Archive for May 2012

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Credit Monitoring – Does it Protect You Against Identity Theft and Credit Fraud?

Credit Monitoring – How does it protect you from identity theft and what service does it really offer?

We have been asked over the past 5 years if Credit Monitoring is worth having and if we can provide this service.

Credit Monitoring is a huge business and with scores being so important it will continue to grow. How many times have you seen promotional offers for the opportunity to get free monitoring of your credit profile? It is so confusing for most to even understand their credit reports let alone what the monitoring services provide and how they can help. The information given by these services is difficult to decipher and can sometimes do more to confuse and scare consumers than help them.

I have been studying these services and learning about them for many years now. The one question I have is how can finding out you are a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud protect you? Once you know you are a victim it is already too late. When you begin to see signs of identity theft on your credit report the damage has already been done. Logically expecting Credit Monitoring to protect you from identity theft would be like studying for an exam after you fail. Identity theft is a process and the last result of it is seeing accounts on your credit report that do not belong to you. These accounts are usually in default with late payments or have gone to the point of collection or charge off.

Collections – are accounts that have not been paid at all and have been sent by the original creditor to a third party collection agency or the collection department of the creditor. Collection agencies may be lent the debt for a commission and if they are successful in collecting funds from the debtor they earn that commission. Other collection agencies buy the debt from the creditor for a reduced amount and they become full owner of whatever is collected. Once you understand this you can also see why they are so aggressive about getting consumers to make payments.

Charge offs- are when creditors write the amount the consumer owes, that has been uncollectable, off as a loss against their profits. This does not mean the consumer no longer owes the money.

So how can credit monitoring stop identity theft? The answer is it can’t. The only thing credit monitoring can do in regards to identity theft is to tell you that it is occurring. Another problem is many consumers buy credit monitoring because they are too busy to learn about their credit or just don’t want the responsibility of understanding it. They think that paying a company to monitor their credit will insure them against any problems. In many cases when the monitoring company alerts them to a new collection or charge off if they don’t recognize the account they just shrug it off as an error and don’t investigate the occurrence until they have a problem getting financing. The lesson is even when having credit monitoring you need to understand, at least, the basics of credit to recognize what is a cause for concern.

We are consistently approached by consumers with this question “I had an alert from my monitoring company. What does this mean?”. Credit monitoring companies provide basic updates to you about changes in your credit. Depending on the company hired and the specific program they offer will determine how you are updated and what information they will give you. Some companies only provide you with info about 1 credit reporting agency. Since there are 3 credit reporting agencies Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax this is just a piece of the information needed to really monitor your credit profile. One of the risks you take when hiring a monitoring service, that provides you with only one report update, is not being able to see if a collection is reported on all bureaus. Many smaller creditor’s like Verizon,Doctors,Dentists, and Health Clubs don’t want to pay the credit reporting agencies to provide each credit profile with this collection info since they will have to pay 3 times for this service. The result is they typically pay one reporting agency instead of all three and only put the collection on that one credit report. If you have picked the report that isn’t updated you will not be aware of this problem until all three reports are pulled. In this case the whole point of monitoring your credit will be lost.

When a monitoring service only alerts you that a change has occurred and does not tell you what the details of the change are we find consumers in a panic. They now know there is a change but don’t have any idea what changed. You can be updated of an alert when a 3rd party pulls your credit profile if you are shopping for a car, home, or business loan. You may be updated with an alert when you open or close an account or have a new late payment. Alerts come when balances change as well. If you don’t have details on what the alert is you will be in a continual state of panic. Credit is not stagnant and with so many changes happening daily these alerts could come all the time, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on how active your credit profile is. You can see there is much homework to do when deciding on a monitoring service. If you are highly educated about your credit and monitoring services it could be helpful for keeping you aware of the general picture of your credit portfolio. If you are uneducated or don’t have the time to keep track of your current credit situation it could be a source of continual anxiety and frustration.

Education is the key to staying updated on your credit and its significance to your financial life. There are other ways to protect yourself against identity theft and credit card fraud and we will address them in this 2 part series.

Related Credit Monitoring Articles

Foodservice Leaders Experience Significant Results With PeopleMatter Platform

Charleston, SC (PRWEB) May 09, 2012

In the competitive foodservice industry, what sets industry-leading restaurants like Applebees Neighborhood Bar and Grill, Noodles & Company, Mad Greens and Boloco apart from the competition? Their commitment to providing outstanding customer service, fresh and delicious menus, and their use of the PeopleMatter Platform.

PeopleMatter provides the only comprehensive talent management solution specifically designed for the foodservice industry. Companies can manage all of their people processes from one, integrated platform with PeopleMatters online suite of mobile-social HR tools. Restaurants use the PeopleMatter to optimize returns in time-to-hire, tax credit collection, resource allocation, tracking and onboarding, productivity, retention and compliance. The proof is in the numbers:


????Apple Sauce, Inc. saved 2,200 hours in hiring and increased submitted tax credits by 167 percent.
????Noodles & Company saved $ 10,000 a year via PeopleMatters automatic cloud-based upgrades and customer control features.
????Scottys Brewhouse increased compliance by 100 percent and experienced annual savings of $ 124,800 in onboarding management processes.
????Boloco experienced an average annual benefit of $ 296,010, and in two months realized 849 percent ROI.
????MAD Greens greatly increased compliance by improving employee-record accuracy 80 percent.

Apple Sauce, Inc.

Apple Sauce, Inc., a major Applebees Neighbor Grill and Bar franchise, owns and operates 79 locations in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Florida. With so many locations, and more than 5,000 employees, administrative paperwork was cumbersome and required constant follow-ups by managers. Paperwork, such as WOTC forms, often didnt get completed. To streamline processes, the company deployed HIRE in August 2011. Among the many benefits and results, Apple Sauce achieved an 167 percent increase in submitted tax credits.

Screening for tax credit eligibility helps employers earn money by hiring people from defined categories. A large percentage of the people restaurants typically employ fall into these groups, but most employers do not file for available incentives due to not being aware of the various credits available. According to the Department of Labor, companies credits average $ 2,400 per employee and can reach $ 9,000.

In moving away from paper-based solutions to one comprehensive, easy-to-use system we have seen a real improvement in the efficiency of hiring and onboarding new team members. Its saving time for our employees and our managers, said Bruce Dodge, Apple Sauce, Regional Human Resource Manager.

Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company was operating on disparate systems that required going through the software vendors to perform any customization or changes in the system. Additionally, any updates to the separate point solutions required an additional purchase and time to install. With $ 10,000 in annual updates and customization fees, the company recognized the need to update and streamline its system.

PeopleMatters SaaS platform optimizes HR processes and improves business efficiency. Not only are processes streamlined within each restaurant, but resources between locations are consolidated. Cloud-based software provides managers and executive teams the ability to self-manage customization needs. Updates are automatic and free.

PeopleMatter is really geared towards our employee base, shared Alison Meadows, Noodles & Company HR Director. It is simple to use and puts the ability to update policies and procedures in system back in our hands.

Scottys Brewhouse

Scottys Brewhouse, an Indiana-based restaurant company, announced in January 2011, that it was implementing PeopleMatter HIRE in its new microbrewery concept, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company. The chain has eight locations, and relies heavily on a college workforce. The company has over 1,200 employees and needs to manage filling shifts around employee schedules.

Before implementing PeopleMatter, Scottys hiring process required sorting through paper application, scheduling multiple interviews to identify acceptable candidates and working around a General Mangers schedule. Pre-screening candidates, using HIREs automated Assessments, Background Checks and Tax Credits components, condensed the process, reducing time-to-hire by 78.3 percent. The new process also improved candidate quality and dedication levels.

Our number one focus is staffing, it effects everything, said Wendy Hantlman, Director of HR for Scottys Brewhouse. With PeopleMatter, weve seen higher quality candidates, improved morale and observed a fantastic increase in sales at struggling locations.

Boloco

This New England-based concept was recognized in 2010 by Inc. Magazine as one of 5,000 fastest-growing, privately-held companies in America. To help manage their growth, the globally inspired burrito chain was looking for an inspired HR solution to provide tools for applicant review and evaluation, background checks, onboarding and new employee documentation.

In December 2010, Boloco deployed HIRE to its locations, bringing over 300 employees on the system. The software improved pre-screening methods and eliminated HR paperwork, which increased manager productivity by 25 percent. Boloco also reduced turnover by 35 percent, which led to lower recruitment and training costs. In only two months the company saw 849 percent ROI.

PeopleMatters tools provide a simple, engaging way to connect our teams, culture and brand, said John Pepper, Boloco co-founder and CEO.

MAD Greens

A leader in restaurant innovation, MAD Greens is one of seven PeopleMatter clients on Fast Casuals 2011 Top 100 Movers and Shakers. To maintain its fresh approach to business, the company adopted the PeopleMatter Platform in July 2011. Since then MAD Greens has increased data accuracy 80 percent and is now confident in its compliance.

PeopleMatter HIRE offers data-validation features and step-by-step instructions that make I-9 compliance easy. With full E-Verify integration, managers can instantly verify new-hires worker-eligibility. Additionally, MAD Greens can complete and store all employee documents online increasing productivity, compliance and accessibility.

PeopleMatter makes everything much more simple, said Corie Caldwell, MAD Greens Certified Customer Catcher and Personal People Planner. For me, its the relief of knowing that if theres an I-9 audit, everything is completed correctly and stored in one place.

About PeopleMatter

PeopleMatter provides the only comprehensive talent management solution for the service industry. We help employers identify, develop and engage dependable talent to provide exemplary customer service. PeopleMatters platform of HR tools handles hiring, scheduling, learning, recognition and performance management. Our integrated technology manages the process, so employers can focus on the talent. PeopleMatter. The name says it all. PeopleMatter is headquartered in Charleston, S.C., and on the Web at http://www.peoplematter.com.







Related Credit Management Press Releases

American Consumers Say they Need Help on Household Budgeting


Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 03, 2012

According to a recent survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling American consumers could use some support when it comes to sticking to a household budget. Conducted during Financial Literacy Month, the survey found 25 percent of respondents reported an increased need for further education in the areas of daily and monthly budgets, while 20 percent expressed a need for information on understanding credit and credit scores.

In a recent ACCC web poll at ConsumerCredit.com, just 8 percent reported an increased need for education on how to save for retirement or college, while only 14 percent were interested in learning more about saving in general.

These results follow a recent report by the credit bureau Equifax indicating an 11 percent decline in total consumer debt from a peak of $ 12.4 trillion in October 2008 to $ 10.9 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2012.

What were seeing here is an increased interest and understanding of the importance of financial education, especially in the areas that consumers face the most challenges, credit and budgeting, said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, Mass. Despite the recent numbers showing a decline in consumer debt, consumers need to continue to arm themselves with financial education and resources. As someone who has been in this industry for more than 20 years I can confirm that the single biggest difference between financial success and financial failure is education.

When it comes to actual big-ticket spending, the survey found, Americans feel they need little guidance. Only 3 percent of all those polled by ACCC said they need further education on how to make large purchases, while only 16 percent indicated an increased need for education on setting short and long term goals.

Budgeting and spending go hand in hand, Trumble said. So while consumers may feel comfortable in the decisions they make on large purchases, those decisions are certain to have an impact on their overall financial health.

The financial education poll was the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2012 that focus on a variety of financial education, budgeting and planning topics. American Consumer Credit Counselings certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

???????? For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571

???????? For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924

???????? For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180

???????? For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x708

???????? Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nations leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.