How to file a claim over Equifax’s data breach

How to file a claim over Equifax’s data breach

If you’re one of the 147 million-plus people who had their data exposed by Equifax’s massive 2017 data breach, you can file a claim for cash or free credit monitoring, courtesy of Equifax’s recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Details: If you lost up to $500 from the Equifax breach, filing for a “time spent” cash payment requires the least amount of paperwork and supporting documents. The deadline for all claims is January 22, per the FTC, and benefits will not be sent until January 23 at the earliest.

Where to start: Check if your information was exposed. Then you can submit a claim online, print a copy and mail it, or have a hard copy form mailed to you. Claims for people who were minors on May 13, 2017 can only be sent via mail.

Option 1:

You have the choice between free credit monitoring — from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for at least 4 years, or a $125 cash payment. In lieu of the $125, you can also opt-in for up to 6 additional years of free credit monitoring through Equifax only.

  • 4 years of credit monitoring from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion via their separate monthly subscription services is a $2,842.72 value.
  • That said, credit monitoring is not the only way to protect your personal information.

Option 2:

If you file for a “time spent” cash payment — because you spent time trying to recover from or avoid fraud or identity theft — you have to log an explanation of that time spent, the approximate month and year, and the hours and minutes spent. You only have to attach supporting documents if you log more than 10 hours.

  • You can be compensated $25 per hour for up to 20 hours — so the most you can be reimbursed is $500.
  • If you log more than 10 hours, you’ll also have to provide “reasonable documentation of fraud, identity theft, or other alleged misuse of your personal information fairly traceable to the data breach (i.e., letter from IRS or bank or police report).”
  • Your “time spent” here can’t relate to other data breaches.

Option 3:

You can get up to $20,000 if you lost or spent money trying to prevent or recover from fraud or identity theft caused by the data breach and have not been reimbursed.

  • There are 6 categories of financial losses that qualify under this option:
    • (1) costs for freezing/unfreezing your credit report
    • (2) credit monitoring and identity theft protection purchases
    • (3) costs incurred for an Equifax credit or identity theft monitoring products
    • (4) professional fees paid to address identity theft
    • (5) expenses related to the breach like notary, fax, postage, copying, mileage, etc.
    • and (6), the most general category — costs, expenses, or losses due to identity theft, fraud, or misuse of your personal information on or after May 13, 2017.
  • For each category, you have to document the amount of money spent or lost, provide the date, write a description and attach supporting documents.
  • If you spent or lost money for each category several times, add up the money you lost or spent and give your best estimate on the date.

Don’t forget: There are other free or low-cost ways to monitor your credit. Some of the best ways to protect your personal information are to review your credit report, set up fraud alert, frequently change passwords, file taxes early, or consider a security or credit freeze, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The post How to file a claim over Equifax’s data breach appeared first on The CreditPros.

Tax Lien: What Is It and How Does It Affect My Credit?

Tax Lien: What Is It and How Does It Affect My Credit?

Tax Lien: What Is It and How Does It Affect My Credit?

Your credit report might contain more information than you think. Other than the details such as hard inquiries, credit accounts, and personal information, your credit report might include derogatory marks like bankruptcies and tax liens.

The reason why tax liens are included in a credit report is because if you do not pay taxes, it might suggest to the creditors that you will also have trouble paying bills. Tax liens could have a negative effect on your credit score, so it is something that you should address as soon as possible.

Tax Lien – An Overview

Tax liens are a legal claim of a local, state or federal government against any and every asset of a taxpayer who failed to pay tax debts. If you have failed to pay federal tax debts, IRS may place tax liens on your property. IRS basically files a public document to inform the creditors that the government has legal rights to your property.

It’s bad news for you. In fact, its implications may be far-reaching. For instance, if you have federal tax liens on your home, it means that you will need to satisfy liens before you could complete a sale or refinance. A good way to eliminate tax liens is simple and you only need to pay your tax debts.

Tax Lien – How Does It Impact Your Credit?

Typically, even if paid tax liens are better than the ones left unpaid, both actually have the potential to affect your credit negatively. The impact on scores will vary on some factors such as the tax lien’s age, credit scoring model, and some details regarding tax liens.

Generally, the older the debt and the smaller amount owed, the lesser tax liens will impact the scores. Yet, although the impact on your credit scores is not big, tax liens might affect your credit in some ways. Lenders may review credit reports and see tax lien before approving applications, so it could inhibit one’s ability to be qualified for financing. Several mortgage lenders would need you to satisfy liens before closing mortgage.

How Long Tax Liens Stay on Credit Reports?

Unpaid tax liens will usually remain on credit reports for ten years from the day it was filed. When tax liens have been paid, it’ll remain on credit report for 7 years from the day of payment. If paid liens are still on your credit report, ensure that they are listed as paid.

Conclusion

To avoid tax liens, you should pay the full amount of tax when demanded. If it is not possible, you might be eligible to consider state or federal programs to pay off the tax bills in the long run while avoiding tax liens. Eliminating tax liens from credit reports might not result in immediate or big improvement to your credit score. If you have some derogatory marks that drag down your credit scores, you would want to address them as well. To see huge improvements to your credit, you might want to add positive, new information to your credit report. It can be done through practicing healthy financial habits like keeping your credit account balance low and making payments on time.

The post Tax Lien: What Is It and How Does It Affect My Credit? appeared first on Creditmergency.

How to Use Your Credit Card Smartly?

Gone are the days when only a handful of people used these Cards. The present scenario narrates a different story and every individual today swipes his or her Credit Cards for making purchases. Executing transactions through these cards have become a common affair. Take a look around, and you will come across innumerable people swiping their respective cards. It’s here that individuals consider the positive impacts of using these cards.

Possibilities of rewards

When it boils down to making effective financial transactions, Credit Cards play a crucial role. This particular mode of payment can be useful, effective, and rewarding if the users know the art of using it. Try utilizing your card smartly, thus reaping the maximum benefit out of it. Here are some tips to help you out:

Tips to make the most of these Cards

If you are wondering about how to use your credit card, following the effective and smart tips will surely help you out. Seeking professional assistance will be the best thing to do, as that will help you spend smartly and earn more. Always try to strategize your expenses and spending behavior for smarter and better transactions. If you wish to make the most of your transactions, these suggestions can be useful:

1. Higher Credit Limits

While accepting Cards from a bank, you must check the credit and spending limits. Always look for highest limits, as that will help you emerge as qualified creditors. You will not only gain the flexibility to plan high-priced purchases but also get the opportunity to prove your credit worthiness.

2. Paying bills on time

Overdue amounts and card bills can affect your credit score negatively. If you fail to pay the overdue amount within stipulated periods, make sure you have adequate finances to pay off the pending amounts. It’s highly imperative to pay overdue on time, as that is the key to getting qualified for higher credits.

3. Understand rewards

Most of the individuals receive special gifts on their cards. However, they fail to understand the ways to use them. You should comprehend the clauses, understand them, and then redeem special discounts. Every Card owner must know his credit limits as that will give him the freedom to pay.

4. Clear, complete overdue amounts

At times, you might come across an option where minimum overdue can be paid. Steer clear of choosing such options as that won’t help you in any way. Try clearing the complete bill without keeping any pending amount. Minimum payments can lead to exorbitant interest rates on the remaining amounts.

5. Ensure complete security

Always keep your cards in secured places and make sure it is safe. The details related to the Card should be open to you and not to anybody else. Sharing such crucial details will pave the path for fraudulent practices. Be crystal clear about the usage of your card and keep it secure. That’s the key towards making authentic transactions.

Factors That Affect a Low CIBIL Score

A Credit Information Report (CIR) offers an individual a numeric summary of their credit history. It plays a major role should an individual want to apply for a loan, or a credit card, as all banks and financial institutions run a CIR as part of their loan approval process.

A credit score constitutes a part of the Credit Information Report. Basis the financial information provided by lenders to Credit Information Companies, a score is determined. This score, based on a scale of between 300 and 900, is what is taken into account by a lender prior to offering a loan.

With Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL) a score of 750+ points is considered to be good. For a first time borrower with no previous track record, a score of -1 is displayed.

Different Credit Information Companies however, may have different scoring parameters. Most companies use the definition of ‘bad loan’ as a customer going more than 90 days past in 12 months.

Let us take a look at the factors that can negatively impact your CIBIL score.

Multiple loans and credit cards

Having too many loans and cards can prove detrimental, as it can indicate a high level of borrowing. This would mean that a potential lender may choose not to sanction any further loans as your repayment capacity may already have been maxed, your income. Further, it may get difficult to manage payments between multiple cards, and can lead to your having to stretch your income in order to keep up.

Not using your credit card

Having a credit card with no usage, makes the customer’s file inactive as there is no transactional data. This in turn can negatively impact the score.

No loans at all!

On the other hand, having no loans or no credit cards makes it difficult for a lender to assess your repayment capacity. Hence it may be a good idea to maintain a loan or card well within your means, to set a benchmark for future borrowing.

Delayed and skipped payments

This is typically the case with credit cards, wherein a customer does not make a timely payment owing to the fact that it slipped out of the mind. What would help in this case is to set up payment reminders and ensure that the outstanding dues is paid up as per the payment dues date. Even a single skipped payment can have an adverse impact on your score.

Increased credit limit

While this may have a feel-good factor, it may not have such a positive outcome after all! Constantly increasing your credit limit may again indicate a high level of debt. Instead, keep your card dues to approximately 30% of the assigned limit.

Not using your credit card

Having a credit card with no usage, makes the customer’s file inactive as there is no transactional data. This in turn can negatively impact the credit score.

Too many unsecured loans

Personal loans or an excessive number of credit cards can mean higher payments owing to higher rates of interest, these being unsecured loan products. This can result in a lower score.

Now that we know what can affect your score.

Financial discipline

Timely and full payments on loan and credit card outstanding go a long way in maintaining your CIBIL rating.

Having a healthy product mix

Balance of secured and unsecured loans shows that an individual is capable of handling finances well. This can help you to improve your CIBIL score.