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How to Protect Your Email Address From Identity Theft

How to Protect Your Email Address From Identity Theft

Much of the world’s business today is conducted online, and it’s likely that most of your daily life involves interacting on the internet in several ways. We’ve all been warned about the dangers of online hackers and identity theft. We’re told that our credit cards and financial information is at risk of cyber attack, but what about your email address? When you notice unusual behavior in your email account, is there really that much to worry about? Why would a hacker want access to your email address? You use your email address for communication and correspondence at the very least, and likely as a method of verification and identification for conducting business online. Consider the following communications and items that may be found in your email address, and what personal information could be contained therein: Rental application (likely with your social security number, addresses, full name, etc.) New password and password reminder requests Personal, family photos and messages (children are prime targets for identity theft) Work documents E-invites for social events Online purchase confirmations (usually with partial card info) Flight and travel information with location details and card info Starting to feel a little anxious? You should. Hackers often breach large institutions to steal mass amounts of email addresses to scour them for information to sell. Once they have it, it’s not hard to piece together vital data, act on your behalf to change info in order to get credit cards send to them (in your name), hold your info ransom, or take over all of your other accounts. When you think about it, how often do you give your...
6 Budgeting Tips That Will Improve Your Credit

6 Budgeting Tips That Will Improve Your Credit

Most people don’t spend a lot of time budgeting. Online bank and financial services have made “checking in” on your accounts fast and easy, and all but eliminated the need to keep a record of what goes in and out. But with everything automated these days it’s easy to lose track of what bill gets withdrawn on what date, if the amount of your automatic deposited paycheck was accurate, or if your bank account has over-drafted for some reason. When it comes down to it, successful budgeting is essential to building and maintaining good credit. It doesn’t have to take a long time, but by doing these 6 budgeting tips you can help give your credit a boost and stay on top of your finances. 1. Track your expenses When it goes on the card it’s hard to realize how much you’re actually spending on fast food, gas, entertainment, and other daily expenses. When you use cash it’s much easier, but that’s not always realistic. So, at least a few times a year, sit down at your computer and go through a month’s worth of expenses, adding up how much you spend specifically on each category. Fast food and eating out, gas, clothing or other “fun” shopping, and then of course bills. Get an idea of what you spend each month – it might surprise you. 2. Don’t rely on credit If you’re in the habit of transferring money over to cover overdraft fees or to simply have enough for a bill that’s going to come out, you’ve got a problem. Credit card companies love you for it, but...
How Can I Tell If A Credit Repair Company Is A Scam?

How Can I Tell If A Credit Repair Company Is A Scam?

When poor financial decisions catch up to you, it can be tempting to look for quick fixes. After all, a low credit score can cost you sometimes thousands of dollars over time in high-interest fees, application fees, and so on. And a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission revealed that 1 in 5 consumers had a mistake on their credit report, from no fault of their own. Many consumers turn to credit repair companies to resolve issues and improve their credit scores. The problem is that some of these companies operate unethically and illegally, asking for big sums of money upfront and promising outrageous results. So how can you tell the scams from the good guys? Credit Repair Scams Preying on the vulnerable is one of the most common forms of criminal behavior, and it’s the name of the game when it comes to fraudulent credit repair. It’s so common, in fact, that the federal government created the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, to protect consumers from credit repair scams. So how can you tell if an offer is only a scam? Here are some red flags to watch out for: They charge an upfront fee. This is illegal, and you should never pay for a service until it has been performed according to your contract. They only accept cash. This means the “company” is trying to be untraceable, and is a huge warning sign. They offer you a “new identity.” Usually this means they give you a special “code” that you are instructed to use instead of your social security number. In...
How Does Taking Out a Mortgage Affect Your Credit Score?

How Does Taking Out a Mortgage Affect Your Credit Score?

One of the top reasons to maintain a good credit score is because it can help you secure a low interest rate on a home mortgage. In fact, a poor credit score can even disqualify you from a mortgage. But if you somehow manage to do get a home loan with a poor credit score, you’ll likely pay thousands of dollars extra in interest payments than if you had a better score. Home ownership is still central to the American dream and a big goal for most people. It is also usually the largest loan an individual will have in their entire lifetime. Being approved for a mortgage and also securing a low interest rate all depends on your credit score and history at the time of application. If you are approved for a mortgage, it is generally agreed upon that you are considered a trustworthy borrower, otherwise why would the lending institution take a chance on you at all? But once you have been approved for a mortgage and moved into your new home, what happens to your credit after you’ve signed on the dotted line?  Expect an Initial Drop The process for taking out a mortgage is similar to taking out a car loan or other form of financing and impacts your credit in similar ways. First, the lenders will take out a hard inquiry on your credit to get a thorough look at your history. This hard inquiry will ding your credit a few points, but not significantly. It’s important to note that if you shop around for mortgages, multiple inquiries will only appear as a single...
How to Protect Your Child’s Identity

How to Protect Your Child’s Identity

Adults are often on guard about protecting their personal information and aware of common scams that could leave them susceptible, but what about our children? Because children don’t have credit cards or lines of credit, we usually don’t think about protecting their identities, but their blank slate is exactly why they’re prime targets for identity theft. Thieves often jump for joy when they can obtain the information of a child because it means the fraudulent activity may not be discovered for years. They then use this information to apply for credit cards, open bank accounts, rent an apartment, or even apply for government benefits. It isn’t usually until a child nears adulthood that they discover that they’ve been taken advantage of when they find it difficult to apply for jobs, open their own bank account, or apply for college. To prevent this from happening and to fight it if it does, follow these steps: 1. Be aware of suspicious activity Junk mail is a fact of life, but don’t brush it off if it has your child’s name on it. Promotional offers and credit card applications could be an indication of identity theft. In addition to suspicious mail, other suspicious activity includes: Being denied for a bank account or driver’s license Being turned down for government benefits because the social security number is already associated with an account Receiving collection calls/bills Receiving an IRS bill 2. Protect their information There are only a few situations in which your child’s personal identifying information should be necessary. This usually includes medical care, school registration, applying for benefits, or admission into various...
Should You Hire a Credit Repair Company or Fix Your Credit Yourself?

Should You Hire a Credit Repair Company or Fix Your Credit Yourself?

Fixing your credit is usually one of the first steps of those who are worried about being approved for a mortgage, car loan, or other form of financing. After all, your credit score can potentially cost or save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest rates, insurance premiums, etc. over the course of your lifetime. So if you’ve recently been denied a loan or know that your credit score needs some TLC, where do you start? This is where credit repair companies come in. Benefits of Using a Credit Repair Company There are pros and cons to repairing your own credit and hiring a credit repair company, so let’s look at some of the ways a credit repair company can help you more than you may be able to help yourself. Experience. The experts who do this every day have already seen cases like yours. They’ve talked to the credit bureaus, they know how to make a strong case and negotiate repayment terms. They know the right steps to take, and how to get things done. They’re paid for results. Reputable companies are paid for results. They spell out exactly what they will do for you, and the associated fees. This compels them to work as hard and quickly as possible for you. They save you time. Are you familiar with the Fair Credit Billing Act? How about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act? Chances are, no. If you go the DIY route, you’re going to have to spend time researching these laws that are designed to protect you, but it will take some time for you to...
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