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Demi Moore’s credit card allegedly swiped by man who spent $169G

Demi Moore was targeted in a credit-card scam in which a man spent $ 169,000 using her information, federal prosecutors charged.

A man named David Matthew Read allegedly found a way to request a new card for Moore by claiming in March that her’s had gone missing, TMZ reported, citing a complaint…

/entertainment – New York Daily News

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What ‘So Money’ Host Farnoosh Torabi Wants You to Know About Credit Scores


Do you know your credit score?

Better question: Are you sick of hearing us tell you over and over how important it is to check your credit report and know your credit score?

It may seem like we’re beating a dead horse, but the truth is, you can’t ball on a 450 credit score, and we’re committed to putting more money in your pocket so that you can be the baller you’re meant to be.

A survey released by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore suggests the advice is working. The percentage of respondents who said they’ve obtained their credit scores in the past year rose from 49% in 2014 to 57% in 2018.

Credit expert Farnoosh Torabi, who hosts the “So Money” podcast, says she isn’t surprised.

“There’s been momentum building ever since the recession,” she told The Penny Hoarder.

News coverage of rising interest rates impacts lending, which trickles down into people’s credit lives and wallets.

Another aspect fueling the rise is easy access to credit scores.

“I’ve been covering personal finance for all of my career, and back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, there was no go-to place to get your credit score as a consumer,” Torabi said. “But now, there are more ways to access it.”

Great, You Know Your Credit Score. Now What?

Knowing your credit score is nice and all, but it means very little if you don’t do anything about it.

But you all are doing something about it.

The number of people who’ve checked their credit score has increased, and so has the number of people taking steps to increase their scores, according to year-over-year findings from Chase Slate’s 2017 credit outlook survey.

These steps include paying off debt, keeping credit usage low and making an effort to pay down credit statements in full.

We can all agree it’s easier to take the initial steps to improve your finances when you know what’s going on and exactly what you need to do.

A Lot of People Are Still Confused About Credit

The Consumer Federation study showed large majorities could correctly identify three key factors used to calculate credit scores:

  • Missed payments, 86%
  • High credit card balances, 81%
  • Personal bankruptcy, 79%

But significant minorities incorrectly thought that age (41%) and marital status (38%) are used in this calculation.

“Some people think the older they are, the better their credit score will be,” Torabi said. “I think they confuse that with the length of their credit history.”

A lot of people also incorrectly believed tax liens (64%), medical collection accounts less than 6 months old (62%) and civil judgments (63%) are used to compute credit scores.

Most people knew steps to take to improve your credit score, but little more than half (56%) knew all of them.

Here’s Why Credit Scores Are So Important

“Largely we think of credit scores and their ties to qualifying for homes, loans and credit cards, but there’s other stuff, too,” Torabi said. “I think if [people] knew the extent to which [their] credit score actually makes an impact, it would make people more interested to see what their credit score is, and learn how to improve it.”

When you sign up for cable plans or insurance, providers will often do a credit check to make sure you’re paying your other bills on time. And if you’re renting, landlords and property managers will also run a credit check and review your credit score.

But the biggest reason to know your score has nothing to do with what you want to do in the future. It’s all about what you’ve done — or rather, haven’t done — in the past.

Credit reporting mistakes and identity theft are common occurrences, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

So even if you’re not planning on buying a house, financing a car, or opening a credit card in the near future, it’s still super important to know your credit score and monitor your credit report.

At The Penny Hoarder, we publish no shortage of articles telling you why you should check your credit score, how to improve your credit score and how amazing life has gotten since so-and-so raised their credit score.

Maintaining healthy credit is just like maintaining a healthy body.

“If you’re trying to stay healthy in your physical life, you should get on that scale and face that number, as hard as it can be,” Torabi said. “Numbers don’t lie. [Your credit score] will give you the honest truth, and from there, you can improve.”

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money saving and debt payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder

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4 Essential Tips On How to Improve Credit Scores In 2018

If you have a credit score that you are not proud of then you are not alone. According to Experian, approximately 1/3 of Americans have a “not so good” credit score. In fact we take our credit and credit cards so seriously, one report says more than 7 million Americans have hidden a bank or credit card account from their spouse or partner. This breaks down to approximately 4.4 million men and 2.8 million women. And if you fall in that number of Americans with poor or fair credit, don’t be alarmed. Here are four tips that are not outdated, on how to improve your credit score.

1. Check your credit annually

First, it is important to see what is actually on your credit report. Keep in mind, you don’t have to pay for a copy of your credit report but you can obtain a free copy of all three reports at annualcreditreport.com. However, in order to receive your credit score, you may have to pay a nominal fee. Taking time to review your reports is essential. Determine if there are any inaccuracies and if so dispute! This way, negative reporting items could possibly be removed, thus maximizing your overall credit score.

2. Add the positives to your credit score

If you review your credit report and find that an account in good standing has not been reported, take action! In some cases, there may be instances where an account that can actually help boost your credit score was omitted from your report. Consider contacting the creditor and request the information is added. Doing so can also help improve your overall credit score.

3. Use a credit calculator

If you are thinking of making changes to your credit situation, consider using an online calculator first. Credit Karma has a cool calculator to answer “what if” scenarios, such as:

What if I pay off a credit card?
What happens if I increase my line of credit?
What changes will be made to my score if I charge on my credit card?
How many points will my score decrease if I miss a payment?

4. Pay down balances

It also essential to have an understanding of what comprises your credit score. Amounts owed and payment history comprise 65% of your credit score! So with that being said, it is not only important to make certain you make timely payments but it is also essential to be mindful of your credit utilization.

So what does that mean? If you have a credit line of $ 1,000 and used $ 600 of your available credit, your credit utilization is 60%! Not a good idea. Using 30% or less of your credit lines can help improve your credit score.

Lastly, remember, you can boost your credit score yourself. You don’t have to pay tons of money to get your credit together! Don’t be discouraged, keep pressing and keep pushing and one day you will have a score that works best for you!

 

The post 4 Essential Tips On How to Improve Credit Scores In 2018 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Restaurant Owners, Community Leaders Push Back On Sarah Jessica Parker’s War On Tip Credit

Activists, community leaders, and restaurant owners on Thursday gathered at the front of SJP Collections in New York as a voice of opposition against Sarah Jessica Parker’s support for ending the tipped wage credit, which they say threatens employees and restaurant owners.

In New York State, tipped workers are paid a lower minimum wage, but they must earn at least the full minimum wage when tips are included. The difference between the tipped wage and the full minimum wage is called the tip credit, which Minister Kirsten John Foy said allows restaurant owners to keep labor costs down while keeping it affordable for people to dine out.

Early in March, Parker, along with 15 other actresses invoking the #MeTooMovement, wrote a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in support of the One Fair Wage effort, noting that 70% of restaurant servers are women and that research has shown “how relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for ‘service.’” The actresses, including Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Lily Tomlin, Amy Poehler, Reese Witherspoon, Brie Larson, Debra Messing, Ashley Judd, and Sarah Silverman, urged the governor to do away with the state’s tip credit for restaurant workers.

A countereffort of 500 restaurant workers organized by Maggie Raczynski, a bartender at the Clifton Outback Steakhouse, produced a letter of their own.

“You’ve been misled that we earn less than minimum wage and that we’re somehow helpless victims of sexual harassment. “Thank you for your concern. But we don’t need your help and we’re not asking to be saved,” they wrote.

In April, the New York Post reported that a small-screen actor wavered on her decision to sign the letter to the governor. In her email sent to the Restaurant Workers of America—which opposes any compensation changes—the actress, who is unidentified, apologized, through an agent representing her. “She sends her deepest apologies and never intended to insult the restaurant professionals. She would like to rescind her signature from the letter that was sent to Governor Cuomo. Should we do that through you or where it originated from?” But she later decided to keep her name on the letter.

“Sarah Jessica Parker has weighed into a debate where she’s not fully informed. She has weighed into a debate where there is a whole swath and section of the industry, mostly people of color who are not being heard,” Foy said at a press conference in New York on Thursday.

tip credit

Minister Kirsten John Foy during a press conference on Thursday, June 14, 2018, in front of Sarah Jessica Parker’s pop store on W 52nd street. (Image: File)

According to the United States Department of Labor:

“Tip credit permits an employer to take a tip credit towards its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees equal to the difference between the required cash wage (which must be at least $ 2.13) and the federal minimum wage. Thus, the maximum tip credit that an employer can currently claim under the FLSA section 3(m) is $ 5.12 per hour (the minimum wage of $ 7.25 minus the minimum required cash wage of $ 2.13). Under certain circumstances, an employer may be able to claim an additional overtime tip credit against its overtime obligations.”

After seven different hearings and a recommendation by a wage board in 2015, Cuomo and the state’s labor commissioner, Roberta Reardon, will decide whether to eliminate the tip credit, which Cisse Elhadji, the executive chef and co-owner of Renaisance and two Ponty Bistro locations in Harlem, could potentially shut down his business.

“Minimum right now, I have 30 to 40 people working for me, imagine I shut down my place, all these people will (have to) go look for another job,” Elhadji said. “We need help, but this is not going to help us.”

Supporters of the argument for a consistent minimum wage plan say it would reduce wage theft by employers in industries with tipped workers, who are often women, minorities, and immigrants. While Foy agrees with his progressive counterparts that it is indeed time to raise wages for American fast food workers, “but to compare McDonald’s to Melba’s is a folly.”

“It is not appropriate and [it’s] unwise; neither is it economically viable to raise wages at the expense of the existence of the business,” he said.

Late in May, Parker hosted a fundraiser for the One Fair Wage campaign, an organization fighting for increased minimum wage nationally. The purchased tickets went for as much as $ 50,000 according to the release by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the event had to move venues when the location was publicly revealed, to avoid protesters.

Thousands of servers have attended the tip credit elimination hearings, submitted testimonies. Two more hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, June 19 at Hostos Community College and Wednesday, June 27 at Hunter College.

The post Restaurant Owners, Community Leaders Push Back On Sarah Jessica Parker’s War On Tip Credit appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Chase is eliminating these big credit card benefits as of August 26

Credit card companies are taking a hatchet to their benefits for customers — and there’s no end in sight, with the latest announcement from one of the nation’s biggest issuers.

RELATED: Discover is eliminating these 5 credit card benefits in 2018

Chase gets ready to eliminate Price Protection and Return Protection

Effective August 26, Chase will no longer offer Price Protection or Return Protection to its customers. Some customers were informed of the change over the weekend.

Price Protection is a beloved benefit that’s available across several card networks. In general, it promises to refund the difference in price between an item you buy and an advertised sale price that may pop up on that same item anytime between 60 and 90 days down the road.

Chase’s competitor Citi announced just days ago that they’d be paring down their proprietary price protection program called Citi Price Rewind.

But Chase is going one step further than Citi did and axing its version of price protection completely.

Also being shut down at Chase is Return Protection, which makes it up to customers if they buy something they’re unhappy with and the merchant refuses to take it back and refund their money. Chase currently offers up to $ 250 for each eligible item with a $ 1,000 annual maximum as part of its current return protection policy — but all you’ll get is a big, fat goose egg come August 26!

Yet as Chase taketh away, the card issuer also giveth. Cardholders of select products such as the Chase Freedom Visa Platinum will have Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance added to their card on August 26.

Beginning on that date, the added coverage will provide reimbursement of up to $ 1,500 per person and $ 6,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares. To meet the criteria to get the money, your trip must be canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations.

Money expert Clark Howard has long recommended trip insurance for cruises and for when you’re going to be touring or traveling on a trip that requires prepayment of thousands of dollars.

So on the plus side, Chase’s addition of cancellation/interruption insurance for some customers could negate the need for them to buy third-party trip insurance. Just be sure you read through Chase’s policy carefully to see what it covers and what it excludes before deciding to forego traditional trip insurance you might buy elsewhere.

More credit card stories on Clark.com:

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Credit card rewards may stop existing soon

The days of credit card users getting just about anything and everything in rewards are over, as issuers gird for choppy earnings. “There’s no question that banks are concerned about the credit card rewards arms race eating into their profits,” said Matt Schulz, an analyst with CreditCards.com. “Credit card issuers are grappling with an uneasy…
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The Scoop on All The Hidden Cameos and Cut Credit Scenes in ‘Deadpool 2’ – Spoilers!

The Scoop on All The Hidden Cameos and Cut Credit Scenes in ‘Deadpool 2’ - Spoilers!

 

WARNING: The following interview contains all spoilers for Deadpool 2. Seriously, there is nothing in this interview that isn't a massive spoiler. Read at your own risk. You've been warned!

 

They are the mad geniuses behind both Deadpool and Deadpool 2, and while many will hail co-writers and producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as the real heroes of Deadpool, they'd like you to consider them the villains instead. Well, at least that's how they…

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He Raised His Credit Score 277 Points — Now He Teaches Kids How It’s Done


James Cooper is all about changing kids’ lives. So he talks the talk, and he walks the walk.

Every year, Cooper gets invited to dozens of high schools to speak to thousands of students about bullying, violence, teen pregnancy and gangs through the nonprofit he founded called Fedup-4U.

He relates to the students; he doesn’t talk down to them. His school assemblies reach out to students with a passionate mix of music, dance and motivational speaking.

Now he’s adding another subject to the group’s repertoire: The importance of good credit.

Cooper feels strongly about this topic because of his own experience with having bad credit and climbing his way out of it — raising his score nearly 300 points, in fact. It was a long climb for him, and he got ripped off by three different so-called credit-repair companies along the way.

He’s lived it, and he wants to prevent today’s 18-year-olds from going through the same thing.

His message: Know how credit works, and don’t run away from your financial problems.

“Because when you try to buy a house 10 years later, that’s gonna kick you in the butt,” says Cooper, 50, of Atlanta.

‘We Got Burned’

James Cooper speaks to students about the importance of credit awareness at a high school in Macon, Georgia on April 20, 2018.
Cooper speaks to students about the importance of credit awareness at a high school in Macon, Georgia, on April 20, 2018. Matt Odom for The Penny Hoarder

Cooper knows all about having bad credit. As recently as 2017, his credit score was a lousy 524.

“I never had a credit card,” he says. “I had $ 6,000 worth of unpaid bills.”

He vowed to sort out his financial situation and fix his credit. He and a Fedup-4U partner did it together.

They learned the hard way not to deal with fly-by-night credit repair services.

“We got burned by a lot of companies,” Cooper says. “They took our money and disappeared with it. We both got burned for about $ 4,500 altogether.”

Although there are legitimate credit repair services, there are also shady ones that demand money upfront and promise way more than they can deliver. Then they’ll milk you for money until you wise up.

Cooper and his friend went through this ordeal with three companies.

Then they found Credit Sesame, a free credit monitoring service that helped them learn how to fix their credit for free.

‘They Showed Me the Ins and Outs’

A sign with a credit score on a desk
Cooper used Credit Sesame and raised his credit score 277 points. Matt Odom for The Penny Hoarder

In Credit Sesame, Cooper and his partner finally found a legitimate option for really improving their credit.

For one thing, you can use it 100% for free.

The app started by sending Cooper a free credit report card — including his TransUnion credit score — and provided him with personal recommendations.

It showed him a quick view of his total debt, plus all the factors contributing to his low score: credit usage, credit age, inquiries, account mix and payment history.

Cooper’s favorite part about Credit Sesame is its personalization. It suggested concrete steps, based on his situation, to better manage his credit score.

“They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” Cooper says. “I applied for my first credit card ever.”

So long, 524 credit score.

Credit Sesame recommended he:

  1. Get a credit card.
  2. Ask for a credit increase on that card.
  3. Keep his monthly balance on the card below 5% of his credit limit. That affected his credit utilization, which is the percentage of your available credit you’re using.

That raised his score.

“The highest I went was an 801,” he says. He raised his score by 277 points over the six months from June to November 2017.

“Then I purposely took my score back down,” he says, to see how quickly it could drop. He’s been watching his score go up and down ever since. “We’re experimenting with my credit score as I speak,” he say, to learn more about credit scores so they can teach students about them.

He lowered his credit score by raising his monthly balance on his credit cards. Again, that affected his credit utilization.

‘You’re Missing One of the Most Important Pieces’

James Cooper poses in a high school auditorium
Cooper uses what he’s learned through Credit Sesame as a blueprint for his lessons, because that’s what worked for him.
Matt Odom for The Penny Hoarder

Cooper founded Fedup-4U in New Jersey in 2009 and expanded it to Atlanta when he moved there in 2012. He does a lot of the group’s motivational speaking.

The organization says it hosts about 75 school assemblies and reaches more than 65,000 youths and young adults each year throughout the Southeast and the Northeast.

Now they’re putting together a school-approved curriculum on credit, to be launched in August 2018. The idea is to introduce it as part of the financial literacy programs that many high schools already teach.

“How can we talk about banking and checking without talking about credit?” Cooper asks. “I’m speaking to these kids, finding out what they know and what they don’t know.”

As he travels throughout the Southeast speaking in schools, Cooper has been floored by what he’s found.

“Too many of these kids are living on their own18 years old, seniors in high school, living in their own apartment and working a part-time job for tips,” he said. “But they don’t know anything about credit.

“I’m saying to them, ‘You’re already living in adulthood, but you’re missing one of the most important pieces.’”

Getting the Message out

Cooper and others at Fedup-4U are learning all they can about credit because the organization is preparing to take its new message into schools in Georgia, Alabama, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“We want to touch the Z Generation,” Cooper says “We’re not in the business of fixing credit. We want to get to you before you have to fix your credit.”

The new program will be called CREDUP, short for “Career Ready Education Development on a student’s way UP.” Cooper says teaching kids about credit is especially important now that Americans owe a collective $ 1 trillion in credit card debt. Yikes!

Cooper values the lessons about credit he’s learning by monitoring his credit score.

“We’re taking so much of the blueprint from Credit Sesame,” he says.

If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like, check out Credit Sesame for yourself to see what you could do differently.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. His credit could be better, and he’s working on it.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Macy’s Rolls Out New Rewards, and You Don’t Need a Credit Card to Join


Shoppers who don’t want to open yet another credit card to access store rewards have a new option at Macy’s.

The department store announced this month that the Star Rewards program now includes a bronze level that all shoppers can access, regardless of their method of payment.

Bronze-level members are eligible for Star Money Days, special offers and mysterious birthday surprises. Star Money Days allow customers to earn bonus points on their purchases. Earn 1,000 points and redeem them for $ 10 in Star Money, which can be used without merchandise exclusions for 30 days.

Customers can enroll online, in stores or through the Macy’s app.

Is Bronze Star Rewards Macy’s Replacement for Plenti?

Macy’s announcement comes shortly after the news that rewards program Plenti is ending this summer. Macy’s was one of the initial partners in the program, which allowed shoppers who earned 1,000 points at any Plenti retailer to exchange them for $ 10 at a participating store of their choice. Macy’s dropped out of the Plenti program this spring.

American Express services both Plenti and Macy’s credit cards. The silver, gold and platinum rewards levels are reserved for credit card users, who receive discounts, free shipping and other rewards depending on their spending level.  

Macy’s announced in January that it would close 11 stores. Since 2015, the chain has closed more than 120 locations, CNBC reports.

The company has been adding Macy’s Backstage discount departments to existing stores — and a few standalone locations — since 2015.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer covering the retail and grocery industries at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Most Credit Card Companies Will Get Rid Of Your Fees If You Simply Ask

It’s easy to get rid of credit card fees. All you have to do is simply ask, according to a new CreditCards.com report. The terms of one’s credit card, which most people do not read, may be in black and white, but the newly released survey found that those terms aren’t set in stone. Looking to reverse a late fee, increase your credit limit, reduce your interest rate or even skip paying an annual fee, the survey found that when one asks, the credit card company is highly likely to say yes.

The report found that 84% of major credit card holders who asked for a late fee waiver were successful the most recent time they requested and 56% who asked for a lower interest rate got one. Seventy percent of participants in the survey were able to get an annual fee lowered or eliminated.

“The competition for credit card customers among banks has been increasing, and that puts customers in a stronger negotiating position,” says Alex Johnson, director of solution marketing at FICO. “The lesson is, it never hurts to ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say ‘no.’”

So Why Aren’t More People Asking:

Simply put, lack of knowledge, the survey found. For one, many just don’t know that it’s an option. The survey of 1,589 adults in the U.S. found that 60% of cardholders have requested at least one of the listed perks. Only 43% of credit card holders have asked for a higher credit limit.

The most popular request was for an increase in credit limit; the request for an annual fee waiver, the rarest request, was requested by just 18% of the participants.

Millennials Are More Likely To Be Affected:

Compared to other generations in the survey, millennials and Gen Xers had the highest percentages saying they weren’t aware that they could ask for each type of request.

About 1 in 3 millennials who didn’t ask for an interest rate reduction said they didn’t know that they could make such requests, while 1 in 5 said the same thing about a credit limit increase.

The survey found that millennials and Gen Xers are especially likely to be in the dark. Compared to other generations, they had the highest percentages saying they didn’t know they could ask for each type of request. While baby boomers and members of the silent generation in the survey said they didn’t ask because they were happy with the terms of their cards.

Poll findings:

The poll surveyed 1,589 adults in the United States who currently are credit card holders. They were asked if they ever attempted to reach out to their card issuer to either waive or reduce a card’s annual fee, reverse a late payment fee, lower a credit card’s interest rate or raise a card’s credit limit. The number of cardholders who make such requests is small, even though the survey shows that when you ask, you have a good chance of getting what you want.

The survey found that:

85% who asked received a higher credit limit.
84% who asked got a late fee waived.
70% who asked had an annual fee waived or lowered.
56% who asked got a lower interest rate (APR).

The post Most Credit Card Companies Will Get Rid Of Your Fees If You Simply Ask appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Four Tips to Increase Your Credit Score From a Credit Expert

Credit is nothing to play with. It can work in your favor or completely work against you. Black Enterprise caught up with founder Christia’n Annice of eMillions+, a credit repair agency, who gave us four tips on how to increase your credit score.

(Image: Credit Karma)

(Image: Credit Karma)

 

1. Pay your bills on time.

Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on a credit score. According to FICO data, a 30-day delinquency could cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop on a FICO Score of 780 for a consumer who has never missed a payment on any credit account.

In comparison, as stated on Equifax, a consumer with a 680 FICO Score and two late payments (a 90-day delinquency on a credit card account from two years ago and a 30-day delinquency on an auto loan from a year ago) would experience a 60- to 80-point drop after being hit with another 30-day delinquency.

2. Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit.”

When your balance is low so is your utilization percentage which is extremely important to your score. To boost your score, pay down a credit card with a high balance relative to its credit limit. Also, try and increase your credit limits. You can do this by calling credit card companies to negotiate.

3. Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.

Applying for new credit accounts for about 10% of your FICO score, so the impact is relatively small but still important to consider.

Open new accounts is a different scenario. If you only have had credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. As stated on MyFico, new accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your FICO® Scores if you don’t have a lot of other credit information.

4. Pay off debt rather than moving it around.

It is extremely important to pay off your debt. A lot of people use moving it to different cards as a strategy but, the only sure fire way to make sure that it is affecting your score in a positive way is to pay it off.

For more information on getting your credit in shape, click here.

The post Four Tips to Increase Your Credit Score From a Credit Expert appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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What is a ‘good’ credit card?

Asking the question, “What is a good credit card?” is kind of like asking “What is a good car?” as the answer will always depend on who you are and what you are using it for. A good car for a large family might be a minivan, while a compact might be the right car for solo commuter.

So let’s look at a few of the different types of credit card users and get a sense for what a “good” credit card would be for each.

People who are new to credit cards

Students, young adults, recent immigrants and anyone else who is new to credit cards will have different needs than others who have been using them for many years. First, you’ll want a simple card with low rates and fees, as your goal will be to learn how to use a credit card responsibly while incurring as few costs as possible.

You might start with the place where you already hold a checking or savings account. Nearly every bank and credit union offers credit cards, and most will have a simple card with no annual fee and no rewards. And when you need to make a payment, it’s simply a matter of transferring funds between accounts. You don’t have to create a new login or learn how to manage your account on a new website.

RELATED: What you need to know about credit card debt

Credit cards for getting out of debt

If you have credit card debt, a good credit card will be one that helps you to pay it off as soon as possible. Many cards offer 0% APR promotional financing for balance transfers. When you transfer your existing balances to one of these new cards, you can avoid interest charges during the promotional financing period. In fact, you can even pay off your debt more quickly, as 100% of your payments will go towards the principal, not interest charges.

A good credit card for this purpose will have an interest-free promotional financing offer that lasts at least 12 months, while the best will extend to 15 or even 18 months. You also need to look at the balance transfer fee, which is usually 3% of the amount transferred. However, some cards have fees of as much as 5%, and there are a few rare cards with no balance transfer fees at all.

Cards for rebuilding credit

If you’ve experienced job loss, divorce or major medical bills, you might have come away from it with bad credit. And if you’ve gone through bankruptcy, foreclosure or just a long string of unpaid loans, then you definitely need to rebuild your credit. A good credit card can be a tool to rebuild your credit, but only if you manage it responsibly by always paying your bills on-time and carrying little, if any, debt.

First and foremost, a good credit card to rebuild your credit will allow you to open an account, even with your bad credit. There are two types of credit cards available if you have bad credit: subprime cards and secured cards. A subprime card may be from a bank with an obscure name, or perhaps one that’s meant to sound kind of like a major bank that you’ve heard of. It will have very high interest rates and numerous fees, while offering you few benefits and a very small line of credit.

I would avoid these cards and focus on a secured card instead.

Secured cards work just like any other credit card, but they require you to pay a refundable security deposit before opening your account. The size of your deposit becomes your credit limit, and the security deposit is only used if you default. Like any other credit card, you’ll receive a monthly statement and must make the minimum payment. After a year of on-time payments, most secured card holders find that they can qualify for a standard, unsecured card and will have their deposit refunded. The best secured cards will be offered by a reputable bank that can eventually offer you an unsecured card. And, best of all, many of these top secured cards have no annual fee.

Earning rewards

When you always avoid interest charges by paying your statement balances in full, then you should be earning as many rewards and benefits as possible. The best card for you will depend on how you use your cards and its rewards. Frequent travelers will want a card that offers them airline miles, hotel points or other rewards that they can use for free trips. At the same time, a good travel card will also feature perks like free checked bags, hotel room upgrades and travel insurance policies.

Others might find the most value in a cash-back credit card that offers rewards that can be used to pay for anything. Some cash back cards will offer a high level of cash back on all purchases, like 1.5% or even 2%. Others can offer bonuses of as much as 5% on some purchases, but only 1% elsewhere. And when it comes to reward credit cards, the one with the lowest annual fee might not be the best. If you can receive hundreds of dollars of rewards and benefits, it may be worth paying an annual fee.

RELATED: New Barclays Arrival Premier card: Worth a look if you love to travel

One last thing

For millions of Americans, there’s no good credit card for their needs. If you’re unable to pay your bills on time, or you use your credit card to incur debt, then you should be using another form of payment like cash or a debit card (though you should be wary of when and where you use a debit card). Also, if you find yourself spending more money on a credit card then you would have spent with cash, then it’s also the wrong method of payment for you.

All credit card users should strive to pay their balance in full, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t do this, and using another form of payment instead. By considering how you will use your credit cards, you can ultimately decide the right card for your needs.

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Gas Prices Will Go Up This Summer And Gas Credit Cards Won’t Help You Save

American households already spend between $ 2,000 and $ 3,000 yearly on gas. Come this summer, however, those numbers are expected to increase by another 14%. While you and your family might be counting on gas credit cards to offer some savings, a new survey has found that these credit cards offer much less than promised when compared to general use credit cards.

The new CreditCards.com analysis of 28 widely available gas station cards such as Chevron, Texaco and BP, found that the average gas-station-branded credit card charges an interest rate of 23.61%, which is nearly seven percentage points higher than the national average for all credit cards. These credit cards often offer rewards that can’t match up to a typical general-purpose credit card, Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com senior industry analyst, told Black Enterprise.

Of the 28 gas cards analyzed, 24 of them offer per-gallon discounts at an average of just 5 cents per gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, the national average for a gallon of regular gas is currently $ 2.66, making the return on the deal just shy of 2%. In states like California, where the average price is slightly higher at $ 3.52, a 5-cent discount gets you less than 1.5%.

Twelve of the 28 gas cards analyzed come with a 25-cents-per-gallon introductory offer. The catch is that the discount is only available for a very limited time, usually two to three months.

If you’re planning a big road trip, this is one instance when it might make sense to sign up for a gas rewards credit card,” said Schulz. “But even then, there are restrictions to be aware of–several of the most generous introductory offers are capped around $ 100 of fuel credits. You’re probably still better off with a general cash-back card.”

For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card, the survey found, gives new cardholders 50,000 miles ($ 500 in travel) after they spend $ 3,000 within three months of opening the account. Cardholders receive 2 miles for every dollar they spend (essentially a 2% return) and there is no annual fee for the first year. Citi Double Cash is another popular general-purpose card that offers 2% cash back on all purchases, although it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, the survey found. The American Express Blue Cash Everyday card gives 2% back on gas with a $ 200 sign-up bonus.

General-purpose cards are also much more likely to offer lucrative sign-up bonuses, Schulz said they found. He said there are many different general-purpose credit cards that offer 2% rebates in the form of cash-back and travel rewards. These typically charge much lower interest rates and provide cardholders with far greater flexibility, he said.

“Most folks would benefit from a general purpose card more so than the typical gas station card and the rewards over the long run will end up being lucrative,” Schulz said.

Here’s what else the survey found about gas cards:

  • You don’t want to carry a balance. The average APR for the cards that were surveyed is 23.61%, well above the national average for general purpose cards (16.62%, per the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report). Nine of the cards in our survey had APRs of 28.24%.
  • Most are only good at one kind of gas station. Only 11 cards were co-branded with payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard, meaning they can be used almost anywhere. Gas cards that are not co-branded can only be used at their respective stations.
  • Some cash back cards don’t measure up to them. General purpose cards that offer 1.5% cash back on all spending save you slightly less than 5-cents-per-gallon gas cards at the current average gas price. But drivers who live in expensive-gas states such as California ($ 3.52 per gallon) can save more with 1.5% cash back cards.
  • Many of them have introductory offers. Twelve of the cards in the survey advertised introductory offers, typically featuring increased per-gallon discounts and rebates.

The post Gas Prices Will Go Up This Summer And Gas Credit Cards Won’t Help You Save appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Here’s Why You Should Never Lend Out Your Credit Card

Lending a friend or family member your credit card is a really bad idea, according to a new national CreditCards.com study.

Of the 49% of credit card holders—past and present—35% of them said they’ve had negative experiences. The most common problem people run into when they allow others to use their credit card: overspending.

Last month, a Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. study revealed that an overwhelming majority (80%) of African Americans are more likely to financially help out a family member than 66% of whites. Could African Americans, in the name of helping out a family member, be putting themselves in financial jeopardy?

“You really are playing with fire when you let someone else use your credit card, so proceed with caution,” CreditCards.com Senior Industry Analyst Matt Schulz said. “Whether they spend more than you anticipated, don’t pay you back, or you never see the card again, ultimately, you are the one who is responsible.”

The study also found that younger people (ages 18–37) faced an unfavorable result compared to 31% of Gen X (ages 38–53) and 26% of Baby Boomers (ages 54–72). Others complained about not getting refunded. Ten percent even said their card was either never returned or lost.

The study concluded that most people who have owned a credit card would let immediate family members borrow it and half of them said they are comfortable with a family member spending at least $ 100. Thirty-nine percent say they would never lend their card to an immediate family member.

What the study found was that the less you make, the more likely you are to be burned. More than half (52%) of low-income earners who have lent their credit cards to someone have had negative experiences. The number drops down to a quarter for those making more than $ 30,000.

The post Here’s Why You Should Never Lend Out Your Credit Card appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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This Simple Trick Helped One Man Go From No Credit to a 700 FICO Score


If you look at your dog and he stares back at you probably wondering, “Why do you keep me in this tiny cage of an apartment?”, you might start thinking about buying a house.

But if you have no credit history, it can be hard to do adult things like get a mortgage, negotiate insurance rates or even rent a bigger apartment for Fido. The easiest place to start building good credit is with a credit card. But how do you qualify for a credit card with no credit?

A secured credit card may be the route for you.

What Is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card is a great way to rebuild if you have damaged credit or no credit at all. You put a deposit down as collateral, and the bank gives you a credit card with a limit that’s around the same amount as your deposit. The bank essentially uses your deposit as your line of credit.

So if you put $ 200 down, your credit line on most secured cards will be $ 200. Keep in mind that once you deposit that cash, you generally can’t withdraw it until you cancel the card, so make sure you don’t need that money any time soon.

Unsecured credit cards, on the other hand, only have the cardholder’s promise to repay.

Make a Secured Credit Card Work for You and Your Credit Score

Like unsecured cards, secured credit cards charge interest, so you still need to pay them off on time and in full every month to avoid fees.

To make your secured credit card work in your credit score’s favor, you need to know what a credit score is and follow some simple rules:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Keep your credit usage below 30% of your credit limit.
  • Don’t open multiple cards at a time.

How Does a Secured Credit Card Build Your Credit Score?

The issuing bank reports your activity to at least one of the major credit bureaus, so after using and paying your card off for a while, your credit history and score will grow.

That’s what Matthew Ramachandran did when he was 18. He put a $ 400 deposit on a Bank of America secured credit card, which helped him grow his nonexistent credit score to a 700 in eight months. Asked about his tips for using secured credit cards to build credit, Ramachandran said, “I always used less than 30% of my credit limit.”

After hitting that 700 credit score, he canceled the secured card and got approved for an unsecured Chase Visa with travel rewards. Now he now makes business purchases with unsecured cards to get travel rewards. He even stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Hawaii for five nights with his points.

All thanks to that first secured credit card.

How to Get a Secured Credit Card

You can visit a bank or apply online. If you’re a credit union member, you may want to check there first because they often offer lower interest rates and waive annual fees.

If you have a bankruptcy on your record or a history of missed payments, the bank may not approve you for a secured credit card. If you’re denied, you have a legal right to know why. You can contact the card issuer for that information.

If you find that the card issuer rejected your application due to an error on your credit report, you can — and should — dispute the error with the credit bureaus. Once the issue is resolved, you can contact the card issuer to reapply.

How Much Will a Secured Credit Card Help my Credit Score?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule on how to use a secured credit card to build credit. The key is to keep usage low and pay off your balance in full every month.

Worried you’ll overspend or forget to pay your bill? A new app called Debitize basically turns your credit card into a debit card, for free. With it, you can connect any credit card to a checking account.

Whenever you swipe your credit card, Debitize pulls the same amount of cash from your bank account. It stores the cash for you until it’s time to pay your credit card bill. Then it pays that bill for you a week before the due date.

Card issuers want to keep you as a customer, so they’ll usually offer you an unsecured card if you’ve made about a year’s worth of on-time payments.

Disclosure: A toast to savings! Thanks for allowing us to place affiliate links in this post.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives tips for saving money and paying off debt on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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The New ID Theft: Millions of Credit Applicants Who Don’t Exist

Synthetic-identity fraud is one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft—and the hardest to spot and combat. Scammers use phony names and unused Social Security numbers to secure debt, a crime that exposes a vulnerability in the U.S.’s credit-checking system. “It seemed too easy.”
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Citibank to Refund $335 Million to Credit Card Holders It Overcharged

Citi Group Inc., one of the world’s largest credit card issuer,s announced Friday that it will refund $ 335 million back to some its U.S. customers later this year.

The banking group said it had not used the proper method for reducing interest charges for 1.75 million credit cards holders who have had to pay the penalty rates since 2011. The refund will average about $ 190 per account.

“This refund won’t have much of an impact on Citi, but for millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, $ 190 matters,” Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst said. “It may not change their lives, but they will certainly welcome it, especially since they shouldn’t have had to part with it in the first place.”

Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, commonly called the CARD Act, is a federal law that changed banks and credit card issuers’ practices and advocated for consumers’ rights. And since 2011, banks have been required to reduce penalty interest rates for cardholders who resume making timely payments.

Citi said it made an error calculating the reductions.

“This provision of the CARD Act is a very important one,” Schulz said. “Before the CARD Act, someone who was hit with a penalty rate could be stuck with that super-high rate indefinitely.”

The error is up to 10% of the interest reductions that cardholders were supposed to get, the bank said. The other 90% of rate savings were properly credited to accounts.

“That shouldn’t happen anymore,” Schulz added. “That’s great news for people who hit a rough patch financially and then get their feet back under them shortly thereafter.”

In 2015, Citibank was ordered to pay $ 700 million back to customers and was fined $ 70 million for malpractices related to its marketing credit card add-on products.

The post Citibank to Refund $ 335 Million to Credit Card Holders It Overcharged appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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This Guy Had a Crippling $26K in Credit Card Debt. Here’s How He’s Paying It Down


On a Saturday night this past January, Nick and his girlfriend Leigh cozied up next to her fireplace and commenced a solemn “credit-card-cutting ceremony.”

Between the duo rested a stack of plastic cards and a bottle of Champagne leftover from New Year’s.

As Nick (who asked that we omit his last name) cut each card, his girlfriend offered words of encouragement — how one day he’d be able to buy a house, invest money, give back.

For Nick, 27, these financial goals have felt far out of reach.

At 18, he was roped into opening his first credit card. Over the years, he spiraled into about $ 26,500 worth of debt.

“I felt like I was drowning,” he says. “I was able to make monthly payments, but every time I did, the majority of the payments were going to interest charges.”

Hoping to fix the problem, he attempted to consolidate his debt. But each time, he was denied a loan. Until he read about Upstart, a lending platform founded by former Google employees that offers what it calls “smarter loans” through partnership with participating banks.

Rather than solely judging borrowers on their credit scores (though it does require a 620 credit score), Upstart’s underwriting model can incorporate factors such as education, area of study and work history to better understand a borrower and their propensity to repay a loan.

Nick took a shot and applied for an Upstart loan. Within 40 minutes, he was approved. Less than two hours later, Upstart initiated a transfer of funds. His loan funds would be available to him the next business day.

Cue the ceremonial credit-card cutting — because he vows to never let credit card debt take over his life again.

How This Guy Plans to Pay off $ 26K in Credit Card Debt

The more than $ 26,000 in debt Nick managed to collect was mostly from his younger, more financially reckless years, when he’d buy the latest and greatest electronics or take vacations and spend too much money.

“I completely misused [credit cards] and was not financially responsible at all,” he says.

Within 10 years of opening his first credit card, he owed six creditors a lot of money. His total monthly minimum payments hovered around $ 800. Much of that went toward interest and fees.

For example, one card called for a $ 160 minimum payment, but only $ 65 of that went toward the principal.

“How crazy is that?” he says. “I felt as if I was going nowhere, simply spinning my wheels in the mud, truly not able to make any momentum.”

He’d attempted to refinance with several lenders, hoping a loan with a lower interest rate would help him gain some traction. But each time he applied, he was denied.

Then he read about Upstart on The Penny Hoarder. It was the story we told about Kelsey Buxton, who found herself in a similar situation, with about $ 22,000 in credit card debt. Because Nick related all too well, he felt like he had a chance.

He applied for the loan, and the process moved forward quickly. He rattles off email timestamps:

  • Upstart sends confirmation that it received his application at 11:53 a.m. Jan. 8.
  • At 12:33 p.m. that same day, an email indicating his loan approval popped into his inbox.
  • Then, at 2:10 p.m. — only a few hours later — Upstart let him know it had initiated the transfer of funds into his account.
  • When he woke up Jan. 9, sure enough, the loan was in his account, and he immediately began making payments toward his credit cards.

“It was such a relief — like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” he says.

This new loan meant Nick could go from paying a minimum of $ 800 a month to a minimum of $ 667, thanks to the difference in interest. With his credit cards, he was paying up to 24% in interest. His new loan boasted a 19% interest rate.

Rather than blowing that extra $ 133 a month, though, he  puts it toward his five-year loan, which means he’ll be able to pay the loan off in about three and a half years — at most. His job also allows for overtime, so he plans to put some extra time in and put any additional income toward the loan.

“Truly, my goal is to have this loan paid off at around two and a half years,” he says. “I think I am on my way!”

Additionally, he has vowed to never slip into credit card debt again. That’s helped by cutting up all his cards — except one he keeps locked in a safe, only for emergencies.

Upstart Loans Review: He Has Renewed Hope

Nick says he can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

He is able to more aggressively pay off his credit card debt through his Upstart loan, and his credit score through Experian has increased from 630 to 742. He suspects it’ll only continue to increase as he pays his debt down.

Nick feels thankful for Upstart — and that it took a chance on him.

His less than perfect credit score didn’t mean he wasn’t capable of taking strides to get his finances in order. Instead, Upstart’s technology analyzed other factors, like his job history in public service and his education, an associate degree.

“It has shown a light at the end of a dark, treacherous, financially disappointing [tunnel],” he says. “I finally feel like I’m moving forward.”

As soon as Nick pays off his credit cards, he wants to purchase a house.

“Upstart has provided me the opportunity to dream about my future without lingering credit card debt.”

How to Apply for an Upstart Loan

We send a genuine thank you to Nick, who emailed us about a week after his loan approval to share his story.

“I really want to be able to give others hope, like I was given,” he says. “I thought I was never going to be able to get out of debt.”

If you’re curious, you can get a free quote from Upstart within minutes. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score.

Simply navigate to Upstart and select your goal. Do you want to pay off credit card debt like Nick did? Tackle student loans? Pay for personal expenses, like medical bills or rent?

You’ll enter some basic information on the rate check form: how much you wish to borrow ($ 1,000 to $ 50,000), your name, address, highest level of education and primary source of income.

There are no prepayment penalties, so you can take strides to pay your loan ahead of time, like Nick.

Learn more about Upstart and secure a free quote all online.

This story is a reflection of one individual’s experience and doesn’t necessarily reflect the experience of all applicants.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. If an Upstart loan has renewed your financial hope, she’d love to hear from you.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Visa finally gets on board with optional credit card signatures

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As more and more credit card companies announced an end to the need for signatures on credit and debit card receipts, major player Visa kept holding out. Until today.

Finally, Visa announced Friday it was making signatures “optional” in North America starting in April.

Visa’s move, which keeps signing an option for now, is a little different to MasterCard, Discover, and American Express who are straight-up eliminating the need for something on the dotted line. But it’s essentially dumping signatures unless retailers decide they still want one. Read more…

More about Security, Visa, Signatures, Biometrics, and Credit Cards


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Why Trump isn’t getting the credit he thinks he deserves

President Donald Trump is probably right: he doesn’t get due credit for the volume of achievements he’s stacked up during a tumultuous political year.


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4 Steps For Black Entrepreneurs to Build Their First Business Credit Report

While every business owner has a personal credit report, not every business has a business credit report. A personal credit report is created the moment an individual with a Social Security number accepts their first job or applies for their first form of financing. However, a business credit report is not automatically created and there are a variety of steps that must be followed in order to establish this very important business financing tool. Here are the preliminary steps you must take to build business credit:

 

  Properly Establish Your Entity

Operating as a sole proprietor would make it very difficult to establish and build a quality business credit profile. So the first thing that you want to do is plan to incorporate your business as either a C-Corp, S-Corp, or Limited Liability Company (LLC).

This will also involve obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN), opening a dedicated bank account for the business, setting up the business telephone line, setting up the business website, setting up the business location, and making sure to have a clear separation of personal and business affairs. Other aspects associated with properly establishing your entity include having proper levels of insurance, developing a quality business plan, and making sure your legal advisers are in place.

Register the Entity With the Major Business Credit Bureaus

To make sure your payment history from vendors, suppliers, and creditors that report to business credit bureaus is recorded, you have to make sure to set up a business entity profile with the two major business credit bureaus. This will include both Experian Business and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). With D&B you will receive a D-U-N-S number and a D&B PAYDEX Score; with Experian you will receive an Intelliscore Plus. Both are measured mainly using a scale of 1–100, with a score over 80 considered the best tier. It’s best that once you establish your profile, that you also set up some sort of credit monitoring; that way you can verify each month that everything is being reported properly and efficiently.

Begin Building the Business Credit Profile

This process could be a bit difficult, as not every creditor reports their information to business credit bureaus. So your research here would be to find those creditors that, in fact, would report your on-time payment information, so you could build your report history. Some vendors to look at to begin include the following:

  • Shared Secured Loans and Secured Credit Cards

These can be provided by your local credit union. With both, you will deposit money into a bank account and then with the shared secured loan, you will take out a loan on the money deposited, using the deposit balance as security. As you pay back the loan, that amount of the secured balance becomes “available.” This product is great because it’s reported to the business credit bureaus as a regular loan from the credit union. The same would work with the secured credit cards, where you establish a line of credit using money from your deposit account, with the reporting showing up as a regular credit card on the business credit report from the credit union. A business would find that using one of these products would prove to be much easier to establish a business credit history than using one of the various companies below.

  • Various Companies

These can include companies such as Grainger, Uline, Quill, OnDeck, and a variety of other companies that would report the on-time payments to the bureaus.

Continue Building Your Business Credit Profile

After a solid six to 12 months of using the above beginning basics of building, you could now try to apply to the variety of business credit card companies to add additional trade lines. In addition, seek to reach out to various vendors, suppliers, and consultants for your business as many times they will offer trade credit, which could also be reported on your business credit report for building aspects. Note that as you go forward, you want to make sure to continue making all payments on time and never miss a payment. It’s also best to make payments much earlier than scheduled.

After a solid 12 to 24 months of utilizing the above strategies, your options for business lines of credit, leasing, term loans, asset-based lending, lower APR business credit cards, more attractive trade credit structuring, etc., open up as your business maintains its well-structured business credit report.

The post 4 Steps For Black Entrepreneurs to Build Their First Business Credit Report appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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3 Ways to Protect Your Credit if You’re Stressing Over Recent Breaches

Worried about the security of your credit after a year filled with security breaches?

Your first instinct might be to lock it all down until further notice. But it’s not that simple — there are several options available. And when you’re stressed about your credit safety, they can all be confusing.

The Federal Trade Commission released a blog post describing the difference between fraud alerts, credit freezes and credit locks.  

Here’s the rundown:

Fraud alert: A 90-day alert on your account that requires companies to contact you before offering new credit. This is a free service, and you only need to set up an alert with one of the credit reporting agencies, and the agency you set up the alert with must notify the other two.

Credit freeze: Nobody, not even you, can open new accounts while a freeze is on your credit. In most cases, a freeze lasts until you request to have it lifted. There are small fees of about $ 5 to $ 10 each time you make a change to your freeze status. You must request a credit freeze with each credit reporting agency. It can take a few days for your account to update when you freeze or unfreeze your credit.

Credit lock: A lock blocks everyone, including you, from making changes to your credit file. This access is managed through a website or mobile app, and access is instant if you unlock your credit. This option is the most expensive: Each credit reporting agency charges a monthly fee upward of $ 20. You must request a credit lock from each individual credit reporting agency.

So, which one is right for you?

The FTC has a chart to help you decide. Since fraud alerts are free and can be set up every 90 days, you should feel empowered to use them if you want to keep a close eye on your credit.

Since there are fees involved with both credit freezes and credit locks, they make more sense for someone who has a strong suspicion their credit may be compromised — for example, if you received notice you were affected by a security breach.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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4 Quick Steps That Can Help Turn Around a Poor Credit Score

It’s no secret your credit score is important. The better your score, the better deal you get on a mortgage or a car loan or credit card.

We’re talking big money here.

Even if you’re not buying a house anytime soon, a lousy credit score means you’ll get mugged for a high security deposit whenever you rent a car or move into a new apartment.

But improving your credit seems like such a long-term project, doesn’t it?

After all, it can literally take years for negative information to finally come off your credit report. That one phone call you got from that rude bill collector can stain your record for up to seven years.

Seven years? Shoot, you’ll probably be a completely different person by then.

Don’t get discouraged. There are quick ways to start healing your credit. If you make the right moves, you can get your credit score back up around 670what most lenders consider “good.”

Here’s a fast, easy way to see your credit score: Sign up for Credit Sesame, a free service that shows your score and explains it to you.

Now that you know your score, here are four things you should do right away to improve your credit.

How to Fix Credit Fast: Start With These Strategies

1. Use Your Credit Card

Just don’t overuse it, that’s all. Buy something with your credit card every month. Even one or two purchases, like a tank of gas or a gallon of milk or, you know, a bottle of wine. Whatever.

Get a credit card with a signup bonus, cash rewards and no annual fees. Just make sure to pay off your balance every month so you can avoid paying interest. That’s a money drain right there.

This way, you have positive activity on your credit report every month. The credit reporting agencies that calculate your credit score really like that. It’s like petting a cat and making it purr.

2. Don’t Max Out Your Cards

An important part of your credit score is “credit utilization.” That’s a fancy-pants way of saying “how much of your credit you’re actually using.”

Let’s say you have a credit card with a $ 2,000 limit on it, and you have a balance of $ 1,000 that you haven’t paid off. You’re using half your credit. Your credit utilization is 50%.

It should really be lower. The lower, the better. This makes more difference than you might think.

3. Dispute Wrong Information

One out of every five credit reports has an error in it, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.

So take a look at your credit report, and dispute any incorrect information in it. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before. It’s really not that hard. If you set aside a little time, you can do this today.

The three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are each required to give you a free credit report once a year. If you want, you can go to the website Annual Credit Report to get all three at once.

So what are you looking for, here? Well, if you find an “unpaid” credit card that you know you paid, or a bill in collections that you know never existed, you should file a dispute with the appropriate credit bureau.

That can be done online for free. You’ll go to Equifax’s disputes page, or Experian’s, or TransUnion’s.

4. Consolidate Your Debt

To have good credit, it’s important to pay your bills on time. Don’t fall behind.

If you’re drowning in credit card debt and hemorrhaging money on interest payments, consider refinancing your debt with a personal loan.

Once again, it’s easier than you might think. A good place to start is Even Financial, which can help you borrow up to $ 100,000. Once you type in your info, compares interest rates from several lenders. There’s no charge for this.

Use that loan to pay off your high-interest credit cards. Then you repay the lender a fixed amount every month for a set time period — usually two to four years.

See? Improving your credit doesn’t have to take seven years after all.

Your credit score is a number that ranges between 300 and 850. It’s like a grade that tells lenders how well you manage money and repay debt. Ideally, you want your score to hit at least 670 or so.

Taking steps to improve your credit is worth it. Especially when it comes to major life purchases — houses and cars — the higher your credit score, the better off you’ll be.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. His credit is OK, but it could be better, frankly.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Overview of the Personal Credit Report [for 2017]

According to Vantage Score, the vast majority of Americans don’t understand many of the nuances of a personal credit report. Your personal credit report is being updated for you by the three major personal credit reporting agencies of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, any time one of the following occurs:

  • A job is added or terminated
  • A residence is added or terminated
  • An installment loan is opened, paid, or removed
  • A revolving credit line is opened, paid, or removed
  • Average credit age changes
  • Average credit utilization
  • Credit payment history changes
  • A credit inquiry is added or removed
  • Public records are added, paid, or removed

(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)

 

 

Your Personal Credit Score Is Weighted on the Following:

 
  • Your payment history along with the presence of any public records: 35%
  • The outstanding amounts you owe, along with current credit utilization: 30%
  • The length of time you’ve had the loans/credit lines: 15%
  • The moment a new loan or credit line is opened: 10%
  • Your current mix of loans and credit lines: 10%
 

Types of Personal Credit Scores/Measurements

 

In terms of the types of Personal Credit Scores, you have the standard reporting system from Fair Isaac Corporation (known as FICO) with about 50 different types of scores. Then, you have the Vantage Score, which is provided for educational purposes to consumers from many credit card issuers along with platforms such as Credit Karma. You can obtain a free, full copy of your personal credit report and three bureau scores, once per year, from www.annualcreditreport.com. In terms of quality measurement, scores range from 300 to 850 and:

  • A score under 579 is considered Poor
  • A score between 580 and 669 is considered Fair
  • A score between 670 and 739 is considered Good
  • A score between 740 and 799 is considered Very Good
  • A score between 800 and 850 is considered Excellent
 

Public Records

 

Having public records such as a foreclosure, tax lien, judgment, or bankruptcy on your report will bring down your score. These items generally remain on your report for the following duration:

  • Foreclosures: 7 years
  • Tax Liens: 7 to 15 years depending upon when paid
  • Judgments: 7 years
  • Ch. 13 Bankruptcies: 7 years
  • Ch. 7 Bankruptcies: 10 years

However, new reporting standards were released in Summer 2017 for both tax liens and civil judgments. Going forward, for either a tax lien or civil judgment to be reported on a personal credit report, the reporting must include your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. In addition, there are now required courthouse visits to be completed, in order to obtain newly filed and updated records at least every 90 days. These new reporting standards would remove virtually all civil judgments that have occurred up until this point, along with certain tax liens as well.

 

Credit Repair and Maintaining Good Credit

 

The FTC warns that consumers should avoid many credit repair companies, as they usually charge exorbitant prices with deceitful promises of fixing your credit seemingly overnight. The truth is, the only way to “fix your credit” is the following (all of which you can do yourself):

  • Work To Remove Negative Information: All late payments and other negative information needs to be paid as soon as you can. You might be able to contact the creditor to negotiate a lower lump sum payment amount. Also, examine your credit report to determine if there’s something that doesn’t belong there, if something is reported incorrectly, etc. If so, file a dispute with the bureaus directly. By law, they must respond within 30 days:
  • Work To Establish Positive Information: You need to establish “positive payment history,” which means you need to add new installment loans and revolving credit lines, pay them off on time going forward, and make sure to never miss a payment.
  • Personal Credit Maintenance: Continue to maintain positive payment history by adding additional revolving credit lines and installment loans until you have a good “mix” (I recommend, at least 10 listings) that are reporting positive payment history. Make sure to continue making all payments on time and never miss a payment. Also, make sure to continue monitoring your credit report using sources such as Credit Karma, to make sure nothing is placed there that shouldn’t be.

 

Money – Black Enterprise

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Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft Aren’t the Same, but We Hate Them Both

I’ll admit it. I got suckered.

I got phished and fell for it.

It was about 10 years ago, and these scams weren’t commonplace just yet. I responded to what looked like an email from my bank verifying my PIN.

Dumb move. My rent money was taken out of my account at an ATM in Romania. Seriously. Luckily, my bank was great about handling it, and it was all resolved.

I told everyone that I had been a victim of identity theft and even went on the local TV station to talk about it. Phishing scams were a relatively new concept back then.

I was wrong. It wasn’t identity theft. It was credit card fraud.

Potato? Potahto? Actually, no. Credit card fraud and identity theft are two different crimes, and the difference is significant. Here’s what you need to know.

Credit Card Fraud Is a Form of Identity Theft

Technically, credit card fraud is one type of identity theft. Legal Dictionary defines credit card fraud as “the unauthorized use of an individual’s credit card or card information to make purchases, or to remove funds from the cardholder’s account.”

That means some shady character has gained access to one of your accounts through a stolen card, account number, PIN or anything else that lets them access your account.

Those card skimmers at the gas pumps are a prime example of how credit card fraud occurs. The skimmers steal your card information when you swipe your card for fuel, then the fraudster sells that information on the darknet or uses it to take or spend money from your account.

A simple way to remember the difference between credit card fraud and identity theft is that credit card fraud involves one account getting compromised.

How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud

There’s no surefire way to prevent all credit card fraud unless you want to go back to only using cash or trading chickens. There are, however, some ways to minimize your risk.

  • Keep your credit cards in a safe place. Keep them in a wallet or purse that’s close to you at all times outside of your home.
  • Shred your credit card bills and unwanted bank statements. Basically, shred anything with your account numbers on it.
  • Do not give your card or account information over the phone unless you initiated the conversation. If you called your favorite store, fine, but if the store called you, how do you know it’s legit? You don’t.
  • If you’re worried about gas pump skimmers, first look for the small seal that shows that the pump panel has not been opened. Then use the “credit” option on your debit card. Never type in your PIN. Even safer, prepay inside the store for your gas.
  • Never give out information via email. Phishing scams are everywhere. Keep in mind that your bank or credit card company will never ask you for your PIN. Also, that prince in Nigeria does not actually have millions of dollars for you. Don’t give him anything.

What to Do if You’re a Victim

If you discover that one of your bank or credit card accounts has been compromised, take action right away. The sooner you react, the better chance you have of saving your money.

  • If you have a card that lets you freeze it easily from your phone or a computer, do it right away.
  • Keep a close eye on your statements for the account in question. You’ll want to look for any new charges you did not make.
  • Call your bank or credit card company and let it know about the issue.
  • Report the theft to the police. They likely won’t do much to help, but having that report could help you get your money back from your bank or credit card company. In any case, it won’t hurt.
  • Change your online passwords. You don’t know exactly what information the bad guys have. You want to change your passwords occasionally anyway. (But not too often.)
  • Call one of the three national credit reporting agencies, Experian, Transunion or Equifax, and file a fraud alert. If you do this with one of the companies, it will automatically alert the others. No need to call all three.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Like the police report, this can help as you try to clean up the mess.

Identity Theft Goes Beyond a Single Account

While credit card fraud is the compromising of one account, identity theft occurs on a broader scale. Identity theft is defined by Legal Dictionary as “the act of stealing another person’s personal identifying information in order to gain access to his financial resources, or obtain access to other benefits, such as money, credit, or insurance benefits.”

In other words, the bad guys have your personal information and can use that to gain access to your accounts, open new accounts or even take out loans in your name.

Or perhaps someone uses your identity to conceal their illegal actions. Maybe they need medical help and don’t have insurance, but you do.

There’s even a problem in the U.S. with child identity theft.

Scary stuff.

If you are getting phone calls or bills in the mail about debts you know nothing about, don’t simply dismiss them. Look into the charges and see if someone is using your information.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft uses your personal information against you. That means you need to take steps to protect that information from others who might want to use it for their own gain. Here are a few tips.

  • Protecting your Social Security number is crucial. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place and don’t carry it with you. If you happen to lose it, the card could easily fall into the wrong hands. Also, only give out that number when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Never respond to unsolicited requests for your personal information. Whether it’s a phone call or email, always be wary. If your bank contacts you asking for information, politely decline. Then, call your bank directly and let it know about that phone call or email. Same for any other contacts.
  • Shred all unneeded documents that may have your Social Security number or other personal information on them. When in doubt, shred it.
  • Be smart with your online passwords. Keep them varied and difficult to guess.
  • Order a copy of your credit report. The law requires each of the three credit reporting agencies to provide you with one free copy of your report each year. Look for any old accounts that could be removed or ones you do not recognize.

What to Do if You’re a Victim

The steps to prevent and repair identity theft are largely the same as those for credit card fraud, but there are a few added measures.

  • Find and close any new accounts opened in your name. When you report the fraud to a credit bureau, it should be able to tell you what new accounts have been opened.
  • If you think your Social Security number was compromised, report it to the Social Security Administration.
  • If your driver’s license was stolen or compromised, report that to your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles. You may need to get a new one.
  • Suddenly have a police record for no reason? You may have to clear your name of wrongdoing. It won’t be fun or easy, but you can’t ignore it. Call your local law enforcement agency to start the process. You may want to seek counsel from a lawyer first.
  • Keep a close eye on your mail for any other solicitations for payment. School loan notices, medical bills, even letters from the IRS could be signs that you have more issues to address.

The easiest way to get started is to go to identitytheft.gov and report your identity theft case. The site will walk you through all of the steps you need to get the situation fixed.

Protect Your Identity and Your Credit Score

It’s a scary time for these kinds of crimes. We’ve become an increasingly digital society, and our information is out there for the taking. I mean, when one of the three major credit bureaus leaks your information, you know things are bad.

What can you do? Your best bet is to simply keep close tabs on your accounts and passwords, and be smart when you shop online.

If you really want to protect yourself, you can pay a credit monitoring company to alert you if anything looks amiss. Some of them can also help you recover from identity theft.

Credit card fraud and identity theft happen. They’re not the same thing, but they both suck. A bit of diligence now can save you a lot of headaches later.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Credit Cards For Beginners

Credit card companies entice you with zero interest rates for the first year or six months of spending. But it’s exactly those zero interest rates that entice you to spend money you don’t have because you feel like there won’t be consequences. Keep in mind that if the first year’s interest rate is zero, it’s typically because, when interest rates do kick in, they’ll be high. So having $ 3,000 of unpaid credit card bills when, let’s say, an eight percent interest rate kicks in means you pay $ 240 in interest fees.
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Smithsonian, Christo stole credit from top photographer, lawsuit says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Smithsonian Institution and the artist Christo were sued on Tuesday by a New York photographer who accused them of stealing credit for his photos of “Running Fence,” a 1976 installation that remains one of Christo’s best-known works.


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Credit Agricole Group Q3 Profit Up, But Credit Agricole S.A Falls; Stock Dips

French lender Credit Agricole Group, comprising Cr‚dit Agricole S.A. and Regional Banks, Wednesday reported higher profit in its third quarter with increased revenues. Credit Agricole S.A, meanwhile, reported a sharp decline in third-quarter profit mainly on the absence of prior year’s gain. Credit Agricole shares were losing around 5 percent in Paris trading.
RTT – Earnings

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Morehouse Student’s Extra Credit Biology Rap Goes Viral

The Morehouse College football player whose extra credit rap video for his biology class went viral says the whole idea started on a whim as he was sitting in bed one night after a game.

Julien Turner, a linebacker for the Maroon Tigers, said he was listening to a Lil Uzi song when he got an idea.

“[I] was listening to ‘XO Tour Llif3’ and I remembered [the professor] had assigned an extra credit assignment where I could make a music video out of anything, and ‘all my cells are dead’ just kept repeating in my head,” Turner, 19, a marketing major, said on “Good Morning America” today. “I scrambled to check my notes to make sure it had something to do with biology and I started writing lyrics that were parallel to the song so I could remember it better. I called up a few teammates and we made the video, and it just blew up from there.”

Turner soon found himself spitting such revised lyrics as: “The DNA starts to unwind. The RNA reads the other side. Meiosis is the key to making life. Mitosis copies cells about to die. If my genes go left unread, all my cells are dead.”

Watch below:

Turner’s professor, Dr. Dwann Davenport, said he succeeded in earning the extra credit with his video.

“I actually heard about it before I even checked my email to see that he’d turned it in,” Davenport said. “I see the text message with the link and I clicked on it and I was like, ‘Oh this is catchy. This is nice.’ I saw all the likes and all the retweets and I was like, ‘Wait, this is my student. Wait a minute, this is Julien. Oh my goodness.’ I was so excited, but I didn’t expect anything like this.”

“He’s an athlete, he’s on the football team. He’s amazing,” she added.

Turner said he and his younger brother also started their own production company, Dreadhead Films, several years ago, and that “it’s crazy” this video went viral because “it’s the worst film” he has ever made. He said his brother is usually the cinematographer and editor, but he didn’t work on this one.

Music runs in Turner’s family. His father, Kevin Turner, is a jazz guitarist and music professor at Ohio State.

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Half of Americans think this credit card practice should be illegal

When you’re out shopping through the holiday season and get to the register, keep in mind that sales associates are under enormous pressure to get you to sign up for a store credit card.

They may offer incentives like “20% off your first purchase” or “0% special financing for 12 months.”

RELATED: New tool offers credit card perks without debit card dangers

Warning: Do NOT sign up for these credit cards 

These offers can be very tempting to people who are on a tight budget — especially around the holidays — but they come at a steep cost once the grace period is over.

It’s all because of deferred interest, which money expert Clark Howard refers to as “hideous retroactive interest.”

Here’s an example: 

Bonnie goes to the register and her total comes to $ 1,000. The cashier asks if she’d like to open a store card to receive no interest financing for six months.

She gets approved for instant credit and is grateful for the extra time to pay for the items.

At the end of the six months, Bonnie has paid off all but $ 50 of the balance and plans to send in the last $ 50 the following month.

But to her surprise, she receives a $ 250 interest charge on her very next bill!

Clark: Beware of ‘hideous retroactive interest’ 

How could this happen? With a normal 0% credit card offer, interest only applies to the balance remaining after the special financing period is up.

However, retailers that offer special financing with deferred interest don’t work the same way.

If you miss a monthly payment or don’t repay your full balance within the 0% period, interest is applied retroactively to the original purchase amount.

That’s how Bonnie from our example was charged $ 250 in interest for a $ 50 balance. It’s like the 0% rate never existed!

According to WalletHub’s 2017 Deferred Interest Study, 61% of people think retroactive interest is unfair and 50% believe it should be illegal.

Here’s a look at the retailers that use deferred interest: 

Store cards charge up to 30% interest 

Deferred interest isn’t the only problem with store-only credit cards. They’re known for having regular interest rates much higher than general-purpose cards — some as high as 30%.

The average retail card APR (annual percentage rate) is 24.99%, according to a study from CreditCards.com. 

“Instant credit should be called instant debt,” Clark said. “When people take instant credit here, there and everywhere, they end up in debt not to their eyeballs — but above.”

Clark says you’re better off using the regular credit card that’s already in your wallet or just pay with cash!

Recap of Clark’s take:

  • One-store-only credit cards are inferior to general-purpose cards
  • Always pay your balance in full every month
  • Read the fine print to avoid deferred or retroactive interest

RELATED: Clark’s #1 secret to avoid overspending this holiday season


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Biology student goes viral with extra credit rap video

This Georgia student has a promising career as a YouTube sensation post-graduation. Morehouse College student Julien Turner lit up the internet this week when he posted his extra credit video to Twitter. Turner, who is enrolled in a biology class,  got creative when his teacher challenged students to make a video about mitosis and meiosis….
Tech | New York Post

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Uber’s new no-annual-fee credit card comes with some sweet perks

Uber is ready to throw down with a sweet offer for anyone who wants its first-ever credit card!

RELATED: Clark Howard goes undercover as a Lyft and Uber driver

Here’s what the Uber credit card offers

Beginning Nov. 2, the ride-sharing company will start accepting applications for its new Uber Visa Card.

In a blog post, the company notes that cardholders will be able to earn rewards of a penny on every dollar spent for most purchases, with higher levels of reward points assigned to other purchasing activities:

  • 4% back on dining and bars (including UberEATS)
  • 3% back on hotel and airfare (incluidng vacation home rentals)
  • 2% back on online purchases (including those made with Uber itself)
  • 1% back on everything else

The Uber Visa Card, which will be issued in conjunction with Barclays, has no annual fee — which is a big bonus.

But watch out for that interest rate of 15.99%, 21.74% or 24.74% (depending on your credit) if you carry a balance! (You should never carry a balance from one month to the next!) 

 As an introductory offer, you can also earn $ 100 after spending $ 500 during the first 90 days.

Uber Visa Card

Here’s a rundown of some of the other perks:

No foreign transaction fees

Most credit card issuers charge around 3% if you use their card outside the United States.

Not so with Uber Visa Card, which has zero transaction fees!

Mobile phone insurance

You’ll get up to $ 600 for phone theft or damage when you pay your wireless bill with Uber Visa Card.

And you’re only responsible for a $ 25 out-of-pocket deductible!

Special invites

Uber says cardholders will also get invites to events, secret shows and dining experiences in select U.S. cities.

But this might be the biggest perk of all…

The Uber Visa Card comes with an annual $ 50 subscription credit that can be used for services including Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime membership.

This credit recurs every year once you spend $ 5,000 annually.

Clark Howard’s take

Money expert Clark Howard is always quick to note that cards like this will only work in your life if you’re a net payer, i.e. you pay your bill in full each and every month.

If you tend to carry a balance from month-to-month, any benefit of the Uber Visa Card could get eaten up pretty quickly with interest charges.

In that case, you’re probably better off with a credit card from your local credit union. They tend to have lower interest rates than the cards from the big financial institutions.

RELATED: How to use credit cards to benefit your financial life

Watch Clark go undercover as a Lyft and Uber driver!


clark.com

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5 Tips for Renting to Someone with Bad Credit

rent-rental-application-residential-lease-bad-creditRenting out an apartment or home can be a difficult task for some landlords. After spending time preparing your unit for renters and then advertising it, you need to find a suitable tenant from a long list of applicants.

Many landlords begin by sifting through the applications, ensuring each potential tenant meets a certain set of criteria. For instance, do they have a good credit score? Do they pay their bills on time? Do they have a good reference from their previous landlord? These questions help a landlord decide if they should invest in an applicant or move on to a new contender.

While the ideal tenant is certainly out there, it may take some time—and many applications—to find that person, which could leave your unit unrented and your property debts unpaid. Essentially, this means it may be worthwhile to sign a lease with an applicant who does not meet all of your expectations as opposed to waiting for an applicant who does.

When renting to a tenant with an imperfect rental or credit history, landlords can minimize the risks they face by discussing any issues with the applicant, having the tenant sign the lease with a guarantor, asking for a higher security deposit, shortening the lease term, or requesting automated or post-dated rent payments.

This post can offer tips to help you protect your real estate when renting to someone with flaws in their application.

1. Discuss Any Rental Application Issues with the Applicant

When deciding if an applicant is worth renting to, the old adage, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, certainly applies. However, responsible people, and more importantly, good tenants, can make financial blunders and bruise their credit. In fact, nearly 70% of Americans admitted to making a substantial financial error resulting in low credit before the age of 30.

Therefore, the first and most important step is to discuss the problem with the applicant: what about this applicant makes them risky? Perhaps their credit score is low, or maybe they have high credit card debt. Finding out what the applicant has to say about the issue is a good way to determine if you should approve their rental application.

Some individuals have understandable reasons for the blemishes in their credit history and may even offer to ease your worries by providing some form of insurance (such as confirmation that a debt has been paid or agreeing to pay more rent per month).

Communicating with the applicant will allow you to understand their point of view while building your landlord-tenant relationship should you choose to sign a lease with them in the future.

2. Have the Tenant Sign the Lease with a Guarantor

Signing with a guarantor is common practice for individuals with no credit history, such as a young adult moving into their first apartment, but is also a good practice for handling an applicant that may not meet your expectations for a tenant.

When it comes to a residential lease, a guarantor, sometimes called a co-signer, is a person who ensures the tenant’s rent will be paid by agreeing to take on the payments if the tenant cannot. In other words, this person must fulfill the tenant’s lease obligations or suffer consequences to their credit record.

This person doesn’t live with the tenant. They are a surety, providing the landlord with an additional opportunity to collect rental payments. Like a tenant, screen this person to be sure they are financially stable and reliable.

3. Increase the Tenant’s Security Deposit

Asking for a higher security deposit is tricky, especially because it is illegal in some states to ask for a security deposit that is higher than one month’s rent. So, before requesting a higher deposit, it’s best to review your state’s mandated limits.

That said, raising a security deposit to the legal limit is a good way to minimize the risk of renting to someone with a subpar background.

For example, if your advertised security deposit is $ 700 but rent is $ 1,200, increase the security deposit by $ 500 to help safeguard your property. This will provide you with more money to cover any losses in case the tenant doesn’t pay their rent or needs to be evicted.

4. Shorten the Term of the Lease

Another option is to shorten the term of the lease you originally had in mind when signing with a tenant you are unsure about. This may mean changing a yearly lease to month-to-month or your 6-month lease to 3-month. This will allow you to end the tenancy early and easily in case you have any difficulties.

5. Ask for Rent Payments by Direct Debit or Postdated Checks

It’s recommended that you choose an applicant with a reliable source of income and a bank account. That way, you can ask for direct debit (also called direct bank withdrawal) or postdated checks to help make sure rent is paid in full and on time every month.

Evaluate the Risks and Decide Which Tenant You Should Rent To

If you have a long list of applicants, choosing the most qualified person is generally your best option. But if the only adequate applicant has an unflattering mark on their rental and credit history, you’ll need to decide if it’s worthwhile to rent to that person or to move on and re-advertise, possibly leaving the unit empty and uncompensated.

A Rental Application will allow you to properly access that risk by reviewing their credit history, rental history, and employment history or source of income, but you can add safeguards by reviewing any issues with the application with the applicant, asking for a guarantor, a higher security deposit, a shorter lease term, and direct or postdated payments.

Once you’ve hashed out terms that are suitable for both you and your selected applicant, creating a proper Residential Rental/Lease Agreement will ease your mind by further securing your income property investment.

The post 5 Tips for Renting to Someone with Bad Credit appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Coming soon: a selfie with your credit card application

NEW YORK (AP) — The selfie is everywhere — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — and soon your bank could be asking for one in order to approve your purchase or credit card application.
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Credit Freeze Guide: The best way to protect yourself against identity theft

With Equifax’s announcement of its catastrophic security breach, now would be a really good time to consider freezing your credit, if you haven’t already. Credit freezes are one of the most effective ways for consumers to protect themselves against identity theft — and this goes for anyone at any time — regardless of whether you were impacted by this specific breach.

And it’s imperative that you freeze your credit with all three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Below is a quick reference guide on how to put a freeze in place with each bureau, followed by more information on the process, how to thaw your credit and more.

How to freeze your credit with all three agencies

TransUnion

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  • Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
  • By phone: 1-888-909-8872
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • TransUnion LLC
        P.O. Box 2000
        Chester, PA 19016

Equifax

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  • Online: Visit this page to freeze your credit with Equifax. Important note: With such high traffic to the website, if you can’t get your request processed, just wait about a week and try again.
  • By phone: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • Equifax Security Freeze
        P.O. Box 105788
        Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian

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  • Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
  • By phone: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 and then follow prompts for security freeze.
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • Experian Security Freeze
        P.O. Box 9554
        Allen, TX 75013

What exactly is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed. The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

Freezes have been available for free to victims of identity theft for some years, but recently all three of the major credit bureaus adopted new rules that now allow non-victims to have access to credit freezes as well for a small fee. In addition, most states and Puerto Rico have adopted laws establishing credit freezes for residents of their state.

Residents of various states may also freeze the credit reports of their minor children. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to see what the law is in your state.

The cost ranges from about $ 3 to $ 10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report; a couple of states have higher fees.

*When you do a credit freeze, it is imperative that you freeze your credit with all three bureaus.*

When shouldn’t you freeze your credit?

If your credit reports are accessed often for work or because you create new accounts with various financial institutions on a regular basis, it is not recommended that you freeze your accounts. The costs to regularly “thaw” your reports would tend to be excessive.

How/when to thaw your credit

The cost to “thaw” your reports for one creditor — or for a specific period of time — ranges from free to $ 10.

Four states remove your credit freeze automatically after seven years. These states are Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

In most states, your credit freeze remains permanently on your files until you request removal. But not so in the states listed above, according to the Consumers Union’s guide to security freeze protection.

If you’re a resident of one of these states, pay close attention. You’ll need to set some kind of calendar reminder for seven years from the date of placement. That will serve as a reminder to refresh your credit freeze status before it drops off your radar completely and you go months or years without this key protection against identity theft!

Below you’ll find directions and links to assist you in obtaining your credit freeze or thaw from each major bureau.

Detailed instructions: How to freeze and thaw your credit with each agency

EQUIFAX CREDIT FREEZE

  • Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
  • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • If your PIN is late arriving, call 1-888-298-0045. They will ask you for some ID and arrange for your PIN to be sent to you in 4-7 days.
  • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, online or by calling 1-800-685-1111 (N.Y. residents dial 1-800-349-9960).
  • Info on freezing a child’s credit with Equifax can be found here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    • Equifax Security Freeze
      P.O. Box 105788
      Atlanta, GA. 30348

EXPERIAN CREDIT FREEZE

  • Credit freezes may be done online; by certified mail – return receipt requested; or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
  • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • You can also freeze a child’s credit report. The information contained at this link is applicable for all three credit bureaus. You must first write a letter to each bureau to learn if your minor child has a credit report and if so, then you can proceed to freeze it.
  • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.
  • Info on freezing a child’s credit with Experian can be found here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    • Experian
      P.O. Box 9554
      Allen, TX. 75013

TRANSUNION CREDIT FREEZE

  • Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
  • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your TransUnion credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.
  • Info on freezing a child’s credit with TransUnion can be found here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    • TransUnion LLC
      P.O. Box 2000
      Chester, PA 19016

If you have specific questions about the Equifax breach and how it may impact you, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center — a FREE help line open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST with volunteers available to answer YOUR concerns! Call Team Clark @ 404-892-8227.



clark.com

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7 Ways to Fix Your Bad Credit

Credit Score

Are you tired of having a low credit score, but have no idea where to turn to help?

If this sounds like you, then read on to find out how to repair your credit on YOUR terms. All it takes is a little elbow grease and know-how.

  1. Obtain free copies of your credit report—once per year—from www.annualcreditreport.comThe scores are not included for free, but just having the reports is a huge step in the right direction.
  2. Keep your credit utilization percentage at a MAXIMUM of 10%. That might sound super low to you, compared to the 30% that was recommended just a few short years ago. But, to get in that super, high-achievers club, 10% is the new standard. This means that if your total credit card limits are $ 10,000, your balance should never exceed $ 1,000.
  3. Consider opening an account with www.selflender.com, if you need to add positive credit to your reports. This account offers you the ability to save money, invest it into a CD,  and build your credit—all at the same time!
  4. DO NOT close any of your credit card accounts, including the ones with zero balances. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history. If you close even one account with a long history, you will likely see an immediate drop in your scores.
  5. Open an account with your local credit union with the goal of building a long-term relationship. Once you join a credit union, you are now a member/part-owner of the credit union.  Credit unions are lower rates on credit cards, auto loans, home loans, and many other products. Also, credit unions typically have multiple options to select from if you need to rebuild credit.
  6. Consult with a trusted credit professional, if you have charged off accounts and/or past due accounts that you are thinking of paying off. You have to keep in mind that paying off a collection account doesn’t automatically remove it. In fact, paying a collection could actually lower your score, as well! You need to be well-versed in your state’s statute of limitations, if you have collections on your credit reports.
  7. DO NOT dispute errors in your reports online, and DO NOT send a barrage of disputes to the respective credit bureaus. Each dispute should be sent separately and explained in detail, to ensure that your dispute doesn’t get marked as “frivolous.”  You want the credit bureaus to thoroughly research your disputed claims, so take the time to make sure you submit thorough documentation.

Please keep in mind that rebuilding credit is a process, and it may take 180 days or more. It is important to remain patient and, most of all, proactive!  

For more information on business building, business launching and real estate income streams, sign up for our next FREE webinar at www.bit.ly/daniellepierce.

 


This article was written by The BOSS Network Influencer, Danielle Pierce.

Danielle is a Speaker, Author, Business Coach and 10 Year Real Estate Wealth Strategist. She specializes in showing mompreneurs how to elevate their lifestyle and create generational wealth through real estate. Register for her next webinar at www.bit.ly/daniellepierce.

Learn more about Danielle Pierce by visiting her website at www.mommyandmerealestate.com

Follow Danielle on Twitter @_DaniellePierce

Money – Black Enterprise

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The $2 Charge That Dropped My Credit Score 169 Points

Credit Score

So, my personal credit score dropped a whopping 169 points the other day. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. After all, I co-founded a company passionately devoted to teaching entrepreneurs how to avoid that kind of headache.

 

Credit Score (Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)

 

How did it happen? I’m glad you asked. A credit card of mine—which I hadn’t used in three years—was charged a $ 2 dollar late fee. Yes, you heard me correctly. $ 2 dollars.

The fee resulted from a missed $ 10 dollar payment for an insurance policy I forgot I purchased. Until then, the payments had been coming automatically from a checking account I forgot to close. The account ran out of funds, I was dinged for a measly two bucks, and my credit score plummeted in consequence.

The good news is that I got things straightened out, but it was a pain in the neck to do so and a complete waste of time. The bad news is that if it can happen to me, someone who has spent nearly 20 years navigating the ins and outs of the credit and financing labyrinth, it can happen to anyone.

 

Takeaways:

 

  • Thank heaven for free credit alerts. The minute my credit score started flatlining, I was informed of it.
  • A banking error led to that $ 2 late fee being reported to the credit bureaus, as the bank in question had an internal policy that they didn’t report late payments under $ 10. All of that headache stemmed from one little mishap. Check your report for mistakes regularly.
  • It sucks to forget stuff. Get your accounts in order. Close ones you don’t use. Small details, overlooked, can bite you big later on, so don’t make financial housekeeping a New Year’s resolution—do it now. Today. Five minutes ago. A massive weight will be lifted from your shoulders.
  • When it comes to late payments, credit scoring models care more about the fact that you were late than the dollar amount. Whether it’s $ 2 or $ 2,000 dollars, the impact on your credit score is negative. Set up auto-pay for all your accounts, if you haven’t already.
  • I should have logged in and checked on the credit card every month, if for no other reason than the possibility of identity theft. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble.

There you have it. The confession of a sheepish CEO. May it serve as a warning to check your credit often and keep an eye on your financials.

 

This article was written by guest author Levi King and originally appeared on Nav.com.

Money – Black Enterprise

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How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Data Breach

How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax BreachMillions of people (unfortunately, not an exaggeration) are wondering what many Corporette® readers are also wondering: how to protect their credit after the Equifax data breach. On September 7, Equifax revealed that hackers may have exposed Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, website security questions/answers, etc., for up to 143 million people — a “breath-taking amount of highly sensitive data [handed] over to criminals,” as Ars Technica put it. (With all the upsetting news stories recently, someone thought we needed even more things to worry about!) We’ve seen some contradictory information online — and the sheer amount of advice out there is overwhelming — so we thought we’d round up some expert advice in one place. Ladies, what steps have you taken to protect your credit after the breach? Have you used any services or had any success in freezing your credit? If you’ve written to government officials about changing the laws, share your script!

Here are the best recommendations for how to protect your credit:

1. Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to check if you’re at risk. Since announcing the site, Equifax has clarified that checking your status and enrolling in TrustedID Premier, its free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, “does not waive any rights to take legal action.” So, after clicking on “Potential Impact,” enter your last name and the last six digits of your SSN. From there, you’ll get information on enrolling in TrustedID Premier, including the date you can register. (You must do so by November 21). You won’t need to enter your credit card number to enroll,  so you don’t have to worry about automatically being charged for the following year’s fee. 

Note: Checking your status may not be as useful as it seems. ZDNet and Krebs on Security, among others, have reported that people have entered fake information and gotten an answer, while others have received different answers on different tries, or on a smartphone vs. a computer. I also felt nervous entering six (not just four) digits of my SSN on Equifax’s site, but my SSN is probably already out there, so there’s that.

That said, in case you’re interested in Equifax’s TrustedID service, here’s what it does:

  • Gives you copies of your Equifax credit report.
  • Allows you to lock lenders’ access to your Equifax credit report. (Be aware that when you want to apply for new credit, it may take 24–48 hours for Equifax to unlock it.)
  • Provides monitoring of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports.
  • Scans the internet for your Social Security number.
  • Provides identity theft insurance.

(Of course, you might stop to consider whether you feel comfortable trusting Equifax with these responsibilities, considering the massive breach that took place on their watch…)

2. Freeze your credit through the three credit reporting bureaus. A credit freeze doesn’t stop someone from charging anything to your existing accounts, but it does make it more difficult for anyone to use your name to open a new account. Freezing your credit prevents third parties from accessing your credit file (unless it’s a company you already do business with, such as your mortgage lender) unless you remove the freeze, either temporarily or permanently. Yesterday, Equifax announced that for 30 days it will waive its fees to freeze credit files, but only after many people complained that they were charging for it. For information on how you may be charged for a credit freeze (aside from this specific situation), check this updated chart of state credit-freeze laws. It usually costs $ 5–$ 10. (The New York Times also suggested freezing your credit with Innovis.)

3. If you don’t want to freeze your credit (even though identity-theft experts recommend doing so), place a fraud alert on your credit files. Creditors will be notified that you are a potential victim of identity theft and know that they should take care to verify your identity by contacting you directly before they open a loan or establish other credit in your name. A fraud alert lasts 90 days, but you can extend it. Also, don’t wait until April 18, 2018, to file your 2017 taxes — do so as soon as you receive the documents and information you need. That way, you can get ahead of any potential scammers who plan to use your SSN to get a refund, for example. In an article at Bankrate, Robert Siciliano, the CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, said, “Everyone should assume their information has been compromised,” either through this data breach or one that affected another company in the past.

4. Keep an eye on your credit report, bank accounts, and credit card, as well as email and snail mail. Remember, you can access your credit report for free every 12 months from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You should get your credit reports from this site only (not from one of its imitators), and make sure to type in the URL in your browser rather than click a link from another site or an email. (To be extra careful, that’s a smart thing to do for any sort of financial site.) Some credit cards offer free access to your FICO score (my Citibank Simplicity card does, for example) so check if yours is one of them. Another strategy: I recently set up text alerts with one of my credit cards — every time my card is used to pay for something and I’m not there in person, I get a notification. (Unfortunately, that means that I get a text every time I use my card online, which is irritating, but I suppose it’s worth it.)

5. Do your research before signing up for a non-Equifax credit monitoring or identify monitoring service. (Unlike with TrustedID, you’ll have to pay, of course.) This may be a subject for a separate post, so here’s some info from other sites: The Simple Dollar reviewed what it says are the best three services, IdentityForce, LifeLock, and ID Watchdog, while some in the know have said these services aren’t really worth the money, considering the monitoring you can do on your own for free (see: The Motley Fool, Time, Wired).

Have you been wondering how to protect your credit after the Equifax data breach? Have you checked whether your personal information may have been compromised? Have you decided whether or not to freeze your credit and/or enroll in Equifax’s free service? Have you been a victim of identity theft in the past? What were the consequences, and how did you handle it? 

Further Reading:

  • CNN has fact-checked six common rumors about the security breach.
  • Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik wrote a column called, “Here are all the ways the Equifax data breach is worse than you can imagine,” that points out some aspects of the breach you might not know about. (Ignore the outdated portion that says those who enroll in TrustedID won’t be able to sue.)
  • A very thorough NYT column by Ron Lieber offers a lot of valuable information, as well as questions he’s asked Equifax that have yet to be answered.

Everyone loves to hear that your personal data has been compromised in a major breach like the recent one from #Equifax. Yaaay!  Seriously, though - it can be a major headache but it's vital that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your future. We rounded up the best tips for how to protect your credit, including how to freeze your credit and how to set up a fraud alert, as well as looking into credit protection services like Lifelock, LifeLock, and ID Watchdog.

The post How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Data Breach appeared first on Corporette.com.

posts – Corporette.com

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Equifax is waiving credit freeze fees for 30 days

Following the Equifax data breach that has potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans, money expert Clark Howard is urging everyone to freeze their credit.

Many people have said Equifax should pay for security freezes because the credit reporting agency created this giant mess.

Equifax temporarily drops credit freeze fees

Read more: Equifax hack: 5 things to expect when you freeze your credit

Now, several tweets from Equifax’s account on Monday confirm that the company will waive the fees for placing and removing security freezes, at least for now:

What happens after 30 days? We’ll have to wait and see. Clark said on the radio show that he would like to see Equifax pay for these fees over the long haul.

“I hope as the lawsuits come up with Equifax that one of the things they’re forced to do is reimburse all of us for the cost of credit freezes and thaws that we have to do for the rest of our lives,” Clark said.

Equifax’s data breach website doesn’t have any additional details on the fee waiver, as of Tuesday afternoon.

It’s important to point out that placing a credit freeze with Equifax isn’t enough. You will still likely need to pay a few bucks to complete the process with Experian and TransUnion.

I was able to freeze my credit with all three bureaus in 17 minutes using Clark’s step-by-step guide.

Read more: Credit Freeze Guide: The best way to protect yourself against identity theft

Listen: Clark answers your questions about the Equifax hack



clark.com

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Getting bad medical debt off your credit report is about to get a lot easier

It’s no secret that health care is expensive — and there are plenty of statistics that show how the rising costs of health care have become a major financial burden on millions of Americans — including those who have insurance.

In fact, for years medical debt has been the number one reason people file for bankruptcy in the U.S. According to a 2016 study, about 20% of American adults had difficulty covering their medical bills — even with insurance coverage. On top of that, while many are forced to drain their savings to pay for an unexpected medical expense, many others simply don’t have the cash to cover it and the bill ends up in collections.

One of the biggest concerns regarding medical debt has been the impact it has on an individual’s credit report and score — which can be devastating.

However, for the nearly 43 million Americans with unpaid medical bills, some relief is on the way!

Good news for people facing medical debt

Starting on September 15, the nation’s three big credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — will implement a 180-day waiting period before an unpaid medical bill can be included, and show up, on a consumer’s credit reports.

The idea is to give people more time to straighten out any potential errors or disputes with both medical providers and insurance companies.

When you dispute a medical bill, it can typically take a while to get it straightened out — and when the bill isn’t paid by the due date —  you then face late payments, late payment fees and damage to your credit score (since the past-due bill is reported to the credit bureaus). This can then cause you even more damage — as a lower credit score can make it even more difficult, and more expensive, to borrow money, get a loan etc.

Read more: Understanding your credit reports and credit score

So the new 180-day delay is supposed to give consumers more time to get things sorted out — to have the charge dropped, pay the bill or get the insurance company to cover the cost.

In addition, all three bureaus will begin removing any medical debt from people’s credit reports/credit histories, if the bill is paid by the health insurance company.

Millions of consumers get blindsided by unexpected and extremely high medical bills — and the new changes are meant to prevent that situation from spiraling out of control and causing a person major long-term financial damage. By giving consumers a little more leeway, they can hopefully keep the bills under control, their credit in tact and their finances in good shape.

“The changes in medical debt reporting were designed to help people whose bills fell through the cracks between their health care providers and their insurance companies,” says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.

Read more: Take these 10 steps before you respond to a medical debt lawsuit

Who won’t benefit from the new changes?

After the extended 180-day waiting period, if a person still cannot afford to pay the bill, it will be reported to the credit bureaus as unpaid medical debt.

The changes also won’t help those who finally gave up on trying to sort things out with the insurance company and eventually paid the bill in full themselves.

What the changes won’t do is help people who simply can’t afford to pay their bills or who got fed up with waiting for their insurers and paid the bills themselves.

How one collections account can destroy your credit score

Your on-time payment history is the biggest factor that makes up your credit score — accounting for 35% of the total score. This is why you want to avoid any type of late payments or unpaid bills at all costs.

Just one collections account on your credit report can cause your score to drop between 50 and 100 points! And when that happens, repairing the damage can often take a long time — in some cases, several years.

So if you can take advantage of the new changes, do it! Make sure to go through your reports and look for any unpaid medical bills that you can get straightened out and paid off ASAP! That will have an immediate positive impact on your credit score.

How to improve your credit score


clark.com

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Credit the NYPD for finally bringing a murder-free J’Ouvert

Credit the NYPD for this year’s murder-free J’Ouvert — even if the street party that precedes the West Indian Day Parade wasn’t entirely peaceful. Cops and city officials this year moved J’Ouvert’s start time from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. while fencing off the festivities, adding police checkpoints and screening revelers for weapons and booze….
Opinion | New York Post

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How to Report Your Clients’ Payments to the Business Credit Bureaus

More and more, entrepreneurs understand the importance of building strong business credit. Good business credit is a valuable asset that can help open up new financing and business opportunities, and save business owners money when they borrow.

 

(Image: iStock/m-imagephotography)

Would you like to help your customers or clients enjoy those advantages? You can, if you start reporting payment history to commercial credit reporting agencies. Many small business owners extend payment terms to their clients, or provide goods or services before getting paid. If you’re one of them, you may be able to report those customer payment records so they appear on commercial credit reports. (You can keep an eye on your own business credit for free every month on Nav.)

But why would you want to go to that effort? Here are four reasons.

Encourage Good Behavior

Let’s face it— when money is tight most of us prioritize bills that will affect our credit over those that don’t. Why should businesses be any different? When you let your customers know you report you are subtly encouraging them to move your invoice to the top of the pile. One commercial credit bureau even provides free stickers you can put on invoices to remind customers that their payments will be part of their credit record.

Help Your Customers Build Business Credit

By reporting those payments to commercial credit agencies you can help your clients build positive business credit references that help them build strong business credit scores. Your customers’ good payment histories will be reflected in their credit scores. Not all companies report to these agencies, and as business owners learn about the importance of establishing strong business credit, they often seek out and do business with companies that report.

Make Better Decisions

When you work with a commercial credit reporting agency to report data, you can also enlist its help to improve your data and decisions. The credit reporting agency can help you understand historic data and trends, and develop predictive scoring, explains Gail Beltz, director, Trade Acquisition for Experian Business Information Services.

Help Other Entrepreneurs Avoid Deadbeats

The more data credit reporting agencies collect, the better they can help other businesses’ manage and predict risk. More data = better decisions. Other business owners can check business credit and offer credit to businesses with a track record of paying on time, as well as avoid doing business with companies that are overextended or falling behind on their bills.

It’s worth noting that commercial credit reports don’t include information about the names of creditors that share information. Instead, it is categorized by the type of lender or vendor. For example:

Intrigued? Here are two ways to get started reporting your business partners’ account histories to business credit reporting agencies.

How to Report to Experian

Experian says nearly all — 99.9% — U.S. companies are in its commercial credit database, which contains comprehensive, third-party verified data. Any business that invoices another business may report information about business customer’s payments. In other words, if you bill a business customer and get paid later, you are eligible to report.

If you’d like to become a reporting partner, start the process by contacting Experian by phone at 1-800-478-0650; by email at BISdatareporting@experian.com; or go to Experian’s website.  

There is no cost to report, and no minimum number of accounts that must be reported. Experian is very flexible in terms of how information is reported. They will work with you to make sure your data is properly reported.

In addition, Experian has a dedicated commercial relations department that will contact you in the case of disputes to request verification.

How to Report to Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet offers several commercial credit report and score products, but it’s best known for its Paydex score. It has more than 12,000 trade partners around the world contributing more than 1.5 billion updates to trade information each year.

To get started reporting, you can contact your Dun & Bradstreet Relationship Manager, or visit its website.

Generally, you can report to Dun & Bradstreet if you become part of its Trade Exchange Program. There is no cost to report. You must have at least 300 active credit customers, or be a member of its DNBi or PPP service. You may be able to connect your Quickbooks account to make reporting easier.

As a bonus, you’ll get stickers you can put on your invoices that note you report to Dun & Bradstreet. They may give your customers the “nudge” they need to pay on time.

Can’t Report? Try This

Some business owners want to report their clients or customers that aren’t paying their bills. If your business is unable to report customer information as described above, another option is to hire a debt collector. The collection agency may have a relationship with credit reporting agencies that allows it to report those debts.

More from Nav

This article originally appeared on Nav.com.

Small Business – Black Enterprise

FASHION DEALS UPDATE:

Perks Abound For Black Credit Cardholders As Issuers Battle For New Customers

There are fabulous sign-up bonuses for credit cards that can potentially add several hundreds of dollars to your pocket.

 

(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)

 

For customers who travel on a specific airline, there are perks including free checked baggage, priority boarding, and free companion tickets. These perks can easily offset the annual fee plus more if the cardholder flies a few times annually.

For annual fee cards, there are issuers who may waive the fee in the first year. Users with an existing balance on another card may be able to get a low-interest rate, or no-interest for 12 to 18 months.

Welcome to the nation’s credit card industry, where black credit card users can now benefit greatly from increased competition among credit card providers. Forces such as rising interest rates and strong consumer spending are prompting credit companies and banks to offer more incentives to sign up new customers. An incentive fueling the high levels of overall satisfaction among credit card customers is cash-back rewards, based on the J.D. Power 2017 Credit Card Satisfaction Study.

A  ‘Great Time’ To Be A Credit Cardholder

 

“It’s a really good time to be a credit card customer. Overall satisfaction is up across the board, and growing numbers of card companies and regional banks are coming to the market with new products that offer rich sign-up bonuses, increased cash-back rewards and new benefits,” says Jim Miller, senior director of the banking practice at J.D. Power.

“The key for issuers in this highly competitive marketplace is to develop strategies that increase customer satisfaction, which, in turn, decrease attrition and promote higher levels of credit card spend.”

Takeaways From the J.D. Power Study Cardholders Should Know

 

  • Overall customer satisfaction with credit card issuers this year reached its highest level in the study’s 11-year history (802 on a 1,000-point scale). Scores were highest for cards that offer cash-back rewards programs. Conversely, airline cards and store-branded Visa/MasterCard reward credit cards ranked lower for satisfaction among reward cards.

 

  • Credit issuer websites and mobile offerings are becoming more prevalent on the cardholder satisfaction front. Satisfaction is only 780 when customers don’t use those channels. Satisfaction grows to 807 when folks use online only and rise to 827 among those who use mobile only. Satisfaction reaches its peak (834) when customers use both online and mobile.

 

  • Customers over 40 are becoming more satisfied, while satisfaction scores for customers under that age is dropping. Younger customers are more apt to use many cards for spending and more likely to switch from their main credit card. Better rewards is a reason older customers (44%) are likely to switch cards, while greater benefits is a factor why younger customers (38%) are most likely to change.

 

  • When it comes to credit card issuers, American Express (835) ranks first in customer satisfaction, Discover (827) and Capital One (808). This year’s study includes responses from 22,896 credit card customers, including 1,246 African Americans.

Blacks Most Satisfied With Credit Card Companies

 

Interestingly, black cardholders are the most satisfied with their credit company for several reasons, including customer service and perks offered. They are followed by Latino/Hispanic 816, White/Caucasian 803 and Asian/Asian American 781.

Miller says credit card issuers are also focusing on increasing their benefits, including most offering a free credit score, travel-related insurance, and other services. Some cards offer discounts at specific retailers. Miller added mobile apps are making it very easy for cardholders to see their transactions and balances in real time.

“There have never been more credit card choices so there is likely a good card that fits each customer’s needs,” Miller says.

 

 

Money – Black Enterprise

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This credit card alternative could be bad for your wallet

The financial services company Affirm is partnering with a growing number of retailers to offer installment loans with no hidden fees and surprises.

It may sound like a good alternative to credit cards, but money expert Clark Howard has a warning for you.

What you need to know about Affirm loans

Read more: One simple step to avoid a drain on your bank account

Here’s an example of how Affirm works: Let’s say you find a vacation package on Expedia but don’t have the money to pay for it. The online lender instantly approves you for the loan and offers several payment plans.

Once you return from your trip, your first monthly payment will be due — with an interest rate as high as 30%!

The company says it charges no late fees, service fees or prepayment fees, but it reserves the right to refer delinquent accounts to a collection agency if you don’t pay your bill.

Since Affirm reports information to Experian, late or missed payments could also hurt your credit score.

The problem is that these instant loans encourage impulse spending — and it doesn’t have to be a pricey vacation! Affirm will spread payments over a period of 12 months for loans of $ 100 or more.

To put that in perspective, you could easily pay more than $ 15 in interest on just a $ 100 loan!

“You’re going to see this very heavily through the fall shopping season leading into Christmas with all kinds of items that you never could have imagined that you could finance, you’ll be able to do so,” Clark said on the radio show. “The far better alternative, if you don’t have the money, do layaway.”

One thing that works for my budget is delaying spending. Take a day or two to decide whether the purchase is a “want” or a “need” and only buy it if you can really afford it.

Read more: New tool offers credit card perks without debit card dangers


clark.com

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5 Signs Your Business Is Ready for a Credit Card

Your business is your baby, and everyone loves charting their baby’s progress and milestones. Experiencing your first sale, your first employee and your first website can feel just like seeing your child roll over, walk or say their first words.

So when is the right time to get your business its own credit card? If these five indicators sound familiar, now may be time to apply for one.

(Image: iStock/kali9)

1. You want a business loan down the road.

Of all the ways to finance your business, an SBA loan is pretty much your best option. If you want very low interest rates, long repayment terms and an affordable down payment, this is this cream of the crop. Unfortunately, they’re not easy to get, especially if you’re just starting your business.

If you have good personal credit you’re much more likely to be able to get a business credit card by using a personal guarantee (and there are still options if your personal credit is less-than-stellar). By using your business credit card and repaying on-time every month, you can start establishing a credit profile for your business so you can get that coveted SBA loan down the road. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav.)

2. You travel a lot.

If you travel for work, getting a company credit card should be on top of your ever-growing to-do list. Whether you’re flying or driving on company business, you can use your company credit card to make purchases. This will also help you keep track of receipts and other important information crucial to your bookkeeping.

But a major bonus of using your business credit card is the airline miles you could be receiving. For example, Delta frequent flyers can take advantage of co-branded cards with American Express and earn miles for every dollar spent, plus bonus miles for signing up, as well as priority boarding on flights.

3. You buy a lot of supplies or inventory.

Many businesses use trade credit to purchase their supplies, which is also a great way to build business credit. Understandably, not everything can be bought on trade credit, which is where a business credit card can come in handy.

When choosing a card that you plan on using for business supplies, look for one with a low APR to avoid paying a lot of interest on purchases. Some cards also reward business owners with double points when used at gas stations, office supply stores or home improvement stores, so be sure to look for these perks when researching cards.

4. You have employees who make purchases for the company.

As a business owner, you’ll come to the realization that you can’t do everything yourself. And hopefully at some point during your tenure as head honcho, you’ll enjoy the company of a few superstar employees who are willing and able to help you achieve your goals.

There are pros and cons of trusting your employees with a company card, so make sure you know what you’re getting into. Only you can accurately assess who’s ready for such a responsibility, but authorizing an employee or two to carry out purchases in your business’s name can let you skip the cycle of tracking expense reports and reimbursing purchases.

5. You want to maximize your spending.

Maybe you don’t care so much about bonus miles, APRs or double points at office supply stores — but no business owner can overlook cash back. Several business credit cards, such as the Chase Ink Business Cash Card, offer at least 1% cash back on all purchases, with higher rewards in certain categories. (Cash-back business cards are best suited for businesses that are paying their balance in full every month as APRs can negate any rewards earned if you carry a balance.)

Be sure to follow the common sense rules of credit card ownership: don’t take on more debt than you can handle, pay every month on time and enjoy the benefits of the credit card you’ve selected.

More from Nav

This article originally appeared on Nav.com.

Small Business – Black Enterprise

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Credit cards are clamping down on payments to hate groups

Some major credit card companies are clamping down on payments and donations to white supremacists and other hate groups. Visa and Discover have stopped allowing websites run by violent hate groups to use their cards to accept payments — with Discover citing the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va. “In light of recent events, we are…
Business | New York Post

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New security warning about chip credit cards

Chip credit cards, or EMV credit cards, are the new standard in credit card technology.

Unlike magnetic stripe cards, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that can’t be used again, which is why they’re generally more secure, CreditCards.com reports.

But recently, a new security risk involving chip cards has been uncovered.

Read more: New tool offers credit card perks without debit card dangers

Chip card warning: What you need to know

Investigative reporter Jason Knowles of WLS-TV in Chicago says the chip in his credit card fell out, but he didn’t notice it for days because so many places still let you swipe your card.

When he called his bank to tell them about it, they said a fraudster could pick up the chip and use it on another card.

Although the chances of this happening seem pretty slim, you would want to get a replacement account and card — just like if your credit or debit card were stolen.

Also, it’s a good idea to activate email or text alerts with your bank to know whenever your card is used.

Read more: These 7 credit cards have the most potential fees

clark.com

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‘Rally Cat’ Runs Onto Field, Bites Crew Member and Gets Credit for MLB Grand Slam

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Cardinals have a friendly feline to thank for their rally against the Royals.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth on Tuesday night, the game was delayed for a couple minutes when a small, feisty cat sprinted onto the field at Busch Stadium.

On the first pitch after play resumed, Yadier Molina hit a grand slam off Peter Moylan to give the Cardinals an 8-5 lead. The cat was instantly dubbed #RallyCat on Twitter, and St. Louis went on to win.

The cat emerged from near the visitors’ dugout on the third-base side and blitzed into the outfield, the fur on its tail standing on end. Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain stood, smiling, with a hand on his hip as the cat sprinted past him.

Lucas Hackmann, a member of the Cardinals’ grounds crew, ran out to grab the stray and flinched several times as the animal tried to bite or scratch him.


Sports – TIME

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ECOPETROL: Company Secures US$ 330 Million Credit Line With Bancolombia

Colombia’s state-owned oil company Ecopetrol will secure a 990 billion pesos (US$ 330 million) credit line with Bancolombia as part of its debt management strategy. Ecopetrol aims to strengthen its financial position in the face of future growth opportunities or unexpected price fluctuations.
RTT – Economic News

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Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL REQUEST DONATION UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

7 Ways to Fix Your Bad Credit

Credit Score

Are you tired of having a low credit score, but have no idea where to turn to help?

If this sounds like you, then read on to find out how to repair your credit on YOUR terms. All it takes is a little elbow grease and know-how.

  1. Obtain free copies of your credit report—once per year—from www.annualcreditreport.comThe scores are not included for free, but just having the reports is a huge step in the right direction.
  2. Keep your credit utilization percentage at a MAXIMUM of 10%. That might sound super low to you, compared to the 30% that was recommended just a few short years ago. But, to get in that super, high-achievers club, 10% is the new standard. This means that if your total credit card limits are $ 10,000, your balance should never exceed $ 1,000.
  3. Consider opening an account with www.selflender.com, if you need to add positive credit to your reports. This account offers you the ability to save money, invest it into a CD,  and build your credit—all at the same time!
  4. DO NOT close any of your credit card accounts, including the ones with zero balances. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history. If you close even one account with a long history, you will likely see an immediate drop in your scores.
  5. Open an account with your local credit union with the goal of building a long-term relationship. Once you join a credit union, you are now a member/part-owner of the credit union.  Credit unions are lower rates on credit cards, auto loans, home loans, and many other products. Also, credit unions typically have multiple options to select from if you need to rebuild credit.
  6. Consult with a trusted credit professional, if you have charged off accounts and/or past due accounts that you are thinking of paying off. You have to keep in mind that paying off a collection account doesn’t automatically remove it. In fact, paying a collection could actually lower your score, as well! You need to be well-versed in your state’s statute of limitations, if you have collections on your credit reports.
  7. DO NOT dispute errors in your reports online, and DO NOT send a barrage of disputes to the respective credit bureaus. Each dispute should be sent separately and explained in detail, to ensure that your dispute doesn’t get marked as “frivolous.”  You want the credit bureaus to thoroughly research your disputed claims, so take the time to make sure you submit thorough documentation.

Please keep in mind that rebuilding credit is a process, and it may take 180 days or more. It is important to remain patient and, most of all, proactive!  

For more information on business building, business launching and real estate income streams, sign up for our next FREE webinar at www.bit.ly/daniellepierce.

 


This article was written by The BOSS Network Influencer, Danielle Pierce.

Danielle is a Speaker, Author, Business Coach and 10 Year Real Estate Wealth Strategist. She specializes in showing mompreneurs how to elevate their lifestyle and create generational wealth through real estate. Register for her next webinar at www.bit.ly/daniellepierce.

Learn more about Danielle Pierce by visiting her website at www.mommyandmerealestate.com

Follow Danielle on Twitter @_DaniellePierce

Money – Black Enterprise

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Is AmEx liable for explaining the risks of credit downgrading?

Dear John: I received an offer for an American Express platinum card that promised me 100,000 points when I was approved. After a month, I called AmEx customer service to see about switching to the EveryDay card. I was assured that downgrading would have absolutely no impact on my award points. So I switched. Within…
Business | New York Post

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Personal Credit Score vs. Business Credit Score: Everything You Need to Know (And More)

Credit Score

With an estimated 99.95 percent of small business owners and entrepreneurs opting for debt financing, knowing how to prepare your business for a loan application is a must.

Among the documents that a lender will review, your personal credit, as well as your business credit are criteria that play an important role—both can either assist or, in some cases, obstruct, your ability to secure financing.

Let’s review some key strategies that everyone needs to know about personal credit score vs business credit score.

 

Personal Credit Score vs Business Credit Score, What’s the Difference?

 

These two scores are often independent of each other and they measure different things. Your personal credit score measures your creditworthiness—your personal ability to pay back a debt. On the other hand, a business credit score measures the ability of your business to meet its own financial obligations. Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.

 

Personal Credit

 

What It Is

Your personal credit score helps a lender evaluate whether or not to offer you credit, how much to lend you, and what terms (e.g. APR, requirement of collateral) to use. While different personal credit scores have different ranges, one thing never changes: the higher the score, the more financially trustworthy a borrower is considered to be.

Who and What Determines Your Personal Credit Score

Using your Social Security Number (SSN) and your credit history, the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) assign your creditworthiness a score, all using variations of the FICO Score algorithm.

Ranging from 300 to 850, the FICO personal credit score is made of five key components:

  • Payment history (35%): The most important factor in a FICO score is your payment history to lenders. Your ability to pay on time is the first thing that lenders take a look at.
  • Amounts owed (30%): The whole point of seeking a high credit score is to be able to borrow money when you need to. Owing money doesn’t necessarily make you a high-risk borrower but maxing out your credit cards and carrying a high balance on them for several months will negatively affect your FICO score.
  • Length of credit history (15%): It takes time to build a good credit score. In general, the longer a credit history, the higher a FICO credit score.
  • Credit mix (10%): There are different types of debt, including retail cards, credit cards, car loans, and more. Without some form of debt, FICO can’t determine your score. So, you need to responsibly use credit cards and installment loans to start (and build up!) your score.
  • New credit (10%): FICO believes that opening several new credit accounts within a short period of time increases your credit risk.

Tips to Boost Your Personal Credit Score

  1. Automate your credit payments. Since paying your lenders on time represents 35% of your FICO score, sign up for automatic payments for all of your credit accounts. Most lenders allow you to set up auto payment using your bank’s routing number and account numbers. Another option is to schedule payments using the bill payment service from your bank or a third-party payment processor, such as Mint.com or MyCheckFree.com.
  2. Adjust your due dates. You don’t have to settle for a due date that is poorly timed with your paycheck. Except for those of mortgages, most due dates can be adjusted with a quick phone call. Depending on your lender, the change may take two to three bill periods to take effect.
  3. Aim for a credit utilization ratio of 30%. Whenever you can, pay off your credit cards in full month after month. If that’s not possible, then aim to have a balance of no more than 30% than your credit limit for each card. A credit utilization ratio of under 30% across all cards is a sign for lenders that you’re managing your credit responsibly.
  4. Handle new credit carefully. Chasing too many of those deep discounts for opening store cards will eventually catch up with you. Every time that you open a new account, your FICO score takes a small hit. So, open a new card only when you really need to.
  5. Don’t close oldest accounts. The number of years that you have held each one of your cards and debts affects your length of credit history. By closing your oldest account, you may dramatically reduce your length of credit history and negatively affect personal credit score.
  6. Order your free credit report every 12 months. FICO and all lenders use your credit history to determine your creditworthiness, so making sure that your credit report is accurate is a must. Every 12 months request your credit report. Verify that all your personal data, including SSN and mailing address, and listed accounts are correct. To dispute any inconsistencies, follow the instructions on your credit report or file a dispute online with EquifaxExperian, or TransUnion.

 

Business Credit

 

What It Is

Also known as a trade or commercial credit score, your business credit score helps financial institutions to determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for debt financing. A high business credit score can improve your chances of obtaining a business loan—and likely, you’ll be able to receive much more favorable terms. Alternatively, a low score can mean higher interest rates, and in some cases, even prevent you from being eligible to borrow.

Additionally, vendors and suppliers often check your business credit score when considering whether to invoice your business on a Net 30 or Net 60 basis.

Who and What Determines Your Business Credit Score

Just like a SSN for individuals, an Employer Identification Number (EIN) allows the IRS and the credit reporting bureaus to track businesses. If your small business is incorporated and has an EIN, registering it with Equifax, Experian, or Dun & Bradstreet is the first step to establish your business credit score.

  • Equifax: Using your business’ payment history, ratio of available credit to utilized credit, age and size, demographics, and public records, Equifax scores your small business credit in a range from 101 to 992 on the Small Business Credit Risk Score for Financial Services and in a range from 101 to 816 on the Small Business Credit Risk Score for Suppliers. Equifax takes the small business owner’s personal credit score into consideration as well.
  • Experian: Ranging from 1 to 100, Experian’s business credit score takes into consideration similar factors as Equifax. Experian gathers data from lenders and vendors that have extended a credit line or loaned money to your business and compares all of that data to peers in your industry.
  • Dun & Bradstreet: Focusing on the one-year payment history of your business, a financial stress score, and other data from at least four vendors, Dunn & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX report uses a 100-point scale to rank your business credit.

Tips to Boost Your Business Score

  1. Establish credit lines with vendors and supplies. It takes data to create business credit scores and Dun & Bradstreet requires at least four vendors to generate its report. Take the time to build up relationships with vendors and suppliers so that they’re willing to sell you on credit on 30- or 60-day basis. No matter how small a vendor is, he or she may become a future trade reference for your business at the time of a loan or business credit score request.
  2. Make timely payments. Return the favor by paying to those vendors and suppliers on time at all times. This will not only help you create a solid payment history but also make those businesses and individuals more likely to report your payment history to the credit reporting bureaus.
  3. Aim to cover all your annual debt obligations with net income. Just because your business can borrow up to $ 100,000 from a credit line, does not mean you should borrow the full $ 100,000. A useful rule of thumb is that your net income (revenue after subtracting all costs of doing business) should be at least equal to your annual debt obligations. Showing that your business’ cash inflows is sufficient to meet its obligations has a positive impact on your business credit score.
  4. Request your business credit report today. Having a have a couple of months—instead of a couple weeks—makes improving your business credit a more feasible project. Building business credit takes time, so it’s useful to get a picture of what is your current score and what are areas for improvement. Some credit bureaus, such as Experian, provide you reason codes that help explain your score and provide advice on how to improve it.
  5. Track your business credit every quarter. That’s how little it can take for your score to change and can give you a heads up on a damaging report from a vendor or on the effects of an increase in your utilized credit. Take the lessons from every credit score report to learn how to become the type of borrower that a lender caters to in the future.
  6. Check your report for inaccuracies. If you find an error in your report, report it right away to the relevant bureau using supporting documentation. Pay particular attention to errors in information under public records. Bankruptcies, judgments from debt collection lawsuit, and creditor’s legal rights to seize your property in the past seven years on your report could lead to an automatic denial of your loan application.

 

Do I Really Need a Business Credit Score?

 

Yes, because a business credit score helps you in separating your business from your personal finances. During the application process, your underwriter will take a look at additional documentation, such as bank statements or business credit reports. Keeping your finances separate is important for two key reasons.

  • Tax purposes. While you can claim an extensive list of small business tax deductions, you need to provide appropriate supporting documentation. In case of an audit, you need to be able to clearly demonstrate that every single deduction was an actual expense directly related to your business operation. If you’re unable to clearly demonstrate that, you may be subject to penalties, including negligence, late payment, and fraud.
  • Liability for debts: If your business is structured as a corporation or limited liability company, documenting that your finances are separate prevents a creditor from having a stake on your personal assets to satisfy a debt.

How to Do It

  1. Establish a separate legal entity for your business. Choose a business legal structure that works best for your unique situation. If you’re considering to form a corporation, consult with a lawyer and accountant to have a good understanding of applicable rules, including those for tax reporting, compliance, and operation.
  2. Apply for an EIN online for free. You will need this to stay on top of your small business finances, report to the IRS, and establish your business credit score.
  3. Establish a business credit score. Because it’s supporting evidence that demonstrates your business’ payment history. It doesn’t hurt that it will also help you secure the necessary debt financing to fuel the growth of your business.
  4. Open a business checking account and credit card. Using your EIN, establish separate bank accounts and credit cards for your business. The statements from these accounts are appropriate supporting documentation to keep track of business expenses.
  5. Hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant. Commingling your finances can backfire at the time of tax filing or loan application. It’s possible that you misunderstand what would be considered personal debt.  Could be you have business debts you’ve forgotten to include in your financial statements. Hiring the services of a professional bookkeeper or accountant enables you to focus on the core operations of your business. It also helps you better meet compliance requirements. When evaluating bookkeepers and accountants, pay close attention to their schedule of fees and range of services.

 

This article was written by  and originally appeared on DUE.com.


Samantha Novick is the Social Media Manager at Bond Street, a company focused on transforming small business lending through technology, data and design. Bond Street offers term loans of up to $ 1 million, with interest rates starting at 6%.

Money – Black Enterprise

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Here’s How to Spot a Credit Card Skimmer at a Gas Station or ATM

There’s a popular new scam that is causing major problems for people.

Lifestyle – Esquire

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Edisto Federal Credit Union Receive Tribute & Health Assistance by Charles Myrick of ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

Atlanta Teachers Federal Credit Union Receive Tribute & Charity by ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

American Consultants Rx Charity Help Donated To Lakeside Federal Credit Union By Charles Myrick

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

Detachable Leather Protective Case with Stand Holder And Two Credit Card Holders for iPad 2/3/4 Brown

Detachable Leather Protective Case with Stand Holder And Two Credit Card Holders for iPad 2/3/4 Brown


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American Consultants Rx Charity Donation To Houston Municipal Credit Union By Charles Myrick

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.