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Are small businesses protecting themselves from a data breach?

Are%20small%20businesses%20protecting%20themselvesA data breach can be a challenge for any business, but this is especially true for smaller businesses. Not only can it be more difficult for a smaller business to recover from a data breach, but criminals may also be more likely to target smaller firms.

When a data breach occurs at a large firm or government agency, it winds up all over the news. If one occurred at a small business down the street, those unaffected would probably never hear about it. But a recent report released by Verizon found that nearly three-quarters of data breaches analyzed last year involved businesses with 100 employees or fewer. 
"Most small-business owners simply do not believe they are at risk," says Lynn LaGram, assistant vice president of small commercial underwriting for The Hartford. "The reality is that small businesses are often more vulnerable - making them easier targets."
LaGram says part of the reason may be that small-business owners often don’t have the time or resources that larger companies may have to assist them in protecting data. However protecting data may not be as difficult as one would think.
Steps to help prevent a breach
For a business or organization that must handle sensitive customer, patient or employee information, it’s important to take measures that decrease the likelihood of a breach. “A data breach can involve electronic or paper records,” says LaGram. She shares eight data protection “best practices” for a business:
* Lock and secure sensitive customer, patient, member or employee information.
* Restrict employee access to sensitive information.
* Shred or otherwise securely dispose of all sensitive customer, patient, member or employee information.
* Use password protection and data encryption for sensitive files.
* Have a privacy policy.
* Update systems and software on a regular basis.
* Use firewalls to control access to sites that could compromise your security and lock out hackers.
* Ensure that remote access to your network is secure.
If a breach occurs
While it’s important to take proactive steps to help prevent a data breach from occurring, there’s no way to eliminate the risk entirely, so it is also important to have data breach insurance.
According to LaGram, a business owner should consider insurance that provides:
1. Coverage for expenses associated with responding to and recovering from a breach. “Business owners may not realize that they must comply with various notification requirements, which can be costly,” says LaGram. Additional advertising expenses to help a business restore its reputation after a breach would also fall into this category.
2. Legal expense and liability coverage. A customer or employee whose personal data is compromised may sue the business owner for damages. This insurance provides coverage for defense costs, civil awards, settlements or judgments that a business owner may be obligated to pay.
3. Access to data security experts to help the business owner navigate the various notification requirements as well as determine the cause of the breach and take steps to prevent it from happening again.
"A data breach can happen to anyone, so it’s important for business owners to be prepared," says LaGram. For more information about protecting your business from a data breach, visit

Courtesy of BPT

Living large in smaller spaces: The shrinking, changing home

The American home may be shrinking, but not the Great American Dream. Americans are still living large, just doing so in smaller spaces.

To some trend-watchers, the down-scaling of the American home comes as good news. Architects, designers and social observers say our willingness to resize our floor space means Americans are rethinking the way we really live and how we use whatever space we do have. Home, they say, has become less about impressing others and more about making ourselves happy. And since we are mostly baby boomers - that tidal wave of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 - who have long been accustomed to getting what we want, happiness is often defined in terms of luxuries and personal amenities.

"Natural materials like American Hardwoods are redefining the word ‘luxury,’" says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. "Hardwoods bring richness and warmth to even small rooms, whether it’s used on the floors and walls, or crafted into built-ins. Custom hardwood furnishings like bookcases and cabinets make a home personal, yours alone, and isn’t that the ultimate luxury?"

This new definition of luxury - top-quality, mostly natural materials, careful attention to architectural details like natural wood window frames and mouldings - is one that architect and author Sarah Susanka agrees with. And what Susanka thinks matters.

In 1998, her professional hunch launched what has become the “build-better-not-bigger” movement, when she published the first in her best-selling series of “The Not So Big House” books.

Her mantra is indeed, think smaller, and she also believes that “luxury comes from the materials we surround ourselves with. Beauty comes from natural materials. You can see where they come from - in the grain, the veining. The more natural the materials, like real hardwoods and granite, the more content you are. There’s a quality you can’t name, but you can feel it.”

Gale Steves, author, editor and design industry consultant sums up a similar concept in her book about “Right-Sizing Your Home.” According to Steves, “Right-sizing is about making the best use of the spaces you have for the way you live.” She suggests these ways to best enjoy the shrinking and changing American home.

* “Create a room within a room,” Steves advises. Her ideas begin at floor-level. Install hardwood flooring throughout to unify the spaces and make them look larger, then use area rugs to define separate areas. Lay hardwood on the diagonal to set off special architectural features. Create a “rug” under a dining table with an inset frame of contrasting hardwood. Or outline an entire room with two courses of contrasting hardwood.

* More ideas: Use a sectional sofa to delineate an intimate seating area within an open floor plan. And - of special interest to the many boomers who are eschewing retirement - find a standing wood-panel screen to create privacy or isolate a work space, say, in a bedroom office area.

* And don’t forget to make it sustainable. Living green is a high priority for the anti-McMansion generation. As Susanka sees it, we should think of the 21st-century house as “a well-tailored suit: you use less material, but it fits you perfectly.”

So while the size of the “average” U.S. home may be shrinking, remember that it’s more about space that works and that satisfies the psyche in the process that defines the ultimate in luxury. Think custom kitchens with pro-quality appliances, posh home-spa baths, stone countertops and the beauty and warmth that only come with hardwood flooring, cabinetry and millwork.

For more information on American Hardwoods, visit

Caption 1: Featured in The Decorative Carpet by Alix G. Perrachon (The Monacelli Press), a small contemporary living room by designer Jiun Ho is warmed by its mellow hardwood floors and cooled by steel-gray on the walls and a Tibetan area rug.

Courtesy of BPT

Which comes first: The real estate deal or the buyer’s list?

This question is kind of like another question where people can’t seem to agree on the answer; “Which came first; the chicken or the egg”? Real estate investors all have a different opinion when they are asked whether you should find a deal first or start a buyer’s list and then find a deal.  For me, the answer has always been “the deal.” If you have a great deal, you can always find a buyer for it.

I had someone email me recently that said they had wanted to begin wholesaling houses for a couple of years, but he just couldn’t bring himself to buy that first investment property. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to sell it. This man had spent a number of years learning the business, but had become paralyzed with fear over this prospect of putting a house under contract that he wouldn’t be able to sell.

If you are just getting started and you find yourself having the same problem, here are 4 tips for you.

1. Know What a Good Deal Looks Like

This is no doubt the hardest part when you are brand new. You almost always pay too much for your first couple of deals. Before you sign on the dotted line, run your potential deal by someone that is an experienced investor. Marginal deals are hard to sell.  If you have any doubt about the numbers or the area where the house is located, just walk away and find another deal. There’s always another one around the corner.

2. Know Where Investors Like to Buy

It won’t do you any good to get a house under contract at a great price if it is in an area where investors don’t like to buy.  Ask experienced rehabbers and landlords where they like to buy. Be sure to find out what types of properties they like, and the price range they prefer. In general, you will be pretty safe in bread and butter neighborhoods; the kinds of neighborhoods for first time homebuyers.  In my area there is a market for more expensive houses, but there are fewer investors in this group.  Buy houses that would work for either a rehab that would be sold to a retail buyer, or a home that would make a great rental and they will always be in demand.

3. Put an Escape Clause in Your Contract

This is vital especially when you are brand new.  Make the deal subject to inspection or partner approval. This is your safety net. It will make it easier for you make offers with confidence.

4. Begin Immediately to Build Your Buyer’s List

There is nothing like having a good buyer’s list to call or email when you have a property you want to sell quickly. It is truly a wholesaler’s secret weapon.  These folks will be loyal repeat buyers if you always have great deals for them, and if you conduct your business with them in an ethical manner 100% of the time.

Implementing these 4 tips will make it easier to make those first offers and get your first few houses under your belt.
Finding a Buyer for Your Deal

There are a number of ways you can quickly find a buyer for the property you have under contract even if you don’t have a buyer’s list.

You can take the deal to your local REIA group where you will find a group of people that are looking for their next house.  At my monthly meeting, we have a table set up for vendors and for folks that want to put out fliers about properties they have to sell. This is usually the first place people head after signing in.

You could list the house on Craigslist. I have sold several properties there, but I would rather much sell to someone at my REIA group; they are usually more experienced investors.  But even if they are brand new, they will almost always be educated to some degree if you find them at this meeting. Most investors are more than willing to help them if they can close the deal.

Concentrate on getting a great deal, and you can be sure you will find a buyer.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon’s Website:

Courtesy of BPT

Smartphone apps make it easier to manage type 2 diabetes

(BPT) - The amount of effort it takes for people with diabetes to pick the right foods and track everything they eat is a common source of frustration. Many people simply give up on actively making food choices or logging their meals despite the potential health risks.

In the past two years, a growing number of people have been turning to smartphone apps to help simplify the process. Medical research seems to indicate this is a good thing.

According to the issue of Clinical Diabetes, recent studies have repeatedly shown that smartphone apps are a useful tool for improving diabetes management and reducing hospitalization.

These apps provide accurate tracking of glucose levels, exercise and food choices. Information from the app can then be shared with doctors during regular visits. As a result, doctors are armed with more accurate information when making recommendations about diabetes management.

With the American Diabetes Association reporting that there are 25.8 million adults and children with diabetes in the U.S. alone, the number of smartphone apps being released specifically for this audience is hardly surprising.

“With a smartphone in your pocket, the process of tracking all the information your doctor wants becomes much easier,” said Pier Massa, CEO of Thrive365, which just released the beta version of a smartphone app to go with its patented food scoring system for people with diabetes.

Among the most highly rated smartphone apps, according to user reviews, are Glooko Logbook and Glucose Buddy. Both allow smartphone users to keep track of carbs, glucose levels, and physical activity throughout the day. Users can also view trends over time to see how eating and exercise affect their glucose levels.

Another app called GoMeals provides instant access to nutritional information on a wide variety of foods, helping people with diabetes to make smart decisions on the go. The app is plugged into nutritional databases that include packaged food, grocery store ingredients and even restaurant menu items at popular eateries nationwide.

The Thrive365 app is also tied into nutritional databases. It uses this information to calculate a diabetes score for individual foods and menu items. Users are then given a target score for each meal based on their personal health information. The goal is to choose foods that add up to the target score for each specific meal, without going over or under. Users can also log their meals, glucose levels and physical exercise in the app for simple tracking.

“Managing diabetes is an ‘every meal’ effort, which can be overwhelming. You can’t bank food from one meal to another so you have to get it right every time. This is one case where technology is definitely making life easier,” said Massa.

A number of medical studies are currently underway to evaluate which features of smartphone apps provide the greatest benefit in the management of diabetes.

For patients with diabetes, selecting the right app depends on their personal comfort level with smartphone technology. Since users are required to enter information into the app several times a day, the most important consideration is ease of use. Armed with the right apps, people with type 2 diabetes can take the frustration out of making and tracking food choices.

Courtesy of BPT

Four simple steps to help DIYers get pro-level painting results

(BPT) - When it comes to simple, low-cost home improvements that can add value and completely change the look of a room, you just can’t beat painting. From giving a room a whole new look to protecting the walls and boosting the value of your home, painting delivers many benefits - all at a fraction of the cost of other improvements.

Tackle the job yourself, rather than hiring a professional painter, and you can save even more money.

“Any do-it-yourselfer can achieve professional-looking painting results when they follow the right steps and use the right painting tools,” says Arti Lyde, a product director with Wagner, manufacturer of painting products. “Painting can dramatically improve the look and style of your home.”

Follow these four guidelines and you can achieve professional-looking results with your own hands:

Prepping is paramount

Professionals know that properly preparing their work space is a key factor in achieving a good end result. Before you crack open that paint can, take these preparatory steps:

* Gather all the tools you will need in one place.

* Protect surfaces such as baseboards, woodwork and windows by taping off with a good quality painter’s tape.

* Completely cover carpets with a good quality drop cloth that will resist punctures and rips.

* Some jobs require a primer before putting the final color on the wall. Primer preps the surface and helps the final coat adhere better.

Pick the right paint

The quality of the paint you choose will directly affect how good the job looks when you’re done. For a good quality finish it is important to select quality paint, which adheres better, gives a uniform finish and will last longer. Also, look at the latest color trends and select a color that will meet your style.

Before you buy, research the brands available at your local home improvement store. Check out consumer review websites, giving particular attention to those that feature reviews from homeowners who’ve actually used the products. These independent, real-life reviewers can offer valuable insight into how well a paint might work.

Use the right tools

Many professionals use paint sprayers to achieve smooth, fast results. Now homeowners can achieve professional results. Two new sprayers, the Flexio 570 and Flexio 590 from Wagner, are designed to help DIYers achieve the same speed and good looks as the professionals do. The sprayers allow you to cover an 8-by-10-foot surface in just two to six minutes, and they can be used inside the house or outside on decks, fences, sheds or any other surface you need to paint quickly and easily.

Because both sprayers feature nozzles that allow you to precisely adjust the flow of paint, overspray is minimal - meaning that since you’ve already prepped by taping and draping, you can use the sprayer indoors with confidence that you won’t get overspray on areas where you don’t want paint. Another bonus that makes these sprayers great for indoor use - they’re quieter than traditional sprayers, making about as much noise as a hair dryer. Finally, unlike other sprayers, the Flexio models don’t require you to thin the paint with water; thinning can hinder the performance of even the best quality paint. To learn more, log on to

Pay attention to the details

Details such as painting baseboards, woodwork and ceilings are the crowning touch on any paint job. Professionals know it’s these finishing touches that pull together the look of a room.

With the right tools and professional approach, you can save money by doing your own painting - and enjoy the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.

Courtesy of BPT

Top technical accessories for your car

Whether it’s traveling during the holidays or commuting to and from work, Americans spend a lot of time in their vehicles - almost 540 hours a year according to a Roland Berger study. With so much time spent behind the wheel, it’s worth it to invest in the top gadgets to make your ride safer and more comfortable.

These accessories provide you with some of the latest safety features and allow you to bring all the comforts of home along with you on your ride.

Safety first:

Back-up cameras are a simple installation that can save lives. About 34 percent of all non-traffic car fatalities for children under five are caused by back-overs, according to PEAK Automotive Back-Up Camera Systems allow you to place the viewer on your windshield or install it into your rear-view mirror. Then install the water-resistant camera to the rear license plate of your car, truck, RV or camper so you can see what is behind your vehicle as you back up.

Convenient help:

A dead battery at any time of the year can be a real downer, especially if you are unable to find a person willing to give you a jump start. PEAK Jump-Starters allow you to restart car batteries without the need of another car. This rechargeable and portable system features a low charge alert that sounds when the battery life is getting low. Just plug the system into the wall or your car’s cigarette lighter outlet to recharge. Keep it in your car so it’s always available in time of emergency.

A handy charging station:

Cellphones, tablets, video games and even laptop computers are all portable and popular accessories for passengers when traveling, but all require charging stations. And everyone knows that road trips with dead video game or e-reader batteries are not fun. The PEAK 150 Watt Cup Inverter is perfect for recharging electronics in the car. It fits into the cup holder, so you won’t have bulky items in the front of the car, and two AC outlets and one USB plug-in are available for charging multiple electronics at once.

Wi-Fi on the road:

Once you have the mobile charger, put your electronics to use with a Mobile Internet Router. Passengers can surf the Internet, check emails and play on-line games with a simple plug-in. The coverage area is wide enough to supply a connection to the entire family.

Tailgating supplies:

If you’re driving over to the stadium for a picnic before the game, or are in the middle of the mountains and ready for a bite to eat while admiring the scenery, chilling drinks or warming up meals at the drop of a dime is a real benefit. The PEAK 12 volt Can Cooler/Warmer is just the gadget to help you enjoy your tailgating party with minimal fuss. It cools soda cans and sandwiches, or heats up leftovers like soup and chili, and plugs directly into the car’s cigarette lighter socket for your meal on-the-go.

These and other products can be found nationwide at retailers such as AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys, and O’Reilly Auto Parts. A lot of time is spent on the road, and these accessories can make your trip safer and more comfortable. Visit for more information on the products you need to power your life.

Courtesy of BPT

Think outside the fuse box: Unique energy-saving home improvements

(BPT) - You’ve replaced your home’s old windows with new, Energy Star-rated models, upgraded to electricity-sipping appliances and there’s not a single incandescent light bulb to be found anywhere in your house. You may be wondering what more you can do to further reduce your home energy bills.

When you’ve covered the basic and obvious ways to trim energy use at home, it’s time to start thinking outside the fuse box. Here are three unique home improvements that can help make your house even more energy-efficient.

1. Put a stake through the heart of vampire power - Even when they’re turned off, electrical devices draw power as long as they’re plugged in. “Vampire power” or “standby power” refers to the electricity wasted in this manner. In developed countries, standby power probably accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Fortunately, vampire power is a relatively easy problem to solve. In many cases, simply unplug the power cord - a great solution for your cellphone charger or the coffee pot. When an appliance gets frequent use, however, constantly unplugging and replugging it may not be convenient. In those situations, a simple home improvement may be in order.

Connect outlets to wall switches that make it easy to turn the device off or on at the outlet. Or, you can plug appliances into a device that, in turn, plugs into the outlet and stops electricity leakage.

2. Add motorized shutters to windows - People add motorized rolling shutters to their homes for a variety of reasons, from enhancing privacy and security by making it harder for burglars to break in through windows, to protection against intense sunshine and hurricane winds. But did you know shutters can also boost your home’s energy efficiency?

In winter, motorized shades or rolling shutters maximize insulation of windows - a significant point of heat loss in many homes. In summer, they can reduce heat gain, help maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature and protect furnishings from damaging UV rays. Automating motorized shutters with a sun sensor, like those available from Somfy Systems, allows you to further improve energy efficiency by raising or lowering shutters throughout the day to fine-tune heat retention.

And, for the truly eco-minded homeowner, Somfy’s new solar powered AutoSun uses solar energy to power the shutter motor - so saving energy doesn’t require you to use electricity. Learn more at

3. Open the door to energy savings - Your home’s front door is the first impression visitors get when they arrive on your doorstep, but it’s also a potential source of heat and energy loss. Replacing an old, inefficient or poorly insulated door with an Energy Star-qualified door can pay off with significant heat retention and energy savings. -

When looking for a replacement door, insulated doors made of fiberglass or steel, filled with an insulating core such as polyurethane foam, are more energy-efficient than traditional wooden doors. Doors should also fit well into the doorframe, and use weather stripping to block drafts.

Doors wear out, lose efficiency and need to be replaced, according to the Residential Energy Services Network. Replace your old front door with an Energy Star-qualified one, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the door, according to

Improving your home’s energy efficiency is the right thing to do - for both the environment and your wallet. With a bit of creativity and the right home improvements, it’s possible to maximize your home’s energy efficiency.

Courtesy of BPT

Declaring energy independence for a brighter future

Declaring%20energy%20independenceIt is time to make history by changing history. For more than 40 years - and through eight presidents - the United States has been dependent on foreign oil to power the nation. Today, energy independence is a realistic goal, one founded on American innovation, technology and hard work. 
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC - has a stranglehold on the United States’ fuel supply. In fact, the United States spends more than $1 million per minute on foreign oil - adding up to more than $450 billion per year, making this the largest wealth transfer in history. This situation is not only unsustainable; it leaves the U.S. indebted to the 12 OPEC member nations, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. 
For the first time in decades, the United States has the resources for energy independence. The discovery of abundant reserves of shale-based oil and natural gas, combined with new drilling technology needed to produce those resources, has given the United States a long-term source of homegrown energy. The U.S. has enough oil and natural gas to power 65 million cars for 60 years and heat 60 million households for 160 years, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). By 2030, 100 percent of U.S. liquid fuel needs could be met by resources found in North America.  
Energy independence is within reach, and its benefits extend beyond enhanced national security. Increasing domestic oil and natural gas production does the following:
* Creates jobs: Oil and natural gas companies currently support 9.2 million U.S. jobs and are among the nation’s largest employers, according to API. Increasing domestic oil and natural gas development could create more than 1.4 million additional jobs. These jobs are both direct - energy company employees - and indirect - vendors and others who support the energy industry. The increase in domestic oil and natural gas development boosts other industries as well, including steel and manufacturing. 
Declaring%20energy%20independence* Revitalizes communities: Last year, the industry contributed $476 billion in direct support to a struggling economy. Domestic oil and natural gas are produced across the country, and wherever drilling takes place, local residents benefit from royalty payments and good-paying jobs. In fact, last year oil and natural gas companies paid more than $176 billion in wages and benefits and payments to oil and natural gas leaseholders. The oil and natural gas industry also provides an influx of tax dollars, paying $86 million per day to the federal government. County and state taxes paid by energy companies contribute to schools, roads and infrastructures.
* Promotes a healthier environment: Domestic energy - particularly natural gas - offers a cleaner energy future by helping reduce air pollution in communities around the country. As an electricity source and a viable transportation fuel, natural gas emits fewer pollutants and no mercury, according to the Energy Information Administration. 
Energy independence is no longer campaign rhetoric; it is reality. If you support fueling our country from within, declare your energy independence at 

Courtesy of BPT

Soft skills will help you land that next job

(BPT) - You’ve polished your resume, updated your references and picked up your best outfit from the dry cleaners. You’re ready for that big interview. But while your experience and qualifications may match the position perfectly, have you given any thought to your soft skills?

Soft skills include a person’s attitude, workplace behavior, values and ethics. Increasingly, employers are looking at soft skills as the deciding factor when choosing between two applicants.

Harry Weimann, director of education at WyoTech Blairsville and a business owner, says he wishes he would have learned to look for the appropriate skills long ago.

“As a business owner for many years, I’ve hired several employees,” Weimann says. “Some were talented workers, but I never could pinpoint why I rarely got the person I was looking for. Working for WyoTech opened my eyes to what I was missing - soft skills.”

Weimann says employers view an employee who shows up on time, performs the job correctly and respects others as being more valuable in many cases than an employee who is technically competent but shows up late, is sloppily dressed and has a poor attitude. Because of this, employers are looking harder at soft skills when hiring in the current market.

“For some reason, organizations seem to expect people to know how to behave on the job or have the right soft skills,” says Weimann. “The assumption is that everyone knows the importance of being on time, being accountable, having integrity and being a team player, but is that fair to expect without communicating that during the interview process?”

When you head to that big interview, you should expect to face some soft skill questions. These may include:

* What is your definition of integrity?

* What does it mean to be accountable?

* What is your definition of common sense?

* What is your definition of customer service?

* What are your feelings regarding deadlines?

* How do you handle high-pressure situations?

* Tell me an example of how you’ve resolved a conflict in the past.

Make sure you are able to answer each of these questions with the same accuracy and confidence you would apply to any question about your resume. As employers continue to search for candidates with the right professional and soft skills, it is up to you to prove that you are qualified in both.

Courtesy of BPT

Shape your financial future by checking your credit report and scores

Check%20your%20credit%20scoreDo you know what’s on your credit report? Do you know your credit scores? If you don’t, you’re not alone, but now is a good time to better understand how they work before you go apply for that loan. By waiting to check your report and scores until you want to buy a car or house, you may discover too late your financial history forces you into strict loan terms with high interest rates, or, worse, disqualify you from getting any loan at all. How can you avoid this situation?

Responsible past credit behavior, a healthy credit score and understanding your debt picture all play crucial roles in achieving your overall financial goals. So reviewing your credit report and knowing your VantageScore credit score and how you compare to others is essential. By reviewing your report, you can verify the information in it, and take actions to correct any item that may require it. If you have any negative marks, now is the time to take action to address those issues and increase your credit score.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about credit scoring is that all the three major credit bureaus - TransUnion, Equifax and Experian - produce the same score. Although similar, there are many different scoring formulas, so variations can occur.

The three major credit bureaus partnered to develop VantageScore credit score to make credit scores more consistent and predictable across all three credit bureaus.

VantageScore credit scores fall within a range of 501 to 990 and include a letter grade from A to F. the higher your score, the better. Even though new methods provide more consistent formulas, there may still be variations across the three credit bureaus because information on individual credit reports may differ from bureau to bureau. Furthermore, each company is provided updated information from creditors on different days of the month, so an increase or decrease for one might happen on the first day of the month while another may not occur until the 15th.

These differentiators are why it’s important to know all three of your scores, which you can easily get with a paid TransUnion membership. If you find the scores you have are lower than you’d like, there are some key things you can do. Most credit scores are derived by looking at these five attributes. By understanding what makes up these five factors, you can begin to change your behavior to improve your credit scores. 

1. Payment history: A good record of on-time payments will help increase your credit scores. Review your credit reports closely and regularly. Late payments and other negative marks typically remain on your credit reports for up to seven years from the date of first delinquency. If you do find a mistake, take the proper steps to correct it so you can increase your scores.

2. Credit account history: An established credit history makes you a less risky borrower. Keeping old accounts that you have paid off can also help because keep your debt-to-credit ratio more favorable. Think twice before closing old accounts before a loan application.

3. Outstanding debt: High balances in relation to your credit limits can lower your credit score. Aim for balances less than 35 percent of your total available credit. You can determine your debt-to-credit ratio by reviewing your credit report now.

4. Recent inquiries: When a lender or business checks your credit in response to an application, it causes a hard inquiry on your report and may result in a slight ding to your credit score, so apply for new credit in moderation. Remember, viewing your own report and score is counted as a soft inquiry and doesn’t change the score one way or another.

5. Types of credit: A healthy credit profile has a balanced mix of credit accounts and loans. It shows you have paid bills in the past and know how to manage different types of credit obligations. By reviewing your current credit reports and learning what your three scores are, you’ll set yourself up for financial success in the future. Visit for more information.

Courtesy of BPT

VIVO Realty Group

5200 McDermott Rd. Suite #135
Plano, TX 75024


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The information contained within is believed to be accurate but not warranted to be so. Not intended to solicit properties already listed for sale.