From cutting cable costs to reducing your online presence, Danielle Serino has your top consumer headlines in "One For The Money."
Erasing Digital Footprints
If the Equifax hack taught us anything, It's that no one is safe. For people who are online or use a smart phone, they’re particularly vulnerable. So here's what you need to do right away.
-If you're on social media sites, make sure there's no information on your birthday, phone number, or home address. Any of this information could help a crook steal your identity
-Search for yourself online. There could be old accounts, profiles and other stuff you forgot about. Ask search engines or sites that collect information like Spokeo or People Finder to remove information you don't want out there. There’s even a form on Goggle where you can make that request.
-Unsubscribe from all email lists and text message alerts.
-And ask your phone company to make your number "unlisted, so your information isn't available online.
Making the Most of a Mortgage
Now if a thief gets hold of your information, they can ruin you financially or at least wreck your credit. And that would make it nearly impossible to get a mortgage or to refinance.
It’s not so easy even if you’re in good shape, but a little pre-planning can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
-First, clean up your credit report way in advance of talking to lenders. You want to see if there are problems or mistakes as soon as possible, because it takes time to fix them and ultimately improve your score.
-Meet with multiple lenders to discuss your borrowing situation. Their offers will vary widely.
But if you do, and this is very important. Line up those meetings within the same month. You can have several lenders pull your credit without hurting your score "if" it's within 30 days. FICO Scores list them all as one inquiry
-And during this time frame, don't make big purchases with a credit card or apply for new credit. All of that will affect your score.
Going cheap on Cable
Those tips could help you save a lot of money. These next tips, not as much. But every dollar counts. And I don't know anyone who doesn't complain about their cable costs. I'm just not ready to cut the cord. And if you feel the same...here's how to cut the bill instead.
-Look at your current plan and which channels you get. Do you really need everything that's on that list? If you lose some of the sports or premium channels, you can probably drop down to a smaller, less expensive package.
-If you package your cable with internet, consider buying a compatible modem instead of paying the monthly rental fee the cable company gives you. You'll end up making back the money you spent on the modem in the long term.
-Skip the two-year contracts. They're cheaper, but you're better off with a month-to-month commitment. You have no leverage during those contracts and most cable companies charge early termination fees if you want to cancel.
-Finally, negotiate or threaten to cancel your service. They'll usually make a deal to keep you.
But you sometimes need to be persistent. If they say no, ask to speak with a supervisor or someone in their Customer Retention department. That usually gets their attention.