LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) – A University of Kansas study has identified the technological challenges women face when transitioning from incarceration.
The University of Kansas says scholars have written a study about the return to a digital world for women leaving prison or jail, their technology usage, privacy management and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their access to technology. It said the research was part of creating technology classes to help the population successfully rejoin society.
KU said Hyunjin Seo is an associate professor of journalism and mass communications and is the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation grant to provide evidence-based technology education to women transitioning from incarceration. It said through interviews they learned more about the challenges women face in returning to an increasingly digital world.
Specifically, the University said they found the women often have inadequate access to the internet, rely on cellphones for completing online tasks and often know little about protecting their privacy or have potentially dangerous attitudes about online safety. It said COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges.
KU said coauthors include Hannah Britton, professor of political science and of women, gender & sexuality studies; Megha Ramaswamy, associate professor of preventive medicine & public health; doctoral students Darcey Altschwager, Matt Blomberg and Shola Aromona; and senior researchers Bernard Schuster, Marilyn Ault and Joi Wickliffe, all of KU.
According to KU, the results have also served as a foundation for an evidence-based technology class for women transitioning from incarceration. It said Seo had previously designed a local educational program for that population and was encouraged by participants that found successful employment.
“I’d been thinking about how to scale up that project, so we submitted a research proposal to the National Science Foundation to work with more women in Missouri and Kansas,” Seo said. “Happily, this proposal was funded. For all of our projects like this, we first conduct rigorous research to develop an evidence-based program.”
KU said the article presents findings on the challenges and knowledge women transitioning from incarceration had, both before and during the pandemic. It said the key to the findings was access to the internet. It said many women reported relying on cellphones and often also used places like public libraries, coffee shops or fast-food restaurants for WiFi. It said the pandemic further complicated this.
“There is increasing awareness of a digital divide and its effects, especially during a pandemic. A significant proportion of people simply do not have adequate access to computers or internet at home. Public places where they generally use public-access computers or Wi-Fi are closed due to COVID-19,” Seo said. “Women transitioning from incarceration have distinct challenges as well. While incarcerated, they are separated from technology and have to catch up when released.”
According to the school, less than half of the respondents reported having a laptop or computer. It said some reported borrowing laptops or tablets provided by schools when students are not using them. It said those with cellphones with internet access often had data plans with severely limited amounts of time they could spend online.
KU said isolation from technology when incarcerated was often exacerbated when participants were learning about new technologies when released.
“A significant percentage of women who were incarcerated had histories of sexual harassment or abuse, which can lead to mental health challenges, increased frustration, anger management and other issues when trying to learn about new technology,” Seo said.
According to KU, the research participants indicated they often did not know how to protect their privacy or information online. It said this manifested in several ways, including many who choose not to join social media or going online very little for fear of losing information. It said several, especially those recently released, also reported feelings of still being watched, resulting in a reluctance to be active online. It said others reported not wanting to be online to avoid being found by abusive partners or exes or a reluctance to make friends on social media for that reason.
KU said a lack of knowledge about online security also revealed itself. It said respondents often reported having bad credit, lack of employment or little money as reasons to not be fearful of having information exposed online. It said this attitude is dangerous and can lead to reckless behavior or leave people vulnerable to malicious actors online.
According to KU, the findings show a digital divide and certain populations are often left out in terms of digital access and knowledge. It said the project aims to support over 100 women in reentry to complete education during the three year project period. It said participants will learn about technology, security and privacy and will get certificates of completion they can list on their resumes.
“We’re trying to help this population of women enhance their technological skills that they can use in securing employment in an environment where their skills are increasingly valued,” Seo said. “We also know the pandemic has forced the cancellation of many classes and made access more difficult. Google Fiber has provided support for purchasing refurbished computers and mobile hotspots for the project. There have been efforts made to address the digital divide, but there simply have not been sufficient efforts made on behalf of this particular group.”
Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.
What To Do When You’re Rejected For A Mobile Phone Contract
By Harriet Meyer
Many mobile phone contracts don’t require you to pay a penny upfront – even for the latest smartphone. Instead, you commit to regular payments over, say, 18 or 24 months.
But, just like other credit applications, such as for a mortgage or loan, you could be rejected for a mobile phone contract if you have a bad credit rating.
Here, we consider why you might find yourself in this frustrating position and – most importantly – what you can do about it.
Why was my contract application rejected?
It’s usually the first question on everyone’s lips when they have been turned down for credit. And the answer is that, essentially, the provider has checked your credit report and determined that you’re a high-risk customer who may fail to pay off your debt.
Providers use the information on your credit file to assess your history of managing money. So, if you’re rejected, this could be for one of the following reasons, or a combination of these:
- A history of late or missed bill payments, causing providers to see you as financially stretched, or someone who struggles to manage money
- Holding an account in joint names with someone who has a poor credit history
- You’re not registered on the electoral roll, so a provider may not be able to verify your identity and address
- County Court Judgements (CCJs) against your name, or Individual Voluntary Agreements (IVAs) on your credit record, indicating that you could face financial trouble
- Lack of credit history – you need some history of making regular payments to build up your credit history, and show that you can manage regular debt payments.
How can I check my credit score?
If you genuinely have no idea why you have been rejected, it’s worth checking your credit report. This way, you can find out what the provider was looking at when it decided not to offer you a contract.
You can do this at one of the three main credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). Experian offers a free service that enables you to sign up and check your credit score for a general overview. ClearScore is another free service that uses Equifax data.
The way credit scores are calculated varies between the different agencies, but they give providers an idea of how reliable you may be when you’re signing up for a contract.
What can I do if I’m rejected?
Remember that any financial contract is a commitment – so if you’re rejected, consider if it’s sensible to be signing up at all, particularly if you’re battling with other bills.
But whatever you do, avoid applying for a string of mobile phone contracts in the hope of being accepted. Each one will involve a credit search and leave a mark on your file, which could impact on your ability to get future credit, such as a mortgage.
The good news is there may be other options available which means you can still get a new phone or upgrade.
Find out more about your credit report with our guide.
Pay a deposit. The network provider may get around you having a poor credit history by asking you to pay an upfront deposit for the contract to offset any risk that you fail to make payments.
The amount of deposit will vary depending on your credit status, the package and the provider. You typically receive the deposit back once you’ve made several months’ worth of payments – typically ranging from three to 12 months.
Choose a SIM-only tariff. If you’re willing to buy a handset upfront, or already have an old phone you can use, you could opt for a pay monthly SIM-only deal. These are cheaper than full-blown contracts as you’re not receiving and paying for a phone as part of the deal.
You will still have a credit check, but you’ve got a greater chance of being accepted as payments are typically lower for these contracts, so there’s less risk for the provider.
Also, paying your monthly SIM-only bill on time will help show that you can sensibly manage a contract, which may boost your credit score over time.
Opt for a pay-as-you-go deal. If you want a phone for occasional use, then a pay-as-you-go deal might suit. Once you’ve bought a phone upfront, you pay for credit as and when needed. You won’t be tied into a contract, and will not be subject to a credit check.
Get a ‘bad credit’ contract. There are specialist companies which supply phone contracts to people with bad credit. You can do an online search to get an idea of what’s available, or speak to an adviser in a mobile phone store.
However, you may not be able to get the phone model you want, and your monthly payments may be substantially higher than for a standard contract. This is not an option to be taken lightly.
Check out family deals. You may want to ask a family member with a good credit rating to sign up to the contract. That’s if you’re opting for a family deal, when several lines may be connected to a single contract – but only one person pays the bill and undergoes a credit check.
Get a guarantor. Alternatively, you could ask someone to essentially guarantee your contract by co-signing it. But, of course, they must be comfortable being liable for any missed payments, thereby offsetting the risk for the network provider in case you default. Provided you make payments on time, this option can also gradually improve your credit rating.
Improve your credit score. To improve your chances of being accepted for a mobile phone contract or any other form of credit in the future, you can take time to improve your credit score by, for example:
- Registering on the electoral roll with your local authority
- Ensuring you don’t fall behind with monthly repayments on any bills (set up direct debits to pay them automatically)
- Sticking within your credit limit on any cards that you use and clearing the balances every month
- Check your credit report (see above) and if you find any errors, ask the agency to amend them with a ‘Notice of Correction’
Upstart vs. Sofi: Which Personal Loan Is Right for You?
Our goal here at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, referred to as “Credible” below, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we do promote products from our partner lenders, all opinions are our own.
If you’re looking for a personal loan, you’ll likely come across Upstart and SoFi. Both companies offer flexible loans for a variety of purposes, but there are some differences to keep in mind when deciding between them.
Here’s a comparison of Upstart vs. SoFi to help you choose. Both Upstart and SoFi are Credible partners.
|Fixed rates||8.13% – 35.99% APR4||5.99% – 18.83% APR|
|Loan amount||$1,000 to $50,0005||$5,000 to $100,000|
|Loan terms||3 to 5 years4||2 to 7 years|
|Min. credit score||600
(in most states)
|Does not disclose|
|Time to fund||As soon as 1 – 3 business days6||3 business days|
|Origination fee||0% to 8% of loan amount||None|
|Income||$12,000||Check with lender|
|Residency||Available in all states except IA and WV||Available in all states except MS|
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Upstart personal loans
Founded by ex-Googlers, Upstart’s artificial intelligence platform fully automates 58% of its personal loans. It has originated $6.9 billion in loans and notably offers loans to those with less-than-perfect credit.
Upstart offers personal loans for a variety of uses — including debt consolidation loans, wedding loans, and more. You can borrow as little as $1,000 or as much as $50,000 and can expect fast loan funding.
Learn More: Personal Loan vs. Credit Card
- Lower minimum credit score: Upstart offers personal loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 600. If you’re looking for bad credit personal loans or fair credit personal loans, Upstart could be a good choice.
- No prepayment penalties: You don’t have to worry about any fees if you pay off your loan early.
- Fast funding: If your application is accepted, you’ll likely get your money within just a few business days. In fact, Upstart says that 99% of applicants get their money after just one business day.
- Low minimum borrowing amount: You can borrow as little as $1,000 with Upstart, which could be helpful if you only need a small loan.
- Lower maximum loan amount: With Upstart, you can only borrow up to $50,000. This could make it harder to fund larger debt consolidations or bigger home improvements.
- High origination fees: With Upstart, you might pay an origination fee of up to 8% of the loan amount.
- No options for visa holders: Upstart doesn’t offer personal loans for visa holders — you must have a Social Security number to borrow with this lender.
Check out our Upstart personal loans review to learn more.
SoFi personal loans
SoFi offers a variety of financial products, including credit card consolidation loans and other types of personal loans. It also provides several perks to its members, such as unemployment protection, career coaching, and networking events.
With SoFi, you can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Plus, SoFi personal loans come with no fees.
Learn More: How Personal Loans Impact Your Credit Score
- Large loan amounts: You can borrow up to $100,000 in unsecured funds with SoFi. This can be useful for home improvement loans, wedding loans, and other large borrowing needs.
- Discounts available: If you sign up for autopay, you can get a discount on your SoFi personal loan. You might also qualify for a discount if you’re using other SoFi products.
- Member benefits and perks: As a SoFi member, you’ll have access to additional resources, including financial planning, career coaching, and networking events. SoFi also provides unemployment protection in case you lose your job.
- Options for visa holders: If you’re a visa holder without a Social Security number, you might still qualify for a SoFi personal loan.
- Higher credit score requirements: You’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify for a personal loan through SoFi. If you have poor or fair credit, you’ll likely need to consider other lenders.
- Higher minimum loan requirement: You’ll need to take out at least a $5,000 personal loan to borrow through SoFi. If you need a smaller loan, SoFi might not be the right choice for you.
- Longer funding time: SoFi personal loans typically take a few business days to fund. If you need a faster loan funding time, you might need to look elsewhere.
See our SoFi personal loans review for more details.
Choosing a lender for a personal loan
A personal loan could help you cover large or unexpected purchases. Before you borrow, it’s a good idea to shop around and consider as many lenders as possible to find a loan that fits your needs. Credible makes this easy — you can compare multiple lenders, like Upstart and SoFi, in two minutes.
Keep Reading: Where to Get a $10,000 Personal Loan
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