit Report is Free


If you don't cancel your membership within the 30-day trial period, you will be billed $12.95 for each month that you continue your membership. That’s the fine print contained in the Web Page of http://www.freecreditreport.com/. That web page is advertised on television and offers consumers credit services that are often needed. However, it is not to be confused with the free credit reports everyone is entitled to under the current credit card laws. The Federal Trade Commission web page at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm explains the only authorized web site for the federally mandated reports.

Everyone is entitled to an annual free credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting firms, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The three companies jointly sponsor a web site for you to easily get your free annual credit report on line. The free annual credit report web site is https://www.annualcreditreport.com/, and can now be accessed by everyone as the last region went on-line September 1st.

Each of the three companies must be accessed individually for their report. The beauty of the joint page is each of the firms can be accessed, one after the other if you choose to do so, from the one page. Each firm asks a different series of questions using secure web links to validate who you are. The questions and formats differ between companies, and even the information reported by the firms differs somewhat. The “Credit Score” is not part of the free report, but can be added for a nominal one-time charge by each of the companies.

To keep a running check on your credit status, request one report every four months from one company, wait four months then get another report from the second company. Finally, ask for your last report four months later from the third company.

The first thing I noticed about my reports was an incorrect address someone had accidentally entered for my former address in Miami. The correct address was listed prior to 1997, but an extraneous digit had been added in 1998 effectively changing my residence to some 20 miles out in the Everglades. Other than that, I could see no other discrepancies in my report. Each firm has a web page explaining how to dispute the information if I decide to correct the address error. You must follow several steps to initiate an investigation into your complaint, and of course you can do it by mail if you choose to do so.

Each of the three firms offers more detailed credit reporting services for different fees, much as Freecreditreport .com from their respective web sites. In fact, it is difficult to find your free credit report on any of their individual home pages pages. The joint credit report page is fast and easy to use. By the way, the “s” in the https part of the Internet address means it is a secure site.

It is a good idea to keep track of the companies that are keeping track of you.

George Mindling

Friday, September 23, 2005

George Mindling Column 9-23-2005

George Mindling Column 9-23-2005 Paper Tiger For Immediate Release

(The Charlotte Sun-Herald elected NOT to print this column.  This is its first publication) 

“The Capitalists will sell us the rope we use to hang them.” While Lenin’s exact words were far more verbose, they apparently did not fall on deaf Chinese ears.

According to a recent published report, the Communist Chinese government holds 790 billion dollars of U.S. currency and bonds! Chinese General Zhu Chenghu told the world the very same week of the report they WILL attack the United States with nuclear weapons if we try to defend Taiwan, the Republic of China, from Communist takeover. We are paying for the two largest military buildups in recent years: Ours and the very forces we may have to go to war with, the Communist Chinese.

Why do American companies, especially those that purport to be Christian based, do business with the godless dictatorship that is Communist China? Which is the real answer: money or morals? Are we so busy trying to create a democratic utopia that selling our energy and technology assets to a security threat to our country in the name of “Growing Democracy,” is naively ignored? What will we sacrifice chasing the 490 billion dollar market China appears to offer to American retailers in 2006? Chinese leaders have had the inscrutable patience to let the Americans “dig their own graves” with their unbridled greed.

Last February, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld testified at a Congressional hearing on the Chinese buildup and the Chinese policy paper challenging the U.S. military presence in the Pacific. U.S. intelligence had believed China to have a fleet of only “60 to 70 operational submarines, most of which are ageing, and only a handful of which are nuclear powered.”

However, the June 9th Washington Times reported a U.S. security document found that American intelligence has missed the Chinese naval buildup for TEN years! Among the items missed were China's development of a new long-range cruise missile, deployment of a new attack submarine known as the Yuan class that was missed by U.S. intelligence until photos of the submarine appeared on the Internet, (http://www.jeffhead.com/redseadragon/planbuildup.htm) and development of surface-to-surface missiles for targeting U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups. According to CNN, The Chinese Navy will soon be the largest in the world. This from a country from which we borrow 2 billions dollars daily! If we default, how will they foreclose?

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice warned on August 18th that China must make significant structural changes in its economic policies, lest it remain "a problem for the international economy."

"The overwhelming sense I got was that they do not want a conflict with the United States," said Robert B. Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state. But he said that he, too, "tried to get them to see how their actions are perceived by the other side," particularly "if they were not transparent, they would create uncertainties, and uncertainties lead people to hedge."

The patient Chinese are not stupid. They measure time by generations, not fiscal years. By then, we will be the Paper Tiger.