How Does Divorce Affect Credit Scores and What Can You Do About It?

Marriage is more than a bonding of two hearts. It’s also a union of finances and financial responsibility.

However, money is a common source o f marital stress and a leading cause of divorce. In a recent survey, 79 percent of divorcees said money played a role in their divorce.

When a marriage fails or ends, your heart bears the emotional toll, but that’s not all. Your credit score could also take a hit.

While we can’t do much about your heart, we can do something about your finances and credit score.

In this article, we answer the question “how does divorce affect credit” and tell you how to protect your credit.

Keep reading!

When Divorce Marks the Beginning of Financial Trouble

When calculating your credit score, credit bureaus don’t factor in your marital status. As such, divorce doesn’t directly affect your credit.

It’s the inevitable post-divorce financial troubles that’ll give your credit score a beating.

Let’s explore some of these potential situations.

Late/Missed Bills

It’s common for couples to shares financial bills in a marriage. Maybe you pay the rent in turns or make a 50/50 contribution every month.

Regardless of your specific situation, a divorce can be the end of your shared financial responsibility. One party could, for revenge or whatever reason, fail to honor their end of the deal.

If you don’t have the financial muscle to settle the bills alone and on time, your credit standing will be in jeopardy.

Typically, rent and other monthly utility payments don’t appear on your credit. But if they remain unpaid for a couple of months, the service providers could send your accounts to debt collectors.

Collections accounts bearing your name indicate a poor payment history. And, with payment history accounting for up to 35 percent of your credit score, expect a big drop.

Joint Marital Debt

In marriage, especially when it comes to money matters, unity is strength.

When you and your partner come together financially, you can get approved for a joint credit card with attractive interest rates. Or you can secure a joint mortgage and buy a bigger home.

In the event of a divorce, though, the joint debt could come to haunt your credit.

Even though a divorce nullifies your marriage, it doesn’t terminate any joint contracts or agreements you had with a financial institution. Sure, a family court can rule that one party is responsible for the joint debt, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. If your partner slacks on payments or lets the debt go into default, the credit score of everyone listed on the joint account will tank.

Divorce and Bankruptcy

Divorce is a common reason for individual bankruptcy filings, and it’s easy to see why.

Facing unexpected financial pressure arising from credit card or marital debt, a divorcing couple can decide to individually or jointly seek bankruptcy protection. Depending on the bankruptcy you go for, your debt could be wiped out or you could get more time to settle it.

A big drawback of filing for bankruptcy is it can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. It will also seriously hurt your credit score.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Credit

After a divorce, life moves on. You still have to stay on top of your financial obligations.

It’s in your best interest to protect your credit standing before and after a divorce. Here is how to do it.

Adjust Your Lifestyle Accordingly

With a combined income, a couple can comfortably afford the finer things in life. A bigger house, frequent vacations, private education for the kids…you name it.

But when a divorce happens, ex-couples face the prospect of living with a reduced income.

Don’t make the mistake of continuing to live a life your individual income cannot sustain.

If your ex-partner moved out of your home, for instance, you might be tempted to keep it, but will your finances allow? Will you afford to settle the mortgage in case your ex stops paying up?

If not, it’s best to downsize. This may mean moving into an apartment or even moving back with your parents as you fix your finances.

Divorce is often a difficult and costly business. Trying to maintain a lifestyle you cannot afford will not only make the transition more traumatic but also put your credit rating at risk. Anything from late utility bill payments to missed mortgage payments can hurt your score.

Don’t Slack On Payments

On your part, you might not have a problem settling individual bills.

The problem is with the joint debt. Your ex could simply stop paying up what they owe.

To protect your credit, the onus is on you to follow up and make sure the ex stays on top of the payments. If they don’t, both your scores will be affected.

But how do you find out if your ex is paying up?

Obtain the statements of your jointly-held accounts and find out whether they are up to date. If not, remind your ex that they’re late on the payments. In case your ex isn’t cooperating or unable to pay at the moment, you can pay, and then ask your lawyer to seek orders requiring the ex to reimburse you.

Another option is to keep tabs on your credit report.

If your ex has defaulted on joint debt, it’ll show up on our report. Although by this point your score might have already taken a hit, taking the appropriate action will help prevent further deterioration.

Cut Financial Ties with Your (Soon to be) Ex

Often, it’s what you do just before the divorce that will save your credit score the most.

You see, marriages rarely end out of the blue. There will be signs. And when you see these signs, it’s time to start severing financial ties with your spouse.

Keep note, some financial ties are harder to severe than others. For example, it’s easier to remove your name as a cosigner on a rental agreement than it’s to get out of a joint mortgage.

Either way, explore your options and severe all the financial ties you possibly can. After the divorce, there will be fewer financial obligations on your plate.

How Does Divorce Affect Credit? Now You Know!

In today’s economy, having a good credit score can mean the difference between financial freedom and financial hardship.

This is why you need answers the question “how does divorce affect credit” and know what you can do to protect yours. Lucky for you, we have killed the two birds. Now you know the various ways divorce can harm your credit, as well as how to minimize the damage.

If your score has already taken a beating, worry not. Read our credit repair tips to start rebuilding it.

What Does The Data Breach Mean for You?

What Does The Data Breach Mean for You?

Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash

If you are a regular consumer, you probably haven't thought too much about cyber attacks or data breaches. Most of us just accept passwords as a partly annoying but necessary factor of modern-day life. In some instances, we opt to get rid of them – making it easier for anyone to access our phone or laptop, and in fact, much of what we hold near. Think of how much information any of your devices holds nowadays? You likely have a banking app, your cards scanned, or shopping apps with your credit card details saved. Just a small data breach can expose your sensitive information. The last thing you need is your bank details in the wrong hands.

Although the technology is constantly improving to thwart off cyber attacks, the amount of them is still cause for alarm.

What is a Data Breach?

You may not even be sure as to what a data breach actually is. It is a confirmed incident where confidential or sensitive data has been hacked or accessed by a third party who should not have access to that information. When you see a data breach announced, it is a serious concern for the organization that it happened to, and the people whose information has been disclosed. This may be your name, address, your account details, your health files, or information that is sensitive to your business.

What was the Equifax Data Breach?

Between May and July 2017, hackers gained access to the data stored within Equifax servers, one of the country's three largest credit bureaus. This meant that millions, 147 million in fact, of people had their data stolen, or at least exposed in a security breach. This was one of the largest breaches seen to date globally, and its ramifications are still being felt, particularly in Equifax.

How Did The Data Breach Occur?

According to Equifax staff, it was the result of a flaw in a web-building application. In fact, the company was aware of the issue at least two months in advance of the data breach, however, they hadn't acted upon it. One of the main reasons for this is that no one had tried, in that time, to access the data. Then some wily hackers chanced upon the flaw, and within two to three months, they succeeded.

The tool that allowed the breach is called Apache Struts, and it transpires that the flaw in this software was identified in March. Many large companies across the U.S use Apache Struts and Equifax as a support for their online dispute portal. US-CERT, a cyber-security arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, discovered the flaw and disclosed it to a number of companies. Steps should have been taken to prevent any customer information from getting out.

Although some efforts were made to try and repair or patch up the problem, it obviously wasn't dealt with correctly. Large organizations can take time to address issues such as these, due to their day-to-day activities and the amount of protocol to go through. However, there's no doubt that they left themselves exposed far too long, and by July 29th, when "suspicious activity" was noticed, it was far too late.

Was Anyone Held Accountable for the Data Breach?

Well, in effect, yes. It would seem that two people left pretty quickly after the news broke of the data breach. Susan Mauldin, the chief security officer and Dave Webb, the chief information officer, both "retired" from Equifax in September 2017.

The FBI and Federal Trade Commission both conducted investigations of Equifax in relation to the data breach. At the beginning of August 2019, it was announced that Equifax will have to pay up to $700 million to settle this with the Federal Trade Commission and other bodies, including the general public.

A pool of $380.5 million is available to compensate customers who were affected by the breach.

What You Should Do?

Well, first thing's first, if you don't know by now whether you were affected, then it's best to discover that first. Do that by visiting this site now.

Then you should follow these steps:

1. Pull up your credit report. See if there is anything unusual on it, paying close attention to the period of May – September 2017. Has anyone attempted to get a card using your details and Social Security number?

2. Submit a claim with Equifax for free credit monitoring. You can get this for up to ten years on your account. If you were under 18 at the time of the breach, you will be eligible for up to 18 years of free credit monitoring. Previously there was a cash settlement offered if you had credit monitoring in place, however, since many people applied for this option, the fund has receded.

3. If there has been unusual activity on your credit report, then you should file a claim immediately. Claims can only be filed until January 22nd, 2020.

You can file claims for:

a) Time you spent dealing with the breach. This is capped at 20 hours.

b) Any losses from unauthorized charges to any of your accounts, or accounts set up in your name.

c) Any fees for freezing or unfreezing your credit report in relation to this breach.

d) The cost of any professionals you hired in relation to this, such as attorneys or accountants.

e) Any additional charges related to the above such as travel, notary fees, postage, document shipping, etc.

Note that cash payments are capped at $20,000 per person.

To Protect Yourself In Future

Although it can be difficult to protect your information when it is in the hands of big companies, you can be careful who you are giving it to.

You can take steps to protect yourself against identity theft, and discover what you should do if you have been a victim of this crime.

Always ensure you keep your information private, even when you are just filling it in on a form at the local post office or bank. If you are online, ensure that you are not on a public network where the simplest of hacks could pick up on your information. If you are trusting a company with your private information, then ask them how they are going to protect it. Let's hope big organizations have learned a lesson from the Equifax data breach.


How Can You Protect Your Credit

How Can You Protect Your Credit

Stock photo of the Business Man with a credit card by rupixen
Photographer: rupixen | Source: Unsplash

A healthy credit score is a huge advantage today. It improves your chances of receiving a loan, purchasing a car, renting an apartment, and even getting a job.

However, maintaining good credit isn’t always easy. It requires living within your means and making smart financial decisions. Failing to do this can cause your score to fall off fast.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to protect your credit score. The great part is, most of these tactics don’t require much effort. You simply need to stay educated and do a little planning.

To help you out, we’re going over some tips to help you maintain financial security.

Know Your FICO Score

You can’t keep your credit in check if you don’t monitor it. Doing so on a regular basis allows you to take action quickly if it starts to drop. The last thing you want is to realize you could’ve prevented your score from dropping significantly.

Think of your FICO score as hard evidence of your financial management habits. Lenders, car dealerships, apartment complexes, and potential employers look at this score when deciding if it’s safe to do business with you.

According to ValuePenguin, the average FICO score in the U.S. is currently 695. This is considered good credit. It’s not exceptional, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anything between 750 and 800 is great. If your FICO score is above 800, you’re doing everything right. However, if you start dropping below 650, you need to make some changes.

Finding out your FICO score is pretty easy. In fact, many credit cards and banks will include your score on your monthly statement. If you’re having trouble finding yours, you can get it from an authorized FICO score retailer like Experian.

Avoid Identity Theft

Victims of identity theft are vulnerable to having their credit significantly damaged. This is a huge problem in our digital world where hackers can penetrate online security systems and gain access to personal information to make purchases and sign up for credit cards in the victim’s name. This can result in a serious drop to your credit score.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2016, 10% of people over the age of 16 had become the victim of identity theft in the last 12 months. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself. A few of these include:

  • Don’t access bank or credit card accounts using a public WiFi signal.
  • Shred all documents that contain financial or personal information.
  • Examine your bank and credit card statements each month for strange activity.
  • Don’t provide personal information to anyone you don’t know.
  • Never carry your social security card with you unless you absolutely must.

If you notice unauthorized activity on your debit or credit cards, call your bank immediately. There’s a good chance they can put a stop on the charge. You’ll also need to report any type of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

Control Your Credit Card Debt

Many people make the mistake of allowing their credit card balances to get out of hand. Pretty soon they’re only able to pay the minimum amount owed each month. Doing this will hurt your credit score.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit card balances below 30% of your entire credit limit. Even if you plan to pay off your balance soon, charging too much could bring down your score.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by credit card debt, there are a few things you can do. First, if you have a high-interest balance, consider transferring it to a new card that offers a 0% interest rate during an introductory period. Then, work on paying this balance down during that period.

You should also make it a point to pay a little more than the minimum payment each month. Even if it’s just $20, you’re chipping away at your balance. Plus, this looks better than never paying anything other than the required minimum.

Pay Your Bills On Time

One of the easiest ways to protect your credit is to always pay your bills on time. Even a single late payment will bring your score down.

This goes for all your bills, including utilities, car payments, loan debt, and medical bills. It’s not only overdue credit card bills that apply. Your credit score could even be affected by something as minor as an unpaid library card balance.

The best way to avoid missing a bill is to set up automatic payments online. This way the money comes out of your account to pay the bill each month without you having to do anything. If you’re not comfortable doing that, simply set digital reminders to alert you when a bill is due.

Your payment history accounts for a large chunk of your credit score. A minor slip-up may take a while to recover from.

Don’t Apply for Too Many Credit Cards

When you apply for a new credit card, an inquiry is made regarding your credit score. These inquiries cause a temporary drop in your score that could last anywhere from six to 12 months.

If you need to apply for a new card, do a little research first. You can probably find out your likelihood of getting approved. The last thing you want to do is to hurt your credit score and also get denied for a card.

As a rule, try to limit the number of credit cards you have. Yes, having one is a great way to build credit, but having more than one increases the chance of your debt getting out of hand. You may soon see your credit score plummet.

Keep Your Credit Score and Future Under Control

Financial stress is extremely difficult. It can put a strain on your marriage, relationships, and general well-being. Avoid this by protecting your credit and enjoy financial peace of mind.

Use the tips discussed above and keep your credit score healthy. If you notice it start to drop, you’ll need to tighten your budget and start the recovery process right away.


How Often Should You Check Your Credit Score?

How Often Should You Check Your Credit Score?

In this world of commercial temptation and consumerism, it is very important to maintain a few things. Your credit score is linked to your quality of life – try being unable to get a credit card or a loan for a new car or a holiday. But, do you know everything that helps you to keep your expenses in check and maintain a strong credit score?

With new apps coming out all the time, it has become an obsession to check your credit score, but just how often should you be checking your credit score? Most people are used to the myth that frequently checking your credit score negatively impacts your score.

Here are some easy and simple steps from credit repair answers, which will help you learn when to check your credit score and how it helps you. Following these steps is pretty easy and if you can implement these ideas in your life and practice them, you are sure to benefit in the long run.

What is a Credit Score?

Now, you can never understand what your credit score is if you don't understand what a credit report is. A credit report is simply a report which shows lenders how adept you are at handling borrowed money. They look at how much money you have borrowed, whether you have paid on time and if you have missed any payments. Lenders use this information to evaluate how likely it is that you will pay back the credit.

All kinds of credit related transactions are contained within your individual reports. If you have a loan or a credit card, you will get credit reports and scores, usually updated on a monthly basis. Credit scores are calculated from the information in your credit reports.

Credit Scores vary from person to person. Everyone has their own, individual lifestyle habits. Some are more eager on saving, investing and multiplying, while some, through no fault, may have defaulted on a loan or credit card due to unfortunate life circumstances. Different reports have different rating scales, however it is always a number – with the higher the number, the more likely you are to first obtain credit, and secondly get a better deal.

Managing money is becoming extremely difficult as new waves of consumerism constantly strike our world. Everyone wants the newest smartphone or a brand new car, and often the idea of getting a loan or a credit agreement to fund these is too good to turn down. You can manage your credit reports and score by not borrowing more than you can afford to repay and avoiding short term loans and payday loans.

When should you check your credit score?

Many who are new to the world of credit, are paranoid about its maintenance. You should always keep in mind that checking your credit score on a regular basis is not needed. Your score won’t change during the month, so if you want to keep track, checking it monthly is a good option.

Most apps and credit check companies will tell you when your new report will be ready. Therefore deciding when to check your credit score depends entirely on you. Regular checking of your credit report won’t do it any harm, however multiple applications for credit in a short period of time can.

Identification of day-to-day changes can be very time consuming and frustrating. Instead, you should check for patterns or trends in your reports which you think are affecting your credit score in general. Most credit reports now offer in-depth analysis of your credit agreements – so you can choose to increase payments on a certain loan or credit card to boost your credit rating.

If you are looking at a new loan or credit card you will want to check your credit report before doing so. Most apps and credit reports are now able to tell you which loans and credit cards you are likely to be accepted for before applying; thus avoiding hurting your credit score with a declined application.

Times you will want to check your credit score.

· When you are opening a new credit card.

· When you are applying for a mortgage.

· When you are applying for a loan.

Don’t get obsessed with your credit score

Higher credit scores will obviously relax your nerves. This doesn’t mean you should get obsessed with your credit score. Even when you are in a stable financial position, it is important to track your credit scores and keep yourself updated. But checking your score every day can lead to anxiety and stress. If you are building your credit score, it may be worthwhile to check your score every other month, as opposed to the disappointment of not seeing it rise as fast as you may wish.

Keep checking monthly and manage your finances efficiently and smoothly and you should see your credit score rise.

How do you check your credit score?

There is no fixed time to check your credit score. You can check your credit score anywhere and anytime. You can get these reports from any of your preferred credit reporting agencies such as ClearScore or Experian. These reports are helpful as they tell you when you have any changes coming up, so you know when to login to see any changes that are positive or negative on your credit score.

If you are struggling with debt and are unable to pay, this will affect your credit rating and according to the Government the best option may be a Debt Management plan. Your credit rating will be affected, however once all of your debts have been paid off you will be able to work on building it all over again.

5 Tips for Reporting a Mistake on Your Credit Report

5 Tips for Reporting a Mistake on Your Credit Report

Unless you’re buying a car, financing a home, or applying for a credit card, you likely don’t obsess over your credit report. And unless you take advantage of your annual free copy, you may not even know what’s in your credit file. According to Erick Klein, of Brookings Center on Regulations and Markets, more than 1 in 5 consumers have a significant error on their credit report. In some cases, those credit report errors can make you look like a credit risk even if you’re not. What can you do if an error pops up on your file? The following 5 tips show you how the credit dispute process works.

1. Read Your Credit Report

You can’t report errors if you never view your credit file. While it might not sound like a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning, it may be the best time. You’re relaxing with a cup of Joe so why not do something productive?

How Often Should You Look at Your Credit Situation?

At a minimum, review your credit report once a year. It’s free! The experts at Credit Repair Answers say you can request one free credit report every year. Don’t settle for one report either. Request one from each of the three major credit reporting agencies:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

Also, consider partnering with a credit monitoring service. Most charge a fee but when you subscribe to the service, you can review your credit file every month.

What Are You Looking For?

Checking for accuracy is the main thing you’ll do with your credit file. Since the file contains your personal information such as legal name, address, and rental history, check for spelling mistakes and correct current address. Beyond your demographic information, look for outdated information. Maybe you made a late car payment 10 years ago and it’s still on your report. You might also see an old collections account that you’ve already settled. Late payments should only stay on your report for 7 years. If you’ve paid off a collections account, your report should reflect that as well. Keep an eye out for debts that don’t belong to you. Mistakes happen and you sure don’t want bad information on your file that belongs to someone else.

2. Know What You Can Dispute

If you don’t agree with it, you can dispute it. Be aware that the credit reporting company will investigate whatever you dispute. That doesn’t mean they’ll delete the information. The law only requires the credit bureau to delete certain credit report items. Consumers are welcome to dispute the following items found on their credit file:

  • Incorrect credit limits, loan amounts, and account balances.
  • Accounts that don’t belong to you.
  • Late payments if you paid on time.
  • Past due status if your account is current.

You can also dispute out of date information. For example, negative items should only remain on your credit report for 7 years. The exception is bankruptcy. According to Credit Repair Answers, bankruptcy usually appears on the report for 7-10 years. Once you’ve identified potential errors, you’ll start the process of communicating with the credit bureaus.

3. Notify the Credit Bureaus

When you find errors, don’t ignore them. They won’t magically disappear. Instead, tell the credit bureaus. Of course, there’s a process you must follow. First, gather all documentation that supports your claim. Without evidence, you won’t get very far with the credit bureaus. Make copies of your documents. Next, you’ll write a letter.

Your Dispute Letter

If you choose to mail your dispute, you’ll need a letter. Let the credit reporting company know you have a recent credit report. Then, you’ll list each error separately with the name of the account and the account number. Don’t forget to include the account status (paid in full, current, etc.). State that you dispute the item listed and request an update, removal, or other change. List whatever documents you send, which may include cancelled checks or other proof of payment. You can include a copy of your credit report and highlight each error.

Finally, don’t just drop it in the mailbox. Send your dispute letter by certified mail and pay for the return receipt. You want to know the credit bureau received your letter.

4. Wait for Investigation Results

When you report errors, the credit reporting companies start an investigation. They’re required by law to investigate and provide their findings back to you. Be patient. It usually takes about 30 -45 days. As part of the investigation, they forward your documentation to the original creditor, or collection agency. Since the creditor is the one supplying the disputed information, they also must investigate your dispute. They report their findings back to the credit bureau. If they find inaccurate information, they must alert all three major credit bureaus that we listed above. The credit bureaus then update your file with the correct information.

5. Other Ways to File Disputes

If you prefer using the internet rather than fussing with a trip to the post office, you have options!

Online Dispute Forms

You can always open a dispute online. All three credit reporting companies have online dispute centers. While there’s nothing wrong with using their online forms, the credit bureaus don’t give you much space on the form. You’ll have enough room for a brief statement. They do also allow you to attach documentation. Some consumers feel more comfortable using the mail because it’s easier to prove the credit bureau received their information.

Phone Disputes

Yes, the credit bureaus still use phones and you can open a dispute by phone with a representative. Keep in mind, at some point, you’ll still need to supply documentation.

What Happens When They Finish Investigating?

After they complete the investigation, the credit bureau gives you the results in writing. If they make a change to your credit file, you get a free copy of your report. If you ask, the credit bureau will notify anyone who received your credit report over the last 6 months.

Sometimes investigations don’t end on the side of the consumer. If you can’t resolve the errors on your credit report, you do have the option of requesting that a statement of dispute be included in your credit file.

rfid blocking wallet

Keep Your Credit Card Safe with RFID Blocking Wallets

You know that there are tons of credit card scams and unsavory companies out there that you need to watch out for.

But what many people don’t realize is that you don’t necessarily have to fall for a shady pitch or be tricked into giving out your credit card number to become a victim of credit card fraud.

Now, some scammers can use RFID technology to read your credit card data — and steal it for themselves.

An RFID blocking wallet can help to prevent this from happening to you.

In this post, we’ll fill you in on how RFID works, what to watch out for, and how the right products work to stop scammers in their tracks.

Then, we’ll tell you how you can get your credit back on track and make the situation right if you’ve been the victim of an RFID scam.

RFID: The Basics

First of all, let’s make sure you understand what an RFID blocking wallet can do.

RFID stands for “Radio Frequency Identification.”

RFID tags are on objects like credit cards, passports, used in barcodes, and found in many more products and ID cards. They contain sensitive data and use radio frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum to make it easy to quickly identify a product or store information.

Unfortunately, RFID skimming is becoming increasingly common.

This is likely because about 96% of retailers say they plan to use some sort of RFID technology n their products — so there are lots of opportunities for scammers.

This is a form of criminal activity and digital theft where electronic devices are used to read and then copy the data found on your credit cards and anything else with an RFID chip.

Once the data is downloaded, it’s easy for it to be transferred to a new, blank credit card — one that will work just as well as the original.

These RFID readers are effective even if the data on your credit card is encrypted.

In short?

They make it simple for people to steal your credit card information.

We know what you’re thinking: But, I keep my credit card in my wallet.

These credit card scanners are wireless and can even read cards that you keep in your pocket or wallet. Sometimes, these scammers can walk right by you in an airport or shopping mall, scan your credit card information from several feet away, and keep on walking.

You’d never know it even happened — and that’s exactly the idea.

So, how can you find reliable RFID protection?

Let’s talk about that now.

What Is an RFID Blocking Wallet?

Fortunately, RFID blocking is possible — and you don’t have to lock your credit card in a steel briefcase to make it happen.

Instead, all you have to do is invest in an RFID blocking wallet, case, or pouch. These products look exactly like other wallets, and there are tons of different styles available as the technology continues to grow in popularity.

But how exactly do they work?

These wallets are actually able to block RFID signals by blocking the radio waves and all electromagnetic fields that scammers can use to steal your data. In short, it akes your cards and other RFID products unreadable.

The good news is that many credit cards today don’t actually use RFID technology.

So, while you should still certainly exercise common sense when carrying around many products with RFID technology, you may not need to invest in a wallet.

How can you tell if your card has RFID technology?

If you can pay for something with your credit card just by holding it up or to or tapping onto a payment device, instead of swiping or inserting the chip, your card has RFID technology.

But even if you take all the precautions possible, you can still be a victim of credit card theft/fraud — whether or not RFID technology is present.

Now, let’s take a quick look at what you should do if your credit card has been compromised in some way.

What to Do About Credit Card Fraud

First of all, know that if you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud, you’re not alone.

In fact, about 46% of Americans have had their credit card information stolen within the past five years. Still, you don’t want your credit to be impacted by spending that you weren’t even responsible for, and you don’t want your bank account to be drained by a thief.

So, what can you do if your card has fallen into the wrong hands and made you the victim of identity theft and fraud?

Make sure that you cancel the guard the moment you recognize any suspicious activity in your account. (This is also why you should check your transaction history every day.)

When you call the credit card company to cancel the card, let them know you suspect it’s been stolen. Next, immediately change the usernames, PIN numbers, and passwords on your credit card online accounts.

You may also need to get in touch with a credit bureau and request a copy of your credit report. Consider reporting the issue to the police, and continually monitor your statements for the next few weeks.

Need More Help with Your Credit?

While investing in an RFID blocking wallet is a great step in protecting your credit cards and your credit score in general, it’s just one of many things you need to do to stay smart about your financial future.

Whether you have good credit and want to keep it that way, or if you want to boost your score so you can get approved for a loan, we’re here to help.

Keep checking back in with us for the latest advice on credit repair, credit bureaus, and how to apply for the card that’s right for you.

highest credit score possible

Go from Zero to the Highest Credit Score Possible with These 5 Simple Steps

Did you know that less than 1% of the US population has a perfect credit score? 

Hitting that coveted 850 can seem impossible, especially when your score is already low. But with the right background and motivation, anyone can have the highest credit score possible.

Do you want to own a home in the next year? Are you looking for loans to go back to school or get a new car? Do you have an interest in being in the best financial position possible?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to read this post.

How to Get the Highest Credit Score Possible: 5 Tips

Credit scores are absolutely crucial for any financial decision you want to make, but they also take time to build.

We won’t be able to tell you how to magically improve your credit score overnight. But we can give you some solid information that can put you in a much better place score-wise.

If you’re ready to get that perfect credit score, follow the tips below.

Pay Bills on Time

We know that this is easier said than done, but it’s one of the quickest and most effective ways for you to boost your credit score.

You may not know this, but your payment history is one of the most important things credit card bureaus look at when they determine your credit score. 

Payments that are delinquent even by just a few days can have a negative impact on your credit score. Don’t assume that there’s a grace period before reporting, it’s in your best interest to pay bills as soon as they’re due.

If you’re interested in raising your credit score, your credit card and loan payments need to be a priority. Take time to look at your budget and make sure that you’ll always have money when bills are due.

It can be helpful to set reminders if you have trouble remembering to make payments. Set a reminder a few days before your bills are due so that they’re on your mind, and set an additional reminder for the day they’re due.

Keep Credit Cards Open

When you’ve paid off a credit card you may feel the urge to close your account. This may sound strange, but it’s better for you to keep your accounts open and to not use them than to close them completely.

Your credit history plays an important role in your credit score. A long history of credit gives potential lenders more information and gives them a more comprehensive picture of your creditworthiness.

Unless you have cards with a high annual fee, it’s in your best interest to keep them open. A long credit history could be seen as a sign that you’ve been able to obtain and manage credit for a long period of time.

Have the Right Debt Combination

Sometimes it’s not about the amount of debt you have, but the kind of debt you’re carrying. Having a good mix of debt can be much better for your credit score instead of having a single type of debt.

There are many different kinds of debt you can take on. Some people have mortgages, other people have bank and business loans. You could also have student or vehicle loans or retail credit cards.

People that have a mix of different kinds of credit are seen as less risky than people with one kind of credit. Reduce your debt where you can and look into diversifying it.

Say No to Minimum Payments

We just talked about the importance of paying your bills on time. Making payments at the right time is a good start. But if you really want to put a dent in your debt and improve your credit score, you need to do more than the minimum.

Paying more than you owe each month on your outstanding debt has a variety of benefits. You’ll be reducing your overall debt load and get closer to paying off your debt faster.

You don’t have to make the payments huge. If you could start by adding an extra $10 or $20 dollars a month you’ll be getting closer to your end goal of paying off the debt completely.

If you’re struggling to pay multiple credit cards or loans, it may be a good idea to focus on reducing one area of your debt.

You can make minimum payments on your other debts that make sure that you’re up to date, and focus on paying off chunks of the debt you’re focused on. Once you completely pay off the balance on one, you can do the same for your other debts.

Avoid Spreading and Spending

It isn’t uncommon for some people to try to get ahead of their debt by using more credit cards or loans to get out of debt. Taking out new lines of credit can be a short term solution, but they’ll just add to your long term problem.

We briefly mentioned that your payment history is a big part of determining your credit score. Another big factor is the amount of money you owe in comparison to the amount of credit available.

The amount of credit available is commonly referred to as your open credit utilization rate. It’s always a good idea to not be near or even close to the overall limit on credit cards.

Lenders and creditors pay very close attention to the utilization ratios for potential borrowers. People with a high utilization rate can be seen as someone that’s less likely to pay back what they have borrowed.

If you have a low credit utilization rate, you show potential lenders that you’re a responsible borrower that takes paying down their debt seriously.

Build Your Credit the Right Way

When you have the right knowledge, getting the highest credit score possible is easy. Once you keep up with payments and make building your credit your focus, getting to 850 can be a snap.

Do you want to learn more about the right way to build your credit? We have a lot of articles that can help you reach your financial goals.

Check out our post on common credit problems and the best way to fix them.

increase credit limit

5 Key Tips to Raise Your Credit Limit

As long as you’re able to keep your spending in check, there are countless reasons why it’s a good idea to work towards a credit line increase. 

If you increase credit limit, you can improve your overall credit score and fund larger — but still responsible — purchases without having to dip into your savings. A higher credit limit is also proof that you’ve been able to make your payments on time and exercise fiscal responsibility

Though it’s important to aim to keep the balance on a credit card at 30% or less of your entire credit limit, if you’ve recently started earning more income or can now afford to pay over your minimum each month, it makes sense to increase your limit. 

But how can you make that happen? 

Keep on reading this post to find out. 

1. Wait for It

The best way to increase credit limit options is simply to be patient. 

Especially if you make more than the minimum payments consistently, and if those payments are always on time, your credit card company may increase your limit automatically.  

Usually, credit card companies will review your account about once every six months, and decide if you’ve “earned” an increase in your limit. 

Of course, depending on your current financial situation, you may not be in a position to wait for an automatic increase. Luckily, you still have other options. 

2. Formally Request a Credit Limit Increase

You can put in a credit limit increase request online or over the telephone. 

Usually, you’ll need to provide the representative with a few more details of your financial life. You’ll answer questions about your current income, your payment history, and potentially even how long you’ve had an active account with the company. 

You don’t need to let the representative know exactly what you’re planning to use the money for (in fact, you may not even know.) But you can make your case based on your history with them. 

Be patient and polite — it sounds basic, but it really does go a long way. 

Be aware that asking for an increase may temporarily knock down your credit score. 

3. Get a New Credit Card 

The average American citizen has about 3 different credit cards

Sometimes, if you want to get a higher credit limit, one of the best things you can do is to simply apply for a new credit card that offers a larger limit. 

Of course, as with hard pulls when you request an increase on an existing card, applying for a new credit card will also ding your credit score. So, before you go for this option, we suggest looking into your existing cards first. 

However, especially if the card you’re looking into offers better rewards and 0% interest for a year, it may be the right option for you. 

Just avoid falling into the dangerous cycle of credit card churning — that’s a fast track to a lifetime of debt. 

4. Be Smart About the Amount You Request

When you first apply for a credit card increase, we know that it’s especially tempting to ask for more than you probably need. 

You have visions of all the fun — but usually not exactly necessary — purchases that a higher limit would allow you to make. But before you ask for a serious increase, you need to understand why that’s not always the best move. 

Credit card companies often see this as a red flag and are much more likely to deny limit increase requests that are disproportionate to someone’s credit history and income levels. 

These denials hurt your credit score, and they also mean that you’ll be stuck waiting through the next few months with no limit increase at all until you’re able to apply again. 

Now is also the time to study up on any potential limit increase fees that you could incur. 

5. Ensure You Can Make On-Time Payments

When you’re ready to raise credit card limit, one of the most important things to evaluate is whether or not you can truly afford to make higher monthly payments — and still make them on time. 

Now is also the time to evaluate and potentially redesign your personal budget

Are there subscription services you don’t really use? Are you spending a large portion of your income on a particular area, like eating out or expensive clothing? 

Look for what you can cut, and prioritize making your monthly credit card payments above all else. 

Even if you miss a single credit card payment, your score — and your ability to be approved for an even bigger limit increase in the future — will take a big hit. Especially if you want to increase your limit to improve your credit score, make sure you don’t accidentally make the situation worse. 

Remember that just because you’ve been approved for a higher credit limit, doesn’t mean you have a free pass to max it out.

Increase Credit Limit with These Tips

We hope that this post has given you a better understanding not only when it comes to how to increase credit limit, but also how to do so without putting yourself at financial risk. 

Looking for additional tips on how to improve your credit score? Need to learn more about the right credit card options for you? Interested in understanding your loan options? 

We’re here to help you with all that and more. 

Keep checking back with our blog to get the financial advice you need to succeed, from understanding what makes a good credit score to how to understand the basics of credit bureaus. 

how to build credit as a college student

How to Build Credit as a College Student and Graduate with a Top Score

While you’re in college, you’re probably dreaming of post-grad life when you’ll find a nice job, buy your first house, and get a nice car. Of course, you’ll want to live the good life after all those years studying!

With your credit history affecting not only whether you can borrow money but sometimes even if you can get a job, getting a head start on increasing your credit score is a great idea.

If you’ve never had a credit card or loan before, you might not know where to start. With factors like your payment history, types of credit accounts, debt owed, and credit history length helping to determine your credit score, there’s a lot to consider. But don’t worry!

Keep reading and we’ll show you exactly how to build credit as a college student.

1. Get a Credit Card

If you’re wondering how to build credit as a student, getting one credit card that you can use wisely is a good place to start. 

If you’ve got some source of income, such as a part-time job at your college, you may qualify for your own card. While there are credit cards specifically for students from major banks, you can find regular cards with attractive perks like reduced interest charges and rewards.

Otherwise, you might consider asking your parents to make you an authorized user for one of their credit cards. This card will be in your name, though your parents will also share responsibility if you were not to pay. This might make some parents reluctant.

In either case, your account balance and payment history will report to the credit bureaus. As you pay your bills on time, you’ll see your credit score rise over time.

While you may be tempted to open multiple cards, this is not a wise idea. Starting with a single card lets you reap the benefits and convenience of having a credit card while also reducing your chances of getting into deep debt.

2. Use Your Card Wisely

The best way to build credit with a credit card is to charge only necessities and pay off your balance each month. This means avoiding the temptation of buying that expensive new cell phone or taking your friends out to that costly concert.

However, life and emergencies do happen, so there may be times you have to carry a balance over time. The key is to watch your card’s payment date closely and pay at least the minimum payment. Remember that interest can add up, so paying as much as you can each month is highly recommended.

To avoid late fees that hurt your credit score, you can set up autopayments from your bank account or create an alert on your phone to remind you each month before the due date. 

3. Avoid Other Large Debts

While we’ve already discussed avoiding excessive card debt, you should remember that other debts like car loans and student loans impact your credit score. 

It’s true that having a mix of credit like personal loans and credit cards can help the credit mix portion of your score, which makes up 10 percent. But the amount of debt owed actually makes up a whopping 30 percent of your score!

Student loans may be a necessity for getting your education. However, if you’re looking at how to build credit in college, pay attention to how much you borrow. Taking out student loans for the minimum needed for tuition and board, as well as finding extra income sources like a part-time job, can prevent overwhelming debt past graduation and keep your score in a better place too.

Avoiding car loans by buying a cheap used car or finding other sources of transportation would also help keep your overall debt lower. If you do choose a new car, shop around for deals and student promotions to cut your purchase price down.

4. Avoid Late and Unpaid Bills

Late credit bills are not the only thing that can hurt your score. You also have to think about your rent, utility bills, and other loans.

Whether you miss your cell phone payment or forget to pay your car loan, you face consequences other than a shut-off phone line or repossession. You could both face late payment fees and see a dent in your credit score for delinquency. 

In fact, if you do not resolve unpaid bills quickly, your account can go to collections, making your credit score take a large hit. In fact, your payment history alone makes up 35 percent of your credit score!

It’s easy to forget to pay your bills when you’re busy juggling classes and possibly a job. So, creating reminders, taking advantage of autopayment, and writing all payment due dates down will help you manage your bills.

5. Avoid Co-signing for Others

If your partner or friend wants to buy a house or car, he or she might ask you to co-sign for them. This means that if the person doesn’t pay the bill, then the creditor can come after you. This is not a good idea if you want to focus on how to build credit as a college student!

While you have control over how you use debt and pay your bills, you can’t control the person you’ve co-signed for. And unfortunately, bad financial decisions your friend makes can come back to tear down your credit score. This is because the loan will appear on your credit report just as if you had taken it out on your own.

Even if your friend or family member is very responsible and has never missed a bill, still you should beware. All it takes is one late or missed payment to dent your score, and unless you monitor your credit report regularly, you might not even know about the delinquency before it’s too late to resolve easily.

Now You Know How to Build Credit as a College Student

We’ve shown you how to build credit as a college student, so it’s time to take control of your financial future and aim for a top credit score!

Now that you know how to get a credit card as a student, start exploring options that work for you and avoid the pitfalls of charging too much and missing payments. At the same time, take on as little extra debt as possible and avoiding co-signing so you can keep your credit history clear.

If you have had any financial issues and are interested in credit repair to improve your score, be sure to check out our blog.

credit issues

7 Common Credit Issues and What to Do to Fix Them

You make every payment on time, and you don’t have a large amount of debt.

So, you probably assume you are free of credit issues, so that must mean your credit score is in the excellent range, right? 

You would be surprised how many people follow that same sediment. However, there are some common mistakes that people make that they don’t even realize can affect their credit score. 

In this post, we are going to explore some of the most common credit mistakes and how to solve them.

1. High Credit Card Balance

Credit report companies asses how much credit you are using in relation to your credit limit. The credit used and the credit balance is one of the significant determining factors on your credit report. 

For instance, if your credit card limit is $1000 and you spend $900, then you’re spending 90% of your credit. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit card balance at least 50%, and if you’re attentive, keep it at 30% and under.

Keeping your credit card balance low helps credit agencies know that you are responsible with your credit. In turn, this may help improve your credit score. 

2. Late on Your Payments

One or two late payments often won’t affect your credit score unless you have a young credit history, or you only have one item on your credit report.

However, if you have multiple missed or late payments, it can affect your credit score for a few years. Late or missed payments often stay on your credit report for 6-7 years.

Once a late payment is on your credit report, the only way to remove it is through time and demonstrating the ability to make payments on time. Over a few years, the late payments will eventually be removed from your credit report.

To ensure you don’t miss a payment again, try automating your bills and making sure your bank account information is up to date. It’s easy to miss a few bills if you aren’t diligent. 

3. Collections on Your Credit Report

Unpaid collections can end up on your credit report, which will impact your credit score. Parking tickets, fines, medical bills, and cell phone bills can all be sent to collections if left unpaid. 

The good news is before you pay your collections, you can speak with a creditor and ask them to remove the collection notice from your credit report after you agree to pay. In many cases, creditors are understanding and will remove the collection notice from your credit report.

Before you make a payment, you want to ensure you get an agreement for the removal of your collection notice in writing from your creditor. Once you’ve paid your collection, be sure to reach out to a creditor to ensure it is removed from your credit report.

If a collection notice is the only reason for your low credit score, you can expect your score to go back up.

4. Closing Old Credit Credit Card Accounts

It seems like common sense to close an account once you’ve finished paying it off or if you decide you no longer need it. However, this is one of the quickest ways to lower your credit score.

Essentially, closing a credit card minimizes the amount of credit you have available. If you have a balance on another account, this will increase your credit utilization.

Credit utilization, your total debt owed compared to the amount of credit you have available, is one of the major factors on your credit score. As mentioned, the best rule of thumb is to keep your credit card balance at 30% or under. 

Before you decide to close your account, you want to assess the pros and cons. In many cases, leaving your card open doesn’t cost anything. Be sure to talk to your issuers to determine if there are any yearly or monthly fees associated with your card.

5. Identity Theft

Identity theft can happen to anyone, so it’s important to know what to do in case it happens to you. It occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your social security number, bank information, or name to commit fraudulent acts.

An identity thief can use your personal information to take out loans, get credit cards, or other factors that can contribute to your debt; this can impact your credit in the long run.

The best ways to combat identity theft is to follow these key tips:

  • Keep an eye on your credit report for any suspicious activity.
  • Don’t give out your social security number if it isn’t necessary or if you’re suspicious.
  • Put a freeze on your account if you suspect suspicious activity.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit.

6. Opening Retail Cards to Save Money

Most shoppers look for ways to find discounts. Many retailers understand this, so they typically offer store credit cards that offer a percentage off of your entire purchase every time you use your store credit card.

While this may seem like a great deal at first glance, it usually promotes overspending which can lead to even more debt. Lenders take note when one person opens too many credit cards 

Instead of opening up new retail cards, try shopping only during sales or search for coupons online.

7. Never Checking Your Credit Report

You would be surprised how many people never check their credit score. It is more important than ever before to check your credit report, mainly to check for credit inaccuracies or find ways to improve your score.

The main credit reporting bureaus at Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Be sure to check them to identify any errors in your credit report. If you do spot an error, you can always dispute it.

If you would like to view your credit score, there are many online credit report websites where you can to get an authorized credit report at no cost.

Say Goodbye to Your Credit Issues

It may seem like learning how to fix your credit issues is a tedious process. But staying informed on the best ways to improve your credit is beneficial in the long run. 

To learn more about credit repair, check out our latest blog.