credit report http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/68/all en-US 6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_woman_holding_keys_to_her_new_house_1.jpg" alt="Happy woman holding keys to her new house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The housing market is a competitive one right now. The National Association of Realtors reported that there were 1.52 million existing homes for sale at the end of January 2018. That might sound like a lot, but that figure is 9.5 percent lower than it stood a year ago, when 1.68 million homes were for sale.</p> <p>What does that mean for you? It means that if you're planning on buying a home this year, you need to be financially fit and ready to act fast. Here are the steps you can take to get ready for homebuying season.</p> <h2>1. Check your credit reports</h2> <p>When you apply for a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home, your lender will check your credit reports. You have three of them, one each maintained by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These reports list your loans and credit card accounts. It also lists any financial missteps you might have taken, such as missed payments, late payments, bankruptcy declarations, and foreclosures.</p> <p>You can get one free copy every year of each of your three reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you get your reports, look them over carefully. You want to know what lenders will see. If you spot any mistakes &mdash; such as a late auto payment that you know you paid on time &mdash; correct the mistake with the offending credit bureau, either by phone or email. Finding and correcting incorrect information can provide an immediate boost to your credit score, which will set you off on the right foot for buying a home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>2. Check your credit score</h2> <p>Your credit score is a key number when you're ready to buy a home. Your lenders will study your credit score to determine how likely you are to pay your mortgage on time each month. Most lenders consider credit scores of 740 or higher to be strong ones, while scores under 640 make them nervous. If your score is too low, you probably won't qualify for a loan. If you do, you'll be charged higher interest rates.</p> <p>It's important to know your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. You can pay to receive your score from any of the three credit bureaus, which will cost you between $10 and $15. Your credit card provider or bank might provide you with a credit score for free, but be careful: This free score might not be an official FICO score, and might not be the same one that lenders see when you apply for a loan.</p> <p>Once you know your credit score, you can determine if you need to take steps to improve it. If your score is too low, it might make more sense to wait until it rises before you start hunting for a new home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly</a>)</p> <h2>3. Start a new history of paying all your bills on time</h2> <p>The best way to build a strong credit score is to pay all your bills on time every month. If you pay certain bills late &mdash; credit cards, mortgage, auto loan, student loan, and other forms of installment loans &mdash; your credit score could drop by 100 points or more. A bill is considered officially late and reported to the credit bureaus if you haven't paid it by 30 days or more past its due date.</p> <p>Rebuilding your credit this way takes time. Depending on how weak your score is, it could take months or more than a year of on-time payments to increase it to a level that will qualify you for lower interest rates. The work, though, will pay off in the form of lower monthly mortgage payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil?ref=seealso" target="_blank">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a>)</p> <h2>4. Pay down your credit card debt</h2> <p>Another way to boost your credit score and gain approval for a mortgage loan is to pay off as much credit card debt as possible. You'll know you're ready to take on the homebuying process when your credit card balances take up no more than 30 percent of your available credit.</p> <p>Paying down your debt is important, too, after you buy a home. Your mortgage payment is a big financial responsibility. Having as little additional debt as possible will ensure that these new payments are not an overwhelming burden. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fastest-method-to-eliminate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>5. Build up your savings</h2> <p>Buying a home is expensive. You'll have to come up with a down payment, of course. But you'll also have to pay for closing costs on your mortgage loan, and don't forget the added expenses of paying for movers, new furniture, and any repairs that your new home might need.</p> <p>Build up your savings <em>before </em>you start searching for a home. This will also help you when it's time to apply for a mortgage. Lenders usually want to see that you have enough in your savings accounts to pay for two to three months' worth of mortgage payments. That way, you can still make your mortgage payments if you hit a financial crisis.</p> <h2>6. Get preapproved for a mortgage</h2> <p>Looking for homes is fun. Getting a mortgage loan is not. But before you start searching for new homes, make sure to get preapproved for a mortgage.</p> <p>To do this, you'll meet with a mortgage lender. This lender will run your credit. You'll also have to provide this lender with copies of your last two months of paycheck stubs, last two years of W2 forms, last two years of income tax returns, and last two months of bank account statements. Lenders will study these forms to determine how much of a monthly loan payment you can afford.</p> <p>Once it analyzes your financials, your lender will provide you with a preapproval letter stating how much of a loan it is willing to give you. You won't have to waste your time searching for homes that are outside this limit. You'll also be a more attractive buyer. Sellers prefer working with buyers who already have qualified for mortgages. Deals with such buyers are less likely to fall apart because of mortgage issues.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520to%2520Get%2520Financially%2520Fit%2520for%2520Homebuying%2520Season.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20to%20Get%20Financially%20Fit%20for%20Homebuying%20Season"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20to%20Get%20Financially%20Fit%20for%20Homebuying%20Season.jpg" alt="6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-shouldnt-rush-to-pay-off-your-mortgage">5 Times You Shouldn&#039;t Rush to Pay Off Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing credit report credit score debt financial readiness home buying mortgages on time payments preapproval savings Mon, 02 Apr 2018 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 2118490 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's What Happens to an Account in Collections — Even When You Pay Up http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/final_demand_notice.jpg" alt="Final demand notice" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life happens. Whatever the reason, you've fallen behind on your monthly payments, missing due dates on your credit cards, mortgage, car loan, or medical bills. Maybe you've missed so many payments for so long that your creditors have hired debt collection agencies to persuade you to pay up.</p> <p>Having an account go into collections is devastating to your credit score. And the damage is long-lasting: Collections information remains on your credit reports for seven years.</p> <p>Paying off your debt will bring some relief and get the debt collectors to stop calling or writing. But it won't erase the hit to your credit. Here's what will happen.</p> <h2>You might not qualify for new loans or credit</h2> <p>The biggest negative of having an account fall into collections is that it gets reported on your credit reports. This means that every time you apply for new credit or a loan, the bank or financial institution lending you money or extending you credit sees that you have an unpaid debt.</p> <p>After you pay your debt, that collections account is not immediately removed from your credit reports. Instead, the account is updated to show &quot;paid collection.&quot; Your account will also no longer show a balance due. But the &quot;paid collection&quot; notice does remain on your credit report for the full seven years from your original delinquency date.</p> <p>Just as bad, all of the missed payments that you racked up before your creditor sent your account to collections remain on your credit reports for seven years, too. This combination can make you look toxic to many lenders and creditors.</p> <p>If lenders do approve new loan or credit applications during this time, they'll most likely charge you high interest rates because they view you as more likely to miss payments in the future. The higher interest rates offer them financial protection. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <h2>Your credit score will tumble</h2> <p>Having an account go to collections will also cause your credit score to plummet. How much your individual score will fall varies depending on where your score was before your account went to collections and how many missed payments you had.</p> <p>Even if you pay off your debt, the damage to your credit score will remain. Your score won't immediately shoot up just because you've paid off a past-due debt.</p> <p>The only way to improve a damaged credit score is by making your payments on time and paying off as much of your credit card debt as possible. This all takes time, though. There are no quick fixes &mdash; even a payoff &mdash; to credit score woes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-debt-payoffs-that-boost-your-credit-score-the-most?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 7 Debt Payoffs That Boost Your Credit Score the Most</a>)</p> <h2>Debt collectors will stop calling</h2> <p>Once your debt goes into collections, expect the calls from debt collectors to follow. These calls can be annoying, especially when they come week after week. One of the few immediate fixes that paying off your debt will do is stop these calls. Debt collectors have no reason to call if you no longer owe any money.</p> <p>If you're currently being harassed by debt collectors, you can tell them that you prefer to hear from them in writing or meet with an attorney to craft a cease-and-desist letter. Be aware, though, that just because debt collectors stop calling you, it doesn't mean that you don't owe your debt. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors can't threaten you, call you before 8 a.m., call you after 9 p.m., and can't call you multiple times per day. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-debt-collectors-dont-want-you-to-know?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things Debt Collectors Don't Want You to Know</a>)</p> <h2>A &quot;pay for delete&quot; might provide early relief</h2> <p>You might consider entering what is known as a &quot;pay for delete&quot; agreement with your creditors or a collections agency. Under such arrangements, you agree to pay your debt but only if your creditors or collections agency removes the notice of your unpaid debt from your credit report before the full seven-year time frame.</p> <p>This practice doesn't always work. Lenders don't like it, claiming it presents them with false information about a borrower. And many creditors or debt collectors won't even consider such an arrangement.</p> <p>Still, this doesn't mean that you can't try. Just don't expect much success when asking for &quot;pay for delete.&quot;</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHeres%2520What%2520Happens%2520to%2520an%2520Account%2520in%2520Collections%2520%25E2%2580%2594%2520Even%2520When%2520You%2520Pay%2520Up.jpg&amp;description=Heres%20What%20Happens%20to%20an%20Account%20in%20Collections%20%E2%80%94%20Even%20When%20You%20Pay%20Up"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Heres%20What%20Happens%20to%20an%20Account%20in%20Collections%20%E2%80%94%20Even%20When%20You%20Pay%20Up.jpg" alt="Here's What Happens to an Account in Collections &mdash; Even When You Pay Up" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-statute-of-limitations-on-debts">What You Need to Know About the Statute of Limitations on Debts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you">How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-a-creditor-sues">What to Do When a Creditor Sues</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score">How a Goodwill Letter Can Save Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance collections agencies credit report credit score debt collectors owing money paid off pay for delete unpaid debts Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:30:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 2114135 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get a Free Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-free-fraud-alert-on-your-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-a-free-fraud-alert-on-your-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fraud_business_concept_for_fraud_crime.jpg" alt="Fraud Business concept for Fraud Crime" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Placing a fraud alert on your credit report makes it harder for someone to steal your identity and open credit accounts in your name. If you have a fraud alert in place, businesses must confirm with you before issuing any new credit, typically by calling you at a provided phone number.</p> <p>Unlike credit monitoring or simply watching your statements for suspicious activity, placing a fraud alert on your credit report is a preventive measure. It cuts fraudulent activity off at the pass, before it can impact your credit. Fraud alerts provide less protection than a credit freeze, which prevents anyone from seeing your credit report without your permission, but are typically more convenient; fraud alerts are free and don't have to be lifted every time you apply for new credit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Freeze Your Credit</a>)</p> <p>The credit reporting companies provide three types of fraud alerts, each with different requirements to qualify and that stay on your credit report for different durations. Here are the types of fraud alerts you can request:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Initial fraud alert (90 days).</p> </li> <li> <p>Extended fraud alert (seven years).</p> </li> <li> <p>Active duty military alert (one year).</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you get a fraud alert from one credit reporting company, this company will share the fraud alert with the other credit reporting companies. Contact one of the three credit reporting companies listed below and provide the requested information to open a fraud alert:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="http://www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance/" target="_blank">Equifax</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.experian.com/fraudalert" target="_blank">Experian</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.transunion.com/fraud" target="_blank">TransUnion</a></p> </li> </ul> <h2>How to get an initial fraud alert (90 days)</h2> <p>If you are concerned that your personal information may have been stolen, but it has not yet been used to open a fraudulent account, you can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Here are some circumstances where you might want to get an initial fraud alert:</p> <ul> <li> <p>You have been notified that your personal information was involved in a data breach.</p> </li> <li> <p>Your purse, wallet, or financial documents have been lost or stolen.</p> </li> </ul> <p>An initial fraud alert is the easiest type of fraud alert to get. You will be asked to provide proof of your identity, such as a copy of your driver&rsquo;s license, and a copy of a utility bill or bank account statement.</p> <p>An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days and can be renewed for 90 days at a time. When you get an initial fraud alert, you are allowed to order one free credit report from all three credit reporting companies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-immediately-after-a-credit-card-breach?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's What to Do Immediately After a Credit Card Breach</a>)</p> <h2>How to get an extended fraud alert (seven years)</h2> <p>If your personal information has been used to open a fraudulent account, you may want to file an extended fraud alert. This means that your personal information is in the hands of criminals who are using it for identity theft. Here are some situations where you may want to request an extended fraud alert:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Your credit report shows a new account that you didn&rsquo;t open.</p> </li> <li> <p>You get a statement in the mail for a credit account you don&rsquo;t recognize.</p> </li> <li> <p>You get a tax refund or tax statement that is not consistent with your tax filings.</p> </li> </ul> <p>You will again be asked to provide proof of identity and a copy of a utility bill or bank statement, plus a police report or other identity theft report that provides specific details about how your identity was misused. Having your personal information exposed in a data breach is not sufficient to get an extended fraud alert. You need to show that someone has used your personal information for fraudulent purposes.</p> <p>An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years and you are allowed to order two free credit reports from all three credit reporting companies in the first year. In addition, your name is removed from prescreened credit card offers for five years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a>)</p> <h2>How to get an active duty military alert (one year)</h2> <p>If you are serving in the military and will be deployed, you can request an active duty military alert on your credit report. This alert makes it harder for identity thieves to open fraudulent accounts during a deployment when identity theft may go unnoticed for a long time. You will be asked to provide proof of your identity when requesting an active duty military alert.</p> <p>Active duty military alerts stay on your credit report for one year, and can be renewed if the period of deployment is longer. An active duty military alert also takes your name off the list for prescreened credit card offers for two years to provide further protection against identity theft.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-get-a-free-fraud-alert-on-your-credit-report&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Get%2520a%2520Free%2520Fraud%2520Alert%2520on%2520Your%2520Credit%2520Report.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Get%20a%20Free%20Fraud%20Alert%20on%20Your%20Credit%20Report"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Get%20a%20Free%20Fraud%20Alert%20on%20Your%20Credit%20Report.jpg" alt="How to Get a Free Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-free-fraud-alert-on-your-credit-report">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line">6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-manage-your-finances-before-during-and-after-a-military-deployment">12 Easy Ways to Manage Your Finances Before, During, and After a Military Deployment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit report data breach deployment fraud alert identity theft military prevention security Wed, 28 Feb 2018 09:31:08 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2110133 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's What a Balance Transfer Does to Your Credit http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-a-balance-transfer-does-to-your-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-what-a-balance-transfer-does-to-your-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_online_shopping_0.jpg" alt="Woman online shopping" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're struggling with debt and high interest rates keep eating up most of your monthly payments, a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer card</a> may be just what the doctor ordered. A balance transfer credit card will offer 0% interest for 6-21 months.</p> <p>But there are lots of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-must-know-before-transferring-credit-card-balances?ref=internal" target="_blank">things to consider before applying for a balance transfer card</a>. While some balance transfer cards charge a 3-5% upfront fee to transfer a balance, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">some cards don't charge any fees</a>. Either way, scoring 0% APR for a year or longer can help you along in your climb out of debt. Without interest to pay, your entire monthly payment will go directly to the principal of your balance and hack away at your debt that much faster. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/step-by-step-guide-to-doing-a-balance-transfer-on-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Step by Step Guide to Doing a Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <h2>What do balance transfers do to your credit?</h2> <p>While the scenario above might sound ideal, it's important to understand what happens to your credit, if anything, when you apply for a balance transfer card and actually transfer a balance.</p> <p>While opening a new credit card will ding your credit, fortunately, the news isn't all bad.</p> <p>Here are some of the &quot;mixed bag&quot; consequences you might see after you sign up for a balance transfer card and transfer a balance.</p> <h2>The negative</h2> <h3>You'll get a hard inquiry on your credit report</h3> <p>First things first. When you sign up for a new credit card, you will get a hard inquiry on your credit report. A hard inquiry is a notation on your report that says you applied for a new line of credit. While a hard inquiry doesn't spell doom for your credit, it's fairly common for your score to dip a few points with each hard inquiry.</p> <p>Fortunately, any impact you see will likely last only a few months, as &quot;new credit&quot; only makes up 10% of your FICO score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-things-with-the-biggest-impact-on-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Factors That Make Up Your FICO Score</a>)</p> <h3>Your average credit history will go down, potentially dinging your score</h3> <p>According to myFICO, the average length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score. With that in mind, it shouldn't surprise you that opening a new credit card will reduce the average length of your credit history and potentially lower your score. Since this factor only plays a small role in your FICO score, however, any change in your score should be short-lived.</p> <h2>The positive</h2> <p>Adding a new credit card increases your available credit limits, perhaps lowering your utilization in the process</p> <p>Your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization</a> makes up 30% of your FICO score, and is determined by comparing the amounts you owe to how much available credit you have. If you have a $10,000 credit limit on one credit card and you carry a $5,000 balance, your utilization is at 50%. If you open a new credit card and add $10,000 more available credit, your utilization would go down to 25% ($5,000 balance on $20,000 in available credit).</p> <p>Because the credit reporting agencies see lower utilization as a good thing, this is one area where signing up for a balance transfer card could actually <em>boost</em> your credit score. The rule of thumb is to keep your utilization ratio at 30% or less. Around 10% is ideal.</p> <h3>Paying off debt will ultimately improve your credit score</h3> <p>If you transfer your balance and immediately start paying down debt, you could also make a positive impact to your credit score. Not only will your utilization continue going down, but you'll get even more good marks for making monthly payments on time. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score, the largest component of your score &mdash; so this is a really important factor.</p> <h2>What to watch out for with a balance transfer</h2> <p>While opening a balance transfer card can impact your credit score in both positive and negative ways, you'll want to make sure to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-hidden-dangers-of-credit-card-balance-transfers?ref=internal" target="_blank">avoid certain pitfalls</a> as you move through the process. Ideally, you'll transfer a balance and pay off all your debt for good, but we all know that life often gets in the way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-comprehensive-checklist-for-a-successful-balance-transfer?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Your Comprehensive Checklist for a Successful Balance Transfer</a>)</p> <p>Before you open a new balance transfer card, here are some moves you should try to avoid.</p> <h3>Don't max out your old card again</h3> <p>Transferring old debts to a new balance transfer card may feel like a huge relief. Not only are you getting 0% APR on your balance as you pay it down, but you freed up open credit on your old credit cards in the process.</p> <p>It might be tempting to use your old credit card again, but you should avoid using credit altogether. Old habits die hard, and that's especially true if you have a penchant for overspending or using credit as a crutch.</p> <p>If you start using your old credit card for purchases and fail to pay off your balance each month, you could easily rack up even more debt that will accrue interest and make your debt payoff journey that much harder.</p> <p>Once you transfer credit card or loan balances to a balance transfer card with the goal of paying off debt, you'll be better off if you put your cards away and stick with cash or debit for a while instead.</p> <h3>Avoid the &quot;balance transfer game&quot;</h3> <p>Far too many people transfer a balance but never build up the discipline to pay down their debt. Then, when their 0% APR introductory offer is over, they're still left with a sizable balance they failed to pay off.</p> <p>Many times, the easiest answer is to just transfer the balance to new and different 0% APR cards over and over. The downside with this option is that you may never pay down debt with this strategy. Even worse, you'll likely be paying a balance transfer fee of 3-5% of your balance each time you transfer. While those fees might seem worth it, they will add up over time.</p> <h3>Keep your old account open &mdash; even if you're not using it</h3> <p>While you might feel inclined to cancel your old credit cards once you transfer balances to a new 0% APR card, your credit score will thank you if you keep old cards open. Remember that the average length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score. By keeping old cards open, you're effectively improving your credit score without any added work.</p> <h3>Take your debt payoff goals seriously</h3> <p>Last but not least, make sure you're treating debt payoff as a priority, and it will become one. While it's easy to transfer a balance and make only the minimum payment toward your debts, it will take you longer to reach your goals if you're not proactive.</p> <p>The best balance transfer strategy is one where you take your debts seriously. Scoring 0% APR for any length of time will help you pay down your balance faster, but only if you attack your debt with fervor.</p> <p>Don't be complacent; instead, use your balance transfer offer to attack your debts with all you have. With some hard work, patience, and dedication, you could put all your debts in the rearview mirror, once and for all.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fheres-what-a-balance-transfer-does-to-your-credit&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHere%2527s%2520What%2520a%2520Balance%2520Transfer%2520Does%2520to%2520Your%2520Credit.jpg&amp;description=Here's%20What%20a%20Balance%20Transfer%20Does%20to%20Your%20Credit"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Here%27s%20What%20a%20Balance%20Transfer%20Does%20to%20Your%20Credit.jpg" alt="Here's What a Balance Transfer Does to Your Credit" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-a-balance-transfer-does-to-your-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/re-age-your-credit-card-debt-to-protect-your-credit-score">Re-Age Your Credit Card Debt to Protect Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit">6 Credit Card Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-new-purchases-on-a-balance-transfer-card-can-cost-you">Why New Purchases On a Balance Transfer Card Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/step-by-step-guide-to-doing-a-balance-transfer-on-credit-cards">Step-by-Step Guide to Doing a Balance Transfer on Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards balance transfer balance transfer tips credit card tips credit report credit score Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:30:05 +0000 Holly Johnson 2104311 at http://www.wisebread.com How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_working_on_laptop_at_home.jpg" alt="Woman working on laptop at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit report plays an important role in determining whether you can get a loan, a credit card, insurance, an apartment, and even a job in some cases. It can also help determine how much interest you pay on a credit card or loan, and your insurance rate.</p> <p>So, if your credit report contains errors &mdash; say, your report lists a loan you didn't initiate, an incorrect balance, or a closed account still being reported as open &mdash; that can result in a higher interest rate, or an outright rejection. Fortunately, the <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act" target="_blank">Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)</a> gives consumers protections, including the ability to access their credit reports and dispute errors on them.</p> <p>Enacted in October 1970, just as small, local credit reporting agencies were consolidating and becoming a national presence, the FCRA imposes strict guidelines on consumer reporting agencies and the companies that feed them data. Understanding your rights under this law helps you stay on top of your credit and finances. Here's an overview of your rights under the FCRA and how to exercise them.</p> <h2>You have a right to see your credit reports</h2> <p>The act says that you're entitled to view your credit file from each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free once every 12 months. You easily can do so at <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. Just be sure you look at the web address closely if you type in the URL. Some copycat websites exist that may charge you for this service or may not be legitimate services.</p> <p>If you're requesting your credit file online, you'll need to answer some ID verification questions to prevent scammers from posing as you. The online verification process can be frustrating to some consumers. &quot;If they have thin credit files, a lot of those questions won't be pertinent,&quot; explains Linda Sherry, a spokesperson for Consumer Action, a national nonprofit that educates underrepresented consumers about their rights. If the website won't verify your identity and share your credit file, the alternative is to request information via the automated phone system or through the mail.</p> <p>In addition to your three annual credit reports, you're entitled to a free annual copy of any reports from other types of consumer reporting agencies. These include agencies such as LexisNexis, CoreLogic, and Certegy Check Services, which may collect noncredit information about you such as your rent payments, insurance claims, or check-writing history. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201604_cfpb_list-of-consumer-reporting-companies.pdf" target="_blank">list of more consumer reporting companies</a>. Each one has its own procedures for requesting your free report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-challenged-how-alternative-credit-data-can-help-those-with-little-or-no-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Alternative Credit Data Can Help Those With Little or No Credit</a>)</p> <h2>You have a right to ask for a credit score</h2> <p>The FCRA also gives you the right to request a credit score. Don't confuse that with a credit report. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same?ref=internal" target="_blank">Credit scores and credit reports</a> are not the same thing. The contents of your credit report determine your credit score, which can vary depending on which credit bureau supplies the information and which scoring model is used. In other words, you don't have just one score; you could have many different scores based on which factors are weighted more heavily.</p> <p>Most credit agencies and other businesses charge you for your credit score and it's legal for them to do so. Fortunately, an increasing number of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards provide free credit scores</a> so you may not need to pay for a credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-vs-fakes-are-you-getting-the-wrong-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">FICO vs. Fakes: Are You Getting the Wrong Credit Score?</a>)</p> <h2>Access to your credit report is limited</h2> <p>Credit reporting agencies may only share your credit record with people or institutions who have a legitimate reason to see it. Typically, that means someone who is considering your application for credit, insurance, housing, or a job, or who is a current creditor.</p> <p>Potential employers and landlords generally need your written consent to check your credit. If a reporting agency shares your credit file with someone who doesn't have a valid need, it could be in violation of your rights under the FCRA.</p> <h2>You have the right to dispute errors on your credit reports</h2> <p>Once you receive a credit report, review it line by line for errors. &quot;If you see something there that's labeled as negative that may be pulling down your score or your ability to access credit, look at it carefully and make sure it's accurate,&quot; says Sherry. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>).</p> <p>If you don't recognize a line of credit or other loan, that could be a sign of identity theft, but don't panic. It could also be that you don't recognize the name of a creditor you actually did have an account with. Maybe you took out a store credit card and the issuing bank's name is unfamiliar to you (you'll likely see the name of the issuing bank, not the retailer where you opened the card). Or perhaps your mortgage was sold to a new loan servicer.</p> <p>Google any unfamiliar creditors to check if the loan might be legitimate before you try to dispute it. If you still suspect identity theft, Sherry suggests filing a police report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a>)</p> <p>The FCRA also grants you the right to dispute any erroneous information you find with the credit reporting agency or agencies. They must investigate your dispute and respond (typically within 30 days) unless they deem your dispute frivolous.</p> <p>To dispute an item with a credit bureau, mail the credit bureau a letter and copies of documents that support your position (for instance, a notice stating a loan is paid in full if your credit record is still showing an outstanding balance). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has this <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report" target="_blank">sample letter</a> showing you how to dispute items on your credit report.</p> <p>The FTC recommends sending dispute letters by certified mail, &quot;return receipt requested.&quot; That way you have proof of what the credit reporting agency received and when. Also keep your own copies of your dispute letter and any supporting documents.</p> <p>If the credit bureau corrects an error, it must send you a new, free copy of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. That way you can check to see that all the mistakes have been corrected.</p> <p>You can also dispute inaccurate information with the company that provided the information to the credit bureau. For instance, if a bank claims you defaulted on a loan that you know you paid in full, also contact the bank so that you don't have to deal with erroneous collections actions later on.</p> <p>Starting in September of 2018, credit agencies will be required to send you a detailed report of their dispute investigation, providing you with contact information of the company or companies that supplied the data in question. The bureau will also have to explain what you can do if you're not happy with the investigation's findings.</p> <h2>Negative information can't stay on your credit record forever</h2> <p>It's helpful to understand the difference between negative and positive credit information. Late payments or accounts in default are negative factors on your credit report, while on-time payments and low balances reflect positively on your credit report. Positive items stay on the report up to 10 years after the date of the last activity on the account. But by law, credit bureaus cannot report negative information that is more than seven years old, except for some forms of bankruptcy, which may linger on your credit report for 10 years.</p> <p>Sherry says negative items are typically labeled as negative on your credit report. But take heart. Negative information that's accurate won't haunt you indefinitely. What's more, the weight that lenders give to negative items they see on your credit report decreases over time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <h2>You have a right to know if you've been rejected because of information on your credit report</h2> <p>When a creditor, employer, insurer, or landlord denies your application based on the contents of your credit report, it's called an adverse action. They must then notify you and tell you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency that provided the information.</p> <p>You're entitled to order a free copy of your credit report from the bureau that provided the information within 60 days of an adverse action. (This is in addition to the three free reports you're allowed every year.) However, it's wise to check your credit report in advance so you have time to correct errors <em>before</em> you get turned down for a mortgage or lose a job offer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-your-credit-card-application-was-denied-and-what-you-can-do-about-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied &mdash; And What You Can Do About It</a>)</p> <h2>You can take further action</h2> <p>If you've lost a dispute over your credit record and aren't happy with the result, you can file a complaint with the <a href="https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/" target="_blank">Consumer Financial Protection Bureau</a>.</p> <p>In other cases, you may be able to sue for damages in state or federal court.</p> <ul> <li> <p>You can sue a credit reporting agency (CRA) if they allow someone to view your credit report without a permissible purpose.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue a CRA if you tell them about an error on your report and they fail to fix it and as a result, you receive an adverse action. While the CRA is investigating items you dispute, they must indicate on your credit report that the item is in dispute.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue a credit information provider if they willfully provide incorrect information to the CRA.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue an employer or other party who views your credit report without disclosing it to you or securing permission from you.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue someone who pulls your credit report and doesn't dispose of your information appropriately, which results in your identity being stolen.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Lawyer Sonya Smith-Valentine says consumers sometimes get confused about their right to sue after they receive an adverse action. To be clear, you won't get awarded damages if the adverse action occurred <em>before </em>you notified the credit bureau. Many consumers don't realize this nuance, according to Smith-Valentine, who is president of <a href="https://www.financiallyfierce.com/" target="_blank">Financially Fierce, LLC</a> and a former managing attorney with Valentine Legal Group, which handled financial and consumer protection litigation.</p> <p>&quot;They tried to get a mortgage or a job and found out because of going through this that there was a mistake,&quot; she says. &quot;They want to be compensated for losing out on the job or the house, but [the FCRA] does not allow for harm that occurred before you contacted the credit bureau about the mistake. That's where a lot of people get tripped up.&quot;</p> <p>Your right to legal action doesn't kick in until after the creditor or credit reporting agency has been notified of an error and has had a chance to fix their mistake. All the more reason to be proactive about requesting your credit report and reviewing it for errors.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520the%2520Fair%2520Credit%2520Reporting%2520Act%2520Protects%2520You_0.jpg&amp;description=How%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Reporting%20Act%20Protects%20You"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Reporting%20Act%20Protects%20You_0.jpg" alt="How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/susan-johnston-taylor">Susan Johnston Taylor</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-we-really-need-help-in-getting-more-debt">Do we really need help with getting more debt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-your-spending-patterns-affect-your-credit">Can Your Spending Patterns Affect Your Credit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up">Here&#039;s What Happens to an Account in Collections — Even When You Pay Up</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score">How a Goodwill Letter Can Save Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit cards credit report credit score fair credit reporting act fcra Fri, 02 Feb 2018 09:30:05 +0000 Susan Johnston Taylor 2097520 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Freeze Your Credit http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-freeze-your-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_data_security.jpg" alt="Credit card data security" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cybersecurity experts called it a wake-up call: In September 2017, national credit bureau Equifax suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of over 145 million customers. The breach was a startling reminder that your personal information might not be as secure as you would like to believe. It also woke many consumers up to the concept of freezing their credit.</p> <p>Here's a quick guide on how credit freezes work, how you can apply one yourself, and what you have to do to thaw your credit freeze. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>What a credit freeze does</h2> <p>A credit freeze prevents lenders or financial institutions from accessing your credit report. It can also stop an identity thief from opening an account or getting credit in your name, even if they have accessed your personal information through a security breach like the one that hit Equifax in September.</p> <p>Even if Equifax reports that you weren&rsquo;t impacted by the breach (which you can check at <a href="https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/" target="_blank">EquifaxSeurity2017</a>), you might still consider a credit freeze. Doing this stops any of your personal and financial information from being reported to lenders and creditors. This is important; if a thief tries to use this information to apply for a new credit card or loan in your name, the application would automatically be rejected. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>How to apply a freeze</h2> <p>Even though Equifax suffered the breach, freezing your credit with Equifax alone is not enough. To completely protect your personal information, you must freeze your credit with all three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.</p> <p>The quickest way to do this is by logging onto the security freeze pages maintained by each bureau:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp" target="_blank">TransUnion</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp" target="_blank">Equifax</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze" target="_blank">Experian</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>You can also call each of the bureaus by phone to request a credit freeze. You can reach Equifax at 1-800-685-1111, TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872, and Experian at 1-888-397-3742.</p> <h2>What you need for a freeze</h2> <p>First, you'll usually have to pay to file a credit freeze. That fee varies depending on where you live. Fees typically range from $3 to $10, but in many states, this fee is waived if you can prove with an investigative or incident report that you already have been the victim of identity theft.</p> <p>Depending on where you live, you'll have to provide a list of documents that the credit bureaus can use to verify your identity. For instance, in California, you must provide your full name, including your middle initial and any suffixes such as &quot;junior&quot; or &quot;senior.&quot; You must also provide your Social Security number; complete addresses for the last two years; birth date; copy of a government-issued ID card such as a driver's license or state ID card; and one copy of a utility bill, bank statement, insurance statement, or other form of proof of identity.</p> <p>The credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming that your freeze is in place. It will remain in place until you ask to remove it.</p> <h2>Unfreezing</h2> <p>You probably don&rsquo;t want your credit freeze to remain in place forever. If you need to apply for a mortgage or auto loan, for instance, you&rsquo;ll want lenders to be able to access your credit. Fortunately, each credit bureau will send you your own personal identification number &mdash; or PIN &mdash; that you can use to unfreeze and refreeze your credit.</p> <p>If you are applying for a car loan, for instance, you can use your three PINs to temporarily unfreeze your credit. Your auto lender can then check your credit. Once your loan is granted, you can refreeze your credit with your PIN.</p> <p>Unfreezing your credit can range from free to $12. You can unfreeze your credit for one specific creditor or for a set period of time.</p> <p>Your credit freeze will remain in effect in most states until you request its removal. But in the states of Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and South Dakota, credit freezes are automatically removed after seven years. You can freeze your credit longer in these states, but you&rsquo;ll have to remember to renew the freeze on your own.</p> <h2>The fraud alert alternative</h2> <p>A credit freeze is labor-intensive. It can also slow your ability to qualify for new loans or credit cards. As an alternative, you could consider signing up for fraud alerts from all three bureaus.</p> <p>In a fraud alert, a credit-reporting agency will put a warning on your credit reports. This tells lenders that they need to carefully verify the identity of anyone trying to open an account in a consumer&rsquo;s name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-freeze-your-credit&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Freeze%2520Your%2520Credit.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Freeze%20Your%20Credit"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Freeze%20Your%20Credit.jpg" alt="How to Freeze Your Credit" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance breach credit freeze credit report Equifax Experian fraud identity theft security TransUnion Fri, 15 Dec 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Dan Rafter 2071390 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/worried_young_woman_counting_bills.jpg" alt="Worried young woman counting bills" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Facing debt can be stressful and overwhelming. But it's important to remember that no matter how much you might feel that you're in over your head, debt is a hole you can climb out of. You can absolutely do this. Here are the first steps you need to take.</p> <h2>1. Figure out how much you owe</h2> <p>The first step can be the most painful. It's time to get an overview of your debt, which means you need to add up everything you owe and take a good look at your total. That, my friends, can be a difficult moment. But that difficult moment will also provide you with the clarity you need to start taking back power over your financial future.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Gather your financial statements or log in to the online portal for each account you owe on: your credit cards, mortgage, student loan, car loan, lines of credit, home equity loan, etc. Create a simple spreadsheet with four columns: one to identify each debt (&quot;Student Loan&quot;), one for the amount owed, one for the minimum monthly payment, and one for the interest rate. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report" target="_blank">Pull your credit report</a> to search for outstanding debts, and compare the information against what you have in your own records.<strong> </strong></p> <h2>2. Sort and prioritize the debt list</h2> <p>Now it's time to start sorting out your spreadsheet entries so you can come up with the best possible plan to get out of debt.</p> <p>You might think that the most important debt to pay off is the biggest one; however, it's often a good idea to identify the debt with the highest interest rate and knock that out first. This is known as the avalanche method of debt repayment. Higher interest rates lead to faster debt accumulation and result in you paying a higher amount over the course of your debt repayment. The faster you can get rid of high-interest debts, the better.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Sort your spreadsheet by the fourth column, the one for the interest rate. You might see anything from a 4 percent interest rate (for example, on a student loan) to a whopping 22 percent interest rate on, say, a credit card. You may owe more principal on your student loan, but relatively speaking, you're wasting more in interest every month on that credit card. The credit card is therefore the higher priority for complete repayment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Add up your minimum payments</h2> <p>You don't get to stop making payments on the lower-interest debts, even though they're not the highest priority. Instead, you need to continue making the minimum monthly payments on all lower-interest debts while making bigger payments on your debt with the highest interest rate. Once you knock one high-interest debt out completely, you prioritize the debt with the next-highest interest rate and continue paying minimums on everything else.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Add up the monthly minimum payments for <em>all</em> the debts on your list, including the highest-interest debt. This is the total, bare minimum debt repayment amount that needs to fit into your current budget. This can be a nerve wracking step, especially if you don't have enough income to comfortably afford that total monthly minimum amount. You may need to take steps to cut expenses elsewhere, or bring in sources of additional income.<strong> </strong></p> <h2>4. Determine your needed overage payment</h2> <p>Now it's time to calculate the payment you need to get that highest-interest debt paid off as quickly as possible. If you keep making only the minimum payment on it, you'll keep accumulating interest charges and it will take much longer to pay it off. Instead, think of a target timeline (maybe six months or a year) for paying off the highest-interest debt, and calculate an ideal amount you can pay above the minimum payment to achieve that goal.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Use an online <a href="https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">credit card payoff calculator</a>. Enter the information for your highest-interest debt: total amount owed, interest rate, and the minimum payment. You'll see how long it will take to pay off the debt if you only make the minimum payments. Now, instead of minimum payments, enter how many months you'd like to have it paid off in. The result will show you the monthly amount you need to pay in order to clear the debt within your target timeline.</p> <h2>5. Give yourself the best possible conditions</h2> <p>You have the essential numbers that you need. They may be painful, but knowledge is power. The next step is to find ways to reduce the financial impact that these debts have while you repay them. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tricks-to-consolidating-your-debt-and-saving-money" target="_blank">Debt consolidation</a> may be the best way to do this; however, you may also be able to lower your interest rates and negotiate better payment plans on individual debts, as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>This takes some time, depending on the number of debts you have. Call each creditor and ask how you can reduce your interest rate. You may be able to refinance a home mortgage or car loan for a lower rate, for example. If you have a good repayment history, ask credit card companies to consider your reliable record and give you a better interest rate. If you're able to take out a low-interest loan, such as a line of credit or home equity loan with your bank, you may be able to use it to pay off your high-interest debt and consolidate at least some of your debts into a single, lower-interest loan.</p> <h2>6. Protect your credit and your finances</h2> <p>If you're late on a payment, being proactive can save you from accumulating fees and damaging your credit score. For example, if you call the credit card company and explain that you can't make the full minimum payment on time, they may work with you to split the payment in half for the month so you can avoid late fees. Many times, a phone call and a courteous conversation can reduce or remove a fee, extend a deadline, or result in a more manageable payment plan.</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>Set up alerts or schedule automatic minimum monthly payments so you don't miss due dates. If you know you won't have the money on time for a particular payment, call in advance to negotiate an extended deadline or set up a split payment plan. Additionally, you may want to keep an eye on changes in your credit report.</p> <h2>7. Protect your financial future</h2> <p>As difficult as it seems to save money when you're trying to pay down debt, it's so important. You need an emergency fund for those unpredictable expenses that will happen. Building an emergency fund will keep you from having to add to your debt when the car breaks down or you don't get that bonus you were counting on. In other words, it's the essential tool that keeps you climbing out of that debt pit, even when life happens. Without it, one setback can set off a downward spiral deeper into debt. You don't want that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h3>How to do it</h3> <p>If your budget is absolutely maxed out, you can pick up a side hustle or employ another short-term strategy &mdash; such as selling off a few high-value items, or taking on seasonal work &mdash; to quickly build up an emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Easy%2520First%2520Steps%2520to%2520Paying%2520Off%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=7%20Easy%20First%20Steps%20to%20Paying%20Off%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Easy%20First%20Steps%20to%20Paying%20Off%20Debt.jpg" alt="7 Easy First Steps to Paying Off Debt" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-first-steps-to-paying-off-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-paying-off-credit-card-debt-the-wrong-way">Are You Paying Off Credit Card Debt the Wrong Way?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-do-these-5-things-when-youre-in-debt">Never Do These 5 Things When You&#039;re in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-being-debt-free-can-cost-you">7 Ways Being Debt Free Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management avalanche method budgeting credit report credit score emergency funds interest rates minimum payments negotiating principal repayment Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:00:05 +0000 Annie Mueller 2001479 at http://www.wisebread.com How a Goodwill Letter Can Save Your Credit Score http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business_woman_working.jpg" alt="Business woman working" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial mistakes can cause hefty damage to your credit score. If you pay your credit card bill more than 30 days late, for example, your score can tumble by 100 points. If you have a foreclosure on your home, your score can fall by 150 points or more, depending on how long ago your lender filed for foreclosure. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <p>These mistakes stay on your three credit reports &mdash; one each maintained by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; for seven to 10 years.</p> <p>There may be some hope of removing those financial mistakes sooner, however. Consumers have had some success requesting that banks, lenders, and other creditors remove their late or missed payments from their credit reports early by writing what is known as a <em>goodwill letter</em> &mdash; letters sent to creditors outlining the reasons for their missed payments, explaining why they'll never miss a payment again, and requesting that these creditors remove the financial mistake from their credit reports.</p> <p>These letters offer no guarantee of success. Some creditors will simply respond that they are legally required to report the financial mistake for the set period of time. Others won't respond at all.</p> <p>But if there's even a slim chance that a goodwill letter will work, why not try it?</p> <h2>When goodwill letters do the most good</h2> <p>The most common financial mistake that ends up on credit reports &mdash; and the one that goodwill letters have the best chance of erasing &mdash; are late payments. It's important to realize, though, that late payments are only officially late for credit purposes when they are more than 30 days past due.</p> <p>Missed payments stay on your credit reports for seven years. How much these payments lower your FICO score varies depending on how high your score was to begin with and several other factors. But you can expect an immediate drop of about 100 points &mdash; a big hit, to be sure.</p> <p>As time passes and your late or missed payment gets older, the impact it has on your score will lessen. But it will remain on your reports for lenders to see until seven years has passed. That's where a goodwill letter comes in.</p> <h2>What a goodwill letter should say</h2> <p>A goodwill letter should say why you missed a payment. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you were hit with a serious illness or injury. Maybe you were embroiled in a long divorce or legal battle. Whatever the reason, explain it clearly in your goodwill letter.</p> <p>The letter should also state that you won't pay late or miss a payment again. Your letter will work better if you don't have any other missed or late payments in your history, or additional financial blemishes on your report. Creditors probably will ignore it if your credit reports are filled with missed payments.</p> <p>Finally, close your letter with a request that the creditor remove your one financial mistake from your reports.</p> <p>There is a good chance that creditors will respond in the negative, if they even respond at all. Some creditors prefer to follow that seven-year guideline. But if you're lucky, and your case is strong enough, a well-written goodwill letter might work.</p> <p>When you're ready to send one, mail it to the address listed on your creditor's paperwork.</p> <h2>A goodwill letter example</h2> <p>Here is an example of a goodwill letter that could potentially help you in removing a missed credit card payment from your credit reports:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">(<em>Your name</em>)<br /> (<em>Your address</em>)<br /> (<em>Your credit card account number</em>)</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">(<em>date</em>)</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">To Whom It May Concern:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">I hope you are well. I'm writing because after checking my credit reports, I discovered that you have reported a late payment on (<em>date</em>) for my account, number (<em>list your account number here</em>), to the credit bureaus. I am writing today to request that you remove this late payment from my reports.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">As you can see from my past financial history, I pay my bills on time and manage my credit well. This late payment was a one-time event, the result of a short-term job loss. (<em>Insert whatever actually caused you to miss your payment here.</em>) Because this is an isolated incident, and because my financial challenges are behind me, I would appreciate this help on your part.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">My history of on-time payments since this late payment is proof that I take my financial obligations seriously. Please consider this history in making your decision.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">If you have any questions, or if you would like to speak with me in more detail, please call me at (<em>your phone number here</em>) or send me an email at (<em>your email address here</em>).</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Sincerely, <br /> (<em>Your name here</em>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what">You Missed a Student Loan Payment. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-credit-limit-was-lowered">This Is Why Your Credit Limit Was Lowered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit bureaus credit report credit score Creditors favors forgiveness goodwill letter late payments lenders Mon, 12 Jun 2017 08:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1961857 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Fix Your Finances After Missing a Payment http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/portrait_of_an_attractive_woman_at_table_grabbing_her_head.jpg" alt="Portrait of an attractive woman at table grabbing her head" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No matter how much you plan ahead with your finances, sometimes you'll mess up a payment. Whether you miss a due date or bounce a check, take a deep breath. It's not as bad as you think.</p> <p>Let's review what you can expect to happen, how to fix the problem, and how you can make sure this doesn't happen again.</p> <h2>Missing a credit card payment</h2> <p>According to research from the Urban Institute, one in every 20 Americans is at least 30 days behind on a credit card payment or other nonmortgage type of debt. But you don't have to be that late to suffer consequences. Simply forgetting about a due date by a few days can land you in trouble.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>Miss a credit card payment by as little as one day and you can be hit with a penalty fee. Late fees are capped by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at $27 for the first time you miss a due date; $38 for subsequent late payments within a six-month period. Those caps are adjusted for inflation every year.</p> <p>But fees aren't the only penalty for late credit card payments. Most credit card issuers will also hike up your APR, typically to between 20 percent and 35 percent. The Credit Card Act of 2009 requires the issuer to send you a notice saying why it is increasing your rate 45 days in advance of the rate hike, and the issuer can only apply the penalty rate to purchases made 14 days after the notice was sent. However, if you don't make at least the minimum payment within 60 days of the due date, the penalty APR can be applied to your <em>existing</em> balance as well as any future transactions. There is a chance to reverse that, though, if you make the next six payments on time.</p> <p>One silver lining exists for late payers: If your payment is less than 30 days past due, it will not be reported late to the credit bureaus.</p> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>If you make at least your minimum payment within 48 hours past the due date, your credit card company may credit you back any late payment fees.</p> <p>Many credit card companies offer a 24-hour or after-hours customer service line to accept late payments, but you will most likely need the routing and account numbers of your bank account to make the payment immediately. If that's not an option, then make the payment through the credit card's website. A last resort is to use the mailing address for courier deliveries provided on your credit card statement, if available, and overnight a check to the card issuer.</p> <p>Once you make your payment, request your credit card company waive or credit back your late payment fee and keep your standard APR (don't forget about that second item!). If approved, most credits may take up to two business days to be reflected in your balance.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <p>Your best bet is to set up automatic, recurring payments by no later than the bill's monthly due date. You can do this through your online banking platform, but payments made that way can take longer and are not as flexible as payments made through the credit card website. When you set up autopay with the card issuer, you can choose whether you want to pay the balance in full every month, make the minimum payment, or pay some other amount.</p> <p>If your current due date is causing you problems, call your credit card company and request a new date that's a better match with the timing of your incoming cash flow. Just be aware that this change can take two to three business cycles to take effect. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <h2>Missing a utility payment</h2> <p>Forgetting to pay the electric, gas, or water bill can threaten your service and may even harm your credit score.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>Utility companies don't typically report payments directly to the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). But there's a wrinkle: If the companies send unpaid bills to collection agencies, then those agencies will <em>definitely</em> report the debts to the credit bureaus. How badly a debt in collections will hurt your credit score depends on how high your credit score is when the collections agency reports it. If you have a higher credit score, you'll lose more points.</p> <p>Most utility companies won't turn off your service for one late payment within 30 days, but they may do so after several missed payments. Consult your service agreement for applicable late payment fines. Before a utility company can shut down your service, it must have attempted to reach you and provided a final termination notice several days (or even weeks, in some states) in advance.</p> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>Don't ignore the bill. Pay it in full right away, or at least ask if your service provider will agree to a payment plan. As long as you're making agreed minimum payments, you'll continue to have access to the service and prevent the company from turning your debt over to a collector. Utility companies are usually willing to work with you to arrive at a solution. Taking initiative will prevent further headaches (and fees!) and keep the utility company from demanding a security deposit from you to continue service.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <p>Set up a recurring, automatic payment either directly with your utility company or through your financial institution. It's best to pay with a bank account rather than a credit card because many utility companies charge a convenience fee for processing credit cards, if they allow it at all.</p> <p>When using your bank's bill payment service, check the processing time for payments. Some institutions mail out physical checks to your payees, so you may have to account for mailing times.</p> <p>Don't have access to either option? Then consider a third-party bill payment service, such as <a href="http://www.mint.com" target="_blank">Mint</a>, <a href="http://paytrust.quicken.com" target="_blank">PayTrust</a>, or <a href="http://www.billgo.com/" target="_blank">BillGO</a>.</p> <p>Last but not least, consider finding ways to limit your water and electricity use to give your budget some breathing room. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso" target="_blank">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <h2>Bouncing a check</h2> <p>You wrote a check thinking you could cover it because a deposit you'd been waiting on had finally cleared your bank account, but it didn't. Now, your bank has sent you a notice that your check bounced.</p> <h3>What you can expect</h3> <p>First, let's talk about the actual payment: Your payee may or may not receive the money. Some banks won't process the payment at all. Other banks may ding your payee with an annoying fee. If the recipient of the check is a friend or family member, you may just get an earful. If it's a company or service provider, then you may have to pay them a fee.</p> <p>On top of that, your bank will charge you a fee. Depending on your type of account, you can expect one of these fees to kick in:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Overdraft fee: When your checking account comes with overdraft privilege, the charge is covered and your bank charges you an overdraft fee (average $32.13 in Q4 2016).</p> </li> <li> <p>Insufficient funds fee: When your checking account lacks overdraft protection, your check won't clear and your bank charges you an insufficient (or nonsufficient) funds fee (average $31.86 in Q4 2016).</p> </li> </ul> <h3>How to fix it</h3> <p>As soon as you notice the problem, make a deposit into your account to cover the amount of the bounced check and the applicable fee. If you have money in another account with the same bank, the fastest way to do this is by logging on to your bank's website or app and doing a transfer. If you don't have another account with the same bank, then head to your bank to make a cash deposit (a check deposit will take longer to clear).</p> <p>After making the deposit, contact your financial institution to request a one-time waiver of the overdraft or insufficient funds fee. Most banks are willing to credit back one of these charges to clients in good standing. Keep in mind, however, that they're under no obligation to do so.</p> <h3>How to prevent it</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Know the processing time for different types of deposits coming into your bank account. For example, some mobile check deposits can take up to three business days before they clear and the funds are available in your account.</p> </li> <li> <p>Keep track of your checks. Some checks, such as tax payment checks, are usually cashed after several days or even weeks. Forgetting about these may give you the illusion that you have a higher account balance than the one you actually have.</p> </li> <li> <p>Set up an emergency fund in a separate account with the same bank. That way you'll be able to tap into that account to cover that bad check right away.</p> </li> <li> <p>Sign up for mobile banking. This enables you to check and make transactions without stepping foot in a brick-and-mortar branch.</p> </li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-your-finances-after-missing-a-payment">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-credit-repair-mistakes-that-will-cost-you">8 Credit Repair Mistakes That Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-credit-limit-was-lowered">This Is Why Your Credit Limit Was Lowered</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bills bounced checks collections credit report fees late payments missed payments past due penalties Tue, 30 May 2017 08:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1955480 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Have a Tax Lien On Your House http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-523154492_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning what to do with a tax lien on her house" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The government doesn't play around with taxpayers who skip out on what they owe. When you ignore your federal, state, or property tax bills &mdash; and you don't make any attempts to pay the balance &mdash; the government can place a tax lien on your house.</p> <p>A tax lien is a legal claim on property for failure to pay taxes owed. It gives the tax authority (also known as the lienholder) first rights to your property over other creditors.</p> <p>A lien differs from a levy in that the government doesn't seize your house or other property. Keep in mind that a lien can become a levy at some point if you never pay your taxes or never make arrangements to satisfy the debt. The tax authority decides when to impose a levy. You'll receive written notice of the levy at least 30 days before it takes place.</p> <p>A lien is a serious matter because it can negatively affect your credit. Unpaid tax liens can remain on credit reports indefinitely, whereas paid tax liens can remain for up to seven years from the date filed.</p> <p>Of course, the best way to handle a tax lien is to avoid one in the first place. But if the damage is done, here's how to put this ugly mark behind you.</p> <h2>1. Dispute a filing error</h2> <p>It's not uncommon for mistakes to appear on credit reports. In fact, according to recent data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 76 percent of the 185,700 credit-reporting complaints they've received since 2011 are related to errors &mdash; including state or federal tax liens that mistakenly appeared on credit reports.</p> <p>If you check your credit report and find a lien reported in error, don't ignore this mistake. This can lower your credit score. Contact the IRS or your state tax office to file a dispute. If a review of your account proves that you don't owe the debt, the government withdraws the tax lien (as if it never happened). A withdrawal also removes the lien from your credit report.</p> <p>Thankfully, the number of tax liens reported in error should be dropping. In response to criticisms by the CFPB, the top consumer reporting agencies &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; issued a new provision. As of July 1, 2017, tax lien and civil judgment data will <a href="http://www.nasdaq.com/article/clearing-misconceptions-about-new-consumer-data-laws-cm772651" target="_blank">only be included on credit reports</a> if they contain three pieces of information: the person's name, address, and Social Security number or date of birth. This information must be current according to court records as of the last 90 days.</p> <p>The association representing the credit bureaus expects half of the consumers with tax liens on their credit reports will see them removed.</p> <h2>2. Pay your tax bill in full</h2> <p>Parting with your hard-earned money isn't easy, but paying your tax bill in full is one of the fastest ways to get the government off your back and move on with your life.</p> <p>Typically, the government releases tax liens within 30 days of full payment of an outstanding debt (including penalties and interest). A release removes the lien from the property.</p> <p>Unfortunately, paid tax liens can still remain on your credit report for up to seven years. However, under the IRS's Fresh Start Program, after paying your balance in full, you can submit a request to have a federal tax lien withdrawn from your credit report before the seven-year mark. Some states also give taxpayers the option of requesting an early withdrawal of a state tax lien from their credit report once they've paid their debt in full.</p> <h2>3. Set up an installment plan</h2> <p>If you can't pay what you owe in full, set up an installment plan with the government. This lets you pay off your tax debt over time. The tax authority releases the lien once you've set up a payment plan.</p> <p>In the case of federal debt, the IRS allows individual taxpayers to set up monthly direct debit payments on debt amounts up to $50,000 for up to six years. Go to IRS.gov and apply for installment payments through the online payment system. If you owe more than $50,000, or require longer repayment terms, request installment payments by completing and mailing Collection Information Statement Form 433-A or Form 433-F.</p> <p>Taxpayers who owe less than $25,000 and who've made at least three consecutive direct debit installment payments also can request to have the lien withdrawn from their credit report. However, defaulting on an installment agreement can trigger a new tax lien.</p> <p>Some states also allow installment plans to repay a tax debt, though the criteria for these plans varies by state.</p> <h2>4. Sell the property</h2> <p>If you don't have money to pay an outstanding tax debt in full, and you can't afford an installment plan, another option is selling the property and satisfying the debt with proceeds from the sale. However, this method only works if the sale price is high enough to pay off the lien and any existing mortgages on the property. If the sale won't generate enough proceeds to pay off attached liens, you can't sell the property. If you're able to sell the home, the company handling your escrow account forwards payment to the lienholder after closing.</p> <p>Keep in mind that you'll need to contact the lienholder before closing to request a lien release. In the case of federal taxes, this involves requesting a Certificate of Discharge from the IRS. If the request is approved, this document releases (or removes) the lien from the asset being sold (though it stays in place in every other way), and allows the property to transfer to the new owner lien-free.</p> <h2>5. Refinance the property</h2> <p>Then again, maybe you don't want to sell your home. There's also the option of refinancing and borrowing cash from your home equity to satisfy a state or federal tax lien on the property. Since refinancing replaces an existing mortgage with a new loan, mortgage lenders will not approve your loan application unless they have first lien position on the title. This puts the lender in priority position to benefit from liquidation if the property goes into default. For this to happen, you'll have to request a lien subordination from the IRS or your state tax office before applying for the loan.</p> <p>Subordination doesn't eliminate a tax lien &mdash; rather, the lien becomes secondary to a lender's lien on the property. And with the lender's security interest first, you're more likely to acquire a new mortgage.</p> <p>Be aware that your ability to refinance depends on how the tax lien impacted your credit. A tax lien will reduce your credit score, and to refinance, you'll have to meet a lender's income and credit score requirements. You need a minimum credit score of 620 for a conventional loan and a minimum credit score between 500 and 580 for an FHA loan.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-tax-lien-on-your-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-financially-fit-for-homebuying-season">6 Ways to Get Financially Fit for Homebuying Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-withholding-the-right-amount-of-taxes-from-your-paycheck">Are You Withholding the Right Amount of Taxes from Your Paycheck?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Taxes credit report credit score federal filing errors government IRS payment plans property refinancing state tax bills tax liens taxpayers Mon, 17 Apr 2017 08:30:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1928274 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Credit Card Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Credit http://www.wisebread.com/6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-585795908.jpg" alt="Woman learning credit card mistakes that could be ruining her credit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's difficult to overstate how important your credit record and credit score are. Not only will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-a-good-credit-score-range?ref=internal" target="_blank">good credit</a> enable you be approved for the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">most attractive credit cards</a>, it's vital for receiving the lowest rates on a car loan, a mortgage, and on home and auto insurance premiums. It can even make the difference in whether you get the apartment or job you want, since both landlords and employers often run credit checks on applicants. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a>)</p> <p>Unfortunately, many credit card users are making big mistakes that are ruining their credit. Since it can take years for some of the most negative items to drop off your credit report, it's crucial to avoid making these mistakes in the first place. Here are six credit card mistakes that could be ruining your credit.</p> <h2>1. Paying Late<strong> </strong></h2> <p>The most important factor in your FICO score &mdash; the most popular credit score lenders use to evaluate you &mdash; is your payment history. It makes up 35% of your score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-things-with-the-biggest-impact-on-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things with the Biggest Impact on Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>If you are using a credit card, your first priority should be to <em>always </em>pay your credit card bill on time. While one bill paid a few days late won't cause lasting damage to your credit score, paying late frequently will hurt more. On top of that you'll usually be subject to late fees.</p> <p>Thankfully, there are many tools to help you pay on time. Most credit card issuers offer automatic payments to ensure that you never pay late. You can also request a specific payment due date so you can arrange all your bills to be due at the same time each month. That way you can sit down and pay bills just once a month rather than keeping track of various bills as they come in. Additionally, you can sign up for payment reminders by email or text.</p> <h2>2. Paying Less Than the Minimum<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Paying just the minimum payment on your credit cards will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil?ref=internal" target="_blank">hurt you financially</a>, but paying below that is even worse &mdash; much worse.</p> <p>To avoid being considered delinquent on a credit card account, you not only have to make your payments on time, but the payments must be <em>at least </em>the minimum amount required, which is stated on your bill. If your payment is below the minimum, it doesn't matter if it was on time. The payment will still be considered late, causing a hit to your credit score.</p> <h2>3. Failing to Pay<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Miss a payment for at least 60 days and your creditors start wondering if you're going to pay at all. That's why you'll start to see more serious consequences than a single lapse of a few days would cause. After two missed billing cycles an issuer can impose a high <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-didn-t-understand-about-credit-card-interest-grace-periods-and-penalty-aprs?ref=internal" target="_blank">penalty interest rate</a> on the account, on top of late fees. And while those charges alone are costly, your credit will also start to really suffer.</p> <p>A payment that's 90 days overdue is extremely damaging to your credit score and takes seven years to fall off your credit record. At 120 days late, your debt will likely be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-happens-when-your-credit-card-debt-is-charged-off?ref=internal" target="_blank">charged off</a> and sold to collectors, which harms your credit score even more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-on-time?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do If You Can't Pay Your Bills on Time</a>)</p> <p>If you are unable to pay your credit card bill for any reason, you should reach out to your card issuer to let them know. You may be able to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">negotiate a debt repayment plan</a>.</p> <h2>4. Having High Balances<strong> </strong></h2> <p>After payment history, the second most important factor in your credit score is how much you owe. It accounts for 30% of your FICO score. Maxing out your credit cards, or coming close to it, hurts your credit score.</p> <p>Ideally you want your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization ratio</a> &mdash; the amount of debt you have divided by your total available credit &mdash; to be below 30%. The lower you can get it, the better off your credit score will be. The best way to lower it is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off your balances quickly</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off" target="_blank">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a>)</p> <h2>5. Not Having Enough Credit Cards<strong> </strong></h2> <p>The other way to lower your credit utilization ratio is to increase the amount of available credit you have. If you have just one or two credit cards, and you are using up most of the credit lines available on them, you may benefit from having another card &mdash; but only if you can resist the temptation to ring up a bunch more debt on it. Remember, raising your credit line only to add more debt will drop your credit score.</p> <p>Pick a basic, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">no-annual-fee card</a> and then use it once a month or so for a small purchase, such as a tank of gas, that you can pay off immediately. That will keep the account active without putting you in debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-these-7-questions-to-help-choose-the-perfect-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Questions to Ask to Help Choose the Perfect Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>Similarly, you could request a credit line increase for the accounts you already have. If you've been paying on time, chances are you can get a credit limit increase by simply calling your issuer and asking.</p> <p>Just be aware that credit card issuers will pull your credit report before approving you for a new credit card, and usually for a credit line increase, too. This will result in a hard pull on your credit, which will ding your credit score. Even a few points could be important if you're about to apply for a mortgage, so wait to ask for new credit until after you've done that.</p> <h2>6. Canceling Your Oldest Credit Cards<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Closing any credit card will raise your credit utilization ratio, but closing your oldest accounts harms a different part of your credit score. Your length of credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO score. While an account in good standing will remain on your credit report for about 10 years after you've closed it, it will eventually be removed and hurt your score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-okay-to-close-a-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times It's Okay to Close a Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>If you don't need to use a card, it may be better to put the card in a secure location, but keep the account open. If the account has an annual fee, you can ask to have the fee waived, or the account changed to a different card without the annual fee.</p> <p>Don't let these credit card mistakes ruin your credit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%20Credit%20Card%20Mistakes%20That%20Could%20Be%20Ruining%20Your%20Credit_0.jpg&amp;description=6%20Credit%20Card%20Mistakes%20That%20Could%20Be%20Ruining%20Your%20Credit" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Credit%20Card%20Mistakes%20That%20Could%20Be%20Ruining%20Your%20Credit_0.jpg" alt="6 Credit Card Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Credit" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/need-a-game-to-learn-to-manage-your-credit">Need a game to learn to manage your credit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-800-credit-score">5 Ways Life Is Amazing With an 800 Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-a-good-credit-score-range">What Is a Good Credit Score and Why Is It Important?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards budgets credit credit rating credit report credit score money mistakes Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:31:29 +0000 Jason Steele 1892848 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful For http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_piggy_bank_72948583.jpg" alt="Family making money moves they&#039;ll always be thankful for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The air is crisp and the time for family, friends, and fun is upon us! But are you ready for the tons of holiday spending and planning ahead for 2017? Read up on these seven money moves you will always be thankful for/</p> <h2>1. Monitoring Your Credit</h2> <p>Whether you've already got a mortgage, cars, and all the trimmings, or you're a young adult with the hopes of buying an asset like a house someday, you'll need to maintain good credit. Everyone gets one <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report">free credit report</a> each year, and some credit card companies even give you regular updates on your credit score. I know, we love to remind you of this! But when you're meeting with the realtor and they don't laugh at your borrowing limit, you'll be saying thanks.</p> <h2>2. Negotiating Your Insurance</h2> <p>When shopping around for insurance, it's easy to settle for the first average quote you receive and end it. It's boring! But it really is best to gather several quotes to gain some leverage. If there's a company you prefer, show them the cheaper quote and get them to lower theirs. Also, try to ask yourself which types of insurance you actually need. When you've saved hundreds of dollars per year in insurance costs, it'll be easier to agree to host Thanksgiving at your place next time.</p> <h2>3. Stowing Cash Into a Mutual Fund or ETF</h2> <p>How many ways should you save money? Even if you already have some mutual funds in your 401K, even if you have a vacation savings jar in the kitchen &mdash; you might want to consider stowing some cash from your savings account separately in a mutual fund or ETF. They're steady, the rate is far superior to a savings account, and it keeps you from feeling like your savings can be tapped at any time. It takes some thought and some calculus of weighing the fees and taxes to decide whether to take the funds out. Sometimes we need that bit of a barrier so that we can benefit in the long run. Check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-top-mutual-funds-for-low-risk-investors">these tips for investors</a>. Your future self will be thanking you down the line.</p> <h2>4. Paying Off High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Carrying balances on one (or a few) high-interest cards? If you have debt at anything above 10% interest, paying those off should be your priority. The longer you carry those balances, the more precarious the situation gets. And of course, if you were to follow the first point in this list, it would be pretty hard without paying off that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">high-interest debt</a>. Once that's done, you can pass the savings around the table.</p> <h2>5. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Why wouldn't you want to be covered if a small emergency happened? Consider the emergency fund as your war chest, defending you from calamities such as car accidents, sudden house repairs, a child getting sick, or getting stuck with unpaid jury duty. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">Even broke folks</a> can start one. Keep it somewhere easy to access, and by all means, never pilfer it for Black Friday. That's what #7 is for!</p> <h2>6. Getting Your Taxes Done Early</h2> <p>Who doesn't want to get their money early? Or get tax stress off their chests? Starting around November, you really should be gathering your receipts and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-the-tax-season-rush-with-these-early-prep-steps">setting a tax plan</a> &mdash; whether you need to book an appointment with your accountant, or book some personal time in front of QuickBooks. What easier way to be thankful all the way into the dark of January than knowing a refund check is on its way?</p> <h2>7. Setting a Christmas Budget</h2> <p>Going into Thanksgiving with a shopping list and wondering, &quot;How am I gonna do this <em>and </em>Christmas?&quot; Fix that in the future with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-holiday-budget-pitfalls">Christmas budget set in advance</a>. Even if you're a family who slowly buys gifts for each other year-round, that can creep up. By having a set budget every year, you can check against immediately clicking &quot;add to cart.&quot; Imagine how nice it would be to not feel completely tapped out after the holidays. Just get through Thanksgiving and everything else is gravy.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-smart-things-you-can-do-with-your-finances-even-if-youre-broke">15 Smart Things You Can Do With Your Finances, Even if You&#039;re Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-that-ll-protect-you-during-the-next-recession">7 Money Moves That’ll Protect You During the Next Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance being thankful credit report debt emergency funds money moves savings taxes Thanksgiving Mon, 14 Nov 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1830894 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_tsa_line_20741660.jpg" alt="Man making money moves in endless TSA line" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the airport closest to me, the TSA lines are legendary, especially during the holiday season. Last year, they were telling people to give themselves <em>an extra hour</em> before their flight, just to make sure they got through security on time. That's an extra hour on top of the usual hour or two recommended!</p> <p>I don't know about you, but I dread long lines. I spend the entire time thinking about what else I could be doing. Over the years, though, I've come up with ways to use my &quot;line time&quot; well. Here are a few things you can do to improve your financial life while waiting for TSA to get on the ball.</p> <h2>1. Start Using Mint</h2> <p><a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> is a great way to track your finances. You sign up for an account, connect all of your bank, investment, and debt accounts, and it quietly tracks your overall financial situation. It allows you to look at spending, debt, and net worth automatically and with ease.</p> <p>This is a great thing to do if you're not really tracking your finances right now, or if you don't have a handle on your overall financial situation. Starting with the big picture is almost always a good idea, so that you know what is good and what is bad, right from the start.</p> <h2>2. Sign Up for Digit</h2> <p><a href="http://digit.co">Digit</a> is an online service that saves money for you. You connect the app to a bank account, and they track your spending. Based on what they find, they schedule automatic withdrawals to another account. They don't say much about their analysis algorithm, but people (myself included) claim that they don't notice or need the money that Digit removes from their accounts.</p> <p>If you're already saving, you probably don't need this tool. But if you forget to pay yourself first, this can be a great way to save without really thinking about it. And it's fun to watch your savings build up over time!</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit</h2> <p>If you haven't looked at your free credit report in the last 12 months, you should. <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is the place to start. From there, you can enter identification information and view a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check for incorrect information or credit cards/lines of credit that may have been opened fraudulently.</p> <p>Do make sure that you have a secure Internet connection before you start sharing sensitive personal information. If you aren't sure, add this to your To Do list and work on something else while you're in line.</p> <h2>4. Set a Financial Goal</h2> <p>What would you like your money to do for you? Do you want to travel? Maybe you need to buy a new car. Think about your wants and needs, and choose one or two financial goals for the next few months. Having a goal will help you focus, and it will make you more likely to do things like curb spending or follow through on a savings plan.</p> <p>Don't set too many goals, though. Picking one or two things to save for &mdash; maybe one practical thing and one that's fun &mdash; will give you plenty of motivation without the stress of feeling like your money has to go in too many different directions.</p> <h2>5. Choose a Charity</h2> <p>If you're like me, giving often falls by the wayside. It's not that I don't want to do it, but that I want to be responsible with it. If you want to make sure that any charity that gets your money is actually using it for their stated purposes, do your research while you stand in line.</p> <p>Start by going to your intended charity's website. Most of them will offer some sort of fiscal documentation. If you want to give to a smaller charity, you may need to give them a call and ask for it, instead.</p> <p>If you don't even know where to start giving, start with a simple Google search. Pick an issue that is important to you, and look for charities that target it. You can even limit your search to charities in your local area, if you're interested in volunteering or getting more involved.</p> <h2>6. Check Your Bills</h2> <p>Not sure how long you'll be in line? Pull up your latest credit card bills and glance through them. Make sure that you recognize all the charges and that, to the best of your knowledge, they are for the right amount. Many people find mistakes on their credit card bills, and you can always contact the company to have them fixed. That usually means more money in your pocket.</p> <p>If you don't recognize a charge but you aren't sure, flag it for later, when you can go through your receipts and figure out if it's correct. If you find something very concerning, call your credit company from the line. The sooner you can get in touch with them, the sooner you'll have your money back where it belongs.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg&amp;description=6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg" alt="6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-money-when-you-hate-thinking-about-it">How to Manage Money When You Hate Thinking About It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sign-up-for-global-entry">How to Sign Up for Global Entry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moments-that-are-awkward-for-everyone">10 Money Moments That Are Awkward for Everyone</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Travel airports apps bills budgeting charity credit report digit free time mint money moves security tsa waiting in line Thu, 10 Nov 2016 10:30:29 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1830272 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_credit_card_000089299163.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves after credit cards are paid off" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It may have taken years. It may have required an unprecedented level of discipline and patience. But you finally have your credit cards paid off.</p> <p>Congratulations! Now, what do you do?</p> <p>With a good chunk of your high-interest debt no longer weighing you down, you can truly start to work your way toward financial freedom. Here are some key financial moves you can make immediately.</p> <h2>1. Tackle Any Other High-Interest Debt</h2> <p>Okay, so you crushed the credit card debt. What else do you owe? Take a look at things like auto loans, student loans, and your mortgage, and begin chipping away at that debt, as well. Go after the debt with the highest interest rate first. It's one thing to free of credit card debt, but to be totally, 100% debt free? That's an amazing feeling.</p> <h2>2. Assess Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>When you're in debt, there's a good chance you don't have a lot of liquid savings. But now that those credit cards are paid off, you can start building up funds in case of a major unexpected expense or loss of income. By maintaining an account with at least three months of income, you can handle any financial crisis and know that you won't go back into debt.</p> <h2>3. Open a Retirement Account</h2> <p>It's impossible to think about retirement when you're huddled under a mountain of debt. But now that you've shed that high interest debt, you can start thinking about your long-term financial goals, including your retirement. If your employer offers a 401K plan, begin contributing now and seek to maximize the company match. (Usually, this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of your income, though you can always contribute more.) Also consider opening an individual retirement account, or IRA. Opening a Roth IRA, which allows your money to grow tax free, is perfect for people who are self-employed, but is also a great complement to a 401K.</p> <h2>4. Find a Good Online Budgeting Tool</h2> <p>If you haven't already done so, consider using a service such as Mint or <a href="http://track.flexlinks.com/a.ashx?foid=1029882.216060&amp;fot=9999&amp;foc=1&amp;foc2=582907">Personal Capital</a>, which allows you to view all of your account information in one place and track your spending &mdash; even set up budgets and goals. Using one of these services will allow you to see exactly where your money is going, so you can adjust your spending, if needed.</p> <h2>5. Stop Using Your Cards for a While (But Don't Close Them)</h2> <p>Credit cards got you into trouble, so it might be good to just put them on ice for a while. But don't start canceling all your cards. If you close credit cards, you may actually hurt your credit score. You'll no longer have accounts with a long history, and your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">credit utilization ratio</a> will go up because you'll have less available credit. If you feel the need to get rid of cards, shed the one with the lowest credit limit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Develop a New Charging Philosophy</h2> <p>If you successfully transitioned from carrying a credit card balance to being debt-free, you probably made an adjustment to how you use your cards. Now it's time to evaluate again how you use credit to ensure you stay out of the red. Do some research to find credit cards with favorable interest rates (and maybe even some good <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">cash back rewards</a>). Set up automatic transfers to pay off balances in full each month, and come up with rules to guide which purchases will be made with credit and which will be made with cash. It takes discipline to get out of debt, but it's just as much work to stay out. So set up a plan and do your best to stick to it.</p> <h2>7. Begin Saving for Big, Important Things</h2> <p>You may be out of debt, but you know that it could come right back if you don't save responsibly for the big ticket items. Whether it's a new house, car, or home appliance, it's best to try and pay for these things without taking on a lot of new debt. Consider taking whatever you were paying in credit card interest and setting it aside into a savings account, or even an index fund. Being able to pay cash for the pricey purchases will keep you from falling into the abyss of debt again.</p> <h2>8. Review Your Credit Reports</h2> <p>Looking at your credit report can be depressing when you're in debt. Who needs another reminder of how much they owe? But now that the debt is gone, it might be a good time to examine your credit reports to see if there are any errors, or even old debts you may have forgotten about. Your goal now is to improve your FICO credit score, and cleaning up your reports can play a big role in that. Each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) provide a copy of your credit report once a year at no charge.</p> <h2>9. If You Have a Mortgage, Think About Refinancing</h2> <p>Your credit score may not improve right away after paying off your credit card debt, but if you keep yourself debt-free, it will rise over time. And that means that you'll be in a better position to negotiate with lenders for a better interest rate on your home loan. Mortgage rates are still historically low, so you might save thousands of dollars over the long-term by reducing your rate even slightly. And you could have enormous savings by reducing your loan term, as well.</p> <p><em>Have you paid off your credit card debt? What money moves did you make?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-minute-finance-create-financial-goals">5-Minute Finance: Create Financial Goals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-rules-every-working-adult-should-know">10 Money Rules Every Working Adult Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-signs-your-emergency-fund-is-too-big">4 Signs Your Emergency Fund Is Too Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-late-starters-can-save-for-their-kids-education">Here&#039;s How Late Starters Can Save for Their Kids&#039; Education</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit report credit score emergency fund high interest debt refinancing retirement saving money Wed, 11 May 2016 10:30:05 +0000 Tim Lemke 1705411 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_identity_theft_000023163541.jpg" alt="Man learning when to freeze his credit report" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one should have access to your credit report without your consent. A security freeze can help prevent a credit reporting company from releasing your credit report, which prevents new creditors and third parties from being able to view your report and score. Consider the following circumstances in which freezing your credit report might be appropriate.</p> <h2>1. You're a Victim of Identity Theft</h2> <p>If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or that someone is making charges to your accounts without your consent, then it's time to place a freeze on your credit report. In fact, depending on your state security freeze law, you may even be eligible for free security freeze services.</p> <p>On average, victims of identity theft need to spend about 40 hours to clean up their credit once a thief has opened an account in their name. With the security freeze in place, you won't have to worry about that, because it prevents new accounts from being opened. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-comprehensive-guide-to-identity-theft-everything-you-need-to-know?ref=seealso">The Comprehensive Guide to Identity Theft: Everything You Need to Know</a>)</p> <p>Keep in mind that placing a freeze on your credit file only prevents a fraudster from opening new accounts in your name. It doesn't prevent them from accessing any of your existing credit cards. While new creditors will not be able to access your account, it's important to remember that businesses that you already have an existing relationship with can still access your credit history.</p> <h2>2. You've Been Subjected to a Security Breach</h2> <p>Even if you aren't currently a victim of identity theft, but are concerned that your information may be released to people or companies without your consent, you can block access to your credit report with a freeze. If you have reason to believe that you may soon be a victim of identity theft, then a freeze may be the right preemptive step to ensure you don't have big problems in the near future. For instance, if your wallet or mail were stolen, or your social security number was part of a security breach, then placing a security freeze on your file will prevent a thief from using your information.</p> <p>If only your credit or debit card information has been stolen, a security freeze is not necessarily vital. In these cases, you may be better off simply requesting credit monitoring services, placing a fraud alert, or freezing those particular cards so that no one can use them.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Need Credit Right Now</h2> <p>If you believe you won't need to apply for credit anytime in the near future, and want to gain maximum control of your credit score, a security freeze may be appropriate for you. The advantages of a credit freeze increase with age because as people get older, they generally don't need credit as much. Therefore, placing a freeze on your account will just ensure that nobody else can apply for credit in your name, either.</p> <h2>4. You're Going Through a Messy Divorce</h2> <p>Many people involved in messy divorces place a freeze on their credit. This ensures that your spouse is not able to open any new accounts with your identity, as they will likely have all of your personal information.</p> <h2>5. You're Protecting Your Child's Credit</h2> <p>Have you ever received credit card offers in the mail for your children? You may consider placing a protected credit freeze on <em>their </em>file to prevent any fraudulent accounts from being opened in their name. A protected consumer freeze can be requested by the parent or legal guardian of a minor or medically incapacitated consumer.</p> <h2>How to Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit File</h2> <p>You can place a freeze on your credit files at each of the three major credit reporting agencies, <a href="https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp">Equifax</a>, <a href="https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html">Experian</a>, and <a href="https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp">TransUnion</a>. You can follow a simple online process, request the freeze by phone, or submit your request in writing. Keep in mind that you will need to follow this process for all three credit bureaus. At minimum, you will need to supply your name, address, social security number, date of birth, and other basic personal information.</p> <p>Once the freeze has been placed on your account, your credit report will be inaccessible unless you provide specific authorization with a password or 10-digit personal identification number (PIN). The freeze will remain on your credit file until you request that it be removed.</p> <h3>The Costs Involved</h3> <p>In most cases, it will cost $2&ndash;$15 per person, per bureau to freeze your credit report. However, the fees will vary by state and scenario. For instance, some states won't charge people over age 62 or under age 19, so you should refer to your state's data.</p> <h3>Temporarily Lifting the Freeze</h3> <p>Once you receive the password or PIN for your account, you will be able to authorize the temporary release of your credit report for a specific period of time or for a specific person. You can request that the freeze be lifted for anywhere from one day to one year. Keep in mind that you will need to contact all three credit bureaus to request that the freeze be temporarily lifted.</p> <h3>Applying for New Credit</h3> <p>According to Experian, having a security freeze can affect the approval of any request or application for &quot;a new loan, credit, mortgage, insurance, government services or payments, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular telephone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transaction or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.&quot; If you are considering applying for credit, keep in mind that a security freeze can slow down the application. Try removing the freeze at least three business days before applying for new credit.</p> <h3>Don't Take a Credit Freeze Lightly</h3> <p>Keep in mind that a credit freeze is a major step that will completely remove you from the credit marketplace, so it should only be pursued on an as-needed basis. For instance, if you've applied for a new job or apartment and they need to see your credit file, having a freeze in place will result in unnecessary delays. On the other hand, it will not adversely impact your credit score or your chances of getting credit once the freeze has been lifted.</p> <p><em>Have you ever placed a freeze on your credit report? Please share your experience in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit freeze credit report fraud identity theft security freeze Tue, 15 Mar 2016 11:00:06 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1672232 at http://www.wisebread.com