Its a new year, we have all made our new years resolutions and hopefully now that were a few weeks in were all keeping them. I know for me that has not happened yet, but hey there is still time, and who wants to wake up early to exercise? Not me….
I have had many clients tell me that this year they really want to buckle down and tackle their credit. This is a great goal, and one that is really not as hard as you would think it is. The fastest and easiest way to make this happen is to enroll in our credit monitoring service. Inside you will find all your credit laid out in an easy to read format, and lots of articles to read deeper into why your credit score is what it is. That said for those of who do not want to jump into a credit monitoring service just yet, no problem just keep reading.
Your credit score is actually pretty simple to understand. The higher the number the better lenders will treat you. The lower the score the more you will pay. And to keep with our ultra simple explanation, if you pay your bills on time, your score should go up. If you pay your bills late your score will go down. Ok there are many more factors that all used than just your ability to pay your bills on time and you can read much more in depth about it here. While your credit score is only one piece in your credit profile it is a very important piece. Having a good credit score will make large purchases much cheaper in the long run. For example if you are looking to buy a new car, in this economy lenders are hurting and will reward your great credit with 0% financing. If your credit is damaged or poor you could end up paying up to the 15% or higher interest. This high interest rate could end up costing you thousands of dollars over the term of the loan! Not to mention your monthly car payment will be quite a bit more than if you had excellent credit.
Your credit report also contains information on if you have any public notices against you. This could be liens from back taxes. Judgements , or anything that shows on your public records. This is by far one of the biggest advantages of a credit monitoring service, you will see exactly what is on your public records, and if anything changes you will know within 24 hours.
Over the next few months will are going to be diving into the exciting world of credit (ok nobody every says that) and by the end of the year you all will be ready to for the lecture circuit with all your knowledge. I am looking forward to 2013!Share
Another holiday season is upon us, and its that time of year where we will most likely be spending more money, and less time to track it all. I know for me that this is a crazy time of year with all the running around, buying gifts online, and not to mention just the normal every day things like paying bills. With all the running around its a very important time to sign up for a credit monitoring services. The holidays are prime time for credit thieves, and the simplest way to stay protected is with a credit monitoring service.
Here are some tips to keep you safe. Make sure to keep your receipts through out the season. When you go to look at your bank statements or credit card statements you will want to be able to match up exactly what you purchased. And be aware that if you bought something at ABC store, it may show up on your receipt as XYS corp. This is why it is so important to keep your original receipt. It has happened to me time and time again where I see a charge that I can not place, and then when I check the receipt or do a quick Google search I can then match up the amount to the purchase.
Do not fall for the save 10% today if you sign up for our special offer credit card. While it is nice to save 10% right now, how much will it cost you in the long run? Most of these store cards have a very high interest rates, and just opening up a new account will actually hurt your credit score.
Make sure to keep track of your credit and debit cards. With all the hustle and bustle it can be easy to become distracted and to misplace your cards. If this happens make sure to cancel and replace them as soon as possible. While it may just be a simple mistake, there is a chance that it could have falling into the wrong hands. The hassle of canceling the card is much easier than cleaning up the mess it could leave if someone found your card and started to use it!
The holidays should be a time of fun and time spent with loved ones and family. Just be a little extra cautious and know that our service is working 24/7 to keep your online identity safe.Share
Hello readers, sorry it has been such a long time since our last post. We spend the summer beefing up our servers and infrastructure. It is amazing how much this blog has grown in the last year. That said we are back in business, and bringing you all the information on your credit that you could ever want.
To get things going lets throw out some of the most common myths in the business.
Credit Monitoring can hurt your credit score. Luckily for us consumers that is not true. You have the right to check your credit scores as often as you like and if you pull them, they will not impact your score. Here is a great article with other myths.
Thanks for sticking with us, and lots more great content to come!Share
SCHUFA, Germany’s version of FICO proposed an idea recently to use Facebook as a place to gather information about credit applicants to determine their credit status. The concept was defeated in Germany, but many Germans fear that the plan will not stay gone for long. However novel and wonderful the plan, consumers will be hurt in the future.
What is the new fascination with social networking and credit scores? Lenddo, the Philippines lender, was recently in the news for using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to grant Filipino students loan money for books and other educational expenses. According to Lenddo administrators, the average loan amount given to an individual is $600. Lenddo is an example of a loan company that uses social networking to good ends; however, not all banks and retail stores are doing this. Many are using your online information as a way to prevent you from being approved for a loan for which you qualify. In other words, what seems to be an excellent idea for credit turns out to be a bigger disqualification than some would believe.
How can your Facebook activity hurt you? Imagine what would happen if a retail store or a bank examined your Facebook for credit. Since your connections of family and friends play a role in your credit score when it comes to social networking, you may have a notorious family member (someone who has a criminal record) and may be denied on the basis of your relative’s criminal record. What if one of your friends decides to “talk smack” about the bank from which you want to obtain credit? If the bank sees your friend’s comment, and may see that you “like” the comment, you may lose the opportunity to obtain credit from the bank.
You may “like” the notorious comment for different reasons: it may be funny, or you may “like” it in disbelief that someone would say it; it may make you speechless, or you may just “like” the comment because “she’s crazy,” you think to yourself. No one can understand why you “like” the comment because there is no reason or justification placed on the comment or the individual’s Facebook wall. Nevertheless, if banks, retail stores, mortgage lenders, etc., are given access to social networks, you could have fewer chances of obtaining credit than before.
Have you ever considered the possibility that your credit score could be lowered significantly because of something that others say about you? That is the word from Digital Trends in their article titled “Tweet Lightly: How Social Media Could Affect Your Credit Score, Insurance, and More.” The article states that, while we cannot affect statements that are said behind our backs by others, we could be hurt in the long-term by dishonest remarks.
How much of a phenomenon is this trend becoming? One that is large enough to stay. Retail stores, banks, mortgage lenders, and others have started to use social networking for not only credit scores, but also for jobs (hence, a connection between credit scores and occupations, a point I made well in a recent post. There are many jobs today that will not even consider an applicant for work if he or she does not possess a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest account. This is becoming the case online for jobs at job sites such as ODesk.com. If this is the case with jobs in general, the connection between social networking and credit scores is not far behind.
The reason for the connection between social networking and credit is simple: credit scores provide a recent (though not up-to-the-minute) assessment of a person’s likelihood not to default on a bank or mortgage loan; social networking sites provide an up-to-the-minute look at a person’s behavior, payments, and so on. Since individuals reveal who they are via Facebook and Twitter posts, banks and lenders are “banking” (pun intended!) upon an honest response—one they can use to deny loans to applicants.
Social network accounts and activity are valued for their ability to provide more insight into an individual’s daily life; however, social networks are no better an assessment of someone’s ability and commitment to pay than someone’s sock color is an indication of an individual’s company fidelity. Unless your Facebook “friends” intend to secure you the money to pay back those loans when you find yourself in a tight spot, they provide no sense of security for lenders and companies with regard to a loan. In the same way, they have no bearing on an individual’s personality and character. Most days, we all have a relative or friend we want to trade.Share
When we think of arrests, we often have the show “Cops” in our heads. We see police arriving in blue uniforms to an apartment or home where they are to arrest someone for domestic dispute, abuse, drug use, various illegalities, and even gang activity. You think of a policeman telling someone to “put your hands behind your head and walk out slowly,” getting them to come out of the home so as to put handcuffs on their hands and get the supporting policeman to carry the suspect away in the “PD” (Police Department) vehicle, the top vehicle lights blinking blue and red, the policeman’s warning to other drivers to “get out of my way” as he or she travels to the local prison.
Today, however, the rise of the Internet has given way to a new type of criminal—that is, the cybercriminal. He or she is one who spends time on the Internet plotting illegal activity, sending virus and malware-infected emails, creating fake sites, claiming to offer a consumer product when he or she simply steals credit card and social security numbers, and so on. If the criminal has some sort of computer science degree or training, he or she can hack into computers, access passwords that are off limits, and use them to get back into an innocent victim’s computer and pull off of its files everything they want to know about an individual or group of individuals. This is how child identity theft occurs in this country each year.
Over the years, thieves have turned smarter with their malware emails and viruses. There was once a time when an individual would read the email sender, identified as someone he or she did not know, and delete the email. Today, thieves know that if they place “Congratulations! You’ve won a free $1,000 gift card from Wal-Mart” as a greeting in the email subject, you will be five times more likely to open it than before. Not only do cybercriminals like to “reward” you with Wal-Mart shopping sprees, but they also want you to purchase auto insurance, pornography, and sexual activity of all kinds. Some time ago, I had an email sent to my account that said, “Your antivirus is ending soon.” The problem with this email subject consists of the fact that I had just renewed my Trend Micro Smart Surfing software on my 2011 MacBook Pro. How can my antivirus have expired when I am sitting in front of the computer screen reading the words, “Trend Micro Smart Surfing for Mac now protects your computer”?
Thieves not only provide free virtual sex, prizes, and antivirus software (if not free iPads and iPhones), but also instructions from authority figures. If you received an email from the “IRS,” would you not open it? Sure you would—unless you realize that the IRS does not directly email anyone. All cybercriminals have to do these days is put “IRS,” “FBI,” “CIA,” “BBB” (Better Business Bureau), or something like “we’re a professional business organization” in the subject line or sender section to get unsuspecting online users to download destruction.
Despite all of their tricks and tactics, law enforcement has become more adept at catching criminals than they were twenty years ago. Just this week, Operation Card Shop closed the illegal activity of twenty-six cybercriminals by setting up shop in the cybercriminal backyard—the Internet. Ever heard of the site “CarderProfit.cc”? The site was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to catch credit card hackers and illegal user activity. FBI members kept the site running and kept track of each cybercriminal that came its way. The operation was so massive that twelve countries and four continents participated in the sting operation. Of the 26 arrests made, eleven involved cybercriminals from the United States. All these arrests pertained to credit card and bank account theft. Ali Hassan, 22, could serve up to 37 years in prison for stealing social security numbers, bank account numbers, full names, physical addresses, and so on.
Mark Caparelli, 20, is accused of stealing credit card numbers and product numbers from Apple technology (along with claims that Apple products do not work properly). Caparelli, unfortunately, is not along; many thieves steal Apple iPhones because of their theft policies. When someone finds an iPhone, he or she need not have a username, password, or any identification that says they purchased the iPhone (including a receipt). If an iPhone turns up “lost,” a thief can break the iPhone, take it to an Apple store nearest him or her, and claim that it is their phone—no questions asked. The warrant of the iPhone is tied to the device itself, not the owner or buyer. Apparently, Caparelli took advantage of this error in Apple’s warranty agreement.
Credit card, social security, and banking account theft is on the rise and will turn out to be more of a threat to “homeland security” than terrorism within the next ten years. There are some ways, however, to counterattack cyber terrorism and theft. First, do not leave your accounts open on any computer, including your own. When you log in with a username and password and leave an account open for days, criminals can gain access to your account without much effort. Log out of all sites and operations after use. Next, when it comes to email malware and viruses, look up the sender and subject information via Google to see if it is a scam or not before you open it. If the email is sent from the FBI, type in “FBI email scam” or something akin to this term in Google’s search box to see what results float to the surface. True to my suspicions, in most cases, there are pages on the web devoted to attacking malware emails, and I always find the one I seek. Do this before you open it. If you do not find what you want via Google, it is a good idea to delete the email or at least mark it as spam.
Another common mistake online users make that can cost them (literally!) is to use easy usernames and passwords to log into multiple accounts. Think about it: if a criminal can steal your personal information (including your birth date and marriage date), why use this risky information as a password? Why would you go and make your license tag a password when anyone driving down the road can see your tag number? Cybercriminals not only sit around on the Internet; they also drive down the highway and sit at the local coffee shop. Be aware of your surroundings and do not grow careless with your security. It can be removed at any second.
Another way to protect your information is not to grant any relative or friend you know your information. You may think that friends are friends, but it turns out that desperate friends can become corrupt enemies quickly!
There are ways to protect your credit score from identity theft: 1) credit checks, 2) credit monitoring, and 3) credit freeze. John Ulzheimer of smartcredit.com tells consumers to look at the “junk” mail as “high value” mail. While you see the mail as simply a bunch of documents with nothing but sales and promotions, thieves see this mail as the perfect way to steal your personal information.
Cybercrime is on the rise, but so is the law. Cybercriminals may choose to meet innocent online users where they are, but law enforcement is doing the same thing—and beating cybercriminals at their own game.Share