Category Archives: credit score

What the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act Could Mean for You

Posted by Erica Steeves on January 22, 2018

What the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act Could Mean for You

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The big Equifax hack of 2017 created a mess for a lot of American consumers. In fact, it’s estimated that about 143 million Americans were victimized in the hack, and the hack has the potential to be very detrimental in the long-term should the hackers take the confidential information that they swiped and put it to use. As if the hack wasn’t bad enough, Equifax was widely criticized for how it handled the matter and its lack of transparency with consumers. Bottom line: The hack was a raw deal, especially for American consumers. Equifax, while subject to bad publicity, might end up making money off of it in the long run. There could be hope moving forward, however. A new bill introduced by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) would penalize the credit reporting agencies in the event of any future data breaches. The thinking behind the bill is that any future data hacks wouldn’t just spell bad news for American consumers, but for the agencies that left consumer data susceptible too. The bill is a direct response to the perception that credit bureaus aren’t doing enough to protect the data they collect.

What this bill would mean:

There’s no word on whether the bill will be going to a vote, but here’s a closer look at what the bill would mean should it pass:
  • Credit reporting bureaus would be subject to regular inspection by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that they’re taking the proper measures to protect confidential consumer data.
  • Should a data breach occur, the FTC would be authorized to fine the credit reporting agencies $100 per consumer affected. The bill calls for half of the amount collected for such purposes to go to the consumers that were impacted. Think about that for a moment. If this bill were in effect when the Equifax hack occurred, the FTC could have collected up to $14.3 billion in penalties, with over $7 billion getting kicked back to the consumers who were victimized.
  • Senator Warren hasn’t been a stranger to proposing credit-related legislation. Following the 2017 Equifax hack, she proposed a pair of bills. One would have prohibited employers from making hiring decisions based on a person’s credit. The other would have allowed consumers to indefinitely freeze and unfreeze their credit any time they wished for free. Neither bill made it out of committee and to vote, however.
  • The Consumer Industry Data Association opposes the proposed bill, stating that the reporting bureaus already follow stringent enough standards. In a statement to CNET, its president and CEO said the bureaus would, however, like to work with Congress to make credit reporting safer and more secure.
The 2017 Equifax hack was blamed on a pair of issues – human error and a technical mishap. With that in mind, it’s enough to wonder if just one of the issues were to have been removed if the data breach would have occurred at all. For some, the proposed bill may be viewed as even more red tape in an already highly regulated field. But when it comes to data as confidential as social security numbers and credit information, can you really be too careful?

How to Stop Your Pet From Ruining Your Credit Score

Posted by Erica Steeves on January 12, 2018
Related image                                     Whether you’re looking to adopt a new pet or you’re seeing the medical bills pile up for your current aging pet, believe it or not, your four-legged family member can take a huge toll on your credit score. For future pets, how you acquire it can sometimes make all the difference with your credit score. For current pets, unexpected medical expenses, vet visits and more can all add up to impact your credit utilization ratio. Here’s a closer look at what you should be mindful of when it comes to pets and your credit score:

Caring for an Aging Pet

Just as aging humans typically need more medical care, the same is true with pets. But while humans likely have medical insurance to cover or help offset expenses, pets usually don’t. And when prescriptions, an increased number of vet visits and medical procedures become more frequent, the costs can really add up. If you don’t have the cash on hand, it could drive you into debt. Here’s how to help manage such costs:
  • Save for a pet emergency fund: Even setting aside $1,000 a year can really help with your pet’s medical bills.
  • Talk to your vet about costs: Just taking your pet to the vet costs money. Speak with your vet to see if they’ll be willing to waive the vet visit fee if you have to take your pet in more than twice a year, for instance. Most vets will work with you this way to retain your business.
  • Look into pet health insurance options: While still fairly uncommon, there are options out there. Before selecting one, be sure that it makes sense for you and your pet’s situation.

Acquiring a New Pet

  • Are you buying or leasing your pet? Yes, leasing, or renting, a pet is a thing – you might just not know that you’re doing it. Many pet stores offer financing plans for their more expensive pets, but what they won’t tell you is that the pet is technically still theirs until you pay it off. Any financing agreement impacts your credit reporting, and while financing a pet could be a good thing in terms of building credit history, it could also be a bad thing too if you don’t stay up with payments or if the pet store is unethical about the process.
  • Speaking of unethical pet stores, many experts state that you should try to use credit cards as payment to adopt pets. Why? Because if something goes awry or the pet store disputes the purchase, you have a paper trail of the transaction. A credit card can help prove that the pet belongs to you. It can also be an ally in your corner if there’s something wrong with the pet in terms of getting a refund if the pet store is uncooperative.
    We love our pets. To many, they’re part of the family. But don’t let your furry family member lead you into financially troubling times.

Top 2018 Financial Resolutions to Make (and Money Mistakes to Avoid)

Posted by Erica Steeves on January 3, 2018
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to make some new resolutions. This year, we challenge you to make managing your finances – and improving your credit score – a priority, along with any other pledges you decide to make at the start of 2018. If you haven’t already, you can get back on the right financial track by paying off any debts you’ve accrued thanks to your holiday spending. After you’re done with that, here’s a look at some other financial resolutions to make and mistakes to avoid as 2018 gets into swing:    

Top 2018 Financial Resolutions to Make (and Money Mistakes to Avoid)

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  1. Start an emergency fund: Minimally, you should try to have an emergency fund with enough to pay up to three months worth of bills (i.e., mortgage or rent, utilities, auto payments, etc.). It’s this type of breathing room that can come in handy in the event of an unexpected auto or home repair, or if the unthinkable happens and you found yourself out of work for a period of time. A lack of an emergency fund can cause you to take out loans when the unexpected occurs, which can leave you playing catch up when the dust settles.
  2. Set a budget (and stick to it): Come up with a list of financial goals that you want to accomplish (i.e., investments, retirement savings, pay off loans, etc.). Then, come up with a reasonable monthly budget that can permit you to meet said goals and do your best to stick to it. Not setting a budget can be the start of a slippery slope into debt. Consider using a mobile app like Mint to manage everything.
  3. Don’t oversubscribe: Entertainment these days comes at a price. And while the likes of Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Video and other services may not cost a lot individually, together they can add up. In order to stay true to your budget, consider only subscribing to one or two premium services at a time. That’s one of the best things about said services – you can cancel and restart them at any time.
  4. Set automatic payments for your bills: Making on time payments is the single-largest category that impacts your FICO score, and late payments can cause your score to take a serious hit. On that note, let technology work for you when it comes to making on time payments and set up automatic payments online. This way, you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment again.
  5. Refrain from charging: To continue the theme of setting a budget and sticking to it, we challenge you to only charge what you know you can pay off. Going overboard on credit card spending can spiral out of control and cost you a lot more long-term. If you have credit card debt accrued, commit to paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first to save more in the long run.
Follow the above five tips and you can make 2018 a financially prosperous one.

Five Practical Methods To Build Credit

Posted by Nikitas Tsoukalis on September 20, 2017

Five Practical Methods To Build Credit It can be really difficult to build credit. Whether you are just starting out or had some bad experiences with credit cards that left you with less than stellar credit, you are probably running into the same issue – to be abl read more