Financial Beat

January 11, 2002

Your Credit Rating, Retirement, Child Safety, Investment Advice

 

Financial Beat

Jump to:Choose article section...Your Credit Rating: You're responsible for its accuracy Retirement: You can save lots more if you work solo Child Safety: Dig those booster seats out of the garage Investment Advice: How to get the scoop on your financial planner Does your child need a booster seat?

By Yvonne Chilik Wollenberg

Your Credit Rating: You're responsible for its accuracy

You have a two-year time limit on suing credit-reporting agencies for errors, beginning with the time the error is made, even if you don't know about it, the US Supreme Court has ruled. The Fair Credit Reporting Act permits an exception to the time limit only if the agency intentionally misrepresents information.

A woman didn't learn that an impostor had used her Social Security number to open, and then default on, credit accounts until she tried to refinance her mortgage a few years later. The court ruled that it was too late for her to sue the credit company.

Check your credit rating every year, the Federal Trade Commission advises. Order a report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax (800-685-1111) at www.equifax.com, Experian (888-397-3742) at www.experian.com, and TransUnion (800-888-4213) at www.transunion.com.

Retirement: You can save lots more if you work solo

Self-employed doctors with no employees, such as those doing consulting or locum tenens work, may want to take advantage of one aspect of the new tax law and stash up to $40,000 a year—now the maximum annual contribution for an individual—in a special type of 401(k) plan. If you are 50 or older, you can add $1,000 to that limit this year and another $2,000 next year in catch-up contributions. The contribution limit will go up by $1,000 each year through 2006.

At least one firm has set up a solo 401(k) plan to take advantage of the new contribution limits. Pioneer Investment Management offers a Uni-K plan for one-person businesses. It charges $100 in trustee fees, plus any loans or fees for the company's mutual funds that you put in your portfolio. For more information, visit the firm's Web site at www.pioneerfunds.com.

Child Safety: Dig those booster seats out of the garage

The federal government now says children should ride in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh more than 80 pounds. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had previously recommended booster seats only for children weighing less than 40 pounds.

The change comes in response to research showing that more than 90 percent of children between 4 and 8 who were seriously injured in a car accident were not in a booster seat. What's more, says Partners for Child Passenger Safety, kids of that age were four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury while wearing a seat belt than while riding in a booster seat.

Investment Advice: How to get the scoop on your financial planner

Check out your investment adviser at a new Web site launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the North American Securities Administrators Association. It offers registration documents filed by more than 9,000 investment advisory firms registered with the SEC or state securities regulators. You can find information about which services the firm provides, its fees, and disciplinary problems that occurred during the prior 10 years at the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure Web site, www.adviserinfo.sec.gov . You can find information about requesting copies of investment adviser registration statements by calling the SEC Public Reference Branch at 202-942-8090 or your state securities regulator.

 

Does your child need a booster seat?

If you answer No to any question, your child should use a booster seat:

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?

2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?

3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?

4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?

5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

Source: SafetyBeltSafe USA

 

The author is a freelance writer in Teaneck, NJ.

 

Yvonne Wollenberg. Financial Beat. Medical Economics 2002;1:15.