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Member One: Credit Score Quick Guide

It’s one of the most important numbers linked to your identity: your credit score. But are you fully aware of why it’s so significant, and what constitutes a good credit score? Read on for a brief explanation of what it is and tips for improving it.

What is it? Your credit score is a number that ranges from 300 to 850 and, along with repayment history, is an indication of your creditworthiness. Anything above 700 is generally viewed as good credit and signals to potential lenders that you’re more likely to pay back your debts on time.

Why should I care? A credit score helps determine whether you’re approved or denied for a credit card or loan and your interest rate. On-time payments have a big impact on your score, and just one or two late payments can significantly lower it. If you’ve ever had a bill go to collections, declared bankruptcy, or had a foreclosure, your score will go down. The number of loans in your name matter and the more accounts you have (in good standing), the better, because it shows that multiple lenders have approved you.

How do I find out my score? The three major credit-reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. Keep in mind that this is just the report and not the actual score. In order to receive your score, you typically have to purchase it. Visit MyFICO.com to buy your official FICO score. Also, check your monthly credit card statement as some lenders now include your credit score as an added service.

What are some quick ways to improve it? One of the best ways is to consistently pay your bills on time. Other ways include paying down a credit card balance to improve your utilization rate, and keeping lines of credit open with zero balances. Both of these strategies show lenders that you’re able to manage debt and aren’t biting off more than you can chew.

As a general rule of thumb, you should review your credit report along with your score at least once a year. Not only is it beneficial to keep yourself informed and aware, it could help protect against fraud or identity theft.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

 

The Art of Avoiding the Scam

As technology evolves to secure our identities, so has scammers’ creativity and resourcefulness to steal it. While we may think we’re savvy enough to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, the reality is that we’re all susceptible to the threat. Secure yourself with these helpful tips.

Don’t give out personal information unless you’ve initiated contact. Scammers will contact you by phone, mail, and even email requesting personal information. Never give out that information unless you’ve initiated contact or know exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Avoid logging on to personal accounts on public computers. This can make your information accessible to the next person who uses it. Additionally, accessing your checking account via public Wi-Fi puts your information at risk. Only use your personal computer on a private, trusted Wi-Fi signal to access any information that people could use to do you harm.

Create strong passwords. Make it something challenging for others to guess by interchanging E with 3, switching between upper and lowercase, and adding special characters. For example, if you wanted to make your password “animal”, a better alternative might be @N!mA1. That’s much harder to guess and still easy to remember.

Check your credit report annually to look for any discrepancies. The three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

Secure your debit and credit cards. You can sign up for digital wallets, which help add a layer of security to your debit and credit cards by encrypting the card information. You can also sign up for purchase alerts where you’re notified via phone and/or email if a certain parameter, such as a dollar amount on a transaction, is hit. It’s also a good idea to let your financial institution know if you’ll be traveling to prevent your card from becoming locked due to unfamiliar transactions.

Being proactive and staying on top of your credit and finances goes a long way toward protecting yourself from scammers; however, if you find you’re already a victim, visit https://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack to learn what your next steps should be.

 

Article provided by Member One