Ring, ring. “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” Stop. Don’t tell them anything. They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.
That’s just one scam you might see after Equifax’s recent data breach. Other calls might try to trick you into giving your personal information. Here are some tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:
- Don’t give personal information. Don’t provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof their numbers so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.
- If you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
For more information about the Equifax breach, go to Equifax’s website.
- Ask students if they know someone who has received such a call. If so, how the victim responded to the imposter?
- What advice can you provide to a victim of a scam?
- What should you do, if you have already received a call that you think is fake?
- What must you do if you gave personal information to an imposter?
- What can you do to protect yourself from such scams?
The Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you, and to charge you before they’ve performed their services. The CROA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and requires credit repair companies to explain:
- your legal rights in a written contract that also details the services they’ll perform,
- your three day right to cancel without with any charge,
- how long will it take to get results,
- the total cost you will pay, and
- any guarantees.
What if a credit repair company you hired doesn’t live up to its promises? You have some options. You can:
- sue them in federal court for your actual losses or for what you paid them, whichever is more,
- seek punitive damages—money to punish the company for violating the law,
- join other people in a class action lawsuit against the company, and if you win, the company has to pay your attorney’s fees.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to make a list of major provisions of the Credit Repair Organization Act.
- Ask students if there is a time limit on reporting negative information about criminal convictions.
- Where and how can you report credit repair frauds?
- Can the FTC resolve individual credit disputes? If not, why should you file the complaint with the FTC?
“The differences between men and women have taken on increased importance in today’s conversations about American culture . . .”
Based on information from the Census Bureau, financial institutions, and a credit score company, this article by describes the following six ways that men and women differ when it comes to money.
- Men make more for the same work.
- Women are better at managing personal debt.
- Men pay off their student debt faster.
- Men save more in their “rainy day” funds.
- Women use sounder strategies, but with less confidence.
- Men save more for retirement.
More information about each of the above statements including statistics is provided in the article.
For more information, click here.
You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to
- Discuss the specific differences cited in this article in more detail.
- Create examples of how men and women can use this information to improve their long-term financial security.
- Based on U.S. census data, women make about 79 percent of what men do for the same work. If you were a woman in this situation, what could you do to increase your salary?
- According to this article, women are better at managing personal debt than men. How can the decision to pay off personal debt impact a person’s ability to establish a financial plan, buy a home, or invest?
- Pick one of the areas where men are weaker and one of the areas where women are weaker. Describe how you would improve on this factor for a man or a woman.
Your credit scores are prepared by FICO and other companies and are mainly based on your history of managing debts, such as whether you tend to make payments on time. Your scores play a significant role in your everyday life because the next time you apply for a loan or credit card—or perhaps a new apartment or insurance—your scores could affect the final decision, including your costs.
For many consumers with damaged credit scores and those with no credit record, here are some ways to improve your credit scores.
- Consider consulting with a reputable credit counseling service.
- Understand what information is most likely to influence your credit scores.
- Obtain and review a copy of your free credit report.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they know how to obtain their free credit reports from credit bureaus. If they already have received their credit report(s), did they find any errors?
- What can you do if your credit report contains erroneous data or records of someone with a name similar to yours?
- Why it is important to review your credit files every year even if you are not planning to apply for a big loan?
- What are your legal remedies if a credit reporting agency engages in unfair reporting practices?
Your credit score, which is mainly based on your history of repaying loans, can determine your ability to borrow money and how much you will pay for it. Here is good news for some consumers: Your score may improve as a result of changes in how credit reports and scores are compiled.
FICO, a company that provides software used to produce many consumer credit scores, announced that unpaid medical debt will not have as big an impact on the new version of its most popular credit score. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it will require the major consumer reporting agencies to provide regular accuracy reports to the Bureau on how disputes from consumers are being handled. The CFPB said medical debt in particular is a source of numerous complaints because billing process can be complicated and confusing to consumers. The CFPB noted that the accuracy reports will help it hold credit reporting companies accountable for ensuring that erroneous information does not damage your credit score.
These changes may help raise some consumers’ credit scores and reduce their borrowing costs. In general, though, to build or maintain a good credit score, consumers need to manage their money carefully, and that includes using caution when taking on additional debt.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they have requested copies of their credit reports and if the information was correct?
- Have you applied for new credit recently, and it so, what was the outcome?
- What is the best strategy to maintain or improve your credit score?
- What are the legal steps to take to improve your credit report?
- If you apply for too many new credit cards, how it might affect your credit score?
“Free credit scores” sounds good, right? But what if you signed up for “free credit scores,” then found out you were enrolled in a credit monitoring program that costs $29.95 per month? Not so good. That’s what the FTC says happened with a company called One Technologies, Inc. Now the company has agreed to settle the FTC’s charges that it misled consumers by advertising “free credit scores” but failing to tell them that they would be enrolled in a credit monitoring program for a monthly fee.
One Technologies, Inc. offered people “free” online access to their credit scores through at least fifty websites, including freescore360.com, freescoreonline.com , and scorescense.com. But according to the FTC, the company didn’t clearly inform people that once they got their score, they would pay $29.95 per month for a credit monitoring program. You could only get out of that monthly fee by calling to cancel. Some people had to call multiple times. Others were denied refunds. One Technologies, Inc. will pay $22 million to compensate its customers and must get their consent before billing them. Also, it must provide the customers with an easy way to cancel.
For additional information, click here.
- What can you do if you become victim of a deceptive marketing practice?
- Where can you get your free credit report at least once every year?
- Ask students to obtain their credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
- Ask students to search the Internet for “free credit scores” and summarize their findings.
Correcting inaccuracies in your credit report may help you improve your credit history and credit score, which credit card issuers consider when deciding whether to offer you a card and how they will determine your interest rate and credit limit. You also can find out if an identity thief has opened credit cards or other accounts in your name.
By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every twelve months from each of the three major nationwide consumer reporting agencies (also called “credit bureaus”)—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each company issues its own report, and because some lender do not provide information to all three of them, it’s useful to request your report from each one in order to get a comprehensive view of you credit history.
For additional information, go to
http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com; http://www.equifax.com; http://www.experian.com; http://www.transunion.com
1. Why is it important to check your credit reports every year?
2. Why should you request a credit report from each one of the three credit bureaus?
You may want to use the information in this blog and the above websites to discuss
* What should students do if they find inaccuracies in their credit reports?
* Have students draft a letter to the credit bureau to correct the errors in their credit report.