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Being on your own can be fun and exciting as you are free to make your own choices and decisions. However, turning 18 also brings a great deal of responsibility and your parents do not have to help. The decisions you make today about money can affect your future tomorrow. It is important to choose wisely when it comes to choices about money.

Q: What’s so bad about credit cards?

A: Credit cards are not the same as cash and there may be extra fees such as annual fees, varying interest rates, and late fees. Additionally, with some credit cards, you may be charged interest for the time between your purchases and your payment (even if you pay your bill in full). Interest and finance charges are set by the banks and retailers who issue the cards and vary with different kinds of credit cards.


Q: Someone stole my credit card, what now?

AImmediately report the loss or theft of a credit card to the bank or company that issued the credit card to you. If it’s not promptly reported you may be responsible for the unauthorized charges on the credit card. Act fast and don't wait!


Q: What is a credit report?

AA credit report is a statement that has information about your credit activity and current situation, such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts. The information comes from the companies where you have credit accounts and from public court records. It is collected and stored by companies often called credit bureaus who make the information available when you want to open a credit card or make a major purchase on a payment plan. The three major credit-reporting agencies are:

  • Equifax, 1-800-685-1111,
  • Experian, 1-888-397-3742,
  • TransUnion, 1-877-322-8228,

There are exceptions to credit reporting, but generally, no agency may make any consumer report containing any of the following information:

  • Cases under Title 11 or under the Bankruptcy Act that, from the date of entry of the order for relief or the date of adjudication, precede the report by more than 10 years
  • Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest that precede the report by more than 7 years from date of entry, or until the statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer
  • Paid tax liens that precede the report by more than 7 years
  • Accounts placed for collection or charged to profit and loss that precede the report by more than 7 years
  • Any other adverse information, other than records of convictions of crimes, that precede the report by more than 7 years


Q: Does bad credit history ever go away?

A: That depends on the seriousness of the credit issues. The files may go back seven to ten years for bankruptcies. You may obtain a record of your credit history to review from any of the three credit reporting agencies.   


Q: Can a lender have different rules for making loans to women, men, or minorities?

A: No. The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) ensures that everyone has an equal chance to obtain credit. This does not mean that everyone who applies for credit will get it. Factors such as income, expenses, debt, and credit history are all taken into consideration. It does mean that a creditor may not discourage anyone from applying due to sex, marital status, age, race, national origin, or because a person receives public assistance.


Q: What is collateral?

A: Collateral is an item that a lender accepts as security for extending the loan. If the borrower does not make loan payments, the lender may keep the collateral and sell it to recoup some or all of their losses (


Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated.  The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here.