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Learn more about managing credit and finances in March

When: March

What: A few years ago, the idea of credit protection became more widespread after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act became law. The act established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which provides consumers with necessary information to make financial decisions for themselves. However, even with all of the available information surrounding personal credit and protection, there are still people who may not know what it means to look after credit, manage their finances or avoid identity theft. During Credit Education Month, increase awareness for financial responsibility and credit protection.

Background: Credit Education Month was founded by Credit Professionals International and the Credit Education Resources Foundation to remind consumers, as well as government and business leaders, of the importance of developing the skills to manage finances effectively. Having a good or bad credit score can make all the difference when buying a house or car, and it can even affect credit interest rates. Not having a good handle on personal credit can be a real problem because it is easy to go overboard and lose control of personal finances. Credit education and awareness can help people increase their credit scores and responsibly plan for their financial futures.

Story Pitch: A number of groups and organizations can pitch around Credit Education Month. Organizations that provide free credit check services should note the importance of credit awareness. They may encourage consumers to check their credit and be informed regarding the possibility of identity theft.  In addition, large stores, including department stores and grocery stores, may promote credit awareness by encouraging consumers to be careful with their credit and identity. They may point out the likelihood of identity theft and suggest strategies to avoid it.

Story Hook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 7 percent of people age 16 and older were victims of identity theft in 2012. How can consumers monitor their credit, both to protect themselves and also to improve their financial situation? Consider the following when you make your pitch:

  • What are some ways in which a consumer can check their credit for free? How often should a credit report be checked?
  • In what ways can consumers increase their credit score?
  • Can having a credit card damage credit? When should credit cards be used to increase credit scores?
  • What are some steps to take in avoiding identity theft? If an identity is stolen, what steps should be taken to correct the problem?

Tips: An accountant who deals with credit education can give pointers on how to manage credit and increase credit scores. In addition, someone who actively monitors their credit and remains aware of identity theft could provide insight and give suggestions about credit monitoring on a personal level.

Resources:

Credit Professionals International
314-821-9393
creditpro(at)creditprofessionals.org
www.creditprofessionals.org

National Association of Credit Services Organizations
888-845-0578
www.nacso.org

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
855-411-2372
www.consumerfinance.gov

Federal Trade Commission
202-326-2222
www.ftc.gov

Bureau of Justice Statistics
202-307-0765
askbjs(at)usdoj.gov
www.bjs.gov

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