A Brooklyn author’s new book offers practical steps to help individuals protect their identities and finances in an age when he argues cyber crimes drastically outnumber violent holdups.
“Your Score: An insider’s secrets to understanding, controlling, and protecting your credit score,” by Fort Greene resident Anthony Davenport, the founder of a city-based credit-management firm, instructs readers on how to protect their personal information, savings, and other important accounts at a time when many criminals steal as much money — or more — by swindling folks via computers in the comfort of their own homes, not in potentially dangerous street confrontations.
A crook with a few key pieces of your online identity can establish new credit accounts in your name in 20 minutes, Davenport says. And on the dark web, bad actors can buy your credit-card number and CVC code for a mere one dollar!
But there are a variety of strategies to avoid such victimization, the author writes, and to maximize individuals’ so-called credit score, a personal financial statistic that affects vital aspects of people’s lives, including finding employment as well as getting mortgage loans, credit cards, and approvals to rent apartments.
Even home and automobile-insurance rates are influenced by credit scores, Davenport says, but only 35 percent of an individual’s credit score comes down to paying bills on time, and there is almost no education on how to obtain that optimal credit score.
One tactic for improving a credit score, he writes, is “freezing” credit, which can dissuade criminals from trying to tap in to our accounts. Former President Obama, Davenport says, put a complete freeze on his credit through his two terms in the White House. His identity was never compromised.
The author’s advice comes from his years working in the financial industry. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Davenport lost his job in the mortgage-origination field, and had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. He later lost his home to foreclosure.
But in the 10 years since, he has established one of the most successful “credit-repair” businesses in the nation, Regal Credit Management, which assists ordinary Americans in nine-to-five jobs, as well as some of the world’s most noteworthy athletes and entertainers.
Davenport’s efforts for clients include getting false debts removed from their financial records, developing plans to curb the impulses of the spendthrift, and getting folks on the straight-and-narrow mindset of sticking to a budget.
The author stresses the importance of shopping for credit, something he says most Americans don’t consider. By spending just two or three hours, you can find interest rates and other terms of credit to your advantage. This small investment of time may save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a home mortgage, he writes.
“Your Score” is an interesting and lively handbook to navigate through what for many is a boring, yet critical, component of their lives. Employers, landlords, potential business partners, and others are researching your finances — and that all-important credit score.
Listen to Davenport. You’ll have a much easier time finding employment, gaining credit, renting an apartment, or leasing a car.
Herbert W. Stupp was Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging from 1994 to 2002, where he successfully exposed scams of various kinds targeting the elderly. Early in his career, he was the Emmy Award–winning Editorial Director at WOR-TV.