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TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: Can You Extend Your Mortgage Forbearance?\n-----------------------------------------\nAmong the many provisions of the 2020 pandemic relief legislation known as the CARES Act was a mandate requiring servicers of mortgages guaranteed by the federal government to grant borrowers mortgage forbearance. They could do this by accepting reduced mortgage payments or even suspending them altogether for a period of up to 180 days, with an option to extend them another 180 days as needed.\nThat mandate has been extended, giving borrowers the option to request up to two more 90-day forbearance periods, for a maximum total of 540 days (roughly 18 months) of forbearance relief. These provisions protect roughly 70% of all single-family home mortgages in the U.S.\nThe U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created an online clearinghouse for information on COVID-19-related relief and assistance options for homeowners. It includes:\n* A lookup tool that tells you if your mortgage is backed by the federal government and how to contact your mortgage servicer if it is.\n* Resources on requesting mortgage forbearance, extending existing forbearance plans and working with lenders to avoid foreclosure. END
TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: You Can Still Request Mortgage Forbearance\n------------------------------------------\nIf you haven't already submitted an initial request for mortgage forbearance, you can do so until September 30, 2021, if your loan was issued through the Veterans Administration (VA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).\nIf your mortgage is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is no deadline for submitting an initial forbearance request. END
TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: How to Get Mortgage Forbearance Extensions\n------------------------------------------\nThe CARES Act initially entitled borrowers with mortgages backed by the federal government (FHA Loans, USDA Loans, VA Loans) or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac up to 180 days (roughly six months) of mortgage forbearance, with an option to extend forbearance up to 180 more days.\nAs many as two additional extensions of 90 days each are available to homeowners who obtained mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act, adding up to a total maximum of 540 days (about 18 months) of forbearance for those who meet these eligibility requirements:\n* If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you must have been in an active forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021, to qualify for one or more additional extensions.\n* If your mortgage is backed by the FHA, USDA or VA, you must have requested a forbearance plan on or before June 30, 2020, to be eligible for additional extensions.\nIf you are eligible for extended forbearance on your government-backed mortgage, you must proactively request extension(s) from your loan servicer—forbearance is not extended automatically.\nIf your mortgage is not backed by the federal government, you may still be eligible for a forbearance extension. According to the CFPB, many loan servicers are offering customers with non-guaranteed loans forbearance comparable to what they provide borrowers with government-backed mortgages. To learn what options are available, reach out to your mortgage servicer. END
TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: Foreclosure Protections Are Still Available in Some States\n----------------------------------------------------------\nAlong with mortgage forbearance mandates, the CARES Act imposed a temporary moratorium preventing mortgage lenders from foreclosing on borrowers with federally backed mortgages during the COVID-19 crisis. That moratorium was extended several times, but its most recent extension was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court—a move that allowed foreclosures to resume.\nHowever, the foreclosure moratoriums that some states and municipalities have instituted still stand. Some of these protections extend to all mortgage lenders, not just issuers of government-backed loans. END
TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: Prepare Your Finances for the End of Relief Measures\n----------------------------------------------------\nMortgage forbearance and foreclosure moratoriums won't be extended forever. If they've bought you some breathing room in the face of pandemic-related income reductions, now is a good time to plan for their inevitable expiration.\n### Forbearance Repayment Options\nIf you're in mortgage forbearance, it's important to work with your mortgage servicer to figure out how you will repay the sum you were permitted to forgo paying during your forbearance period. Options include the following:\n* **Repayment plan:** Under this option, your regular mortgage payments are increased temporarily (typically for no more than 12 months) until you repay the amount left unpaid during your forbearance period.\n* **Payment deferral:** With this arrangement, the sum you owe (and interest charges that apply to it) are added to the end of your mortgage term. You must pay it in full as the final payment on your mortgage or pay it off when you sell the house, whichever comes first.\n* **Loan modification:** In a mortgage modification, your loan servicer issues you a new loan for the sum of the amount you owe from forbearance and your outstanding mortgage balance, lowering your monthly payments (and typically increasing your total interest costs) by extending the payback period by several months or years.\n* **Lump sum:** At the conclusion of your forbearance period, you must repay all the money you were spared paying during forbearance, in one single payment.\n### Foreclosure Alternatives\nIf you're behind on mortgage payments and concerned that foreclosure could begin as soon as applicable moratorium(s) expire, connect with your mortgage lender or servicer as soon as possible to try to work out alternatives to foreclosure:\n* **Sell the house.** Housing markets are highly competitive in many parts of the country right now, so it may be possible to sell your home and use the proceeds to pay off the remainder of your mortgage (including the back payments you owe).\n* **Pursue a short sale.** If your home's market value is less than what you owe on your mortgage, your best option for getting out from under it may be a short sale. Under this arrangement, which requires permission from your mortgage lender, you can sell the house at market value and turn all of the proceeds over to the lender. Depending on how the deal is negotiated, the lender may forgive the amount you still owe on the original mortgage, or arrange for you to pay back some or all of that remainder over time.\nYour credit report will reflect a short sale by listing your mortgage account as settled for less than the full amount owed, which can have negative consequences for your credit scores. END
TITLE: Can You Get Mortgage Forbearance More Than Once? CONTENT: How to Get Help\n---------------\nIf you're worried about how you'll be able to resume payments following mortgage forbearance, or if you're otherwise concerned about the possibility of losing your home to foreclosure, the following federal resources may offer help:\n* The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a team of housing counselors who can offer guidance and help you understand the options in your state to help you stay in your home.\n* The CFPB provides a directory you can use to locate an attorney in your state who can help you navigate the legal processes around foreclosure.\n* If you feel your mortgage lender or servicer has mismanaged your forbearance or foreclosure proceedings, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB and the bureau will follow up with an investigation.\n### Watch Out for Scams\nCriminals are always ready to take advantage of people who are financially vulnerable, so be careful about offers from \"experts\" who claim they can make your mortgage difficulties go away:\n* Verify the identity of anyone who calls, emails or texts you claiming to represent your mortgage lender or mortgage servicer. Insist on calling them directly, and do so using a publicly available phone number or email address taken from your mortgage paperwork.\n* Monitor your credit reports closely to make sure your mortgage payments are being reported accurately, and to help you detect any unauthorized credit activity by criminals who manage to obtain your personal information.\nFederal mortgage forbearance and foreclosure protections must eventually come to an end. With careful preparation, you can help put them, and the COVID-19 pandemic, behind you. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 1\\. You Have a Low Credit Score\n-------------------------------\nCredit cards are available for consumers across the credit spectrum, but many have stricter credit score requirements than others. With most of the top rewards credit cards, for instance, you may need good or even excellent credit to get approved.\nEach lender has its own criteria for what constitutes good or excellent credit, but according to FICO, good credit starts at a 670 FICO® Score☉ .\nCheck your credit to find out where you stand and work on areas that need improvement. Also, consider using a tool like Experian CreditMatch™ to get card offers based on your credit profile. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 2\\. You Have a Limited Credit History\n-------------------------------------\nIf you're fairly new to credit, it can be challenging to get approved for some credit cards. While this doesn't seem fair—after all, you can't build credit without getting approved for and using credit accounts—it comes down to uncertainty for lenders.\nHaving a limited credit history doesn't mean you're not trustworthy. However, it likely means the card issuer doesn't have enough information on how you manage credit to determine whether you'd be a good customer.\nConsider applying for a credit card that's designed to help people build credit, or with a card issuer that uses alternative credit data like income and expenses to evaluate credit applications. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 3\\. You Have Insufficient Income\n--------------------------------\nCard issuers typically don't disclose how much money you have to earn to get approved. But if you're a college student or only working part time, it could prove difficult to convince a credit card company that you have the ability to repay all debts you charge to the card.\nUnderstand what counts as income on a credit application to ensure that you're not leaving anything out. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 4\\. You Have a History of Late Payments\n---------------------------------------\nYour payment history is the most important factor in your FICO® Score, so if you've missed even one payment by 30 days or more, it could damage your credit score and make it hard to get approved for certain credit cards.\nUnfortunately, you can't get rid of late payments unless the information is inaccurate. But some secured credit cards and other cards for bad or fair credit could still be accessible as you work to rebuild your credit score. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 5\\. You Have High Debt\n----------------------\nThe more debt you have, the harder it can be to keep up with all of your monthly payments. And because credit card issuers prioritize on-time payments, having too much debt relative to your income can hurt your odds of getting a new credit card.\nIf you have high credit card balances or a lot of debt payments in general, consider paying down your credit cards before you apply again. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 6\\. You're Too Young\n--------------------\nYou must be at least 18 years old to get a credit card on your own. If you're younger than that, consider asking a parent to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards. It'll help build your credit and give you a card you can use before you apply for another card of your own. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 7\\. Your Credit Report Is Frozen\n--------------------------------\nCredit card issuers use your credit reports to determine whether you're eligible to open a new account. If you've frozen your credit reports to stop identity thieves from accessing or using your information to open fraudulent accounts, you'll need to unfreeze them before you submit an application for yourself. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 8\\. You Have a Recent Bankruptcy\n--------------------------------\nAs previously mentioned, payment history is the most influential component of your FICO® Score, and filing bankruptcy indicates that you didn't pay your debts as originally agreed.\nIf your bankruptcy is still open, it can be incredibly difficult to get approved for a new credit card because you could technically include it in the bankruptcy. Even if your bankruptcy has been discharged, it may still take a while and some positive credit history before you'll qualify for certain cards.\nFortunately, there are some credit cards that are still available if you have a bankruptcy on your credit report, such as a secured credit card. Keep in mind, though, that you may need to provide a security deposit or pay high fees and interest. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 9\\. You Have Too Many Recent Credit Inquiries\n---------------------------------------------\nEach additional hard inquiry on your credit report doesn't impact your credit score by much. But if you have multiple credit inquiries in a short period and they weren't for rate-shopping a mortgage, auto loan or student loan, that could indicate that you're having a hard time managing your finances without debt.\nIn that event, you may need to wait until some inquiries fall off your credit report before you apply again. Hard inquiries remain on your report for two years but won't affect your credit score for that long. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: 10\\. You Didn't Fill Out the Application Correctly\n--------------------------------------------------\nIn some cases, applicants who have been denied may have accidentally entered incorrect information on their credit application. If this happens and it causes you to be viewed in a more negative light, you could potentially fix the error and request that the card issuer reconsider your application. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: Does Getting Denied for a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?\n-------------------------------------------------------------\nGetting denied doesn't directly hurt your credit, but the hard inquiry from applying can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. And remember, if you apply for multiple credit cards in a short period in the hopes that one card issuer will approve you, that can have a compounding negative effect on your score.\nIn most cases, though, your credit score will bounce back in a few months to a year after a single inquiry. END
TITLE: 10 Potential Reasons Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied CONTENT: What to Do if Your Credit Card Application Is Denied\n----------------------------------------------------\nIf your credit card application has been rejected, it's important to avoid applying for another card until you've received the adverse action letter in the mail to find out the reasons for the denial. In some cases, you may also be able to contact the card issuer directly to get the information.\nOnce you know why you were denied, take steps to address the issue. For example, you may need to increase your credit score, pay down other credit card balances, get caught up on past-due payments or unfreeze your credit reports.\nOne relatively easy way to improve your credit score is through Experian Boost™† . With this tool, you can get credit for on-time payments you've made with your phone, utility and certain subscription services. Simply connect your financial accounts and choose which payments you want to have added to your Experian credit file. If the new additions can increase your score, you'll see the results immediately.\nNo matter why you were denied for a credit card, be proactive about improving your credit and financial situation so that the next time you apply for the card you want, your odds of getting approved will be higher. END
TITLE: How to Recast Your Mortgage CONTENT: How Does a Mortgage Recast Work?\n--------------------------------\nWhen you recast your mortgage, you pay a lump sum toward the principal you owe on your home loan. Your mortgage lender then calculates a new monthly payment based on the reduced balance. The term and interest rate of the loan stay the same.\nRecasting a mortgage does come with an out-of-pocket cost, in the form of an administrative fee, but it's typically only a few hundred dollars.\nA key difference between a mortgage recast and a mortgage refinance is a recast isn't a new loan. You don't have to go through an application process, and the lender won't check your credit or order an appraisal of your home. Both processes involve fees, though they're typically lower for recasting than they are for refinancing. Even with cheaper fees, however, the process of recasting tends to be much more expensive than refinancing thanks to the required lump-sum payment. The best choice for you depends on your needs and preferences.\nHere's an example of how a recast might work.\nLet's say you bought your home in May 2016. You currently owe $250,000, with a monthly principal and interest payment of $1,600. The interest rate for your 30-year conventional mortgage is 5%.\nNow, let's say you inherited $100,000 from your Aunt Betty, and you decide to put $50,000 of that toward a mortgage recast. While you'll still have a 30-year loan with a 5% interest rate, the recast will drop your monthly payment from $1,600 to $1,179. That's a savings of $421 a month. END
TITLE: How to Recast Your Mortgage CONTENT: How to Request a Mortgage Recast\n--------------------------------\nThe steps you need to take for a mortgage recast are pretty straightforward:\n* **Review your current mortgage status.** You might not be able to recast your mortgage if, for instance, you're currently behind on your loan payments or you've made late payments in the past 12 months.\n* **Contact your lender or loan servicer.** Some lenders don't allow mortgage recasts.\n* **Find out how much cash you'll need.** If your lender does allow mortgage recasting, ask how much you'll need to provide as a lump-sum payment. Generally, the payment must be at least $20,000, although lenders may require as much as $50,000 or as little as $5,000. The mandatory payment may be a flat amount or a percentage of the loan balance.\n* **Apply for a recast.** Obtain a mortgage recast application from your lender.\n* **Make the lump-sum payment.** If your application is approved, send the lump-sum payment and recast fee to your lender.\n### What Kinds of Mortgages Qualify for Recasting?\nOnly conventional loans, which are not backed by the federal government, can be recast. These include loans that \"conform\" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards, as well as jumbo loans that exceed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowing limits. Government-backed mortgages, such as FHA, VA and USDA loans, cannot be recast. END
TITLE: How to Recast Your Mortgage CONTENT: Pros and Cons of Mortgage Recasting\n-----------------------------------\nRecasting your mortgage offers pros and cons.\n### Pros\n* Lower monthly mortgage payment\n* No credit check\n* No closing costs\n* No home appraisal\n* Low administrative fee\n* Same interest rate\n* Same loan term (such as 30 years)\n### Cons\nAmong the cons of mortgage recasting are:\n* Not offered by all lenders\n* Not all mortgages qualify\n* A potentially large lump-sum payment is required\n* Interest rate stays the same\n* Loan term doesn't decrease. If you initially took out a 30-year loan, a recast mortgage will still be a 30-year loan. END
TITLE: How to Recast Your Mortgage CONTENT: Alternative Ways to Save Money on Your Mortgage\n-----------------------------------------------\nIf for some reason a mortgage recast doesn't work out, you've still got options for saving money on your mortgage. Here are five of them.\n1. **Refinance the mortgage to gain a lower interest rate.** This might result in tens of thousands of dollars in savings on interest charges over the life of the loan.\n2. **Make just one extra payment each year.** This can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.\n3. **Get rid of mortgage insurance****.** If you made a down payment of less than 20% for a conventional mortgage, you may have had to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). The insurance protects the lender in case you default on your loan. You can ditch PMI by speeding up mortgage payments in order to reach the 20% PMI threshold.\n4. **Modify the mortgage** **if you're experiencing financial difficulties.** You may be able to reduce the interest rate or principal, or extend the time you have to pay off the loan.\n5. **Go over** **your budget****.** When you review your household spending, you may be able to find savings that can be earmarked for extra mortgage payments. END
TITLE: How to Recast Your Mortgage CONTENT: The Bottom Line\n---------------\nAs you're considering a mortgage recast, you may want to check your free Experian credit report and free Experian credit score to see where you stand financially. By checking your credit, you can put yourself in a better position to pursue refinancing if mortgage recasting turns out not to be an option. END
TITLE: How Does Inflation Affect Your Credit? CONTENT: What Is Inflation?\n------------------\nThe federal government tracks inflation using statistical measurements known as the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI tracks the prices of consumer goods and services and breaks out separate measures of food and energy costs. Inflation happens when prices rise and each dollar of income has less buying power. In April 2021, the CPI saw its largest year-over-year gain in eight years. While inflation can be a byproduct of healthy economic expansion, and many economists expect the recent trends to be temporary, others are concerned about the trend. END
TITLE: How Does Inflation Affect Your Credit? CONTENT: Inflation Is Not a Credit Score Factor\n--------------------------------------\nRising prices and the dollar's purchasing power have no direct impact on credit or credit scores: Credit scores are calculated using the data compiled in your credit reports by the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Credit reports document your accounts, their status and your history of borrowing and repaying debts. Economic measurements such as inflation do not influence credit scores. Only the following factors affect your FICO® Score☉ , which is the credit score used by 90% of top lenders:\n* **Timely payments**: Paying your debts on time each month is the top factor for promoting credit score improvement. As a result, late or missed payments can do significant damage to your credit scores. Payment history is responsible for about 35% of your FICO® Score.\n* **Credit usage:** Your total debt, and especially your credit utilization—the percentage of your credit card borrowing limits represented by your outstanding balances—contributes about 30% of your FICO® Score. As the sum of all your balances approaches and exceeds 30% of the sum of all your credit limits, your credit scores can see a potentially significant drop.\n* **The length of your credit history:** Lenders value borrowers with lots of experience managing debt. For that reason, credit scores tend to increase over time in the absence of missed payments or other credit slip-ups. The age of your credit history accounts for about 15% of your FICO® Score.\n* **Credit mix:** Lenders also value a borrower's ability to handle multiple types of debt at once. Your FICO® Score may be helped if you have multiple open accounts, and combinations of installment debt and revolving credit. Credit mix is responsible for about 10% of your FICO® Score.\n* **New credit:** When you apply for a credit card or loan, the lender typically requests a copy of your credit report and, often, a credit score based on that report—a credit check known as a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries have the potential to cause temporary credit score drops. The appearance of a new credit account can also result in a short-lived score drop. New credit accounts for about 10% of your FICO® Score. END
TITLE: How Does Inflation Affect Your Credit? CONTENT: How Inflation Can Indirectly Affect Credit\n------------------------------------------\nWhile inflation cannot directly influence your credit scores, big changes in the value of the dollar could lead to circumstances that hurt your credit scores and limit your ability to borrow money:\n* **Unaffordable payments:** If the prices on everyday necessities increase to a point that you're forced to choose between, say, buying groceries and making monthly debt payments, then late or missed payments could damage your credit scores.\n* **Increased debt:** If you resort to using credit cards to cover expenses your income can't cover in full, higher card balances and utilization could start to affect your credit scores. END
TITLE: How Does Inflation Affect Your Credit? CONTENT: Managing Credit in Times of Inflation\n-------------------------------------\nStrategies to consider for managing your finances in times of inflation include diversifying your investment holdings, seeking a raise or starting a \"side hustle\" to boost your income. Here are a few other basic steps:\n* **Think hard about major purchases.** Factors influencing today's inflationary trends include limited availability coupled with high demand for goods and property in many parts of the U.S. That means this may not be the ideal time to buy a car or purchase a house, for instance.\n* **Consider selling surplus assets.** When prices are rising, there's typically a seller's market for many types of high-value assets, so if you have an extra car, vacation home, RV, or other type of property you've been considering selling, inflation and market demand could help you get top dollar on the sale. Note, however, that inflated prices will work against you as a buyer if you need to replace the item you sell.\n* **Plan for a rainy day.** Prudent uses for any money you're able to save or that you gain from selling assets include bolstering your household emergency fund and retirement savings.\n* **Pay down debt.** Once your bills are paid and your other major financial priorities are covered, consider using any extra income to pay down outstanding debt. While consumer prices are increasing, the cost of existing debt—especially loans and credit cards with fixed interest rates—remains stable, so it can be a good use of funds. In addition, lowering overall debt and credit utilization can boost your credit scores and spare you interest charges.\n* **Get assistance if you need It.** If rising prices stretch your household expenses to a point where you're having trouble paying bills, consider working with a certified credit counselor to get advice and assistance with budgeting, prioritizing debt and, if necessary, help negotiating with your creditors to ease your monthly payments. You can also look for financial assistance in the form of grants, government benefits and access to services.\nInflation isn't a major influence on credit, but when prices are increasing, making good financial choices can help you build or maintain a strong credit profile, so you can borrow money when you really need it. You can check your credit report and get your credit score for free with Experian to make sure you're still on solid ground. END
TITLE: Credit Score Basics CONTENT: What Is a Credit Score?\n-----------------------\nParaphrasing from the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a credit score is a numerical value derived from a modeling system used to predict the likelihood of default. To put it simply, credit scores are used to differentiate higher-risk borrowers from lower-risk ones. To do this, the main consumer credit scoring models, FICO® and VantageScore®, rank consumers using a 300-to-850 score range.\nCredit scores are important because they are one of the core tools used by lenders to determine whether they'll grant you credit, and at what cost. If you have great credit scores, then you'll have access to competitively priced credit from many mainstream lenders. If you have poor credit scores, your options will be more limited and more expensive. END
TITLE: Credit Score Basics CONTENT: How Are Credit Scores Calculated?\n---------------------------------\nThe different brands of credit scores actually have many things in common. Both your FICO® and VantageScore credit scores consider information from your credit reports that reflect your payment history, your debt, the age and diversity of your credit reports, and credit inquiries. While the FICO® and VantageScore scoring models weigh the information slightly differently, your scores should never be wildly different if they are calculated from the same credit report at the same or similar points in time.\nThe most effective way to ensure that you'll have good credit scores is by paying your bills on time and maintaining low amounts of debt, specifically credit card debt. And, if you only apply for credit when you truly need it, then you won't fill up your credit reports with an excessive number of credit inquiries. Finally, scores tend to climb as the length of your credit history grows. If you perform well in all of these credit scoring categories, then you will likely have high FICO® and VantageScore credit scores. END
TITLE: Credit Score Basics CONTENT: What Is Considered a Good Score?\n--------------------------------\nThe question of what is considered a \"good\" credit score is really best answered by your lenders. Because it's ultimately your lenders that are on the hook for monetary losses if their borrowers default, it's the lenders that decide what is and what is not a good score. Having said that, there is some general consensus on what is a good, or better, credit score.\nAs of mid-2020, the average FICO® Score☉ was 707, while the average VantageScore credit score was 686. As such, anything at or around 700 is about an average score. Lenders, however, are looking for considerably higher scores if they're going to approve credit applications with their best interest rates and terms.\nFor example, according to Informa Research Service, the lowest average interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are reserved for consumers who have FICO® Scores of 760 or higher. The lowest average rates for a loan on a new car go to consumers who have FICO® scores of 720 or higher. END
TITLE: Credit Score Basics CONTENT: Will Checking Your Credit Reports Affect Your Credit Scores?\n------------------------------------------------------------\nIt's always a good idea to monitor your credit reports and credit scores regularly, especially since you can get so much of your credit information for free. And, checking your own credit reports will not have any negative impact on your credit scores, as long as you're accessing your credit reports from the right places.\nIf you check your credit reports with any of the three credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), your scores will not be impacted at all. The same goes if you check your credit reports through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.\nChecking your credit via either of these reputable methods will result in what's called a \"soft\" credit inquiry being placed on your credit reports. Soft credit inquiries do not affect your credit scores.\nBe careful, however, not to ask connections who work at car dealerships or mortgage brokers to access your credit reports as a favor. This will result in what's called a \"hard\" credit inquiry being placed on your credit reports. Hard inquiries are usually the result of a consumer applying for some form of credit. While hard inquiries do not always impact credit scores, they can. END
TITLE: Credit Score Basics CONTENT: How to Improve Your Credit Scores\n---------------------------------\nBecause your credit scores are a product of the information on your credit reports, for you to improve your scores you will need to first improve your credit reports. Some consumers have poor scores because of negative information on their credit reports, such as late payments, defaults or collections. For those consumers, the journey to higher credit scores will take longer because that type of negative information can remain on your reports for up to seven years.\nThe best ways to improve your credit scores going forward, whether or not you have negative information on your credit reports, is to make all your debt payments on time—every time. Once the existing negative information starts to age and is eventually removed from your credit reports, you'll be well on your way to better scores.\nIf your credit scores aren't as high as you'd like because of excessive credit card debt, then the news is more optimistic. As soon as you are able to pay down or pay off credit card debt, your scores will likely improve because of the reduction in the highly influential credit utilization ratio, which considers your credit card balances relative to your credit card limits. END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: What Is a Credit Score?\n-----------------------\nA credit score is a three-digit number usually ranging from 300 to 850 that lenders use to predict your credit risk. A credit score takes into account the information appearing on your credit reports as maintained by the three national credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Information that is not on your credit reports is not considered by credit scoring models. END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: What Are the Main Credit Scoring Models?\n----------------------------------------\nThere are two commonly used brands of credit scores in the U.S. consumer credit environment: FICO®, named for the Fair Isaac Corp., and VantageScore®. Collectively, these two scoring brands account for over 20 billion scores used annually. END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: Where Can I Get My Credit Scores?\n---------------------------------\nWith so many credit scores out there, there's little chance all of them are the same, though they are likely to be similar.\nThere is no shortage of places where consumers can go to see their credit scores. Some are free and some are not. The credit reporting agencies all either sell credit scores or provide them at no cost. There are also various third-party websites that will either sell you a score or give you a free credit score in exchange for you becoming a registered user of their site. And finally, many financial institutions have partnered with either FICO® or the credit reporting agencies to give away either FICO® or VantageScore branded scores. For example: END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: Are There Other Types of Scores?\n--------------------------------\nWhile the FICO® and VantageScore credit scoring models certainly get most of the attention, there are other types of scores in use today. Some other examples include:\n* **Insurance risk scores**: An insurance risk score predicts either the likelihood that you will file an insurance claim or that you will be an otherwise less profitable insurance customer. FICO® builds insurance risk scores, as does LexisNexis.\n* **Collection scores**: A collection score, used by debt collectors, ranks debtors based on their likelihood of paying their collection account debts. FICO® creates collection scores.\n* **Custom scores**: Custom scores are credit scoring models built for use by one party, usually a lender or an insurance company. Custom scoring systems can take into account credit report data, credit application data and even other credit scores. Most mid- to large-sized lenders use custom scoring systems, as well as garden variety credit bureau scores.\n* **Bankruptcy scores**: Bankruptcy scores are designed to predict the likelihood that you'll file for bankruptcy protection. END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: How to Improve Your Credit Scores\n---------------------------------\nWhile there are numerous credit risk scores that fall under the FICO® and VantageScore brands, they all consider the same information: your credit report data. Simply put, if you have great credit reports, you're going to have great credit scores, regardless of the score brand, variation or generation. And while the FICO® and VantageScore credit scores max out at 850, scores in the mid-to-high 700s are generally considered to be excellent.\nCredit scoring models use roughly five categories of information to calculate credit scores. Both the FICO® and VantageScore scoring systems use the following metrics:\n* **Payment history**: How reliably you make on-time payments is very influential to your credit scores, accounting for 35% to 40% of your score. Negative information that could appear here includes late payments, bankruptcy, collections, foreclosures, repossessions and any record of account defaults. If you can avoid these negative events, you'll be well on your way to earning and maintaining great credit scores.\n* **Credit utilization and other debt-related metrics**: A common misconception about credit scores is that as long as you make your payments on time, you'll have great scores. Your debt load is also a very influential component of your credit scores. In fact, this category accounts for about one-third of your credit scores. \n This category considers the number of accounts with balances, your credit card balances relative to their limits (known as your credit utilization ratio), the percentage of your loan balances relative to loan amounts, and the amounts you owe across different types of accounts. In both the VantageScore 4.0 and FICO® 10T credit scores, your trended balance data is also considered.\n* **Inquiries, credit age and account types**: These three categories account for the remaining roughly one-third of your credit score calculation. Individually these categories are the least influential, but if you want top credit scores, then they are important.\nThese categories consider the number of inquiries on your credit reports in the past 12 months, the age of your oldest account (the more credit history you have, the better), the average age of your accounts, and the mix of account types on your credit reports. END
TITLE: Does the Type of Credit Score Matter? CONTENT: Building Great Credit\n---------------------\nCredit scores are commonly used by lenders and other service providers, and have been for decades. They are a numeric representation of the quality of your credit reports. If you have top credit scores, then you will have greater access to competitively priced credit from lenders.\nTo earn great credit scores, you need to follow a simple routine: Make all of your payments on time, always; maintain low or no credit card debt; and only apply for credit when you need it. If you can do these things, then your credit scores—all of them—will reflect your positive credit behavior. END
TITLE: What Are Inquiries On Your Credit Report? CONTENT: How Do Credit Inquiries Work?\n-----------------------------\nWhen deciding whether to extend you credit—and if so, how much and at what interest rate—lenders typically obtain your credit report from one or more of the three national consumer credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Your credit report offers a summary of your debts and payment history on those debts.\nAs part of their evaluation process, creditors often also obtain one or more credit scores: three-digit numbers derived from statistical analysis of your credit report's contents. A higher score indicates lower likelihood you'll fail to repay your debts. When you apply for credit or services such as a cellphone account, your application usually indicates that you are giving the lender permission to do a credit check. When lenders run those credit checks, hard inquiries appear on your credit report.\nCertain companies are also legally allowed to access your credit information for reasons other than an application you made, such as when your current lenders periodically check your reports or when a potential lender sends you a preapproved offer.\nEmployers may also check your credit history with your written permission, although they will not receive a credit score. In addition, you may check your own credit reports and credit scores, and it's wise to do so regularly—these checks have no effect on your credit rating. Credit checks such as these, which are not related to credit applications, generate soft inquiries on your credit report. END
TITLE: What Are Inquiries On Your Credit Report? CONTENT: What Is a Hard Inquiry?\n-----------------------\nA hard inquiry appears on your credit report when a lender checks your credit in response to an application for a new loan, credit card or line of credit.\nWhenever you seek new credit, there's the potential for a new debt, which may temporarily lower scores slightly until you can show that you are managing that new debt responsibly. Credit scoring models such as those from FICO® and VantageScore® sometimes account for that increase in risk by lowering your scores slightly; FICO® says hard inquiries typically dock scores by less than five points.\nHard inquiries remain on your credit report for up to two years, but as long as you keep up with your debt payments, credit scores often rebound from an inquiry within a few months. And, most credit scoring models no longer count a hard inquiry in score calculations at all after 12 months. END
TITLE: What Are Inquiries On Your Credit Report? CONTENT: What Is a Soft Inquiry?\n-----------------------\nSoft inquiries appear on your credit report when someone runs a credit check for reasons unrelated to lending you money. These events are not associated with greater repayment risk, so they have no effect on your credit scores. Here are a few examples:\n* Utility companies may use credit checks to decide if they require security deposits on leased equipment such as Wi-Fi routers or satellite dishes.\n* Auto insurers may use credit checks to help set premiums, since safe driving habits and high credit scores show strong correlation.\n* Credit card issuers with whom you already have accounts may check your credit scores for purposes of marketing new cards or other products to you.\nIf you obtain your own credit report or check your credit score using a credit monitoring service such as Experian's, that will generate a soft inquiry on your credit report. But, as with other soft inquiries, monitoring your own credit scores cannot hurt your credit. END
TITLE: What Are Inquiries On Your Credit Report? CONTENT: How to Manage Hard Inquiries\n----------------------------\nBecause hard inquiries can reduce your credit score, it's wise to refrain from seeking multiple new loans or credit cards in rapid succession. Applying for multiple credit cards in quick sequence or at the same time can ding your credit score unnecessarily, for instance.\nBecause hard inquiries can temporarily reduce your credit score, it's wise to only apply for credit when you really need it. Although some credit scoring models count multiple inquiries for the same purpose made within a short period of time as one, several different types of inquiries made within a short period of time can ding your credit score or cause lenders to worry that you are experiencing financial distress.\nIt's also a good idea to avoid loan or credit applications for six months to a year before you apply for a mortgage or car loan, so your application reflects your best possible credit score.\nOnce you're ready to seek a loan, however, it's OK to submit applications to multiple lenders to shop for the best combination of interest rates and fees. You don't have to worry that doing so will mean a cumulative hit on your credit scores: The FICO® Score☉ and VantageScore models are designed to allow for rate shopping on loans, so they treat multiple inquiries related to loans of similar type as one, as long as they occur within a short time of one another. To play it safe, keep your rate shopping within a two-week period. END
TITLE: What Are Inquiries On Your Credit Report? CONTENT: How to Remove Hard Inquiries\n----------------------------\nYou should check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus regularly—at least once each year—which you can do for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also check your Experian credit report for free anytime. One thing to look for is any hard inquiry you don't recognize. Unexplained hard inquiries, while rare, can lower your credit scores—but more importantly, they can be signs of criminal activity.\nIf you see a hard inquiry you don't recognize, reach out to the creditor in question, using the contact information included in your credit report. Suspicious inquiries aren't always connected to illegitimate activity: An unfamiliar creditor may turn out to be the lending partner of a retailer where you applied for a credit card or a dealership where you applied for an auto loan, for instance.\nIf you confirm a hard inquiry is connected to fraudulent activity such as someone applying for credit with your information, take these steps:\n* Report it to the appropriate law-enforcement agencies.\n* Consider protecting your credit reports with a fraud alert or security freeze.\n* Dispute the inquiry to have it removed from your credit report. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: TransUnion and Equifax have their own processes for disputing credit reports, but Experian provides three methods for submitting disputes:\n* **Online**: Get access to your Experian credit report and initiate a dispute at the Experian [Dispute Center](;phx=disable&op=FRCD-ASK-ART-102-MDL-XXXXXXX-XX-EXP-VMAC-DIR-817XXX-21273X-XXXXX) (more on that below). There is no cost to you for using this service.\n* **By phone**: To initiate a dispute by phone, you'll call the number displayed on your Experian credit report. If you'd like to have a copy of your credit report delivered to you by mail, call 866-200-6020.\n* **By mail**: You can dispute without a credit report by writing to Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013. (Printing out Dispute by Mail instructions can streamline the process; you can also scan the completed form and submit it electronically to Experian.com\/upload). END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: Step-by-Step Guide for Disputing Online\n---------------------------------------\nThe quickest and easiest way to dispute your Experian credit report is to check your credit report online and submit corrections through the online [Dispute Center](;phx=disable&op=FRCD-ASK-ART-102-MDL-XXXXXXX-XX-EXP-VMAC-DIR-817XXX-21273X-XXXXX).\nYour Experian credit report is divided into sections with the following headings: Personal Information, Accounts, Inquiries and, possibly, Public Records (not all credit reports contain public records entries). Information that could be hurting your credit may appear under an additional section with the heading Potentially Negative.\nIf you've found inaccurate information on your Experian credit report, these steps will help you complete your dispute online:\n1. **Go to the Dispute Center for details on the dispute process.** The Experian Dispute Center is your source for correcting credit report information that you consider incomplete or inaccurate. Once you've had a chance to read through the information there, click \"Start a new dispute\" to view your credit report and select an entry to dispute.\n2. **Indicate the reason for each dispute.** Select the reason for each dispute from the dropdown box. Some entries may ask you to type in explanatory information, and in certain cases, you will be directed to provide documentation to verify the correction.\n3. **Review and submit the dispute.** Double-check your dispute request, revise the details if you wish, and then click Submit. You'll see a confirmation page when the dispute is filed successfully, and an \"Upload a document\" link you can use to submit scanned pages to support your dispute.\n4. **Let the dispute process play out.** Experian will send you emails when your dispute has been opened, provide updates as appropriate during the process, and let you know when your dispute results are available. You can also view these notes in the Alerts section of the Dispute Center. Once completed, your dispute results will be available in the Completed section of the Dispute Center. Generally all disputes are resolved within 30 days.\nWhen necessary, Experian will contact data furnishers (the original source of disputed information, such as a lender or other business) to verify the information you are disputing. Note that information verified as accurate cannot be removed from your credit report. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: What Happens After You Submit Your Dispute?\n-------------------------------------------\nAfter you've submitted a dispute, Experian goes to work to resolve the issue. The data furnisher (for example, your bank or a credit card issuer) will be asked to check their records. Then one of three things will happen:\n* Incorrect information will be corrected.\n* Information that cannot be verified will be updated or deleted.\n* Information verified as accurate will remain intact on your credit report. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: How to Track Your Dispute Status\n--------------------------------\nOnce you've submitted your dispute, Experian will send you alerts via email whenever there is a status update. If you already have an account with Experian, you can also view your dispute alerts in the main Alerts section of your Experian account. Alerts you'll receive while Experian processes your dispute include:\n* **Open**: This indicates the dispute process has been initiated.\n* **Update**: Your dispute investigation has been completed and your credit report is being updated with the results.\n* **Dispute results ready**: Your credit report has been updated with the results of the dispute investigation. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: Possible Dispute Outcomes\n-------------------------\nWhen the dispute process is complete, Experian will display the outcome in the Alerts section of your Experian account. Here are possible outcomes you may see and what they mean.\n### Disputes Related to Accounts or Public Records\n* Updated: This can mean a couple different things, such as:\n * The information you disputed has been updated.\n * The information you disputed might have been verified as accurate by the data furnisher, but other information on your account unrelated to your dispute has been updated.\n* Deleted: The disputed item was removed from your credit report.\n* Processed: The disputed item was updated or deleted from your credit report.\n* Remains: The company reporting the information has certified to Experian that the information is accurate, so the item has not changed.\n### Disputes Related to Your Personal Information or an Inquiry\n* Added: This item was added to your credit report.\n* Updated: The information you disputed has been updated on your credit report.\n* Address Updated: This may appear to you as Deleted, as your address is updated to the current address.\n* Deleted: The item was removed from your credit report.\n* Processed: The item was either updated or deleted.\n* Remains: The company reporting the information has certified to Experian that the information is accurate, so the item has not changed. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: How Disputing Impacts Credit\n----------------------------\nFiling a dispute with one or all of the credit bureaus has no direct impact on your credit scores. But once the dispute process is completed, any changes to your credit reports could lead to changes in your credit scores.\nWhether your score goes up, down or remains the same depends on what you're disputing and the outcome of the dispute. Removal of mistakenly reported negative information, such as late payments or unpaid collections accounts, could lead to credit score improvements. On the other hand, corrections to your personal information, while important to maintaining accurate credit tracking, have no impact on credit scores. END
TITLE: How to Dispute Credit Report Information CONTENT: What to Do if You Disagree With the Outcome of Your Dispute\n-----------------------------------------------------------\nIf you don't agree with the results of your dispute, here are some additional steps you can take:\n* **Contact the information source(s).** Your best next step is to contact the entity that originally provided the disputed information to Experian and offer proof their information is incorrect. The source may be the lender or financial institution that issued you a loan or credit, but it could also be a collection agency or government office. Contact information for each source appears on your credit report, and you can use it to reach out to them.\n* **Add a statement of dispute to your credit report.** A statement of dispute lets you explain why you believe the information in your credit report is incomplete or inaccurate. Your statement will appear on your Experian credit report whenever it's accessed or requested by a potential lender or creditor, so they may ask you for more details or documentation as part of their review or application process. To add a statement of dispute, go to the Dispute Center, choose the item in dispute, and select Add a Statement from the menu of dispute reasons.\n* **Dispute again with relevant information.** If you have additional relevant information to substantiate your claim, you can submit a new dispute. If you're filing the dispute online, follow the steps listed above for using the Dispute Center, and use the upload link to provide your supporting documentation.\nA dispute with additional relevant information can also be submitted by mail to Experian at P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013.\nRegularly checking your credit reports for accuracy and disputing any errors you discover can help ensure your activity is tracked correctly, and that you get the credit score you deserve based on your credit habits. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: What Is the Credit Repair Organizations Act?\n--------------------------------------------\nCredit repair companies dispute negative information found on your credit reports. But in the past, some of these companies would overstate what they could do for consumers to drum up business.\nThe Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) is a federal law that became effective on April 1, 1997, in response to a number of consumers who had suffered from credit repair scams. In effect, the law ensures that credit repair service companies:\n* Are prohibited from taking any payment from a consumer until they fully complete the services they promise.\n* Are required to provide consumers with a written contract stating all the services to be provided as well as the terms and conditions of payment. Under the law, consumers have three days to withdraw from the contract.\n* Are forbidden to ask or suggest that you mislead credit reporting companies about your credit accounts or alter your identity to change your credit history.\n* Cannot knowingly make deceptive or false claims concerning the services they are capable of offering.\n* Cannot ask you to sign anything that states that you are forfeiting your rights under the CROA. Any waiver that you sign cannot be enforced.\nThe CROA adds transparency and due diligence to the credit repair process, making it less likely that consumers will be taken advantage of. However, regulators have still found wrongdoing among credit repair companies.\nThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sued several credit repair companies over the years for requesting prohibited upfront fees, misleading customers about their ability to fix credit and more. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: Can You Pay to Have Your Credit Fixed?\n--------------------------------------\nIf your credit file has information you feel is incorrect, credit repair companies may offer to dispute the information with the credit reporting agencies on your behalf. Credit repair companies typically charge a monthly fee for work performed in the previous month or a flat fee for each item they get removed from your reports. However, Experian does not charge consumers or require any special form to dispute information, so this is something you can do on your own at no cost.\nIf you're on a monthly subscription, the cost is typically around $75 per month but can vary by company. The same goes for paying a fee for each deletion, but that option typically runs $50 each or more.\nThat said, it's important to keep in mind that credit repair isn't a cure-all—and in many cases it crosses the line into unethical or even illegal measures by attempting to remove information that's been accurately reported to the credit bureaus. While these companies may try to dispute every piece of negative information on your reports, it's unlikely that information reported accurately by your lenders will be removed.\nAnd again, credit repair companies can't do anything that you can't do on your own for free. As a result, it's a good idea to consider working to fix your credit first before you pay for a credit repair service to do it for you. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: There is no quick fix for your credit. Information that is negative but accurate (such as missed payments, charge-offs or collection accounts) will remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years. However, there are steps you can take to start building a more positive credit history and improve your credit scores over time. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Credit?\n----------------------------------------\nIt's hard to say with certainty how long it takes to rebuild credit because each person's credit history is different. If you've had credit difficulties in the past, how long it will take to rebound depends in part on the severity of the negative information in your credit report and how long ago it occurred. While some actions can have an almost immediate effect—such as paying down credit card balances—others may take months to make a significant positive impact.\nIf you're disputing information in your credit report you believe is fraudulent or inaccurate, the investigation can take up to 30 days. If the credit reporting agency finds your dispute valid, the information will be removed from your credit report, and your score will reflect that change as soon as it's calculated again.\nIf you're making payments or reducing your credit card balances, don't worry if your credit report isn't updated right away. Creditors only report to Experian and other credit reporting agencies on a periodic basis, usually monthly. It can take up to 30 days or more for your account statuses to be updated, depending on when in the month your creditor or lender reports their updates.\nIt's critical that you check your credit score regularly to keep track of your progress and make sure the right information is being reported over time. As you build a positive credit history, over time, your credit scores will likely improve, and you'll have a better chance of qualifying for favorable credit terms when you need to borrow again. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: How to Get Extra Help With Your Credit and Debt\n-----------------------------------------------\nIf your debt is manageable, consider consolidating it via a personal loan or balance transfer credit card.\nIn some cases, debt consolidation loans can provide lower interest rates and reduced monthly payments, as long as you qualify and stick to the program terms. With a balance transfer card, you can typically get an introductory 0% APR promotion, during which you can pay down the balance interest-free. Just be mindful not to continue charging on the original card once the balance is transferred.\nIf your debt feels overwhelming and your credit isn't good enough to get a balance transfer card or a low-interest personal loan, it may be valuable to seek out the services of a reputable credit counseling agency. Many are nonprofit, and you can typically get a consultation with personalized advice for your situation at no cost.\nYou can review more information on selecting the right reputable credit counselor for you from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.\nCredit counselors can also help you develop a debt management plan (DMP) with unsecured debt like credit cards. With this arrangement, you'll make your monthly debt payments to the credit counseling agency, and it will disburse the funds to your creditors. The agency may also be able to negotiate lower monthly payments and interest rates.\nIf the credit counselor negotiates settled amounts that mean you pay less to your creditors than was originally owed, your credit score could take a hit. In addition, your credit report may denote that accounts are paid through a DMP and were not paid as originally agreed, which may be viewed negatively by lenders. However, using a DMP may not negatively impact your credit history when you continue to make payments on time as agreed under the new terms. END
TITLE: Credit Repair: How to “Fix” Your Credit Yourself CONTENT: Keep Track of Your Credit After You've Reached Your Goal\n--------------------------------------------------------\nOnce you've done the work to rebuild your credit history, you may be tempted to move on and focus on something else. While you likely won't need to focus as much on your credit score as you used to, it's still a good idea to keep an eye on it.\nMonitoring your credit will help you spot any potential issues that could cause your credit score to drop again. It'll also give you a heads up if someone commits identity theft, so you can address it before it gets out of hand.\nWith Experian's free credit monitoring tool, you'll get access to your FICO® Score☉ powered by Experian data and also an updated copy of your Experian credit report. You'll also get real-time alerts about new inquiries and accounts, suspicious activity and changes to your personal information. END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Personal Information\n--------------------\nThis information is reported to Experian by you, your creditors and\/or other sources. Each source may report your information differently, which may result in variations of your name, address, Social Security number and so on. For example, if you sign one application with your middle initial and another without, both variations of your name may appear on your credit report. This is used for identification purposes only, so these variations will not have any impact on your credit score. Here are some examples of the types of personal information you'll see on your credit report: END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Accounts\n--------\nAccounts in a credit report include revolving credit accounts and installment loans. This information is reported to the credit bureaus by your creditors. Accounts in good standing reflect your creditors' reports that you have satisfactorily met the terms of your agreements with them and all payments have been made on time. Lenders are not required to report account information to the credit reporting companies. Some lenders may choose to report to only one or two of the three major credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), and some choose not to report to any. Therefore, it is possible to have an account that does not appear on your credit report. This section may also include up to two years of your monthly balances on an account if it has been reported by your creditor. Here are some examples: END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Collections\n-----------\nWhen an account becomes seriously past due, the creditor may decide to turn the account over to an internal collection department or sell the debt to a collection agency. Once an account is sold to a collection agency, the collection account can then be reported as a separate account on your credit report. Collection accounts have a significant negative impact on your credit scores. Here's how collection accounts will appear on your report: END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Public Records\n--------------\nBankruptcy is the only public record that will appear on your credit history. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding under which a person is provided relief from debts they are unable to pay. There are two primary forms of bankruptcy filed by consumers: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. They are called \"chapters\" because they are defined by chapters in the bankruptcy law. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you do not repay any of the debt owed. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are responsible for paying back a portion of the debts that you owe through a debt repayment plan.\nIf your report contains public records, the Public Records section includes items from courts that Experian may have obtained through LexisNexis Risk Data Management Inc., a third-party vendor. You may contact them at LexisNexis Consumer Center, P.O. Box 105615, Atlanta, GA 30348-5108, or by visiting END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Credit Inquiries\n----------------\nWhen applying for credit or financing, or as a result of a collection attempt, a hard inquiry may appear on your credit report. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. Soft inquiries are usually initiated by others, such as companies making promotional offers of credit or your lender conducting periodic reviews of your existing credit accounts. Soft inquiries also occur when you check your own credit report or when you use credit monitoring services from companies like Experian. These inquiries do not impact your credit score. Soft inquiries are not disputable but are available here for reference.\nInquiries are not currently disputable online through the Dispute Center. If you believe an inquiry is the result of identity theft, the inquiry can be disputed by phone with the help of an Experian Specialist. You can find the support number at Experian's Dispute Center. Here's how inquiries will appear on your credit report: END
TITLE: Understanding Your Experian Credit Report CONTENT: Medical Information, Disputing and Your Rights\n----------------------------------------------\n### Medical Information\nBy law, Experian cannot disclose certain medical information (relating to physical, mental or behavioral health or condition). And while we do not collect or display medical information as part of your credit history, you may see the name of a medical provider listed as the original creditor on a collection agency account (such as \"Cancer Center\"). Although you can see the name of the original creditor that the collection debt was purchased from, it will display to your lenders and others viewing your credit report simply as \"medical payment data.\" Consumer statements included on your report at your request that contain medical information are disclosed to others.\n### Disputing Information in Your Credit Report\nIf you feel that an item is being reported incorrectly, you may dispute it. We will generally process your dispute by sending it to the furnisher of the information or to the vendor who collected the information from a public record. The fastest and easiest way to dispute most information is online at Experian's Dispute Center. Be advised that written information or documents you provide with respect to your disputes may be shared with the creditor who is reporting the information you are disputing.\nLearn more about How to Dispute Credit Report Information.\nKnow Your Rights\n----------------\nThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that helps to ensure the accuracy, fairness and privacy of the information in consumer credit bureau files. The law regulates the way credit reporting agencies can collect, access, use and share the data they collect in your consumer reports. END
TITLE: What You Can Do to Avoid Identity and Credit Fraud CONTENT: What to Do if You Believe You're a Victim of Fraud\n--------------------------------------------------\nIf you believe you are a victim of fraud, there are steps you can take to protect your credit, and Experian is available with help and advice, including step-by-step instructions with steps to take for recovery.\nAmong the first steps to take if you believe your credit or finances have been compromised is to safeguard your credit so criminals can't apply for loans or credit cards in your name. Tools for this include:\n* **Fraud alerts**: A fraud alert asks lenders who view your credit report to verify your identity before processing a credit application or issuing credit in your name.\n* **Credit freezes**: A credit freeze, or security freeze, restricts access to your credit file until you remove, or \"thaw,\" the freeze. END
TITLE: What You Can Do to Avoid Identity and Credit Fraud CONTENT: What Is the Difference Between a Fraud Alert and a Security Freeze?\n-------------------------------------------------------------------\nThere's more detailed information about fraud alerts, security freezes and the differences between them here, but the basic rundowns of the two credit protection measures are as follows:\n* **Fraud alerts** expire after a period of one year or seven years, depending on the type of alert, but may be renewed indefinitely. A fraud alert allows you to apply for credit in the usual way, but may delay the approval process somewhat until your identity can be confirmed by the lender. It is often more convenient for users who plan to seek new loans or credit in the near future.\n* **Credit freezes**, while preventing unauthorized access to your credit information, also block legitimate credit checks. That means you must thaw your credit before applying for new loans or credit cards. This option may be more convenient for users such as retirees who foresee little need for new loans or credit accounts. A credit freeze remains in place indefinitely until you remove it. END
TITLE: What You Can Do to Avoid Identity and Credit Fraud CONTENT: How Fraud Can Happen\n--------------------\nCredit fraud and identity theft can take many forms. The various types of fraud differ chiefly in what personal credentials are involved and the means by which that information is stolen.\nPersonal data routinely targeted by criminals includes:\n* Social Security numbers\n* Driver's licenses or other government-issued photo IDs\n* Credit cards, debit cards and related account numbers\n* Passwords to social media, e-commerce and banking accounts\nThe many ways criminals obtain personal data include (but are not limited to):\n* **Phishing scams**: By means of email, phone calls, text or social media messaging, criminals present themselves as an authority you can trust and try to trick you into disclosing personal data. When in doubt, cease communication and reach out to the company or agency yourself. By responding to a suspicious message, clicking a link or opening a file, you might give an identity thief a way in.\n* **Data breaches**: By hacking into commercial databases, criminals sometimes obtain troves of individuals' personal data in large batches, which they either use for their own purposes or sell to other criminals. If a vendor or financial institution alerts you that your data has been breached, consider a fraud alert or credit freeze. You can also sign up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you whenever there's new activity on your credit accounts.\n* **Physical theft**: Stolen wallets and purses—and the credit cards and ID information they contain—can open up a world of opportunity for credit fraudsters. It's a good idea to keep an inventory of the items you carry routinely, and information on whom to contact if they're lost or stolen. END
TITLE: What You Can Do to Avoid Identity and Credit Fraud CONTENT: How to Keep Your Information Safe Online\n----------------------------------------\nSafeguarding personal data online requires vigilance. It may require you to take steps that fly in the face of online shopping convenience, but that can help you avoid major hassles in the long run:\n* **Avoid storing your credit card information** at e-commerce sites, to reduce vulnerability to data breaches and minimize the damage that can occur if someone steals your account password.\n* **Develop good online security habits**, by creating strong passwords, using unique passwords for each account and changing them often. Where it's available, take advantage of two-factor authentication, which confirms your identity via voice call or text message as part of your account login.\n* **Be smart about online shopping in public** by avoiding public Wi-Fi networks and taking care that others can't observe or overhear you as you enter account numbers or other personal information.\nThe best way to reduce your risk of credit fraud is to be vigilant and do your best to protect your personal information. Experian offers a wealth of advice to help in this effort, and also offers many resources in case you become an unfortunate victim. \n### Fraud Prevention Resources\n* What to Know About Credit Card Fraud Protection \n General fraud protection methods are similar across major credit card issuers, but some offer features that stand out. Here’s what you need to know.\n* What Is Credit Fraud? \n Credit fraud is the use of victims' personal information and credit standing to borrow cash or buy goods or services on credit, without repaying the debt.\n* How to Prevent Debit Card Fraud \n Reviewing bank statements regularly and reporting fraud immediately can help you minimize loss from debit card fraud.\n* What Should You Do When Your Identity Is Stolen: Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert? \n Discover your best options after finding suspicious activity on your credit report.\n* The Many Different Forms of Identity Theft \n There are many different types of identity theft and fraud. Some lesser-known culprits could wreak havoc on your financial life if gone undetected.\n* Four Ways to Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft \n There’s no way to eliminate the threat of identity theft, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to it. Here’s how to do it.\n* The Unexpected Costs of Identity Theft \n Identity theft brings a host of financial, practical and emotional costs. Prevention tactics, monitoring and resolution support can minimize negative impact.\n* What Is a Fraud Alert? \n A fraud alert can protect against unauthorized access to your credit files without creating major obstacles to your ability to apply for credit yourself. END
TITLE: What Is Identity Theft? CONTENT: How Identity Theft Happens\n--------------------------\nIdentity theft is a broad term that applies any time someone steals your personal information, such as your Social Security number, and uses it to create a new account, make a purchase or commit other fraud.\nDue to the nature of technology and the internet, your personal information is always at risk. If you're not carefully monitoring your credit file, you may not notice you've been victimized until the damage is already done.\nHere are 10 of the most common ways identity thieves get hold of your data:\n### 1\\. Data Breaches\nA data breach happens when someone gains access to an organization's data without authorization. The most common types of information stolen in data breaches include full names, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers.\nIn 2018, there were 1,244 data breaches in the U.S., and more than 446 million records were exposed, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.\nBecause people have so many accounts with various businesses and other organizations, it's virtually impossible to keep your information safe from a data breach, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.\n### 2\\. Unsecure Browsing\nFor the most part, you can browse the internet safely, especially if you stick to well-known websites. But if you share any information on an unsecure website or a website that's been compromised by hackers you could be putting your sensitive information directly in the hands of a thief.\nDepending on your browser, you may get an alert if you try to access a risky website.\n### 3\\. Dark Web Marketplaces\nThe dark web is often where your personally identifying information ends up after it's been stolen. Hackers may not necessarily be stealing your information to use it for themselves, but will instead choose to sell it to others who have potentially nefarious intentions.\nThe dark web is a hidden network of websites that aren't accessible by normal browsers. People who visit the dark web use special software to mask their identities and activity, making it a haven for fraudsters. If your information ends up on a dark web marketplace, anybody could buy it, putting your identity in more danger.\n### 4\\. Malware Activity\nMalware is malicious software that's designed to wreak all sorts of havoc. Fraudsters may use malware is to steal your data or spy on your computer activity without you knowing.\n### 5\\. Credit Card Theft\nOne of the simplest forms of identity theft is credit card theft. If a thief can gain access to your credit card information, they can use it to make unauthorized purchases.\nCommon ways credit card theft occurs are through a data breach, physical theft, credit card skimmers and via online retail accounts where card information is stored.\n### 6\\. Mail Theft\nSince long before the internet, identity thieves have been combing through the mail to find documents that held personal information. Bank and credit card statements and any other document you send or receive through the postal system can be intercepted and used to gain access to your data.\nThe mail you throw away also can leave you vulnerable, so be sure to shred any old mail that may contain personal information.\n### 7\\. Phishing and Spam Attacks\nSome scammers use email and text messages and other forms of electronic communication to steal your sensitive information. The message often looks like it's coming from a reputable source and asks victims to give up one or more types of information.\nFor example, a bogus email made to look like it's from your bank may include a link that directs you to a spoof website that looks just like the one it's mimicking. Once there, the website may ask you for a username and password, or to input credit card information or your Social Security number. If something seems suspicious, it might be an attempt at identity theft.\n### 8\\. Wi-Fi Hacking\nIf you use your computer or phone on a public network—airport, department store or coffee shop Wi-Fi—hackers may be able to \"eavesdrop\" on your connection.\nThis means that if you type in a password, bank account or credit card number, Social Security number or anything else, an eavesdropper can easily intercept it and use it for their own purposes.\n### 9\\. Mobile Phone Theft\nSmartphones are a treasure trove of information for identity thieves, especially if your apps allow you to log in automatically without a password or fingerprint. If someone manages to steal and unlock your phone, it could allow them to view the information found in your apps, as well as in your emails, text messages, notes and more.\nMake sure your phone locks with a secure passcode, biometric screening is set up properly and your passwords aren't stored in plain text anywhere on your phone.\n### 10\\. Card Skimming\nSome thieves use a skimming device that easily can be placed over a card reader on an ATM or a fuel pump without looking out of the ordinary. When somebody swipes a debit or credit card at a compromised machine, the skimmer reads the information from the card's magnetic stripe and either stores it or transmits it. A criminal can then use this information to make purchases. END
TITLE: What Is Identity Theft? CONTENT: How Identity Theft Can Affect You\n---------------------------------\nOnce a thief has your information, they can do several things with it, including:\n* Open fraudulent credit cards.\n* File phony health insurance claims.\n* Use your existing bank or credit card accounts to make unauthorized purchases.\n* Sell it to other thieves.\n* File a fraudulent tax return or steal your tax refund.\n* Access your financial accounts and steal your money.\n* Commit child identity theft using your child's information.\nDepending on the type of theft that occurs, and how the criminal uses your information, identity theft can result in immediate financial loss, damage to your credit and emotional distress. It can also take anywhere from less than a day to several months or even years to resolve the issue.\nAs you work on recovering from identity theft, you may end up dealing with late payments, medical bills, and even IRS penalties requiring investigations and long-term assistance if you are a tax identity theft victim. It can also result in losing account access, having your personal accounts taken over by thieves and general loss of data privacy. END
TITLE: What Is Identity Theft? CONTENT: How to Check for Identity Theft\n-------------------------------\nYou can't completely avoid the possibility that your identity may be stolen, but you can take action to spot potential fraud before it becomes a major problem.\nTo check for identity theft, keep an eye on your credit reports. While you can view each one for free every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com, you can view a summary of your reports more regularly through various free and paid credit monitoring services.\nAs you check your report, watch for tradelines that you don't recognize or remember opening. Also, keep an eye on your credit score—a sudden inexplicable drop can be a dead giveaway that something is wrong.\nHere are some other telltale signs that someone may have stolen your identity:\n* You aren't receiving important mail such as bills or checks.\n* You get bills for items you didn't order or statements for credit cards you didn't sign up for.\n* You're denied credit, despite having an excellent credit rating.\n* You have unauthorized bank transactions or withdrawals.\n* You've received notice that your personal information may have been compromised in a data breach.\n* Your electronic tax filing is denied.\n* You receive unauthorized authentication messages by text or email for unknown accounts.\n* You get an email from an organization that says your account has been recently accessed and it wasn't you.\n* You receive a bill or an explanation of benefits for health care that you didn't seek. END
TITLE: What Is Identity Theft? CONTENT: What to Do if You Think You're a Victim\n---------------------------------------\nIf you have even an inkling that you've fallen victim to identity theft, the most important thing to do is to limit the potential damage. If a credit card or debit card was stolen, contact the card issuer and your bank immediately—some banks may even allow you to lock your account through your mobile app until you can report the fraud.\nNext, double-check your credit reports with the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) to confirm any type of unusual activity and get help dealing with the theft. If you find something is amiss, consider locking or freezing your credit.\nAlternatively, you can set up a fraud alert, which notifies lenders that you've been a victim of identity theft so they can take extra measures to verify your identity.\nRemember, identity theft is a crime, so it's also a good idea to contact your local law enforcement agency. While authorities may not be able to do much, they can take reports and be on the alert for suspicious behavior that could involve your name or address.\nBefore you do report the crime, reach out to the Federal Trade Commission to file a report. The agency will provide steps you need to take and paperwork to file reports—including how to deal with police reports—and help you dispute fraudulent charges.\nBeing a victim of identity theft is a harrowing experience. It can take months and many hours of filling out forms and working with agencies and businesses to recover your identity once it is stolen. END
TITLE: What Is Identity Theft? CONTENT: Diligence Pays Off\n------------------\nRecognizing the signs of identity theft and taking steps to prevent it can save you heartache, stress and loss.\nAs you check your credit report and score regularly, watch out for suspicious transactions, accounts and notifications, and act fast when something is off. If you're diligent, you'll be in a better position to catch identity theft early before it ruins more than just your day. END
TITLE: What Is a Fraud Alert? CONTENT: What Does a Fraud Alert Do?\n---------------------------\nThe purpose of a fraud alert is to add a layer of security to the loan application process, with the goal of preventing criminals from opening bogus credit accounts or taking out loans in your name. The first step that typically occurs when a creditor processes your credit application is a credit check, and that requires access to your credit file at one of the national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax). A fraud alert pauses the credit check process and instructs the creditor to confirm your identity before it accesses your report.\nRequesting a fraud alert at any one of the credit bureaus automatically applies alerts to your credit files at all three bureaus. Each fraud alert deactivates itself on a preset expiration date. You can have a fraud alert lifted before its expiration date if you wish, but you must contact each credit bureau individually to do so.\nThere are three types of fraud alerts, and you can request any one that applies to you:\n* **A temporary fraud alert.** Also known as an initial fraud alert, this type of alert lasts one year and then expires. You can add one to your credit report anytime, for any reason. You can renew it as many times as you like.\n* **An active-duty fraud alert.** This alert protects active-duty service members on assignment away from home, and also lasts one year unless it's removed earlier.\n* **An extended fraud victim alert.** Extended alerts last seven years and are designed for victims of credit fraud or identity theft. If you've been victimized and have reported the crime to authorities, you can obtain an extended fraud alert by submitting a copy of the identity theft report you filed with law enforcement. END
TITLE: What Is a Fraud Alert? CONTENT: Does a Fraud Alert Affect Credit?\n---------------------------------\nA fraud alert has no impact at all on the contents of your credit report, or on the credit scores derived from the data stored in your credit report. It therefore can neither help nor hurt your ability to qualify for a loan or credit card.\nA fraud alert can hinder your ability to get instant approval for credit card or in-store credit offers you encounter online or at retail outlets. The automated approval systems used for these offers may not be equipped to handle the identity-confirmation steps fraud alerts require. So while you cannot not be disqualified for a credit offer due to a fraud alert, you may have to contact retailer reps by phone or in-person to complete your application. END
TITLE: What Is a Fraud Alert? CONTENT: When Does It Make Sense to Get a Fraud Alert?\n---------------------------------------------\nA fraud alert is a good precaution to take if you're worried about potential misuse of your personal information. If you suspect your credit card number or Social Security number has been stolen or exposed in a data breach, for instance (or if you'll be on a military assignment and unlikely to be monitoring your credit activity closely), placing a fraud alert is a good way to quickly add a measure of security to your credit files. You only need to notify one credit bureau to activate one, and it's only slightly more time-consuming to deactivate fraud alerts than it is to put them in place.\nIn addition, a fraud alert can prevent unauthorized access to your credit files without significantly hindering authorized access to them. It's easy to remove fraud alerts if you discover your data was not compromised, or to just let them lapse if you find you aren't getting any indication that fraudsters are applying for credit in your name.\nIf you're certain your data has been compromised and you're seeking an extended fraud victim alert, you may want to consider a credit freeze instead. A credit freeze is a more severe measure—it prevents all access to your credit report unless you remove it or authorize temporary access to your files, and it never expires unless you remove it. A credit freeze can be inconvenient for individuals who are actively applying for new loans or credit cards, but it can be useful for those who don't soon plan to seek new credit, and don't want to worry about renewing a fraud alert upon its expiration. END
TITLE: What Is a Fraud Alert? CONTENT: How to Place a Fraud Alert\n--------------------------\nPlacing a fraud alert at any of the national credit bureaus automatically attaches notices to your credit files at all three bureaus.\nTo place a fraud alert through the Experian Fraud Alert Center, visit the webpage, select the type of alert you want, and follow the instructions on how to upload or mail in copies of necessary proof of identity.\nYou'll need to provide:\n* A copy of a state-issued photo ID\n* Proof of address, provided via a piece of mail such as a utility or insurance bill\n* An identity-theft report, if you're seeking an extended fraud victim alert END
TITLE: What Is a Fraud Alert? CONTENT: Protect Yourself\n----------------\nA fraud alert is a useful option to keep in mind in case you feel your personal data has been compromised. It can protect against unauthorized access to your credit files without creating major obstacles to your ability to apply for credit yourself. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: What Is a Credit Freeze?\n------------------------\nA credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is a tool designed to help protect you from fraud and identity theft. It limits access to your credit report unless you lift the freeze, or \"thaw\" your credit. Having a freeze in place won't affect your credit scores, but it will prevent your credit report from being accessed to calculate scores unless you first lift the freeze.\nFreezing your credit can help prevent identity thieves and other criminals from using stolen personal information (your Social Security number, for instance) to apply for new credit in your name. Since checking your credit report and credit scores are typically the first steps in processing any credit application, freezing your credit at the national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) can help stop unauthorized credit accounts from being opened.\nThe major drawback of credit freezes is that, along with preventing unauthorized credit applications, they also block authorized checks. This can complicate legitimate applications for loans, credit cards and other things because you'll need to unfreeze your reports before the process can move forward.\nYou must contact each national credit bureaus individually to freeze (or unfreeze) your credit reports. They'll do so for free upon request. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: How Can I Place a Free Credit Freeze?\n-------------------------------------\nExperian, TransUnion and Equifax maintain dedicated webpages where you can set up credit freezes. When requesting a credit freeze online, the bureau may supply, or have you create, a personal identification number (PIN) or password to use when thawing or reactivating your freeze.\nFreeze My Experian Credit File\nTo freeze your Experian credit report by mail, you can write to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. Written requests should include the following:\n* Your full name including middle initial (and generation)\n* Social Security number\n* Complete addresses for the past two years\n* Date of birth\n* One copy of a government issued identification card, such as a driver's license, state ID card, etc.\n* One copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.\nMake sure that each copy is legible and displays your name and current mailing address and the date of issue. Send copies of any documents you wish to provide to us and always retain your original documents. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: How Can I Lift a Credit Freeze?\n-------------------------------\nThe same webpages used to set up credit freezes can be used to remove or suspend them. All three bureaus also provide instructions for lifting a freeze by phone, using the password or PIN connected to your freeze at each bureau.\nIn addition to your ability to permanently unfreeze your credit, you may have the option to lift the freeze temporarily, either by granting one-time access to a specific creditor, or by indicating a length of time (one day, one week, etc.) you want the freeze to be suspended. Policies vary by bureau so make sure you understand what your options are before you begin the process.\nWhen you enter your password or PIN online or by phone, your credit will be thawed within one hour. If you lose your password or PIN, the credit bureaus will need to verify your identity, which will delay the process. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: Can I Freeze My Child's Report?\n-------------------------------\nIf your minor children have credit files, it can be a good precaution to freeze those files. Underage children ordinarily have credit files only if you've made them an authorized user on a credit card (to jumpstart their efforts at building a credit history) or as a result of identity theft.\nTo freeze a credit report for someone under 16, you'll need to prove you have authority to make that request. Proof of this authority can include:\n* A court order\n* A lawfully executed and valid power of attorney\n* A document issued by a federal, state or local government agency in the United States attesting to your parental relation to the minor\n* A birth certificate\nYou can thaw the files when the children come of age and are ready to begin seeking credit on their own. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: How Does a Credit Freeze Compare With a Fraud Alert?\n----------------------------------------------------\nWhile credit freezes restrict access to credit reports indefinitely, fraud alerts are temporary. An initial alert remains for one year, while an extended alert remains for seven. And while freezes must be removed before most access is granted, fraud alerts give lenders access to your credit reports and ask that they verify your identity before processing credit applications made under your name.\nCompared with the process of lifting and reapplying a credit freeze at all three credit bureaus anytime you need to allow access to your report and scores, a fraud alert offers a more convenient and potentially safer alternative. A fraud alert stays in place while you continue to use your credit as normal, and won't need to be lifted like a credit freeze would.\nUnlike a credit freeze, when you request a fraud alert at any one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax), alerts are automatically placed at all three bureaus. Removing fraud alerts before they expire will require you to contact each bureau separately. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: Locking Your Credit\n-------------------\nAnother alternative to freezing your Experian credit report is to lock it. The CreditLock feature of Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium service lets you instantly lock and unlock your credit file, so you can give lenders access anytime you're ready.\nCreditLock also notifies you in real time if anyone applies for credit in your name while your credit file is locked.\nYou control CreditLock using a smartphone app or at Experian's web site. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: Does a Credit Freeze Hurt Your Credit Score?\n--------------------------------------------\nA credit freeze has no effect on your ability to qualify for loans or credit cards, but a freeze can prevent a creditor's evaluation of your credit application. Unless you thaw your credit before you submit a loan application, the lender cannot use your credit report or credit score to gauge your qualifications as a borrower. That could delay the processing of your application.\nFreezing, locking or applying for fraud alerts on your credit reports are all options for protecting your credit history after confirmed or suspected identity theft or fraud.\nIf a credit freeze is something you'd like to apply to your credit reports and scores, learn how to request one at the Experian's Security Freeze Center. END
TITLE: How to Freeze Your Credit CONTENT: Additional Services\n-------------------\n**Credit Lock**: An additional protection or alternative to a security freeze is to lock your Experian credit file. Experian CreditLock allows you to easily and instantly control access to your Experian credit report in real time with one click without having to remember your PIN.\n**Identity Theft Protection**: To see other ways in which Experian can help keep your credit and identity secure, learn about our Identity Theft Protection solutions.\n**Free Dark Web Scan**: Get a one-time scan for your Social Security number, email and Phone Number, that also includes a free Experian credit report every 30 days on sign in, and with free credit monitoring and alerts.\n**Check If a Minor has a Credit Report**: See if your child has a credit file that has potentially been compromised with a free check. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: Can an Employer Access My Credit?\n---------------------------------\nThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lists who can obtain your credit report and for what purpose. Employers, for instance, are allowed to run a credit check for hiring and promotion decisions, but only if the applicant or employee has given written permission for them to do so.\nIn fact, there are only a few exceptions to the requirement to obtain permission before pulling a credit report, including:\n* In response to a court order or federal grand jury subpoena.\n* In connection with your application for a license or other benefit granted by the government, when consideration of financial responsibility is required by law.\n* In connection with a child support determination (in certain circumstances).\n* In connection with a credit or insurance transaction not initiated by you, when a firm offer of credit or insurance is extended and certain other restrictions are met.\n* For the purposes of a potential investor assessing the risk of a current credit obligation.\nAlso, creditors are allowed to run soft credit checks, which don't impact your credit, to send you pre-screened offers.\nRemember, though, that while your employer can view a modified version of your credit report with your permission, they will not have access to your credit score. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: Will Past Employers Appear on My Credit Report?\n-----------------------------------------------\nIt is possible for current and past employers to show up on your credit report if they were listed on a credit application you submitted. Creditors commonly ask for employment information, which then may get passed along to the national credit reporting agencies and added to your credit file.\nThat doesn't mean all your past employers will be listed, though. Lenders aren't required to send employment information to the credit bureaus, so some choose not to. As a result, a credit report won't necessarily provide a complete history of your past jobs.\nIt's also important to note that your past and current employment doesn't impact your credit score in any way—the same goes for your income.\nOther personal information you might find on your credit reports includes your name (including various aliases you've used in the past), Social Security number, date of birth and address. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: Can My Credit Prevent Me From Getting a Job?\n--------------------------------------------\nA bad credit history could hurt your chances of getting a job, especially if you're applying for a role in finance or management or a job with the government that includes security clearances.\nThat said, 47% of employers in the U.S. don't run a credit check on any employee candidates, according to the NAPBS. Also, many states and municipalities have laws against employers using an applicant's credit history against them.\nIf you're thinking of applying for a job, talk with the hiring manager to find out what's involved with the background check process, so you can know what to expect. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: How Is My Credit Report Protected?\n----------------------------------\nBecause information found in your credit report is sensitive, federal law prohibits employers (and most others) from accessing it without your written authorization.\nAdditionally, before an employer takes an adverse action based on your credit report, it must provide you with a copy of your report, along with a summary of your rights under FCRA. You'll then have the opportunity to review the report and explain any negative information before the employer finalizes its employment decision.\nExperian strongly recommends that employers do not deny employment solely on the basis of a credit report.\nWhen an employer obtains a copy of a credit report for employment purposes, that soft inquiry will appear on your credit reports. Those inquiries won't, however, show up on the version employers see. This policy protects your privacy because other employers or creditors won't be informed about job-related activities.\nFinally, inquiries for employment purposes don't affect your creditworthiness or credit scores. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: What Else Do Employers Check?\n-----------------------------\nThere are several different types of background checks you may undergo when applying for a new job or a promotion. Depending on the employer and type of position, that can include:\n* Criminal background check\n* Fingerprint background check\n* International background check\n* Drug test\n* Sex offender registry check\n* Office of Inspector General background check (health care workers only)\n* Social media background check\n* Professional license background check\nAgain, you typically need to provide permission for an employer to run various background checks. You can ask beforehand what will be checked, so you know how much of your personal information is being shared. END
TITLE: What to Know About Employment and Your Credit CONTENT: Build Good Credit to Improve Employment Opportunities\n-----------------------------------------------------\nDepending on the industry you're in, you may never have to deal with a credit check by an employer. However, if you're hoping to obtain a role in management, financial services or for a government agency with security clearance, it's best to work on improving and maintaining a good credit history.\nStart by checking your credit score to see where you stand, then review your credit report to see which areas need some improvement. Also focus on making all your debt payments on time, keeping your credit card balances relatively low and avoiding new credit unless it's absolutely necessary. END
TITLE: Identity Theft Victim Assistance CONTENT: Review Your Credit Report and Accounts\n--------------------------------------\nIf you suspect someone's seeking or opening a bogus credit account in your name, get copies of your latest credit reports from each national credit bureau (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can obtain free reports from all three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Each bureau is required by law to provide a free report if you're the victim of identity theft, and Experian also provides monthly reports through CreditWorks℠ Basic, a free service that also offers basic credit monitoring that alerts you anytime your Experian credit report changes.\nInformation on lenders who've asked for credit checks in response to new credit applications will appear in the \"Inquiries\" section of your credit report. If you see an inquiry that's unrelated to an application you've made, contact the lender and ask for details on the application.\nLoans and credit cards opened in your name will be listed in the \"Accounts\" section of the credit report. If there are any entries there that you don't recognize, contact the lender immediately so they can begin investigating the matter.\nSometimes unrecognized credit report entries prove innocuous—inquiries or accounts from a bank you don't recognize could be the lender financing your new cellphone, for instance—but if there's no explanation for an entry, work with the lender to get it resolved. END
TITLE: Identity Theft Victim Assistance CONTENT: File an Identity Theft Report\n-----------------------------\nIf a lender confirms they've received a credit application in your name, or issued a loan or credit to someone using your personal information, report the matter to the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately.\nA great starting place is the Federal Trade Commission's fraud-reporting website, IdentityTheft.gov. It provides step-by-step guidance on which authorities to notify concerning different types of identity theft and fraud. You can also contact fraud to the FTC by phone, at 877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338).\nOther authorities you may need to contact include:\n* **Local law enforcement**: Start with the department with jurisdiction where you live. You may also need to contact or cooperate with other departments if crimes are believed to have been committed elsewhere.\n* **The IRS**: If you think your Social Security number (SSN) has been stolen and misused, it's possible the thieves will file a bogus tax return in an attempt to claim your refund. You can check to see if this has occurred and report potential abuse at the Internal Revenue Service website or by phoning 800-908-4490.\n* **The FBI**: If you believe your SSN has been stolen, or if you believe your personal data has been used to commit online fraud, file a report with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).\n* **Your state's motor vehicles department**: If your driver's license is stolen, it could be used to obtain additional personal credentials including a birth certificate or Social Security Card, so report the loss immediately to your state motor vehicles department.\n* **The U.S. State Department**: If your passport has been lost or stolen, it could fall into the wrong hands and be used to steal your identity. Contact the U.S. State Department passport agency at once.\n* **The U.S. Postal Service**: If you or a relative have been the victim of fraud committed through postal mail, file a report with the Postal Inspection Service as soon as possible. END
TITLE: Identity Theft Victim Assistance CONTENT: Place a Fraud Alert or Security Freeze\n--------------------------------------\nTo secure your credit reports and prevent unauthorized access to loans or credit in your name, you may choose to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit file. Fraud alerts instruct lenders and credit issuers to verify your identity before processing any credit applications made in your name, while credit freezes block potential new creditors (and others) from accessing your credit file at all. Both services are free.\nYou can read more about the differences between the measures and when either might be appropriate on our blog, but here's an overview: END
TITLE: Identity Theft Victim Assistance CONTENT: Dispute Inaccurate Information\n------------------------------\nIf you've confirmed criminal credit activity, reported it to appropriate law enforcement and government agencies and secured your credit report with a credit freeze or fraud alert, you can then focus on getting the inaccurate information removed from your credit reports.\nEach of the national credit bureaus has its own procedure for requesting removal or correction of inaccurate information, a process known as a dispute. If the same inaccuracy appears on multiple credit reports, you'll need to submit disputes to each bureau separately to get its report corrected.\nWhen you submit a dispute to Experian, Experian takes the following steps:\n* Experian verifies the information you've identified as fraudulent with the creditors or data furnishers that reported the information.\n* Upon receipt of a valid police report or state-approved identity-theft form, which you can submit by mail or upload electronically at the Experian Fraud Center, Experian blocks alleged fraudulent information from view by creditors or others using your credit report to check your credit. This allows you to continue to apply for loans or credit without being penalized for fraudulent entries on your report.\n* Experian must complete an investigation and report back to you within 30 days (or 45 days if information on your credit report is disputed). The report will indicate:\n * Whether lenders have verified the activity you reported as fraudulent (and what their investigation found).\n * Any action that has been taken in response to the lender's response to the verification request—including removal of fraudulent entries, revision of entries that reflected fraudulent activity, or (if the lender concluded there was no fraud) restoration of the disputed entries without change.\n * In case disputed credit-report entries are not changed to your satisfaction, the report will also provide information on pursuing your dispute further by working with the lender(s) in question. END
TITLE: Identity Theft Victim Assistance CONTENT: Additional Identity Theft Resources\n-----------------------------------\nIf you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, here are some important contact information that can help you:\n* Experian Fraud Division: 888-397-3742\n* Equifax Fraud Division: 800-525-6285\n* TransUnion Fraud Division: 800-680-7289\n* The U.S. Department of Justice's Identity Theft Resource Center.\nUnauthorized credit activity could be a sign of identity theft or other fraud, and the key to avoiding fraud and other problems is to act quickly. Experian is available to help, and there are many other resources you can tap to address potential fraud before it does financial harm—or to undo any damage that's been done. END
TITLE: Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud CONTENT: What Is Credit Card Fraud?\n--------------------------\nCredit card fraud is a form of identity theft in which criminals make purchases or obtain cash advances using a credit card account assigned to you. This can occur through one of your existing accounts, via theft of your physical credit card or your account numbers and PINs, or by means of new credit card accounts being opened in your name without your knowledge. Once they're in, thieves then run up charges and stick you and your credit card company with the bill.\nCredit card issuers are acutely aware of this scourge, and are continually developing new methods to thwart unauthorized card usage. At the same time, however, resourceful fraudsters (including international organized crime syndicates) keep finding work-arounds for new security measures.\nBecause card issuers are well-versed in dealing with card fraud, it's unlikely that being defrauded will cost you money out-of-pocket over the long haul, but necessary investigations can take months and, as discussed at greater length below, unaddressed credit card fraud can do major damage to your credit reports and scores.\nDealing with credit card fraud can cost you a great deal of time and aggravation, and the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars every year adds to the overall cost of using credit cards (in fees and interest rates) for all account holders.\nCredit card fraud is a form of a broader category of crime known as identity theft, by which criminals use your personal information to impersonate you and hijack your finances. In addition to credit card information, identity thieves can use credentials including your name, date of birth, address and Social Security number to take over bank accounts, take out loans in your name, and apply for bogus tax refunds, unemployment benefits and Social Security checks—taking advantage of benefits you've earned. END
TITLE: Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud CONTENT: Look Out for the Common Types of Credit Card Fraud\n--------------------------------------------------\nCredit card fraudsters are eager to use new technologies in their schemes for ferreting out credit card numbers and PINs, adding to tried-and-true methods as old as credit cards themselves.\nCredit card fraud methods include:\n* **Card theft**: Snatching a card from a restaurant table, bar or wallet (or just grabbing an entire wallet or purse) is a classic way to get access to someone's credit card. Swiping newly issued cards from mailboxes is a variation on this ploy. If your card goes missing, or if you're notified that you should have received a card that never arrived, inform the card issuer immediately.\n* **Account takeover**: In this approach, a criminal contacts your card issuer and uses your personal information to change access PINs, passwords, mailing address and the like so that they control your account and you can no longer get into it. Depending on how often you use your card, this can take a while to notice, and even longer to sort out with the card issuer. Some credit card companies enable setup of a verbal password that isn't documented anywhere else to prevent this form of theft.\n* **Cloned cards**: Devices called \"skimmers\" that fit over card readers on gas pumps and at retail sales terminals can allow thieves to grab your card number when you swipe your card, then make a duplicate for their illicit use. EMV chip\\-equipped cards have made this process much more difficult.\n* **Card-not-present theft**: This refers to the fraudulent use of a credit card account that doesn't require possession of a physical card. Commonly a method used to make online purchases, it requires only that the thief knows your name, account number and the card's security code. In recent years, millions of users' information has been exposed through data breaches at retailers and other companies that maintain large card-number databases, and illicit websites traffic in lists of card-user data. END
TITLE: Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud CONTENT: Detecting and Fending Off Credit Card Fraud\n-------------------------------------------\nIt's possible to detect credit card fraud early by routinely checking for signs of shady activity on your credit accounts:\n* **Review your card statements monthly**, whether you get them online or in hard-copy form, looking carefully for unexpected purchases or cash advances. If you see any unfamiliar purchases, contact the card issuer immediately to dispute the charges.\n* **Check your credit reports** from all three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can download your reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you have your reports, look for unfamiliar inquiries—credit checks associated with applications for new credit—and loan or credit card accounts that you didn't open. If you see any credit report entries that look fishy, use the contact information in the credit report to notify the creditor in question. They can give you more information, begin an investigation and may ultimately notify the credit bureaus to remove the account. You can also file a credit report dispute if you believe there are inaccurate entries on your credit reports.\nIf you suspect you have been the victim of identity theft, consider visiting the Experian Fraud Center to place a free fraud alert on your credit report. When a fraud alert is in place, potential new lenders are asked to verify your identity before issuing any new accounts in your name. You only have to contact one credit bureau to have a fraud alert put in place on all three of your credit reports. You can cancel the alert at any time.\nEnrolling in a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service such as those available from Experian, automates the process of checking your credit reports and accounts. They also notify you by text or email when credit checks are performed, so you can spot suspicious activity and act quickly if you suspect fraud. END
TITLE: Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud CONTENT: Reporting the Credit Card Fraud to Law Enforcement\n--------------------------------------------------\nIf you've confirmed that you're a victim of credit card fraud, you may want to report the crime to law enforcement. To begin this process, visit the Federal Trade Commission's IdentityTheft.gov website. The site will then give you the opportunity to file an identity theft report, which is used by law enforcement agencies in their investigation. You can then follow up with local law enforcement, as advised by your creditors.\nNot every case of identity theft necessitates getting the police involved, but doing so can help assist in investigations of theft and might help you recover belongings that were stolen along with your credit cards. END
TITLE: Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Credit Card Fraud CONTENT: How Can Credit Card Fraud Impact My Credit?\n-------------------------------------------\nWhen credit card fraud goes undetected, thieves have a chance to run up charges in your name—which they never intend to pay. This can be damaging to your credit profile. In most cases, you'll be able to clear up these matters by proving you didn't authorize the charges. In the meantime, however, anyone checking your credit may see fraudulent credit card accounts, missed payments or increased balances that are appearing as a result of fraud. The presence of these fraudulent items could paint a less-than-flattering picture of your credit habits. Card fraud can put negative marks on your credit reports, including:\n* **Late payments**: If a fraudster opens a credit card account in your name and never pays a bill, late payments could be reported to the credit bureaus in your name and your credit scores could suffer. Payment history, the most important factor in credit scores, accounting for 35% of your FICO® Score☉ .\n* **High credit utilization**: If a fraudulent credit card, or one of your own cards, is being used to run up bogus charges, your credit utilization—the percentage of your borrowing limit represented by your outstanding balances—could skyrocket. Credit utilization is nearly as important as payment history in determining your credit scores, and a high utilization could cause your credit scores to suffer.\nIf this happens to you, contact the creditor who reported the fraudulent information to the credit bureaus and they should be able to clear it up. And, again, you might consider disputing the information with the credit bureaus. END

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