President Obama says credit scores are an “early warning system” for fraud. Is he right?

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On Jan 12th, in his lead-up to the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama gave a speech at the Federal Trade Commission outlining proposed legislation that would help “better protect American consumers from identity theft and ensure our privacy.”   In addition to previewing a new data breach notification law, which would require businesses to notify consumers of a breach within 30 days, the President lauded the recent efforts of several lenders who are offering free FICO® Scores to their customers.   He specifically thanked JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, USAA, the State Employees’ Credit Union, and Ally Financial  for “stepping up and equipping Americans with another weapon against identity theft, and that’s access to their credit scores, free of … [Read more...]

4 credit score factors investors
should watch out for

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If you’re an investor, you know the value of making every dollar work for you. That’s why your FICO® Scores are so important. Since 90% of top lenders use FICO Scores to help make lending decisions, a high score will improve your chances of qualifying for the best rates and offers—which ultimately means more money in your pocket from investments.   On a $216,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the difference between a 620 FICO Score and a 760 FICO Score could be the difference between a $1,139 and $941 monthly payment. FICO Scores make a difference when it comes to investing.   With that in mind, here are four FICO Score factors any prudent investor should be aware of.   1. Do your rate shopping within a short time period Applying for mortgages, loans, and … [Read more...]

The major 2015 credit card change you need to know about

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Magnetic stripe credit cards are going to start getting phased out. Here’s what you need to know.   All that plastic in your wallet might look a little different come this time next year. That’s because by the end of 2015 a projected 70% of all U.S. credit cards and 41% of U.S. debit cards1 will come equipped with an embedded microchip based on the global “EMV” smartcard standard.   At this point, you might be wondering what exactly an “EMV smartcard” is, or why the U.S. is suddenly making the shift to this new credit card standard. And you’re probably wondering what this all means to you, anyway. So here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming nationwide shift to new credit card technology.   Meet EMV   EMV—which stands for Europay, … [Read more...]

Your Guide to the Different Types of Mortgages

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Home buying is at once an extremely exciting and highly daunting process. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make right at the start is choosing what type of mortgage to apply for. The first thing you’ll want to do is get familiar with the different types of mortgages so that you can apply for the one that’s right for you.   Common Rate Types   There are two mortgage rate types offered by financial institutions: Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Both have their pros and cons, and which type makes the most sense for you is dependent on your unique situation.   Fixed-rate mortgage   A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to choose the term of the mortgage (how long you want the mortgage to last), which is typically 15, 20 or 30 years. As … [Read more...]

5 Totally Painless Ways To Save Money

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  It’s one of those things that sounds easy in theory. Just don’t spend so much on groceries – easy peasy! Next thing you know you’re in a Whole Foods on an empty stomach and nothing sounds better than organic, fair-trade chocolate infused with espresso and shipped directly from Brazil. 15 impulse buys later and you’re walking away with a one-night smorgasbord and 100 less dollars to your name.   Turns out, saving money is hard. It’s like your mother always told you, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. And just to be clear: A lot of you aren’t saving money. According to a study conducted by Bankrate.com1, over a quarter of Americans have no savings at all. Of those that do have savings, 67% don’t have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If this sounds like you, … [Read more...]

These 4 Credit Scoring Myths Could Be Hurting Your Scores

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Some myths are innocuous. Thinking that the Great Wall of China is visible from space (it’s not) or that sharks don’t get cancer (they do) won’t have much of an impact on your life.   The same can’t be said, however, for some of the common misconceptions about credit scoring.  If you believe any of these 4 credit scoring myths, you could be doing damage to credit score without even knowing it.   1. “My poor score will haunt me forever” Believing this myth has the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think that trying to rebuild your credit is futile, there’s little chance you’ll take the necessary steps to start down the path toward a higher score.   The truth is, even something as devastating to your score as a foreclosure can be rebounded from … [Read more...]

Should I Transfer My Credit Card Balance to Another Credit Card?

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If you’ve been stuck on the credit card debt treadmill for a while, struggling to make anything more than the minimum monthly payments, you’re probably looking for a way out.   Maybe at some point this brilliant idea occurred to you (maybe it was in the middle of the night and it came to you in a dream and you shot straight up like they do on TV and said it aloud): “I know what I’ll do! I’ll pay off my credit card with another credit card.”   Yes, you can use one credit card to pay off your balance on another—though it isn’t all that simple and comes with a few caveats.   First thing: You can’t actually pay off credit debt with credit. Unfortunately, none of the major credit card issuers allow credit card debt payment by credit card.   And … [Read more...]

3 Commonly Broken Financial New Year’s Resolutions (And How You Can Keep Them)

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According to Fidelity’ annual New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study, 51% of Americans who made financial New Year’s resolutions in 2014 said they were better off financially today. That means financial New Year’s resolutions might actually work!   Of course, that also leaves the 49% who either stuck to their resolutions and found themselves no better off than they were last year or (more likely) suffered a rare form of acute amnesia affecting the memory centers of the brain responsible for remembering New Year’s resolutions.   A year is a long time. Sticking to your financial resolutions is hard, but it’s even harder if you set impossible-to-reach goals and give up on them altogether. So if you’re determined to improve your financial health next year, resolve to take … [Read more...]

3 Credit errors couples make in the holiday season

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The holidays not only have the potential to be the best time of year, but also can be the most challenging for finances and relationships. It's common for couples to make one of these three credit errors over the holidays, and have it affect their relationship all year. A healthier choice is to learn from these common errors and have a financially fit 2015.     1. Not talking it over and having a plan together Issues around finances and money are consistently shown to be one of the top fights couples have. Add to that the stress of holiday gift giving, shopping, and tight budgets and you have a recipe for trouble in paradise. The best way to maintain bliss in your relationship is to discuss your household finances regularly, say once or twice a month, maybe around … [Read more...]

Holiday Gift Guide For Your
Money-Conscious Friend

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They’re known by a variety of names (some more flattering than others): money-savvy, thrifty, cheap. They inspire you to make a budget, they frustrate you by never picking up the check, and they puzzle you when it comes holiday gifting. What do you buy for the person who hates spending? We can help.       1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich Ramit Sethi provides a no-frill approach to financial fitness. The book includes a 6-week plan for getting your finances in shape including sections on banking, saving, budgeting and investing. It’s the perfect gift for someone who’s just starting his/her financial journey and is looking to do a full overhaul.   2. Envelope system wallet To the extreme budgeter in your life, the envelope system is a sacred ritual. … [Read more...]

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