7 Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft This Black Friday


Practice Safe Shopping

What does Black Friday protection mean to you? Maybe it’s helmets and elbow pads as you battle your fellow consumers for doorbuster deals. Maybe it’s protecting your space in line.

Maybe it should be taking precautions to prevent identity theft.

The holidays represent peak season for identity thieves – probably because there are more transactions and more opportunities for theft. According to 2017 data compiled by ACI Worldwide, the number of online transactions between Thanksgiving Day and December 31 increased by 19% over 2016, while attempted fraud over the same period increased by 22%.

What day in 2017 were fraud attempt rates the highest? It’s not Black Friday – it’s Thanksgiving Day. Thieves like to get a jump-start on holiday shopping, too.

Reduce your chances of identity theft over the Thanksgiving weekend by following these common-sense methods for practicing “sa…

Video: How To Protect Yourself From Mail Fraud


Did you know that an identity thief could use a government form to have your sensitive documents like your credit card statements delivered directly to them? In our exclusive video above, Professor MoneyTips Jeff Hoyt explains how easy it is for crooks to steal your identity this way and what you can do to foil their plans.

If you would like to monitor your credit to prevent identity theft and see your credit reports and scores, join MoneyTips.

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Identity Thieves Can Still Use Your Credit Despite A Fraud Alert


With all the security breaches in the news, you’ve decided to protect your credit by placing a fraud alert on your account with the major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Now you can rest easy, right? Guess again.

A fraud alert notifies businesses that you have reason to believe identity thieves may open fraudulent accounts in your name. Businesses are expected to verify your identity and get your consent before approving credit requests in your name, using whatever contact method you specify (typically by phone).

However, while a fraud alert notifies businesses of the fraud prevention steps to take, there’s no legal obligation for businesses to follow through. If potential creditors are not paying attention or cutting corners, they could potentially issue credit in your name to others. In addition, creditors aren’t obligated to tell you that someone tried to establish credit in your name.

If that’s the case, what good is a…

Free Government Program Can Help You Master Your Finances


You’re never too old to learn new things – including better money management practices. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) agrees.

To address financial literacy concerns, the FDIC created the Money Smart teaching program in 2001 to help educators and financial institutions increase consumer understanding of basic financial systems work and how to use them to stay financially healthy.

The Money Smart for Adults program is expanding to include more topics. According to the FDIC website, the updated Money Smart for Adults program is set to begin in fall 2018.

The updated program contains eleven separate modules that take one to two hours of time per module. Topics include how banking services work, the basics of credit and credit histories, how to use credit cards…

Don’t Let Your Kids’ Schools Release Their Personal Data


Identity thieves love to steal children’s identities. Nobody thinks to check their child’s credit report because there’s no reason to expect them to have one. Criminals can exploit the stolen identity undetected for years, until the child grows up to find his or her credit ruined.

How bad is the problem? The 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research found that over one million children were victims of identity theft in 2017 alone, with cumulative losses of $2.67 billion.

Criminals find children’s identities anywhere they’re stored in quantities, such as schools – and some of your child’s personal information may be handed out there, just for the asking. Thanks to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), public schools may release directory information on request.

Directory information varies by school district, but it may contain your child’s name, address, phone number, birthday and birthplace, and email address…

Only 1 Out Of 7 Monitors Their Social Security Number Online


Do you monitor your Social Security number for any signs of fraudulent use? A new survey suggests you think that you should, but you probably don’t.

According to the 2018 Capital One Credit Protection and Security Survey, only one in seven Americans uses a service to monitor activity on their Social Security number – but just over half of Americans who don’t use a monitoring service think they should use one.

Why is Social Security monitoring so important? Your Social Security number is your most important and most often-used identifier. Criminals can use your Social Security number to apply for credit in your name. Without monitoring services, you may not realize your Social Security number has been abused until you’re confronted with major unpaid bills and ruined credit.

Because of their versatility in identity theft scams, Social Security numbers are highly prized pieces of information. Depending on what other information criminals have on you, your …

3 Types Of Fraud Alerts


You probably know that you can place a fraud alert on your credit reports – but did you know there are three different types of fraud alerts that you can apply?

A fraud alert obligates potential creditors to verify the identity of anyone asking for credit in your name. Any fraud alert that is placed with one of the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will be forwarded and applied to the other two credit reporting agencies.

Fraud alerts are easily applied online, by phone, or by mail – but which type of fraud alert should you apply?

If you think your information may be exposed and you’re vulnerable to fraud, but you haven’t suffered any losses yet, apply an initial fraud alert as a pre-emptive measure. A recent amendment of the Fair Credit Reporting Act extended the initial fraud time period from ninety days to one year. You’ll receive one free credit report from each of the agencies as part of your a…

Another New Credit Score May Not Help You


Credit Scoring Improvements

Credit card issuers want accurate ways to assess risk while opening credit lines to potential new customers. The credit scoring system they choose plays a huge role.

In recent years, both the VantageScore and Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) systems have released newer versions expected to help consumers who are fiscally responsible but have little or no credit history to judge. The newest such scoring system, UltraFICO, is a joint effort from FICO, the credit reporting agency Experian, and the financial data sharing and management company Finicity.

The UltraFICO pilot program was announced at the October Money 20/20 USA conference in Las Vegas, with an expected launch date of early 2019.

What makes UltraFICO different? Like other scoring system improvements, it uses financial information that isn’t normally reported to the credit reporting agencies. U…

Petal: Credit Cards For Consumers Without Credit Scores


How do you get credit without a credit score? If you’re new to credit, you don’t have any history for lenders to assess. You’re effectively “credit invisible.”

You can build credit with a secured credit card that reports activity to the credit reporting agencies, but you’ll need to put up a security deposit and are likely to have low credit limits in the $300-$500 range. Your annual percentage rate (APR) is likely to be nearer the 29.99% limit until you build a sufficient credit history to qualify for a card upgrade.

The Petal card is a new alternative that allows you to use your existing financial records to prove creditworthiness. Petal develops their own credit score for you based on your bank account and payment information – using far more data than what’s…