Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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What Free Credit Report Dot Com Doesn’t Report to You.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 8, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle

Free Credit Report Dot Com runs television commercials with jingles that stick in your head. But their catchy, sticky songs are putting something else in your head — incomplete (and therefore misleading) information.

The latest FCR.com commercial show the band singer performing in his overcrowded basement apartment at the home of the parents of the “dream girl” he married without first checking her credit. The honeymoon appears to be over, as she pushed aside the guitar while passing through with a laundry basket. Her body language will be familiar to any husband who has ever incurred the wrath of a wife, which means all of us.

Of course, getting married, while important, is not the kind of transaction that authorizes a credit check. Not yet. Mr. Musician would have to ask Dream Girl to order her own free credit report and then share it with him — in time for him to call off the marriage. Anybody who knows anything about men, women and marriage knows that such a combination of events is likely to come off just as successfully as petting a family of rattlesnakes. That is, of course, unless you work in a retail credit department and are planning to marry one of the company’s customers.

But the commercial also doesn’t tell you that bad credit of one spouse need not be fatal to your joint dream of home ownership. Under federal Regulation B, both parties have a right to make an individual application for credit without relying on the income (or credit history) of the other. And contrary to what you might think, jointly held property can be used as collateral.

However, the non-borrowing spouse must still consent to the deal and to the lien upon joint property. Thus Dream Girl must sign the Truth in Lending Disclosure, Mortgage and Notice of Right of Recision. Moreover, just like Mr. Musician, she can rescind the transaction within three business days.

Actually, by living with her parents, the star-crossed lovers can save the money that would have been blown on rent, utilities and maybe even food, to build up a house down payment. The American Dream is more accessible than either of them may think .

So if you see him in his pirate costume serving ice tea to tourists in T shirts, as he does in the original FCR.com commercial, tell him to surf Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk to find out (as Paul Harvey used to say), “the rest of the story.”



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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