Holiday Credit Score Killers

Woman is shocked after adding up all her charges in one month on her credit card.

Holiday Credit Score Killers!

It seems every year we have clients who encounter damage to their credit score(s) over credit issues related to the holidays.  Below are a few of the top holiday credit score killers we often see.  Do your best not to let the hustle and bustle of the season ruin your credit score.

 

Don’t miss any payments

For many, the holidays are hectic.  Be like Santa and make your own list. Add all your monthly payments on a list and, if needed, check it twice to be sure you make all your payments on time.  Going 30 days late, even on the smallest of payments, can cause havoc to your credit score.

Santa list where consumers can make their own bill list so they don't forget to pay any bills on time.

Don’t open unneeded credit

It seems more common than ever these days for a retailer to ask you to open a new credit card.  Quite often retailers offer perks, like discounts, if you open a new credit/charge card with them.  In this situation, take a second and weigh the pros and cons of saving a few dollars.  The pro would typically be to save a few dollars, but the con may be the result the new account will have on your credit score.  Opening new credit often causes your credit score to decrease in the short run due to a hard credit inquiry as well as lowering your average age of credit.

Paying with cash vs. a credit card

The answer to using cash over credit cards, or vice versa is tricky.  Below are options to consider what would work best for you.

Benefit of using a credit card:

Credit cards provide more safety to the consumer than cash.  Think about it, if you lose your credit card while shopping, you can get a new credit card mailed to you.  If you lose your holiday bankroll of cash, you may be out of luck.  At times, credit cards may offer you extended warranties on purchases as well as rewards for using their cards.  Using a credit card may make it easier to return items, especially when you lose the receipt.  Keep in mind, heavy use of a credit card can lead to lower credit scores due to increased credit utilization so be careful.

Benefit of using cash:

In one word, “Budget”.  Like anytime you plan to spend money, it is best to do so within your budget.  By using only cash, it is easier to stay on budget because when you run out of cash, you are done shopping.  On the other hand, credit cards have a way of getting out of hand.  Many consumers I talk to have experienced the shock of opening a post-holiday credit card statement to find out they spent so much more money than they thought they did.  From a credit standpoint, using all cash will not have any impact on your credit score.

Woman is shocked after adding up all her charges in one month on her credit card.

Lookout for scams and thieves

 Sadly, scammers and thieves don’t take breaks over the holidays.  Consumers often are at more risk over the holidays.  If carrying cash, do so in smaller quantities and don’t flash envelopes full of cash. When placing packages in your car, try to put them in your trunk or cover them up for less risk of an auto break in.  If you are making any donations to help others, do your homework and make sure that your donations are going to a real cause and not to a scammer.  Just be extra careful to protect yourself and your loved ones.

scammer trying to get consumers personal information

Conclusion

I hope these credit score tips help you make good decisions over the holidays.  These tips will help you improve your credit score and personal safety during this very busy time of the year.

For those who need it, Credit Repair help is available

If your credit needs help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional credit repair company like CureMyScore.com. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.

Bad Credit is NO Joke

April fools joke slipping on a wet floor.

Bad Credit is NO Joke

After working with, and helping, thousands of consumers overcome credit issues, I can tell you that bad credit is nothing to joke about.

Credit Rules Are the Same for Everyone

Sadly, good people often find themselves in a credit situation which is hard to get out of. For many, maintaining a high credit score already has it challenges. But for those who had any type of a credit issue, regaining control of their credit score can be overwhelming.

Credit Repair advice.

Think Before Joking or Judging Others

In my line of business, I often hear people make unkind remarks about people that have less than stellar credit. I hope these remarks are made in a joking fashion rather than in a judging way. I help good people daily who have had some sort of life changing event or other mishap that led to credit issues.  Often, people needlessly feel embarrassed when they have credit issues.  These people do not need to be judged or joked about, they need solid credit advice and credit repair help to get them back on track to a better credit score. Credit reporting/scoring is a big system, and it does not take much to incur credit damage. Each one of us is one event or mishap away from having our own credit issues.

Aprils Fool Day Tip

If you have never had credit issues, count your blessings. If you ever hear of someone who has/had credit issues, understand that there is often a lot more to the story so be kind and do not judge.

Credit Repair help is available. We give a helping hand.

Credit Repair Help Is Available

If your credit needs help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional credit repair company like CureMyScore.com for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.

Consumers Apply for Loans WITHOUT Knowing

Did you ever hear the saying that nothing is free?

Every consumer should be very careful on providing the numerous free credit/lending websites their personal information.  So many consumers fail to understand that with the exception of annualcreditreport.com, most, if not all, of the free credit/lending providers are actually marketing companies.  These marketing companies use your personal information to make you credit offers; they then make money when you apply for and/or open new credit.  Seeing that I educate consumers on how to improve their credit, I subscribe to a number of these free sites purely to understand how they operate so I can better warn consumers of some of their pitfalls.  I now get MANY emails daily about applying for loans, getting out of debt, how to better manage my money and how my credit score changed.  REALLY? I have an A+ credit score and I have no revolving debt.  I have ZERO need for these companies’ advice.  Since I know better, these marketing companies don’t make money off of me.

At Cure My Score, we often have clients who complain about having unauthorized credit inquiries.  At times, they fear their data was hacked and an ID Thief was trying to steal from them.  Perhaps all they did was unknowingly  apply for credit?

Below is a photo from an email I received today from one of these free web marketers.  I cut off the bottom of the email where in part,  it displayed my entire name, address and the month and year of my birth.

As a consumer, I have a number of issues with this email, as well as with the many other similar emails I get daily.

Why my credit score went down.

  • I never asked for, needed or requested money from this site. I find it odd asking me if I still need money.  I assume they want the catchy question in LARGE PRINT as well as the email subject line.
  • If I were to click on any dollar amount in this email, whether by accident or out of curiosity for more information, they will consider that single click as an application. They may instantly send my personal information to up to 5 lenders who can then obtain my credit and solicit me with loan offers.
  • In the fine print of this email it discloses “In order to provide you with an expediated loan process, we are submitting the following information to our network of lenders:”, they then display my name, address and birth date.
  • In the super fine print it states “By using 1-Click and clicking on a loan amount above, you consent and agree to the following:”; part of this consent is agreeing that to up to 5 lenders may obtain my credit report or other infromation from the credit bureau(s) about me.
  • The email itself provides a great deal of my personal information. If my email were to be hacked, I would not want a hacker to have access to this email containing my personal information.

I don’t want a marketing company to send my personal information to their “network” of lenders.

I don’t know if this network of lenders will make hard credit inquiries which will hurt my credit score nor do I know what they will do with my personal information.

Let me be very clear, if I want to borrow money for any reason, I will choose the bank I want to deal with and inquire about any loan options that serve my needs.  If I then decide to request a loan, I will take the few minutes that it takes and apply for it and knowingly give consent to have my credit pulled.  I will know what bank I am dealing with and who I am choose to share my personal data with.

If you provided your personal information to any of these free websites, you have the option to contact them and unsubcribe to their services.  Some of the free websites that give your regular access to your credit reports can be beneficial if you are in the process of repairing your credit.  If this is the case, consumers should be very careful on what links they click.

CREDIT REPAIR HELP IS AVAILABLE.

If your credit needs some help like this client, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional credit repair company like CureMyScore.com for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.

Credit Cards – USE them or LOSE them

Credit Cards – USE them or LOSE them

Like it or not, credit cards have a big impact on your credit score, so it is important to understand how this all works.  As an educator of credit for a credit repair company, I often teach consumers how to open credit and effectively use it to help them improve their credit scores.

Many companies will close your credit cards if you don’t use them.

Banks issue credit cards to consumers to make a profit from them.  If a consumer does not use their credit cards, the banks stand no chance of collecting their interest charges, hence no profit.  It costs the banks money to keep credit cards open so most require some activity on the card to keep it open.  Notice I said they require activity, you do not have to pay them interest where they make a profit, to keep your credit card open.  Banks know that they will eventually make a profit off the average consumer if they are using their credit cards.

Picture of a credit score.How often do you need to use your credit cards to keep them open?

Based on my 30+ years of experience working with consumers and their credit, I can say there is not an exact answer to this question.  In my experience, most banks will keep credit cards open if they see activity at least once a year.  Personally, I try to use my revolving credit cards at least once every 6 months.  As an example, I recently went to a department store and bought a tee shirt ($10 or so) with their credit card purely to keep activity on the card.  Once I received the statement, I paid the bill in full and will repeat this process in 6 months or so.

Why do credit score models care about my credit cards?

Credit scores are designed to predict the risk of a future payment default.  The higher the score, the lower the risk; the lower the score, the higher the risk.  Credit cards give consumers fast access to credit so in times of financial trouble, a consumer can lean on a credit card to get by rather than defaulting on a current payment obligation.  Therefore, consumers who have open credit cards with low to no balances relative to their credit limits do well in this category of the credit score.

Your actions determine if your credit cards stay open.

At the end of the day, you can’t force your credit card company to keep your credit card open.  Banks can close a credit card if they choose to.  By keeping regular activity on your credit card, you are giving the credit card companies a reason to keep the card open.  My advice is to keep all your credit cards active.  If you have one that you have not used in a while, I suggest you dust it off and go make a small purchase to generate a statement.

Credit repair help is available.

If your credit needs some help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional credit repair company like CureMyScore.com for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.

Coronavirus Scammers Are Here.  Be PREPARED

people are scammed leaving them with bad credit and in need of credit repair.

Scammers stop at NOTHING to steal from others.  The best prevention is to be prepared.  It is in great disgust that a blog like this is needed.

As of today, everyone in the entire world is likely aware of the global disruption, fear and uncertainty the Coronavirus pandemic is causing.  With the Federal, State and Local Governments plans for aid continuously changing, it is causing much confusion over what is fact versus fiction.  With all of the confusion, many consumers are desperate to find updates or help.  Scammers will look to take advantage of this confusion and will continuously find new ways to scam innocent people.

Consumers should be VERY careful to avoid scams.  Scams can make a bad situation much worse.

Watch out for:

  • Unsolicited emails asking you to click on links to apply for government benefits, temporary work or to make donations to charities.
  • Phone calls asking you for your private information in an effort to offer you government benefits or jobs. Keep in mind that scammers can even alter the caller ID.
  • Door knockers claiming they work for the government or are collecting for a charity.
  • Offers to buy special drugs or products stating you can avoid the virus.
  • Offers that make you pay ANYTHING to qualify for any government benefits.

If you need a job now, be sure to submit an application at a verified company website or in person.  If the government approves aid to consumers, they will provide details on how and when the aid will be distributed and you certainly will not have to pay anyone to get it.  If you want to donate to a charity, do your homework first and donate to a real charity of your choice in a secure way.

scammed out of money, in need of credit repairSadly, scammers often prey on the elderly.  Please warn all of your family and friends to be extra vigilant.  Don’t act on anything too fast; take the time to think about or investigate anything that looks out of place.  If anyone or anything tries to get you to rush into an action, take a BIG step back and consider your options. If you feel you’re being scammed, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Please follow these tips to keep you and your family away from being scammed.   Follow the safety health tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stay safe.

PS  During the time I was typing this blog, I received an email stating that I must pay the sender $4,000 in bitcoin today or they will “iηfect your whole family with the CoronaVirus, reveal all of your secrets. There are countless things I can do.”  Needless to say, I will not be sending this lowlife any bitcoin.

If your credit needs some help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional company like CureMyScore.com for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.

 

Free $125 from Equifax?

Photo of money we would all save by protecting our credit score.

I hope you didn’t have plans for the $125 you may be entitled to as part of the Equifax $700 million dollar settlement.  As of today, the court has not even approved the Equifax settlement related to their September 2017 data breach that exposed sensitive personal data on approximately 147 million consumers and already their settlement is causing confusion.

According to the FTC , consumers are flocking to Equifax in droves to claim their free “up to $125” which is to be set aside as an option for consumers to take in lieu of free credit monitoring.  So what’s the catch and how much will you actually get?  Let’s do some math; this portion of the settlement will contain approximately $31 million dollars.  If all 147 million consumers affected choose to take this cash offer, each consumer would get:

$31,000,000 ÷ 147,000,000 = $0.21 (far less than $125)

Before acting, understand what is available and what future rights you may be giving away.  Equifax provides a good deal of information related to consumer’s options on their website.  As with anything, read all of the information.

I will update this settlement once the court approves it.

If your credit needs some help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional company like Cure My Score for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.

Call us at 412-564-5370 with any questions / comments or schedule a free program review.  Like us on Facebook to receive future consumer credit tips.