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Don’t be fooled: Internet scam artists bait tenants with unbelievable deals | News

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Imagine a recently renovated 1,600-square-foot home on the west end of Owensboro with a garage and workshop renting for $550 a month.

Utilities included, no less.

Dogs and cats are welcome.

Appliances are furnished.

Does that sound too good to be true?

That’s a current listing on Craigslist, and it’s a rental scam.

At least one Owensboro resident, who asked to remain anonymous, fell for it last week. He lost $1,500 — a security deposit and first and last month’s rent — by sending money through Zelle before viewing the property, signing a lease or meeting the fraudulent landlord.

Through a series of text messages, the scam artist posed as the homeowner, who reportedly had moved to Texas. The keys to the house were in Texas, too, but were promised to be sent by FedEx overnight — after the $1,500 was received.

The keys never came, and the imaginary FedEx tracking number mysteriously went missing after the first day.

Several other locals might have been swindled by the same scammer, but they drove by to check out the house. That’s when they noticed a Farmer’s House Real Estate sign in the front yard that read: For Sale.

During the first couple of days the bogus rental appeared on Craigslist, up to 10 people called Brad Cecil, a Realtor at Farmer’s House and the property’s listing agent. They asked whether the house was for rent or for sale.

Cecil was quick to tell them the home was not for rent; it is for sale only.

It’s not the first time he’s been through this. Craigslist rental scams have been going on for about five years, Cecil said.

“They’re getting a little more sophisticated about it,” Cecil said.

Some scammers scour obituaries or public property records for information, he said. They use familiar-sounding names to make it seem as though they know people in the area.

It’s easy to copy and repost online photos and descriptions from legitimate real estate listings, making phony rentals look as honest as any.

But, as crafty as these swindlers are, some telltale signs give them away pretty quickly.

Red flagsBetsy Garant, Realtor and property manager at Rose Realty, said scammers have copied her firm’s rentals and posted them as their own on Craigslist.

When she finds out a listing is part of a scam, she reports it to Craigslist.

Garant gives some tips for spotting bad actors:

If the deal is too good to be true, that’s the first clue people may be dealing with internet fraud.

“We do not rent to anyone sight unseen,” she said.

Also, professional property managers never keep prospective tenants from viewing properties.

Property management companies do not ask for money before would-be tenants have seen the rental property and know they want it, Garant said.

Legitimate property managers ask for proof of income and work. They run credit reports and require applications.

If someone acting as a landlord says bad credit and prior felony convictions don’t matter, it’s likely a scam.

Finally, con artists often have some far-fetched story that sets up roadblocks to renting the property through well-established rental practices, Garant said. “(The rental) always comes with a runaround.”

The M-I posed as a prospective tenant on the Craigslist home on the west side of Owensboro that reportedly was listed for rent at $550 a month.

The reporter could not talk to anyone. All communication was done by text and email.

When the reporter asked to view the home, the reply was: “Like I said in my previous email am out of state, but I can send you pictures of the interior.”

When pressed for the keys to view the house, the scammer wrote: “I don’t trust anyone with my keys. I don’t trust anyone with my house. But I can ship the keys and document to you once you are chosen as the tenant. Through FedEx next day delivery.”

The reporter asked how tenants are selected.

The reply: Tenants must send a $500 security deposit “so we can know you are serious about the house.”

Craigslist offers an “Avoid Scams” link on its website.

“Deal locally, face-to-face — follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts,” the link reads.

Other tips include never submit payments to people without meeting them first, beware of any offers involving shipping and never wire funds through Western Union.

Any message asking people to access or check Craigslist voicemails is fraudulent, the company’s website reports. “No such service exists.”

Owensboro Police Department had two reports of online rental scams in 2019 and two so far this year, said Andrew Boggess, public information officer.

Of the four, one was on Craigslist, two were on Facebook and the other was HousesForRent.ws.

Last year, a total of $500 was lost, OPD records show.

No money was lost in the two scams reported to the police department this year, Boggess said. (The M-I’s source who lost $1,500 last week had not yet filed a report by the time OPD searched its records.)

“But many don’t get reported to us,” Boggess said. “Some may get reported to the Attorney General’s Office, the FBI — Internet Crimes Complaint Center (or) another agency like Daviess County Sheriff Department or Kentucky State Police. And some never get reported to law enforcement. … Unfortunately, I know there are many that never get reported.”

DCSD officials said the department did not have any reports of internet rental scams during the past few years.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office did not respond to requests for information by deadline.

Karen Gross, president of the Greater Owensboro Realtors Association, is a Realtor with Century 21 Partners.

In the past, internet frauds have stolen her houses listed for sale and posted them as fake rentals in an effort to scam the public.

“I would get call after call after call,” Gross said of tenants eager to land a too-good-to-be-true deal.

Instead of going it alone, Gross recommends using a professional property management firm.

“Going through a professional is your best bet … ,” she said.

For tenants who don’t go that route, a good rule of thumb is to meet in person with any potential landlord, Gross said.

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Bad Credit

Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?

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Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?
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People often worry about their credit history when it comes to applying for a new credit card, a mortgage or a car loan. If you have poor credit, should you also be concerned about finding work? Can you be denied a job due to bad credit?

Let’s examine the facts.

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What is bad credit anyway?

Bad credit is basically a negative assessment of your finances based on your history of borrowing. Bad credit implies that you have a bad track record with lenders. This is most likely because you have a pattern of not paying your bills on time or defaulting on your loans.

Is it legal for employers to check my credit report?

Law and finance firms are legally required to perform credit checks on potential employees. However, other kinds of employers can also conduct credit checks on you before they hire you. But they must ask for your permission before they do so.

In many cases, a credit check will be performed by a company if the role you are applying for involves dealing with large amounts of cash.

Why might employers want to check my report?

There are many reasons an employer might want to check your report. For example, they might want to ensure that:

  • You are who you say you are.
  • You have a good track record of managing money.
  • It’s not too much of a risk to let your manage money.
  • Your financial behaviour will not affect your work performance.

Could you be rewarded for your everyday spending?

Rewards credit cards include schemes that reward you simply for using your credit card. When you spend money on a rewards card you could earn loyalty points, in-store vouchers airmiles, and more. MyWalletHero makes it easy for you to find a card that matches your spending habits so you can get the most value from your rewards.

Can an employer deny me a job due to bad credit?

Yes. According to credit reference agency Experian, if your prospective employer feels that your current financial situation could impact your ability to perform well in the role, or if your credit history shows poor financial planning, they may decide not to hire you.

Generally speaking, however, employers are more likely to be concerned about serious ‘red flags’ in your credit history, like bankruptcy rather than the odd missed payment.

In any case, employers only get access to your ‘public’ credit report. This contains your electoral roll information and any major red flags such as bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements and county court judgments.

They will not have access to your detailed credit repayments or your credit score.

How can I keep my credit history from affecting my ability to get a job?

If a prospective employer runs a credit check on you, ultimately you have no control over what they do with the information, including denying you a job due to bad credit.

The best thing you can do to minimise the impact of your credit on your chances of getting a job is to review your credit report beforehand.

You have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Before you apply for a job or attend an interview, request your report and review it for any errors so that you can have them corrected ahead of time.

Even if there are no errors, knowing what is on your credit report puts you in a good position to answer any questions that may arise during the hiring process.

Indeed, if there’s something in your report that employers might consider a ‘red flag’, don’t panic. Instead, begin preparing an explanation to give to them. If it was, for example, caused by financial hardship beyond your control, the employer may take this into account.

Alternatively, you can contact a credit reference agency and request that a notice of correction be added to your report. This is a brief note of up to 200 words in length that explains circumstances that a lender might otherwise question.

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Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

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Refinancing is a wonderful way to save money on your monthly car loan payment – but it can cost you more in the long run if you’re not careful. Refinancing when you have a subprime auto loan isn’t always as easy as refinancing a vehicle when you have good credit. Working with the right lender can help, though.

What Is Refinancing?

Refinancing is when you replace your existing car loan with a different one for the same vehicle, which may have either a lower interest rate, a longer loan term, or both.

Qualifying for a lower interest rate is optimal for getting a lower monthly payment and saving money overall. If you only extend your loan term without getting a lower rate, you actually end up paying more in interest charges over the term of your loan.

Auto loans typically use a simple interest formula, meaning your interest charges add up daily. The longer your loan term, the more you pay the lender – it’s wise to choose the shortest loan term you can afford. If you only extend your loan term you may end up paying more than the vehicle’s value!

Refinancing can typically be done with your current lender or with another one. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best possible rate before going with the first offer you receive. When you shop for the same type of financing with multiple lenders in a two-week timeframe, it’s called rate shopping. When you do this only one credit inquiry impacts your credit score instead of multiple, minimizing the negative impact that hard pulls can have on your credit score.

Options for Bad Credit Borrowers

Taking out a subprime auto loan is a great way to improve your credit, so, if you’ve kept up with your loan to this point and just need a little wiggle room in your budget, refinancing could be for you. Your credit is an important factor in refinancing your auto loan because refinancing is typically reserved for people with good credit.

However, when a borrower already took out a subprime car loan, many refinancing lenders are willing to work with them as long as they’ve made improvements to their credit over the course of the loan. Better credit alone doesn’t qualify you for refinancing, though.

In order to qualify for refinancing, you, your vehicle, and your loan all need to meet the requirements of a lender. These vary, but in order to refinance your car you typically need to meet these qualifications:Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

  • Have a better credit score than when you began the loan
  • Have had your auto loan for at least one year
  • Have an acceptable loan amount
  • Have no more than 100,000 miles on your vehicle
  • Car can’t be more than 10 years old
  • You must be current on your payments
  • There can’t be negative equity in the vehicle

Lenders that refinance typically prefer cars that are in good condition, that aren’t too old, and have lower mileage. Some lenders may not want to refinance a vehicle that’s at risk for breaking down or is depreciating quickly.

They’re generally looking for a loan that isn’t too new, or too close to being paid off as well. And, refinancers may also require that you haven’t missed a payment on your original car loan. A borrower whose current on their loan gives a lender confidence you’ll manage the new loan well.

Alternatives to Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

If you’re not able to refinance your vehicle, you typically still have the option to trade it in for something more affordable. Even if you’re still paying on a loan, all you have to do is pay off the loan to release the lien on the car.

Even if it’s years from the end of your loan term, you may have a good chance at trading in your vehicle, especially now. Due to fluctuations in the auto market, used cars are in high demand currently, which means that dealerships may be willing to pay a higher price to get your used vehicle on their lot – even if you’re a bad credit borrower looking to trade-in.

If you still owe on an auto loan this gives you a better chance at selling your car for the amount you owe to the lender. It may even give you enough cash left over to put toward your next, more affordable vehicle!

Ready to Get Started?

If you think refinancing your subprime auto loan is the way to go, you can check out our resources, here. But, if you think that finding an affordable, used car with a lower monthly payment is the right choice for you, we want to get you started toward your goal today!

At Auto Credit Express, we’ve got a coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships ready to work with borrowers who are struggling with credit challenges. To get connected to a dealer in your local area that’s signed up with subprime lenders, simply fill out our auto loan request form. It’s fast, free, and never carries any obligation.

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It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card

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©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

Many of us got our first credit cards when we were either in college or in our early 20s. We likely did not have a full-time job with a steady salary, and if we did, it’s also likely we weren’t rolling in dough.

See: 13 Credit Cards That Every 30-Something Should Consider
Find: Surprising Uses for Your Credit Card Rewards

Given these circumstances, the first credit cards offered to us were probably of a particular kind: low credit limits, no prior credit history required, high annual percentage rate and overall easy to get. While these cards served us well as a way to build up our credit — and probably learn some lessons about money the hard way — it’s time to let go for a couple of reasons.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Card

When you upgrade your card, it’s likely you will also upgrade the benefits. Some companies, like Discover, Credit One and Capital One, are popular choices as a first credit card. However, these companies have better options as you, and your finances, mature.

The Wall Street Journal suggests asking for an upgrade. “Customers need to phrase it as a ‘product change’ when they call the card company. A product change involves getting a new card with the same card provider and it typically allows a cardholder to keep everything else the same, including the account number and available credit.”

See: 10 Credit Cards That Have Gotten Better During the Pandemic
Find: Old-School Money Advice You Shouldn’t Follow Anymore

This could be a good idea for those who are not ready to jump ship from their first credit company just yet. It also removes the hassle of having to find a different provider, and probably the largest benefit of all — no hard credit check needed.

A “hard” credit check is when your credit is thoroughly examined, and it results in an inquiry showing up on your credit report. These are always necessary for opening a new line of credit, like a credit card or a mortgage, but too many inquiries can count against you and negatively affect your credit. A “soft” credit check, on the other hand, will not affect your credit score and is usually done for verification purposes, such as when you apply for new employment. Soft checks also happen with preapprovals.

See: Soft vs. Hard Credit Check — What’s the Difference?
Find: 30 Things You Do That Can Mess Up Your Credit Score

If you ask for a product change on a credit card, you won’t need to have that hard inquiry because the company already has a solid picture of your credit and has done an inquiry before. But it’s important to confirm that your credit history will be rolled over to the new card.

Switching credit institutions all together can be beneficial, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. While the rules of credit apply whether you have, for example, a Credit One or Chase credit card, it’s not a secret that certain credit cards have certain reputations — or that credit bureaus take notice.

For example, the Credit One Bank Visa card is “one of the most popular credit cards for people with bad credit, largely because it’s one of the few unsecured cards that applicants with poor credit scores can get approved for,” according to WalletHub.

See: Biden Wants to Shut Down Credit Bureaus – What Would That Mean for You?
Find: 10 Credit Score Myths You Need to Stop Believing

In contrast, American Express credit cards are best for people with credit scores over 700 and require at least “good” credit for approval, WalletHub adds. A good credit score is one that’s between 670 and 739, according to Fair Isaac.

So while both cards function the same way, the profile of those who own these cards might be different — or at least be perceived as such.

Theoretically, the same person could own both cards, but your money works for you more with an American Express vs. a Credit One. If you have a Credit One card but qualify for American Express, it might make sense to leave your old credit card behind. In addition to the immediate financial benefits, upgrading for a credit card company that has a reputation for being exclusive to those with good credit could help when you apply for a mortgage or apply for credit cards at specific stores.

See: This Is How Many Credit Cards You Should Have
Find: Credit Cards With the Best Incentives to Open in 2021

The first question you should ask yourself is, “What is my card doing best for me?” If the answer is helping you build your credit, getting you out of bad credit or allowing you to have credit when you otherwise would not be able to, then sticking with the same card, or at least the same credit card company, makes sense.

This allows you avoid a new credit inquiry on your credit report while still building and increasing your credit. Asking for a credit limit increase on your credit card if you’ve been with the same company for a while, you’ve been routinely paying off your card and you’re in good standing, is a good idea.

See: Expert Tips to Fix Your Credit on a Limited Income
Find: What Is a Credit Limit?

If you are shopping around for a new card that gives you rewards or benefits based on your purchases, starting small is paramount. It wouldn’t be prudent to go straight for a card that has a yearly fee, for example.

Start small, and start smart with credit limits, too. Going from a limit of $2,000 straight to a limit of $15,000 while your salary remains relatively unchanged is not always a good thing. Having a higher credit limit doesn’t necessarily mean that you are now richer or more responsible — it only means that you now have a greater risk of putting yourself into serious debt. Slowly increasing your credit limit makes your debt more manageable — and makes you look more responsible to credit bureaus.

Breaking up is hard to do, but if your finances have matured, it might be time to get a card that helps you reach your goals with cash-back rewards and points you can use for travel, groceries and other other items. Shopping around for a lower interest rate and a slightly increased credit limit can also help you move forward.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card

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