Archive for October, 2011
I am often shocked by how many people are victims of identity theft. Your credit reports of Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union can determine if you can get a loan, an apartment, a job, or insurance. Identity theft is carried out by people who have access to your private details. They will use your information for their personal gain. There are two forms of identity theft. Basic identity theft is when someone steals your identity to obtain new credit accounts. There is often credit hijacking when someone uses your existing credit accounts for personal gain.
Here are some tips on how to avoid being a victim of identity theft.
1. I recommend obtaining your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union once every six months. The three credit bureaus will give you a history of activity. They will tell you what accounts have been opened and a list of inquiries, which is an application for credit that is being reviewed for approval. There are credit monitoring programs as well which will update you every time there is a change in your credit. There is a monthly fee for this service.
2. Place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports if you feel that there has been illegal activity on your credit. This will last 90 days on your report. This alert means your information can no longer be sold by the credit bureaus to any third party. This can only be done if there is fraud on the report.
3. You can obtain a 7 year fraud alert by writing to each of the credit companies. I would recommend this the fraud continues. This will slow your process of getting credit, but may save you from unneeded stress.
4. Look through your inquiries. If there are companies you do not recognize, call them. Most of the time they will end up being your inquiries, but it is good to review them anyway.
5. If you do not receive a bill, call the company to see if there is illegal activity. Mail fraud happens.
6. Establish a personal security code with banks and credit card institutions. The good thing about this is no one can get to the account without having your code. Try to use the same code with your accounts. When you change it for different accounts, it is hard to remember which code goes to which account.
7. Pick up new checks from the bank or they could be stolen in the mail. If you have them mailed, have them require to get a signature.
8. Do not put your social security number on your checks. Many people put the social security on the memo part of the check. Do not do this!
9. When you move, notify your credit institutions. Also, go to the post office to put a forwarding on your address.
10. Delete all suspicious emails. Do not open them. If you do, do not give personal information when you realize it is spam. Just delete.
We will discuss other ways to avoid fraud. Tune in tomorrow.
Now that you know what a credit freeze does and how to do it, you may be asking yourself what it does not do. Having a freeze on your credit report does not affect your personal ability to obtain copies of your report. You might have to include copies of your identification to do it, but it is possible. It does not prevent your current creditors from pulling your reports from Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union.
Freezing your report does not make you ineligible to receive prescreened credit and insurance offers, as is the case with a fraud alert. If you do want to opt out of receiving unsolicited credit offers in the mail, you may do this at www.opoutprscreen.com.
When you have a security freeze, it does not mean that your credit report will remain unchanged. Your credit reports will continue to be updated by your current creditors just like they would be without the freeze. Freezing your report so that it remains as is would not be helpful in preventing fraud at all. The key is to keep making your payments on time.
Realize this. A freeze does a great job, but is not a 100% guarantee. You could still be a victim of identity theft. For instance, if someone who has assumed your identity applies for credit with a lender that does not check your credit reports, then the freeze will not be useful in this situation. Even if you have a freeze on your credit reports, protect your finances and identity elsewhere to maintain your safety to the best of your abilities. Don’t give your social security number to just anyone
I think we covered most everything about a security freeze. If you have any questions, call the credit experts of California at (800) 222-0233. You can talk to any of the qualified representative at Second Chance Financial. Have a great day and remember, protect your credit.
If you are eligible to put a credit freeze on your report, you must take the following steps. First, you must put it in writing. You have to do it with all three credit bureaus, which are Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. While each agency has different requirements, the following items are standard. You should send a letter certified that includes: your name, your current and former addresses, your social security number and your birth date.
Now if you have been a victim of identity theft, then there is no charge to put a freeze on your credit reports. What you should do is include a copy of the police report with each of your letters. If you have not been an identity theft victim, then the cost is around $10 to put a freeze on your report at each of the credit agencies. You need to include the payment with your request.
If you want to apply for new credit while you have the freeze, you will need to request the the freeze be lifted a few days ahead of time. The best thing to do is to find out which bureau will be used to obtain the credit report. That way the freeze is not lifted off of all three credit reports. There is no way for a creditor to pull your report with a freeze on it unless the freeze is lifted off. You cannot give permission to bypass the freeze. If it is a temporary lift, then your account may remain in that state for 3 to 30 days.
If you would like the freeze lifted permanently, you must request this with each individual credit report agency that has a freeze on your report. You will have to have your identifying information and possibly a PIN# as evidence of your identity. Once the freeze has been removed, there will be no evidence on your report that the freeze ever existed.
We will finish the credit freeze discussion tomorrow
A credit freeze is an action that consumers may take to prevent new lenders, insurers, or anyone else from pulling their credit reports or scores with Trans Union, Equifax, or Experian. A credit freeze is not something that alerts creditors to possible fraud on your credit report. This is called a fraud alert, which we will discuss in a future blog. It is also not something that prevents someone from using their credit.
A person will put a security freeze on their credit reports to protect against identity theft. When you alert the credit bureaus to take such action, consumers block others from fraudulently taking out new credit under their name. With the freeze in lace, creditors cannot obtain the reports, and will not extend new credit to the individuals who request it. The problem with a freeze is that you will not be able to get new credit.
The difference between a credit freeze and fraud alert is that the credit freeze will not allow new creditors to pull a credit report. A fraud alert will allow the report to be pulled. It will just contain a statement of suspected fraud and ask that the lender or creditor to provide additional verification before extending credit to someone. Another difference between the two is that anyone can request a fraud alert on his or her credit report, but credit freezes are allowed only in certain states.
We will talk next time on how to freeze your three credit reports if you need to.
After about two years in the credit repair business, I decided that if I had a son I would NEVER give him the same name as me. There were too many instances that had a son’s bad credit mixing with their dad’s because they had the same name. Now more and more I am seeing a dad’s bad credit mixing with their son’s. The relationship between a father and a son and the sharing if they have the same names is the most common source of confusion between the two credit reports. It is possible that the information from the father’s credit report may be reported on the son’s credit report and otherwise. When the father and the son share the same address, it becomes even more common.
In fact, a credit bureau does not use just the social security to identify a person and his accounts. Several other factors are considered such as the address and name.
I am often asked, “How can I avoid my file mixing with my son’s?” The first thing to do is to get your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. It is very common for a file to be mixed up on only one of the three credit bureaus. It is odd when it is on all three bureaus.
Another tip is to be very specific when you do apply for credit. If you are a Jr. or Sr., use the generation suffix. You increase the chances of a file mix up if you don’t. Also, if you have the same address, your chances go up even more.
Do not use different forms of your name when you apply for credit. An example is a person with the name of Robert Jacob Jones Jr. Don’t use this name to apply for credit and then the next time use Rob Jones. What happens is the more AKA’s you have, the better chance you have with your file mixing with someone elses credit.
Remember, it is good to check your credit at least once every six months. You don’t want to have this problem when you go into escrow or your car breaks down and you need a car today. Stay on top of your credit.
Fixing credit has been our forte’ for over 20 years. The main problem when we are done with repairing the credit is reestablishing and raising the score even higher. We are pounding in our clients head that getting rid of the negatives is only half the battle. You need to have positive credit to get your score to where you want or need it. For those who don’t have any positive credit, a secured credit card is probably what you need to do. If you have been denied credit on an unsecured credit card, a secured credit card is the way to go.
These three credit cards are modestly priced secured credit cards and give you the best way of getting an unsecured credit card if you have responsible credit history. As we have explained, it is imperative that you always pay at least the minimum payment. It is good to keep the balance under 30% of the limit. It is ideal to pay off the balance in full. Here are the three that are good to start with.
1. Navy Federal Credit Union Rewards Secured Card. This is probably the best secured credit card out there. There is one catch. To qualify, you must be a member of the military or related to someone who is to be eligible to join the credit union. In addition to the low APR, which starts at 8.99 percent, there is no annual fee and no balance transfer fee. The card also has an attractive rewards program. You earn point per dollar on purchases, which works out to 0.5% to a full 1% depending on your spending levels. Rewards are redeemable for gift cards and certificates.
2. Orchard Bank Secured MasterCard. This card from Orchard Bank, a unit of HSBC, is one of the best values in the secured card industry. The APR is a very low 7.9%. The annual fee is also very reasonable, especially since it’s waived the first year. After that, provided that you pay your bills on time, you might be able to qualify for an unsecured card with no annual fee. Plus, there is no account processing fee. Orchard also says that they send monthly reports to all three major credit bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. This should help you improve you credit score quickly if you pay your bills on time and keep your credit card balance low.
3. Wells Fargo Secured Card. This secured card from Wells Fargo is one of the better values in the secured card arena. The $18 annual fee is relatively low, and the 16.49% APR isn’t too bad. Another positive is that Wells Fargo says you might be able to qualify for this card if you’ve been out of bankruptcy at least a year. That is a lot less time than other lenders will consider. Wells Fargo also notes that it periodically reviews the account and if you exhibit good credit behavior, yo could graduate to an unsecured card and have your security deposit refunded. Wells Fargo has one of the better reputations among the big banks, so if you do well with this card, you are on your way to improving your credit and getting lower priced loans in the future.
If you have any questions regarding secured cards or other issues, call the California Credit Experts at (800) 222-0233. They give a free consultation and would be glad to talk to you.
When you are young, it is easy to live for the hear and now. It is easy to spend money on luxuries or to spend more than you earn. People run up their credit cards and get themselves into a mess. This is often where bad credit comes from. Here are a few tips on how to save money and get out of debt and not in it.
1. Save at least 10% of your income. If you can save up to one-third, it is all the better. I think 10% is a more realistic number, especially when you have kids. Why do this? Because there are times in your life when you might need this money. There are layoffs, starting your own business, or kids issues that might come up. Saving this money means sacrifice, but it is the only way to get closer to financial security.
2.When it comes to your career, don’t be cheap. This is where it is okay to spend a little bit more. This could be to create a website, educational expenses, a new outfit for work, and many other things. You can never know to much about your industry.
3. Don’t wait to invest until you have extra money. If your employer offers you an optional retirement plan, take advantage of it and invest in it. If you can do the maximum amount, that is the best alternative. But if you can’t, don’t let that hold you back. Invest something, especially if they match the money you put in.
4. Set goals for yourself. The #1 thing to do is to create goals. It is easier to achieve something if you know what it is you want to accomplish. Many studies at Harvard show that people that set goals achieve much more that don’t set them. Write them down and look at them every once in a while. This will get you to keep moving forward and not stay stagnant.
5. Pay off the credit cards with the higher balance first. When you have the option to pay 8% compared to 29%, pay the higher one first. This will cut down in the long term the amount of interest you will pay.
These are just a few things you can do to save money for your future. This will also cut down on the negative items you can put on your credit report. It will also cut down on stress knowing that you are not just living check to check.