Almost You Is Not You – Data Breach Drill

Not feeling like yourself today?  Or feeling a little less ‘flush’ than normal?  If you have been the victim of Identity Theft, the Federal Trade Commission has a data breach drill.  This online resource gives you a streamlined plan to address the problem. It is a one-stop online checklist that you can customize to your problem, depending on what information was lost or exposed—Social Security number, online login or password, debit or credit card number, bank account information, driver’s license information, children’s personal information.  Their idea is that recovering from identity theft is easier if you have a plan. The free online checklist is available at https://www.identitytheft.gov/info-lost-or-stolen.html.   Read More

Building Bad Credit Habits?

You’re never too old to learn something stupid. Sure, do not pay your bills on time…or at all.  Take on new debt as often as you can.  Bad habits can pile up like bills…and lead to bad credit. Your credit determines your purchasing power to buy items like a car, a student loan, and maybe even a house.  Credit also may affect your ability to get or keep a job.  Your credit history gives lenders and employers something to look at when they are deciding whether or not to give you a loan (and at what interest rate) and whether or not to hire you or give you a promotion. On the other if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can improve your credit score with these basics: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out new loans Pay down large balances Make a budget and stick to it – you can use the free online budget provided by the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf Be a credit to yourself!   Read More

Bad Credit Stains

No one can legally remove current, accurate negative information from your credit report, not OxiClean, not Kaboom, not even a credit repair service.  Credit repair services cannot erase bankruptcies, judgments, liens, or bad loans, nor can they create a new identity legally.  So what are you going to do to improve your credit? If you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own.  The basics include: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out new loans Pay down large balances Make a budget and stick to it – you can use the free online budget provided by the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf Alternatively, there are local credit counseling programs that will review the problems on your credit report and will help you make a plan to fix those issues.  Visit the St. Johns County Housing and Community Services website at http://www.sjcfl.us (click on “Housing & Community Services”) and the St. Johns Housing Partnership website at http://sjhp.org for more information.     Read More

Retail Therapy & Your Credit Score

When living better through chemistry does not work, sometimes you need retail therapy. Last week I had a really rough day.  I turned into a crazy person.  I called my wife and she was at the Apple store.  Now I have an iPhone 6 and I am much better.  I understand the need for retail therapy and its benefits; furthermore, the more credit you have, the more therapeutic your retail purchases can be. Credit increases your purchasing power.  Good credit begets credit—the higher the credit limit or the more you can borrow.  Good credit also begets better cost to borrow—the better your credit, the smaller the interest rate on your loan to pay back the money.  It is good to have good credit because then you can have more things at lower costs to borrow to buy those things.  What if you have bad credit?  :0 Bad credit does not have to be terminal.  If you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own.  Here are some starting blocks to build your credit: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out […] Read More

New Year’s Resolution for Better Credit

It is 2015, how is your credit?  Building better credit takes time and effort, but if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own. Credit is important.  Your credit determines your purchasing power to buy items like a house, a car, a student loan. Creditors look at your bill-paying history, whether you pay your bills on time, collections actions against you, your outstanding debt, how many accounts you have and what kind they are, and if you have applied for new credit lately.  They use this information to determine if you would be a good risk for repayment, or if you are a deadbeat, and also how much they should charge you for the loan.  Creditors want their money back, and they want to make interest on the loan. Bad credit is a problem, but it is one that you can fix with these New Year’s resolutions: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out new loans Pay down large balances Make a budget and stick to it – you can use the free online budget provided by the Federal […] Read More

Who’s Wearing Your Credit?

Fashion Week starts this week in New York, and with identity theft trending, someone else could be masquerading in your good credit, compromising your purchasing power. Credit determines your ability to buy items like a house, a car, a student loan.  Bad credit can limit your ability to get more credit, and it can raise the cost of a loan (the interest rate) and lower your chances to get the loan in the first place.  Bad credit is not a place you want to be, especially if you did not get to enjoy any of the things charged to your account along the way! The Department of Justice has a pneumonic to help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft: SCAM. S is for “Stingy.”  Be stingy about giving out your personal and financial information. C is for “Check.”  Check your accounts regularly. A is for “Ask.”  Ask for your free credit report once a year (see below). M is for “Maintain.”  Maintain good records of your banking and financial information.  You should know what should be in there…and what should not. If you want to monitor Tommy Hilfiger, you can watch Fashion Week live online at http://mbfashionweek.com/live If […] Read More

Masquerading in Your Good Credit

Who is going trick-or-treating dressed as you—and so out of season!  An identity thief could be treating himself at the expense of your good credit.  The Department of Justice has a pneumonic to help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft: SCAM. S is for “Stingy.”  Be stingy about giving out your personal and financial information. C is for “Check.”  Check your accounts regularly. A is for “Ask.”  Ask for your free credit report once a year at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. M is for “Maintain.”  Maintain good records of your banking and financial information.  You should know what should be in there…and what should not. To view the complete article from the Department of Justice, visit their website at: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html Read More

Steps to Better Credit

Are you receiving calls from creditors and collection agencies?  Working overtime to try to keep up with your bills?  Using your savings to cover daily expenses?  These can be signs of bad credit.  While bad credit is a problem—it makes getting a new loan more expensive or impossible—there are steps you can take to improve your credit score. The basics are basics include pay your bills on time, pay down outstanding balances, and stay away from new debt.  Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi offers these further tips to personally manage your debt: Set up a household budget to guide your spending patterns. The budget should detail your monthly income, as well as your monthly expenses. Your budget should outline a spending plan which insures that your income will exceed your expenses each month. Don’t go any deeper in debt! Put your credit cards away and make a concerted effort to refrain from accumulating any more debt in the coming months. Pay cash or use a debit card. If you must charge something in an emergency, use the card with the lowest interest rate. Use daily money-saving strategies to free up more money. Cut out needless expenses and save money where […] Read More

Shopping for Better Credit

There are 31 shopping days left until Christmas.  Minimize the holiday hangover on your credit card bills with a spending budget. Generally you do not want to max out your credit cards or open new lines of credit if you are trying to build credit (as for a home, auto, or student loan in the near future); however, holidays can be tough.  A budget can help you stay on track for your spending and saving goals. If you can talk, text, and wrap presents, you can make a budget.  The State of Florida has a free online holiday budget calculator at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/YMM/Calculators/Holiday.aspx. …And remember to pay your bills on time every time. Read More

Credit Repair Scams – Warning Signs

What is scarier than debt itself?  Credit repair scams. If you are in debt, you are in a lot of company.  About 40% of Floridians have debt in collections as of this summer’s reports, and that debt drives the credit repair business.  Unfortunately, that demand also drives credit repair scams.  The following is a list of common warning signs of a credit repair scam, as given by the Florida Attorney General’s website: A company that guarantees it can remove your unsecured debt or promises that unsecured debts can be paid off with pennies on the dollar A company that claims using its system will let you avoid bankruptcy A company that requires upfront fees in excess of $50 A company that requires you to pay monthly fees in excess of $40 per month A company that tells you to stop communicating with your creditors A debt management company that does not provide you with a monthly accounting showing payments made to your creditors A company that tells you creditors never sue consumers for non-payment of unsecured debt A company that promises using its system will have no negative impact on your credit report or that it can remove accurate negative […] Read More