Changes In The VantageScore System

The VantageScore system is getting an overhaul. Many people wonder what kind ofa1522-credit2breport changes are being made and how will this affect the way their score is calculated.

The VantageScore, which dictates the way credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — determine your credit score, is going through a shake-up this fall. The company is looking deeper into specific circumstances and what they say about your financial responsibility.

Having a favorable credit score comes into play when you need to qualify for financing on a new car, if you’re opening a new credit card, or you want to take out a loan. In each of these scenarios, your credit score is the most important deciding factor for your approval, and will also influence your terms and interest rates.

It’s important to note that the new system will not impact mortgage loans. This is because few mortgage lenders use VantageScore; most use FICO scores to verify eligibility.

The changes will affect the credit scores of many people, though, for better or for worse. It’s wise to learn all you can about these changes so you can make the necessary adjustments to your credit behavior.

Lucky for you, we’ve made it easy! We’ve broken the changes down into the three main areas they impact, and then we’ve simplified it by telling you what these changes mean for you.

Read on to learn all about it!

1.) Trended data and trajectories

What it means:

Under the modified system, VantageScore won’t just check if you’re meeting your minimum monthly payments; it will consider trended data, too. This means the company will analyze the trajectory of your debts on a month-to-month basis. They want to know the direction in which your finances are going. Are you gradually paying down debt, or are you scraping by with the minimum payments as your balance slowly grows?

What it means for you:

In the past, your score wasn’t affected by growing debt as long as you were making the minimum payments on your cards. Now, if you’re careful about making the monthly payment but your balance is increasing each month, your credit score will take a hit.

Conversely, if you’re working toward actually paying down your debt, your score will likely get a boost. If you don’t fall into this category, it’s time to get serious about doing away with your debt for good. Even small steps toward this goal will be recognized and rewarded.

2.) Large credit lines

What it means:

Having lots of available credit was once considered a mark of good credit. After all, if the companies deemed you responsible enough to merit all that credit, it’s gotta be a good thing, right? Well, not anymore.

With the new system in place, VantageScore will mark a borrower negatively for having excessively large credit card limits. The theory behind this rationale is simple: lots of open credit means the borrower can quickly rack up a huge bill.

What it means for you:

If you enjoy an excellent credit score, you likely have a large line of credit available and will be negatively impacted by this change unless you take action. This change also upends the old advice that the more credit cards you have open, the better. The rationalization behind that maxim was to build your available credit, and thus, improve your score. With the modified system, though, the opposite is true.

Let’s say Bob has $4,000 in credit card debt with a $40,000 limit across several cards. He’s only using 10% of his available credit. In the past, this would net him a higher credit score. Bill, on the other hand, has $1,500 in debt out of an $8,000 limit. In the past, this modest credit limit would lower his score.

With the new changes in place, the realities are shifting. Bob, who has a lot more available credit, will likely score lower than Bill, who only has $6,500 available to borrow.

Aside from those who enjoy prime credit scores and have several open cards, this change will also affect people who enjoy playing the credit card rewards-and-points game.

Whichever category you fall into, it’s best to use less than 30% of your available credit. Also, if you have a large credit line open across several cards, consider closing some of your cards to lower that number. Finally, if you’re thinking of opening a new card in the near future, ask for a smaller credit limit over a larger one.

3.) Medical debt, tax liens and civil judgments

What it means:

Medical debt, tax liens and civil judgments will no longer be factors at play when determining your credit score. These elements are being removed with the rationale that they often harm a credit score prematurely and are later proven erroneous. Civil judgments and tax liens are often inaccurate, and can significantly lower one’s score before the error is corrected. Similarly, medical debt can hurt credit scores before insurance can reimburse the borrower for the payments.

What it means for you:

If you’ve had any of the above dragging down your credit score, you have cause to celebrate. In fact, you might even see a jump of as much as 20 points to your score! On the flip side, if you have negative marks from things like delinquencies and debts that have gone to collection agencies, this new rule won’t help you much.

If you are looking for a way to track your credit score for free, take a look at WalletHub.*

*Please note: WalletHub gives you TransUnion and VantageScore credit scores.  Not all lenders use TransUnion, so your score when you apply for a loan may be different.

Your Turn: Do you think the new system encourages responsible use of credit? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/04/19/credit-score-changes-2017/  
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/19/major-changes-coming-to-how-your-credit-score-is-calculated.html   
https://amp-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/amp.usatoday.com/story/100653342/   
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/changes-coming-in-the-fall-to-how-major-credit-score-is-calculated/
https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/changes-might-raise-your-credit-score/
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/vantagescore-fico-score-the-difference/
https://thepointsguy.com/2017/04/changes-credit-score-calculations/ 

Five Ways To Partner With Destinations Credit Union To Build Your Credit Now


Perhaps you may have had good credit in the past, but are now experiencing a much lower credit score due to choices or life circumstances. Or, you may be building your credit for the first time as a young adult or as a newly single adult. Whatever the reason, you can rely on Destinations Credit Union as your partner in building or reestablishing your credit.

Here are five ways we can help you get your credit rating going in the right direction if you’re just starting out, or boost your credit rating at any time:
1.)   Telephone counseling – Give us an opportunity to work with your credit report and your budget to help you find ways to pay down and eliminate debt or unnecessary expenses. Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective to see your own situation clearly, and we’ve already helped countless members do just that. This is especially true if you feel weighed down by debt and monthly payments. Give our credit counselors a chance to show you how to pare down your debt and build up your credit score. It’s one of your many free benefits as a credit union member!
2.)   Credit builder (or re-builder) loansWe offer a credit builder credit card for members with limited credit history.  In addition, if your credit is damaged, we offer a variety of loans to help you get back on track.
3.)   Secured credit card – Consider setting aside $200-$300 to secure a credit cardin your name. You’ll have the convenience of shopping with a reputable card brand, and we hold the funds in a savings account to secure your purchases. You pay off your card balance or make monthly payments by the due date each month, and your credit score goes up.
Compare our low interest rates with no annual fee to bank products, and you’ll see they generally have higher interest rates and annual fees. It’s easy to see why it makes sense to build your credit with your Destinations Credit Union membership benefits.
4.)   Online budget/financial management tools – Our credit counselors will help you set up your online budgeting program and provide you with options for saving and investing, too. You can use the program on your own, whenever you’re ready. You’ll find options for monthly spreadsheets, and profit and loss statements for your personal and small business needs.
5.)   Rent payment reporting – Make sure your rent payments are tracked and reported to Experian RentBureau, the only major credit reporting agency to include on-time rental payment data on its reports. Use of timely rent payments to build and boost credit scores is relatively new, and many people don’t know about it yet.
If you’re already leasing a home, or looking to find a suitable property to lease, ask your management company if your payments are reported to Experian RentBureau. And if you pay rent to an individual rather than a management company, you can still take advantage of a service that collects your rent payments electronically, pays your landlord and reports to Experian. It may be possible to include your excellent rent payment history, too.
Here’s the important thing to remember – to use your timely rent payment history for building or rebuilding your credit, you’ll need to be proactive about it. There are a handful of services that will collect, disburse and report for you, but of course, you’ll pay a small fee for the service each month. You must contact them to pay the small fee, but it can be a valuable investment in building your credit score, along with credit counseling, credit builder loans and secured credit cards from Destinations Credit Union.

Planning for a good credit rating is just as important as planning for major purchases and life transitions. The importance of a good credit rating means it can’t be an afterthought and it shouldn’t be left to chance.
You’ve made the decision to become a credit union member, and that’s a step in the right direction! Give Destinations Credit Union a call at 410-663-2500 to take a look at your credit score and to talk about options for improving it.
SOURCES:

https://www.rentreporters.com/

Your Credit Score: The (Other) Key To Your New Home

Each potential home buyer dreams of the day they’ll finally get the symbol of independence, security and prosperity: the key to the front door of their new home. Before you get that one, though, there’s another key you need to craft. Your credit score, a numerical representation of your credit history as an indicator of your ability to pay your bills, will determine a lot about your housing situation, from how much house you can afford to the interest rates you’ll receive.
Your credit score is determined by three different credit monitoring agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each has its own method for determining which events are most important to your score, so your number may vary depending upon the agency. Paying debts off, making payments on time and using only a small percentage of your available credit make your score go up. Missing payments, opening many credit accounts or carrying a significant balance of debt from month-to-month will decrease your score.
Less important than the actual score is your score grouping. Lenders tend to lump borrowers into four categories: sub-prime, near-prime, prime and super-prime. Different lenders break these categories down at different score points, but the terminology and treatment are fairly universal. Super-prime lenders get the lowest rates, because they represent the lowest level of risk for the lender. Sub-prime and near-prime borrowers will have a lower cap for the size of the loan they can take and will generally pay a higher interest rate. If you’re working on raising a low credit score, a good target number is 640. This will generally put you in the prime group and ensure you don’t have to pay extra on your mortgage because of credit. If you’re building good credit, 740 is generally the lowest super-prime score, which will give you access to some of the best rates and terms available.
If you’re going house-hunting in the next year, there are three steps you can take right now to improve the terms of your mortgage. Check your credit score, take steps to raise it and manage your loan in other ways. Taking these three steps will put you on the fast track to affordable home ownership! 
Check your credit score 
You can check your credit report for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Note, though, that there may be a nominal fee to receive your actual score along with the report. There are many similar websites, but many of them will charge you. Annualcreditreport.comis the site created by the three credit companies to provide consumers with transparent access to their financial information.
If your score isn’t at the level you think it should be, there may be errors or inaccuracies that are dragging down your good name. Look for accounts you don’t recognize or balances that are not up-to-date. You may even catch an identity thief red-handed! The report comes with instructions for challenging any item. In most cases, you can leave a note for lenders in the file explaining the item under dispute. 
Boost your credit score! 
There are no simple tricks to bump your credit score in advance of a mortgage. You need to develop a 6- to 12-month plan to boost your credit score before getting your mortgage by making sound financial decisions. Demonstrate to lenders that you can use credit responsibly, and your score will increase.
One of the biggest drags on a credit score is percentage of utilized debt. If you’re carrying a balance on credit cards, this tells lenders that you may be using credit to pay for your day-to-day expenses, and that lending you more money would not be a smart move for them. Getting balances to zero should be goal number one!
Also, take care that you don’t make any major purchases using credit right before you attempt to qualify for a mortgage. Even if you’re expecting a major windfall, such as an overtime check or a tax refund, creditors don’t see that on your report. Hold off until you have the cash in hand before you splurge on a new TV or car!
If it’s a lack of credit history that’s hurting your score, many lenders offer “credit builder” loans. These involve borrowing a small amount of money and making regular installment payments on it. Parents can frequently take out these loans on behalf of children to help them build a stronger credit history. 
What else? 
If your credit score is low, and there’s nothing you can do about it, you may need to take other steps to get a better position on a loan. You might try boosting your down payment or shopping for less expensive houses, so you’re borrowing a smaller sum of money. A co-signer, another responsible party willing to take on the risk of the loan, can also improve your terms. If your debt is a serious problem, perhaps moving into a new house isn’t a good short-term priority. Focus instead on paying off debt and saving up for a down payment. This can keep you from getting stuck with a house payment you can’t afford before you’re ready for it.
Destinations Credit Union offers its members free, unlimited financial counseling through our partnership with Accel Financial Services.  Take advantage of this great resource to help boost your credit score. 
SOURCES:

http://hubpages.com/money/Tips-To-Increase-Your-Credit-Score

Mortgage Pre-qualification

Q: Every ad for mortgage companies I read talks about pre-qualification or pre-approval. Is that something I need to do before I start house shopping?

A: There are two phases to securing a mortgage.

Imagine the lending market as sort of trying to set up a friend on a date. You tell your friend about the partner you have in mind for them, and based on what you tell them, they decide if that person is worth a date. They’re considering the possibility of the date, assuming everything you say is true. If you tell your friend about the potential date’s persistent body odor problem, they might choose to say no. If you tell your friend about their beau-to-be’s interesting job, sense of humor or winning smile, they’d probably set up a date to see for themselves. That’s part 1.

Of course, your friend doesn’t go immediately from your description to wedding bells. First, they have to actually date and get to know each other. Your friend has to see if the qualities you described are actually true and make sure there’s nothing hiding beneath the surface that would rule them out. That’s part 2.

While it does make for some confusion, lenders may refer to either part 1 or part 2 as pre-approval, and the other as pre-qualification. Rather than focusing on the labels, focus on the steps involved and what the steps mean. We’ll keep calling them “part 1” and “part 2.”

What do I need for part 1?

In part 1 of the process, you describe your financial situation to a potential lender. Usually, this information includes salary, savings and current debts. The lender may or may not pull your credit score at this point. Based upon that information, the lender will make a determination about the kind of loan you might qualify for, assuming everything you’ve said is true.

You don’t need to prove anything at this point. It can be done over the phone, over the Internet or in person and no documentation is required.

During Part 1, you might want to compare possible mortgage rates. There’s a lot less paperwork involved, so it’s much easier to ask a lender to run through a variety of scenarios. You can look for a loan situation that combines the monthly payment, interest rate, term and down payment where you have the most comfort.

Part 1 can be completed early in the house shopping process. In fact, it makes sense to do this before you view the first house. That way, you won’t fall in love with a house you can’t possibly afford or convince yourself to settle for a house that doesn’t really meet your needs. This also gives you the chance to straighten out any potential kinks in your financial situation before starting part 2. Don’t worry about multiple checks on your credit if necessary. Credit bureaus lump mortgage inquiries within 30 days together as 1 inquiry, so they won’t adversely affect your credit score.

It’s important to note that pre-qualification is not a guarantee of a loan. To continue our example from above, your friend agreeing to a first date does not mean you get to start planning a wedding! Completing part 1 is a way to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend during your house hunting, as well as a way to show potential sellers that you’re serious. Completing part 1 illustrates to a buyer that you are already part of the way through the lending process, and it’s less likely that your financing will fall through.

What do I need for part 2?

Part 2 is where the paperwork starts to fly. At this point, a lender is deciding whether or not to issue you a loan. Successfully completing part 2 means a lender is ready and willing to provide you with a loan up to a specified amount.

To navigate this step, you’ll need to prove everything you claimed in part 1. This means you need to provide tax forms to substantiate your income and account statements to verify your savings. You’ll also need to sign a variety of forms giving your lender or their agents the power to talk to employers, landlords and the IRS about your financial security.

Generally, lenders will want tax returns for the past 2 years, including supporting documents like W-2 forms. If you’ve switched jobs a few times in that span, you may need to go further back to demonstrate consistent employment. If you’re an independent contractor or own a small business, documentation requirements are significantly steeper. You’ll need to provide enough financial disclosure to show lenders that you can make the payments.

Completion of part 2 is a conditional approval for a loan. If the house you’re buying passes appraisal, you will get financing on the terms you’ve agreed upon with your lender. The paperwork is a bit more cumbersome, so you don’t want to do this multiple times. Only complete this step with a lender you’re going to borrow from.

Part 2 is best to complete before you make an offer, especially in competitive markets. A letter of prequalification or preapproval that shows your financing is in place does a lot to reassure sellers that your offer will survive until closing. If you’re on the fence about what house you’ll put an offer on, this process can still be completed with the property identified as “to be determined”.

Don’t worry if this process seems confusing. You’ll be working with a qualified mortgage professional who deals with it every day and can answer all your questions. One of the benefits of working with Destinations Credit Union, an institution you trust, for your mortgage is that it clears your mind to focus on the important stuff, like where to put the sofa!

Pay For Delete Scams

You may already be checking your credit report regularly and you might have developed the habit of challenging or reporting any suspicious activity. But what do you do with a stubborn charge that won’t go away? You know you shouldn’t have to pay it, but for whatever reason, you can’t get it off your report.  You call the creditors in question and they tell you they understand, it’s no big deal and they’ll gladly delete it from your credit report if you pay a small fraction of the charge.  What do you do in that scenario?

For a lot of people, paying a couple hundred dollars is better than the headache or the full amount of the charge. They don’t have to worry about the charge, and they know that over time they’ll more than make up that money in savings on credit card interest charges.  It’s all part of the cost of doing business, they think, so they cut a relatively small check.

For the rest of us, we don’t want injustice to stand.  Or maybe we can think of a better way to spend a few hundred dollars than paying a scammer.  We could put it toward retirement, our kids’ college funds, or buy ourselves a new dress for stepping out on the town. The point is that spending a few hundred dollars on a personal luxury, no matter how frivolous, is still a better idea than spending it on a scam.

Legitimate credit agencies don’t engage in pay for delete schemes. The way it’s supposed to work is that if a debt is reported as being sent to collection, it stays on your credit report for seven years, with certain exceptions, including some medical bills. Often, big credit agencies will sell the debt to smaller ones for less than what is owed, so they can receive guaranteed income, then the smaller agencies are looking to get some amount paid off, generally more than they paid for the debt.

Those smaller agencies are often less scrupulous, and they offer to report the whole debt as a mistake if you pay a certain amount. Sometimes, that amount is the debt in full, which nets them a tidy profit. Other times, it’s a smaller amount.  In theory, this could have a very positive effect on your credit.

However, there’s no guarantee they’ll follow through, nor a reason for them to put the offer in writing, because the process isn’t above board. In addition, if a creditor creates a charge that shouldn’t be there, they’ll often ask for pay-for-delete so they can mark it as removed, making it harder to identify a fraudulent charge after the fact.

Arm yourself with knowledge. Here are three scenarios in which a charge can be removed from your credit report:

  1. You never got the bill (or the bill was for an incorrect amount)– This is pretty obvious, and you shouldn’t have to pay a dime.  Make sure to challenge suspicious charges. If you don’t believe that you incurred a debt, let the collection agencies know. Ask to see evidence of the bill; sometimes the creditor can’t produce it, and they will waive the charge. Make sure to follow up afterward to confirm that the charge was removed.
  2. The bill was for a medical debt – As mentioned earlier, some forms of medical debt can be removed from your record. Double check this with your accountant or lawyer. Make sure you also check with your insurance company so you know they paid as much as they were obligated. Ask the medical provider for a detailed, itemized bill, then ask your insurance company for your explanation of benefits (EOB). At a minimum, show the EOB to your medical provider to make sure they’re billing correctly. Every case is different, so be detail-oriented, write down everything the provider and insurer tell you, and seek help from a professional. A single medical bill can be worth 25 points on your FICO score, so it pays to follow through. Remember, a creditor is not a medical provider, so they will have much less freedom to rework old bills, which is why they may be more interested in pay-for-delete. 
  3. It’s a small-time creditor – This is where the line between good security and under-the-table scam starts to blur. Small-time creditors want the revenue and they’re going to be more likely to offer shady practices in exchange for money. Make sure to get everything you can in writing, and be suspicious. If they’re unscrupulous enough to try pay-for-delete, then they probably didn’t do all of their due diligence to find out if you paid the bill. Ask for evidence. Make sure you really owe the money. Be persistent; this is real money that you can spend in better ways than on scams.

It’s important to stay on top of your credit report, but don’t let that number at the top dictate your life. Yes, you’d like it as high as possible, but that’s not a reason to give money to scammers.  If you do the work on your end, you can often get to the bottom of these charges, save your credit score, and keep cash in your pocket.


Sources:

http://www.creditinfocenter.com/debt/pay-for-delete.shtml

Credit Repair Scams Are Back, Don’t Let Them Fool You

Earlier this month, the Better Business Bureau warned the country to keep an eye out for criminals masquerading as credit repair agencies, an old scam that keeps coming back every few years.  The scam is easy to spot if you know what to look for, so here’s what you need to know. 

How the scam works:

Companies advertise a service that can give customers a “new credit identity” and will immediately fix their credit score.  The scammers charge their customers an upfront fee in exchange for a 9-digit code, sometimes called a “Credit Profile Number” or “Credit Privacy Number.” They might say the number protects customers from identity theft, builds their credit or enrolls them into a new government debt-relief program.

The numbers they give to customers are not magic numbers that fix bad credit; they’re stolen Social Security numbers.  Not only won’t they improve your credit, but anyone who pays a scammer has unwittingly bankrolled an identity thief. 

How the scam can hurt you:

If a company sells you a stolen Social Security number and you use it to apply for a loan, you’ve committed fraud, even if you had no idea that the number was stolen.  If you lie on a credit or loan application, misrepresent your Social Security number or obtain an EIN under false pretenses, you’ve committed a federal crime.  You could face fines, or in some cases, time in prison.  If you suspect this might have happened to you, seek legal advice immediately. 

How to spot a scam:

Credit reporting scams are one of the many kinds of criminal activities built around identity theft. If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a criminal, listen for some of these key phrases credit repair scammers use:

·        “We just need a small fee to get started”  – In the U.S. and Canada, credit repair companies can only receive their fee AFTER they’ve performed a service.

·        “We dispute all of the charges on your credit report, even the ones that are correct.  The worst thing that can happen is that they say ‘NO’ and you might even get lucky” – Legitimate credit companies will not encourage you to lie to credit agencies because that’s a crime.  It is a good idea for you to check your credit report for inaccuracies from time to time, but don’t lie to those agencies.

·        “If a loan asks for your Social Security number, put in this code instead” – There is no magical code to fix your credit.  If it seems too easy, proceed with caution.

Remember, some credit repair companies work hard and treat their customers fairly.  They’ll write a contract, make their loan rates known and follow the law.  When you call an honest company, you’ll know the rates and terms.  Scammers tend to make outlandish promises or omit details, so if a deal seems too good to be true, or if it’s hard to find out what you’re getting into, you might want to walk away. 

What to do if you think you might be a victim:

If you’ve been the victim of this kind of scam, you have some legal options.  You can sue them for any money you lost, seek punitive damages on top of that or join a class action suit.  Talk to a lawyer immediately.

You can also file a complaint online atftc.gov/complaint 

Who can I trust to repair my credit?

If you have bad credit, it can feel like everyone is trying to scam you.  If you need to repair your credit, and you don’t know who to trust, talk to Destinations Credit Union‘s counseling partner Accel.  Accel can help you make a plan to get out from under your debt, build your credit successfully, and plan for the future.

If you don’t have any credit, then Destinations Credit Union can help you, too. Unlike the multinational corporate banks and credit cards, we’re local and personal.  You’re more than a number to us, and we look forward to helping you.

Sources:

Four Steps To Checking Your Credit Report

If there were a song about keeping yourself safe from financial scams, the refrain to that song would be “Check your credit report!” But practically speaking, what does that mean? How can that one piece of advice keep you safe from so much?

Though it sounds like an advanced financial maneuver, checking your credit report is easier than balancing your checkbook. All you have to do is get it, read it, report errors and stay on it. Let’s look at each step in detail:

1.) Get your credit report

There are three different credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. They share data, but each makes its own report. You’re entitled to one free report from each agency every year. If you know you’ve got a major purchase, like a car or house, coming up in the next year, you’ll want to check all three bureaus before you start shopping. This way, you can catch inaccuracies before lenders see your information and score. Otherwise, it makes sense to stagger them and view one report every four months. This puts the shortest amount of time between checks.

You can get your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. This is the only website approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for this purpose. Take care to avoid “imposter” websites operated by scammers. They may use similar-sounding website names or common misspellings in an attempt to trick you and get your personal information.

There are other situations under which you can get a free copy of your credit report. If you are denied credit, you can request a copy of the information that was used to make that determination provided you do so within 60 days. If you have been the victim of certain kinds of fraud, the service will also provide you with a free copy of your credit report in order to help you make it right. These checks will never hurt your credit score.

If you’ve requested your report online, it should be available immediately. You may need to answer a few questions to verify your identity. The service may ask if you shared an address with anyone else or about previous streets you’ve lived on. Once you answer these questions, you’ll get your credit report.

2.) Go over your report

With your credit report now in your hands, it’s time to look it over. There are three things you’ll want to look for. You want to find accounts that are open in your name and you want to see if there’s any collection activity. You’ll also want to take a look at the number and frequency of inquiries.

There are slight differences in the three reports, but each has a list of accounts. They may be broken down by type (mortgage, installment, revolving, and other) or listed by date. You’ll want to look through each one to make sure you recognize them. This can be a tricky task, as every store credit card you open and every installment loan you make is listed. If there are any accounts you don’t recognize, you’ll want to make a note of them and potentially contact the credit reporting agency. Look particularly for accounts going to PO Boxes or listed with addresses in other states.


“Negative items” include bankruptcies, accounts in collection or accounts reporting as past due. Such activity is another good place to check for fraud. If someone else opened an account in your name, they likely won’t be paying the bills. You’ll also want to look for inaccuracies that may be hurting your credit score. If there’s an account listed here that was discharged in bankruptcy, for example, you’ll want to make note of that, too.

The list of inquiries shows you the number of times someone has checked your credit. No one can do this without your permission, so if there are more inquiries than you remember, it could be a sign someone has stolen your identity. It might be worthwhile to put a freeze on an ability to open new accounts until you’ve gotten everything resolved.

3.) Report inaccuracies

Each reporting agency maintains a separate error reporting process, so you’ll have to report each error to the agency that made it. For basic errors, like address, name, or personal information, the agency can make those corrections with minimal trouble. For more serious errors, you’ll need to send a dispute letter.

The FTC has a template for a dispute letter available on its website. You can use that or you can draft your own. Either way, you’ll need to clearly identify the accounts or items you’re disputing. Where possible, use partial account numbers or other numerical information. You’ll also need to explain why you consider the item an error. Attach copies, but not originals, of documents that support your claim. Examples include police reports for stolen or lost wallets, bankruptcy orders that discharged a debt or letters from a lender indicating that an account was opened fraudulently.

Send your letter via certified mail. This costs a little more than a stamp, but you’ll get proof of receipt. This is important because the agency has 30 days to make a determination about your dispute. They’ll send your dispute to the information provider (the company that told the agency about the account or negative item).

If the reporting agency finds your claim to be correct, you can request that they send copies of the updated report to anyone who received your credit report in the last six months, and to any employer who pulled your credit report over the last two years. They’re also required to send you an updated copy with any new information in it.

4.) Stay on it

Checking your credit report periodically is the only way to keep yourself safe from identity theft and other modern crimes. If you need assistance, Destinations Credit Union is here to help.  Call, click, or stop by today.

SOURCES:

Four Ways To Repay Your Student Loans With Help From Destinations Credit Union!


Graduation day seemed like it would never come. As a freshman, you saw
seniors swaggering about like they owned the place. Then, just a few short years later, there you are. You’ve crammed for your last final, written your last paper and said tearful goodbyes to your friends. For many graduating seniors, though, leaving college isn’t “real” for quite some time.

For many college students, the reality of moving on from college doesn’t set in when they throw a mortarboard. It comes a few months later, when they get their first billing statement for their student loans. Seeing a balance of $30,000 can make the gravity of adult life hit home in a very real way.

It’s easy to put making the minimum payment on auto-pilot and to treat your student loan bill like your cellphone bill or rent payment. It gets sorted into the pile of bills to pay and never gets a second thought. However, you might be leaving money on the table by using the loan company’s bill pay service.

Destinations Credit Union can help you pay back your loan in more ways than you might realize, and save you money in the process. Here are four convenient ways you can pay for your education and get greater flexibility. You might be able to get some extra rewards out of the deal, too!

1.) A savings account for college students

You can’t start paying off your student loans while you’re in college. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit and wait to get buried under an avalanche of debt. You can take proactive steps while you’re in school to make your life easier.

Your student work or part-time job might not make a dent in astronomical tuition costs, but it can still help you get out of debt faster. Setting up automatic savings account transfers will force you to put away a little bit each month. Check out Destinations Credit Union Kasasa Cash or Cash Back (free checking with rewards) to see how you can get extra money for your savings every month.  You can use that once you’re out of school to make a big first payment. It’ll really take the sting out of the debt load.

Make sure to put this money into an account you won’t be tempted to use for other things. The $100 or $200 you put away every month could rapidly disappear through dinners out and concert tickets. Automating savings is a way to keep yourself disciplined and on target.

2.) Automatic bill pay

Your student loan provider is a business, and they’re out to make money. All aspects of their operations, from the materials they send you when you start borrowing to the bills they send you each month, are marketing materials. They’re designed to maximize profit. For lenders, that means keeping you paying the minimum amount for as long as possible.

That’s why their bills make it as easy as possible to pay the minimum and require extra work to pay more than that. They want you to pay the “amount due” every month. It’s more profitable for them that way.

You can get the advantage back by setting up automatic bill pay. When you do, you can designate an amount of your choosing to be paid to the lender every month. You can pay your bill back at your own pace and save some money on overall interest while you’re at it! As a bonus, you can often get around nuisances like “technology fees” with automatic bill payment.

3.) Pay with a Destinations Credit Union credit card

One of the benefits of a student loan is the bump you get on your credit score by paying it regularly. Lenders see your management of student loan debt as evidence of responsible borrowing, making them more likely to trust you in the future. If you want to maximize the benefit to your credit score, you can use a credit card from Destinations Credit Union to make your student loan payments.  You can earn rewards with each “purchase” but make sure you are paying down the credit card as you make these payments.  There’s not much point in trading one kind of debt for another unless there is a long-term benefit.

This advice deserves some qualification. Many lenders don’t accept credit card payments, and many others charge handling fees. A 1% transaction fee for using a credit card should be seen as a 1% increase in interest. Also, credit cards can be an easy way to get into trouble. Don’t use them if you don’t have an emergency fund to fall back on. Credit card interest rates are frequently much higher than student loan interest rates and missing a credit card payment is just as detrimental as missing a student loan payment!

Still, if you’re careful about it, you can build your credit score twice for the same loan. Both your student loan and your credit card will show as paid each month, which will make you look twice as responsible for paying one bill. You will be able to earn a few rewards points as icing on the cake.

4.) Consolidate and refinance

College is about the journey, not the destination. If your journey was a longer one than usual, you may have debt from several places. You may have used your credit card to finance your living expenses or taken out unsubsidized loans from private lenders. These variable interest rate loans can really hurt you financially.

It might be time to consider refinancing. You can take a personal loan for all your outstanding debt and consolidate it into one monthly payment. You can lower your interest rate and simplify your financial life at the same time.

This process can also include one-on-one time with a trained financial professional at Destinations Credit Union. You can gain advice on budgeting and make a roadmap to a truly debt-free future. To see if consolidation is right for you, call, click, or stop by Destinations CU today!

SOURCES:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/college-finance/repay-college-loans-fast-4.aspx

"ISIS" Hacks Credit Unions – What You Need To Know


ISIS is the new face of terrorism and the Internet is the next front. Terror organizations use social media to recruit members, spread their messages and plan attacks. That they would also use hacking to evoke fear should come as no surprise.

That appears to be what happened on March 9 this year when visitors to the websites of several credit unions did not see the front page they were expecting. Instead, they saw a black screen with the logo for the Islamic State. Under the image were the words “Hacked by Islamic State (ISIS) We Are Everywhere :)” along with a link to a now-defunct Facebook page.

A closer examination of the defacement suggested to the FBI that this was not the work of the international terrorist group. First, the smiley face at the end of the message does not fit the tone of other messages the group has sent. Second, the targets, which included several small businesses and credit unions, seem out of character for the group. Most of the group’s rage tends to focus on agents and governments it views as occupying territory in the Middle East. Third, the level of damage was relatively low. A sophisticated hacking operation would aim to debilitate or destroy economically or politically important assets. While taking down a credit union’s website for a few hours is certainly disconcerting, the dollar amount of that can be applied to the damage is relatively low.

Rather, the FBI suspects this is the work of fairly unsophisticated domestic hackers. The target selection fits more with an attention-seeking group of malcontents. The strategy of website defacement is popular among amateur computer security students seeking to prove their skills or leave a “calling card.” No member data, accounts, or contact information was compromised in the hack and the defacement of the websites has already been reversed.

As with every other security compromise, the possibility that a more serious data breach occurred is not out of the question. In most cases, this breach would involve rigging the website to install malicious software on users’ computers. While it is unlikely, precautions are free and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to information security. If you’re concerned about your computer integrity, take the following four steps.

1.) Install, update, and run security software

Using the Internet without antivirus software is like reaching your hand into a medical sharps disposal bin. You’re going to get something and the results won’t be pretty. Several free antivirus programs exist. Popular choices include Panda Security, AVG and Avast.

If you already have antivirus software, you might think you’re covered. Yet, antivirus programs only protect against specific kinds of malicious programming. While they’re certainly the worst of the worst, viruses are only one kind of threat you face on the Internet. You also need an anti-malware program, like MalwareBytes or Spybot. These programs find and remove security threats that, while not quite to the level of viruses, can still compromise your computer.

These programs are still serious threats. Data breaches at Home Depot, Target and others were caused by malware on company computers. Even professional security experts occasionally forget about defending their systems this way.

Once you get the software installed, make sure to keep it updated and run it regularly. The scans usually take between 20 minutes and an hour. That’s all it takes to stay safe from the worst threats.

2.) Change your passwords

It appears unlikely that any user data was compromised in this most recent round of hacks. Still, there’s no reason not to be cautious. Change the passwords you use to log on to major financial websites and any website where you use those same passwords. If you use your Destinations Credit Union password to access your email, change your email password, too.

It’s a good idea to cycle passwords every six months or so anyway. Doing so helps to keep your accounts safe. If you have trouble remembering to do so, consider using a password management service to keep track of your security.

Always choose strong passwords. Four random words with a number on the end is a great way to randomize passwords but keep them somewhat memorable. Just look around your computer area and use the names of the first four objects you see, followed by your birth month. Doing so creates a password that humans can easily commit to memory, but the most powerful computers would take years to crack.

3.) Get a credit score report

You can get a free credit report every year, and it’s a good idea to do so. If you’re planning to buy a house or a car this year, you might want to hold off and use your free report closer to your purchase date. If you don’t have major purchases planned for this year, you can use your free credit score report to check if you’ve been hacked.

Look for accounts you don’t remember opening or large, sudden upswings in debt utilization. These could be signals that someone’s compromised your identity. Call the credit reporting bureau immediately to report suspicious activity.

This alleged ISIS hack is nothing to fear, but it’s worth being cautious all the same. It’s much easier to take preventative action than to regret not having done so. Taking these steps can help ensure you stay safe, no matter what happens.

SOURCES:

http://www.cutoday.info/Fresh-Today/Hackers-Claiming-To-Be-ISIS-Take-Down-CU-s-Site

Car Buying Tips

If you have great credit, getting a car loan at a great rate is no problem. In tight credit markets, some buyers with less than stellar credit may have trouble getting a loan at a reasonable rate.

There are lots of ways to finance your car, even without the best credit, but be careful — these may cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Check your Credit Union’s rates first!

No matter what your credit score, chances are we can offer you a better rate because we are not-for-profit and owned by you, our members.

Do your research

You will most likely pay more for your vehicle if you go into a dealer not armed with information about the vehicle you are interested in purchasing. Make sure you do the research and know how much you should be paying for your new or used vehicle. The internet has made it easy to get this information — just go to the AutoSmart section of our website to get started.

Get Pre-Approved

Apply for your loan to see exactly how much you can afford before you go shopping for your car.  You’ll know exactly what your credit score is and what rate you qualify for through this process. You can then make your best cash deal. Apply online and simply leave the make and model information
blank or write in “pre-approval.”  If you already have your financing in place, beware of a dealer scam involving getting you to fill out a credit application, even though you are not applying for credit. They claim it is required by the “Patriot Act,” but it is not. This is an attempt to run your credit to try and get you into the dealer financing.

Beware of “Choose Your Payment”

Many dealers are now offering to let you choose your payment. While this may seem like a good idea on the surface, all it really does is extend the term of your loan, costing you thousands in extra interest and leaving you with a car that is worth far less than you owe on the loan. As an example, a $20,000 car financed at 7% APR for 5 years will run you $396 per month and you will have paid at total of $3,763 in interest by the time it is paid off. Taking that same loan, and choosing a payment of $250, you will be paying the loan for 9 years and will have paid over $7,000 in interest! If you can only afford a payment of $250, choose a car that fits your budget, instead of choosing a payment on a more expensive car.

Low Rate Financing vs. Taking a Rebate

It is generally better to negotiate the best cash price, take the rebate, apply it to the principal balance of your loan and finance at the best possible rate outside of the dealer. If you run the numbers, you’ll usually find you save money this way.

Purchasing GAP Insurance

If you put less than 20% down on your new vehicle, you may want to consider GAP insurance. The minute you drive a new car off of the lot, the value depreciates significantly. If your car is stolen or totaled in an accident, you may find you owe more on the car than the insurance is willing to pay you.
Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance makes up the difference.  Don’t just take what the dealer offers you though! Check around because you can usually get the policy less expensively elsewhere (such as your credit union).

Extended Warranties

You may want an extended warranty on your vehicle, especially if you have trouble coming up with the funds to repair it on your own. However, beware of the dealer “requiring” the warranty in order to get the loan. Some unscrupulous dealers will tell you that in order to sell the product. Most likely, you will pay less for a warranty if you purchase it through the Credit Union. It’s a choice, not a requirement!

If you have questions throughout the car buying process, call Destinations Credit Union.  We’re here to help you get the best possible deal.