Are You Easily Fooled Online?

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You’re a pretty tech-savvy person. You know how to avoid common scams. You can spot phishing e-mails a mile away – even spear phishing e-mails tailored specifically to fool you.

Would you like to put your skills to the test?

Jigsaw offers an online quiz to test your phish-detecting acumen. The quiz, based on the results of multiple worldwide security training sessions, features eight modified examples of real-life phishing scams – including the infamous attack that tricked John Podesta into allowing Russian hackers access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. All quiz questions are challenging and relatively subtle – there are no stereotypical Nigerian princes here. Since Jigsaw is a division of Google, you can trust that it’s legit; Google probably already knows more about you than you suspect!

You’re presented with a fictional e-mail and asked to determine whether it’s legitimate or a phishin…

Nearly 3 Of 4 Won’t Date People In Significant Debt

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Are you having trouble getting a date? Could be your rap, your looks, or your excessive debt.

According to a recent survey by Finder.com, 72% of respondents say they would re-think a relationship with a partner in significant debt. (That’s similar to the percentage in last year’s Finder.com survey, so don’t expect debt to become a desirable trend.)

“With 72% of Americans saying they’d reconsider a romantic relationship if the other person was in debt, singles with unsettled loans might want to sort out their balance sheets before hitting the dating scene,” says finder’s Consumer Advocate Jennifer McDermott.

According to the survey, “While debt is undoubtedly a turn off, not all debts are viewed as equally unappealing. For example, credit card debt is the number one …

Why Are So Many Of Us Living Paycheck To Paycheck?

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Survey Suggests Economic Overconfidence

If the economy is so great and unemployment is so low, why do so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck? And why don’t we seem to care?

The February PYMNTS.com Financial Invisibles Report attempts to answer these questions, noting, “For three consecutive quarters, consumers have been optimistic about their financial futures – even while slipping further into debt.”

Results from the corresponding Q3 2018 survey suggest that we’re relying too much on credit – giving us false confidence in our financial outlook.

Overconfidence Rules

According to the survey, 38.8% of Americans thought they were in better financial standing compared to a year ago, with 43.3% saying they were in about the same financial shape – similar numbers to the first two quarters of 2018…

Will New Congress Oversee Credit Bureaus More?

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After the 2017 announcement of the Equifax data breach that potentially compromised the personal information of almost 150 million consumers, you’d probably expect Congress to take significant action to prevent future breaches. To date, you’d be wrong – but that may change with a Democratic House eager to address consumer protection issues.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has authority to review credit reporting agencies (CRAs) like Equifax, including assessing their ability to handle data breaches. The Trump administration has shown little interest in regulating the credit reporting agencies (although, in fairness, Obama administration oversight didn’t raise sufficient alarm bells, either).

Legislative efforts didn’t fare any better. Shortly after the breach announcement, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Rep…

It Takes More Than 7 Years To Save Up A Down Payment

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First-time homebuyers face many obstacles, but perhaps the most frustrating one is accumulating down payment money.

Traditional loans require a 20% down payment. Using Zillow’s $229,800 median home sale price for November 2018, that’s over $45,000 – and in many urban markets, a 20% down payment will easily top $100,000.

How long will it take you to save up a 20% down payment given today’s median homebuyer income of $72,500? According to Zillow Research, you’ll need 7.2 years on average with today’s median home prices. That’s 1.5 more years than it took in 1988, when the median home value was $79,400 and the median homebuyer income was $28,100.

Since 1988, the median home value has increased by a factor of 2.8 while median homebuyer income increased by a factor just below 2.6. However, overall debt obligations have exploded. America’s household…

Replacing Your Expired Equifax Credit Monitoring

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So Long, Free Credit Monitoring

Were you one of the nearly 148 million consumers affected by the 2017 Equifax data breach? You may have taken advantage of Equifax’s free one-year offer of their TrustedID Premier service, extended to all affected consumers.

TrustedID Premier allowed consumers to lock their Equifax credit report, provided identity theft insurance, provided copies of their Equifax report and monitoring services for all three credit reporting agencies (including Experian and TransUnion), and checked the Internet for misuse of their Social Security numbers.

We use the past tense because the free service expired at the end of January. Any lock that Equifax applied as part of the service is now removed.

Unfortunately, while the service has expired, the threat has not. Identity thieves can strike years after the original br…

Almost 2 In 5 Don’t Know How Credit Is Scored

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Are credit scores a mystery to you? Do they seem like random numbers generated by bureaucrats armed with dartboards and Ouija boards?

A new survey by CompareCards.com finds that 37% of Americans have no idea how their credit score is calculated. Worse yet, another 14% wouldn’t indicate whether they knew how their credit score worked – meaning that just less than half of Americans have confidence that they properly understand credit scores.

If you don’t know how a credit score works, how can you tell whether you’re doing the right things to improve your credit standing? You can always try a tool that Americans used before the invention of the credit score – common sense. A different survey question suggests that most Americans still grasp good credit principles, even if they don’t fully understand credit scores.

When asked what the biggest factor was in determining a credit score, nearly half of respondents correctly chose how often you

IdentityTheft.gov 101

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The news seems to be filled with stories about hackers and identity theft these days, and rightly so. According to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, there were 16.7 million victims of identity theft in 2017, racking up a total of $17 billion in damages. Identity fraudsters successfully netted 1.3 million more victims as compared to the previous year. So, why haven’t you joined MoneyTips to protect yourself yet?

As a victim of identity theft, you can feel completely helpless and violated — not to mention aggravated at the hassles involved in restoring your identity and challenging fraudulent charges. You were already busy before the…

More Homebuyers Turning To Parents For Down Payment Help

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First-time homebuyers face many challenges, but the biggest task may be coming up with a suitable down payment. Consumers in the early stages of their careers often face a fresh set of bills – and in some cases, mountains of student loan debt. A National Association of Realtors survey found that over half of recent homebuyers age 37 and younger cited student loan debt as the main down payment obstacle.

How can young Americans save up for a conventional 20% down payment, or even the 3.5% minimum down payment for FHA loans? Many have concluded that they can’t – and are asking for help from their parents.

The recent annual report from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) shows that over one-quarter (26%) of homebuyers with FHA-insured loans received some payment a…