Paranoid, Apathetic or Empowered:
Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan

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Protecting yourself as a consumer is pragmatic, not paranoid. I by no means encourage you to obsessively guard all traces of your personal information. If you take that approach, you’ll end up a recluse with a hoarding problem. But the reality is, how we transact has changed—we’re mobile, online and nationwide. So we’ve got to change the way we protect ourselves.   National Consumer Protection Week might be coming to end, but being a smart consumer means developing lifelong habits. That’s why we’ve provided a smart-consumer action plan. Print these tips, reference them often. Eventually, these steps should become habits so that every time you purchase, share, invest, donate or borrow, you will be better protected.   Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan   1. … [Read more...]

Consumer Protection Rights & Your Children

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A blog post for myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   National Consumer Protection Week is an annual campaign that creates awareness about consumer information and protection. There’s actually a lot of regulation put into place to protect consumers that many people don’t even know about.   Thanks to the CARD Act, consumers are protected from unfair rate hikes, retroactive rates and late-fee traps, and important terms and conditions must be publicly available. That’s just to name a few. What you may not realize though, is that consumer protection isn’t extended just to adults; children need protection, too. Your child’s personal information, like yours, is protected by law. Sadly, identity theft threatens the … [Read more...]

The IRS & You: Why Your Tax Refund Needs a Body Guard

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With all the major breach announcements in the last few years, I think I can safely assume that this has become common knowledge: Identity theft is a serious threat. If you’re still skeptical, consider this: someone became an identity theft victim every two seconds last year.   With that said, identity theft is also a broad and complex crime that’s hard to defend yourself against. Thieves have dozens of ways they can steal your personal information, and countless crimes they can commit with it. Sometimes they’re after your money; sometimes they’re after your good reputation. During tax season, they’re after both.   Why Identity Thieves Like Tax Season a Lot More Than You Do   Oh tax season, that wonderful time of the year where millions of Americans gather … [Read more...]

Word on the Web: Best of February

Let's face it, financial habits make relationships complicated. Similarly, relationships make financial habits complicated. Before you find yourself in a financial feud, learn from people who have been there. In ode to the most romantic month of the year, this month’s Word on the Web is dedicated to relationships. Check out our favorite February blogs on love and money.   How Money Can Affect People and Change Their Behavior Studies suggest money can change behavior – and not always for the better. Money Crashers writer, Jaqueline Curtis, analyzes the social pitfalls of wealth and how to detect the warning signs of money-related addictions.   10 Financial Tips for Couples Marriage and long-term partnerships create a fuzzy line between mine, yours and ours—and … [Read more...]

The Who, Why and How Behind Your Credit Health

As a writer in the personal finance sector, I spend a lot of time reading blogs about how to improve or establish credit. The information out there is great. I’ve come across tons of articles that offer a variety of ways to improve your credit score. Reading between the lines, it’s become pretty clear to see that there is one thing that is most important above all when working on your credit. It’s not a credit card, it’s not a budget, and it’s not a plan. No, it’s a general understanding of how your credit works, and why you have a score in the first place.   Let’s Start With The Why   Credit scores didn’t just happen. There was a genuine need for a way to gauge the creditworthiness of consumers, businesses, and even entire countries. The reality is, before credit … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Take Advantage
of America Saves Week

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What do primetime TV commercials, Pinterest and Starbucks have in common? They all entice you to spend, spend, spend. In the name of America Saves Week, the overspending stops here.   The annual event is designed to spread the word about healthy financial habits while providing tips and tools to take control of your own savings plan. You can take their savings plan assessment, download a poster to keep your goals in focus or test your savings knowledge.   If nothing else, consider this a good time to evaluate your spending habits and savings. Whether you’re starting from scratch or well on your way, we’ve got a tip for you.  Open a spreadsheet or log in to your favorite finance app, and take advantage of America Saves Week. Here are 5 ways to update to your savings … [Read more...]

Infographic: FICO High Achievers Show You How to Get Your FICO Score Above 800

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Our studies consistently show that people with FICO® Scores over 800 have strikingly similar credit habits. We like to call these people FICO High Achievers, and you can learn from all 36 million of them. Check out this infographic and compare your credit habits to theirs. How do your credit habits measure up?   … [Read more...]

5 Factors to Consider Before Changing Jobs

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According to a report by Forbes, job-hopping is "the new normal" for an increasing number of Americans. However, labor experts agree that switching employers is never a decision to be taken lightly. It can be a major risk.   While the lure of greater opportunity, better environment, increased compensation, and change for change's sake are all compelling reasons to accept a new job, there are many variables to take into account before officially taking the plunge.   Whether you are currently fishing for available openings or are already reeling in what promises to be an excellent opportunity, ask yourself these five important questions before changing jobs:   1. How Is My Financial Footing? While money (perhaps surprisingly) is not the main reason most … [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...]

6 Major Credit Myths, Debunked

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There are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around relating to your FICO® Score or credit report. Working in this industry, I get a lot of questions that absolutely blow my mind. Just this week someone told me they thought that getting a credit card with 0% APR for 18 months meant that they were not obligated to pay anything until after those 18 months. Another individual thought that getting a secured credit card meant they had to pay twice as much as someone with an unsecured credit card. Where are these myths coming from?   In last year's FINCON Conference, Gerry Detweiler (Credit.com), John Ulzheimer (worked at Equifax, FICO, and Credit.com) and Maxine Sweet (Experian) uncovered a few major credit myths in the panel “Everything Your Readers Need to Know About … [Read more...]

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