What Is Your Identity Worth To Crooks?


Congratulations! You’re worth a bit more this year than you were last year – at least in the eyes of identity thieves.

The website Top10VPN recently released their 2019 Dark Web Market Price Index, a summary of current market prices for individual pieces of stolen identities.

Last year, Top10VPN estimated that an identity thief could buy your entire identity – everything from proof-of-identity documents to credit/banking information to shopping and social media logins – for around $1,170. In 2019, identity thieves will have to pay approximately 3.8% more (around $1,215) for your entire credit profile. Congratulations again! You whipped inflation, which hasn’t topped 3% since 2011.

Of course, fraudsters probably won’t pa…

How Home Equity Borrowing Affects Your Credit Score


Your home equity is the amount of your home that you own – in other words, the market value of your home minus the amount of principal that you owe on your loan. For many Americans, it’s one of their largest financial assets.

If you need money for various projects and expenses, your home equity can be a useful source of collateral. You can draw on this asset with a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

While home equity loans are usually lump sum loans with fixed payments and interest rates, a HELOC acts more like a credit card limit. You can draw against your HELOC up to that limit and replenish the supply of available credit by paying off part of the HELOC and the associated interest.

Home equity loans can be attractive for moderately large expenses. Currently, home equity loan interest rates are near 6% and HELOC rates are approximately 6….

Credit Card Charge-Offs Hit Seven-Year High


Watch Your Credit Card Debt

Are you keeping your credit card debt under control? Recent data from Bloomberg shows that more consumers are having a hard time doing so.

Credit card issuers reported a 3.82% charge-off rate on credit cards in the first quarter of 2019 – the highest percentage of written-off accounts in almost seven years. In addition, accounts that are 30 days past due increased for each of the seven largest card issuers, suggesting the charge-off trend will continue. (If you’re already 30 days late on your payments, you’re at increased risk of default.)

Banks are nowhere near panic, nor should they be. Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that delinquencies are still near historic lows, well below the 6.77% peak in the second quarter of 2009. For perspective, St. Louis Fed data shows that the delinquency rate on credit card loans for all commercial banks fell below the 3% mark in Q2 2012 and has not topped 3% since then. Fro…

Nearly 1 In 3 Report Criminals Tried To Use Their Lost Credit Cards


Your wallet is gone, along with your credit cards. Is your worry justified that someone will try to use your credit cards and stick you with the bill? We decided to find out.

In an exclusive MoneyTips survey, we asked 509 Americans in November whether they had ever lost or had stolen their wallets, purses, pocketbooks or money clips (we’ll use ‘wallets’ from now on to represent these four accessories). We then asked those who were victims of missing wallets:

Of those who did have missing cards, nearly 1 in 3 (32%) reported that someone unauthorized had tried to use their debit or credit cards. This misfortune appeared to increase with age: only 28% of those under 45 were affected, versus 36% of those 45 and over. This identity theft issue affected 35% of the women, com…

Credit Reporting Errors: When Legal Action Might Be The Next Step


If you check your credit report regularly (and you should), there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve come across an error.

A 2012 Federal Trade Commission study of U.S. credit reporting found that upon reviewing their credit reports, one in four consumers identified errors that might affect their credit score. Further, 1 in 20 found errors that might lead to financial impacts, like paying a higher interest rate on an auto loan.

Taylor Kosla, an attorney with Agruss Law Firm, works with many clients who’ve been impacted by inaccuracies on their credit report. She says, “It happens all the time. And un…

Millennial Renters Vs. Buyers


How much does your credit score affect a mortgage offer? In some cases, a credit score could make the difference between purchasing a home or being forced to rent instead.

That’s especially true for millennials. Many entered the housing market at the worst possible time – amid the Great Recession. They dealt with a crumbling housing market, limited job options, and crushing student loan burdens. Do credit scores make a difference for millennial homeowners, and how do their borrowing habits compare with their renting counterparts?

LendingTree reviewed the credit records of over one million millennial users of their platform and verified that millennial homeowners do have higher credit scores compared to renters. Median credit scores were 671 for millennial homeowners and 582 for non-homeowners.

How much difference can a credit …

Over Half Of Balance Carriers Have Had Year-Long Credit Card Debt


Do you carry a balance on your credit card? Does the balance haunt you each month, running up interest charges, despite your best efforts to pay it off?

You’re not alone. According to a new survey by Clever, a real estate data company, almost half (47%) of credit card users report carrying balances, and 56% of those cardholders have had debt for at least a year. Almost three-quarters (72%) of balance-carrying consumers had more than $1,000 in outstanding credit card debt.

Most balance holders aren’t optimistic about paying off their debt anytime soon. Clever found that only 30% of Americans with credit card debt expect to completely pay it off this year. One in five Americans think it will take more than three years to pay off their credit card debt, 7% say it will take over five years to be free of credit card debt, and 8% have no idea when they’ll pay off their debt – if ever.

Most Personal Loan Borrowers See Higher Credit Scores


Can you raise your credit score by taking out a personal loan? You can if you borrow responsibly – and a new study from LendingTree.com shows that borrowers with lower credit scores can see significant benefits.

Outstanding personal loan balances have nearly tripled since 2011, rising from $46.4 billion to $125.4 billion by June 2018. While that’s a small slice of America’s $13.54 trillion total household debt, the effect on credit scores shouldn’t be ignored. LendingTree found that 62.4% of personal loan recipients had a higher score one month after receiving a loan – surprising since pre-loan credit checks from lenders should drop scores slightly.

The credit score increase in the first month may come from borrowers shifting high-interest balances to a more manageable personal loan and making an impact with their first payment. According to LendingTree, 61% of 2018 personal loans were used to

Use Your Tax Refund To Build Credit


What do you plan to do with your tax refund? Maybe you have your eye on upgrading your phone, buying a new computer, or splurging on a long overdue vacation.

Have you considered using your tax refund to build your credit?

Granted, credit building doesn’t compare with lying on the beach enjoying the sunshine, but you’ll get long-term benefits that go beyond good memories and a tan. Last year’s federal tax refunds averaged $2,899, which could go a long way toward establishing new credit or restoring damaged credit.

If you don’t have any credit at all, your tax refund could help you get a secured credit card. Traditional credit cards require a minimum credit score, but secured credit cards usually don’t because they’re backed by a cash deposit that determines your credit limit.

By making small regular charges and paying them off on time and in full each month, you’ll b…