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What Affects Credit Score | A Complete Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Your Credit Score
 

What Affects Credit Score | A Complete Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Your Credit Score

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It’s safe to say, understanding how credit scoring works can save you over a hundred thousand dollars over your lifetime. ...

It’s safe to say, understanding how credit scoring works can save you over a hundred thousand dollars over your lifetime.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s say you obtain a $250,000 home loan on a 30 year mortgage. With a 4% fixed mortgage, you will make total payments over 30 years of $429,674 or $1,193.54 a month for 360 months.

If your interest rate was instead 6% due to your credit history, your total payments over 30 years will be $539,596 or $1,499 per month for 360 months. A difference of $109,922!

Do I have your attention now?

The savings doesn't stop. Your credit score is factored into how much you pay for home and auto insurance also...

...And it’s not a few dollars a year difference. You can save hundreds of dollars a year on home and auto insurance by optimizing your credit score.

Other benefits include:

• Other loans, such as auto, will have a lower interest rate. You’ll also have more
negotiating power as banks love to deal with clients with a high credit score.
• If you rent, even long-term vacation rentals, it’s easier to do so with good credit history.
• You’ll get better credit card offers and interest rates
• And much more...

At Weiss Insurance Agencies, our mission is to properly insure homeowners in Illinois and the Midwest, for the best possible price.

Based on our mission, I feel there’s an obligation to provide current and future clients with information to help them improve their credit score, so they can pay less in insurance...

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    What Affects Credit Score | A Complete Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Your Credit Score What Affects Credit Score | A Complete Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Your Credit Score Document Transcript

    • 1Why Your Credit ScoreIs Secretly CostingYou Thousands ofDollars and What toDo About ItBy: R.J. Weiss CFP®, Personal Lines Customer Specialist
    • 2It’s safe to say, understanding how credit scoringworks can save you over a hundred thousanddollars over your lifetime.Don’t believe me?Let’s say you obtain a $250,000 home loan ona 30 year mortgage. With a 4% fixed mortgage,you will make total payments over 30 years of$429,674 or $1,193.54 a month for 360 months.If your interest rate was instead 6% due to yourcredit history, your total payments over 30 yearswill be $539,596 or $1,499 per month for 360months. A difference of $109,922!Do I have your attention now?The savings doesn’t stop. Your credit score isfactored into how much you pay for home andauto insurance also......And it’s not a few dollars a year difference. Youcan save hundreds of dollars a year on home andauto insurance by optimizing your credit score.Other benefits include:• Other loans, such as auto, will have alower interest rate. You’ll also have morenegotiating power as banks love to deal withclients with a high credit score.• If you rent, even long-term vacation rentals,it’s easier to do so with good credit history.• You’ll get better credit card offers and interestrates• And much more...At Weiss Insurance Agencies, our mission is toproperly insure homeowners in Illinois and theMidwest, for the best possible price.Based on our mission, I feel there’s an obligationto provide current and future clients withinformation to help them improve their creditscore, so they can pay less in insurance...IntroductionAbout R.J. Weiss CFP®, PLCS
    • 3Understanding YourCredit HistoryWhat Makes Up Your Credit Score?To optimize your credit score, there are twothings you need to understand:1. Your Credit Score2. Your Credit ReportFirst, let’s look at your credit score also knownas your FICO (named so after the Fair IsaacCorporation) score. Your credit score is a simplenumber between 300 and 850. The higher thenumber, the better your credit history.The number was originally created to make iteasier for lenders to determine if you’re worthy ofa loan or not. Just by looking at your credit score,a bank can decide if they will lend you money andat what rate.However, your credit score now impacts manyareas of your finances beyond bank loans, asmentioned above.Note: There are other services now maintaining yourcredit score. I used FICO because it’s the most wellknown. All the scoring services (TransUnion, Vantage,Experian, and Equifax) have a different formula;however, all are very similar.FICO hasn’t released the exact formula forcalculating your credit score, but it has releasedwhat your credit score is based on. Here is theformula from their website:Here’s what you need to know about each factor...
    • 15% of your credit score is based upon howlong you have had credit. The longer yourcredit history, the better.This is why it’s a good idea to apply for a cardwhen you’re young and keep that card for life.It’s also why it’s a bad idea to cancel youroldest card.Although it’s not my primary card, I still havemy first card for this reason. I use it to pay mycable bill, which is automatically billed eachmonth.I keep this card active because you want toalways have some activity on your credit. LikeI mentioned before, applying for a credit cardand then never using it, can actually hurt yourcredit card.Would you lend $100 to a friend who justborrowed $100 from three other friends? Ofcourse not. Which is why lenders, don’t liketo see a lot of new activity, including creditinquiries, on your credit history.Lenders prefer to see a variety of credit onyour credit score. For example, it’s better tohave a student loan, one credit card, and a carloan then three credit cards.This is only 10% of your score, so don’t go outand buy or car or a house just to get variety.The most common mistake made here iscarrying too many credit cards.Many people try to crack the FICO equation,to determine their exact credit score. FICOhas never and will never release the exactequation.It all comes down to common sense though.Pay your bills on time (even if you’re makingminimum payments), don’t use all of yourcredit available, and don’t close your oldestaccount.Payment History - 35%Amounts Owed - 30%Length of Credit History - 15%New Credit - 10%Types of Credit Used - 10%What It All Comes Down ToYour payment history takes in account the timingof your past payments on accounts such as yourcredit card, retail accounts, and your mortgage. Italso takes into account any bills that have goneto collection.A quick story, back in college I was in a car accident.Wasn’t my fault but the other driver didn’t haveinsurance. He was going to pay me out of pocket.I had the bill sent to my dorm room. However, Iswitched dorm rooms over semesters and didn’treceive the bill. Being a dumb 19 year old, I kind ofput the situation aside and thought it was taken careof somehow. Turns out the bill ended up going tocollections. This one mistake six years ago cost mewhen I went to apply for a mortgage.It’s not rocket science, if you want to improve yourcredit score, pay your bills on time. It’s the #1thing you can do.The amount owed is the next biggest weight onyour credit score. It’s also commonly referred toas, your credit utilization rate.This is a ratio of the amount you owe and theamount available. It also takes into account thenumber of accounts you have with balances.This perfect credit utilization rate isn’t known.However, we do know some basic facts:• Don’t max or come close to maxing out youravailable. A good rule of thumb is to not gobeyond 33% of your available credit.• You want to use at least some credit.Therefore, a utilization rate of 0% couldactually hurt your credit score.Shoot for the lowest percentage you can, witha reasonable credit limit. A good rule of thumbis that your credit limit shouldn’t exceed youremergency fund.If you’re responsible with paying your bills ontime, I repeat if you’re responsible for payingyour bills on time, a good tactic to increaseyour utilization rate is to call up your credit cardcompany and ask for a limit increase.Please only do this if you have always managedto pay your bills on time (yes I know, I said that3 times but it’s really important) and have anadequate emergency fund. Otherwise, it couldend up hurting you in the long run.
    • So now that you know 99% of what there is toknow about credit scores, you probably want tosee what your score is.There’s two ways to get your credit score, one ismore accurate but does require your credit cardHow to Get Your Credit Scoreinformation because after 10 days you’re signedup for a monthly subscription (which you cancancel). The other is more of an estimate butrequires no credit card.
    • 6To get your exact credit score, which Irecommend you do once a year, go to MyFico.com. This is the site maintained by The FairIsaac Corporation.They’ll ask you to sign up for a “free trial”.However, you can cancel before the 10 days isup. (Make sure to cancel though, as a 3 monthminimum applies).Print out the report and save it. Keep it with yourother important financial documents, so you cancompare from year to year. (Use the Print buttonlocated at the “Next Steps” tabs. This will giveyou a nice clean printout of your score. )Also, in the “Next Steps” tab, there is a creditscore simulator. This will let you see how certainactions can help or hurt your credit score.For example, if I max out my credit cards thismonth my credit score would go down around50 points. There is a handy button on top thatOption # 1 - MyFico.comsays, “Simulate Best Action” which will let yousee what one thing will help your credit scorethe most.This is a great way to boost your credit scoreimmediately.Don’t forget, that if you’re getting married orplanning on applying for a loan, like a mortgage,with someone, your two credit scores combinedwill determine your credit score. Therefore, makesure to check every one’s credit score who willbe on the loan.One last note about MyFico.com, on the thirdtab you can see how different credit scoresaffect different loans. For example, the differencebetween a credit score of 750 and 550 on$25,000 48 month car loan, is $162 a month.That’s a 28% increase in monthly payment!(Note: Hopefully the website design has stayedthe same by the time this eBook is published. Ifnot, let me know and I will update the guide).
    • 7The free option is to use CreditKarma.com.I love the service but there are a few things youshould know to get the most out of it.• Your score at Credit Karma will be differentfrom your FICO score. As mentioned, thereare many different credit score reportingservices and Credit Karma doesn’t use FICO.For more, read their FAQ.• Sign up the alerts. This will let you know ofany new activities.• Use the Report Card to identify strengthsand weaknessesPersonally, I login to Credit Karma a fewtimes a year just to make sure there’s nothingunexpected. It’s a convenient way to monitor ifyou are on the right path.Option # 2 - Credit Karma
    • 8Your credit report is a more detailed report ofyour past credit history. It provides a futurelender with just about financial transaction fromyour past. A little scary, but true.Getting your credit report is simple and free. Goto annualcreditreport.com.You’re entitled to a free copy of your creditreport from each of the report agencies oncea year. You can get these all at once or over aperiod of a year.I prefer to spread it out, just in case someonerequests a copy of my credit report, I don’t haveto pay to get one.Once you get your credit report, review it!You want to double check everything. Evenbasic information such as your name, socialsecurity number, address, etc... You won’tbelieve how many stories I have heard of thisinformation being incorrect, and consequently,negatively affecting someone’s credit withoutthem knowing it.Besides your basic information, you need toreview everything on your credit history. Startfrom the first page and work your way towardthe end.To show you what you should be looking for, I’mgoing to take you through a recent copy of mycredit report. (The report varies depending onwhat credit bureau you obtain it from, so don’tworry if yours isn’t the same).The Credit Report
    • 9If you have any unpaid bills that were sent tocollections, this is where they’re listed.orth mentioning is that, Chapter 7, 11, and 12bankruptcies and unpaid tax liens will remainup to ten years.The next section gives my accounts that arepaid up to date, along with a balance history.Mine include three credit cards and onemortgage. All accounts status currently list“Open/Never late”, a great sign.On one of my credit card accounts, I’m listedas an authorized user. Meaning it’s notresponsibility to pay the bill. Even though thisisn’t my credit card, being an authorized userstill affects my credit rating.A bit of history on the authorized userbecause this has been a back and forthissue. One of the ways you used to be ableto increase your credit score was to addyourself as an authorized user to an accountPotentially Negative Items orItems for Further ReviewAccounts in Good Standingin good standing. For example, if your parentshad good credit, you can ask for them to add youas an authorized user and their credit historywould go on your credit history.FICO figured out this trick quickly and decidedto eliminate authorized user status from thecredit score equation for a short time. About twomonths after, the reversed their decision after thechanged reversed their decision stating:“After consulting with the Federal Reserve Boardand the Federal Trade Commission earlierthis year, Fair Isaac has decided to includeconsideration of authorized user trade linespresent on the credit report in the FICO 08model.” - Tom Quinn, Vice President of GlobalScoring Solutions for Fair Isaac CorporationI don’t know this for a fact, but from reading inbetween the lines I’m guessing that there is noway being an authorized user helps your credit.If the account holder is in good standing and hasa good history of paying its bills, it will have noeffect at all.If the account is in bad standing, it will negativelyaffect your score. Therefore, if you’re an authorizeduser on an account with a bad credit history, ask tobe removed immediately. (You might want to sendthem this book, while you’re at it)
    • 10Record of Requests for Your Credit History(Hard Inquiries)Hard inquiries are done when you’re taking onadditional financial obligation. Unfortunately,many businesses don’t come right out and tellyou that they are performing a hard inquiry onyour credit. However, it does make its way intothe fine print.The most common hard inquiries you will findon your credit report include:• Banks & Credit Unions• Credit Card Companies• Car Dealers• Insurance Companies – They’re required bylaw to ask.• Property Management Companies &Landlords• Phone & Cable Companies• Utility CompaniesHere’s the statement from Experian on my creditreport:“We make your credit history available toyour current and prospective creditors andemployers as allowed by law. Experian may listthese inquiries for two years so that you willhave a record of the companies that accessedyour credit information.The section below lists all of the companiesthat have reviews your credit history as aresult of action you took, such as applying forcredit or financing or as a result of a collection.The inquires in this section are shared withcompanies that view your credit history.”Each hard inquiry on your credit report will loweryour anywhere between 5 and 10 points. Ifyou’re worried about your credit score, anytimebefore you open a new account just ask if theyperform a hard pull on their credit.Accounts in Good Standing
    • 11Other Ways to Limit Hard Inquires include:1. Ask - Anytime you’re opening a newaccount, ask if they are pulling your credit,when they are pulling your credit, how manytimes they are going to pull your credit, andhow you can get that removed.2. Don’t Rate Chase - A common, butdamaging trend is to chase low introductoryrates on credit cards. The more accountsyou open, the more hard inquiries you willsee on your credit.3. Avoid Applying to Receive 10% Discount- When you’re checking out at a popularretail store they will ask you if you wantto save 10% today by applying for a storecard. The same trick is done by issuing freeT-Shirts at sporting events or pizzas oncollege campus. Every time you fill out anapplication, they pull a hard inquiry.4. Don’t Do Business With Companies ThatRoutinely Check Your Credit - A lot ofbusinesses will make it a habit to pull yourcredit on a regular basis. Unfortunately, thisis legal because they put it on the 22nd pageof their terms and conditions that you hadagreed to.5. Avoid A Sharp Increase in Inquiries - Thisisn’t exactly a tip to eliminate a hard inquiry,but it’s still important. Many people, whowant to get a credit card, will go out andapply for 4 or even ten credit cards at once.Please avoid doing this. It shows you’re indesperate need for credit, which isn’t what afuture lender wants to see.6. Avoid Don’t Pay Till 2014 Deals - Say youwent into Best Buy and want to buy a brandnew big screen. They have a promotiongoing on that says, “0% Financing to 2014”.
    • 12There used to be a common technique toget rid of hard inquires, that if you did a softinquiry on yourself once a day, hard inquireswould eventually get bumped. Credit reportingagencies are smart and quickly caught ontothis.If you don’t recognize or don’t remember givingauthority for a hard inquiry on your credit, youhave the right to get it removed by mailing orfaxing a request to the creditor. You want todo this immediately, before they make anotherunauthorized inquiry.Getting Rid of Hard InquiriesYour NameYour AddressYour Phone NumberRE: Unauthorized Credit InquiryI was recently going over my credit report from (Insert Creditor’s Name), and Ihappened to see a hard inquiry listed from your company.The details of the inquiry are below.Date of Request: (Insert Date of Request)Creditor Name: (Insert Creditor Name)In which I am aware of, I have never approved your company for this inquiry. Underthe Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is stated that you must have my authorization toperform a hard inquiry on my credit.Unless you can provide me a written proof of authorization signed by me, I’m askingyou to contact each credit reporting agency to have your illegal inquiries removed,immediately. I also ask that you remove any personal information of mine from yourrecords.I’m sending this letter through certified mail, to ensure it’s delivery.Thank you for your attention to this matter,Your NameYour SignatureThe contact information for the creditorshould be on your credit report. If it’s not,visit the company’s website and search fora contact number. Then call the creditor, andask for either a fax line of mailing address tosubmit your formal letter. (Note: I wouldn’task for it to be removed over the phonebecause there is no paper trail)Below is a copy sample letter you send viafax or certified mail to each creditor.Removing a hard inquiry on your credit report, can give your credit rating a slight boost. Thebiggest benefit to doing so is less information in the hands of careless organization. The lesspersonal information about you is circulating around, the less chance you have of getting youridentity stolen. (More on this to come)
    • 13Soft inquiries are inquires that you’re not evenaware of. For example, the companies thatsend you pre-approved credit card applicationsthrough the mail perform a soft inquiry beforesending you that application. Soft inquiries haveno bearing on your credit score.On my credit report from Experian it states inbold letters:“We offer credit information about you to thosewith a permissible purpose, for example to:• Other creditors who want to offer youpreaproved credit• An employer who wished to extend an offerof employment• A potential investor is assessing the risk of acurrent obligation• Experian Consumer assistance to process areport for you• Your current creditors to monitor youraccounts• A static copy of your credit report providedto a subsequent user necessary to completeyour mortgage loan applicationThese inquiries do not affect your credit score.”Although they don’t have any bearing on yourcredit score, it’s still interesting to take a lookat what companies are looking up your credithistory each year.Inquiries Share Only With You (Soft Inquiries)
    • Common Questions about Credit ReportsWhat do I do if there is an Error on myCredit Report?What is Revolving Credit?Does Applying for a Credit Card Hurt YourCredit Score?If something is wrong on your credit report,you want to immediately contact the reportingagency that issued the report.The FTC has great instructions on what todo if there are any errors. Follow their steps,including using their template. Make sure tocopy anything you send, for your own recordsand record dates of everything you send.Revolving credit is a term used for credit thathas no expiration. For example, a car payment,student loans, or a mortgage isn’t consideredrevolving because you eventually pay thesetypes of loans off. Otherwise known asinstallment credit.A credit card is a revolving payment becausethe credit is always available. As long as youpay it off each month, it’s always there for you.Your FICO score looks at the amount of revolvingcredit you have compared to installment credit.The less revolving credit the better, in the eyesof FICO. If you’re looking for a quick increase inyour credit score, a great way to achieve this isby paying off your revolving credit.Yes, applying for a credit card is a hard inquiry,which can negatively affect your credit score in theshort-term. You can expect your credit score to godown around 5 points for six months any times ahard pull is done.Keep this in mind, if you’re applying for a loan in thenear future. For example, don’t apply for a new creditcard right before applying for a car loan, to increaseyour credit utilization rate. Last, this another greatreason not to get that department store credit cardor apply for a credit card for a free pizza.
    • Opting Out of Credit Card OffersOnce I moved into a home, the amount of creditcard offers I received was startling. Every day, Iwould receive at least one and sometimes moreof the following applications in the mail; creditcard, home equity line of credit, and mortgageinsurance.Luckily, I discovered OptOutPrescreen.com,where I can stop this junk mail from filling up mymailbox. The site was created as a result of FairCredit Reporting Act and a link to the site canbe found on the Federal Trade Commission’swebsite.There are many advantages to stopping junk mail:• No chance of someone stealing your creditcard applications through the mail.• Out of sight, out of mind. You willn’t betempted to sign up for any credit card offersthat you don’t need.• Save paper.• The fewer the amount of companies with yoursocial security number the better.You can choose to either opt out electronically orpermanently by mail. If you choose electronically,you will be opted out for only 5 years. If youchoose to opt out by mail, you will never receive acredit card offer again.I wasn’t tracking the days to the exact date,but I would estimate that around four weeksafter opting out, I was no longer receiving anyprescreened offers through the mail. In otherwords, I’m receiving as much junk mail as I amfan mail. (:Another tip, if you’re also tired of receivingcatalogs, there is a free service Catalog Choicethat can help you reduce your junk mail evenmore. It’s pretty simple; you just enter in youraddress and the catalog number of the catalogyou want to eliminate.
    • 16A credit freeze, also known as a creditlockdown or a security freeze, is a wayto prevent new lines of credit being openunderneath your name. When you apply acredit freeze, you’re issued a PIN (PersonalIdentification Number) by the credit reportingagency, which only temporally allows access toyour credit by a third-party. Without this PIN, noone can have access to your credit report.So why would someone want to freeze theircredit?Anyone who is at a high risk of getting theiridentity stolen, would benefit from applying acredit freeze in their account. For example, ifyou recently lost your wallet, which containedyour social security number on your driver’slicense, now would be a good timeto apply for a credit freeze.With just the• No one can open any new lines of credit,without the PIN.• Extra steps for you to open a new line ofcredit, to prevent bad financial behavior.• Less personal information of yourscirculating around because companiescan’t inquire about your credit history.What’s a Credit Freeze?What’s a Credit Freeze?information on your driver’s license, someonecould easily apply for a new line of credit inyour name.Another person who would be at high risk ofidentity theft is someone who has recently lostan important document through the mail. Ingeneral, any time your social security number isfloating around, is a great time for you to applyfor a credit freeze.
    • 17• Can’t immediately open any new lines ofcredit. This could cause problems whenapplying for a mortgage, car, etc...• Small fee to freeze and unfreeze credit. Forvictims of identity theft, the fee is usuallywaived.• Thieves can still use your existing accounts.Which brings me to a really good point:Never carry all of your credit or debit cardsin one place. Say you lost your wallet, whileyou have placed a credit freeze on yourself.A lot of the time, it takes a few days totemporally unfreeze your credit becauseyou have to send the request in throughcertified mail. So now you have no accessto cash and are stuck waiting a few days,until your credit report unfreezes. Not asituation, you want to find yourself in.Each state has different fees, laws, andregulations, on how to freeze your credit.General rules are as follows:• You have to apply with each different creditreporting agency. You can do this online.(Equifax, Transunion, and Experian)• You must pay a small fee to freeze yourcreditFor additional protection against identity theft,review your homeowners or renters insurancepolicy (or just call us). Many policies containcoverage.Disadvantages of Freezing How to Freeze Your Credit
    • 181. Buy a Shredder - Shred anything you’re about to throw out with your personal information on it.Especially, anything with your social security number and applications (insurance, credit cards,phone, cable etc...)2. Choose Hard Passwords and PIN’s and Store Them Offline - If your pin number is yourbirthday or your password is something as simple as your middle name and birthday, change itimmediately. Also, there are a couple of Open Source options for password management, suchas KeePass for Windows and KeyChain for Mac. Last, don’t choose similar passwords for yourbanking accounts. If a hacker has one, he has them all.3. Have Emergency Cards and Copies - Never keep all of your information in one place, especiallyyour wallet. Just because you have a credit card, doesn’t mean you have to carry it with you atall times.4. Don’t Store SS # on Your License or Keep SS Card in Your Wallet5. Never insert your credit card information, on a website you don’t trust.6. Hold mail at the post office, when you’re out of town. Never let boxes and packages sit on adoorstep overnight.7. Use Anti-Spyware software for your computer8. Learn how to erase your hard drive, if selling or donating your old computer.9. If you need to mail an important document, such as your taxes, either hand it to the mail manor drop it off in a collection box or at the post office.10. Never give your personal information away over the phone from a solicitation.11. Review your credit card bill every month. Make sure there is nothing on there that you don’trecognize. A lot of the time, thieves will a small charge initially on your account, wait a month tosee if you notice it, then put a bigger charge later.12. Don’t list your social security number on a resume, and then send it out to 20 companiesonline.13. If you can manage to pay your bill in full each month, use a credit card instead of a debit card.Credit cards typically have better protection against identity theft.14. Use ATM’s sparingly and never use an ATM late at night. There are plenty of people who like tolook over your shoulder to see your ATM #.15. Keep all of your checkbooks in a very secure place at home. Never store your checkbook inyour purse, wallet, or car.16. Use your shredder to get rid of old checkbooks.17. Store copies of important documents and cards in a secure place in your house. Make sure toget copies of the front and back. If your credit card gets stolen, the number you want to call ison the back of your credit card.18. Keep a list of everything in your wallet or purse. If you ever lose either, make sure that eachaccount in your wallet was cancelled.19. If you have an old credit card that you rarely use, make sure to check the balance monthly. Youcan ever use a service like Mint, to do all the tracking for you.20. If you lose your license, ask for a new driver’s license number.21. Freeze your credit, if you’re at high risk of identity theft.22. Don’t keep deposit slips in your wallet. Store in a safe place, until you see that money depositedis correct, then shred.Disadvantages of Freezing
    • 1923. When traveling in a place known for pick pocketing, don’t leave your wallet in your back pocket.24. Don’t write your PIN on a little piece of paper and keep it inside your wallet.25. If someone steals your purse with your keys inside, immediately contact your landlord or if youown, have your locks rekeyed.26. If someone has stolen your wallet or purse, mark on your calendar to check your credit reportone month after the incident.27. Keep credit card receipts in a safe place. Never just toss, without looking to see if your fullcredit card number is listed.28. Don’t give away your old ID29. Limit the amount of credit cards you carry.30. Use electronically delivery for every bill.31. Pay bills online.32. Never check a bank account or other personal accounts on a public computer. If you have to,delete the cookies.33. Have new checks ordered to the bank. Never get them sent directly to your house. They comein a very obvious small box.34. Don’t store your information on multiple sites. When you’re checking out of a retail store online,they will ask you to register as a user. Even if they don’t ask for your personal information,always check out as a guest.35. If your Social Security # is on your health insurance card or any other type of statement, askfor it to be removed. Ask the company to create you a new ID # that isn’t your social securitynumber.36. Shred old documents. You only need to keep tax records for the previous seven years.37. If you’re good with a scanner, keep your financial records on an external hard drive and hide it ina safe place.38. Check your credit report at least once every six months. As I said previously, I alternate whatcredit report I can check every six months. Mark the date you check your credit report on yourcalendar.39. Buy a secure safe for the house. Don’t just have a filing cabinet with a lock. Store yourimportant documents such as passports, social security cards, tax returns, etc... in a safe andhide it away.40. Use a gel pen with blank ink when you’re writing a check. Gel ink can’t be chemically altered.41. If you start seeing credit card offers in the mail before your child turns 18, immediately ask for acredit report for them. Unfortunately, your child isn’t protected against identify theft. Credit cardoffers in the mail, are a sign that someone is attempting to steal your child’s identity.42. Don’t leave your ATM receipt in the machine. Keep it in your pocket and shred it when you gethome.43. Anytime someone solicits you over the phone, ask to be deleted from their database effectiveimmediately.44. Did you know that if you’re being held up at an ATM, there is usually a secret code that yourbank uses to alert authorities? For example, with some banks if you enter your passwordbackwards, it will automatically have the ATM machine eat your card and say you have a zerobalance. It varies per bank, so ask your bank if they have this feature if you find yourself usingyour ATM card by yourself a lot.
    • 2045. Know when and how your credit card statements usually arrive. If your statement comesby mail and is a few days late, go online and check your statement to make sure there areno fraudulent charges. If your statement arrives by email, and is more than one day late,immediately check your statement online. Missing statements could mean that someonechanged either your email or physical address.46. Avoid logging on from financial accounts from an unsecured wireless network.47. Learn how to properly secure your home wireless network.48. When on vacation, use the safe in the hotel room. Store your computer, phone, copies ofpassports and ID’s, in the safe at all times.49. If you have a Smartphone, buy an app which deletes all the data on the phone the moment it’sstolen.50. Always use cash at a bar. I’m sure we all know someone who has left the bar and still has atab open. Therefore, the card stays in the bars possession overnight and is visible to everyemployee coming in that morning starting with the cleaning crew.51. If you have a Landline register for the Do Not Call List by calling 1-888-382-1222.52. If you see a mass forwarded email from one of your friends, marketing a product. It’s usually ascam. What normally happens is someone hacks into your friends account and sends a blastto everyone on their contact list. Be very suspicious if you receive an email from a friend thatseems uncharacteristic.The reason, I dedicated hours and hours to this project is I feel it’s an obligation I have, as aninsurance agent who represents companies that base their pricing on credit scoring.There’s so much to be gained by understanding credit scoring and knowing how to improve yourscore.All the best,R.J. WeissConclusion
    • 21About WeissInsurance AgenciesWhat Does An Independent Agent Do?At Weiss Insurance Agencies, we believeconsumers should be educated on theirpurchasing decisions. You’re not buying insurancejust because you need to. You’re buying it becauseyou want to be protected in case anything badhappens.When you fill out the form on our site for a freehome, auto, life, or any other type of quote, here’swhat you can expect:1. We start with a thorough review of your currentpolicy. While discussing your goals for thefuture. If you have any other lines of insurancesuch as jewelry, RV, boat, motorcycle, rentalproperty, etc…please let us know. You’ll savea lot of money by insuring all your lines ofcoverage through one carrier.2. We then fill in the information gap, by askingyou a few questions. Going through a detailedThere are two types of insurance agents--independent and captive.Captive agents work exclusively for one insurancecompany. A captive agent’s profile is to bring inbusiness for their parent company as generallythey cannot use any other insurance company.Independent agents, like us at Weiss InsuranceAgencies, represent multiple insurance companiesand work in the best interests of our clients to finda policy that matches our clients’ needs.What other benefits are there to having anindependent agent?When you do suffer a loss, you have anexperienced team of insurance professionals,representing your best interests--not the insurancecompany’s.quoting process gives us access to theinformation we need to properly insure you.Just as important, asking these questionsallows us to discover the discounts you’reeligible for. This takes care of the secondhalf of our goal—to insure you for the bestpossible price.3. For 90% of our quotes, we use advancedsoftware that lets us quote your insuranceout to multiple carriers at one time. We thenmanually review your information and getfinal pricing from each carrier. Other times,due to premium size or loss history, we’reonly able to get prices from a select few ourcarriers. It’s important you know all of thecarriers we represent are A rated insurancecarriers. More importantly, we have handselected these carriers because they offerthe best combination of price and coverage.An independent agent is not just your outlet toinsurance carriers but your personal insuranceadviser. We work with you to determine theoptimal combination of price, coverage, andservice for your unique situation.• You have a small team of experiencedprofessionals who service your account.When you call in with a question, you’reworking with a team who’s familiar withyour needs.• One-stop shopping--beyond personalhome and auto insurance, Weiss Insuranceoffers business, life, and health insurance,as well as wealth management services.To get started working with Weiss InsuranceAgencies, click the following link, personalinsurance, and select the type of insuranceyou’re interested in reviewing.
    • 22Here’s what our clients say:“After suffering a major casualty loss insured by amajor insurance company with little compensation. Aclose friend recommended I check out Weiss InsuranceAgencies. It was the best suggestion ever given me.The agent spent countless hours finding the best fit formy circumstances and in the end saved me more thana thousand dollars bundling all my personal insuranceneeds. Weiss has found a lifetime customer in me.” -Walter J.“My experience with Weiss insurance has been nothingbut great. Anything I have a question on, you guysare able to answer right away. I always give WeissInsurance the first opportunity I have when it comesto my insurance needs and you guys always arecompetitive if not better than everyone else. Everyone isvery helpful and accommodating there.” - Brent P.“I cannot thank Weiss Insurance enough for theunderstanding, assistance and compassion everyone atthe agency has shown me. Patricia W.Disclaimer: This report was written by R.J. Weiss of Weiss Insurance Agencies. All information provided in thisguide is for informational purposes only. Weiss Insurance Agencies makes no representations as to the accuracy,completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this guide and will not be liable for any errors or omissionsin this information or any damages arising from its display or use.If you have any questions about your situation, seek a qualified credit counselor or CERTIFIED FINANCIALPLANNER®.