By Susan Grant, CFA Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy
October 4, 2017 | Blog Post
In response to the Equifax data breach, many consumers are asking the credit reporting agencies to put a security freeze on their credit files. That’s certainly a good idea if your Social Security number and other personal information were exposed in this breach (you can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, click on “Was I Impacted?” and put in your last name and last 6 digits of your Social Security number to find out). It’s something that you might want to consider even if you weren’t affected, because as we’ve previously explained, a freeze can protect you from certain types of identity theft.
Until November 21, 2017, Equifax is offering an identity theft service, for which it normally charges a monthly fee, free for a year to any individuals who want to enroll in it, regardless of whether their information was involved in the breach. This service includes the option to “lock” your Equifax credit file. The lock has exactly the same effect as a security freeze.
But you don’t have to enroll in this service or use the lock feature to protect your Equifax credit file. You can ask Equifax to freeze your file by:
And now through January 31, 2018 Equifax is waiving the small fee that it normally charges to set a freeze, lift it, or remove it.
So what are differences between locking and freezing your credit file? For one thing, if you lock your Equifax file through the free identity theft service, it will only stay locked for 12 months, when the service ends. On the other hand, if you put freezes on your files at Equifax and the other two major credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion, they will last until you remove them. You can lift a freeze temporarily if you need to allow someone to check your credit file and then reset it, and you can permanently remove freezes whenever you choose.
Equifax has just announced that it’s going to offer free locking for life starting at the end of January 2018. We don’t know the details yet – will there be strings attached? That remains to be seen.
Advertisements for locking services often emphasize how easy and quick they are to use. The process to set and lift freezes may take a bit longer and not be as seamless, but it’s not hard to do. You may have to pay a small fee each time you want to set, lift and reset a freeze (some state laws entitle residents to get freezes free in certain circumstances; you can find that information in the sections about freezes on the credit reporting agencies’ websites). Even if you have to pay, it might add up to less than the cost of subscribing to a service that includes a lock. Ultimately, we’d like to see free freezes for everyone and the ability to set and lift them made simpler and faster.
To freeze your credit files at TransUnion and Experian, see below.
(Original source Linked Below):
It has been reported that there was a data breach of Equifax, one of the nation's major credit reporting agencies. They have set up a website to help determine if your information has been compromised, you may go to the following link: (https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/)
There are several steps that can be taken to help safeguard your information. Please review the following prevention tips and be proactive in protecting your identity:
(Original Source Linked Below):
By Theodore W. General
Thursday, May 25, 2017
This coming Monday, May 29, Brooklyn’s Sesquicentennial Kings County Memorial Day Parade, one of the oldest continuous Memorial Day parades in the nation, will take place starting at 11 a.m. along Third Avenue from 78th Street to Marine Avenue then along Fourth Avenue to 101st Street at John Paul Jones Park (aka “Cannonball Park”).
This year, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has been designated lead veterans’ group and the reviewing officer will be Colonel Peter Sicoli, U.S. Army garrison commander at Fort Hamilton.
Each year, the boroughwide parade is sponsored by the United Military Veterans of Kings County (UMVKC) under the leadership of U.S. Air Force veteran and Bay Ridge resident Ray Aalbue, its chair, who previously served as public affairs officer for Fort Hamilton.
The parade was first held when Brooklyn was an independent city, then the third largest in the country. The 2017 grand marshals are Lieutenant General John A. Toolan, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), a Brooklyn native, and Prisco DeAngelis, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran and longtime president of UMVKC.
Deputy Grand Marshals are World War II veterans and brothers Roy and Jack Vanasco; and New York City Deputy Council Leader Vincent Gentile, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and is a 2010 Patriotism Award recipient.
In addition to marching bands, a band from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and U.S. Air Force Ceremonial Honor Guard from Washington, D.C., there will be eight floats and vintage military vehicles and antique cars.
Immediately following the parade a memorial service inside John Paul Jones Park featuring America’s famous tenor, former 68th Precinct NYPD Officer Danny Rodriguez singing the national anthem and “God Bless America,” will take place.
The program will also include wreath layings and a 21-cannon salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery resplendent in their War of 1812-era dress uniforms.
Parade spectators are urged to attend the post-parade ceremonies.
Student Loan Cash-Out Refinance Option Holds Both Promise and Pitfalls
Washington, D.C. – New changes announced by Fannie Mae targeting current and future homeowners with student debt create both opportunities and risks for consumers, especially for those who use mortgage credit to pay off a student loan.
“Swapping student debt for mortgage debt can free up cash in your family budget, but it can also increase the risk of foreclosure when you run into trouble,” said Rohit Chopra, Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America and former Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “For borrowers with solid income and stable employment, refinancing can help reduce the burden of student debt. But for others, they might be signing away their student loan benefits when times get tough.”
As the largest source of mortgage credit in America, Fannie Mae’s announcement could have a significant effect on the mortgage market and student borrowers. More than 43 million Americans owe $1.4 trillion in outstanding student debt.
Fannie Mae updated its Selling Guide to permit originators that sell loans to the mortgage giant to offer a new refinance option for the purpose of paying off a student loan. Proceeds from the refinancing will go directly to the student loan servicer to fully pay off at least one loan.
The policy change will likely have the effect of greater availability and lower interest rates for homeowners refinancing their mortgage to pay off student debt. Fannie Mae’s announcement expands upon a program launched last year with SoFi to offer a similar product.
Homeowners who tap home equity to pay off student debt give up their rights to income-driven repayment options on their federal student loans, which cap federal student loan payments at roughly 10% of their income. Income-driven repayment is a critical safeguard during periods of unemployment or other income shocks that help avoid the consequences of default. Homeowners may also be trading away loan forgiveness options available to teachers and others who work in public service.
Private student loans generally lack flexible repayment options like income-driven repayment. Borrowers with Parent PLUS loans also have more limited options, compared to other federal student loans.
According to Fannie Mae and SoFi, homeowners with outstanding cosigned student loans had an average balance of $36,000, and those with outstanding Parent PLUS loans had an average balance of $33,000.
Borrowers should also consider the tax implications of refinancing student debt. Borrowers who itemize their deductions and whose income is too high to qualify for the student loan interest deduction may be able to take advantage of tax benefits through the mortgage interest deduction when using mortgage credit to pay off student debt.
Fannie Mae also announced additional guidelines that impact how mortgage originators should consider student debt burdens. Mortgage originators can now consider a borrower’s monthly repayment burden as either the reported repayment level on a consumer’s credit report, 1% of the outstanding student loan balance, or a calculated payment that fully amortizes the loan.
According to data from the National Association of Realtors, 71% of non-homeowners believe their student debt has delayed them from buying a home.
“For too many borrowers, student debt feels like a big barrier to the dream of homeownership. While these changes won’t change those feelings overnight, they may help the mortgage industry adapt to the financial realities of today’s aspiring homeowner,” Chopra said.
The announcement underscores the need for close monitoring by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of student loan servicers and mortgage originators. The consumer agency has previously reported widespread failures in the student loan servicing industry, including inaccurate payoff statements and other practices that lead to default.
CFPB oversight will help to ensure that lenders offering student loan cash-out refinance products provide clear disclosures to borrowers and avoid engaging in illegal practices that previously plagued the mortgage market.
Contact: Rohit Chopra, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Original Source Linked Below):
Largest Student Loan Servicer, Navient, Lags in Affordable Repayment Plan Sign-Ups
Washington, D.C. – Analysis of new data released by the U.S. Department of Education reveals millions of Americans are in default on Federal Direct Loans serviced by companies hired by the federal government.
“3,000 preventable student loan defaults each day in America is 3,000 too many.” said Rohit Chopra, Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America and formerly the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Student Loan Ombudsman. “Our broken system works well for the student loan industry, but is failing borrowers, taxpayers, and our economy.”
As of the end of 2016, 42.4 million Americans owed $1.3 trillion in federal student loans. These figures exclude borrowing through private student loans, credit cards, and home equity loans to finance the growing costs of college. The Federal Reserve System puts total outstanding student loans at $1.4 trillion, which includes federal and private loans, but excludes other loans used to finance higher education.
Student loan servicers, the companies paid to collect payments, are responsible for enrolling borrowers in repayment plans to help them avoid default. For example, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plans help to cap payments at roughly 10% of income, alleviating the burden of student debt.
Highlights of the Consumer Federation of America’s initial analysis of the recently-released Education Department data, as of December 31, 2016, include:
AES/PHEAA had the highest levels of enrollment, though this is likely attributable to its status as the exclusive servicer for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Borrowers generally benefit from this program only if they enroll in an affordable repayment plan.
The full set of data is available on the Department of Education’s website in the Federal Student Aid Data Center.
Borrowers struggling with student loans should visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Repay Student Debt tool, available here.
Contact: Rohit Chopra, 202-939-1018
(Original Source Linked Below):
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