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Net worth: Web site offers you our credit profile
By JIM BROOKS
Credit cards and borrowing money is a part of everyday life these days.We borrow money for automobiles, homes, consumer electronics, even tires and carpet.
Nearly anyone with an established work record can get credit these days. Keeping that credit record in good shape is the part that isn't so easy.
And if you're thinking of making a major purchase (home or automobile), your credit history will play a big part on your chances for getting the home or car of your dreams financed. In fact, many financial gurus recommend checking your credit report prior to applying for a loan or mortgage.
But you don't think about it until 7:30 on Saturday night and how are you going to get a copy of your credit report then?
If you have a computer and a credit card, you can find it on the Web in as little as 30 seconds.
The company is called iCardReport.com, and their secure Web site offers you nearly instant access to your credit information.
Using secure transaction software, iCreditReport offers a variety of packages. A simple online review of your credit report (from one of the three credit reporting agencies) is $8.
iCreditReport was the first company to offer online credit reports, and remains the only one providing them in seconds.
In addition to the online credit information, you can also ask them to send you (by regular mail) an enhanced credit report including data from the three main agencies. For an added fee, they offer a credit monitoring service to alert you when your credit records has been requested.
The reports they offer online come with detailed explanations, and from what I can tell, they are as extensively detailed as the printed reports that come from one of the credit-reporting agencies. My credit report filled 22 pages once it was printed.
Visit them online at www.icreditreport.com.
CLAIM IT. One of the most innovative e-commerce Web sites I've visited recently is Unclaimed Baggage Center.
The site is the online version of a bricks-and-mortar store that specializes in selling lost and unclaimed one-of-a-kind items declared unclaimed in airline luggage.
About 60% of what they sell is clothing; the rest is divided among electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, books, luggage, etc.
Unclaimed Baggage also includes a section called Unclaimed Cargo, a section devoted to new items.
If ever lost a bag while traveling, you won't find it at Unclaimed Baggage. As the site's Frequently Asked questions points out, if there was a way to readily identify the owner of the goods they sell, they would return it to the owner. All the goods they receive are anonymous, including items left in overhead bins or seat pockets.
The company doesn't sell everything it receives as lost baggage; they donate crutches, strollers and much of the clothing to charitable organizations.
One fascinating aspect of the site are the "Unpack Me" suitcases found in the navigation menus. Click on one, and a box pops open, detailing one of the more unusual finds that their customers have made. For example, a girl pulled the head off her newly purchased "Unclaimed Baggage" Barbie,revealing a roll of $500 bills hidden inside!
The selection of items varies from visit-to-visit, which makes coming back that much more exciting. But you'll always find they have a selection of Unclaimed Baggage Center-branded t-shirts and other stuff to let you show your friends and family what a savvy shopper you are.
Visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center on the web at www.unclaimedbaggage.com.
BUDGET ONLINE. The online auction business is booming in popularity. The set-your-own price game covers airline tickets, hotel rooms, cars, home mortgages and now, car rentals.
Budget Rent A Car will open a Web site this month that will give visitors a chance to name their own price for rentals offered by the chain.
Renting just one more car each day at all Budget's rental locations would be a financial windfall, experts say.
Visit the Web site, www.drivebudget.com, and click on the BidBudget icon. There you'll find a form to complete for when and where you want your car, the type of car and the desired rental price.
If the bid is accepted, you'll be notified by e-mail within a day.
PATHFINDER CLOSING. Media giant Time Warner announced this week it will be closing down its Pathfinder Web site.
The pioneering site was launched in 1994, and broke new ground in the early days of the World Wide Web. The site served as a gateway site for all of Time Warner's many publications.
In the early days, most Web surfers visited Pathfinder.com on their way to the electronic versions of Time Warner publications.
As the Web has increased in popularity and user-friendliness, the Pathfinder site has been increasingly bypassed by Internet users.
Time Warner executives called Pathfinder's demise part of the company's natural evolution of its electronic products.
Comments and questions about this column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.
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