Best Credit Monitoring Services

Some of what makes Identity Guard one of the best include:

3-Bureau Credit Monitoring. Many credit monitoring services will provide you with monitoring from just one of the three credit bureaus. Identity Guard provides monitoring of all three Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This is no small advantage either. Not all creditors report to all three credit bureaus. If you are only monitoring a single bureau report, it is possible that you could completely miss significant information that you need to be aware of. This is especially important if that information could indicate that you are the victim of identity fraud. Credit reports are provided quarterly for each of the three bureaus.

Black Market Monitoring. Identity Guard monitors known black-market websites, plus underground forums and secret chat rooms to see if your name or other personal information comes up. These are the places where databases of ill-gotten personal information often change hands. By monitoring these sources, Identity Guard gives you an opportunity to protect your identity before your information is sold on the black market.

Social Security Monitoring. Your Social Security number is the key to your personal identity. By monitoring where yours appears, and alerting you when it does, you gain valuable time to protect your personal information before the damage gets much worse.

Identity Guard also provides your credit score details, credit updates, internet monitoring (for public records), and provides support in the event that your personal information has been compromised. They also have a $1 million Identity Theft Insurance policy available to help you restore your finances after the theft.

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2016 Predictions – Mortgage Rates & Home Sales Rising with Refinancing Dropping

Over at CoreLogic.com there is a lot of analysis of the housing and mortgage markets, including foreclosure information. Recently CoreLogic released their report 2016 Housing and Mortgage Rates Forecast.

They report that expectations for 2016 show that the Fed will probably raise short term interest rates by one percentage point gradually over the year. This is expected to cause mortgage interest rates to rise by around a half point, to around 4.5% for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Those of us who remember rates in the past averaging more in the 6% to 8% range probably arent too excited about these historically low rates.

However, particularly with first time home buyers, the mortgage interest rate influences the amount of the payments and the value of the home loan for which they can qualify. Even with discouraging mortgage rate increases, a modest increase in the number of home sales over those in 2015 is expected. Refinancing activity is expected to drop however.

An improving labor market is expected to spur household formations in 2016, with 1.25 million new households expected. More households will spur demand for both purchases and rentals, but rentals will get the most pressure. With rental vacancies already at the lowest levels in 20 years, rents should be rising more. This could move some buyers from renting back into the market.

Even with just a modest increase in the number of sales, its still going to be another consecutive year with more sales than in any year since 2007. Rising demand is going to help prices to continue to rise. The CoreLogic Home Price Index showed a year over year increase of 6% over the past 12 months.

Its been a whole new housing analytical world since the housing and mortgage crash. We still have owners holding on and not listing, and thats keeping inventories low. Depressed inventory is as responsible for rising prices as modestly increasing demand. First time home buyers are still avoiding the market in droves compared to pre-crash historical numbers.

At some point low inventories and rising demand could bring prices to a level that will bring sellers back into the market. Many are still making up for equity lost during the crash, and some are still underwater in their mortgages. When they do start listing in more normal numbers, then we could see some slowing of price increases and maybe more demand.

Its tough predicting the new real estate markets. CoreLogic is one of many companies publishing reports and projections. Im sure you can find others with different conclusions, and real estate investors have a constant stream of date through which to sift for trends. We are constantly evaluating our markets and seeking opportunities. I dont see anything really negative about rental investing over the next few years, so have fun!

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Helping kids ‘sow’ goals for the new year

ATLANTA (CNN) While many of us even those of us who despise making New Years resolutions will undoubtedly set a few personal goals for the new year, we dont often think about encouraging our children to do the same.

I know that in our household, Im already thinking about getting back to our no treats until the weekend mantra and starting to establish more time for writing after school, but those are my goals for my daughters, not their own.

Wouldnt it make more sense for them to think about what they would like to accomplish and come up with a way for it to happen?

Thats exactly the thinking behind Sow, a new savings platform for children that allows their family and friends to fund their goals, such as saving for college or a brand new bicycle, as opposed to giving them useless gifts.

The idea is the brainchild of Tanya Van Court, a longtime digital media executive and mother of two. When Van Courts daughter, Gabrielle, was about to turn 9, she told her mom what she wanted for her birthday: enough money to start an investment account (yes, an investment account, and she wasnt even 9 yet!) and buy a new bicycle.

I looked at this 8-year-old and thought, Oh my gosh, those are amazing goals for an 8-year-old to have. But Van Court, of Brooklyn, New York, thought her daughter probably wouldnt get enough money to pay for either of her dreams. She was right.

Instead, her presents included a Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit, a butterfly garden (all the butterflies were dead once she opened the package) and yet another rainbow loom. It was then that Van Court said she realized that gift-giving for young people was really broken.

Were turning (children) into being mini-consumers who have far too much and as a result value far too little, she said in an interview. There are financial exchanges during kids birthdays, around religious holidays or at the start of the new year, and yet nothing meaningful comes out of them, she thought.

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Guest View: Paying it Forward

The Treasurer is the state#x2019;s chief investment officer and has been for more than 200 years. Our financial investments support state and local governments. For every dollar we spend in operations, we return $28 to the state. I am proud of this return on investment.

I believe it is equally important that the office helps people to invest in themselves. Among our most effective tools to help our neighbors:

#x2022; Saving for College: Our 529 college savings plans provide an opportunity for a bright future. This year, we made it easier to save by lowering management fees and eliminating start-up and quarterly fees for the Bright Directions program. There are 400,000 active college savings accounts.

#x2022; Saving for Retirement: Not enough people plan for retirement. Not having enough money to retire with dignity stresses families and puts an added strain on public assistance programs. The Secure Choice savings plan will provide a retirement savings tool that travels with the worker with no additional cost to employers. Illinois is a national leader in this effort.

#x2022; Helping our Children: Achieving a Better Life Experience is a tax-advantaged savings account similar to college savings plans helping those families with special needs children save for their kids#x2019; future. We continue to work with other states to build an effective program with low fees for families.

#x2022; Invest in Illinois: Illinois is the Midwest#x2019;s tech hub. Targeted investments by our office have led to success stories such as Spot Hero, Sitter City, and Trunk Club. We will build upon that success in 2016 with a second round of investment capital that focuses on creating technology jobs and growing the tech industry in Illinois.

#x2022; Fighting for Families: Our unclaimed property unit safeguards more than $2 billion in cash and assets that private institutions were unsuccessful in getting to its owners. Examples include bank safe deposit box contents or an undelivered paycheck or refund. Life insurance policies also are included. Curiously, a life insurance company has sued to block our efforts to identify unpaid life insurance benefits that should have been distributed following a loved one#x2019;s death. This has occurred despite dozens of life insurance companies complying with our reasonable request. We look forward to updates on this important consumer protection issue in 2016.

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Student debt: The time to start saving is now

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) — Student debt in the U.S has reached an alarming benchmark, topping one trillion dollars.

Kelcie Moseley graduated from the University of Idaho in 2011 with a journalism degree and about $35,000 in debt.

My debt is not that much to those who have fifty thousand, sixty thousand, Moseley said.

Its taken her nearly five years to put a dent in her interest payment, making her wish she had the opportunity to save beforehand.

It wasnt as much of an emphasis on saving for college when I was growing up. It was kind of a thing where you knew you had loans and that was probably going to cover it, it wasnt going to be that bad. But it just kind started snow-balling, Moseley said.

Christine Stoll, Executive Director of Ideal Idaho College Savings Program says grads like Kelcie are all too common and parents often underestimate the cost of higher education.

Were expecting that to rise with inflation so its important that families start saving now, Stoll said.

Ideal College Savings Program estimates that students can walk away with a bachelors degree from an Idaho college with nearly $60 thousand in debt.

They predict that in just seven years that debt will rise to nearly $90,000.

Stoll says by creating a savings account, small contributions each month will pay off in the long run.

Every dollar that you save now is one less that you might have to borrow in the future. If you were to give up a pizza or a coffee or movie night, in 18 years if you were to save that $25 youd have almost $12 thousand saved, said Stoll.

So how is this different than any other savings accounts? All contributions to the Ideal Savings Account grow tax-deferred.

In addition, distributions are federally and Idaho state tax-free as long as theyre used at any accredited school in the US. For any Idaho tax payer contributing to the fund, its tax deductible.

According to Stoll, it helps your future student aim for success from the start.

Its a higher predictor than academics and the reason is youve set the expectation in your family and youve said hey , were working towards this, said Stoll.

Its $25 to start an account with Idaho Ideal Savings Program but theres no minimum monthly payment.

Theyre also in partnership with CWI. If you meet a certain criteria, you could qualify for a dollar-to-dollar match-up for up to $500 a semester at CWI.

The deadline to enroll is Dec. 31.

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School notes: PCC powwow; College savings seminars; new Oregon Promise

School Notes is a collection of education news around Portland. E-mail tips to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

PCC powwow planned for Jan. 23

Portland Community College anticipates more than 1,000 people will attend its annual Wacipi (They Dance) Traditional Powwow from noon to 9 pm Saturday, Jan. 23.

This will be the 17th year that the Sylvania Campus has played host to the annual cultural event, which will feature drum groups and dancers from across the region, Native American crafts and food, activities for children, and raffle prizes.

The event, including parking and a community dinner at 5:30 pm, is free and open to the public.

Proceeds from the event through vendor fees, etc. will go to the Native American Student Scholarship, which aims to increase access and retention of Native American students at PCC.

One of the main goals of the day is to focus on youth, said powwow volunteer Daniel Soucy in a news release.

The powwow enlightens visitors about Native American culture and provides inspiration, fellowship and encouragement to Native American students at the college as they work toward their goals in education.

Free college savings seminars

The Oregon College Savings Plan is hosting free college funding seminars, where the public is invited to come learn about all the tax advantages and other benefits of saving for college with the Oregon College Savings Plan.

The 529 plan, offered through the state of Oregon and managed by TIAA-CREF financial services, will have specialists on hand Saturday, Jan. 23, to answer questions during the seminars.

Experts also will discuss federal and state financial aid options and how to apply for scholarship funds. Complimentary appetizers and beverages will be provided.

Choose to attend an 11 am session at the Beaverton City Library or a 2:30 pm session at the Oregon Zoo. Both sessions are on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Register online at: oregoncollegesavings.com/buzz/seminar.shtml

Middle-schooler Mark Sankov is an Oregon Promise

Mark Sankov, a student at Portland Public Schools Lane Middle School, is one of four students statewide selected by the Oregon School Boards Association to be featured in The Promise of Oregon campaign this week.

The Promise of Oregon campaign is a bid to garner public support of K-14 education. See more at: promiseoregon.org

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How to help kids ‘sow’ goals for the new year

(CNN) While many of us even those of us who despise making New Years resolutions will undoubtedly set a few personal goals for the new year, we dont often think about encouraging our children to do the same.

I know that in our household, Im already thinking about getting back to our no treats until the weekend mantra and starting to establish more time for writing after school, but those are my goals for my daughters, not their own.

Wouldnt it make more sense for them to think about what they would like to accomplish and come up with a way for it to happen?

Thats exactly the thinking behind Sow, a new savings platform for children that allows their family and friends to fund their goals, such as saving for college or a brand new bicycle, as opposed to giving them useless gifts.

The idea is the brainchild of Tanya Van Court, a longtime digital media executive and mother of two. When Van Courts daughter, Gabrielle, was about to turn 9, she told her mom what she wanted for her birthday: enough money to start an investment account (yes, an investment account, and she wasnt even 9 yet!) and buy a new bicycle.

I looked at this 8-year-old and thought, Oh my gosh, those are amazing goals for an 8-year-old to have. But Van Court, of Brooklyn, New York, thought her daughter probably wouldnt get enough money to pay for either of her dreams. She was right.

Instead, her presents included a Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit, a butterfly garden (all the butterflies were dead once she opened the package) and yet another rainbow loom. It was then that Van Court said she realized that gift-giving for young people was really broken.

Were turning (children) into being mini-consumers who have far too much and as a result value far too little, she said in an interview. There are financial exchanges during kids birthdays, around religious holidays or at the start of the new year, and yet nothing meaningful comes out of them, she thought.

Thats when I said, Wow, this is something that our country really needs, the world really needs. We need to help young people think about how to save money towards goals that are meaningful instead of spending all their money on goods that are meaningless and truly meaningless to them.

With Sow, which launched this month, students can create a profile for themselves or parents can create one for their children, like this one for Van Courts son, Hendrix, who is 6. The children then decide what they want to sow what their goals are for saving, what they hope to share with the less fortunate and what they want to buy. They then can invite their family and friends to see what they are saving for and ultimately get gifts for their birthday, the holidays or the new year that are much more meaningful than a gift that just might end up sitting in their room unopened.

If you know better, you do better

Sows mission is not just about putting an end to useless gift-giving and gift-receiving, but also aims to build financial literacy skills that are sorely lacking among children and even adults, said Van Court.

Consider some of the statistics that Van Court shared during a recent Ted-like talk for The Platform, a diverse group of tech entrepreneurs, professionals, venture capitalists and investors. Only 25% of people under 30 years old own stocks or a fund that invests in stocks, says a survey by Bankrate Money Pulse, which means that 75% of people under 30 are either not saving at all, saving in a savings account or tucking the money under a mattress or in their backpacks, she said.

Now think about saving $100,000 in a savings account for 30 years versus investing in stocks. Three decades later, using average rates of return for savings accounts and the stock market, you would have about $105,000 if you invested in a savings account and $761,000 if you invested in stocks, said Van Court.

How could our young people be making such a blatantly disadvantageous decision? she asks. As my grandmother would say, If you know better, you do better. They dont know better because were not teaching them better. Were not teaching them to understand or speak financial language.

Its not just an issue with children, said Van Court. Nearly 90% of teachers think personal finance should be a mandatory class, but 80% feel ill-equipped to teach such a class, she said. Two-thirds of Americans dont know what a 529 plan is, a savings account for college. Fewer than 50 percent of Americans with children under 18 are saving for college this year.

There is no question that families economic circumstances have shifted since the financial downturn in 2008, but Van Court says that despite the recession and years of increasing unemployment, nearly two-thirds of moms from all income levels who were surveyed by Sow believe their kids already have too much stuff and wished there were a better way to celebrate birthdays and holidays. (Link to infographic to come)

These statistics tell me that something aint right, said Van Court. We as a nation are tipping the scales away from saving, and buying stuff, stuff and more stuff.

Sow wants to put a big dent in the problem by working with, influencing and providing tools for young people in the United States. By focusing on giving goals instead of goods, children can see how they can save for the future, share with others and also spend money on things that really matter to them.

When an adult gives them $30, and gives them $10 for saving, $10 for a cause and $10 for something they want, it communicates a number of things to kids, she says. First, it makes them goal-oriented, and we know that goal creation is the first step to wealth creation, she said.

Second, it helps them understand that holidays and birthdays are not just about them and their wants and needs.

Finally, setting and saving for goals can help them be successful in todays world. A study by Washington University in St. Louis found that kids who have college funds are seven times more likely to go to college than young people who dont have a college fund. It didnt matter how much they had in that fund, said Van Court. Its just the notion that they have a college fund that makes them believe that they are going to college.

So, as my children sort through all the gifts theyve gotten for Hanukkah and Christmas the ones they like and the ones they dont Ill be putting them in front of a laptop and helping them create their own Sow profiles.

Beyond the amazing benefits of teaching them to set goals and save for them, theres the benefit of no longer having to stress when anyone asks what they want for their birthday or Hanukkah or Christmas.

Help fund their goals. It couldnt be any simpler than that.

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Credit freeze can prevent fraudulent accounts

But there are some downsides to a credit freeze to consider. It also blocks you from opening new lines of credit, so if you plan to take out a mortgage or apply for a new credit card you’ll need to remember to unfreeze it each time. And residents of some states have to pay a fee for a freeze.

Here’s more on how credit freezes work:

When should I freeze my credit report?

It’s a must if an account has been opened in your name or if you’ve been notified that your Social Security number was taken in a data breach. Even if identity theft hasn’t struck, you still should seriously consider it, since data breaches have become so common. So far in 2015, there have been 766 data breaches at banks, government agencies and big companies, exposing more than 178 million records, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. A breach of government records, for example, exposed Social Security numbers of about 26 million federal employees and their spouses.

How do I freeze my credit report?

Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You’ll need to freeze your credit report at all three because some creditors only use one. Contact Equifax at www.freeze.equifax.com 800-349-9960, Experian at experian.com/freeze/center.html or 888-397-3742 and TransUnion at transunion.com/securityfreeze or 888-909-8872. They’ll ask you for your Social Security number, name, address and other details.

How much does a credit freeze cost?

It depends on the state laws where you live. Fees are typically between $3 and $10 to freeze each credit report, and you may pay another fee to unfreeze. Freezes are free at a few states, including Indiana and Maine. Fees may also be slightly different at each credit agency. Equifax has a list of fees and rules for each state at pojonews.co/eqfreezefees.

Will the freeze hurt my credit score?

No.

Is this different than credit monitoring?

Yes. Credit monitoring services, which you have to pay a monthly fee for, alerts you if a new account is opened or other suspicious activity takes place. A credit freeze is the only way to stop criminals from opening new accounts in your name. Some experts don’t recommend credit monitoring because it’s expensive, as much as $20 a month. Instead, you can monitor your credit report on your own. You’re entitled to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.

When do I need to unfreeze my credit reports?

If you’re applying for a mortgage or auto loan or credit card. That’s because lenders check your report to see if they should lend to you. You can ask the lender what credit reporting agency they use and unfreeze that one, says Litt. You can unfreeze a credit report temporarily or permanently at any time.

How do I unfreeze my credit reports?

By contacting the credit agencies again. When you ask to freeze your credit reports you’ll get a number that you will need to save. That number will be your key to unfreezing your account, so keep it in a safe place. Losing the number will delay removing the freeze.

Will a freeze protect me from all identity theft?

No, it only stops thieves from opening new accounts. Thieves can still use your existing credit or debit cards to make fraudulent charges, so you will still need to check your statements every month. It also doesn’t protect against other types of identity theft, such as taking out prescription medication in your name or filing fraudulent tax returns, says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of The Identity Theft Resource Center.

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UTair completes debt portfolio refinancing

Russias UTair Airline announced it completed the refinancing of its debt portfolio on Dec. 30, 2015.

The transaction is structured as two syndicated loans with an aggregate value of RUB42.6 billion ($628 million) and two bond issues with a total nominal value of about RUB13.3 billion ($181 million) maturing in seven and 12 years, respectively, UTairs advisor law firm Akin Gump said in a statement. The seven-year syndicated loan is guaranteed by the government of the Russian Federation for 50% of the loan amount, alongside a syndicate of 11 banks, with Sberbank the lead arranger and agent and collateral manager.

UTair CEO Andrey Martirosov said the refinancing will ensure UTairs stable operation and sustainable development in the future.

Natalia Baratiants, managing partner of Akin Gumps Moscow office, called the transaction an outstanding and unprecedented deal in many respects. The restructuring has been extremely complex and taken more than two years to complete. We very much hope that the work that all sides have done will result in the steady, ongoing and successful operation of UTair for years to come.

UTair is the Russias fourth biggest airline, which carried 5.2 million passengers in the January-November 2015 period, down 35.7% year-over-year.

In 2014, UTair launched a cost-cutting program,Impulse, and grounded part of itsfleet due to economic turbulence, currency exchange rate increases and declining passenger numbers.

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Payday lending market too tough for Money3 and Thorn

Consumer lenders Money3 and Thorn Group are getting out of the payday lending market in the face of tighter finance options and a Government review of the sector that has raised the prospect of tougher regulation. The two companies are among the bigger players in the market for small amount credit contracts.

Another provider of SACCs, Credit Corp, announced its withdrawal from the market last month.

Money3 announced yesterday that its branch and online businesses selling unsecured small amount credit contracts would be shut down by June next year.

The companys…

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