3 Steps To Take When You Identity Is Stolen

Identity Theft

A few years ago, I was traveling in a foreign country. On my way to a church service, my credit card was stolen by pickpockets. Back at my hotel an hour later, I called my card issuer and canceled my card. In one hour, some amateur street crooks charged $15,000 in goods to my card, including lunch at McDonalds. Imagine what a thief smart enough to steal your whole identity can do, not in a just few hours, but in a few days or weeks! That is why fast action is essential. The good news is that most of the places you need to contact to put an end to matters are open 24 hours a day, so a midnight call won’t wake anyone up. Recovering from identity theft is almost always more time consuming and upsetting than you think. However, relying on others to solve a problem that is yours alone is sure to lead to even more disappointment and credit damage. The good news is that if your identity has been compromised you can repair and safeguard your credit on your own by following some simple steps that I outline in this article. Emotions run high when you


7 Steps to Take Right Now to Protect Against Identity Theft

Identity Theft

In 2015, more than three million identity theft victims saw $15 billion drained from their bank, credit card, and other accounts. That is more than $35,000 stolen per minute! With roughly 7 in 100 Americans falling prey to identity theft each year, you probably know someone who has dealt with this nightmare themselves. The best way to deal with identity theft is to prevent it in the first place. Following these seven steps will help you keep your money out of the hands of the bad guys. 1. Invest in a Quality Shredder The quest to protect your identity starts at home. Every piece of mail, financial statement, and document that has your name and address should go through the shredder. Even if it doesn’t have your social security number, your name and address together can be used for identity theft. You can pick up a quality shredder at stores like Walmart, Target, Costco, or Amazon. The top seller at Amazon is a six sheet crosscut shredder for about $30. 2. Improve Your Passwords with LastPass The internet can be a place to safely store and access your information. It can also be an easy target for identity thieves if


7 Best Practices to Get a High Credit Score

Best Practices

A high credit score is the key to the kingdom. It can land you greater than great interest rates on all sort of loans, fabulous credit card perks, and open the door to big-ticket purchases like cars, big-screen TVS, and more. Unlock the seven secrets to obtaining and maintaining a high credit score so this life can be yours. 1. Understand What Goes into a Credit Score Contrary to belief, calculating a credit score is not some mysterious calculation that the three credit bureaus hold the secret recipe to in some secret vault (This is not Coca-Cola, people.). Also, contrary to popular belief, there are MANY different ways to calculate a credit score. The most popular credit score calculation is FICO, however. Once you know what makes up your FICO credit score, then it is pretty clear to see what you have to do to build a high credit score and what you have to do to maintain a high credit score. So, here’s what goes into a credit score: 35% Payment history (Paying your bills and paying your bills on time) 30% Debt level (Owing a moderate or small amount that doesn’t outweigh total allowed debt) 15% Age of


10 Steps You Should Take if You Believe You're a Victim of Identity Theft

Victim of Identity Theft

Every 19 minutes, someone becomes an identity theft victim (according to U.S. News & World Report). Not only is that a scary statistic, but it should wake you up to the fact that that person could very easily be you. If you believe (or know) that you are a victim of identity theft, you need to jump into quick action. Here are ten steps you should take right away. 1. Bring Attention to the Problem Child Once you figure out which account has been perpetrated, spring into action by contacting the financial institution, creditor, or company that holds the account. Call customer service, let them know what is going on with the account, and talk with someone in their fraud department to take the necessary stops. You want to lock down the problem account, so any fraudulent accounts or charges can be reversed and to prevent any additional accounts opening in your name or charges from being made. 2. Close & Reopen Accounts For any accounts that have been compromised, the financial institution or creditor may suggest that you close the account. You can reopen an account with the same company or institution, but with a different account number, so


9 Habits That People Who Have A Perfect Credit Score

Perfect Credit Score Habits

That impressively perfect 850 credit score may seem like an unattainable accomplishment, especially if you have suffered with past credit mistakes such as too much debt, bankruptcies, or collection accounts. A small pool of people, roughly half a percent of the population, enjoys the benefits of the top tier of credit. High credit scores give a consumer a wider variety of options in all of their buying decisions, and can save them literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest over a lifetime. How can you join this group of credit elites? It may be easier than you think. Let’s look at nine smart habits of people who have a perfect credit score. 1. Create a budget A perfect credit score is born far before a credit report is pulled. It begins with a person’s budget. Consumers in this upper credit scoring echelon understand their expenses and balance them with their incomes. Avoiding bills or thinking “I will find some way to make ends meet” sets you up for a financial meltdown. Get more involved with household bills, and understand your outgoing money to help you manage better, and avoid potential late payments or mounting debt. 2. Live within your


13 Scary Things That Can Surprisingly Ruin Your Credit

Scary Things

The terror usually ends in horror movies once the credits start rolling. But that may not be the case when you look at your credit score. For many people, their credit score can be frightening to look at if you don’t pay attention to it. Most people know the big things that can ruin your credit score. Missing payments on your loans and borrowing too much money based on your income level are the typical ways people see their credit score take a hit. But there are a quite a few other truly scary things that can ruin your credit too. Here is a list of thirteen things that you may not realize can ruin your credit score when they hit your credit report. 1. Someone Opening an Account in Your Name Identity theft can take on many forms. It’s not always about someone getting ahold of your credit card number or Social Security number. You should check your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus in the United States annually. The recent revelation that employees at Wells Fargo opened credit cards and bank accounts without their customers’ knowledge to receive bonuses is a clear example of


5 Surprising Things That Won’t Affect Your Credit Score

Don't Effect Your Credit

Do you know how your credit score is calculated? Or, almost just as important, do you know what’s not included in credit score calculations? There are only a few components that the three national credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax use to calculate your credit score. Fair Isaac, the fourth credit bureau and the creators of the popular FICO score that 90% of all lenders base their lending decisions on, use only five types of information when calculating your FICO score. Fair Isaac uses the amount of your debt, payment history, your length of credit, the mix of your debt types, and the opening of new credit cards and other debt when calculating your FICO credit score. The other three credit bureaus use similar criteria also. But, maybe the most interesting aspect of all is what the three national credit bureaus and Fair Isaac doesn’t use when computing your credit score. Below are five of the most misunderstood metrics of your financial life that aren’t used to calculate your credit score. 1. How Much Money You Earn The three credit bureaus in the United States and the Fair Isaac Corporation do not consider your salary, occupation, or employer when


What is a Credit Score?

What is a credit score

No matter where we go and what we do, credit scores continue to follow us around throughout our financial lifetime. At every turn, even sometimes without our knowledge, credit scores help determine when we qualify for credit cards, when we can open accounts, purchase a cell phone, or even continually access the regular credit lines we already have. Anyone who has opened a checking account with overdraft protection, held a secured credit card, or opened a student loan to pay for college has a credit score issued by at least one of the three major credit bureaus. These numbers are based on the FICO model, and run between 300 and 850. A credit score is much more than a number – rather, this three-digit score, used by an estimated 90 percent of lenders, can determine our worthiness in obtaining new credit cards, shopping for cars, or even buying a home. While the unified model is supposed to help consumers take better control of their credit scores, many are often confused when they pull their numbers for the first time. What does a credit score actually mean? Moreover, how can consumers better understand and take control of their credit score? Through


8 Fastest Fixes to Repair a Bad Credit Score

Repair a Bad Credit Score

A bad credit score can be a nightmare. However you got there, a bad credit score can lead to higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and might even prevent you from getting a loan at all. But if you do have a bad credit score, all hope is not lost. You can take some quick steps to improve your credit in the short-term to help you get over the hump to qualify for the best possible lending options for your needs. 1. Start Making 100% On-Time Payments The largest determining factor in your credit score is making on-time payments. In fact, on-time payments make up 35% of your total credit score. Ignoring this and looking for other, easier solutions will leave your credit score lurking in the lower levels, not rising like you want. Starting today, make every single payment on-time. If you can’t afford to pay off your cards in full each month, make sure you always make the minimum payment by the due date. Using automatic payments can help make sure you never forget and have a late payment. You can set that up at your credit card issuer’s website or using your bank’s bill


5 Surprising Ways Your Credit Score Can Be Used Against You

Rent Used Against You

Most consumers realize the importance of a good credit score. Being able to purchase a home, car, or opening a credit card is largely determined by how successfully you have managed your past debt. While we know credit scores drive our big ticket purchase decisions, many are unaware the credit score’s shadow is cast over other life events, as well. The fact is that our credit reports and credit scores are used to weigh whether or not companies should do business with us all the time, in a variety of different ways. Here are five scenarios where your credit score could be used against you: 1. Renting a Home or Apartment Almost always, a landlord or an apartment management company will require a thorough background check, and this includes your credit, before allowing you to rent a home or apartment. While not technically credit, landlords extend their tenants a good faith expectation that they will pay to live in the rental property. It’s a smart business practice for landlords to rent to those who are likely to pay their rent in full and on time. Credit scores are highly predictive of a person’s future bill paying performance, so they carry