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Equifax, an Atlanta based company announced on September 7, 2017 that there may have been a breach of their database sometime between mid-May and the end of July. This breach puts 143 MILLION consumers at risk.

Here are some steps of what we can do to protect ourselves:

  • The first step is to check with Equifax website if your information has been compromised (see at the bottom).
  • If you are one of the 143 MILLION, sign up for the credit report monitoring service through Equifax.
  • Check your credit report.  You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureuas each year.  Rather than request all three bureaus at the same time, request one from each bureau every 4 months.  That way you have a better chance of catching any problems more quickly.
  • Carefully monitor ALL of your accounts. If you discover an error on your report, contact the credit bureau reporting it immediately and ask to have it removed.  
  • Sign-up for purchase notifications. Many banks and credit card companies let you sign up for instant push notifications that'll let you know when your credit card is used to make a purchase. It may sound annoying but it gives you instant knowledge of who is using your credit card.
  • Invest on a good shredding machine. Do not stuffed credit card statements, receipts and credit card offer letters without shredding them first. "Dumpster Divers" might take that chance to turn your garbage into gold.
  •  Don't give out non-public personal information on the phone.  If you receive a phone call from a creditor asking you to provide your social security number or date of birth as confirmation, this likely can be a scam. 
  • Don't click on a link in an email from a creditor.  Many of these emails are phishing technique.
  • DO NOT carry your social security card in your wallet!
  • Consider setting up fraud alerts on your files. This option require creditors to contact you directly, usually by phone, for approval before allowing an account to be opened. That gives you a more active role, rather than passively monitoring or freezing your entire file. Bureaus also must contact each other when a fraud alert is placed.
  • Consider this is your last option. Do you know you can put a freeze on your credit reports by contacting each of the three credit bureaus? It is a nuclear option of credit protection and is the strongest possible action to protect your identity. It freezes your credit files (even from your own-self) with the 3 major credit bureaus making it impossible to open new account and bank cards under your name.
  • If you suspect someone has filed a tax return using your social security follow the instructions listed on the Internal Revenue Service website.  Here is the link for these instructions.
  • If you have been repeatedly a victim of identity fraud - you can request to change your Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.
For your convenience, listed below is the contact information for all three credit bureaus


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Posted by Sam Kader on September 9th, 2017 11:37 AM

Just 33 percent of millennials own a credit card, according to a new survey by Bankrate. Many are happy to pay with cash or a debit card to avoid the spiral of carrying over a credit balance and getting hit with high interest rates. (I totally can understand that). But a good credit history can be essential when you apply for an apartment, a mortgage, an auto loan, or a job, or even to get a good deal on a cellphone. The better your credit history, the lower the interest rate on your future 

loans. And it can be tough to get a credit card after shunning plastic for years.

Here’s how to start building a credit history, for the day you’ll need it.

Get on someone else’s card

A family member might agree to let you become an authorized user on her card. Basically, her credit history — which we’re assuming is good — is now yours.  Please do not abuse your privilege and be a responsible authorized user. 

Get a ‘starter’ credit card

For someone with no credit history, the Capital One Platinum credit card is an option. The card has no annual fee and no reward program, and with an APR of 24.9%, you’d definitely want to pay it off every month. While people with a short or blotchy credit history get cards with high interest rates, a 14 percent interest rate is average for those with good credit, and the rate could be 9 to 12 percent for someone with excellent credit. Use it and pay it off every month. Use the card responsibly, and over time your credit limit, which may start at $500, will be bumped up, maybe to $1,000 after half a year. Once you’ve had that card for six months, a lot more offers will come in that you might be pre-approved for, now that your credit profile has been built. 

They’ll likely have a lower interest rate and a reward or cash-back program. Along with paying the card off every month, it’s important to keep your spending well below your credit limit. Your credit score could be dinged for using more than 30 percent or so of the available credit.

Apply for a secured card

To get a secured card, you put down a cash deposit as collateral; in many cases, that’s also your credit limit. As you promptly pay the balance in full over at least six months, you build a credit history. If you have a checking account with a big bank, that should be your first stop for a secured card. Be very wary of seeking a secured card from a company you’re not familiar with, because some companies that specialize in offering secured cards have “horrendous fees.”

Take out a credit-builder loan

If you don’t have a chunk of cash to use as collateral, a secured card may not be an option. With credit-builder loans, you’re basically borrowing from yourself to build a credit history. The loan goes straight into a savings account, and you make monthly payments until the amount of the loan is paid in full. Then you get your money back, minus a small amount of interest. Some credit unions offer this product to members, calling it a Savings Secure loan.

Document payments

Some landlords and utilities report rent payments to the credit bureaus, but it’s hit or miss. If they want to buy a house down the road, it might help to show that record to the mortgage lender.  It’s not on your credit history, but anything you can do to document that you are responsible with your debt payments helps.”

Build credit with microloans

Lenny is a mobile lending app that targets consumers between the ages of 22 and 35. A sort of microlender that reports your payments to two of the three major credit bureaus, Lenny can help you build your credit score and can be a cheaper way to get emergency funds than going to a payday lender or getting hit with multiple overdraft fees. To judge risk, the company looks at such things as your college, major, grade-point average, LinkedIn page, and many other data points.

For members, who pay $2 a month, Lenny can make loans from $100 to $10,000 in three minutes. If the loan is paid back within 30 days, there is no interest charge. The app has lots of prompts to alert you when you’re doing something that could hurt your credit score, such as getting too close to a payment date while having drawn down 30 percent or more of your credit line.

Posted by Sam Kader on July 10th, 2016 12:42 PM



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