IRS Security Breach: What You Need to Know

tax_form_money_Pencil

The recent IRS security breach it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the IRS has paid out $5.8 Billion in fraudulent refunds from 2011 through 2014. Yes, you read that correctly, Billion with a “B.”

So how could this happen? You would think the government of all organizations would have enough security to keep our personal information private. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Hackers used the IRS’s own website in attempt to steal taxpayer information for around 200,000 households, about 100,000 of which were actually affected. The thieves used stolen data to get past verification questions on the IRS website, giving them access to old tax transcripts. They then filed for fraudulent refunds.

If You Were Affected, You Will be Notified

The IRS will be sending out mail to all 200,000 accounts. If your account was affected, you will know. The IRS WILL NOT be asking for any personal information from you. If you receive any letter, email, phone call, or anything asking for your personal information, it is most likely from a con artist. Conmen strive on these types of situations, so don’t divulge any of your personal information to anyone! If you do believe you had fallen victim to this breach, or any other form of identity theft, read on below.

Ways to Protect Your Identity:

Credit Monitoring

While the IRS is offering free credit monitoring to all who may have been affected, there is a good chance your identity has already been stolen. If you have fallen victim to any sort of identity theft, credit monitoring is a necessity.

Credit monitoring will notify you if someone attempts to open an account in your name. This way you can contact the accounts and immediately clear things up. The quicker you act on fraudulent activity, the better chance you have to bounce back from it.

(If you are interested in credit monitoring, Better Qualified is offering 3 months free through SmartCredit. Just click here.)

Security Freeze

One of the best ways to protect your credit is to call the bureaus and ask to have a security freeze put on the report. The security freeze will halt your account from being pulled when applying for credit, making it harder for thieves to open lines of credit in your name.

Security freezes cost anywhere from $0-$10 depending which state you live in. Most states will offer free security freezes for those who fell victim to ID theft.

I know what you’re thinking, “How will I be able to access my own report if I have a security freeze on it?” If you need to pull your report for an application or service, all you would need to do is call up the bureaus and get the freeze temporarily lifted or give access to certain businesses that will allow your credit to be pulled.

Fraud Alert

If you don’t want to put a security freeze on your report, you may place a fraud alert on your credit report. Fraud alerts are similar to security freezes. Fraud alerts are free and will give you a free credit report. Fraud alerts will remain on your report for 90 days (you can always renew it once the 90s days is up.) When you have a fraud alert on your report, a business must verify your ID before issuing credit. This will force the business to contact you and make it harder for the thief to open a new account.

To place a fraud alert on your report, just simply call one of the 3 credit bureaus and tell them you wish to do so. By law, they must contact the other 2 bureaus and let them know you have placed a fraud alert on your account. Although the fraud alert is free, you will have to provide proof of your identity.

Don’t Assume Your Credit Report is Fine

When was the last time you checked your credit? Do you currently have a credit monitoring service? One out of four Americans have incorrect information and accounts on their report. Hire an IRS audit accountant to make sure your account is reporting correctly.

Credit reports can be hard to read. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, have a credit expert look for red flags in your report. The consultation is free. Just fill out the form below.


 

Kansas City Woman Awarded $82 Million In Debt Collection Case

Maria Guadalupe Mejia

A Jackson County jury ordered collection company Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC to pay $82 million dollars to KC resident Maria Guadalupe Mejia. Mejia had this debt mistakenly attached to her by Portfolio Recovery. The actual debt holder was a man with a very similar name.

Portfolio Recovery had failed to hand over documents requested by the judge regarding information in the case.

Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC is one of the largest debt buyers in the USA. “This company has gained a reputation for take no prisoners, ‘If you mess with us we’re going to take you all the way, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money on this litigation, you’re going to have to go all the way to trial,'” said Gina Chiala, one of Mejia’s attorneys according to KCUR. ““And so, among consumer lawyers, they are known to be very aggressive in litigation and to not stop; even when they’re wrong, they’re just not going to stop.” If you need to contact good lawyers, call the Noonan Law firm.

The jury determined damages and Mejia was awarded $251,000 and $82,990,000 in punitive damages for malicious prosecution.

Portfolio spokesman Michael McKeon said “We hope and expect the judge will set aside this inappropriate award, and we plan to file motions to make the request formally in the very near term. Any fair reading of the facts of this case makes plain that a verdict of this size is not justice by any means and cannot stand.”

“I am so thankful to the jury for giving me and my family justice. This should not happen to anyone, and I hope the jury’s verdict will stop Portfolio from doing this to others.” Said Mejia

According to  Credit Karma study, 1-in-4 or 25% of Americans have credit reporting errors. Mejia was just one of the many victims.

 

Get a Free Credit Consultation from a Credit Expert

Don’t assume your credit report is fine. If you are worried that you may have incorrect information reporting on your credit report, have one of Better Qualified’s credit expects take a look and go over your report with you.


 

5 Reasons To Consider Business Credit

Consider Biz credit

If you own a small business you may want to consider building your business credit. Owning a business is a struggle in itself. How can any new business expect to grow with limited resources and finances? That’s where business credit comes in.

Business credit can help take your business further by providing the financial means your business needs. Here are just a few reasons to consider business credit:

1. Separate Business & Personal Finances

Crossing your business finances with your personal finances can be a real headache. Throw in bookkeeping and tax information and now you’ve got a recipe for stress. Personal finances should not be a part of your business finances and vice versa. Business credit makes it easy to separate the two. With business credit, all of your business expenses will be under your business credit tradelines and not on your personal Visa Card.

If your business is incorporated, it is imperative to avoid mixing personal finance with business finance. If you fail to do so, your legal protection by act of incorporation is voided. This means if your business is ever sued, you will be sued as well. This can and will be devastating to your credit, especially if you don’t have the funds to handle the lawsuit.

2. No Business Tradelines on Personal Credit Report

If you don’t have business credit, chances are most of your business expenses are charged on your personal credit cards. Most new business owners rely on their personal credit to kick start their business. This usually results in a huge drop in personal credit score and a serious amount of debt.

Lenders will use your DTI ratio (Debt to Income) to determine how much you can responsibly borrow. This means your mortgage, car payment, and other personal debt may hinder you from getting the loan your business needs. By using business credit you can obtain a loan with a clean slate.

As the first reason states, separation is key! What if there was a way to keep your business credit on your business credit report and off of your personal? Well, there is. The first thing you would need to do is establish business credit. Once your business credit is established you may begin to open new tradelines using only your business credit, taking your personal credit out of the picture. This removes you from any personal guarantee (no social security number) and puts the account only under your company’s name (Tax ID number.)

3. Financial Cushion

Eight out of ten new businesses fail within the first 18 months. That’s 80%! You can search for the reasons why small businesses fail and you’ll find the same answers. One of the most common is the lack of funds.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it takes time to establish your brand. You can have a great service or product but if the money runs out it’s time to close up! Established business credit can supply your business with the loans and tradelines it needs to grow. Giving your business more time to flourish.

4. Tax Benefits

Certain business tradelines and most business credit cards will allow you to write off any interest you pay towards the account. While it is ideal to pay off your balance every month, it is good to know that the interest is tax deductible.

5. Sign-Up Rewards

With established business credit your company can obtain business credit cards. Most business credit cards will offer bonuses and rewards upon opening a new account. These rewards can be redeemed for travel and cashback. Use the rewards to obtain more resources for your business so you can grow.

Free Business Credit Consultation

Interested in Business Credit, but don’t know where to start or what steps to take? Fill out the form below and we’ll have one of our Business credit analysts give you a call.


Credit Tip: How to Get a Quick Boost in Score

Pay Down Your Accounts

If it’s one question we get asked often, it’s how do I increase my score the fastest way possible?

First we must understand how your credit score is generated. Your credit score is determined by different factors. One of those factors is your amount owed. If you can pay down your accounts to 30% or lower of the high credit limit, your amount owed will decrease, and your score will raise significantly.

It’s always a good idea to keep your credit utilization low. Maxing out your cards will definitely hold your score back. Credit bureaus want to see consumers using their credit cards, but not overusing them. Use your cards, but don’t max them out. Maxing out your credit cards is almost as bad as making a late payment. However, you can recover quickly from a maxed out card just by paying the balance down. Late payments can take years to fix.

If you would like a free credit analysis, fill out the form below and a credit expert will contact you shortly

Fill Out the Form for a Free Credit Analysis



Paying Off Old Collections

Can Paying off Old Collections hurt you?

The short answer is… Yes.

Paying off those old collections seems like a great idea, your credit score may decline if you pay a collection that is older than 2 years. When you pay off a collection that has been lingering on the report for some time, the date of last activity may change, causing the  account to appear fresh. Your credit report will take the hit and your score will drop.

Always try to pay your accounts on time. If you are like many Americans who have had an account fall to a collection, make an attempt to settle it as soon as possible. If the collection remains unpaid for more than 2 years, paying it will result in a decline in your score. Your best option would be to consult credit professionals.

3rd party collections must abide by certain standards set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA.) If collection companies go against the FCRA, then your collection may be in violation. Violations can result in the collection getting removed from your account, and in some cases, a cash settlement for you!

Better Qualified has a team of attorneys looking through all of our client’s collections for violations. If  you were looking to pay an old collection, first find out if you can get the collection removed before it effects your credit score.

Fill out the form below for a free credit analysis.