Borrowing

What a Credit Bureau Blunder and a New IRS Law May Mean for Your Money

Stacy Rapacon

Number of the Week: 156,000

That’s how many jobs were added to the labor market in December for an official unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. But count missing workers who have given up on the job hunt, and the rate would be a still-improved, but less-impressive 6.1 percent.

Obama’s Farewell Jobs Report

December marked President Obama’s final full month in office. By the numbers, he’s leaving us—and his successor—with a better job market. On top of low unemployment rate (down from the 7.8 percent rate he inherited in January 2009), average hourly earnings grew by 2.9 percent last year, the fastest annual growth rate since 2009.

So, what? Because they’re a good indicator of the state of the union, jobs reports are a big deal, helping to dictate market movements and shape economic policy. This one may be particularly notable because it seals Obama’s labor-market legacy.

Bottom line: The December report was good, not great. While the overall numbers were positive, they fell short of expectations—and we know the market doesn’t like surprises. Economists anticipated 178,000 new jobs, so stocks slipped a bit the morning the news broke.

The numbers did align with the U.S. central bank’s outlook, though, so the plans for gradually raising interest rates this year are likely on track.

Could a Credit Bureau Owe You Money?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just charged two of the three main credit bureaus—Equifax and TransUnion—with deceiving consumers about the usefulness of the credit scores they’re selling and unfairly luring consumers into costly products. The punishment? More than $17.6 million in restitutions and $5.5 million in fines.

Lenders typically use credit scores and history to determine whether to approve us for loans and interest rates. Equifax and TransUnion generate credit reports and scores, which you can purchase. But it’s not necessarily the same score your potential lender sees—despite what the ads may have said.

So, what? The situation highlights the fact that the info and assessments each bureau has can vary greatly—and we never really know exactly what they’re telling lenders about us. Still, it’s in our best interests to keep tabs on our scores, which many credit card companies include for free on statements now. Even ballpark figures can be helpful in predicting our rates.

Bottom line: We may be getting a letter—and a check—if we purchased a score or anything else from TransUnion or Equifax in the last few years.

And we should keep regularly checking our credit reports, which can protect us from fraud and identity theft. (Plus, we can get those for free once every 12 months from each bureau at annualcreditreport.com.)

Tax Refund Delays

It’s tax time! (Sorry.) We can officially start filing returns on January 23—but this year, early birds may not be getting refunds so quickly.

While we typically hear that filing early helps prevent fraud and theft—mainly because it takes away criminals’ shot at filing in your name—the IRS is using delays to curb crime. A new law requires it to hold off on processing refunds to people claiming the earned income tax credit and a child tax credit until February 15—so the money may not hit bank accounts until February 27.

So, what? It sucks to wait, but this is a good thing. Tax fraud has been a growing problem, and this allows the IRS more time to verify information and ensure refunds go to the right place. State tax agencies may also delay refunds and take other precautions to combat fraud.

Bottom line: Patience… Also, don’t mentally (or literally) spend the extra cash before March.

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns

GET STARTED

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2019 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBC Universal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.