Your credit score can greatly affect you if you decide to apply for a loan. When you have excellent credit you'll get the best interest rates and save hundreds of dollars in fees each year. Having top-notch credit shows potential lenders that you are responsible. The credit score used by roughly 90% of lenders is the FICO score. The higher your score, the more money you may be approved to borrow and the better your terms will be. Your base FICO score, which ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850, is based on the information in your credit report.
"The days of easy lending aren't likely to come back any time soon. So now more than ever, knowing how to fix, improve, and protect your credit score is essential for successfully navigating your financial life, said credit expert Liz Pulliam Weston in Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future. Here are the three biggest factors that can impact your FICO score.3. Length of credit history
Credit history length comprises 15% of your total FICO score. The longer you've had credit, the better your score will be. The length of your credit history takes into account the age of your oldest account, the age of your most recent account, and the average age of your combined accounts. Your score will also be impacted by how long it has been since there was activity on the accounts.2. Amounts owed
After the rash of retailer data breaches this past year, you might be tempted to stash your credit cards under your mattress and just pay cash. But even if you werent a victim of fraud or were covered by your bank or card company for your losses, credit-card data breaches can still cause you headaches.
Consumer Reports notes that there are a few new tools you can use to help take a bite out of credit-card fraud and keep your own cards safer:
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Kamloops Mounties have released photos of a credit-card skimmer that was installed in a gas-pump payment slot in Valleyview last week.
Staff Sgt. Edward Preto said the photos are being released to make the public aware of the type of card skimmer used to capture credit-card information at the Chevron gas station at 1795 Trans-Canada Hwy. That unit has been sent to the RCMP's technical unit for analysis, to determine if the scam netted thieves customers’ PIN numbers.
Preto said Chevron has told police it has put measures in place to prevent such incidences from happening at all Chevron gas stations in British Columbia.
As illustrated in the photographs, the skimmer is difficult to detect and appears to be a
normal part of card reader. Skimmers are used by organized crime throughout Canada to access
Skimmed data could be used to manufacture a counterfeit card or the data could be used to make telephone or Internet purchases (also referred to as "card not present" fraud).
While a Chevron employee discovered the skimmer on July 16, Mounties did not alert the public, via the media, until July 28.
Police explained the 12-day delay by saying they did not want to cause "undue alarm if there was no risk."
An analysis of the skimmer and a review of Chevron records should determine whether the card skimmer was able to collect data. If there was no remote download, police said it's unlikely the scam netted any information before it was discovered.
To be certain, Mounties are advising motorists who gassed up on or shortly before July 16 to review bank and credit-card records.PROTECT YOURSELF: Report it:
oStep 1 If you have charges on your credit card that you didn't make, or if you think you may have revealed your credit card number when you shouldn't have, contact your credit card issuer right away using the phone number on the back of your card. The card issuer will take the appropriate steps to protect you from fraud.
oStep 2 Contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports:
oEquifax Canada Toll free: 1-800-465-7166
oTransUnion Canada Toll free: 1-877-525-3823
oStep 3 Contact your local police
oStep 4 Always report credit card fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by visiting their website at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index.shtm or by calling 1-888-495-8501.
Report a lost or stolen card as soon as you notice it's missing. Your card issuer will cancel your card and issue you a new one.
oMake it a habit to regularly check your transactions online or on your monthly statement. If you notice charges that you didn't make, report them to your card issuer right away.
oNever give out your card number over the phone or Internet unless you know you are dealing with a reputable company.
oProtect your personal identification number (PIN). Don’t share it with anyone or write it down. Memorize it.
oSometimes scammers will try to trick people into revealing information about their credit cards either over the phone or through e-mail. It's important to know that your credit card company or bank would never call to ask for personal information such as your credit card number, expiry number, PIN, or the security number on the back of your card.
oProtect your credit cards like you protect your cash. Never leave them unattended in your car or at work.
oAlways check your card when it's returned to you after a purchase. Make sure the card is yours.
oWhen traveling, carry your cards with you or make sure they are in a secure location such as a hotel safe.
oSign the back of a new card as soon you get it.
oMake a list of all your cards and their numbers and keep the list in a secure place. This key information is helpful when reporting lost or stolen cards.
oBeware of all e-mail messages claiming to be from your financial institution. Canadian financial institutions do not send e-mails to their customers asking them to provide account information. In many reported cases of fraud, individuals will receive e-mail from what appears to be their bank asking them to click on a link included in the message. If you click on the link, you are brought to a fraudulent web site that looks just like your bank's website. This practice is known as phising. When you enter personal information such as your credit card number and expiry date on a phishing site, it's sent directly to the perpetrators of the fraud. See this website for details: http://www.rcmpgrc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/phishing-eng.htm.
Every time you swipe your credit or debit card, whether its at a gas station, supermarket or ATM, youre gambling with your money. Some thieves are capitalizing on outdated technology in your wallet, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.
If you think you protect your credit card information, talk to New York Citys Cassandra Tang, who found that the card that was still in her wallet had somehow been used to take out $200 at an ATM across town shed never been to.