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What Is Identity Theft? | Credit.com

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Identity theft is a major problem. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were more than 650,000 victims of identity theft in 2019, making ID theft the most-reported type of FTC complaint.  Chances are good that you will encounter identity theft in your lifetime. That was the case for at least 1 in 10 Americans ages 16 and older in 2016, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Protecting your identity and privacy should be a priority for you, and knowing what identity theft is can help you prepare. There are many different types of ID theft, which can make safeguarding your personal information even more important—and more difficult. Let’s look at some of the most common examples of identity theft and what you can do to manage the risks.

Defining Identity Theft

The term “identity theft” is used a lot, often interchangeably with “fraud.” Though many instances of identity theft are committed for fraudulent reasons, the two are slightly different. If you are a victim of identity theft, you want to catch it before it becomes fraud.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), identity theft is “the knowing transfer or use, without lawful authority, of another person’s identity with the intent to commit, aid, or abet unlawful activity.” In simpler terms, ID theft is the act of stealing another person’s information, like through mail theft, phishing, card skimming, unsecure Wi-Fi or a data breach. Fraud is when a criminal illegally uses that information for their own gain.

The NCVC calls the latter “identity fraud,” which encompasses crimes like credit card fraud, medical fraud, and Social Security number theft. Identity fraud can be financially driven, but is also committed out of other motivations. Someone might try to steal your passport or driver’s license information to travel unnoticed by law enforcement, for example.

Whether an ID thief uses your credit card or medical insurance, the cost to you can be big. Javelin Research found that the 2018 out-of-pocket costs for victims of identity theft were $1.7 billion.

Different Types of Identity Fraud

As a popular saying goes, “Know your enemy.” Let’s take a closer look at identity fraud types and preventative measures you can take to prepare yourself and protect your finances.

1. Credit Cards

Credit card fraud is by far the most prevalent type of identity theft, according to FTC numbers.

You probably store your credit card information with different vendors or subscription services. If you used your card once at a retail store, they’ll still have your information on file. If a data breach occurs at one of those businesses, someone may gain access to your credit card number and begin to make fraudulent purchases.

While it may be easier to catch a fraudulent charge on a card you have, it could be harder to spot a new account in your name. In the meantime, hard inquiries and high credit utilization due to fraud could wreck your credit score.

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What you can do: Requesting a chargeback might help you avoid paying for specific fraudulent transactions, but checking your credit report will show you if the problem is deeper. Sign up for ExtraCredit to keep an eye on your credit report and scores at the same time to make sure that fraudulent accounts aren’t being opened or used. You can also request your free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year to keep close control over your identity and credit profile. If you notice anything fishy, request a freeze immediately and file a report with the FTC.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, you can currently review your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus for free each week, through April 2021.

2. Loans and Leases

Somebody with your personal information might try to apply for a loan online. Fraudsters may then be able to get financing to buy a car or real estate. The FTC has also reported fraud instances related to student loans and payday loans.

Loan application fraud is a challenge to track, but the impact is someone racking up debt in your name. When creditors come calling, it won’t be the thief who has to answer the phone.

What you can do: As with credit card fraud, regularly check your credit reports to watch for red flags. If you spot something, immediately contact the responsible financial institution. You may also want to file a police report or contact the office of the attorney general for your state. If you are the victim of loan/lease fraud, consider using credit repair services to help you recover.

3. Phones and Utilities

Mobile takeover fraud is a complicated scheme, but it’s a growing problem. Basically, it involves a fraudster using your information to access your smartphone and then lock you out. In the meantime, they can use your apps, read saved documents, or scam others by impersonating you. They might also harvest your personal and financial information that you have saved. The same might happen for an electricity or water account: A criminal finds a way in and consumes services that are ultimately billed to you.

The common theme with identity theft here is that if someone has your info, they can do just about anything with it. This includes opening up utility accounts in your name, getting free electricity, gas, water, internet or cable.

What you can do: Maintain strong passwords for all the accounts you have. If you need to, use a password manager to help you keep track of all the complex log-in credentials. Never, ever make your passwords using personally identifiable information, like a pet, birthdate, or home street. Should something happen, immediately contact your service provider.

4. Tax Fraud

Come tax time, a refund is a happy surprise for some Americans. Others may get a nasty shock when they’ve learned someone has claimed their return before they even file their taxes. Tax fraud typically occurs when someone has stolen your Social Security number, which they can then manipulate to falsely file a return and claim your refund.

What you can do: Under no circumstances should you give your SSN to anybody but trusted entities like the government, your bank, or your credit card company. Be wary of scammers posing as the IRS who will call or email you demanding your SSN information. This is a surefire sign of fraud. You can also opt to file your taxes early, thereby eliminating the opportunity for thieves to file for you and claim your return.

The IRS recommends watching out for various scams. If you believe you’ve been a victim, file a report on IdentityTheft.gov, call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490, and complete and submit the identity theft Affidavit.

Taking the Next Steps to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is a constant threat, so you’ll always need to be on your toes.

Guard It from ExtraCredit provides you with proactive alerts, dark web monitoring, account monitoring, and $1 million in ID theft insurance.  Sign up today or read more articles about identity theft and fraud.

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Dustin Aab on the importance of achieving financial freedom in life | Personal Finance News

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The more closely we look around us, the more we get nearer to reality where so many individuals work with a certain grit, commitment and dedication to achieve what their hearts desire. These individuals are the ones that not only work to attain their set goals in their career but also help others in their journeys. Talking about the sales and consulting business, which is growing each passing day across nations as professionals from various industries aim to get nearer their visions and aspirations in business, we can notice the boom in this niche; thanks to professional entrepreneurs like Dustin Aab.

Based out of California, Dustin Aab is a leading American entrepreneur, who excels in sales and consulting and has been shaping the careers of hundreds of people through his astute skills and knowledge as a true professional in the industry. It was seven years ago that Dustin Aab had started his career in the sales arena and from the past six years owns his sales company, under which he is working with the mission to turn the desires and dreams of professionals into reality through his mentorship and coaching in sales.

Dustin Aab’s sales and consulting business is all about providing the best of the industry products and services that help individuals change their financial status and situation. His life has been full of challenges, but Dustin Aab very early had realized the power of working hard and putting in every possible effort to make a successful career; hence, after working so hard for years, he has been able to create the financial freedom he wanted by becoming an entrepreneur. He hopes to change as many lives as he can in his career and take people nearer to their definition of success. He does sales mentorship and consulting for not just individuals, but companies as well.

Some of the specific services he offers through his company include Real estate, amazon automation, sales training mentorship, credit repair, Instagram growth and branding, life insurance and solar.

(Disclaimer: This is a Brand Desk content)

 

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Home Depot, Inc. (The) (NYSE:HD), J P Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) – Key Markets To Watch As The Mortgage Boom Continues To Fade

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The last year has seen the most eye-popping spike in value in history. 

While the Covid 19 pandemic initially shut down economies across the globe, the Work from Home movement caused a mass exodus away from metropolitan areas where many large companies are headquartered.  Homebuyers have been laying siege on the housing market to the point where houses in the most desirable locations are selling for more than 50% above the asking price in some cases.

This current trend is all thanks to the Fed lowering interest rates last year in response to the pandemic to help bolster the economy. 

Lowering the interest rate allows banks to charge less interest on consumer mortgages.  When mortgages are cheaper, it may entice would-be home buyers to jump on opportunities, but it also gives current homeowners the ability to re-finance (re-fi) and pocket the cash to use elsewhere.  While this was the intended response, the side effects of cheap access to money led to an immense spike in demand for mortgages.

Regarding the demand for houses from new home buyers, there is a potential for the steam to run out of this drive because buyers are being priced out of opportunities. This is partly due to the massive supply and demand imbalance and partly due to raw materials for new houses such as lumber adding so much to the price of a new house, which eventually dissuades buyers away from the market.

The mortgage markets, however, are also running out of steam.  It can be inferred from the earnings call from Rocket Companies, Inc. (NYSE: RKT) that the mortgage market is experiencing a price war that, while temporary, is weighing on profits.  Mortgage companies are continually fighting to provide consumers with better rates, but this competition can only last for so long.

Whether you’re invested in the mortgage companies, real estate, or are simply an interested home buyer, here are some recommendations of markets to follow to find out if the steam does run out and a correction occurs in the housing market.

Mortgage Writers Rejoice

Mortgage companies like Rocket Companies, owner of Quicken Loans, North American Savings Bank (OTC: NASB), and Chase Bank (NYSE: JPM) saw massive profits during 2020 and early parts of 2021 as the demand for mortgages skyrocketed.  They expanded services, increased employee pay, and saw growth like they hadn’t seen since before the financial crisis in 2008. 

While banks generally learned their lesson the last time around, this time is different.  Back in 2008, the methods used by banks to get people to sign on the dotted lines were sometimes less than savory.  This led to a sharp rise in risky mortgages that eventually led to waves of defaults that the financial system wasn’t prepared to handle.

This time, the consumers have run at banks with their money and demanded mortgages.  On top of this, the mortgages being written are for individuals who meet lenders’ requirements.  According to this credit repair report, companies are more sophisticated now as well, and they are helping even more people get good rates and adding to the numbers flocking to mortgage companies.

However, the world is emerging from life during Covid, and the mortgage companies will be the ones to show the first signs of a cooling market.  It may have already started, as mentioned before during Rocket Companies, Inc.’s earnings call. 

The Luxuries of Home Improvement

Amazon will indeed rule the world if it can ever pose a threat to home improvement giants like Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW). 

While both companies certainly specialize in retail home improvement supply, the bulk of their business is from commercial sales in contractor supplies.  If you’ve ever tried to go to a Home Depot or Lowe’s on a Saturday morning, you’ve seen the lines of contractor trucks pulling through the bay to pick up cords of PVC, lumber, and other materials.  These items are not easy to ship. All the better for the continued legacy of both of these companies.

The consistent profits for Home Depot and Lowe’s over the last year have largely been fueled by both the new home market and the refinance market.  New homes depend on raw materials to build, and if the market for new homes begins to cool, Home Depot and Lowe’s will be the stocks to watch.  However, the new home sales market tends to lag behind existing home sales since new homes are often built by large development companies as inventory before they are sold to home buyers.

To a much larger degree, home improvement projects have seen massive growth due to homeowners refinancing their mortgages and using the savings to build upon home values.  This may represent the bulk of the correlation between home improvement stocks and the mortgage market.  While the home improvement market is expected to rise in the coming years, a fall in revenues could point to a cooling in refinance applications.

Summing Up

The mortgage market relies on bringing customers to the table to sign papers. 

However, there are only so many willing buyers, and most of them have been drawn out over the last year for a variety of reasons including the Work from Home movement, extra savings built up due to lockdowns, and historically low interest rates. 

While business has been good, the world emerging from the current crisis may signal a cooling in the housing market, though not to the extent of the 2008 financial crisis. Keeping track of mortgage writing and home improvement companies may provide an idea of where the sentiment lies and allow investors to prepare for changing markets in the near future.

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Way to Realizing Fiscal Freedom With Fix It Financial

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The overwhelming rise in employment levels has resulted in a significant alteration in lifestyle choices made by the working class. People are leaving their sustenance zone and are aiming to satisfy themselves with various services available. But to make the situation conducive, we need easy access to funds and investments which can help people realize their dream lifestyle, or even help small businesses to work on the expansion of their company. The market is filled with people who claim to provide a fruitful result, but their services are often fraudulent and inconsequential.

Also Read | Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan Says Innovative Measures Needed To Correct State’s Finances

Fix it financial is a credit repair company that helps people improve their financial standing by implementing various tools. The objective remains, building credit score by removing all the unwanted negative items from the 3 major Credit bureaus by disputing negative items in public information. Unlike the traditional methods to tackle the problem, Fix it financial, present a new approach to people’s falling credibility and targets the core issues to secure them back.

An outline of the credit score of multiple selves demonstrated a startling truth about the declining credit scores of people. The circumstances are bothering as it generates an enormous discrepancy between people in terms of loan accessibility. Keeping the same in their mind, Fix it financial ensures total transparency, and authentic results. They believe customer satisfaction should be the top priority of the firm, and hence they have strived hard to maintain their quality service without charging monthly fees.

Also Read | Excelling Beyond Boundaries To Help People With Specialized Financial and Investment Advice Is Stephen Rodrigues

Fix it financial was born when the promoter themself realized their steeping credit score. In order to improve it, they tried numerous methods which proved to be worthless. One must understand the whole concept so that they can decipher the trick to maneuver their desirable credit score. After discerning the same and trying out numerous methods, they were able to successfully change their credit score.

When asked about the values which make Fix it financial, a unique platform, they said, they try hard to create an ambiance of familiarity and peace., while treating each client and employee as a member of the family. Moreover, Fix it financial expresses their concerns over the people who are reluctant to invest but desire quick results. According to them, one cannot make profits if they are unwilling to put something into the business during the initial period.

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