Equifax breech: Here’s direct links to freeze all 3 credit bureau reports

Credit-cards
Concerned about the latest Equifax security breech that has affected nearly 150 million users? I was.

I read a helpful article that recommended placing a freeze on my credit reports, which makes it impossible for new credit lines to be taken out. That sounded like the safest bet and best bang-for-the-buck, rather than paying $10-30/mo for identity theft monitoring.

In about 10 minutes each, I had the freeze in place. Equifax was free to do so, and Experian and TransUnion charged me $10 each — but the fee depends on what state you live in and if you’ve been a victim of ID theft already.

However, the article I read didn’t give links to the 3 credit bureau’s “freeze” forms online, and that added to the time it took to place the freeze, so here’s all you need if you’d like to place a freeze on your credit reports:

TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze

Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/

Experian: https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze

Hope that helps!
Also see my blog post: How to dispute a credit report issue in under 5 min

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Equifax breech: Here’s direct links to freeze all 3 credit bureau reports

Review: why I’m not impressed with Tribe’s Events Calendar Pro

The Events Calendar Pro, Modern Tribe
Screenshot, The Events Calendar Pro website, by Modern Tribe. // Credit: theeventscalendar.com

Upon installing and setting up the calendar last week, I immediately encountered a few unexpected issues. Some issues had quick fixes via a search in Tribe’s forum, while other issues I was told to wait an unspecified amount of time to get the issue fixed in a future update.

I post this review because there is a lack of transparency out there about the problems with Tribe’s “The Events Calendar.” I was not aware of these issues until paying some significant money to buy all the calendar features I needed (almost $300). So I want others to be aware of the problems, and I also want Tribe to see what troubles users are facing which will hopefully cause them to improve the quality of their calendar plugin.

The plugin does have some commendable features like SEO-optimized listings which show up quickly at the top of the first page in Google – which surprised me and was impressive.

4 problems with Tribe’s Calendar:

  1. Very slow release on fixes:
    Pro users, meaning those who pay at least $89/year (I paid almost $300 to get all the features desired), have numerous bug fixes that Tribe staff acknowledge are known issues but have no estimated update date available. One issue, which I encountered is a conflict with Tribe and Jetpack which causes an error message to be displayed to a user who submits a new community event. This looks very tacky to the user and causes them to think their event didn’t get submitted – they’ll likely not submit again. Tribe staff replied to a Pro user back in January that the issue had been identified and would be released in the next calendar update – “in weeks, not months.” Fast forward to March and the user asked in the forum for an update on the fix – it’s still not out (as of April 18, 2017). While conflict with the thousands of plugins out there is inevitable, Jetpack is so commonly used that ANY reputable paid plugin should be tested to ensure compatibility before even coming on the market. This reflects very poorly on Tribe.
  2. Pro tech support is only via forum. When I pay almost $300 for a plugin, I expect premium support – should I ever even need it. Upon installing I had several errors and needed a quick response. I didn’t get a response for about 24 hours, and one of the responses was just a canned standard “try disabling all your plugins first”. No email option. No phone option.
  3. iCal Importer error makes import useless. A key reason I went with Tribe’s Events Calendar was due to its aggregation feature that no other calendar has. It can automatically pull in events from Facebook pages and iCalendar – BUT when importing iCalendar events, I found the event times were all off by as much as 10 hours! An event that began at 7 p.m. showed up as beginning at 2 a.m., etc. This could be manually fixed, but the time would revert back to the wrong time whenever the auto-import feature checked for new events. Other users have apparently had this issue as well and were told a fix would be coming sometime in the future. I submitted a complaint via the forum about eight hours ago, but haven’t heard anything back yet.
  4. Basic features missing. One example is a “submit events” button on the Calendar page – it’s not available unless you custom code it. I’m not a coding expert and don’t know how to code CSS. That’s why I spent several hundred dollars on what was marketed as a “premium” events plugin. I was able to find a way to add a “submit events” link above the calendar, but unfortunately this shows up on every single calendar-related page now – including on the submit events page, which looks redundant and unprofessional. This is a basic feature that should be able to be added with the click of a checkbox. I’m not impressed.

Other options: Here’s 5 other plugins I considered before settling on Tribe (which might have been better options):

  1. EventsManagerPro: has a free version, with user submissions too – and a pro option. This was my second choice, so I’d recommend checking it out before going with Tribe.
  2. SpinGo: it’s a free calendar produced by CBS. It looks professional, but is a bit visually overpowering and slow. It’s not an independent calendar, since all your events can be pulled in by SpinGo on other sites too.
  3. Calendarize-it: This calendar did not look user friendly to set up and had something like 30 add-ons for every little feature, some of which are paid. I figured this would run about $80 for the features I needed, but opted against it just because of all the different add-ons looking too confusing.
  4. Time.ly: Costs $29/mo in order to get front-end user submission feature. This is a bit expensive. It’s the only calendar I saw that allows PAID user submissions though, so you can charge for users to submit their events and hopefully make up for some of the expense (the paid submission feature runs $99/mo though). If you need a lot of features though, compared to Tribe, $29/mo might be comparable and this could be a good option with hopefully better support.
  5. My Calendar Pro: Allows front-end submissions and is only $50/year. However, I noticed that mobile responsiveness was not a default feature – that’s a sign of a dated plugin.

Find this review helpful? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You can also post a comment below if you’ve had another experience with other calendar plugins.

Review: why I’m not impressed with Tribe’s Events Calendar Pro

Google’s Page-level ad earnings aren’t worth it. Here’s proof:

Wondering how much money you can expect to make with Google’s new mobile-optimized Page-level ads?  I was too.

At first glance, Page-level ads seem like a great way to monetize traffic coming to your site from smartphones, but the reality is a very low CPC and minimal income, according to multiple bloggers who tried out the new vignette and anchor ads.

Page-level ads, Google Adsense review, by Luke Otterstad

Here’s a few excerpts of reviews:

“I turned them both on recently. For the anchor/overlay ads I am getting a rpm of 11 cents. For the Vignette ads the rpm is ok but they are crazy disruptive and they hardly ever show so the revenue is insignificant.” – R.R., WebmasterWorld.com

“[A]fter using page level ads for the last 20 days, I was only able to make a few bucks… it’s really hurt our user experience.” – Techblog4fun.com

“Some days my AdSense account has earned exactly [what] it used to earn without the new AdSense page-level ads.” Saumya Majumder, blogger

“I got ridiculously low CTR’s for the anchored ads and very few impressions for the vignette ads. On most of my sites, I don’t care much about user experience, so I’d be OK with disruptive ads. But earnings increased only 2% with page-level ads, so I disabled them after about two weeks of testing.” – W.M., WebmasterWorld.com

“A few weeks ago I started using Google AdSense Page-level ads on one of my niche blogs. The ads were running for two weeks and just got 2 clicks resulting in €0,47 AdSense revenue. The average of clicks a day is around 20 now, so the CTR is really low for these Page-level ads. I decided to quit AdSense Page-level ads for now.” – Nomar, blogger

Conclusion:

These reviews were all written prior to August, 2016. Hopefully Google will improve how the pricing is set for the new ads and make Page-level ads more worthwhile financially for publishers in the future. For now, after reading these reviews, I decided to forgo experimenting with Google’s new ad formats on my sites.

Question: Have you had a different experience with Page-level ads? Post a comment below:

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Google’s Page-level ad earnings aren’t worth it. Here’s proof:

How to dispute a credit report issue in under 5 min (TransUnion)

Does your credit report contain information you don’t recognize or believe is inaccurate? Mine did.

In my case, I found out TransUnion had an inaccurate lien notice of $123 from five years ago, which I had discovered in 2012 and had the county remove. A document online with the county even shows “removal invalid lien.” However, TransUnion hadn’t gotten that note for some reason, and it was affecting my credit score.

I have yet to find out if the other two credit reporting companies (Equifax and Experian) also have this erroneous lien, but here’s how I initiated a dispute of the issue with TransUnion:

  1. Go to https://dispute.transunion.com  NOTE: Use Internet Explorer, I started with Firefox, but nothing happened when I hit “start” on the dispute resolution screen.
  2. Register: Hit “register” to create an account. (Enter your basic info and hit continue to hit the next page.)
  3. Start Dispute: Once you have an account, you can follow the next step to “initiate a dispute on your credit file,” or you can access the dispute page anytime by going to https://dispute.transunion.com

You’ll then be shown a copy of what TransUnion has on file for your credit report – which is everything EXCEPT for your FICO or credit score (they keep that out and try to upsell you constantly for it on their site).

Find the item your disputing and hit the button right below it that indicates you want to start an investigation/dispute of the item.

Select the reason for why you believe it’s in error. (In my case I selected “Investigate Accuracy: Public record vacated, dismissed, or filed in error. I also selected “Public record is paid, satisfied or released,” just in case. TransUnion also allows you to add a 60-character comment. I have no idea why it’s THAT limited – that’s less than half the length Twitter allows for a Tweet!

After you hit submit, you’ll be taken to a summary page of your dispute request to review before the dispute is sent in to TransUnion for processing. Before this, you can also select other items to dispute and can also add a consumer comment to your credit report record, which is nice – although I don’t know how much it matters to creditors.

That’s it!credit-report-transunion-dispute-issue-investigation

What happens after you hit “submit” on your dispute?

Here’s what TransUnion says happens:

  1. If you have any documentation to support your dispute claim, you may provide the information to us via mail at: P.O. Box 2000 Chester PA 19016. Please remember to include your File Identification Number on all correspondence to TransUnion.
  2. We will send a confirmation e-mail to your registered e-mail address within five business days. After you receive the confirmation e-mail, you can come online to check investigation status at any time.
  3. We will change the information or contact the data provider to verify the information you requested to investigate. We will send an investigation resolution notification to your registered e-mail address within thirty days.
  4. After you receive the investigation resolution notification, you may log into your account to view the investigation resolution and a corrected copy of your TransUnion Personal Credit Report. You must log in within 30 days of receiving the investigation resolution notification.

*Note: If you need to take up a lien issue with the County, contact the County Clerk-Recorder’s office it’s filed in. You can also search on your county’s website for “lien” and should be able to find dispute methods for your specific county.

How to dispute a credit report issue in under 5 min (TransUnion)