You may have heard or read in the news that millions of people's sensitive personal information was stolen from Equifax due to a massive cybersecurity data breach. As one of the nation's three major credit reporting agencies, this news is not to be taken lightly. 143 million Americans were affected and you could be one of them.
As per the Federal Trade Commission, "The breach lasted from mid-May through July." What was stolen? Names, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, driver's license numbers, and credit card numbers. Many Canadian and UK citizens were affected as well.
The free-credit-score website, WalletHub has important advice for potential victims of this widespread data breach. These tips can help you deal with the present situation as well as aid in protecting yourself in the future.
24/7 credit monitoring is a valuable protective measure, as per WalletHub. Anthony Credit Expert concurs, "The best way to protect one of your most valuable tools to leverage wealth is with a 24/7 credit monitoring service. Credit Monitoring will keep you informed by providing you with 24/7 alerts and an updated Tri-merge Report and all 3 scores every 30 days." As per WalletHub, "This gives you the chance to quickly confirm the accuracy of the change and, if necessary, start sorting out any problems before they really get out of hand. Any suspicious credit-report change can be a sign of fraud."
WalletHub also recommends enabling two-factor authentication. It adds another layer of protection to inhibit a thief from hacking your account. According to Secure Envoy, "Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA, two step verification or TFA is an extra layer of security that is known as "multi factor authentication" that requires not only a password and username but also something that only, and only, that user has on them. Using a username and password together with a piece of information that only the user knows makes it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal that person's personal data or identity."
Some other ways to keep your data and identity safer? WalletHub suggests freezing your credit cards if you suspect fraud, suppression blocking which is "faster than a standard dispute, helping victims of fraud rid their reports of problematic information in a matter of days, rather than weeks. You must also take special steps to request suppression. This includes filing a police report and completing a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) affidavit," and to be diligent about who you give your personal information to. Look out for unsolicited phone calls or emails.
For more advice from WalletHub during this Equifax breach as well as for protection moving forth, follow these 6 steps to take following identity theft.
You can click here to see if you were potentially impacted by the recent breach.
It's easy to forget that the presidency of the United States is a government job just like any other–in that it comes with a stipulated salary and benefits.
But regardless of their bombastic rhetoric or self-serious public image, politicians are like all other government employees. The president, vice president, and legislators earn an annual income from the government in exchange for their duties, which include: executing/circumventing the law, upholding/withholding the civil liberties of American citizens, and legislating/sabotaging how societal institutions meet the needs of citizens, from healthcare to education.
If you've ever wondered what American politicians earn for all their hard work arguing across the aisle and starting Twitter feuds, look no further:
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Maybe you've had a high stress occupation before, like social work or stock trading, and fell victim to the high burnout rate of these kinds of jobs.
Or maybe you're just starting your career, and looking for something that won't take over your life but will still provide you with a good living. Whatever reason you have for looking for a high paying, low-stress job, you've come to the right place. We've compiled a list of the top 5 jobs that promise a solid paycheck without taking too much out of you.
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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.
When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.
Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.
Federally backed mortgages include:
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
- The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
- The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.
Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.
Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.
Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.
At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.
Possible Repayment Options:
You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.
Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.
Regular payment: $1000 per month
Reduced payment: $500 per month
Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)
Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.
Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.
The Next Steps:
Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.
Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:
- What fees are associated with the forbearance?
- What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
- Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?
If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.
For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.