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3 Things you should know about your new chip card

6 ways to maximize your Credit card

Since we last wrote about the upcoming U.S. shift to EMV “smart” cards, banks and credit card companies have continued gradually issuing microchip-embedded cards to their customers. Chances are you’ve already gotten your hands on one of these new chip-based credit cards as the EMV rollout picks up ahead of the October 1st liability shift deadline, when merchants without chip-card readers will have to eat the costs of magnetic stripe card fraud. If you haven’t received chipped EMV cards to replace your existing credit cards, you can probably expect your issuers to send them soon (or you can simply give them a call and ask for the chipped replacements).   Either way, as magnetic stripe cards start getting phased out, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the new EMV … [Read more...]

Why the upcoming credit bureau changes are a big deal for consumers

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The three major U.S. credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax— are soon going to change the way they handle credit report errors and unpaid medical bills.   The credit bureaus maintain data on millions of U.S. borrowers—data that is used to generate your FICO® Scores—so overhauling the way disputes are handled to make fixing credit report errors easier could be good news for your scores. The new guidelines for how the bureaus will list medical debts might also have a positive impact for consumers’ FICO Scores.   The announced changes have been variously described as “huge,” “colossal,” and any other synonyms you can think of for “really, really big.” So what exactly is changing, and how will the changes affect you? Read on to find out.   What’s … [Read more...]

6 Ways to protect your identity in the wake of the Anthem breach

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This has been an extremely difficult week for consumers everywhere. Anthem, the second largest health insurer in the US, announced that sophisticated criminals perpetrated a daring cyber theft of at least 80 million consumer records from their databases.   Anthem is warning consumers that phishing scams related to this data breach are targeting current and past covered members. Tax preparation giant Turbotax® announced that it is temporarily suspending State tax e-file services nationwide as a result of fraudulent activity that most certainly involves identity theft as a means to tap into the tax refunds of innocent tax-paying US citizens.   Quick Fraud Facts As many as 1.84 million people may have been affected by medical identity theft in 2013, according to the … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

5 Personal finance tips for millennials

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So people keep calling you a millennial (some say it with a nicer tone than others). Amongst a variety of other defining characteristics, you have the unique (albeit unwelcomed) experience of graduating into a recession. Cons? Lower starting salaries and a lack of options. Pros? You’ve seen what irresponsible money management can do and you don’t want to make the same mistakes.     You’re also a victim of the tuition bubble, burdened with hefty student loan payments and a 30-year payoff plan that might as well be a mortgage. Now before you get out the violin, keep in mind that your generation is also relentlessly optimistic, savvy and smart, making you a force to be reckoned with in the workplace (conceal your ego though, please). If nothing else, we can assume your … [Read more...]

Cash, credit or bitcoin—which payment option do you choose?

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While it is unlikely your local grocery store is currently accepting payment in bitcoin, you may have heard of this new emerging form of currency and may be wondering what is it; how does it work; and should you have some bitcoin stashed in your wallet?     Bitcoin is a new form of currency created in 2009 that only exists in digital format. At its core, bitcoin functions like other payment forms—you can purchase goods online or offline using your bitcoins as long as the seller accepts that form of payment. At present, not that many entities take payment in the form of bitcoin (coinmap.org is attempting to track physical locations that accept the currency), and people are likely buying bitcoins more as an investment with hopes they’ll go up in value over … [Read more...]

Medical Data Breaches: Why Your Doctor Might Need a Check Up

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Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office. Did you fill out a form with your Social Security number (SSN)? Were you prescribed any medicine? Did you disclose past allergic reactions?     Now think about what an identity thief could do with that kind of information. There’s a myriad of options, which is one of the reasons why medical identity theft impacted almost half (43%) of all identity theft victims in 2013. To get your information, an identity thief might hack your doctor’s digital filing system, find records leaked on file-sharing sites by an employee, or simply steal your doctor’s laptop. No matter how the data breach occurs, you’re left cleaning up a potentially life threatening mess. Here are just three potential … [Read more...]

Breached, Bothered and Bewildered?

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The LA Times recently published an article featuring mortgage credit experts who warned “that the recent massive data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers could have significant effects on some real estate transactions in the coming months as damaged credit files depress scores and jeopardize loan applications and home sales”.   Is it possible that your innocent purchase of toothpaste and a few groceries could indeed jeopardize your ability to achieve a significant milestone like purchasing your first home? It could be more than a distant dilemma for consumers to ponder if they discover too late that routine purchases made at recently compromised merchants resulted in fraudulent charges to their payment cards. Erroneous fraud charges that remain undetected or … [Read more...]

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