Equifax Extends Partnership With Rent Reporting Service Providers

"MoCaFi's partnership with Equifax represents a new paradigm of what's possible when two organizations come together to drive financial inclusion," said Wole Coaxum, Founder and CEO, Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. "Our work is already allowing people, especially communities of color, to see the benefits of using rent reporting to impact their credit scores. These are exciting times for us as our work is just getting started."

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/equifax-expands-partnerships-with-rent-reporting-service-providers-300981852.html


5 Reasons You May Want To Switch From a Bank Account To a MoCaFi Prepaid Card

The days when all prepaid cards nickel-and-dimed you on every transaction with a super-expensive fee are over.

Cards that adhere to the 2019 CFPB Prepaid Card Rules - like the MoCaFi Prepaid Mastercard® - offer many of the same protections as traditional checking accounts.

At the same time, prepaid cards don’t carry some of the fee and financial requirements of traditional checking accounts, check cashing stores, or payday lenders that can hurt consumers who are looking to improve their financial lives or rebound from a bad financial situation.

We’ve put together a short list of scenarios that may indicate a need to switch to a prepaid account to transform how your daily finances can be used to spend smarter and build credit.

Get the same basic features of a traditional bank account

The MoCaFi Prepaid Card is issued by SunRise Banks Member FDIC. Card funds up to $250,000 are insured by FDIC, provided the card is registered to the name of the primary cardholder. Each account is given a bank account and routing number that can be used for direct deposit or ACH electronic payments.

Your bank account makes you keep a minimum monthly balance

Most traditional bank accounts require that you keep a minimum daily balance in order to avoid a monthly service fee to keep your account open. For example, Wells Fargo everyday checking account charges a $10 monthly fee unless you keep a $1,500 minimum daily balance or make 10 debit card purchases a month. With a MoCaFi prepaid card, you can make 5, 10, 20, or 100 domestic debit card purchases and spend your balance to zero each month and never be charged a fee for the transactions. We make our money from the interchange fee paid by the merchants you purchase from, i.e. the Walgreens, McDonalds, Dollar General, or your local coffee shop.

You're using overdrafts as a line of credit

Prepaid cards are load first, spend second. You can only spend the money you load onto the card. If you try to make a purchase with insufficient funds, then the purchase will simply be declined. Many of us like to have the cushion of overdrafts to make ends meet between paydays. However, excessively recurring overdrafts can be an expensive form of credit that may signal a need to reign in spending and build tighter budgeting behavior.  Prepaid cards can help you spend smarter.  The MoCaFi card goes even further to help you build credit, by reporting rent payments made from your card to Equifax and TransUnion as a way to get positive payment history onto your credit profile.   Learn more about MoCaFi Rent Reporting at https://get.mocafi.com/rentreporting.

You can't qualify for a personal loan from your bank

According to Federal Reserve, 40% of Americans can't cover a $400 emergency. If you're in the 40% - managing to check to check without a safety net - big commercial banks can't (won't) help you get out of a jam. Only a few offer personal loans (Wells Fargo, Discover, Citibank). And the few that do consumer lending require Prime credit score and a longstanding relationship. The chances that you're in good standing with a minimal balance and low savings is slim to none.

MoCaFi credit builder loans offer up to $500 loans at 15% with a 12-month repayment term for borrowers with 6-months of current rent payment history. We don't require a credit check, we don't penalize you for paying early, and if you have a MoCaFi card, we'll cut the interest rate by 2%.

Card works like any other debit card

The MoCaFi card design looks, feels, and behaves like a basic debit card issued from any bank. The card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard® is accepted and each transaction can be checked in real-time with the MoCaFi mobile app.

 

MOCAFI PREPAID MASTERCARD®

  • No credit check to enroll
  • No enrollment fee
  • No fee to direct deposit funds from an employer or benefits provider
  • No fee to load approved checks that clear after 10 days via the Ingo Money™ feature
  • No fee to make domestic debit card purchases
  • No fee to make electronic rent payments
  • No fee to report rent payments to Equifax and TransUnion
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No credit check to qualify for credit builder loans—just your rent payment history and a financial coaching session
  • Other fees apply.  Click HERE to see the full Cardholder Agreement.

Visit https://get.mocafi.com to learn more.


Financial Entrapment in Communities of Color and How To Break Free

Entrapment, in its most common definition, is luring a person into committing a crime by a law-enforcement agent.

Communities of color are all too familiar with entrapment, dating back to the vagrancy laws and black codes of the Reconstruction Era today's biased enforcement of immigration laws against undocumented workers.

But there's another form of entrapment plaguing communities of color that's less obvious, yet just as damaging - the alternative financial services industry (AFS).

Nearly 50% of Black and Hispanic households are underbanked according to the 2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.

According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, consumers spend $173 billion a year in fees to check cashers, payday lenders, money transfer places.

Most folks who are living on low or volatile income, in a banking desert, or with challenges to their credit profile can't access or afford a traditional bank account.

AFS providers are filling the banking void in communities of color with a fee-for-service model that puts consumers in a cycle of paying a percentage every time you need to make a financial transaction.

  • Need to cash your check—pay me
  • Need to pay a bill—pay me
  • Need to hold something small until payday—pay me a loan shark's interest rate

Predatory financial services are a driver Black & Brown wealth inequality

According to McKinsey & Company's 2019 report "The economic impact of closing the racial wealth gap, a full-time worker who cashes checks at an AFS store could save $40,000 over the course of a career by using a lower-cost checking account.

For a family, that $40,000 could be used for college tuition, down payment on a home, or seed capital to start a business — all drivers of wealth and economic empowerment that are lost on communities of color generation after generation.

While the macro solutions to closing the wealth gap are varied and complex - see our friend Dr. Naomi Zewde's baby bond policy for ending the racial wealth gap - there are some simple, yet impactful behaviors that individuals can do to transition out of the trap of financial vulnerability and into economic mobility:

We’ve put together a short handbook of simple, actionable steps to transform your mindset about money, wealth, and personal growth.

Visit MoCaFi to learn get our free Wealth Guide and learn more about our mission to get 1M Black & Brown people banked.

Spend smart.  Build credit. Do you.


Living On Cash Alone Is Bad For Your Wealth

If you live in the projects, you don’t leave them much.  Everything is right there: laundry, grocery store,
check-cashing place — all setup so you can live your whole life in a four-block radius

— RZA, Founder of the Wu-Tang Clan

The cash economy is blocking our path to better financial health

According to the FDIC, 50% of people of color do not have a  bank account or use alternative financial services like check cashing stores, for basic financial services.

The check casher may seem like an adequate service for many of us who:

  • can’t afford the balance minimums of a bank account
  • are overdrawn on a bank account and can’t get a new one
  • rely on them for short-term cash loans
  • just feel comfortable cashing out and paying bills with the same teller every pay period

Truth is, fee-based financial services work just fine … but damn it costs so much to live on a budget. Never mind the fact that

  1. the cash in your wallet isn’t secured,
  2. you’ll never get access to fair loan (those payday loan rates are straight robbery), and
  3. there’s no way to leverage your good money habits into a better credit score

 

Those who would like to have a traditional checking account but are unable to get one should be given a fair opportunity to manage their day-to-day finances effectively and affordably by other means
— Richard Cordray, Fmr Dir, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

FDIC-member issued prepaid cards are next level

Many of today’s prepaid cards aren’t the same predatory, fee-heavy financial products from the 80s and 90s.  Most are issued by an FDIC-member bank, offer real-time transactions, and look & function the same as a debit card from a traditional bank account.   The best part is you only spend what you put on the card, so there’s no chance of overdraft penalty fees.

On the flip side, most prepaid cards charge a fee based on your level of usage.  This is because, unlike a bank, prepaid card issuers cannot pool your funds with other account holders to earn interest revenue through reinvestment.  Prepaid card issuers earn income primarily from fees paid by the merchants that accept their card (called Interchange) and the cardholders.

So while prepaid gets you into the digital economy, with some consumer protections, many don’t go far enough to support people living on a tight budget in need of affordable financial services.

Prepaid Card Summary

MoCaFi cards earn money from merchants

MoCaFi is a financial network for everyday people.  The MoCaFi Prepaid Mastercard® is the foundation of our mobile deposit and money management service:

  • FDIC-member issued deposit account
  • Check card transactions in real-time in the MoCaFi app
  • Pay rent electronically from funds on your card at no cost
  • Open sub-card accounts to manage your family allowances
  • Get account support via phone, email, and chat

 

Unlike check cashers, payday lenders and other prepaid cards, MoCaFi doesn’t charge fees for debit transactions, credit transactions, bill pay, or even to setup an account.  Our card revenue comes from the interchange that merchants pay to offer Mastercard as a payment option to you.

Our mission is to help our customers keep as much money in their accounts as possible without worry of being nickle & dimed each time they swipe at a register, deposit a check or pay a bill.

We do more than helping you save a few dollars.  Our mobile app is a destination for build credit and finding resources to achieve economic mobility.

  • MoCaFiles financial tips
  • Wealth education videos
  • Credit score boosting with rent payment reporting to Equifax and TransUnion
  • Equifax VantageScore tracking

All You Need Is A Smartphone and ID

Enrolling in a MoCaFi card is easy.  No credit check, no prior banking history, and no setup fees.  If you have a smartphone and a social security number, you can enroll in less than 5 minutes and have a card in your mailbox in a week or less.

Visit get.mocafi.com for details on our card, terms & conditions and features.


8 Money Conversations You Should Have With Your Partner

Is your relationship starting to get serious? Or is it still a budding relationship?

Financial security is an important factor in figuring out if you see a future with this person.

By starting to have financial conversations with your partner, you get to understand them on a deeper level and whether their financial goals match with yours. Even if they don’t match up, you can still build towards that.

Below is are a few questions you should ask your partner to help you identify how to build a stronger financial future with them.

What Are Your Financial Goals?

Do you want achieve wealth? How much do you expect to save before you retire? If you want kids, how much are you trying to save to cover college expenses? Once you understand what your financial goals are, see if your goals match your partner’s goals.

How Much Debt Are You In?

College debt, credit card debt, it all adds up. A relationship is a partnership. By asking how much debt they have, you both know how much to you need to pay down when you start a budget plan.

Do You Have Any Financial Obligations?

You or your partner may be paying alimony and/or child support. Your partner could also have the tendency to lend money to family and friends money which could lead to low or very delayed return. These financial obligations can decrease the amount of excess cash your partner has available for savings. However, with a budget plan, you can still manage to save some money. This is also great opportunity to disclose this aspect of your past to your partner, if you haven’t done so already.

Do You Have A Budget System?

Someone who freely spends their money without a budget, most likely aren’t thinking of the long term goal of financial security and building wealth. However, you can work on this together by building a budget plan to help you achieve your financial goals.

What's Your Monthly Income?

This can be a little awkward at first, but it’s a super important question. It helps you understand your total income as a couple which can be useful information for your budget plan. However, you may want to wait until you’re a little further along in your relationship before you ask this question. Even though your aim is to be financially responsible, you want to make sure your partner is comfortable that you are in the relationship for the right reasons.

Who Is Paying The Bills?

Thinking about co-habitating or marrying your partner? Does this require separate accounts or a joint account? Sharing the cost of bills gives you more financial flexibility to increase your savings plan. One person doesn’t have to pay all the bills. Alternate who pays certain bills so that one of you don’t lose touch of how to pay off bills.

MoCaFi Tip: With the MoCaFi App you can each have your individual accounts and transfer money to your joint bank account at an external financial institution. This way, you can still maintain independence while comfortably easing your way into sharing financial habits.

What Are Your Career Plans?

How far in your career do you want to advance and do you know the estimated salary range for that position? Do you plan to further your education before you advance in your job? Be honest, even if you feel like you are dreaming big. You got this and a partner should support you in your goals. Your partner may want to advance in their career as well which can increase your total income as a couple.

What’s Your Rainy Day Plan?

Whether it’s the loss of a job or the an unexpected medical issue, sometimes, emergencies come up and you don’t have the same financial security you did before. How would you and your partner handle this? What is your backup plan? A great way to reduce the stress and financial insecurity of emergencies is to set up a savings strategy. Once you figure out what your goal amount is for your savings plan, you can work on a budget together to help you achieve that goal.

MoCaFi Tip: MoCaFi has a Rainy Day Fund so that you can start saving immediately Keep in mind that if your partner doesn’t meet your expectations for their current financial situation, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker!

It’s a positive sign when they want to work on this with you because it shows that they want to enhance their current situations and build a strong foundation with you.

Good luck out there finding and financing love!


The Guide To Handling Family ID Theft

If you find yourself in a situation where a family member or close friend steals your identity, know you are not alone. Although it may be a blow to your heart, you can still turn your credit score around and be on your way to financial freedom.

What qualifies as family theft?

Identity Theft of a Minor:

Parents or relatives have easy access to the personal information of a child or relative since birth. However, people under the age of 18 can’t apply for any forms of credit lines including credit cards and loans. Therefore, they most likely wouldn’t find out their identity has been stolen until they are old enough to apply for credit.

Identity Theft of an Elderly Person:

When an elderly person is dependent on another individual, their personal information is shared with the person taking care of them, especially since they have control of the elderly person’s mail and other forms of identification.

Identity Theft of a Spouse: Spouses have easy access to each other’s personal information, especially when you share financial accounts. If they create a new credit account without your knowledge, that counts as identity theft.

Identity of a Sibling:

When your brothers and sisters tend to resemble you it can be easy to portray themselves as you.

The Guide

Confirm your credit history.

You can view your credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) for free. Once you obtain your credit report you will be able to see your payment history and when accounts were opened in recent years. If you identify inaccurate information, you can dispute these claims. However, creditors may require proof.

Freeze your accounts.

By freezing your account, you prevent someone from opening a new account in your name. There may be a small fee associated with opening and ending a credit freeze.

MoCaFi Tip: You could set up alerts on your credit reports to protect yourself from future fraud. You would have to contact each of the credit bureaus to set it up individual.

Confront the person.

It can be difficult to have these conversations, but one way to confirm your suspicions of the person behind this theft is your family member or close friend. This is your opportunity to try to talk it out and figure out which steps you want to pursue next.

Set up a payment arrangement.

By setting up a payment plan for the other person to start paying you back for the debt they accrued in your name. You can also charge interest on the debt the person owes you. However, the downside to setting up a payment arrangement is that this could be a long process since the person most likely doesn’t have the funds available to pay you back right away.

Alert your creditors and banks.

You should always keep your creditors and financial institutions aware of what is going on when it comes to fraud. This helps you in the long run because it makes them aware that your current financial state is through no fault of your own. This is especially helpful for when you ask companies to release you from any liability for their services.

Report the person.

This may be one of the toughest steps to take, however it is a necessary one. This is most likely someone you love and care about. You may feel some pressure from other family members not to report your family member to the police, but at the end of the day, they did commit a crime and this is your financial and credit history you are trying to turn around. By reporting to the police you are able to provide evidence to the credit bureaus when you dispute information on your credit report. This is also useful for when companies ask for proof that you were a victim of theft when you asked to be released from liability for their services.

Build your credit history up.

If your family member or friend has been taking your idea for years, some of the debt accumulated on your credit score may not be approved for elimination after you attempt to dispute it. Don’t worry we have some easy ways for you to improve your credit score here.


7 Steps To Clean Credit

A successful financial plan needs clean credit and a high FICO Score. Home and business ownership in the US is predicated on a positive credit rating to acquire growth capital. Often times wealth opportunities are missed because of poor credit. But with a process and patience, your credit can be washed clean for good.

Here are the 7 steps to clean credit.

1. Clean Up The Easy Mistakes

First, you want to do is check your credit report for incorrect information. 75% of all reports have errors related to identity, status, and balance owed. Dispute every single claim that you think may be incorrect. The Federal Trade Commission does a good job of explaining how to dispute credit reports errors.

Second, get rid of small balances that you forgot about. Set a threshold for small balances. Depending on your budget, this could be anywhere from $10 to $100. Once you know what you can afford, pay it off immediately.

To get a free copy of your report, go to annualfreecreditreport.com

2. Pay Every Bill On Time

35% of your FICO is attributed to payment history. It’s the most important component of your score. The easiest way to make sure you pay our bills on time is to set the payments on auto pilot.

Of course, you have to manage your accounts to ensure the funds are available on the day bills are debited. Envelope budgeting is a technique where you separate cash for each bill into its dedicated envelope for mailing.

The MoCaFi sub-card feature turns envelope budgeting digital by offering you up to one rainy day fund and four sub-card accounts off your primary account.

Give sub-card budgeting a try to stay on top of your bill payment credit history..

3. Eliminate Debts On Your Report As Soon As Possible.

Frequent flyer miles won’t make you a millionaire. You don’t need to show debt to build your credit. Simply budget your paycheck and pay your bills on time.

4. Keep Old Accounts Open

30% of your FICO score is your balance/lending ratio. Balance / lending ratio is the comparison of debt being used to the total amount of debt available. Before paying down the debt completely, be sure to keep this ratio low so that you don’t appear to be overextending yourself financially. But don’t cancel the account. If you already have the account open, canceling that account can lower your FICO score.

15% of your FICO score is your length of credit history. The older the account, the more weight that is has on your FICO score. For instance, if you have a credit card that has 10 years of history on it, you would want to keep that account open versus a card that only has less than one year of history. Creditors like seeing a long track record with which they can more effectively evaluate performance.

5. Use A Credit Counselor

Going to a credit counselor or a credit consolidation agency is not viewed negatively by FICO.

6. Steer Clear of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is an long-term, impenetrable blemish on your credit report. 200 points can deducted right away and it stays on your report for 10 years. Bankruptcy is even harder to file for as a result of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention legislation passed by the Bush administration in 2005.

Avoid bankruptcy, work your plan, and adhere to the 7th and final step.

7. Be Patient

Nothing happens overnight. The path to wealth is a mindset. The process is a marathon, not a sprint.


Understanding Student Loans

Furthering your education is another way to build wealth. Are you looking to start college or return to school, but it seems like college is just way too expensive? Let’s face it, finances can be a barrier of access to education.

As always, MoCaFi has your back! We want to help you break down those barriers to find student loan options that work best for you and reduce the amount of debt you leave college with. It’s okay if you or your family do not have a college savings account to help you reduce the college debt. Below we highlighted the different versions of loans available.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans generally have low fixed interest rates, which is great for when you repay your loans after you graduate and makes this type of loan a highly recommended option. Additionally, there are opportunities for deferment which means you don’t have to worry about repaying your loans during college.

Direct Subsidized loans and Direct Unsubsidized loans are categorized under federal student loans Below is a chart that identifies the main differences between the federal loans, according to the Federal Student Aid office:

Direct Subsidized Loans

  • Available to undergraduate degree seekers only
  • Have to demonstrate financial need
  • Reduced or no interest rate since the U.S. Department of Education covers the interest rate while you are in school, during the 6 month grace period, and deferment

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Available to Undergraduates, Graduates, and Professional degree seekers
  • No requirement to demonstrate financial need
  • Your interest rate will add up and you are responsible for paying interest while you are in school, during the 6 month grace period, and deferment

To apply for federal student loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form every year you’re in school. Completing and submitting the FAFSA form is free. The fastest and easiest way to do so is online at fafsa.gov.

Private Loans

Private loans are not as ideal, but they are an available alternative option. The reason why private loans are not necessarily the best option is because they tend to have higher interest rates. These interest rates may also be required to be paid off while you are in school.

Checklist Questions to Ask Yourself Before Take Out A Loan

Wondering how much to borrow? You can use the checklist below to figure out how to budget your expenses and identify how much you need.

  • How much is the cost of living where you plan to attend school?
  • (The cost of living is different depending on the city your school is in)
  • How much do you plan to spend on groceries or will you use the meal plan?
  • How much is the price of the school you plan to attend?
  • (The more expensive the school, the more likely it is you will have to borrow)
  • How much is the amount of financial aid your school offers you?
  • How much do you need for books and school supplies?
  • How much would it cost to participate in student activities?

Hope this gives you some insight on how to manage student loans properly.


Most of us could use a finance do-over

You shouldn’t be excluded from basic financial services because of your income, credit, or social status. MoCaFi provides the tools to build a solid financial foundation regardless of your current circumstance.

88 million American adults cannot plan, save, or invest in their financial future.

According to the Federal Reserve, 40% of adults would have to borrow or sell something to cover an unexpected expense of $400. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Wealth is an outcome of our personal actions and values.

Some of us value home ownership, being an entrepreneur, or simply the freedom of not worrying about the next payday. Whatever your personal story and circumstance, the only way path to financial transformation is to:

  • Assess your current circumstances.
  • Define what truly makes you happy.
  • Convert your happiness into financial metrics.
  • Create a plan to hit those metrics.
  • Acquire the resources to execute your plan.
  • Do it!

MoCaFi is here to empower your financial transformation

Regardless of your income, credit, or social status, you should have access to the building blocks of a solid financial foundation. Our platform is designed to get you started on a path to living wealthy

Get started with a no-cost, no strings-attached financial coaching session when you download MoCaFi and create an app profile.

Download MoCaFi.

Live wealthy.