Understanding the Simple Deposit Multiplier

Understanding the Simple Deposit Multiplier

Banking can be a complex thing, but understanding what’s known as the simple deposit multiplier doesn’t have to be. The simple deposit multiplier is the multiple by which a bank can lend out funds based on the reserve requirements. It ensures the bank maintains the minimum amount of money on hand to keep bank operations up and running. It also gives the bank the opportunity to boost the economy.

What Is a Deposit Multiplier?

Also called the deposit expansion multiplier or simple deposit multiplier, a deposit multiplier is the maximum amount of money banks can create based on reserved units. To put it another way, it’s the multiple that banks use to know how much they can lend out vs. money kept on hand (say, in checking accounts) according to the existing reserve requirement. The deposit multiplier is typically a percentage of the amount deposited at a bank.

Why does the deposit multiplier concept matter? It plays a key role in the fractional reserve banking system, or FRB. This system involves the stipulation that banks must keep a certain amount of money on hand in reserves to conduct their day-to-day business. More specifically, the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, mandates that banks hold a certain amount of money, known as required reserves, to make sure there is enough month for withdrawals from depositors. Any excess money that remains after the bank fulfills its daily operations can be loaned to borrowers (say, for mortgages). The amount that can be used for loans is determined by the deposit multiplier.

By accepting deposits and then making loans, banks have the ability to increase and decrease the money supply. When a financial institution lends out money in excess of its required reserves to businesses and consumers, it can amplify the money supply. That’s why the deposit multiplier metric matters; it’s a key way that the Federal Reserve and central banks can control the money supply as part of an overall monetary policy.

Recommended: How Long Does It Take For a Direct Deposit to Go Through?

How Does a Deposit Multiplier Work?

Here’s how a deposit multiplier works: When the account holder puts money in any of the different kinds of deposit accounts offered, the bank holds a percentage of it. This percentage is called the reserve requirement, which is set by the Federal Reserve. It helps ensure that the bank keeps an adequate amount of cash reserves available to meet the needs of withdrawal requests.

Keeping money accessible on demand can be critical. This protects against people trying to withdraw cash in keeping with fund availability rules and finding that their money is unavailable, which could be a deeply problematic and distressing experience.

A deposit multiplier is the multiple that allows banks to lend out money that’s deposited in the bank. This is the maximum amount of money the bank can lend out according to the value of its reserves. It is typically expressed as a percentage. You’ll learn more about that in a moment.

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Real Life Examples of a Deposit Multiplier

To understand a deposit multiplier, it’s wise to understand a few basic banking concepts.

•   For banks, deposits are liabilities, because it is money owned by the account holder, and loans are assets for banks, because that money belongs to the financial institution and must be repaid.

•   Banks also have reserves, which are deposits in the bank or in the Federal Reserve. Reserves are cash available to the bank.

◦   There is also an amount the bank must keep on hand, known as required reserves.

◦   Excess reserves is the term used to describe when the bank has more reserves than is required; these funds can in turn be lent out.

Now, if someone makes a $1,000 deposit, the bank’s liabilities and reserves would increase by $1,000. If the required reserve ratio is 10%, that means must keep $100 on hold and available, but the other 90%, or $900, may be lent. This allows the bank to expand the economy and profit.

To see how the simple deposit multiplier works, consider an example in which a deposit of $10,000 was made and the required reserve ratio is 5%, meaning $500 has to stay on hand.

The deposit multiplier formula is: 1 / reserve ratio.

So with a required reserve ratio of 20%, the deposit multiplier is five. That means that for every dollar in the bank’s reserves, the financial institution can boost the money supply by up to $5. If the reserve ratio was 5%, the deposit multiplier would be 20, and the bank could build the money supply by $20 for each dollar held in reserve. As you see, the lower the reserve ratio is, the higher the deposit multiplier is and the more it can lend out.

Recommended: Benefits of Using Mobile Deposit

How Do You Find the Simple Deposit Multiplier?

The simple deposit multiplier is a ratio between bank reserves and bank deposits. It’s important for maintaining the money supply of the economy and the banking system.

As noted above, this figure is calculated by dividing 1 by the required reserve ratio. For example, if the required reserve ratio is 10%, this means the deposit multiplier is 10. For banks, this means that for every $10 deposited, a total of $1 must be kept in reserves, and the bank can increase the money supply by $10 for each dollar it’s holding.

Deposit Multiplier and the Economy

The Federal Reserve, which is the U.S. central bank, uses the deposit multiplier as one of its monetary tools to control the supply of money in the economy. Usually the money that is deposited in a bank is unlikely to stay in the bank. The money that a consumer deposits in a bank is lent out to another consumer in the form of a loan. The deposit multiplier measures this change in checkable deposits as bank reserves change.

Banks are creating money by expanding the amount of reserves into a larger amount of deposits. If the bank decides to keep a small amount of deposits as reserves that means more money is sent to other banks and more deposits are created at these other banks. If a bank decides to keep a larger sum of deposits as reserves, that means less money or new deposits are made in other banks or circulated among consumers.

When money is loaned out to a consumer, at some point that loan will be repaid and deposited back into the banking system. If there is a required reserve ratio of 10%, then 10% of that new deposit will remain in the bank and the rest can be loaned out into the economy. This cycle fuels economic growth, not to mention profit for the bank.

Recommended: How to Deposit Cash in an ATM

Deposit Multiplier vs Money Multiplier

While these two terms sound quite similar and are closely connected, they are not quite interchangeable. Consider the differences between a deposit multiplier vs. money multiplier.

•   The deposit multiplier is the maximum amount of money banks can create by lending funds. Some deposited money must remain on hand according to the required reserve ratio, but the rest can be used to grow the economy as indicated by this figure. The deposit multiplier is calculated as one divided by the reserve ratio.

•   The money multiplier is the increase in the bank’s money supply. It measures the change in money supply created through bank lending and is usually lower than the deposit multiplier since banks don’t lend all of their reserves.

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The Takeaway

The deposit multiplier is a tool used by financial institutions. It expresses the maximum amount of money a bank can create based on its cash held in reserves. The figure is calculated as one divided by the required reserve ratio; the lower the reserve ratio is, the higher the deposit multiplier is and the more a bank can lend out. The deposit multiplier can help to optimize an economy’s money supply, which is why this metric is used by central banks all over the world.

If you are a personal banking client, you probably aren’t too focused on the deposit multiplier. You likely want convenience, high interest rates, and low fees. If so, check out what SoFi offers.

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FAQ

How do you use a deposit multiplier?

The deposit multiplier is used to determine the amount of money that can be created with the funds in a bank’s money supply.

How are deposit levels calculated?

In banking, the loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) is calculated by dividing the bank’s total amount of loans but the sum of deposits over a specific time period. Loans are considered assets, by the way, since the money is the bank’s, while deposits are deemed liabilities, since they belong to the account holder.

What is the formula for a simple deposit multiplier?

To find the deposit multiplier, you divide one by the required reserve ratio. So if the reserve ratio is 5%, the deposit multiplier is 20. If the reserve ratio is 10%, the deposit multiplier is 10.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Cash a Postal Money Order

How to Cash a Postal Money Order

Anyone can use a money order to send or receive money. While money orders aren’t the most common tool, they’re usually simple to obtain and cash. To cash a money order at no charge, visit your local post office branch and present your money order at the window.

In this article, we outline where to cash postal money orders and what the process looks like.

Key Points

•   Money orders can be cashed at various locations, including banks, credit unions, post offices, and retail stores.

•   Some places may charge a fee to cash a money order, so it’s important to compare fees before choosing a location.

•   To cash a money order, you typically need to endorse it and provide identification.

•   It’s important to keep the receipt or a copy of the money order in case it gets lost or stolen.

•   If you don’t have a bank account, you can still cash a money order by using a check cashing service.

What Is a Postal Money Order?

A postal money order is a type of financial certificate issued on paper by the post office. Similar to a paper check, the document is worth the amount of money determined by the person or company that purchased it. While you can obtain a regular money order from almost any bank, only the United States Postal Service (USPS) issues postal money orders.

Unlike a check, a postal money order is prepaid by the party sending it, so it can’t bounce. Money orders also never expire. A receipt is provided to the purchaser in case the money order is lost, stolen, or damaged. As a result, you can use a postal money order to securely send a payment through the mail.

Another advantage of money orders is that they are difficult to counterfeit. You can make a payment of up to $1,000 with a single order.

To send a money order, you must pay for it ahead of time using cash, a debit card, or a traveler’s check. Although it is possible to buy a regular money order with a credit card, you cannot put postal money orders on a credit card.

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Recommended: What Is a Niche Bank?

How to Cash a Postal Money Order Step by Step

If you receive a postal money order, you can redeem its face value by cashing it. There is no advantage in keeping a postal money order long-term, since it doesn’t earn interest and cannot be used directly to make a purchase.

Here’s how to cash a money order at the post office for free:

1.    Bring the money order and a photo ID to a post office service counter.

2.    Sign the money order in view of the postal worker (do not sign it ahead of time).

3.    You will immediately receive the cash value of the money order.

Where to Cash a Postal Money Order

You can cash a postal money order in certain places outside the post office. Many banks will cash postal money orders, as long as you have an account there. Some grocery stores and retailers will cash money orders, too.

Because proof of ID is required, you cannot deposit money orders via a mobile banking app.

List of Places That Cash Money Orders

Here are some locations that may cash a postal money order:

•   Most banks. Check with your local branch.

•   Check-cashing retailer. Consumers without a bank account or nearby post office may cash money orders here for a fee.

•   International postal office. The post office offers special international money orders that can be cashed at banks and post offices in some other countries.

•   Rural mail carrier. Some mail carriers may cash money orders for rural customers if they have enough cash on hand.

•   Some supermarkets and major retailers. Search online for “places to cash a money order near me.”

Recommended: Alternative to Traditional Banks

How to Identify a Fake Postal Money Order

You’ll want to examine your money order before attempting to deposit it in order to ensure it’s authentic. Here are a few ways to spot a fraudulent postal money order:

•   Look closely at the paper. Valid postal money orders have special markings and designs to prevent fraud. Visit USPS.com to view a sample money order.

•   Review sum amount. If the dollar amount is faded, too large, or not printed twice on the paper, it could be fraudulent. All postal money orders must be under $1,000 and have the sum printed twice on the paper. International postal money orders cannot exceed $700, or $500 for El Salvador and Guyana.

If you think your postal money order is fake, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.

Recommended: 7 Ways to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

The Takeaway

Cashing a USPS money order is a straightforward process. Your local post office can cash a postal money order at no cost to you. You may also be able to cash a postal money order at a bank branch if you have an account there, or at your local supermarket.

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FAQ

Can you mobile deposit a USPS money order?

Unfortunately, you cannot use mobile deposit for USPS money orders. Instead, you must deposit it in person with a valid ID.

Where can I cash a money order for free?

You can cash a postal money order for free at your local post office. You may also be able to cash it at your local bank branch.

Can you cash a money order online?

Since you need proof of ID to deposit a postal money order, you usually can’t deposit it online.


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*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Mortgage Fraud Need-to-Knows

What Mortgage Fraud Is—and How to Avoid It

Mortgage fraud involves lying or omitting information to fund or insure a mortgage loan. It results in billions of dollars in annual losses nationwide. In the second quarter of 2023, 0.75% of all mortgage applications were estimated to contain fraud, which is about 1 in 134 applications, according to CoreLogic. Rates of fraud were higher for two- to four-family properties than for single-family homes. The top states for mortgage application fraud in 2023 were New York and Florida.

What Is Mortgage Fraud?

The FBI, which investigates mortgage fraud, defines it as “a material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan.” A borrower might apply for a loan saying they had received a gift of money to help purchase a home when in reality, the borrower simply used money borrowed from a family member to temporarily inflate their assets during the loan application process.

Sometimes those working in the mortgage industry are the fraudsters: In one recent case, employees of a New Jersey mortgage business misled lenders about the intended use of properties to fraudulently secure lower mortgage interest rates. They often submitted loan applications saying that borrowers would reside in a property when in fact the property was being used as a rental or investment property.

How Does Mortgage Fraud Happen?

Mortgage fraud happens when someone involved in the process of obtaining a loan for a property purchase makes false statements about their financial situation or the planned use of the property. It may involve falsifying documents, lying about the source of income, or even creating an entirely false identity.

Types of Mortgage Fraud

The FBI investigates two distinct areas of mortgage fraud: fraud for profit and mortgage fraud schemes used for housing.

Fraud for Profit

The FBI says that those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders. Current investigations and reporting indicate that a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals in the industry. The FBI points out that fraud for profit is not about getting a home, but manipulating the mortgage process to steal cash and equity from lenders and homeowners.

Fraud for Housing

It’s not only industry insiders who can look to milk the system with mortgage scams. With fraud for housing, the perpetrators are borrowers who take illegal actions in order to acquire or maintain ownership of a house. They could do this by lying about income or presenting false information about assets on their loan application to get a good mortgage rate, for example. One area where fraud is on the increase in recent years is occupancy misrepresentation, in which an investor claims that an investment property is their primary residence in order to get a more favorable mortgage rate.


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What Are the Penalties for Mortgage Fraud?

Mortgage fraud schemes abound, and mortgage fraud is serious. In fact, it’s typically a felony. It’s usually the FBI who investigates mortgage fraud, and conviction for federal mortgage fraud can result in a federal prison sentence of 30 years; state convictions can last a few years. If the crime is a misdemeanor and the amount involved is less than $1,000, there can be a one-year sentence.

A conviction on a single count of federal mortgage fraud can result in a fine of up to $1 million. State fines can range from a few thousand dollars for a misdemeanor to $100,000 or more for a felony. Those found guilty can expect to pay restitution to compensate the victims and to be on probation following jail time.

9 Main Types of Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud comes in many flavors so let’s get a closer look at exactly what is mortgage fraud. Scammers are big on creativity, particularly when it comes to scams targeting seniors. The FBI has a list of common mortgage fraud schemes and scams to watch out for. Here are a few of theirs and others to keep in mind.

1. Property Flipping

There’s nothing innately evil about flipping properties. In fact, adding investment properties to your portfolio can be a way to build wealth if you’re good at it. But then there’s the sinister side of flipping. It goes something like this: A property is purchased below the market price and immediately sold for profit, typically with the help of a shady appraiser who puffs up the value of the property. This is illegal.

2. Equity Skimming

The FBI explains how this works: An investor may use a “straw buyer” (a knowing accomplice), false income documents, and false credit reports to obtain a mortgage loan in the straw buyer’s name. After closing, the straw buyer signs the property over to the investor in a quit-claim deed, which relinquishes all rights to the property and provides no guarantee to title. The investor does not make any mortgage payments and rents out the property until foreclosure takes place several months later.

3. Asset Rental

It’s one thing to borrow something blue on your wedding day, and quite another to borrow or rent the assets of your best friend or loved one to make yourself look better in the eyes of a lender. You “borrow” the asset, maybe a hefty chunk of cash, and after the mortgage closes, you give it back to your partner in crime. Sounds harmless, but it’s a common and serious mortgage scam.

4. Inflated Appraisals

Appraisers have the keys to the kingdom. They state the fair market value of a home. Crooked appraisers can do a couple of things that are illegal: They can undervalue the property so that a buyer gets a “deal,” or more often, they overstate the value of the property. The goal is to help a buyer or seller, or a homeowner planning to refinance or tap home equity.

5. False Identity/Identity Theft

Identity theft is an epidemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2022, it received over 1.1 million reports of identity theft.

Scammers use financial information like Social Security numbers, stolen pay stubs, even fake employment verification forms to get a fraudulent mortgage on a property they do not own. If you’ve been a victim, report identity theft as soon as possible.

6. Foreclosure Scams

Talk about kicking somebody when they’re down. Predators seek out those who are in foreclosure or at risk of defaulting on their loan and tell them that they can save their home by transferring the deed or putting the property in the name of an investor. It can sound rational when you’re desperate.

The perpetrator cashes in when they sell the property to an investor or straw borrower, creating equity using a fraudulent appraisal and stealing the seller proceeds or fees paid by the homeowners. The homeowners are typically told that they can pay rent for at least a year and repurchase the property when their credit has improved.

But that’s not how the story goes. The crooks don’t make the mortgage payments, and the property will likely wind up going into foreclosure.

7. Air Loan

This may as well be in a movie, because nothing is real with this — it’s probably the most bizarre of the mortgage fraud schemes. The FBI describes an air loan as a nonexistent property loan where there is usually no collateral. Brokers invent borrowers and properties, establish accounts for payments, and maintain custodial accounts for escrow. They may establish an office with a bank of phones used as the fake employer, appraiser, credit agency, and so on, to deceive creditors who attempt to verify information on loan applications.

8. Inaccurate Income

A lie can be what you leave out as much as what you say. Given the nature of how self-employed people file taxes, some do not report their full income on their taxes. When it comes to a “stated income” loan, a borrower claims a certain amount of income, and an underwriter makes a decision based on that figure to give them a loan or not.

If the borrower tells a little white lie about their income, it’s not little at all. It’s mortgage fraud. One way lenders try to ensure the information a borrower provides is accurate is to request a letter of explanation about anything that might be concerning in a borrower’s application. This is also why a lender asks for bank statements for a mortgage application, and may ask for extra documentation if you are self-employed.

9. Repaying Gift Money

You can receive part of a down payment for a home, but the gift is not to be repaid. In fact, when you plan to use gift funds, you’ll need to provide a gift letter that proves the money is not a loan to be repaid. You may also be asked to provide documentation to prove the transfer of the gift into your bank account. This may include asking the donor for a copy of their check or bank account statement.

If that gift is to be repaid, it is mortgage fraud. It can also put your loan qualification at risk, as all loans need to be factored into your debt-to-income ratio.


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Why Is Mortgage Fraud Committed?

Borrowers who know they are not really mortgage-ready — perhaps because of a poor credit history, a low credit score, or a nothing-to-brag-about salary that would likely get them the thumbs down from a lender — may be driven to try to enhance their chances of getting a loan, even by illegal means.

As for industry professionals, be it appraisers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, or anyone who has a role in the home buying and selling process, they could be motivated by the almighty dollar. If they can look the other way to get the transaction done, or manipulate facts so they get their piece of the action, they may do so. (Home improvement scams are widespread too, so exercise caution when commissioning work on your home as well.)

Avoiding and Preventing Mortgage Fraud

When it comes to buying or selling a house, there are a lot of moving parts and many cooks in the kitchen. It’s a good idea to, above all, be truthful about everything, and if anyone along the way seems to be pushing you in any other direction, you could pay dearly for taking that bad advice.

You can play the game straight, but what about all the others involved in the process? It’s smart to get referrals for companies and real estate and mortgage pros that you’ll be working with, and to check state and local licenses. Visit a home loan help center to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of getting a mortgage before you start your home search.

Once you’ve found a home you love and begin the buying process, do your homework to ensure your property evaluation, or appraisal, is on target. It might be helpful to look at other homes that are similar to see what they have sold for, and recent tax assessments of nearby homes.

Guard your John Hancock as well. Be careful what you sign, and never sign a blank document or one containing blank lines.

Once you’re a homeowner, never sign over the house deed “temporarily.” This could be a set-up. Someone may be asking you to sign over your house deed as part of a scheme to avoid foreclosure. Know that chances are you’ll lose your house permanently.

Can You Accidentally Commit Mortgage Fraud?

Even if you didn’t set out to perpetrate a mortgage scam, you could commit fraud unwittingly by signing fraudulent documents presented by a clever thief, by guessing at your assets and writing numbers into your application without checking them, or by borrowing money for a down payment without disclosing the loan.

Victims of Mortgage Fraud

What do you do if you’re the victim of mortgage fraud? Your local police department may take a report. Your state attorney general’s office may be another good resource. The FBI, however, is the agency that handles most mortgage fraud investigations. You can go to tips.fbi.gov to report a crime. Other federal agencies also investigate mortgage fraud, but the FBI is likely the best first option.

The Takeaway

Mortgage fraud isn’t rare, and both industry insiders and borrowers can be involved. It’s smart to approach the process of getting a home loan with care. Do your homework to find a loan provider you trust and read everything before you sign.

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FAQ

What is considered mortgage fraud?

Intentionally providing false information or omitting information during the mortgage loan application process is considered mortgage fraud.

What are common mortgage fraud tactics?

Mortgage fraud takes many different shapes but common tactics include borrowers falsely inflating assets or income; those involved in the mortgage lending process inventing fake borrowers; or appraisers artificially inflating property values.

What is the typical sentence for mortgage fraud?

The average sentence for mortgage fraud is 14 months, but prison time can extend to 30 years. Fines (of up to $1 million) and the payment of restitution — repaying the money that resulted from the fraud — are also usually part of the sentence.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Cancel a Credit Card Without Affecting Your Credit Score

How to Cancel a Credit Card Without Affecting Your Credit Score

Canceling a credit card might seem like a good idea if you’re trying to get debt under control or you want to consolidate your cards. But closing a credit account may do more harm than good and damage your credit standing. Before you take action, here’s what you need to know — and other strategies you may want to consider instead.

Understanding the Impact of Credit Utilization Ratio

In order to understand why canceling a credit card can hurt your credit score, you need to know about something called the credit utilization ratio. This is the ratio of your total credit to your total debt.

Another way to think of it is how much of your available credit you’re using. For instance, if you have two credit cards with a total line of credit of $20,000 and you use $5,000 of that, you have a credit card utilization ratio of 25%. In addition to credit cards, your credit utilization ratio can include things like loans, such as a mortgage, car loan, and personal loan.

Your credit utilization ratio directly affects your credit score. In fact, it accounts for 30% of your FICO score. Your credit utilization ratio is the second-most important factor in your credit score (payment history is number one). Ideally, lenders like to see a person’s credit utilization ratio below 30%.

When you cancel a credit card, you reduce your available credit. This can cause your credit utilization ratio to jump up — especially if you owe money on other credit cards — and can negatively impact your credit score.

Reasons to Cancel a Credit Card

There are several factors that may be motivating you to want to cancel a credit card, including:

•   Too much debt. Perhaps having the card on hand is causing you to overspend and take on even more debt. If canceling the card will help you manage your finances better and get your debt under control, it can be a good option.

•   A high annual fee. If the card’s fee is high and you aren’t taking advantage of any of the perks like travel rewards to offset it, you may want to find a card that’s a better fit.

•   Too many cards. If multiple credit cards are causing you to stress out and miss payments, fewer cards might help lighten the load. (A budget planner app can help you spot upcoming bills and manage bill paying.)

How to Cancel a Credit Card

If, after considering the pros and cons, you’ve decided to go ahead and cancel the credit card, here’s how to do it:

1.    Pay off the remaining balance on the card, or transfer the balance to another credit card.

2.    Contact the credit card company, preferably by phone. Some credit card companies allow customers to cancel online, but most will require a call. Keep in mind the company wants to hold onto customers, which could mean that they will try to entice you with offers or deals. You have the right to cancel at any time.

3.    Consider sending written confirmation to make things official. Send a letter to the credit card company informing them that you have canceled the same credit card account. Post it via certified mail to ensure the company receives the letter with confirmed receipt.

4.    Cut up the card. Shredding or destroying the card helps prevent fraud.

5.    Look at credit reports for changes to your credit score. The canceled account should be reflected in your credit score within several weeks. AnnualCreditReport.com offers a free copy of your credit report once a year.

Keep in mind that you can also track your credit score with a money tracker app. It helps you stay up to date with any changes that affect your score, allows you to connect all your bank accounts, and lets you monitor your spending habits and savings all in one place.

Can Closing a Credit Card Impact Your Credit History?

Closing a credit card can affect the length of your credit history. That’s important because credit history is one of the factors used to help determine your credit score. In general, creditors want to know that you’ve had credit accounts over a period of time, so the longer the relationship, the better.

Recommended: 10 Credit Card Rules You Should Know

How to Downgrade Your Credit Card

If you’re considering canceling your credit card because of high fees or a high interest rate, you might want to downgrade the card instead. By downgrading, you can swap your current credit card for one with a lower fee or lower interest rate.

Downgrading can provide some of the benefits of canceling the card without the negative impact of closing the account.

If downgrading sounds like a good option for you, these strategies can help:

•   Research the credit card issuer. Do they have cards with a low or no annual fee? It may be worth switching to credit card issuers with one of those.

•   Call the credit card company and ask for a downgrade. They may offer to waive the annual fees on your existing card. Or they may downgrade you to a low-interest card with no annual fee.

•   Ask about a partial refund. Some credit card companies will provide a partial refund on the annual fee, depending on when you downgrade. Ask the customer service representative if they can prorate the annual fee or provide any refund.

How to Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate Low

Whether you downgrade a credit card or not, it’s important to improve your credit utilization rate since it counts for 30% of your FICO score. Here’s how to keep yours low.

•   Make more than one credit card payment a month. Making more than two automatic bill payments or one payment per billing cycle can benefit your credit score. That’s because credit card companies report balances towards the end of the billing cycle. Making several payments can reduce your credit utilization ratio when your balance is reported.

•   Keep credit accounts open, if possible. Keeping a card open, even if you rarely use it, increases your credit limit and helps lower your credit utilization rate.

•   Ask for an increase in credit limit. If you have a record of on-time payments, your credit card company may be willing to increase the credit limit for your account. And the more available credit you have, the better your ratio. Call customer service to make the request.

The Takeaway

Canceling a credit card can negatively impact your credit score, so make sure to consider all your options carefully. You can keep the credit account open, which can help with your credit history, and rarely use the card. Or you can downgrade to a card with a lower interest rate and no annual fee. In the end, the decision is yours, but it’s good to know you have choices.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

How do I close a credit card without affecting my credit score?

Closing a credit card is likely to have a negative impact on your credit score. Downgrading to a card with a lower interest rate and no annual fee may be a better option.

Is it better to cancel unused credit cards or keep them?

If the credit card has a low interest rate and no annual fee, it can be better for your credit score and your credit history to keep the card.

Does canceling a credit card hurt your credit?

Canceling a credit card can hurt your credit score. However, practicing other good credit habits, like paying your bills on time, can help you gradually get back in good standing.


Photo credit: iStock/Doucefleur

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Credit Score Do You Start With at 18?

What Credit Score Do You Start With at 18?

It’s natural to be curious about what credit score you start with at 18. You might assume you start with the lowest possible score of 300, but that’s not how it works. Instead, your credit score doesn’t exist until you begin generating financial data.

Good credit is vital to financial independence. Establishing credit early on can help you qualify for favorable rates and terms when you need to borrow money for a car or home. Here’s what you need to know about beginning credit scores and how you can build yours.

What Is Your Starting Credit Score?

Essentially, your credit score doesn’t exist until you begin building credit. Before that, if a financial institution requests your credit history, they will find nothing. Only when you use a credit card or pay utility bills will there be something to put on your credit report.

This doesn’t mean you will start with the lowest score possible, though. Neither will you start with a high credit score, since that requires a strong credit history and proof of solid financial habits. But if you get off on the wrong foot by not paying your credit card bill on time, you may start with a lower credit score.

Usually, you need at least one or two revolving accounts that have been active for at least three to six months to begin building credit. Creditors and lenders use various credit scoring models to determine your creditworthiness. Therefore, your number may differ across different platforms. For example, your FICO® Score and VantageScore range between 300 and 850, while other models, such as your auto loan score, may go up to 900 or higher.

Recommended: What Is the Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Breakdown of Credit Score Factors

A number of factors affect your credit score. Here are the ones you should know about.

Payment History

A key factor in determining your credit score is whether you pay your bills on time. In fact, when calculating your FICO score, 35% comes from your payment history. Because it plays a significant role in your overall score, paying your bills on time is crucial.

Credit Utilization

Your credit limit is the maximum dollar amount you can charge on a credit card. Credit bureaus determine your credit utilization by dividing your outstanding balance by your total revolving credit limits. This shows credit bureaus how much credit you are using against the total credit you have.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization ratio under 30%, both for each credit card and overall. Maintaining a low credit card balance or paying it off monthly will help you maintain a lower credit utilization ratio. This factor accounts for 30% of your overall FICO score.

Length of Credit History

The longevity of your credit history also plays a part in calculating your credit score. Credit bureaus will look at the number of years your accounts have been open. The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO score.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

Credit Mix

Credit is usually broken down into three categories: revolving credit, installment credit, and service credit. With revolving credit, creditors give you a specific credit limit to spend as you wish. You can make the minimum monthly payments or choose to pay off your credit card balance every month. If you make the minimum payment, the remaining balance will carry over to the next month until you pay off the entire balance.

Installment credit is used for auto, mortgage, and other loans. With this type of credit, the creditor establishes a fixed monthly payment you agree to pay back over a set amount of time. Demonstrating that you can handle multiple types of credit can increase your credit score.

Last, service credit is when companies like home utilities or a cell phone provider report your payment history to a credit bureau. On-time payments to these businesses can help build your credit. This accounts for 10% of your FICO score.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

New Credit Inquiries

When you apply for new credit, creditors conduct a hard inquiry. This means they assess your creditworthiness by looking at your overall credit history. New credit inquiries and new accounts account for 10% of your score. Triggering a large number of credit inquiries in a short amount of time is considered risky and will negatively impact your credit score.

What Is Insufficient Credit History?

If you don’t have any credit accounts or your credit accounts are not reported to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), you may have an insufficient credit history.

Even if you establish credit but go a long time without using it or cancel your credit cards, your credit information might be removed from your credit file. In this case, you may also have an insufficient credit history.

How to Establish Credit History

Building credit might seem daunting. However, there are a few strategies to begin establishing a credit history from scratch. Here’s how.

Apply for a Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards require applicants to put down a deposit. This deposit will usually act as your credit limit. You will still have to make monthly payments since the deposit is used as protection or collateral if you default.

A secured card will help you establish credit as long as the creditor reports to one of the three major credit bureaus. A secured credit card can act as a stepping stone to unsecured credit cards and other forms of financing in the future.

Become an Authorized User

To become an authorized user, someone needs to add you to an existing account held in their name. You will receive your own credit card, and the account history will go on your credit report.

Keep in mind, however, that since you’re not solely responsible for payments and the management of the account, this account may have less of an impact on your credit score than if you were the sole owner of the account.

Make On-time Payments

As noted above, your payment history counts as 35% of your score. Missing a payment can hurt your credit score and stay on your credit report for up to seven years. You can establish autopay to ensure you never miss a payment. However, you’ll still want to check your account monthly to ensure you weren’t overcharged.

Keep Your Credit Balances Low

Once you get a credit card, resist the temptation to run up the balance. The amount of credit you’re using plays a role in your score. It’s best to keep your balances low and use under 30% of your total credit card limit.

How to Monitor Your Credit Score

An important component of building credit is monitoring your progress. Monitoring your credit can motivate you to keep building your score. It can also help you spot problems quickly, such as missed payments. Finally, keeping tabs on your credit will let you see how specific actions impact your score so you can better understand how credit scoring works.

The Takeaway

The credit history you start with at 18 is a blank slate. Your credit score doesn’t exist until you start building credit. To begin your credit-building journey, consider opening a secured credit card or ask a family member to add you as an authorized user on their account.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

Is a credit score of 720 good?

Yes, a 720 credit score is considered good. However, increasing your score by 20 points will make it a very good score and help you receive more favorable interest rates and terms.

Does credit build before 18?

It’s possible to build credit before age 18 if you’re an authorized user on an adult’s account or you have a secured credit card. Many financial products, such as loans and credit cards, require you to be 18 or older to apply. Being an authorized user can be your first opportunity to establish credit history.

How can I quickly build my credit score?

Since your credit utilization ratio significantly impacts your credit score, paying off your credit card balances and increasing your limits can help you build your credit score promptly.


Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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