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Be Credit Wise with Holiday Shopping

Posted on 2016-11-08 20:56:40

sale, shopping, tourism and happy people concept - two beautiful women with shopping bags in the ctiy Bargains abound on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season. Who doesn’t love a good bargain? But there are credit traps lurking behind those bargains. Beware of these credit traps that can put a damper on on the holidays . . . and even your credit score in 2017.

  1. Overspending
There is no denying it. Consumers spend more when paying with a credit card instead of cash or a debit card. Is that really a surprise? Credit cards are just so convenient. Avoid overspending by showbox app setting a budget ahead of time and, ideally, paying with cash to ensure you stick to your budget. When January rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.
  1. Maxing Out Credit Card Accounts
Can’t resist the convenience of plastic or don’t want to miss out on credit card rewards? As you charge away, keep in mind your credit score will take into consideration the percentage of your credit card limits that are in use. Try to keep the balances below 30%. If you exceed that, pay down the balance before your statement closing date so that a lower balance gets reported to the credit bureaus.

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  1. Identity Theft
Identity theft will be alive and well throughout the holiday season. Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t sacrifice convenience for security. Also realize that many bogus charities come to life this time of year. Do your homework and research charities before donating and especially before handing over your personal information.
  1. Opening New Credit Card Accounts
It can be tempting to open a new credit card account when you are offered a discount on your purchases, but think twice. Do you need another credit card to think about? Your credit score could take a hit when prospective creditors check your credit report or credit score, too. If you weren’t already planning to open a new account, don’t be lured in with a special offer for holiday shopping.
  1. Emotional Spending
Don’t let emotions rule the day when holiday shopping. Stay focused on January. What is your situation going to look like then? Will you be struggling to pay bills because you overspent? Will your credit score take a hit because your spending was out of control? Everyone loves a bargain. Keep these tips in mind to ensure your bargains don’t come back to haunt you—or your credit score—in 2017.

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5 Credit Report Red Flags

Posted on 2016-11-01 19:07:46

woman-laptopYour credit report is a snapshot of how you have handled credit. It reports the balances on your credit cards and loans, and your bill paying history. (Don’t think even a single late payment will go unnoticed!) When you apply for new credit, lenders review your credit report to determine the terms of any credit they might extend to you. Once you have established credit, that lender will most likely review your credit report from time to time to see look for red flags. Here are 5 red flags that could scare a lender: 1.  Too Many Inquiries When you apply for credit, potential lenders will usually pull your credit report to get a feel for your credit worthiness. This gets recorded as a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can be a red flag that you are in financial trouble. Although inquiries typically have minimal impact in most credit scoring models, it may be enough to drop you into a lower credit score bracket. 2.  Debt from Co-Signing a Loan Many people fall into the trap of co-signing a loan to help a friend of family member without realizing that debt will show up on their own credit report too. As a co-signer, you are equally responsible for the debt. Any late or missed payments will be red flags to your own lenders. And even when the loan is being repaid under good terms, that debt is added to your existing debt load when you apply credit of your own.

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3. Short Sale A short sale gets reported to the credit bureaus as “settled.” That’s a red flag that says you did not pay the lender as agreed, and it can be just as negative as a foreclosure on your credit report. There may be times when a short sale is the right option, but don’t believe anyone who says it won’t hurt your credit. 4.  Credit Report Errors Your credit report could have red flags that are no fault of your own: errors. There’s really no way to safeguard your credit report from them. It’s important to check your credit report for accuracy. A credit monitoring service will alert you to significant changes that should be verified for accuracy. 5.  A Consumer Statement You have the right to add a 100-word statement to your credit report explaining something you think might be viewed negatively. Think twice before doing this. Lenders expect to paid as agreed regardless of your circumstances. If, however, you have been a victim of identity theft, it might be beneficial to explain that in a consumer statement.

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5 Tips To Protect Teens from Identity Theft

Posted on 2016-10-11 19:53:08

Group of students discussing in classroom

Why are children under the age of 18 almost twice as likely to become identity theft victims as their parents? Teens make easy identity theft targets because they usually have clean credit reports (or none at all). Couple that with the typical teen’s trusting nature, and the stage is set for identity theft. Here are 5 steps that can help protect teens from identity theft.

  1. Keep personal information private. Many teens are an open book with their friends. They may not think twice about sharing personal information. But all it takes is one less-than-honest or desperate friend to open the door for identity theft. Encourage your teen to protect his identity by not sharing personal information, even with friends.

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  1. Limit exposure on social media. Most teens are on at least one social media network such as Facebook or Twitter. And most of them are friends with people they hardly know or don’t know at all. Once something is posted, control of that information is forever lost. Identity thieves are keenly aware of this weakness and hang out on social media sites looking for weak links. Teach your teen to limit exposure on social media networks.
  1. Keep a slim wallet. Your teen should never carry more than is necessary in his wallet. Old-fashioned pick pocketing is still popular with identity thieves. Social Security numbers are especially valuable, and there is usually no reason for a teen to carry a Social Security card.
  1. Shred, shred, and shred some more. Help your teen get in the habit of shredding anything with personal information before getting rid of it. Unsolicited credit card offers contain a wealth of personal information that makes it easy for an identity thief to open credit in your teen’s name. Buy a shredder and use it to discard of anything with personal information.
  1. Monitor your teen’s credit report. Once your child starts using credit, teach him the importance of knowing what is on his credit report because that is the information used to calculate his credit score. Review it periodically to check for accuracy. That’s often where evidence of identity theft first shows up. A credit monitoring service is an easy and effective way to keep tabs on your teen’s credit report.

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Well, Well, Wells Fargo!

Posted on 2016-10-03 21:35:52

Surprised woman looking over her glasses. Beautiful jaw dropped girl with modern eyewear.Sometimes you just have to shake your head in disbelief. That’s how it felt when news broke that Wells Fargo employees had opened at least two million new accounts behind their customers’ backs. Over a half million of those were credit card accounts. Why? Most cite intense pressure to meet unrealistic sales goals. And it has been going on for years—at least as far back as 2011, but maybe as far  back as 2007. The Impact on Credit Scores A major concern to consumers should be how the Wells Fargo scandal may have impacted their credit scores. That’s a legitimate concern since it may be difficult, if not impossible, to know for sure because there are so many variables that can affect one’s credit score, and it can be different for each consumer depending on other factors on one’s credit report. Paul Bland, executive director of the legal advocacy group Public Justice said, “Figuring out what people’s actual damages are is really, really difficult. It’s going to take a lot of work and energy to unravel this.”

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New accounts opened fraudulently by Wells Fargo employees would typically be reported to the credit bureaus and show up on your credit report as a hard inquiry. Inquiries are usually not one of the major factors affecting your credit score, but in some cases, a few points difference in your credit score it could be enough to impact the terms of a loan or whether you are approved at all. Indeed, for some, another credit card could cause a credit score to go up because it raises the amount of available credit. This has the positive effect of lowering the percentage of available credit being used. But what happens when you choose to close the unwanted credit card account, as Wells Fargo is offering to do? It could have the opposite effect and lower your credit score because you will suddenly be using a greater percentage of available credit. Be Proactive with Credit Monitoring Many Wells Fargo customers were not aware of having a new Wells Fargo account until the scandal broke in the news. This reinforces the importance of keeping tabs on your credit report. It’s Wells Fargo in the spotlight today. Who will it be tomorrow? A credit monitoring service is the easiest way to keep tabs on your credit report on a daily basis. Subscribers are alerted when a new account is reported to the credit bureaus—not when it hits the news.

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Outsmart Identity Thieves with These 5 Tips

Posted on 2016-09-27 17:34:09

woman-coffee-shopIf you haven’t been an identity theft victim yourself, chances are good that you know someone who has been. Identity theft is rampant and shows no discrimination. It strikes the rich and famous with the same vengeance it strikes the butcher or baker. Identity thieves use both high-tech and low-tech tactics and usually attack the weakest link. Here are 5 tips for outsmarting identity theft. 1. Shred! Shred! Shred! Identity thieves still go through trash looking for personal information that can make it easier to steal an identity. Get a cross-cut shredder and use it diligently to destroy anything with personal information before it goes in the trash. That includes credit card statements, expired credit cards, pre-approved credit card applications—anything, really, with personal information. 2. Don’t let your guard down on social media. Realize that anything you post is never completely private—even if you delete it. Use common sense before sharing personal information with the world. Check your privacy settings. It’s amazing the identity footprint many people leave on social media sites—full date of birth, location, messages that indicate you are away from home (sometimes for a long time!).

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3. Never conduct personal business over WiFi. The risks of conducting personal business while you are at a coffee shop, the airport or any public place far outweigh the convenience. Don’t do it! Tech savvy identity thieves know how to snag your information, and snag it they will. 4. Keep tabs on your credit cards. Put time on your side by checking your accounts in between statements for unauthorized use. Know where your credit cards are at all times. If your credit card issuer offers the option of adding a photo to your credit card, do it! 5. Go paperless and use a locked mailbox for outgoing mail. Mail—both incoming and outgoing—often contains a wealth of personal information. In the wrong hands, that information can be used for identity theft. Go paperless to limit incoming mail. Deposit outgoing mail in a locked mailbox. The red flag that alerts a mail carrier that there is mail in your mailbox alerts identity thieves of the same thing. No one can guarantee that you will not become an identity theft victim. It is impossible to control all of the places that have access to your personal information. But these tips can help you reduce your risk.

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