Money transfer company MoneyGram is warning Americans about a phone scam that is preying on nervous tax filers this year.
As millions of Americans file their taxes this week, it’s good to keep in mind that not everyone involving themselves in the process is on the up-and-up: scammers are all too aware that tax filers are often worried about a possible mistake they may have made in their taxes, and a possible follow-up call from the IRS.
Courtesy of Nerd Wallet, this week we have a fantastic guest blog to share with you:
How to Avoid Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, according to TransUnion. In fact, approximately 19 people are victimized by this crime every minute. No one wants to be the victim of identity theft, but unfortunately it can happen to anyone. While there’s no sure way to avoid identity theft, there are many steps you can take to decrease the chances of becoming a victim.
Get the New Year off to a good start by following these tips from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU):
1. Create and stick to a budget – Tracking your expenses is crucial to living within your financial means. If you’d like to create a budget but aren’t sure where to start, credit unions frequently offer free financial literacy classes that can provide assistance.
2. Make savings a priority – Many credit unions offer the opportunity to open a savings account for as little as $5. Consider splitting your direct deposit between checking and savings accounts. Now’s a great time to start a vacation or holiday account to save up for special occasions, or an emergency fund. Also, take advantage of 401K plans through work as well as IRAs and CDs that credit unions offer.
3. Avoid unnecessary fees – Most credit unions still offer no-fee checking and participate in a shared branching network that gives members access to credit union locations in all 50 states. Credit unions also offer access to tens of thousands of free ATMs nationwide, including at key 7-Eleven locations.
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…