Important Update Regarding Freezing Your Credit

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: This is an update to our September 2017 blog post concerning the Equifax data breach that occurred in September of 2017.  Due to the data breach, we advised considering freezing your credit reports to stop thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name. Freezing your report also prevents you from opening new accounts, so each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand. 

Now, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus for free, thanks to a new federal law that took effect on September 21, 2018.

In addition, the law extends the length of time a fraud alert remains on your credit report to one year, from the previous period of 90 days.

You will need to contact all three credit bureaus to place a freeze on your credit report:

For more information regarding credit reports and identity theft, read our Equifax data breach post.

Please contact your Baron team with any questions.  

Important information regarding Equifax data breach

You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people.  Ongoing updates from Equifax about this incident are available at equifaxsecurity2017.com

Baron Financial does not use Equifax for any services, but we are sharing this information for educational purposes.

Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting agencies.  They collect and maintain individual credit information and sell it to lenders, creditors, and consumers in the form of a credit report.   

What you should consider doing now:

  1. Order a Credit Report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Freeze Your Credit Reports (after ordering a copy).  A freeze stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.  Equifax said it will waive all fees until Nov. 21 for people who want to freeze their Equifax credit files. 
  3. Regularly Monitor Your Financial Accounts, Credit Cards and Loan Accounts for any suspicious activity

Something else to consider: Sign up by November 21 for the free Credit Monitoring offer from Equifax (equifaxsecurity2017.com). Some experts have offered differing opinions on taking advantage of this service.  However, we did want to make you aware of the offer.

Continue reading “Important information regarding Equifax data breach”

The Pros and Cons of VA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided qualified veteran home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

An important note VA loans are for primary residences only.

To determine if you are eligible for a VA loan, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

The first step in getting a VA loan is to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the VA: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/purchaseco_certificate.asp

Pros:

  • 0% down payment, if desired
  • No Monthly Mortgage Insurance
  • Can generally qualify for a larger mortgage than a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan

Cons:

  • The only person that can co-sign is a spouse
  • An additional fee is rolled into the loan. Depending on the situation, first time use of a VA loan could be anywhere from 1.5% – 2.4%.  The next home mortgage could be anywhere from 1.25% – 3.3%.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.

What documents are safe to shred? What must I keep?

A 30-second read by Victor Cannillo: Whether you are tired of piles of papers cluttering up your home or are trying to go “paperless,” it is important to know what documents you should keep and which you could shred.

Below we list some of the important documents the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you should always keep:

  • Birth certificates/ adoption documents
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage licenses or divorce decrees
  • Tax returns
  • Passports or citizenship materials
  • Familial death certificates
  • For items like your home and car, you want to hold on to any automobile titles and home deeds for as long as they are in your ownership.
  • To see more, click here.

Shredding Timeline-The FTC recommends that you wait:

  • 7 years before shredding any tax-related receipts and cancelled checks.
  • 1 year before shredding bank statements, medical bills, etc.

Items such as credit card statements can be shredded right away once paid. To help reduce capital gains tax, retain home improvement receipts until your home is sold.

To view the FTC’s safe shredding timeline infographic, click here.

In addition to decluttering your home, shredding documents with personal information can help prevent identity theft.  Just remember to keep the listed documents above for the suggested amount of time.

Feel free to reach out to us for any other questions.

The Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

An important note:  FHA loans are for Primary Residences only.

Pros:

  • Flexible qualification criteria-Minimum down payment is 3.5%. Keep in mind that the less money you put down on a mortgage, the higher the monthly payments will be.
  • Anyone can cosign, if needed, including a friend or parent. However, from a practical perspective, usually the co-signor is a family member.  If a friend co-signs for you, you need to put at least 25% down.  Note: If you are purchasing a multi-family house, even if a family member co-signs, you still need to put at least 25% down. 

Cons:

  • Monthly Mortgage Insurance never goes away for low-down-payment mortgages. If the borrower puts at least 10% down, the mortgage insurance will remain for 11 years. If they put less than 10% down, it will remain for the life of the loan. 
  • An additional fee of 1.75% is required. This can also be paid at closing or rolled into the loan.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.