Paying Cash May Cost You More in the Long Run

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The NY Times recently featured an article that talked about Americans who are trying to make a conscious effort to use cash instead of plastic.  The catalyst for this paradigm shift isn’t driven by a need to conserve funds or to avoid finance charges as you might immediately suspect.  Some consumers are choosing cash over credit to insulate themselves from the risk of being a cyber-crook’s next victim.  It seems like a sensible solution on paper until you realize that misguided precautions along these lines are eventually going to hurt your credit score if you are too stringent in your new “cash only “payment habits.   Credit scoring is really a “use it or lose it” situation.  It’s important to remember to use your credit frequently even if you fully intend to pay off the … [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...]

Cloud Security: Keeping your information safe in the cloud

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Although we have a long ways to go to conquering outer space, we should look perhaps a bit closer to our own atmosphere and consider the following: How safe are the contents we store in the cloud?   What’s this ‘cloud’ you speak of? Good question. Cloud services are applications that are Software as a Service (SaaS) based and hosted on OPP — Other People’s Property — so that a user is not required to download and install a software package in order to use the service. All you need is the Internet browser of your choice and you’re good to go.   Millions of consumers interact and store massive amounts of personal data every day. For example, those of us who watch Netflix or use Instagram to send pictures — all that content is stored in the cloud. DropBox, a file storage … [Read more...]

How to Help Your Child Avoid ID Theft

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A blog post for myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   Earlier this month we posted an article about the abundance of child ID theft and what parents can watch for to protect their children from those who may be seeking a new identity. Identity theft is highly preventable, not only for parents, but for children as well. Our youth are growing up with new technological advances that give them access to all things the internet has to offer. Most classes today even require the use of the Internet for research or projects.   One study found that 85% percent of kids aged 12-17 used social media networks in 2013, with 94% of teens on Facebook. With the constant updates to Facebook, everything your teen posts - status … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Good Credit Habits: The Gift that Keeps Giving

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It's everyone's favorite season! The holidays are filled with cheer, goodwill and generosity — and so much candy! You've probably spent plenty of time thinking about what to get your children, spouse, family and friends …but have you considered what to get yourself?   I'm not talking about splurging on a big-screen TV, or cute new designer shoes. It can be tempting to treat yourself to something exciting since you're already out shopping for everyone else. However, there’s one gift you can give yourself now that you’ll enjoy for years to come: the gift of developing good credit habits that will lead to a strong FICO score.   Here are just a few reasons why you should give yourself the gift of good credit habits:   -Life often throws us unexpected … [Read more...]

Cyber Theft Meets Cyber Monday

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The Monday following Thanksgiving, now known as Cyber Monday, has become one of the bumper sales days across electronic commerce sites.   Every year the absolute volumes of online sales increases, as does the proportion of electronic commerce spend compared to traditional spend at physical retailers. This shift in consumer behavior has also attracted those from the criminal fraternity, who are seeking to capitalize on consumer’s lack of knowledge about safe online shopping.   The continued strength of "card not present" fraud losses shows that people continue to be duped into providing their credit or debit card credentials in an insecure manner or to unauthorized sources, particularly when online. Customer education and awareness is imperative.   Shopping … [Read more...]

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