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Greeley fraud investigation specialist offers advice to avoid top scams – Greeley Tribune

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Scammers are constantly working to find vulnerable people across the globe and exploit their situations for the scammers’ personal gain.

Scammers aren’t just on the hunt for easy money. In some cases, they’re working to steal victims’ personal information, like full names, dates of birth or Social Security numbers, to hide behind different identities as they steal from others. Others may sell personal information to scammers looking to pose as someone else.

Greeley Police Fraud Investigation Specialist Lisa LaBracke said scams of all kinds are on the rise as people faced unemployment or furlough due to the pandemic.

“People are trying to work from home. They need some extra income,” she said.

The top scam local residents are currently reporting is the unemployment scam, according to LaBracke. An impostor will file a claim for unemployment benefits, using the personal information of someone who has not filed a claim. They will have payments deposited into an account controlled by the scammer, or have the funds sent to another scam victim.

Scammers have also tried posing as the unemployment office and asking people to send funds back to them by purchasing gift cards. Once the victim gives the scammer the information to withdraw the gift card funds, it’s practically impossible to track the funds. LaBracke said this is a common sign of a scam.

“Usually with all these scams, they’re going to request funds generally by gift card,” she said. “Anytime you’re asked to get a gift card and told to scratch off the back, it’s going to be a scam. No legitimate company or individual is going to ask you to pick up gift cards for payment.

Scammers have also started using smartphone apps to request funds, including Zelle, Cash App, PayPal and Venmo. The scammer-owned accounts are commonly opened with another victim’s information, again making tracking the funds an impossible task, according to LaBracke.

Once a scam victim sends money over, that’s usually the last they’ll see of it. LaBracke said funds are usually sent overseas, to places such as Turkey and Romania, where local police can no longer track those funds.

“I’ve been with the police department for a year, and I haven’t had a successful scam case that resulted in funds being recovered,” she said.

Websites including Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and eBay are common places for scammers to try finding victims. Both buyers and sellers should be on the lookout for signals they may be dealing with a scammer.

For sellers, LaBracke said scammers may send a check for a much larger amount than what the seller asked for, and then ask the seller to send back part of the amount with gift card information or to pay supposed courier fees.

LaBracke said several people have reported trying to purchase inexpensive vehicles on Craigslist that turn out to be scams. The seller might claim the vehicle is out of state and request payment before the victim ever sees it in person. Scammers will usually try to get payment through an app to complicate tracking the funds.

Another popular online marketplace scam right now is fake rental properties, according to LaBracke. Many leases are ending around this time of year, so scammers will list properties that aren’t actually available. The listing might include a low price, say that bad credit is OK and warn the victim the deal won’t last.

When contacted, the scammer will ask the victim to fill out an application, which includes the person’s identifying information. They’ll then sell that info or use it to conduct other scams. Scammers may also try to get a down payment on the property before the victim sees it.

Scammers use more than big purchases to prey on the vulnerable. Even puppies can be used in the commission of a scam, LaBracke warns. The scammer may create an entire fake profile posing as someone living nearby and give an elaborate story about why the puppy is available. The puppy might be a purebred and available for a very low price.

After the victim pays a deposit, the scammer might text the victim and say the puppy also needed shots or give some other reason, like insurance, to request more money from the victim. No matter what the victim pays, however, the puppy never arrives.

In a different scam, products do arrive, but not for the victim. Scammers will post a job offer for something like a “quality control inspector.” The supposed company may have an entire website, LaBracke said, but the website is fake. Victims are asked to complete an application, again giving out their personal info, and informed they’ll be responsible for forwarding or reshipping merchandise that will be shipped to their home.

The victim is told to print a new label for the package and then send it again, either to another reshipper or out of the country completely. The original merchandise, often expensive electronics, were purchased with fraudulent funds. The additional shipping helps make it difficult for law enforcement to track the original purchaser who is using fraudulent funds.

While the “reshipping scam” has become pretty popular within the past year, another scam that’s gone on for years still claims victims today. Scammers sometimes pose as a utility company and threaten to shut off services if payments aren’t made immediately. The scammer may even call from a phone number that appears to be the company’s posted number, a practice known as spoofing.

“All of these scams thrive on people’s emotions and putting them in a situation where it’s, ‘You need to pay now, otherwise X, Y, Z is going to happen,’” LaBracke said.

Scammers will also commonly tell victims not to tell others about what’s happening, whether it’s family and friends or coworkers and the bank. In one plot, scammers will target employees of corporate chain stores or restaurants and say the manager or owner is under investigation for embezzlement. The employee is told to take all the money from the register or safe and purchase gift cards to settle the matter. In that scheme, the employee is told not to tell others, to avoid “tarnishing the investigation.”

The pandemic has changed details on some scams. Instead of being told the manager or owner is under investigation, the employee may be told they need to facilitate a mask and glove delivery, LaBracke said.

Avoid getting scammed

Though scams can vary greatly in the details, there are typically a few common themes that can help people identify the situation is a scam. LaBracke said the following are red flags to look for:

  • Trying to get your money as quickly as possible in a way that’s difficult to trace.
  • Telling you to pick up gift cards or reloadable cash cards for payment.
  • Asking for your online banking login information.
  • Offering something that seems too good to be true.
  • Offering to pay for work before you actually do it, especially if you haven’t met them in person.
  • Calling from a phone number you don’t recognize.
  • Telling you to keep the matter to yourself.

If you think you’ve come across a scam, but aren’t sure, LaBracke said residents can always contact the police department for an opinion from law enforcement.

For those who think they were just scammed, LaBracke offered a few tips.

If you just sent money by gift cared and think it might have been a scam, immediately call the number on the back of the card and ask to stop the transaction or freeze the account. If you gave out banking information to a suspicious person or website, contact your bank immediately. If your computer was compromised, take it to a local or national computer repair professional you can trust.

For personal information, LaBracke recommended putting a freeze on your credit report with the three major credit bureaus. In fact, LaBracke said, that’s a good idea for anyone who isn’t applying for credit in the next three months.

“I tell everybody this,” she said. “It’s just going to be an extra layer of protection for you to prevent identity theft.”

Another way to prevent being targeted by scammers is going through your phone service provider to set up a call filter that will automatically detect potentially fraudulent calls. LaBracke said people should add phone numbers they expect calls from and not answer calls from unknown numbers. If the call is legitimate, the caller will likely leave a voicemail.

Finally, to keep on top of common scams, LaBracke offered two resources: the Federal Trade Commission, which lists common scams and even offers emailed updates for scam alerts, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a Federal Bureau of Investigations website tracking internet crimes. Both websites also offer forms for people to file complaints about online crimes or scams.

Though being victimized by a scammer can feel embarrassing, LaBracke said she encourages scam victims to tell their friends and family about the scam. It’s not uncommon to be a scam victim. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2019 report, more than 9,600 Coloradans lost a total of more than $65 million to internet crimes in 2019.

“Get the word out because the only way that we’re going to stop scams from happening and stop people from being victimized by these scammers is by word of mouth and by not sending them any money,” she said. “Once we cut them off from their supply, that’s the way to stop them.”

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How long do offers last, and what if I have bad credit? We answer the most-asked mortgage questions

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Forget the eyes – nowadays, it is our internet searches that provide a window into the soul.  

We often turn to search engines to ask the questions that are on our minds, whether we’re just looking for a quick answer or because it’s something we are embarrassed to ask in person. 

Now, Britons’ most common mortgage questions have been revealed, thanks to a new analysis of Google searches.  

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Comparethemarket.com looked at search data from the last twelve months, and discovered that the most asked mortgage question, with 20,960 searches, was ‘How long does a mortgage application take?’

Britons also wanted to know how long a mortgage offer lasted for, how to get a mortgage with bad credit, what an interest only mortgage was, and what a lifetime mortgage was. 

Applying for a mortgage can sometimes be complicated, and there is often a lot of jargon to contend with – so it is not surprising that people search online for more information.

This is Money asked Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, Nicholas Morrey of mortgage broker John Charcol and a spokesperson from the Mortgage Advice Bureau to help provide answers to the five most-asked questions.

How long does a mortgage application take?

The most common mortgage question on Google, this is particularly relevant at the moment given that some buyers are keen to complete before the stamp duty holiday ends on 31 March. 

But the answer depends on the type of mortgage application being submitted, according to Harris.

For example, a product transfer – where you stay with your current lender but move to a new deal – can take a matter of days, whilst a more complex mortgage application can take weeks.

‘Once the application is submitted, a lot depends on the lender and the complexity of the application – it may take anywhere between one day to two weeks for an initial assessment to take place,’  Harris said. 

If you’re self-employed or the mortgage valuation requires a surveyor to visit the property in person, then you are likely to face further delays. 

A firm mortgage offer will follow once your application has been fully reviewed and an acceptable valuation received.

The experts we spoke to said that typically, it would to take two to three weeks from application to offer – but the pandemic has meant that these timescales have been stretched. 

‘Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, lenders have suffered from staff and resource issues and tasks are taking longer to complete,’ said Harris.

‘Also, given the effect on employment and income, lenders are scrutinising applications in greater depth to see how applicants have been affected.’ 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

In most cases mortgage offers last for six months, although some offers will only last for three months.

‘If the offer expires, lenders will sometimes agree to an extension – although this will sometimes require a re-assessment by the lender,’ said Morrey.

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

‘For example, the original deal may no longer be available, or a new valuation may be required, or the lender may wish to re-assess your income and outgoings.’

Where an application involves a new-build property, the offer may last longer – potentially up to 12 months, according to Harris.

‘Borrowers should be aware that some new builds have completion deadlines that may not coincide with offer expiry dates,’ he said.

How to get a mortgage with bad credit?

Some lenders will not offer mortgages to people with a history of bad credit, and this was something that Google searchers wanted to know how to get around. 

Lenders that are willing to do so often charge a higher interest rate, to reflect the increased level of risk.

‘When getting a mortgage with bad credit, you can expect to borrow less and to pay more in interest in comparison to someone who has an exemplary credit record,’ explained the spokesperson for the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

‘High street lenders are generally averse to dealing with those who have bad credit, which can make it pretty difficult.

‘When you apply for a mortgage, it can register on your credit file – and if you apply to a number of lenders to see if they will lend to you, it may be doing additional damage to your credit score.’

‘Your best option, according to Mortgage Advice Bureau, is to contact an established and experienced mortgage broker.

‘They will have access to contacts and deals that are exclusive and not available to the general public. The mortgage broker will carry out a ‘soft’ credit check first, so your inquiry doesn’t negatively impact your credit score.’ 

What is an interest-only mortgage?

Another common question on Google concerned interest-only mortgages. So what are they? 

When borrowing for a home, you can either opt for a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage.

With a repayment mortgage, you will pay back a part of the loan, as well as the interest, each month until you eventually pay off the mortgage.

With an interest-only mortgage, you will only pay the interest each month, with the loan amount remaining the same.

‘It means your monthly payments will be lower but, at the end of the mortgage term, the full amount you borrow is still outstanding and you have to pay the lender back everything at that time,’ said Morrey.

‘When applying for an interest-only loan, the borrower must demonstrate that there is a clear and credible strategy in place to repay the capital,’ added Harris.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage is a mortgage secured on your home, with the loan only being repaid when you pass away, go into long-term care or sell the property.

Two examples of this are retirement interest-only mortgages and equity release mortgages.

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

‘Lifetime mortgages often have fixed rates of interest, and in the case of equity release mortgages, the fixed rate is for life and not just two or five years,’ explained Morrey.

He added: ‘They should not be confused with lifetime tracker mortgages, which track a specific index such as the Bank of England base rate – these will likely have an end date and won’t be for a ‘lifetime’ in itself.’

There are strict lending criteria, with the amount you can you borrow depending on your age.

‘Seeking expert financial and legal advice is crucial for this type of mortgage,’ said Harris.

‘An adviser covering both equity release and standard mortgages would be most useful as they can assess the most suitable route forward.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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What is a Subprime Mortgage?

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What is a subprime mortgage? If you’re asking this question, chances are good you’re either trying to borrow for a home with poor credit or you’ve been offered a loan you’re concerned is a subprime loan. We’ll explain the answer to the question “what is a subprime mortgage?” and discuss some of the risks and alternatives.

What is a subprime mortgage?

Prime loans usually offer competitive interest rates to well-qualified borrowers. A subprime mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage, except it has a higher interest rate. Subprime loans are geared toward borrowers with bad credit who can’t qualify for a prime mortgage at the best rates. Lenders take a bigger risk with subprime loans, so they charge substantially higher rates due to the borrower’s poor credit history.

If you have a credit score below 620, you may not be able to qualify for a prime mortgage, but you might get a subprime mortgage.

Types of subprime mortgages

There are multiple types of subprime mortgage loans. However, one particular type of loan — an adjustable-rate mortgage — is especially common for subprime mortgages.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Many subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs. The introductory rate on an ARM is fixed for a limited time. For example, a 5/1 ARM provides a fixed rate for five years. After that, the rate adjusts based on a financial index.

That means your interest rate may go down — but it could go up, too. ARMs carry more risk than fixed rate loans. If interest rates rise, monthly payments could increase. If you take out an adjustable loan, find out how high your payment could go. Don’t assume you’ll always be able to refinance or sell your home before it adjusts.

Fixed-rate mortgages

With fixed-rate subprime mortgages, the interest rate remains the same for the entire repayment period. Since the rate doesn’t change, payments don’t change.

The important question is, what is a subprime mortgage interest rate you’d qualify for? You need to make sure the rate is reasonable and that monthly payments are affordable.

Shop and compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders for poor credit to find the best subprime loan rates. And use a mortgage calculator to see how much your monthly payment would be for any loan you’re considering.

Interest-only mortgages

Interest-only mortgages allow you to pay only interest for a limited time, such as the first five years. This makes monthly payments more affordable, but you don’t make progress in reducing your loan principal.

At the end of the initial period, you’ll begin paying both principal and interest. Your payments may rise substantially because you’ll have a shorter timeline to pay your loan off. If you took a 30-year mortgage and only paid interest for the first 10 years, you’d have just 20 years to pay off your entire principal balance.

Most interest-only loans are also structured as ARMs, so you take the added risk of rates going up and payments rising.

Dignity mortgages

Dignity mortgages are a specific type of subprime loan offered by some lenders. With this type of mortgage, you’ll initially have a high interest rate. But if you make on-time payments for a period of time, your interest rate will eventually be reduced to the prime rate.

Subprime mortgage risks

It’s important to also consider if you’re willing to take on the risk of this type of loan. Some of the biggest risks include:

  • Interest costs will be high: You will pay significantly more mortgage interest over time than if you took out a conventional mortgage.
  • Finding a lender may be difficult: Not all mortgage lenders offer loans to subprime borrowers. You could be limiting your potential loan options.
  • Payments could increase: If you choose an ARM, you face the risk of interest rates going up and payments rising.
  • Foreclosure is possible: If you don’t pay your subprime mortgage loan, your lender will foreclose. Your credit could be severely damaged.

Lenders are required under Dodd-Frank financial reform laws to conduct an “ability-to-repay” assessment. This ensures borrowers are capable of paying back their loans. These mandates can reduce the risk for borrowers. But the bottom line is buying a house with bad credit can create a host of complications.

Alternatives to subprime mortgages

You may be wondering if there are other options. The good news is that there are multiple solutions for borrowers with bad credit. Some of the best options include these government-back loans:

  • FHA loan: FHA lenders often work with borrowers with lower credit. FHA loans are available to borrowers with credit as low as 500 as long as they make a 10% down payment. Borrowers with scores of 580 or higher can get approved with a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loan: A VA mortgage loan is available to eligible service members and veterans regardless of their poor credit history. The VA doesn’t set a minimum score, but some lenders do.

USDA loan: These allow you to purchase eligible homes in rural areas. More stringent underwriting is required to qualify borrowers with credit scores below 640. But it may still be possible to qualify.

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Indigo Platinum Mastercard Review | NextAdvisor with TIME

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We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus: No current offer
  • Annual fee: $0 – $99
  • Regular APR: 24.90%
  • Recommended credit score: 300-670 (Bad to Fair)

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help you build a better credit score (if you practice good credit habits) with monthly reporting to the three credit bureaus. Unlike many other options for building credit, this is an unsecured credit card, so it doesn’t require a cash deposit as collateral. But you may incur an annual fee, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At a Glance

  • Monthly payment reporting to the three credit bureaus for people with limited credit history or poor credit
  • Annual fee of $0, $59, or $75 the first year, depending on your creditworthiness ($75 version charges a $99 annual fee after the first year)
  • Unsecured credit card with no security deposit required
  • Standard variable APR of 24.9% 

Pros

  • Available to individuals with no credit history or low credit scores

  • Unsecured credit card

  • Annual fee could be as low as $0 depending on your creditworthiness

  • Monthly payments report to all three credit bureaus

Cons

  • No rewards

  • Annual fees vary depending on creditworthiness, and you won’t know your fee until you apply

  • High variable APR

  • $300 credit limit

Additional Card Details

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is geared toward people with “less than perfect credit” or minimal credit histories. Like other credit-building card options, it doesn’t offer a lot of perks.

You will get a few benefits, like online account access and reporting to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can also choose from multiple card designs for no extra charge.

Prequalification is another benefit of the Indigo Platinum Mastercard. Prequalifying is a great way to gauge your approval odds and the terms of your offer without filling out a full application and undergoing a credit check, which can temporarily hurt your credit score. If you do choose to apply after pre-qualifying, you’ll still be subject to credit approval with a hard credit inquiry.

Should You Get this Card?

Many credit cards available to people with bad credit scores are secured credit cards that require a cash deposit as collateral. The Indigo Platinum Mastercard offers an alternative to secured cards for building better credit, but has its own drawbacks.

For one, your credit limit is capped at $300. If you’re approved for a version of this card with an annual fee, it’ll be automatically applied, which means your starting limit could be as low as $225. 

The annual fee itself is another drawback. The amount you’re charged will depend on your creditworthiness when you apply. If your approval comes with an annual fee, that $59 or $99 ($75 the first year) charge can quickly add up over time. Consider other cards with no annual fee (and even no annual fee secured credit cards) that may make better long-term options for building a healthier credit profile.

How to Use the Indigo Platinum Mastercard

Because the Indigo Platinum Mastercard doesn’t offer any rewards and your credit limit is just $300, you should use this credit card for the sole purpose of improving your credit score. Only make purchases you can afford to pay off when your statement is due, and pay your bill on time to avoid up to $40 in late fees and a penalty APR up to 29.9%. 

Pro Tip

Building a great credit score, whether you’re starting from no credit history or repairing damaged credit, requires a foundation of good credit habits your credit card can help establish — such as timely payments, low credit utilization, and paying off your balances in full each month.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard’s low credit limit means you’ll need to be extra careful with your spending to improve your credit score. Using more than 30% of your available credit can hurt your credit utilization rate — one of the most influential factors in your credit score. With a credit limit of $300, that means you should keep your charges below $90.

The goal of a card like Indigo Platinum Mastercard is to, over time, improve your credit score enough to qualify for a better credit card. Use this card to establish and maintain the healthy credit habits (like timely payments in full, low utilization, and consistently paying down balances) that will improve your credit long-term, and help you qualify for a card that’s better suited for your spending habits in the future.

Indigo Platinum Mastercard Compared to Other Cards

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0 – $99

  • Regular APR:

    24.90%

  • Recommended credit:

    300-670 (Bad to Fair)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    22.49% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $39

  • Regular APR:

    26.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

If your credit score isn’t great and you want to start building the credit foundation to move in the right direction, the Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help by reporting your usage to the three credit bureaus — if you practice good habits that will reflect positively on your report. But you may also take on a pricey annual fee and risk high utilization due to the card’s low credit limit. Before applying, consider other cards for bad credit and secured credit cards with no annual fee that may better serve your credit-building goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is a decent option for consumers with poor credit who don’t want to put down a security deposit on a secured credit card. Check your prequalification terms, and compare other options for people with fair credit or bad credit before applying.

The credit limit for the Indigo Platinum Mastercard is $300. If you get approved for a version with an annual fee, your annual fee will be deducted from your credit limit.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is an unsecured credit card, so you do not have to put down a cash deposit as collateral.

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