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stethoscope and cashMedical debt is a serious problem for many households. A lot of Americans are trying to get debt relief from medical bills and unfortunately, not everyone is succeeding. The high cost of health care is crippling a lot of us – even those with health insurance. Imagine how the uninsured are coping with the expensive cost of health care. If any of them will get sick, they will either skip the medical treatment or will put themselves in debt just to get healthy.

According to the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, 41% of adults between the ages 19 to 64 are reported to having medical debt. The statistics compiled in ACAInternational.org revealed that those who are having difficulties, 42% of them or 32 million have a lower credit rating because of all their unpaid medical expenses. This can bring down their financial opportunities and keep them from the low interest rate that comes with having a good credit score.

How do people get into health related debt?

We all know that health is wealth and it is funny that once you get sick, the former cannot exist without the latter. Although there are free services, you should know that money is an important aspect of our health. You need it to get better. If you do not have it, you will either be in debt or you will have to forego getting professional help to get better.

Another report published on the Kaiser Family Foundation website revealed that one third of Americans have admitted that they are having a lot of difficulty paying off their medical debt. It is either they have troubles paying medical bills in the past year or they are painstakingly paying it in installments. Some of them reported that they cannot afford to make any kind of payment – at all! The same report said that getting into debt may be higher for the uninsured but that does not mean the insured is spared from this type of debt. In fact, the study revealed that the people who have reported having difficulties paying their health related debt are those who are insured.

The problem lies with the out of pocket expenses that are oftentimes still too expensive – despite the coverage of the health insurance. Not only that, a lot of insured individuals have to deal with the additional cost of paying a monthly premium to keep their family covered by the insurance.

The report mentioned that the people who have medical debt are usually those who have other financial obligations like credit card debt, mortgage loans and other credit obligations. These add up to put them in a compromising financial position.

Keep your health care expenses from turning into uncontrollable debt

So what can you do to keep your health care expenses from becoming uncontrollable debt? Here are some tips that we have for you.

  • Shop for options. If it is not an emergency and you have time to spare before you need the actual treatment, then look for the best deal in terms of low cost and high quality care. Take the time to check the prices. If you have a long time illness, do your research now so in case your illness will strike, you know your options and you can act on it quickly. Such planning and preparation will really go a long way and help you keep your costs to a minimum without compromising the treatment that you will need.
  • Stay away from the ER. If you can avoid it, stay away from going to the Emergency Room. The co-payment is usually at its highest and you do not want to have that as a burden. If you did not know, there are urgent care centers that act like ERs but does not cost as much. Try to search for the nearest facility in your city so you can head out there in times of emergencies.
  • Know the network of your insurance company. Study the network of health facilities and professionals that your insurance provider has. That way, you will not make the mistake of going for help in a facility or professional that will not be reimbursed by your insurance. There might be arrangements that you can get so you can benefit from packages that will lower your cost even further.
  • Go to medical schools. These schools have their own clinics where students get to have hands on practice with actual sick people. While it may seem like you are putting your health on the line, these are quite competent individuals. They will give you the best care for a fraction of the cost that you would have spent in a hospital. These interns need the training and you need low cost and high quality medical care. That is a great trade off to stay away from medical debt.
  • Check and recheck your bills. Not that we want to think that the medical industry cannot be trusted but some people can make mistakes too. If you are staying in a big hospital, some records are bound to mix with the others. So be vigilant and always check that everything in your bill lists services and medications that were given to you. Question anything that you do not understand. Sometimes, there are details that are billed separately when it should have been part of the package.
  • Do coupons. Yes there are coupons for your medical expenses too. These can help you save money and keep you out of medical debt. Drug companies and manufacturers want your loyalty so be on the lookout for great coupons that will help you save on prescribed medicines.
  • Ask for medicine samples from your physician. A lot of doctors are given free medicines by drug companies and you may want to benefit from that as well. If your doctor prescribes a medicine, as them if they have samples that they can possibly give you to save on costs. They usually do not use this so they may be inclined to hand it over to you.
  • Buy the generic. Another way to save on prescription drugs is to buy the generic brands. If you cannot get a coupon or a sample from your doctor, but the generic. They cost less and still work in the same way as the name brands.

Probably the best way that you can save money on your health insurance and related costs is to simply keep yourself healthy. Prevention is always better than the cure and in the end, that is the most inexpensive way that you can stay away from medical debt.

Tips to pay off your medical credit problem

The National Patient Advocate Foundation published on NPAF.org revealed that medical expenses is a main factor in individual bankruptcy filings in the country. The percentage is at 62% and the report mentioned that it is increasing. Of those who blamed medical related debt to their bankruptcy filing, 54.9% blamed the high medical and drug cost while 37.8% blamed job loss because of an illness.

In case you have a lot of medical debt to pay off, here two options that you have to make your payments possible.

  • Live a frugal life. You want to make sure that your debt will not hinder you from getting a needed medical attention in the future. That is why you need to pay it off as soon as you can. You can do this by living a frugal lifestyle so your expenses will drastically be lower. That should give you enough room to pay more towards your debts.
  • Get medical debt reduction. Research your options to reduce what you owe towards your medical debt. It can be through debt settlement or debt management. There are various debt relief programs that will allow you to pay off what you owe based on your financial capabilities.

Although the high cost of medical care makes medical debt a higher possibility, make sure that you build up your emergency fund so you can avoid this type of credit. That way, you can concentrate on getting your good health back instead of stressing about where you will get the money to pay back the high cost of health care.

cartoon house with documentsWe’ve always been told that buying a house is a good investment. Well, that is true, but that is not the whole picture. This is just our way of justifying the fact that we are borrowing money to pay for the house.

A home loan is always advertised as a good debt because it allows you to increase your assets. In fact, an article from About.com places it as the definition of a good debt. A home purchase usually appreciate in value so the mortgage loan used to pay for it can be considered as an investment.

While home buying through a home loan is the common practice, it does not always mean that it is the best way to acquire a property. This is especially true when your finances are not ready for a mortgage payment plan.

It is true that buying your own home will increase your personal net worth. But that depends on how you will buy it. If you will buy it through a home loan, that house is not yet yours. The bank or mortgage lender owns it. As you pay off the home loan in instalment, that is the only way that you start to build up the equity of your home. Even if the title is under your name, you only own as much as the amount that you paid for the house. At the beginning, if you paid 20% of the selling price as the down payment, it indicates that you only own 20% of your home. If you paid less on your down payment, then you own even less.

Signs that a house is not a good investment

There are certain signs that will tell you if buying a house is even less of an investment that it should. According to an article published by FoxBusiness.com, there is never really the right season to buy a home. It will depend primarily on your own financial situation. But if you have to pinpoint a season, the article mentioned that spring and fall are the best times for home buyers. This is the time when the home inventory increases and that means more options for you.

It may be true that you will be saving more as a homeowner because what you should have been paying on rent will instead be sent towards the equity of your home. But before you make the actual purchase on the house, take note of these signs that indicates your home buying plans will not be a good investment.

When it is worth less than what it is selling for

Some homebuyers purchase a home at a price that is just right for the value of the property. But in the midst of it, the housing market crashed and you are now paying a lot more than it is actually worth. That just made your home a bad investment. Even if you try to sell it off, it will not be enough to pay for your overall investment that includes the down payment, home loan, interest, closing costs and other expenses like the insurance, appraisal and professional inspections. When this happens and you are in the verge of giving up your home and selling it, hold on to it first. You might lose a lot more if you proceed to sell off the property.

When the mortgage rate is higher than the usual

Buying a house when the mortgage rates are high is a bad idea. This is especially true when you are getting a fixed price mortgage. That means the interest in your home will not go down in case the mortgage index rate does. This is why it is important for you to buy your home at the right time. The high interest rate can be caused by the housing market or it can be caused by your own bad credit score. A low credit score will deem you to be un-creditworthy and that will force the lender to protect their interest by raising your interest rate.

When you do not have enough cash for the 20% down payment

Another factor that will make buying a house less of a good investment is when you do not have enough down payment to meet the required 20%. When you pay less on your down payment, it means you still have to pay for a PMI (private mortgage insurance) to compensate for that deficit. That is another cost that you have to pay on top of your mortgage. If you can wait to save up for this down payment, then you should decide not to buy a house yet so you can save money and own more on the equity of your home from the beginning.

When a housing market crash looms ahead

The last sign that indicates your home will not be a good investment is when the market is gearing up for a housing crash. Although it is tough to really predict this, if the experts are saying that the value of homes will decline in certain months, then hold your purchase for now. In most cases, buying a home during the housing market crash is a better idea because home values will be at an all time low. You can get a really good deal when you wait for this to happen.

How to turn your home into a money making machine

Of course, there are ways for buying a house to be a really good investment and that is to turn it into a rental. This is really how you can make it into a cash cow so it can earn you some money.

An article published on USNews.com, said that the days of flipping real estate is over. This is when you buy a property, fix it up a bit to increase its value and sell it for profit. Now, earning from real estate means buying a house and having it rented. This can provide a steady income that is oftentimes a great option for retirement investing.

But here’s the thing, how can you invest in a rental real estate property if you still do not have a home of your own?

Well here’s one option: ask a mortgage lender how much you are qualified to borrow based on your credit standing and your income. You can do this by getting a pre-approved mortgage. It will tell you the amount that you are qualified to borrow.

Once you have the amount, look for a property that will allow you to convert it into two units. One part of the house will be where you and your family will reside, and the other will be a unit that you can rent out. For instance, you can look for a home with a spacious basement or a garage that you can convert into a studio unit or a small one bedroom apartment. Make sure that the zoning laws in the community will allow this too.

If you can be approved for a $500,000 mortgage, you may want to use this wisely. Do not spend it on a home that only you can live on. Make sure it will also help you pay for the mortgage through the additional rental income that it will give you. With the average mortgage payment of $800 to $1,000 a month, renting out a portion of your house may be enough to cover and even give you some extra income.

That is how you make sure that buying a house is a good investment.

woman holding up billsAre you thinking about refinancing your home because you are having difficulties keeping up with your monthly payments? Homeownership can be very expensive especially under our current circumstances. There are so many payments that you need to pay off on top of your home loan. While your mortgage may be a fixed cost on your budget, the rest of the expenses on your list are not.

According to the latest data from Bankrate.com, the cost of homeownership is higher by 21% for a 3-bedroom home. This is comparing the fourth quarter of 2013 with the same period in 2012. This data is based on the statistics in the final quarter of 2013. The average monthly cost is $865 for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with 4.46% interest and a 20% down payment. This is much higher than the average $714 for the same size home the previous year.

For a family that takes home $3,000 a month, paying for this each month can be a burden. In most cases, what you will sacrifice iis your savings or your retirement contributions.

We all know that saving up for retirement and your emergency fund is very important. Both can help you secure your future so you will not have to compromise your way of living. This is why you need to consider how you can possibly lower your expenses so it is more affordable to you. With your home loan eating up a huge part of your budget, you may want to concentrate on how you can afford to pay this off.

3 ways you can deal with mortgage loan difficulties

Obviously, lowering your monthly mortgage is not possible. You may be able to do it by refinancing your home but if you are in a financial crisis, taking on more debt against the equity of your home is not advisable. So what can low income households do to continue owning their a house despite the fact that they can no longer afford it?

We have three suggestions for you.

Rent out a room

One option, at least if your home is big enough, is to rent out a portion of your home. The most popular way is to rent out a spare room. Clear out a room that you are not really using and rent it out to someone else. The rent you will get from a tenant can help you with your home loan payments. They can also be great company if you are living alone. This is a great option for people who are in town temporarily. Renting a room from your home is cheaper than leasing a whole place of their own.

If you live with kids or you are not comfortable sharing your home with someone else, you may want to rent out your garage or something. That way, the tenant does not have to go through the main house. Or you can rent out the room as a storage space. That way, you do not have to be bothered by someone else living in your home every day. There are some people who merely need a space for all their stuff. You can use your extra room or attic as a storage area.

Co-op rental management

This is a type of rental investment wherein you share ownership, maintenance and rental income rights with someone else – or a group. The investment is smaller but you will still get additional income nevertheless. Of course, you have to be careful about who you will share this investment with. You want to choose someone who you can trust and is not difficult to deal with. Be transparent with each other so your investment together will not be compromised.

There is also an option for you to be a rental manager. You do not have to give up your home if you do not want to. You can move to a smaller home and have the big house rented out for a bigger amount. That should help cover your mortgage and your other expenses too. You can even have yourself hired by a rental property investor as a rental manager. Some of them will allow you to live in their property for free while you take care of the needs of the other tenants in the property. This should be a great way to get back on track with your home loan and even your savings.

Downsize your home

The last option that you can pursue is to downsize your home. Just give up the big house, sell it and use the profit from the equity to get yourself a smaller home. You can have an RV or a Tiny House. The RV should be a great way to move around while you are trying to get your finances back on track. This is actually a great option for those who are retired and not tied down by a 9-5 job.

Tiny home is also an option that is gaining popularity – not just with those who are retired. For $20,000, you can actually build yourself a tiny house that is mortgage free and customized to only have the things that you need. According to a 2013 infographic published on TheTinyLife.com, 68% of tiny house owners do not owe any home loan. This is a big percentage compared to 29.3% of the other US homeowners.

Other expenses you need to pay on top of your mortgage

The thing about homeownership is that you have to pay off more than just the home loan each month. There are so many things to pay for from the money you buy your own home. Here is a list of the things you have to pay off too.

  • Inspections. Before you buy a home, it is important for you to have the home inspected. You need to pay for both home and pest inspections. That way, you will not have problems when you are finally living in that house.
  • Home appraisal. If you are applying for a home loan, this is part of the expense because the lender will only let you borrow based on the value of the house. This is usually cost between $350 to $400.
  • Closing cost. According to QualifiedMortgage.org, the average closing cost for FHA buyers is usually 2% to 5% of the mortgage. You need to pay this off in cash or apply for a new loan to cover it. The former is preferred because it will allow you to keep your loan payments down.
  • Moving costs. The amount you will spend will depend on where you will be coming from. The further you are, more expensive it will be.
  • Furniture. Some new homeowners fail to budget for new furniture. While you can bring your old furniture, how sure are you that they will fit your new home? It may be best to budget for this expense so you are ready for any event.
  • Insurance and taxes. Home insurance is a must for homeowners. Not only that, if your area is flood prone, then you need to get additional insurance for that. Another recurring expense that you need to pay for is your annual property taxes. Do not skip this because you might get in trouble with the government.
  • Utilities. This may already be a part of your budget – the utility costs. But it should be important to note that if you have bought a bigger home, the utility expenses will be bigger too. Of course, there are ways to save by being energy efficient in your home. But that would still cost more in a bigger home.
  • Home repairs and maintenance. Lastly, you want to make sure that you factor in the cost of repairs and maintenance. No matter how great the home is, it will require repairs every now and then. Not only that, maintaining your home will cost you. For lawn moving to the gardening tasks, these will cost you.

Think about all of these as expenses that will have to be made on top of your monthly home loan payments. If you budget all of these, you will not fall short once you already have your home. It will keep you from being placed in a position wherein you can no longer afford to pay off the financial obligations of your home.

falling moneyWindfall profits can be very exciting. This is an unexpected amount that you get outside of you regular income. It does not matter if the amount is big or small. What gets you excited is the fact that you have this extra money in your hands.

Investopedia.com defined this as a huge profit that is received unexpectedly because of an unforeseen circumstance. This term is typically used by companies and industries to refer to a sudden boost in their profits.

In this article, we will discuss it as a temporary spike in your income. It does not always come from your employer although bonuses and commissions are usually considered as part of this unexpected reward. It can also be from a lottery winning, inheritance or even a financial gift that is given to you. Any increase in your monthly cash inflow is considered as part of windfall profits.

But despite the obvious blessing that it brings, it also comes with a problem – how should you use it. Well this is one problem that we all want to have but then again, it still requires you to do some serious thinking.

You see, if you are one of those who think that the amount of money that you take home will make you rich, then you are most likely going to use this money the wrong way. This way of thinking will make you prone to spend it unnecessarily. What you have to realize is that becoming rich is not about how much money you get. Regardless of your financial situation, it ismoney management that can make your dreams come true.

3 mistakes after receiving a financial bonus

In some cases, mismanaged windfall profits can even lead to your financial demise. This is why you need to consider how you will use this to your advantage. While you may deserve to enjoy this money, you may want to think about whether you want to enjoy it now or will you do the smarter choice of prolonging it?

If you want to choose the latter so you canachieve a better debt-free lifestyle, then these are the 3 pitfalls that you may want to avoid.

Spending it all on present rewards

The first reaction of people who get that unexpected financial bonus is to spend it all on present rewards. It can be on an expensive vacation or shopping spree. We mentioned that you deserve to indulge – especially when this money is something that you worked hard for. But think about it, do you really want to spend it ALL on the present? Wouldn’t it be better to spend only a small portion of that today and then put it somewhere that will allow you to reap the rewards for a longer time? Prolonging would be a better choice because you will enjoy the benefits of the windfall profits for much longer. Take advantage of this amount to use it on something that will also take care of your future self.

Upgrading your lifestyle

Another pitfall that you may want to avoid is to upgrade your lifestyle based on that financial bonus. According to an article published onFoxBusiness.com, Americans spend the way they do because that is part of our culture. We think that people with fancy stuff like luxury cars, designer clothes and big houses are important. This is the very mentality that destroyed us during the Great Recession. Do not be too quick to upgrade your lifestyle just because you feel like you became rich thanks to your sudden cash inflow. This is a very big mistake. As mentioned, this is usually just a temporary profit. The upgrade might not be something that you can sustain once the bonus you got is depleted. Your regular salary may find it hard to commit to the additional expenses that your upgrade requires. That could lead to a lot of debt.

Showing it off by buying junk

Admit it – most of the things that we buy are junk. By junk, we mean the purchases that will not mean anything in a few months time or a few years. That designer clothes that will make you look fashionable will no longer be trending after a season or two. That luxury car may look good but ii already lost some of its value as soon as your drove off with it. The gadgets and video games – all of these will just be accumulated junk in your home. If you do not need it, do not waste your windfall profits on it. And if you only want to buy them just to look flashy and important, then get over it. You are only setting yourself up for a long fall when your finances take a hit in the future.

7 steps to follow when you get a lump sum reward

When you get your hands on some unexpected finances, there are a couple of things that you need to do. We found 7 steps, as advised by Stacy Johnson in his website,MoneyTalksNews.com. You may want to check if these steps are applicable to you.

  1. Pretend nothing special happened. Basically, what he is saying here is that your first step is to pretend that nothing important happened. Do not do anything that will show that you have a lot of money. You can also opt not to tell anyone. This will keep you from being asked money from. Just go about your usual life and pretend you are not richer than you were yesterday.
  2. Think of your goals. In this step, you need to identify thefinancial targets that you can achieve from the unexpected bonus that you got. If you do not have any idea about your specific financial goals, now is the time for you to start dreaming a bit. What do you want for your retirement? Do you think you can buy your first home now? Stacy said that you can approach goal-setting by imagining yourself in your deathbed. What do you want to be thinking about when you get to that point? That should help get you started on defining specific and detailed goals that you can pursue.
  3. Get rid of hindrances in going after your goal. The third advise if to get rid of anything that will keep you from reaching your goals. This primarily refers to debt. You do not want to waste any more money on interest rates. So if you can pay all your debts or at least a significant part of it without being charged with prepayment penalties, then go ahead with it. The elimination of the stress associated with the debt is one reward that you can give yourself.
  4. Make the money work for you. It is actually up to you if you want to pay off all your debts at once but you are strongly advised to grow some of it. Anything that is left from the debt payment is better off invested than spent. You can grow that money even without doing anything. Just put it in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. That way, you can make the windfall profits earn you more money. Just make sure you diversify your investments.
  5. Always be prepared. While paying off your debts and investing are important, so if your emergency fund. Stacy warned against the lack of emergency funds and how it can prompt you to sell your investments at the wrong time because of your immediate need. Do not waste your investment. Make sure you do not have to get it by building up your emergency fund.
  6. Get professional help. Actually, this is only applicable for those who got some hefty windfall profits. You want to ask a financial adviser who is not on commission. Ask them how you can best use your money to secure your future.
  7. Reward yourself. After you have gone through this list that is the only time you can think about your present reward. If there is anything left, you can buy yourself something nice or go out to dinner with your loved ones, etc. In most cases, going through what your money can do for your debts, emergency fund and investments will encourage you to limit what you spend on present rewards.

 

suspicious person amidst billsDebt is a stressful financial situation to be in – especially when you have started defaulting on your payments. The main reason that it is so stressful is dealing with creditor harassment. But while it is bad enough that you are being harassed for debts that you owe, nothing is more frustrating than being hounded by phantom debt collections.

What exactly are these type of debts? Well these are the debts that collectors call you to pay off but in truth, you do not have any obligation to pay them at all. It is quite tricky how they do this actually. Some of them will buy an old debt that is already past its statute of limitations. When your debt is past this period, you cannot be sued in court for that debt. That means you do not have to pay it back. Other malicious collectors will buy old debts and failing to get the original owner of the debt to pay up, they will look for unsuspecting individuals who can be fooled. They will trick that person into paying a debt that they do not owe through threats, lies and harassment.

More consumers are being harassed for debts they do not owe

According to the report from ConsumerFinance.gov, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or CFPB received over 30,000 consumer complaints about debt collectors. The main complaint submitted was about phantom debt collections. The CFPB Director said that consumers should never be harassed for a debt that they do not owe. This is also true for those who are victims of identity theft. Although the debt was made in their name, if the consumer can prove that it is not their debt, then they should not be held liable to pay for it.

The report from CFPB mentioned that the debt collection industry is actually worth billions of dollars. That is why these debt collectors are aggressive and will stop at nothing to collect debts from consumers. This industry involves the buying of old debts from original creditors and lenders for fraction of the debt owed. Then they will pursue the consumer themselves to push them into paying back what they owe.

In 2013, it is reported that 30 million American consumers have an average of $1,400 debts that is due for collection. These refer to debts that have been delinquent and that is why debt collectors have entered the picture. The new debts are reasonably ripe for collection but old ones – this is where the industry gets a bit shady.

5 tips to protect yourself from phantom debt collectors

While some consumers may be scared of these phantom debt collections, you need to know that there are ways for you to protect yourself. You do not have to subject yourself to the stressful handling of a debt collection agency. You can simply avoid being targeted by these collectors in the first place.

Here are 5 ways that you can protect yourself.

  • Be careful of your personal information. These include your financial information, credit card accounts, social security number, and other card details. These can be taken from you by debt collectors while pretending to conduct a survey or something similar. You may give out your name but nothing else. If the one you are talking to on the phone will request for your financial data, it will more likely lead to a scam.
  • Avoid applying for payday loans online. People who apply for payday loans are usually desperate for money. According to Fraud.org, some phantom debt collections begin with online payday loan applicants. There are online payday loan sites that are actually bogus sites and will just get your information. Then once the debt collection agency has the information, they have the details that will allow them to harass you with a phantom debt.
  • Always ask for a proof that you owe the debt. This is the first thing that you should ask the phantom debt collections agent. Get them to show you proof that you did borrow the money. Never confirm that it is your debt unless you have indeed borrowed it. Refuse to cooperate with the collector until they show you proof that you are liable for the debt. And even so, make sure that the debt is not past the statute of limitation. If it is, then even if it is your debt, do not confirm it. They cannot do anything to about it anyway so just ignore the calls.
  • Confirm the identity of the debt collector. If you think that you do own the debt but you are not sure if you are talking to a legitimate representative of your original creditor or lender, then hang up the phone. Go through your own records and call your lender to check if the one calling you is indeed authorized to collect on their behalf. Otherwise, you may be paying your debt with a bogus debt collections company.
  • Check if you had been a victim of identity theft. One of the reasons why you may be going through these phantom debt collections is because you have been a victim of identity theft. If your personal information is in the hands of malicious individuals, then you know that you need more help than you though. You need to report the incident to protect yourself further.

What to do when your phantom debt is caused by identity theft

Before you dispute debts that you do not owe, make sure that you are clearly not a victim of identity theft. If you are, then you need to act on it quickly to keep the damage from being too great. Those who fail to report it on time might face numerous debts they did not borrow and a severely damaged credit report.

According to the FTC.gov, these are the things that you should do.

  • Right after learning of the identity theft, put your credit accounts on fraud alert. This will cause merchants to be more wary of those using your credit information – even you. They will ask for additional identification and that means only you can use your account.
  • Get a copy of your credit report. This is to check if the culprit already borrowed money under your name. If they did, then you need to get in touch with the creditor or lenders involved. That way, you can tell them about the crime and they can investigate to help prove that you are not to be held liable to pay for the debt.
  • File a report. It is also important that you file a report with your local law enforcement. This is to help make things official and give you additional documents to prove your case against possible phantom debt collections.
  • Extend the fraud alert or ask for a credit freeze. This will protect you from unauthorized application of new credit. Of course, that means you will not be able to open new accounts but as long as you are protected, it should be a sacrifice well worth it. A credit freeze also means your credit report cannot be accessed.
  • Build up your credit score. If your discovery of the crime was too late, the chances that your credit report is already damaged will be high. You may want to ensure that this incident will not compromise your future financial transactions so it might be best to improve your current credit score.