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5 Tips To Help Seniors Avoid Identity Theft

Posted on 2015-01-29 09:00:27

While identity theft continues to be a growing problem for everyone, seniors, in particular, are prime targets. Identity thieves look for the easiest targets, and they often find that in seniors. Senior woman writing in notebook There are several reasons why senior make good identity theft targets. Seniors have spent a lifetime building their credit and retirement savings. They likely have more available credit and savings. Seniors also tend to be more trusting and less likely to report identity theft for fear that family members will think they are no longer capable of handling their own affairs. Seniors are less likely to keep tabs on their credit reports than younger generations since they may be past their days of needing new credit. As seniors age, they may require help from strangers who are not always trustworthy. Older seniors are easier to scare into giving up personal information to someone on the phone. Here are some tips to help seniors avoid becoming identity theft victims.

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1. Protect Your Medicare card. If your Medicare card has your complete Social Security number on it, block out all but the last four digits. Never give Medicare information to someone by phone or in response to an email. 2. Don’t carry your Social Security card. Social Security cards are like gold to identity thieves. Social Security numbers often open the door to more information about you—information you do not want to fall into the wrong hands. 3. Shred, shred, shred. Anything with personal information should be shredded before it is discarded. Identity thieves still sift through trash looking for personal information to help them create a new identity. 4. Be skeptical of offers that appear too good to be true. If an offer sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Request information in writing, and read the details carefully. Many of these offers are set up for no other reason than to obtain personal details from gullible people. 5. Keep tabs on your credit report. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t in the market for new credit. The fact is identity theft is often first detected on someone’s credit report. A credit monitoring service is an affordable way to be alerted to potentially fraudulent information on your credit report.

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Make Your Lousy Holiday Credit Score Shine

Posted on 2015-01-08 03:20:27

IMG_2833Did the holidays take a toll on your credit score? If you are nodding Yes, there is hope. While you can’t expect an instant credit score fix, these 3 tips can help your lousy holiday credit score shine again. Pay Down Credit Card Balances. If at all possible, pay more than the minimum balance due. Not only will you pay less interest and lower your debt faster, this also helps lower your credit utilization ratio—the amount you owe compared to your available credit. That ratio is an important factor used to calculate your credit score. If you used your credit cards for convenience or to earn rewards, don’t wait for those January statements to pay down the balances. Most credit card issuers will report your statement closing balance to the credit bureaus. If you can, pay down the balances so you are using no more than thirty percent of your available credit when your statement closes.

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Make On Time Payments. If you really got in over your head and you can’t pay your credit card balances in full, be sure to make at least the minimum payment on time. Late payments can drag your credit score down in a hurry. And surprisingly, a single late payment will hurt a good credit score more than it will hurt a poor credit score. Become Intimate with Your Credit Report. There is too much at stake to not know what your credit report is saying about you. Credit report errors do happen, and some credit report errors can have a serious impact on your credit score. Since new information is continually added to your credit report, a credit monitoring service is an easy and effective way to ensure you stay on top of the information in your credit report. What Not To Do • Don’t resort to a payday loan to get your out of a post-holiday bind. The interest on those loans is astronomical and will almost certainly make things worse. • Be careful about transferring balances to an introductory interest-free credit card. Transfer fees often negate the interest savings. Once the introductory period is over, you may have a higher interest rate than the account you started with. And if that balance isn’t paid in full during the introductory period, the entire transfer amount may become subject to interest.

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Credit Monitoring – For the Good Times

Posted on 2014-10-02 09:00:07

Couple Enjoying Meal In Outdoor RestaurantYou have worked hard to maintain good credit habits, and you’ve got the credit score to show for it. Do you need a credit monitoring service? Aren’t those just for people trying to dig themselves out of a bad credit history? Not at all. A credit monitoring service can be just as useful to a consumer trying to maintain a good credit history. That’s because consumers have little to no control over what gets recorded on their credit reports. Here are 3 reasons everyone—even someone with good credit—should monitor his credit report: 1. The information in your credit report affects credit decisions from whether or not you get a loan to the terms of a loan. A higher interest rate can take an extra chunk out of your wallet every month. 2. Keeping an eye on your credit report can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves often open new credit in a victim’s name, and most lenders report new accounts, as well as payment history, to the credit bureaus. 3. The information in your credit report is constantly changing. New information may be added daily. A squeaky clean credit report today could be hit by fraud, identity theft or an error tomorrow.

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MyFreeScoreNow MyFreeScoreNow provides daily credit monitoring and a monthly credit score update. The monitoring alerts let you know whenever there is a significant change to your credit report. Only you will now if the new account added to your report is legitimate or not. Only you will know if the late payment reported on a credit card is accurate. Only you will know if Fred’s Appliance had a legitimate reason for looking at your credit report. Tracking your credit score over time (even if it’s an “educational” score) helps you see how changes in your credit behavior are affecting your credit. Every consumer should be paying attention to his credit report on a regular basis. It’s easy to push that to the bottom of the To Do list. A credit monitoring service works in the background, keeping close tabs on your credit report so you can go about the business of life, but still know when your credit needs attention. The information gleaned from a credit monitoring service can be a powerful tool to improving your overall personal finances. Test drive it with a free trial.

Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report

Posted on 2014-09-10 09:00:13

girl-at-gymMistakes happen. When they happen to your credit report, it’s time to take action. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that 1 in 20 Americans has a “meaningful” error on their credit report that should be corrected. Credit report errors can result in a lower credit score and can negatively impact a consumer’s ability to get credit at the best terms. Other entities that use your credit report or credit score to make decisions that affect you include utility companies, insurance companies, landlords and employers. Accuracy matters! Although the credit bureaus (also known as a credit reporting agencies) and the information provider (the company that provided the information to the bureau) are responsible for correcting credit report errors, it is up to the consumer to bring an error to their attention. Know your credit score in minutes. Report Errors to the Credit Bureau Report credit report errors in writing to the credit bureau that is hosting the inaccurate information. Your credit report will have contact details for each credit bureau. Include copies (not originals) of documents to support your claim. Explain your side of the story and why you think there is a mistake. Unless the claim is deemed frivolous, the credit bureau must investigate within 30 days. They must forward the information in your claim to the information provider. The information provider must investigate and report back to the credit bureau. If the information provider determines the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three national credit bureaus so the information can be corrected on your credit report. When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must provide you with the results (in writing) and a free copy of your credit report if the dispute resulted in a change to the report. At your request, the credit bureau must send a copy of your revised credit report to anyone who received your report within the past six months. If the investigation is not in your favor, you can add a statement to your credit report that will be included with future reports. Report Errors to the Information Provider Although credit bureaus will forward information regarding your claim to the information provider, it is recommended that you also contact the information provider directly. Your credit report should include contact details for the information provider. Include copies (not originals) of documents to support your claim. Explain your side of the story and why you think there is a mistake. Keep Tabs on Your Credit Report Since information on your credit report can change frequently, it is a good idea to review your credit report periodically. MyFreeScoreNow’s credit monitoring service can help you maintain an accurate credit report by alerting you whenever there are significant changes to your credit report.

Identity Thieves Target College Students

Posted on 2014-09-03 09:00:23

College students, beware. Identity thieves know your vulnerability! Studies show you are five times more likely to become an identity theft victim than anyone else. What makes college students such easy targets? Probably foremost is indifference. College students simply don’t see themselves as being at risk of identity theft. Because they don’t see the risk, they don’t take precautions to minimize their risk.Male student smiling Understand that Identity thieves use both high tech and low tech schemes to get the personal information they need to commit identity theft. They will look for the weak link, whether that is an unlocked dorm room or an unprotected smartphone. Here are six tips to help college students minimize their risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Check your credit score now! Guard your personal information. Don’t become robotic about handing over your personal information—especially your Social Security number—anytime someone asks for it. Turn the tables. Ask why it is needed. If you don’t get a good answer, don’t hand it over. Go paperless as much as possible. Identity thieves try to intercept credit cards and statements in the mail. Going paperless can help minimize your identity footprint. Consider a post office box over a campus mailbox that may not be as secure. Keep tabs on your financial statements. Check your financial accounts frequently with more than a cursory glance. If something is amiss, the sooner you catch it, the better you are able to minimize damage. Use common sense online. Don’t conduct personal business over unsecured WiFi connections. Do your homework before using peer-to-peer file sharing. Some will expose your computer to unauthorized access. Don’t over share on social media sites. Chances are good you are “friends” with people you don’t even know. Use a paper shredder. Don’t be careless about tossing documents—even credit card solicitations. With just a few pieces of key information, it’s easy for an identity thief to create a new identity. Shred, shred, shred! Consider a credit monitoring service. With so many responsibilities to manage, you may find the nominal fee for a credit monitoring service like MyFreeScoreNow to be well worth it. For less than the cost of a few lattes each month, you can rest assured knowing your credit report is being monitored around the clock, and you will be alerted when there are changes you should be aware of. A trial membership comes with a free credit score and credit report.