Save Over $150,000 With Elisabeth Leamy's Consumer Tips

"It's really worth it for the consumer to look for a secret warranty for their vehicle," said Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety. "They can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars to repair that defect that's going to have to be repaired in your car."

There are about 500 secret warranties available at any given time, according to Ditlow. One current example: an automaker replacing faulty tires on luxury cars, a $1,200 value.

Here's how you can find a secret warranty:

Ask the dealership. Manufacturers and dealers don't call them secret warranties. They use euphemisms like "good will adjustment," "after-warranty assistance" and "extended warranty." Ask the dealership whether there is one for your make, model and defect.

Google it. Search for your make and model and the term "secret warranty" in quotes and if there is a lot of buzz about a recurrent problem with your type of car, you will find it.

Search service bulletins. These are notices that automakers send to dealers alerting them about emerging problems and giving guidance on how to handle them. They don't explicitly state that a free repair is available, so look for coded language like "ask for availability of goodwill assistance." You can search service bulletins here: www.edmunds.com/maintenance/select.html.

Check with the Center for Auto Safety. CAS has compiled a list of secret warranties that consumers and activists have already ferreted out and you can see it here: www.autosafety.org/campaigns/23.

CREDIT: Undergo Rapid Rescoring

Sample Savings: $132,000

If there are unflattering mistakes on your credit report when you apply for a mortgage, that's going to drive your credit score down and your interest rate up. If this is your situation, ask your mortgage lender or broker whether they can send your file for "rapid rescoring."

Rescoring experts have direct phone, fax and e-mail access to the big three credit bureaus. You provide them proof that there are mistakes on your report, and they make your case to the bureaus. You can correct your report yourself but it takes months. Rescoring pros get your file cleaned up in 24 to 72 hours.

To be clear, these are legitimate professionals who only correct legitimate errors. When you hear ads for "credit repair" services that claim they can fix unflattering entries on your credit report even though they are true, that is a scam.

Warren Crest was about to buy his first home and discovered that his score wasn't high enough because somebody else's unpaid bill was on his credit report. His mortgage broker sent him for rapid rescoring.

"I'm a living example that it can work," Crest said. "So, I'm grateful for it. I really am."

Crest's higher score earned him a lower mortgage rate, one that would save him approximately $132,000 over the life of the loan.

How to change the score:

Order your free credit reports. Get them from all three credit bureaus before you apply for a mortgage. Click here www.annualcreditreport.com to access the free site set up by the Federal Government for this purpose.

Ask your lender for Rapid Rescoring. It's only available through mortgage lenders and brokers, so if you have discovered unflattering errors on your reports, ask yours to refer you for rescoring.

Provide proof. Assist the rescoring experts by providing any and all paperwork you can muster that proves you are in the right.

GROCERIES: Go to Grocery Auctions

Sample Savings: $7,056

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