Protect your child's credit with a new tool for NC families

Category: Protect Your Credit
Published: Friday, 08 January 2016
Written by Super User

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) Parents in North Carolina are now able to help protect their children from identity theft. You can freeze credit reports on all children under the age of 16

I don’t want him to have any surprises of someone stealing his credit as he gets older, says parent Jimmy Toler.

No child should have bad credit at age two, seven, or nine, Rose Cooper said.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced a new law allowing parents to freeze their children's credit.

As a parent, I don’t have to worry about someone going behind his back or our back and getting something in his name, Toler said.

Cooper said, You have to protect your credit, your credit is you. It's your identity.

According to a recent study, one in 40 households in the United States with children under the age of ages 18 is affected by identity fraud. Children’s information is often stolen to commit non-financial identity theft, including housing rentals, employment, or evading criminal charges.

She's vulnerable and she doesn’t know what any of that means, said Lesley Eakes.

That’s why parents say it’s important to guide your children and protect them from thieves. Here’s what the office says about setting it up:

To set up a Protected Consumer security freeze, you will be asked to provide documentation proving:

Who you are (a copy of your driver license, a utility bill showing your name and address, your SS card, or your SSN)
Who the child is (a copy of the child’s SS card, or their SSN)
That you are their parent (an official/certified copy of the child’s birth certificate)

You must provide this information to each of the three nationwide credit bureaus by mail. Visit their websites or call the numbers below for details. (Note: These links will take you to the websites for the three credit bureaus. These sites are separate from

Equifax Experian* TransUnion
Equifax Security Freeze Experian Security Freeze TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze
PO Box 105788 PO Box 9554 PO Box 380
Atlanta, GA 30348 Allen, TX 75013 Woodlyn, PA 19094
1-800-685-1111 1-888-397-3742 1-800-916-8800

* Select Add a Security Freeze, and then select Place a Security Freeze on Minor’s Credit File

Survey: 14% Of Consumers Can't Tell You Their Credit Score

Category: Protect Your Credit
Published: Friday, 04 December 2015
Written by Super User
Survey: 14% Of Consumers Cant Tell You Their Credit Score Do You Know Your Credit Score?

Credit scores -- they matter a lot.

Whether youre getting auto insurance, leasing a car, or buying a new home, the better your credit, the better your deal.

High credit scores can save you good money.

Low credit scores, though, arent all so terrible -- especially because even small changes in how you spend money can yield large to your scores within weeks.

Protect your credit rating and your credit rating will protect you. Youll spend less on long-term financing, such as with a mortgage, and youll get better deals from banks.

Even better? Its easier than ever to keep up with the system. Getting access to your credit scores has never been so simple.

Click to see todays rates (Dec 4th, 2015) What Is A Credit Score?

Your credit score is a numerical rating which predicts the likelihood of a consumer failing to repay its debt.

Credit scores are based on algorithms, of which there are dozens; and each algorithm uses slightly different group of inputs to reach its slightly different credit score output, which is often given a unique brand name.

There are literally dozens of credit scoring systems in operation today and, perhaps, youve seen ads for some of them on TV.

With respect to mortgages, though, there are only three credit scores that matter.

These three are:

  1. The Equifax Beacon 5.0 credit score
  2. The TransUnion FICO Risk Score 04 credit score
  3. The Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model v2 credit score

Other credit scores, which include the commercially-available VantageScore, are ignored by mortgage lenders completely; as are variations on these algorithms, such as the FICO 9 model.

Together, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are known as the 3 major credit bureaus and its these three systems upon which lenders rely completely.

Their scoring systems range from 350 at the low-end to 850 at the high-end. Mortgage lenders use the median of whats available from all three.

For example, if you credit scores are 680, 710, and 780, your lender will assign you a score of 710.

Or, if youre a first-time home buyer with limited credit history, you may only have two credit scores. In that case, your lender will use the lower of your two scores.

In general, your median credit score must be 580 or higher to get approved for a mortgage, but exceptions are sometimes made -- especially when a co-borrower is involved.

Also, there is no bonus for having a perfect score (which almost nobody actually has anyway).

740 is considered to be Excellent Credit and, with excellent credit, mortgage rates are often lowest. Lenders will offer small discounts for credit scores over 780, so be sure to ask whether you qualify.

Click to see todays rates (Dec 4th, 2015)

Mortgage Rates Linked To Credit Scores

Credit scores, which are generically known as FICO scores, affect your mortgage rate and the number of loan products available to you as a home buyer.

For example, if you plan to buy a home using a low-downpayment loan, there are two popular options:

  1. The Conventional 97, which requires 3 percent down
  2. The FHA mortgage, which requires 3.5 percent down

Buyers wanting to put as little down as possible typically gravitate to the Conventional 97, which is available via most US lenders as a government-backed loan.

However, the decision to actually use the Conventional 97 ends up being a question of How good does my credit need to be?

For buyers whose FICO scores are at least 760, the Conventional 97 emerges as a clear low-downpayment choice. And, for buyers whose FICO is below 700, using an FHA loan is likely best.

For everyone else, theres a chart to help you choose.

The point, then, is that your credit score can determine which mortgage loan is best for your needs -- in terms of what you can afford, and what rate youll get from the bank.

The good news is the mortgage lenders are more willing to give good rates to buyers with less-than-percent credit.

According to Ellie Mae, a mortgage software firm which handles more than 3.5 million applications annually for US lenders, the average FICO score of a closed loan has dropped to 722 -- ten points lower from earlier this year.

The average score for an approved FHA refinance is now 654.

Click to see todays rates (Dec 4th, 2015) 86% Of Consumers Know Their FICO Score?

Before applying for a mortgage loan, it helps to know your credit score. Knowing your credit score can help to inform your mortgage choices, and to understand your mortgage options.

In fact, this flowchart Which Mortgage Should I Choose? depends on you knowing your score. Knowing your score is the only way to be sure whether a conforming loan is more suitable than an FHA.

And, based on a survey of 1,000 readers of, a huge percentage of consumers believe they know their credit scores pretty well.

  • 86% of consumers say they know their FICO within 40 points
  • 14% of consumers say they dont know their FICO within 40 points

This means that the wide majority of US consumers are well-prepared to start the mortgage approval process.

Or, are they?

Study after study has shown that credit reports are error-prone. Department stores forget to log a payment; medical bills mistakenly go to collection; credit card payments fail to process before their due date.

Each of these events -- which are common -- can lower a persons credit score by 100 points or more. They can also put a mortgage approval on delay until the error is straightened out.

The credit bureaus say that approximately 25% of all credit reports contain errors. If this is true, the readers we surveyed should probably show a little less confidence.

Their credit scores may be lower than what they believe.

This is why its recommended that US consumers review their credit reports at least once annually. There are a number of free services which provide everything but the score -- and thats going to suit you just fine.

Or, if youre in the process of buying a home, allow a mortgage lender check your credit on your behalf.

When a lender checks your credit, it wont harm your score terribly -- maybe 5 points -- and youll get a great idea of the mortgage programs and mortgage rates for which youll be eligible.

What Are Todays Mortgage Rates?

Todays mortgage rates are low and when you know your actual mortgage credit scores, youre more likely to land the best mortgage loan for your needs.

Get todays live mortgage rates now. Your social security number is not required to get started, and all quotes come with access to your live mortgage credit scores.

Click to see todays rates (Dec 4th, 2015)

Police: Alert property owners are best defense against home burglaries

Category: Protect Your Credit
Published: Thursday, 03 December 2015
Written by Super User

Identity theft and local burglaries were the center of conversation as the Marco Island Police Department hosted a theft seminar for residents.

Police Chief Al Schettino reported there has been a spike in the numbers of home burglaries in the last month. Police earlier said they were investigating 11 recent thefts at Marco Island homes.

To put the incidents into focus, the chief gave an historical overview of statistics that saw the total burglaries in 2014 fall to 20, from a 2013 total of 31. The total in 2015, before the outbreak in the last month, was 4.

"I just wanted you all to know we are on top of this and our personnel have been following up on solid leads," said Schettino. "Our best deterrent to these types of events are with an alert public that calls in activities that they see that are out of the ordinary."

He also urged those in attendance not to be complacent in securing their homes and vehicles.

Closing garage doors, installing secondary slider security and making a good inventory of serial numbers on electronics will go a long way to helping recover items should they be stolen, the police chief said.

"You are the frontline of protecting your persons and property, and my favorite saying here is when in doubt call us out," said Schettino.

Marco police joined with the Collier County Identity Theft Task Force in sponsoring a presentation by Carrie Kerskie, the newly appointed executive director of the Hodges University Identity Theft Institute in Naples.

"We receive our share of inquires each week from those that fear their personal information may have been breached," said Sgt. Nick Ojanovac of the Marco Island Police Department. "Our best weapon against this type of crime is a well-informed public."

Kerskie shocked attendees when she announced there has been more than 800 million breaches of personal information since 2005. She said identity theft cannot be prevented, but individuals can help minimize their exposure.

"A lot of this information ends up on the 'dark-web,' where that information can be sold. Things such as names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card information can all be obtained for a price," said Kerskie.

Last year the IRS set up a special pilot program for residents of Florida, Georgia, and DC That program allows taxpayers to sign up for an Identity Theft Pin Number. This will prevent someone from filing a false income tax claim in your name and receiving a fraudulent refund.

A similar program is available from the Social Security Administration and prevents someone from signing up for benefits or changing personal information and address to divert Social Security checks and other benefits.

Kerskie also urged attendees to monitor credit card activity and check credit reports to ensure others aren't using their identity to apply for credit.

She also warned about the false claims by companies offering to protect your credit.

"These folks are usually looking to upgrade you and sell other services," she said. "Credit monitoring only detects changes in a credit report. The better option is a security freeze that clamps down on access to your credit information. In Florida it is a free offering and a temporary lift can be obtained should you need to lift the access to your records."

She also warned about the use of debit cards. A debit card is linked directly to your money and it could be a serious intrusion into your financial assets. With a credit card, you are protected if you report the fraudulent activity within the time allotment.

5 key tips to shopping on Cyber Monday

Category: Protect Your Credit
Published: Thursday, 03 December 2015
Written by Super User

EL PASO, Texas If you did not get your holiday shopping done during the Black Friday craze dont worry, Cyber Monday is here.

Getting the best deals on Cyber Monday can be a major worry for consumers, but one professional in the borderland has the answer to find the best deals and protect yourself in the process.

Cyber Monday can be better than Black Friday in some ways, said Mark Goldstein of Safe Money Alliance. You beat the crowds, you avoid the stress, and its quick and easy.

Here are Goldsteins steps to Cyber Monday shopping success:

Shop Around

Goldstein said most consumers trust Amazon, but he said dont always assume this retail giant is the best place to buy certain items. He suggests to always look at other websites to compare prices. He also said for bigger ticket items like a kitchen mixer or blender and electronics, you have a 70 percent chance of finding the item for less at another online store.

Avoid extra costs

In Goldsteins words, free shipping and handling is your best friend during Cyber Monday. He said shipping, handling and taxes can easily add extra costs online purchases. Goldstein suggests to make sure you know the final cost before clicking buy.

Hunt for coupons

One of Goldsteins key to Cyber Monday success is to always search for coupons before making a purchase. According to him, online shops offer coupon codes for discounts and free shipping. He said it only takes a few minutes to research and sign up for emails that will send you coupons directly to your phone. He also said the key is to enter the codes in the proper order to maximize the savings. For example, he said if you have two coupon codes, one for $10 off your purchases and another for 15 percent off, enter the 15 percent off code first.

Be patient

According to Goldstein, retailers will email you a discount offer if you put items in your shopping cart and then abandon it. He said some companies will follow up within a few hours.

Protect yourself

Goldstein has three key points to shopping online in order to protect yourself from getting hacked. First, is to check the sellers record. Sellers with low ratings should be avoided. Second, is to use a secure network and site. To figure this out, Goldstein said a secure site should say https or have a padlock icon on the address bar. If it doesnt, this means buying from the site could leave you vulnerable to fraud. Lastly, use PayPal. He said this can help protect your credit card information from being stolen.