Posts Tagged: ‘Equifax’

Step-by-Step Guide to Surviving the Equifax Data Breach

September 18, 2017 Posted by kingcade

One of the largest data breaches in history has compromised the personal data of 143 million people. Equifax, a major credit bureau, lost control of customer data that included social security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, drivers’ license numbers and date of births.  The company estimates roughly half of the U.S. population has been affected by the breach, and this sensitive data could have been exposed to hackers.

Equifax will not specifically tell you if you are a victim, but we have a guide for you and a quick recap of what you may have missed post Hurricane Irma.

The data breach could have started as early as May 2017, which means the data could have been exposed for more than three months.  It is unclear what the hackers may have done with the data during those months.

Here is what you can do to protect yourself:

Check your credit reports. When looking through your reports, keep an eye out for any new accounts you did not open, late payments on debts you do not recognize and any other suspicious activity.  You are guaranteed a free annual credit report from the three major bureaus.  Click HERE to download your free credit report.  You will not be held responsible for charges made on a fraudulent credit card.  However, this must be reported in a timely manner.

Freeze your credit. Even if your credit comes back clean it is still early and one of the most reliable ways to prevent someone from opening up credit cards in your name is to place what is called a “credit freeze.”   You can contact each of the three credit bureaus by calling:

Set up a fraud alert.  When you set up a fraud alert, credit card companies will be required to verify your identity before opening an account. To activate a fraud alert, contact just one of the credit card bureaus and ask for an initial fraud alert. When the alert is set, it will be in effect for 90 days.

Be mindful of tax season.  Identity thieves can use stolen social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and receive refunds.  Many victims find out they are a victim of tax fraud after the IRS tells them their taxes have already been filed.  One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to file early.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/your-guide-to-surviving-equifax-data-breach/

Consumer Credit Scores to Exclude Some Debt and Liens Starting July 1st

March 17, 2017 Posted by kingcade

The nation’s three largest credit-reporting agencies will soon exclude tax liens and some civil debts from their reports. The change by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will take effect July 1st. According to the Consumer Data Industry Association, it is part of a plan to ensure that consumer identifications in the data are accurate and current.

The provision is likely to improve millions of American’s credit scores. If reports on those tax liens and civil debts do not include the consumers’ names, addresses and Social Security number, they will not be reported.  Additionally, the records will not be included without courthouse visits to obtain newly filed and updated public records at least every 90 days.

However, there are some controversies surrounding the changes. Although they are likely to help consumers appear more credit-worthy, the updated policies could potentially make loan-screening more difficult for lenders.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Tips to Improve your Credit Score

February 8, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Having a low credit score can cost you.  If you have a credit score of 620 or below, this is considered to be “bad credit.”  Lenders or credit card issuers, if they are willing to extend you credit at all, are likely to charge you a higher interest rate.  You may also have to pay a utility deposit when starting or renewing service, something people with good credit do not have to pay.  Having a bad credit score can even effect how much you pay for car insurance.

Now onto the good news- there are things you can do to improve your credit score.  Following these easy steps will help push your score in the right direction.

  • Watch your credit card balances.  A major factor in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you are using.  The smaller the percentage, the better your credit rating.  The ideal amount is 30 percent or lower.
  • Eliminate small credit card balances.  When you have small balances on credit cards, pay them off.  Charging $50 on one card and $100 on another instead of using the same card (preferably one with a good interest rate) can hurt your credit score.
  • Leave “old debt” on your report. Some people believe that old debt on their credit report is a bad thing.  Good debt- such as a home or car you recently paid off – is actually good for your credit.  Do not close out old accounts where you have had a solid repayment history.
  • Use your calendar.  If you are shopping for a home, car or student loan, it pays to do your rate shopping within a short period of time. Every time you apply for new credit, it can cause a small dip in your credit score, which can last up to a year.
  • Pay your bills on time. If you are planning a major purchase (like a home or car), one of the biggest factors in having a good credit score is simply making on-time payments month after month. Saving up money for a major purchase is smart; just don’t neglect your bills.  This can even extend to outstanding library books.  If the original creditor, such as the library, does not report it to the bureaus, they may eventually call in a collections agency to recoup the unpaid bill.
  • Avoid risk. One of the best ways to improve your credit score it to avoid purchases that might lower it.  This could include taking out cash advances, using cards at businesses that could cause future money stress, etc.
  • Do not obsess. If you are getting ready to make a big purchase, pull a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to one of each of your three credit bureau reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for FREE every year through AnnualCreditReport.com. While the score you receive may not be the exact one the lender uses, it will grade you on many of the same criteria. If you are denied credit, the lender has to show you the credit score used in their decision making, thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/7-simple-ways-improve-credit-score-1.aspx

 

Credit Card Use Increasing Among Consumers with Low Credit Scores

August 30, 2016 Posted by kingcade

According to the latest quarterly report on household debt, credit cards are making a comeback in a big way.  In the second quarter, total household debt increased by $35 billion to $12.3 trillion. The two driving factors: auto loans and credit cards.

While auto loans have been on a steady incline for the past six years, rising credit-card balances are a new development. After the 2007 Great Recession, households cut back on credit-card use until 2014. This was also in part to financial institutions strengthening credit requirements for risky borrowers.

Since that time, card balances have risen by about $70 billion. From 2008 to 2013, total household debts dropped by more than $1.5 trillion. However, first student loan and auto loan balances began to rise, and then mortgages and finally credit cards.

The report reveals that credit cards are returning among individuals with low credit or subprime credit scores below 660. Among people with credit scores between 620 and 660, the share that had a credit card increased to 58.8% in 2015 from a low of 54.3% in 2013. Among those with scores below 620, the number of people with a credit card increased to 50% from a low of 45.6% two years ago. Both figures for 2015 are the highest since 2008.

These figures were generated from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel that analyzed millions of consumer credit reports from Equifax.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Top 5 Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

June 13, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision and many people fear a social stigma after they file.  The truth is the stigma against debtors and those who file for bankruptcy has greatly decreased over the last 20 years, and there is no indication that debtors will be treated less favorably after filing for bankruptcy.  In fact, it is oftentimes easier to reestablish your credit after filing for bankruptcy, because you are essentially given a “clean slate.”

To make the bankruptcy process a little easier to understand, we have dispelled the top five bankruptcy myths.

Myth 1: You will lose everything. You may think that filing for bankruptcy means you have to give up your home, your car, your flat screen TV, and all of your assets.  This is simply not true. The vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are no-asset cases, meaning the debtor gives up no possessions. This happens for two reasons. First, you can allot for basic assets, called exemptions that are necessary for day-to-day living. What you can exempt varies from state to state, so be sure to discuss exemptions with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. For possessions that are not part of the exemption, creditors likely don’t want them.  Under Chapter 13, you keep all of your assets, but the value of them figures into your repayment plan.

Myth 2: You will be relieved of all your debts. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will provide you relief from most of your debts. However, there are some exemptions. These include: recent taxes, child or spousal support, student loan debt, and debts that are the result of fraud you have committed.

Myth 3: Paying off your debt is a better option. Filing for bankruptcy is the biggest financial decision you will ever make, but it doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. If your debts are more than 50% of your annual income and you cannot pay them off in five years, bankruptcy is likely your best option.

Myth 4: Filing for bankruptcy means I have failed. Given that the number one reason for filing for bankruptcy is due to medical debt, this could not be less true.  No surprise, the cost of medical deductibles has grown seven times faster than wages have risen. Many bankruptcies are likely the result of stagnant wages, not poor financial mismanagement.  Whatever your reason is for filing, think of bankruptcy as a tool that can help you get a fresh start and take control of your finances.

Myth 5: Bankruptcy will ruin my financial future. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that those who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010 had an average credit score of 538.2 on Equifax’s scale of 280 to 850. But the average score jumped to 620 by the time those bankruptcies were finalized, approximately six to eight months later. There are many ways to rebuild your credit after filing for bankruptcy. There are certain limitations you will face after filing, but taking advantage of the right financial tools can go a long way in helping you get back on the right path for your financial future.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2016/0613/Five-bankruptcy-myths-dispelled