IONA

Financial Literacy

CashCourse

With help from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), financial literacy information is now available for Iona College students.

The Importance of Good Credit

Good credit is necessary to take advantage of the various financing options available for your college expenses and as you begin your career. We encourage you to verify that your credit report is accurate and that your credit is in good standing. Credit reports may contain misinformation that can take time to correct.

Credit Reporting Agencies

The three major credit reporting agencies are:

You may request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once every year from AnnualCreditReport.com. We suggest that you request a free credit report from one of the agencies every 4 months. In this way, you can be aware of the information on your report and monitor the report regularly.

For more information, go to www.annualcreditreport.com, or contact the credit reporting agencies directly. If you have been denied credit, you have the right to a free copy of the credit report used in the decision within 60 days of the denial from the appropriate credit reporting agency.

Your Credit Score

Credit scoring is a quick and consistent method of determining the likelihood that you will repay your debt based on your past credit history. Some factors used to calculate your credit score include promptness in paying bills, number and type of credit cards, total credit limit, and the amount owed on accounts.

Some factors that can negatively affect your credit score are:

  • serious delinquency, derogatory public records, or collection accounts
  • the proportion of balances to credit limits is too high
  • the proportion of loan balances to loan amounts is too high
  • too many new accounts
  • too many accounts with balances
  • insufficient time since account was established
  • too many credit inquiries in the past 12 months
  • too many finance accounts

For more information on credit scoring, contact Fair Isaac Company (FICO) at www.fairisaac.com to learn more about FICO credit scores.

Your Financial Records

Keeping well-organized records of your financial activities will greatly assist in managing your loans and other credit instruments and achieving your financial goals. You should keep the following documents relating to all loans that you borrow:

  • Applications
  • Promissory notes
  • Disclosure statements
  • Notifications of lender change
  • Repayment schedules
  • Lender correspondence
  • Income tax returns

You should also document all communications with your lender or other financial institutions. Remember to write down the date of contact and the name of the representative you speak with when calling, so that you can refer to the call later on if necessary.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a federal crime and it occurs when someone knowingly uses or transfers your personal information in any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state/local law. The impact of identity theft can be devastating. It can take months to resolve the problems and can affect you for several years even after the fraudulent use of your identity has ended. It can also cost you considerable money.

Identity thieves will use your name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), or your bank or credit card numbers. They might illegally obtain your personal information by going through your trash, taking your personal property, stealing your mail, re-directing your mail to another address, or using personal information they find about you on the Internet.

After they have your information, identity thieves can take your money, charge new purchases to your accounts, open new accounts under your name, take out loans, and even use your name if they're arrested.

Here are some of the warning signs that you may be a victim of identity theft:

  • You are not receiving bills or other mail when you think you should be.
  • You are denied credit or have received less favorable terms or conditions on a loan or credit card for no apparent reason.
  • You are contacted by debt collectors about unpaid charges on purchases you didn't make.
  • If you become a victim of identity theft you should:
    1. File a fraud alert with all three national consumer reporting agencies.
    2. Close the affected accounts immediately.
    3. File a police report.
    4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at: ftc.gov/idtheft.

The police report will help for insurance and legal purposes and a creditor may want a copy. The complaint you file with the FTC will allow them to track occurrences and help them with record keeping. You should also document all contacts you have regarding the situation and obtain legal counsel, if needed. You may get to the point where you'll want to take legal action.

How to Protect Yourself

Protect your Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Never carry items around with you that contain your SSN and ask your account holders not to use your SSN as your account number.
  • Check your ID card to make sure your SSN is not used.
  • DO NOT have your SSN printed on your checks.
  • Never provide your SSN to anyone unless you initiated the contact.

Guard your Personal Information

  • Never leave your wallet, purse, or checkbook unattended in your car.
  • Get credit cards with your picture on them and destroy cards that you no longer use.
  • Never provide personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Do not post your complete date of birth on social networking sites or your online resume.
  • Shred sensitive papers and documents including all of your financial "garbage."
  • Memorize your ATM password/PIN - never store it in your purse or wallet.

Consider Purchasing Identity Theft Protection

One service of which Iona is aware is Identity Force. Credit Protection Services by Identity Force™ is a 360 program that uses prevention, detection, restoration and reimbursement tools to stop identity thieves cold. Credit Protection Services by Identity Force™ provides maximum protection to shield you before anyone can steal your identity.
 
Please click here to get an overview of Identity Theft Protection Benefits and to learn about discounted offers.

Opt Out of Credit Offers

Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or go to OptOutPrescreen.com to get out of pre-approved credit card solicitations. Doing so will reduce the chances that someone else will get hold of a solicitation that was mailed to you and use it for fraudulent purposes.

Scholarship Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Alert

This following information is from the U.S. Department of Education website.

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education has become aware of a potential fraud scheme involving persons claiming to represent the U.S. Department of Education who are calling students and offering them scholarships or grants. These callers request a bank or credit card account number saying the information will be used to charge a $249 processing fee. The Department of Education does not charge a processing fee to obtain federal education grants. DO NOT give your financial information to individuals making these claims! If you receive one of these calls, please contact the Office of Inspector General immediately (step 3). If you have provided bank or credit card information to the callers, you should take the following steps:

  • Immediately contact your bank, explain the situation, and request that the bank monitor or close the compromised account.
  • Notify the police about the incident; impersonating a federal officer, telemarketing fraud schemes, and identity theft are crimes.
  • Report the fraud to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General hotline at 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733) or oig.hotline@ed.gov. Special agents in the Office of Inspector General investigate fraud involving federal education dollars.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP

Money Management

There are numerous resources and websites to help you learn how to manage your money and find ways to minimize your debt. A few of them are listed below:

Free Apps are also available for smart phones:

  • Mint.com Personal Finance
  • Cash Flow
  • Expense Manager
  • Easy Money
  • Checkbook