Data Facts Blog


Why a Strong Password is Your Best Friend

Your best friend would always protect you and never let you down. The same should be said of your passwords.
In today’s world, the average person needs 28 passwords. You need passwords for your bank, email, social network, bills, and any online ordering accounts. THEN you really rack up the passwords for different logins at work. It can get mind boggling to remember all the passwords that you use in a day’s time.
It’s tempting to use the same password for all the sites and accounts that you must access. HOWEVER, this is setting you up to have your password STOLEN. And the consequences of having your only password hacked can be disastrous.
Think about just how much a password protects.
Online banking and brokerage accounts: your password stands between your money and a thief!
Email accounts: your password protects your emails from being hacked. If you have online bills and bank statement, the thief could gain access to your account information.
Online shopping: Your credit card number and other personal information are guarded by your password.
And these are only your Personal Accounts!
Here are some very important tips to utilize in the creation of your passwords.
1. Throw your password loyalty out the window: Studies show that 1/3 of Americans who use a computer use the same password for every site. If a thief gets your password and hacks into your email, he can then access any accounts that he finds. He could literally clean you out and rack up massive debt within a very short period of time. Using only 1 password for all of your accounts hands the thief an open invitation to all of your accounts and information.
2. Easier isn’t better. A good portion of people actually use their birth date, their kids’ names, or even 12345 as their passwords. These types of passwords take hackers only seconds to crack. Easy passwords leave your accounts open and waiting for thieves to take advantage. You may as well leave your money laying on the front porch.
3. Keep it in the noggin. Even if people have more than one password, they often write them down and leave them by the computer, under their keyboard, in their calendar, or store them in their smartphones. This basically gift wraps them for a thief. Once he scores the password list, its bye bye money and hello fraudulent charges.
4. Mix it up. Passwords that only contain letters are easy to observe or guess, especially if they are only lower case.
5. Get long-winded. Never use a password that is under 8 characters. A short password is more easily observed and guessed than a longer one.
6. Remember you didn’t marry it. Keeping the same password month after month allows a hacker all the time he needs to crack it.
The CONSEQUENCES of having your password hacked are too high to not take immediate action. Here’s what to do:
1: Make a list of all your emails, accounts, banks, and shopping websites that require you to have a password.
2: Make sure your main email address has a password different from any other account.
3: For the remainder of your accounts, have a minimum of 4  hard to crack but easy for you to remember passwords
4: Change your passwords every 3 months.
5. Don’t write the passwords down anywhere. If you are afraid you will forget them, scribble a hint that only you could decipher, and keep it in a safe place. (Do not store this in your wallet or near your computer).
Let’s create a good password.
A. Think of a word that is easy for you to remember, but is not closely tied to you personally (ie: not your spouse, child, or dog’s name). We will use Teague (the name of my Kindergarten teacher)
B. Add a capital letter in the middle of the word. We will use the G. So now we have TeaGue.
C. Randomly choose 3 numbers. Do NOT use the last 4 digits of your social, your birthdate, or your anniversary. We will use 206 (the date of the last Superbowl). Your weight is another easy to remember number.
D. Now choose a character. I will choose ! since I’m trying to make a point.
RESULT: one of my new passwords is TeaGue!206. This will be easy for me to remember, but difficult to guess. My hint to myself would be: Kindergarden!superbowl.

Passwords are the gateway to your money, credit cards, and personal information. Strong passwords, like best friends, keep your secrets secure.  Utilize these tips to make sure you will not become just another identity theft statistic.

~~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 22 year old Memphis-based company that provides mortgage product solutions to lenders nationwide.

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Increase Your Credit Score: High Tech and Low Tech Ways

Protect your credit score! Whether you are a high tech smartphone addict or barely use email, here are some everyday tips that you can put in place. These routine practices will boost your credit score to the top of the charts:
1: Make sure your credit report is accurate. If your credit score is being calculated from incorrect information, it may be suffering greatly. It’s estimated that 25% of credit reports contain some sort of error.
High tech way: You may request a copy of your credit report from http://www.annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months free of charge. This website is provided by the 3 main credit bureaus. Reviewing your credit report is a great way to catch any mistakes BEFORE they damage your credit.
Low tech way: You may request your credit report by phone or by mail. By phone:  call 1-877-322-8228 and you will go through a simple verification process. Your report will then be mailed to you within 2 -3 weeks. By mail:   download and complete the Request Form (available on the website) and mail it to

 Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Your report will be delivered in 2-3 weeks
2: Pay your bills on time. Payment history is 35% of your credit score, so paying your bills on time needs to be a top priority.
High tech way: Techies have many options of apps that can be used to track spending and bill pay. http://www.mint.com and http://www.pageonce.com are 2 of the many apps that can set up all of your bills in one place. These apps remind you when bills are due, track spending, etc.
Another way to make sure you don’t miss any payments is to set up automatic payments from your online banking to your mortgage, auto, and credit card providers. This will ensure that you don’t rack up any late pays, which can tank your credit score.
Low tech way: If you are still walking to the mailbox to get your bills, put this practice in place; pay your bills the day they arrive. This may sound a little hard core, however, paying them when you receive them has its benefits. The bill won’t get a chance to lose itself in the pile on your desk, AND you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Another low tech option is to have a desk calendar that has all of your monthly bills marked on the date they need to be mailed (not the date they are due). Put the calendar in a place where you can see it every day, so the due date doesn’t sneak by you.
3: Keep your credit card balance low: Behind paying bills on time, account balances are the most important factor in your credit score (30%). Running up those credit card balances close to the limit has a dramatically negative impact on your credit score. Don’t let this happen to you!
High tech way; as mentioned in #1, there are many apps that can help you track you spending and budget. By following a budget, you can see where your money goes, and plan for bigger expenses (new furniture, vacations, etc) without charging up your plastic.
Low tech way: get a pencil and paper and make a budget. Track you spending to make sure that you know where your money is going. Open all of your credit card statements the day they arrive, and try your best to pay off your balances every month.
High tech and Low tech tip: While using credit cards responsibly DOES help raise your score, it’s a good all-round financial practice to make sure you are not racking up useless debt.
If you do end up using your credit cards and can’t pay the balance off every month, MAKE SURE you do not charge up more than 30% of your limit (ex: on a credit card with a $10,000 limit, never charge more than $3,000). Keeping your balances low will go a long way toward boosting your credit score.
4: Don’t close, lose, or ignore those old credit cards. Length of credit history is 15% of your credit score. The optimum credit history is 30 years long! Work hard to make sure those old credit cards are doing their job to raise your score.
Remember, credit cards must be used once every 6 months to be included in your credit score.
High tech way: set up one of your bills to automatically charge to your oldest credit card. It does not matter how small the amount. Any new balance will update that credit card at the credit bureaus so that all that great long credit history is showing up on your credit report.
Low tech way: carry your oldest credit card in your wallet and be sure to use it once a month to buy either gas or groceries. This purchase will keep your card active and counting positively in your credit report. Pay it off at the end of the month so you are not hit with any finance charges.
Putting some or all of these tips into place can go a long way toward maximizing your credit score and ensuring the best rates on your mortgage, car, and credit card loans. And, whether we are high tech or low tech, this should sound good to all of us.

~~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 22 year old Memphis-based company that provides mortgage product solutions to lenders nationwide.

How Your Credit Score May Be Stealing Your Money

Posted in Credit Score,Mortgage,Uncategorized by datafactssolutions on August 10, 2011
Tags: , ,

Burglars and purse snatchers have nothing on your credit score! A low score can be stealing money right out of your pocket every month. This can add up over time to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Here’s how:
Mortgage loans: Let’s say you have a 650 credit score and bought a $200,000 house with a 30 year fixed rate loan. You are going to have to finance it at a rate 1-2% higher than the person rocking a 750 credit score. Over the course of 30 years (360 payments) this difference can add up to around $49,000!
Auto Loans: the average American trades cars every 5 years. Based on this estimate, a person buying a $25,000 car with a 650 credit score will pay approximately $5400 more for EACH CAR than the person with a 750 score.
Credit cards: a person with a 650 score has probably had some late payments and may have maxed out their credit cards. They will not get the great terms and plentiful options that a person with a higher score will enjoy. The average household carries $7300 in credit card debt (Yikes!). If we assume this amount, a person with the 650 credit score will pay $552 more in interest per year than a person with the 750 credit score.
Gulp.
So, if you have a 650 credit score, here’s how much your credit score will steal from you over a 40 year period:
Mortgage: $49,000
Auto: $43,000
Credit Cards: $22,000
Total amount the 650 credit score has stolen: $114,000
The figure would be much larger if this money had been invested in a mutual fund. At a 6% rate, this amount of money would have grown to about half a million dollars.
Remember; protect yourself! Lock your doors, lock your windows, don’t talk to strangers, and keep that credit score high!
Coming soon! Tips on how to make sure you have a top notch credit score.
~~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 22 year old Memphis-based company that provides mortgage product solutions to lenders nationwide.