DEAR HARRY:I just heard of a new way to get a better credit score. It sounded kind of weird to me, so I thought I'd run it past you. It starts with a small loan at a bank that is put into a restricted account. You cannot access that account to withdraw any money. Instead, the loan repayments are added to that account. If I were to start with a $600 loan with a scheduled repayment period of a year, I'd be paying $50 monthly, which would be added to my account. At the end of the year, my account would have $1,200 available. As long as my payments were on time, I would have a very decent credit score. That's even better than having the $1,200 cash available. I should qualify then for a regular Visa or MasterCard. It sounds like a kind of reverse strategy to the usual recommendation. Should I go for it? My credit score is now in the tank.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: This appears to me to be a kind of forced savings. People are more inclined to pay a debt than to save. It is a modification of the secured credit card. I don't know of any local banks that are doing this. It's the bottom end of the loan market. If there are any such banks, I'd like to hear from them. You can do the same thing with a secured credit card, where your savings will entitle you to a credit card with a limit slightly below the savings balance. Here, you must build up a balance first.