Identity Theft – Alabama Loan Company

A loan company employee has been caught and plead guilty to stealing the identity of customers and fraudulently seeking $400,000 in tax returns.

According to Alabama court records, Wendy Huff, worked at two loan companies and stole the identification of customers, including their names, social security numbers and dates of birth. She and her partner filed more than 300 tax returns claiming $400,000 in fraudulent tax returns.


3 Tips for Negotiating with Debt Collectors

Debt collectors purchase accounts from companies for pennies on the dollar and then pursue collecting the full amount from the people that owe the money. When dealing with debt collectors, most people are uncomfortable with negotiating, but it is one of the most important skills to develop. In most cases you can also negotiate the debt for pennies on the dollar as well, especially if you can come up with a lump sum to give them.

From 2006 to 2010 I was constantly receiving phone calls and letters from collection agencies for mistakes I had made. One agency had purchased my debt from Compass Bank and Bank of America for what I would assume at the time was a fraction of what was actually owned. Most of the time I just ignored them because I couldn’t afford to do anything. As I began to get my financial life back in order in 2010, I received another letter from the collection agency. I called the number that was listed on the letter to discuss the payments that were being offered. The monthly payment was pretty reasonable compared to what they were initially offering over the last couple of years. The problem was, I had already scheduled some debts to be paid off or had set up some payment plans, so I couldn’t offer the minimum amount they were asking for.

Verizon Enterprise Data Breach

Verizon Enterprise Solutions confirmed they were a victim of a data breach last week.  1.5 million Verizon Enterprise customers contact information has been stolen.

News outlets are reporting  that the company recently identified a security  flaw in its site that permitted hackers to steal customer contact information, and that it is in the process of alerting affected customers. Verizon had discovered and re-mediated the security vulnerability on the client portal. They mentioned that the investigation found the attacker was able to obtain basic contact information on a number of their enterprise customers, but no proprietary information or data was accessed.

Verizon is currently in the process of notifying all of the customers that were affected.

Be Aware Of Phishing Attacks
Breaches of this type of caliber typically means that you will be “phished” by a scammer. When they get your phone number or email address, then the scammers can call, text or email posing as a Verizon rep. The thieves usually come up with some sort of story to obtain financial information, money or access to your personal accounts. This typically leads to identity theft. (more…)

5 Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors

Debt Collectors. I think it is pretty safe to say that nobody loves receiving calls from debt collectors. One thing to understand about debt collectors, they are in business to do one thing, collect money. They can be aggressive and make your life incredibly stressful. Knowing what your rights are when it comes to these special people, can relieve some of that stress and help you get your accounts settled or removed.


Have You Been Denied Credit?

6 Things to Quickly Give Your Credit a Boost

Have you ever been denied credit? Maybe even denied a job because of your credit? We have always been told that having a high credit score is important. One of the most obvious reasons for having a high credit score is purchasing a home, or applying for a loan. So, what does our credit score have to do with any of that? Basically, credit scores were created to help those issuing a line of credit to a consumer a way to assess the risk of giving a line of credit. They want to see if you are going repay your debts on time, and they can see that by viewing your past credit history.

  1. Request a Credit Report
    First and foremost, obtain a copy of your credit report after you have been denied credit. In fact, by law, you are to be given a copy at no cost.

Recovering Your Credit After a Job Loss

6 Tips to Protect Your Credit After a Job Loss

Recovering from a job loss can be incredibly draining; mentally, emotionally and of course financially. In last weeks post I spoke about losing a couple of jobs in a short period of time and the toll it took on me and my family. This past week a client who had been unemployed for several months found a new job. During his unemployment his family had accumulated a large amount of debt, maxing out two of three credit cards. He asked me for advice on what I had done or wish I had done to recover from losing my jobs. Here are the six things that I shared with him:

  1. Request Your Credit Report
    You may ask why requesting your credit report is important. Sometimes we don’t have all of our accounts/debts on our budget. It is critical when you are in this stage to know exactly what you are up against. By requesting a copy of your credit report, you know where you stand credit-wise. Be sure to examine your report for any mistakes and negative information. If you find a mistake, you can dispute them yourself. Be sure to make a note of all the negative information so you  know where you need to focus some of your time. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows for you to get a copy of your credit report once a year from all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You can obtain your report by going to or Credit Karma.

You’ve Just Lost Your Job, Now What?

4 Steps to Take Immediately After You've Lost Your Job

Losing a job can be very taxing on a person. If you were to tell me a couple years ago that I would have to deal with a job loss, I would have laughed. I loved my job and never even saw it coming. Losing one job is bad enough, but I lost two jobs in the span of just under 18 months.

Leading up to the first job loss, we had been doing really well at budgeting our money. We were ready to purchase a home, so we were really diligent. We purchased our home about 8 months prior and just had a baby before we got the bad news. We hadn’t even started building our savings back up. We had committed a huge crime in the financial world and even tapped into our emergency fund to help with the down payment. We didn’t have much saved up when I lost the job, so we did what the majority of people do in this situation. We used our credit cards. We quickly found ourselves in a huge amount of debt. I was drained mentally and emotionally from this situation. I felt worthless, and at the same time too proud to ask for help.

5 Financial Choices You Will Regret in the Future

There really isn’t much that I regret in my life, but there is one big thing that does stick out in my mind and that is my financial choices in my early 20’s. During my high school years, I did fairly well managing the money that I was bringing in from working. But, in 1999, I left to serve a mission for my church in Russia for two years. Upon my return, it seemed that my desire to be smart and save money went right out the door. After getting a job, and started earning money again all I wanted to do was buy toys, go to movies and hang out with friends. The amount of money I was making at the time wasn’t a lot, but I was living at home and didn’t have to worry about rent, food or expenses with my car. I wanted to buy so many things, and so I did what I thought was the best idea, applied for a credit card. I quickly started to fall behind on making payments on time and racked up a number of late fees.

If there was a chance that I could go back and have a sit down with my 21-year-old self, I would. So, what would I tell myself? I would sit down and discuss finances. Some things I would be able to apply to my life right away, and some things that I would wait until later on in my life. Here are five financial choices I would tell myself to AVOID:

How to Create a Monthly Budget

4 Basic Tips to Create Your Budget

The other day a friend of mine told me that it was hard to save money. They are living paycheck to paycheck and half of their paycheck is spent before they even get it. They have gotten themselves into so much debt and are so overwhelmed they don’t even know where to begin. When I asked if they had set up a monthly budget, the answer I received was that we try to set up a budget, but usually fail and add more to our credit cards because we run out of money.

Creating a budget can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you don’t know where to start. If you don’t tell your money what to do, then at the end of the month you won’t know where your money went. By creating a budget, you give yourself control over your money and where it goes. When sitting down to create your budget, there are four simple things to remember:

4 Ways to Stay on a Budget This Valentine’s Day

If you are anything like me, you like to spoil your spouse during the holidays. But I have to honestly admit, I am absolutely terrible about planning ahead for Valentine’s Day. This year, I am hoping to turn a new leaf and have everything taken care of and planned out so it doesn’t cost me a fortune. During my preparations, here are a few things that I have found that may help you to stay on budget this coming Valentine’s Day:

  1. Order Your Flowers Now!
    If you order your flowers now, you get them at today’s pricing. But if you wait until the week leading up to Valentine’s Day or even on Valentine’s Day, you may find that the cost is nearly doubled or tripled the price, or there isn’t anything left to buy. Visit your nearest flower shop and get your flowers ordered now and save money as well as guarantee having them ready for pickup on Valentine’s Day.
  2. Plan to Eat in This Year
    Start to polish up on your culinary abilities. Ask your spouse what their preference for a meal would be and make it a couple of times prior to the big day. Make a list of everything you need to prepare it and purchase items in advance to ensure you have the ingredients.
  3. DIY Gifts Can Be a Great Idea
    Plan to make something for your spouse. Check out their Pinterest Boards to look at some of the projects that they have been wanting to ask you to make, or maybe finish a project that you had started but have yet to finish.  When you make something for your spouse it shows how much time and effort you put into making them the gift.
  4. Look for Special Deals on Gifts and Gift Cards
    Sometimes you can find some great sales when you plan ahead on items you may want to buy your spouse. You may find that drill that he has been wanting at Lowe’s, or a piece of jewelry she has been eyeing for some time. If you don’t plan ahead on what you want to get them, you may just miss the sale that saves you money. Don’t forget to look at gift cards too. If you have a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club, you may be able to find a great deal on movie tickets or a show. Talk with close friends that may want to go in on it with you and plan a double date around that activity.

Hopefully you will find a way to spoil your spouse by taking a little extra time now to plan so you don’t break the bank later and pay for it for months to come. Remember, don’t swipe the card if you don’t have the cash.