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In The Media

Increase Your FICO While You Are in B-School

by Larry Chiang on April 30, 2010

This was originally at Stanford’s Bases Blog:

Larry Chiang writes about business school. After an HBS event, they wrote:  “What They Don’t Teach You at Stanford Business School“. If you liked his BASES keynote, the Q&A  via text message,  “What They STILL Don’t Teach You at Stanford GSB About Scammingand, “What They STILL Don’t Teach at GSB About Screwing Someone Hard” you will like his latest post: Raising Your FICO While You’re in an MBA Program.

Before he’s done, your FICO credit score will jump even while you take on thirty grand more in scholarly debt.


Larry ChiangBy Larry Chiang

Congrats on getting into your MBA program.

If you are one of the lucky few on company scholarship, count yourself fortunate. If you’re financing it yourself, lets boost your future school loan financing alternatives by raising your FICO score.

Yes, my soon-to-be captain of industry, you CAN manipulate, hack and alter your FICO credit score for the better. I am your mentor for “deep underground credit knowledge” and am a master of all things insightful and mundane with regards to credit score. Google me… I’m sort of a big deal :-]

Thank me by sending text message love to 650-283-8008. Call it and be freaked out when I answer it. Or be overly courteous and email, but include my cell to bust through my spam filter.

Here are 9 tips to raise FICO.

-1- Urban Myths Sink Ships.
The credit industry wants you dumb, stupid and in the dark. For example, the industry quotes the average FICO score to be 678 or even as high as 700+. The real average credit score is 585.

-2- Get a FICO Mentor.
To the benefit of my twelve readers this week, you can use my cell number or Facebook Austin TX network page and I will mentor you. Who am I? A guy who has credit educated college students and wrote the bestselling, tell-all book: What They Dont Teach You At Stanford Business School

-3- Snail Mail is Your BFF.
Snail mail is mail sent with a 41c stamp. BFF is ‘best friend forever’.

I have made millions steering people towards a higher FICO score. The absolute biggest secret is that postage paid, old school stamps preserve your credit rights. Remember, FCBA stands for “Fair Credit Billing Act”  — not the Fair Credit Biatching Act. Yes, 800 number systems were set-up to short-circuit your rights because voicing a complaint does not document your problem in the eyes of the law (FCBA and FCRA –”Fair Credit Reporting Act”).

-4- Know Your Derogatories.
Dispute borderline negatives after running your credit report. A huge urban myth is that getting a credit report hurts your credit score… it does NOT. I repeat, getting your own credit report does not hurt your credit.

Larry Chiang favorite book

My mentor, Mark McCormack, who wrote the book, “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School“.

Checking your own credit does not hurt your credit because it is a “consumer inquiry”. There are three types of inquiries; consumer, advertiser and credit. Credit inquiries are the only ones that hurt your credit. Print and mail the from HERE

-5- Visualize Growth.
Track your FICO progress on a thermometer. Use one like the ‘Jump-rope-a-thon’ fundraising thermometer that you used in grade school.

-6- Get a Fake Mini Loan.
Make small purchases on a Visa/MC account and pay off in full. This is your fake mini loan: owing $20 to American Express, Discover or Capital One Visa. Credit bureaus make no distinctions between $15.50 paid on-time versus $15,500 paid on time. Ignore leveraging this TIP at your own peril. Procrastinate taking action on this TRUTH and risk wallowing in the lower percentiles.

ACTION: Take two seconds and fill this out and mail it in.

-7- Give Good Google.
Get text message reminders you send yourself via google calendar. On the11th and 21st of every month, I login to EVERY ACCOUNT to make sure all are up-to-date.

I also list out every debt obligation on a manilla folder. For built in redundency, I also get paper bills (to my new dorm address).

-8- Bastard Bills Are Killer.
Find the bastard bill(s) and deal with it/them. An example of a bastard bill is a parking ticket from a city you visited. It grows from a $20 violation to some amount over $100 (almost always). Settle this out by negotiating directly with the original biller (and not the collection agency that bought the debt).

For example, City Of Beverly Hills cited you for a $20 ticket. You ignored it and now the bill is in collections for 5x the original amount. Paying the collector is a mistake. Dealing with the collector and listening to their threats and misinformation is a big, big mistake.

-8b- Orphan bills suck too.
Orphans develop when three people share a utility bill, but no one pays the last bill and YOUR name is on the bill. If your name is on the bill, your credit report will get hit.

SOLUTION: Pay bastards and orphans with a physical check. Why?! Checks are legal documents that tip to scale in your favor. Here is how: In the ‘memo section’ of the check, clearly label the bill to be paid and reference number, “parking ticket  6707-9805 + penalties PAID IN FULL”

Once the check is cashed, you now have the matter cleared if you keep a digital picture or photocopy to present to the credit bureaus.

-9- Document It All In Writing.
Complaining in written form preserves your rights. Emailing or calling does not. See my diatribe on FCBA — “Fair Credit Billing Act”. Complain in triplicate to get RESULTS: write in and cc and

Cut and paste this blog article to your Facebook in a note. Tell other people about what you learned here. This POST IS NOT copywritten so cut and paste to pass this advice forward

Follow me on Twitter @larryChiang or join my 9 person fan club on Facebook. Remember, my book’s 14 chapters are reprinted free at a website called BusinessWeek. If you cannot sleep, watch my 90 minute panel that would’ve put half the room to sleep were it not for my dog Baxter storming the stage.

Good luck hustling hard and watch your back. If you sponsor a party, I am hosting events at Sundance and SXSW, don’t change my deal

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