Blog Posts by Kelsey Havens

Kelsey Havens is a writer, financial health enthusiast, consumer protection advocate and Content Manager at myFICO. Connect with her on Google Plus: +KelseyHavens

4 Surprising Things
That Cause A Hard Inquiry

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When you’re focusing on improving your credit, every bit of credit activity is crucial. You’ve been tirelessly working to pay off debt and manage your credit responsibly. The last thing you need is for a hard inquiry to hit your credit report and potentially impact your FICO® Scores.   What’s an inquiry? Inquiries occur when someone checks, or inquires about, your credit. They are often also called credit checks. There are two categories of credit inquiries—one that your FICO Scores consider and one that your FICO Scores don’t consider.   A “hard” inquiry occurs when you authorize a lender or other entity to view your credit reports and FICO Scores.  Since you authorized this inquiry, it’s often called a “hard” inquiry. Hard inquires can impact your FICO Scores as … [Read more...]

With threat of data breaches,
5 tips to shop secure this holiday season

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Last year during the holiday season, Target suffered its notorious data breach exposing the personal information of over 70 million victims. At the time, it was the largest data breach we had seen yet.   Since the Target data breach, we’ve seen major retailers including Neiman Marcus, Kmart and Home Depot face a similar fate. Even just a few days ago, the US Postal Service announced1 a data breach that may have affected over 800,000 employees and a not-yet-disclosed number of customers.   What do all of these data breaches mean to you? So far, over 78 million identity records2 have been exposed — things like credit card numbers, email addresses and Social Security numbers of innocent victims. If you’re information was exposed, the impact could be minimal or … [Read more...]

Word on the web: Prepare to shop!

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  Holiday shopping season is here! Unfortunately, this is also the season of broken budgets, dwindled savings accounts, data breaches and identity theft. We should be enjoying the festivities instead of wallowing in anxiety over the best way to cross off every item on your shopping list. To help you shop smart this season, we’ve rounded up some of the best blogs on the web about data breaches, holiday shopping and more.   5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Data Breaches Hackers steal and use all types of identity information including email addresses, passwords, Social Security numbers and more.  But the easiest piece of information for hackers to leverage immediately is credit card numbers. Learn how to protect your accounts with these 5 steps from Wise … [Read more...]

Why credit scores matter

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When you apply for a loan, you’re probably thinking about your brand new house or car. When you apply for credit, you’re probably thinking about what you’re going to purchase. Maybe, just maybe, you’re thinking about your monthly payments. What you’re probably not thinking about is your FICO® Scores. But your lender most likely is.   The loan process often has multiple steps, and only a few seconds on the radar is the part where you agree to a credit check. But that’s a very important step! In fact that little step could have a substantial impact on your monthly payment.   90% of top U.S. lenders use FICO Scores when making lending decisions, and your scores can have a substantial impact on your loans. Here are a few reasons why your FICO Scores … [Read more...]

Your holiday shopping credit card guide

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The end of Halloween can only mean one thing: It’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping. Sure, all the merriment and festivities are fun. But let’s be honest, the holidays also have a tendency to strain your budget, rack up credit and cause financial stress.     This year, try to do things differently. Plan ahead and optimize your spending. Having the right credit card for your shopping goals is a good place to start. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.     Do you already have credit card debt? Consolidate and pay cash. If you already have credit card debt that you’re struggling to pay off, then don’t even consider adding to the problem. It’s not worth it. Your goal this holiday season is to spend responsibly and stay in budget. Find … [Read more...]

How Credit Impacts Your Insurance

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There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how credit scores are used and in what scenarios they are used. Employment? Nope. College admission? Nope. Insurance? Actually, yes. Well, sort of.   When determining what rates to offer you, your auto and home insurance provider may pull a “credit-based insurance score” that is based on or considers a person’s credit history and may use that score along with other factors that are of interest to an insurance company when evaluating your request for an insurance policy. These scores are different than the FICO Scores you know and love because they are generated to predict insurance risk instead of credit risk. Because of this, the algorithm behind FICO credit-based insurance scores considers credit information factors … [Read more...]

FICO, President Obama and the future of consumer protection

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  Friday morning was a momentous day for FICO—and for American consumers. President Obama arrived at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday to sign an executive order to improve consumer protection and identity theft prevention. The initiative is called the BuySecure program.   FICO was an active participant in this event, and we are honored to be able to contribute to the program.   Millions of Americans have fallen victim to data breaches in the last year as a result of weak security systems. Because of this, the President has decided to take action. Before signing the executive order, President Obama explained, “we've all experienced the benefits of new technologies that let us buy and sell things faster and more efficiently than ever before. … [Read more...]

Word on the Web: September 2014

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You can’t fight it; the holidays are on their way. From October to January, temptations to your wallet, savings and budget will be hitting you at full force. It’s probably a good time to remind yourself about the importance of financial fitness and the path to reaching your financial goals. To help you with your cause, we’ve gathered the top personal finance blogs from September. Enjoy!     Defeating your debt for good Carrying a manageable amount of debt isn’t a bad thing, but many people overspend and over-borrow until they find themselves completely buried. Even when the debt finally gets paid off, they go back to their overspending habits. ModestMoney.com is here to help. Check out this post on how to defeat your debt for good by taking actionable steps towards … [Read more...]

Understanding how lenders
use credit scores

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You already know that most of the top lenders (90% of them) use FICO® Scores (the top name in credit scores) when making lending decisions (probably because we’re always telling you about it). But what does that actually mean? What really goes down when you apply for a loan? Whether it’s an automated approval process or a 60-day mortgage close, a lender is doing a lot to figure out if you’re going to pay them back on time or not. Here are a few things that might help you understand the approval process.   FICO Scores are designed to help evaluate your risk FICO® Scores aren’t just an arbitrary number provided on a whim. They are based on complex, mathematical algorithms that statistically evaluate a consumer’s credit risk with a point system. Points are assigned for … [Read more...]

The Home Depot Data Breach: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Protect Yourself

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As you have probably heard, Home Depot announced that their payment systems have been hacked, resulting in what might be one of the biggest data breaches yet. Between Target, Neiman Marcus, Goodwill and now this, it seems that hackers aren’t losing any speed nor audacity.   If the rise in breaches and identity theft hasn’t gotten your attention yet, it should. Every time you hear of a major data breach at a place where you shop, you should be taking steps to protect yourself. Here are three ways you can take action now.     1. Request a new credit card If you regularly use your credit card, it’s time to request another one. The service is usually free and this simple step can save you the pain of fraud resolution. Just make sure you have a backup payment method … [Read more...]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by a credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of a credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a credit card issuer. This site may be compensated by credit card issuers mentioned on the site by such companies.