DEAR BOB: Under the new Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, I decided to get my free credit report by calling 877-322-8228. To my surprise, my report still shows a mortgage that I paid off last October. What can I do to correct this credit bureau mistake? – Frank D.

DEAR FRANK: I must hasten to emphasize the free credit reports are only available in a few Western states so far. The nationwide program spreads gradually eastward over the next few months.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Readers in Western states can obtain one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. I plan to spread out my free reports by ordering another one every four months.

You should contact the offending credit bureau to report you fully paid off your mortgage last October. The fault is probably with your lender who failed to report your full payment to the credit bureau.

When you notify one credit bureau of an error on your credit report, they are supposed to notify the other two credit bureaus. But you should follow up with each credit bureau if you expect to be applying for credit. The credit bureau has 30 days to correct their error.

If you would like to obtain a combined credit report from all three national credit bureaus, including your FICO (Fair, Isaac and Co.) credit score, a good place is www.myfico.com. Last time I checked, the cost was $29.95. If you just want one credit bureau’s report, plus your FICO score, the charge at that Web site is $14.95.

CAN PARENT CLAIM DEPRECIATION ON SON’S RENTAL CONDO?

DEAR BOB: I own a rental condo in a college town where my daughter graduated last June. This school year, my dad’s son (from a second marriage) and two of his pals are renting my condo. Since I don’t need the tax deduction from the condo depreciation, can I give it to my father who desperately needs it in his high tax bracket? – Scott W.

DEAR SCOTT: Unless your father holds title to the condo, he is not entitled to any of the tax benefits from its rental because he is not an owner.

If you add him to your title, then he will become entitled to report the rental income and deductible expenses including depreciation on Schedule E of his income tax return. For full details, you and he should consult your tax advisers.

TITLE IN DECEASED OWNER’S NAME CAN’T BE CONVEYED

DEAR BOB: I own a one-third interest in a property inherited from my grandmother in 1980. A two-thirds interest is owned by a cousin who also inherited it from our grandmother. But her two-thirds share is still in grandmother’s name. We both agreed to give the property to a church located near the property. What is the best way to expedite this? Should I put my title back in my grandmother’s estate’s name? – Jack D.

DEAR JACK: Your one-third interest in the property is no problem. You can sign a quit claim deed to the church and claim a charitable deduction on your income tax return. It would be wise to get an appraisal so you can justify the donation value.

But your cousin has a serious problem obtaining title so it can be donated to the church. This circumstance shows why it is so important to clear title problems as soon as possible rather than letting them linger.

If I were in your cousin’s situation, I would turn the title problem over to the church’s lawyer because the church will benefit from her property donation. Depending on state law, it might be necessary to reopen grandmother’s estate. Or there might be an easier way. Let the church lawyer deal with the problem.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How the New Tax-Deferred Realty Exchange Rules Can Make You Very Wealthy,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at www.bobbruss.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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