Guest Blog: Tools to Help You Navigate the Equifax Data Breach

data breach

We’re pleased to share the following information from our friends at BALANCE Financial Fitness to help you understand and navigate the Equifax Data Breach.

As you are probably aware, there has been a data breach, this time from Equifax. Reportedly, hackers may have accessed personal information from 143 million Americans, including social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. Continue Reading…

What will you do with your tax refund?

Tax Refund

According to CNN.com, nearly 80% of American taxpayers get a tax refund. We’re hoping you’re getting a refund this year! Whether it’s a little or a lot, every penny/dollar counts/helps. Many people reserve this money for vacations, padding for their savings, the purchase of a new car or home, and more. Continue Reading…

Guest Blog: Who is Ruining Your Good Credit?

Good Credit

Today, we’re pleased to share an article from BALANCE Financial Fitness.

Someone may be masquerading as you and creating debts in your name even as you read these words.  Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in our country today. Continue Reading…

Credit 101: Part 5 – The Dollar Cost of Your Credit Score

Interest Image

Understanding the Real Cost of Your Credit Score

Today, every financial institution charges interest to borrowers as a return for lending money.  The amount you borrow (the principal) + interest + length of your loan (term) = your total cost of credit.

Let’s assume two people borrow $20,000 for five years (60 months) to purchase a vehicle.  Borrower #1 has a high credit score, allowing them to have a lower interest rate.  Borrower #2 has a lower credit score, which will make their interest rate much higher:

  1. At 2.9% interest, the first borrower will pay a total of $21,509.62 for this vehicle by the end of the loan.
  2. At 14.9% interest, the second borrower will pay a total of $28,487.49 for this vehicle by the end of the loan.

Based on this example, you can see that not taking care of your credit comes at a large cost.  By simply taking care of your credit you would save nearly $7,000!!

Continue Reading…

Credit 101: Part 4 – How to Read Your Credit Report

Credit History

Reading Your Credit Report

Once you have obtained your credit report, the first section to review is your personal information.  Be sure your name, address (past and present) and social security number are correct.  If there is an error, contact the credit reporting agency that is reporting your information incorrectly.

The next section of your credit report that you should review contains your credit score (if you ordered a report from a credit bureau) and the factors of your credit score.  There are several factors credit reporting agencies consider when determining your score.  Some of the more common factors include:

  • Serious delinquency and Public Records Filed – This would appear if you have collections, charge-offs, bankruptcies or judgments.
  • Ratio of balance to limit on revolving accounts too high – This appears when your credit card balances are close to the limit.  There are not many factors that can affect your score in the short-term other than this one, especially if you have more than one card near the limit.  Keeping your credit card balances at 20% or less of the limit every month is your best bet if you want to ensure this factor doesn’t affect your score. Continue Reading…

Credit 101: Part 3 – Understanding Credit Score Ranges

Credit 101 part 3 credit score

The Differences in Credit Score Ranges

As we previously mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of our Credit 101 series, not all credit scores are created equal.  What does that mean?  The credit score you receive from Equifax will be different than the one you receive from Experian or TransUnion.  Then there is your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score.  This is the most commonly used credit report by lenders and since they have their own “scoring system,” it will be different from the other three.

Just as your score will be different in each credit report, the agencies each have different score ranges:

Credit Report Score Range How to Obtain Notes
FICO 300-850 www.myfico.com
  • Must pay fee to obtain score
  • Since most lenders use this score, it is recommended to obtain this report
  • Keeping and maintaining a FICO score of 725 or better is a good goal to set for yourself
Experian 330-830 www.experian.com
  • Must pay fee to obtain score
Equifax 280-850 www.equifax.com
Transunion 300-850 www.transunion.com
Vantage 501-990 www.experian.com/consumer-products/vantage-score
  • Created by the three major bureaus to compete with FICO
  • You may have heard Clark Howard refer to this as a FAKO (fake-o) score, since it will lead you to believe your true score is higher than it really is.

 

For more information or to reach a Peach State loan specialist please contact us.

Credit 101, Part 2

credit score diceWhat’s in a Credit Score

Now that you know how to obtain your credit report, from our Credit 101 Part 1 Article it’s important to understand how the credit reporting agencies determine your credit score.  According to www.myfico.com, your score is calculated from several different pieces of credit data in your report.  This data is grouped into five categories, each of which is weighed differently.  The five categories break down as follows:

Pie

 

Continue Reading…