fraud http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/119/all en-US 8 Real Life Calamities That Can Drain Your Finances (Plus How to Defend Against Them) http://www.wisebread.com/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-515237628.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all work hard for our money, but if we're not careful, it can be ripped right out from under us. From getting scammed on the internet, to medical emergencies, here are eight situations that can make you broke in an instant &mdash; plus a few ways to protect yourself.</p> <h2>1. Getting scammed</h2> <p>Maybe you're smarter than the average scammer, but loads of people are too trusting and naive. In fact, someone claiming to be from eBay scammed my own mom out of a few hundred dollars via email once. She thought the email was legit because at the time she was selling items on the auction site, and she assumed the request for her banking information was not only sanctioned, but part of the company's protocol.</p> <p>&quot;Scammers target seniors because they're considered wealthy, trusting, and typically unwilling to report scams,&quot; says Roger Cowen, owner of Cowen Tax Advisory Group in Hartford, Connecticut. &quot;Common scams include callers pretending to represent Medicare or the IRS to get your personal information, and fake charity workers asking for donations.&quot;</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>The best way to stave off online and phone scammers is to verify that you're dealing with a reputable organization before providing any financial information. Many institutions never send emails requesting such information, and it's a policy you should adopt for yourself &mdash; never provide bank account, Social Security, or credit card numbers over email.</p> <p>If you've received a phone call asking you to verify any financial information, double check the source before handing it over to the person on the line. Jot down their name and tell them you'll call the company back at the verified number you have in your records. Beware of fake websites as well (these links are usually embedded in scam emails) by checking the domain name to make sure it's correctly spelled. Look for <strong>https:// </strong>to precede any domain that has your financial information. The &quot;s&quot; means the site is security-fortified and usually legitimate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>2. Tax penalties</h2> <p>Getting a bill for back taxes can be devastating. You'll not only owe whatever taxes you avoided in the past &mdash; which may be substantial if you've filed inaccurate returns for years &mdash; you may owe interest and penalties as well.</p> <p>This can happen not only to filers who outright lie in an effort to buck the system, but also to well-intentioned filers who make errors on their returns.</p> <p>In either case, you'll be required to pay up in a short period of time &mdash; or go to jail. Being broke or behind bars could be your only options.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If your taxes are complicated, hire a reputable accountant, report your income and deductions accurately, accept your tax liability, and pay it. If it's a large sum, you may qualify for a payment plan. Moving forward, ask your accountant for estimated tax vouchers so you can pay ahead of time to lessen the burden when you receive the actual numbers in April. Otherwise, if you know you're looking at a sizable tax bill, save as much as you can so you can settle up with the IRS as soon as possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a>)</p> <h2>3. Divorce</h2> <p>Sometimes divorce is amicable, but for many people it isn't &mdash; and that usually means somebody has to pay up. This is primarily the case when one spouse earns more than the other, or if one partner is unemployed.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If you're getting married and one of you has a noticeably higher net worth, get a prenup. Do not walk down that aisle without it. It's not the most romantic piece of paper you'll ever sign, but you'd be a fool not to. Don't let your future spouse guilt you out of the idea, either. Love is grand, but sometimes it'll take you for everything you're worth. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a>)</p> <h2>4. Death</h2> <p>No, not your death. If you're not adequately prepared for the death of a partner, child, or parent, you could end up in a sticky financial situation. There may be medical expenses leading up to the death, and afterward you'll need to cover funeral expenses and settle debts on behalf of the estate.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Life insurance is the best way to protect yourself in the event that your spouse, parent, or child dies. If you're the beneficiary, you'll receive your policy payout, which creditors typically cannot come after, to cover expenses and any debts for which you may also be on the hook, like a mortgage. Use this money to satisfy loans that the deceased may have had, especially if you've co-signed for them. If it's your spouse that has passed away, you may be losing half your household income &mdash; maybe even more than that &mdash; so it's important to use the policy money wisely. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Is for Everyone</a>)</p> <h2>5. Market crash</h2> <p>Many people have improved their lot in life by taking financial risks. But if you're an investor at any level, you worry about going bust. Any number of things can happen that will affect your bottom line, depending on how deep your investments go. The stock market can crash, taking your life savings with it. The real estate bubble can burst, leaving you on the hook for houses you can't sell. The worst part is there are often no warning signs. One day you're swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, and the next day you're looking under couch cushions for loose change.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Don't put all your eggs in one basket, don't overextend your credit, don't take on more expense than you can afford, and, above all, don't get cocky with your money. Devise a plan to weather a financial crisis so you'll be prepared well ahead of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-prepare-for-a-stock-market-dive?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Ways to Prepare for a Stock Market Dive</a>)</p> <h2>6. Natural disaster</h2> <p>While we can sort of predict the weather, we can't predict the outcome. Any number of things can happen to you, your home, or your personal property during a bad storm or natural disaster that may leave you strapped for cash or even facing a total rebuild.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If you live in an area where certain calamities are possible, purchase the proper insurance. Your homeowners insurance may cover certain events, but you may require special policies for others, like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Consider what you're at risk for and put a policy in place. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-surprising-things-your-homeowners-insurance-doesnt-cover?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Surprising Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover</a>)</p> <h2>7. Spending more than you make</h2> <p>Sometimes, your biggest financial enemy is yourself. We like our things in America, and many of us will go to great lengths to get those things &mdash; including spending more money than we have. According to NerdWallet, the average household has $134,643 in debt. Households that carry credit card debt pay about $1,300 a year in interest alone on balances that average $16,748. These statistics represent an 11 percent debt increase over the past decade. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Find ways to make more money or live on less (or both). There are many ways you can introduce a second source of income to your household, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space" target="_blank">renting out your extra space</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-extra-money-driving-for-uber-or-lyft" target="_blank">driving for ride-sharing operations</a>, or pet sitting. But if you don't want to work constantly, consider cutting back on your overall expenses. You don't need everything you see, and the faster you recognize that the better off your bank account will be. Plus, you might even be happier as a result.</p> <h2>8. Medical emergency</h2> <p>American health care is in flux right now, which means that you have to be extra vigilant in making sure you're covered. Just one trip to the hospital can set you back financially for years if you're not prepared, perhaps even more if you require long-term care.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Cover yourself. You may have to bite the bullet on the premium, but at least you're insured. You can go to the doctor or hospital when you need to, and your care will (hopefully) be covered to an affordable extent. Not having insurance, on the other hand, may very well be a death sentence &mdash; or at least you'll wish it were when you get the bill in full.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-youve-blown-your-budget-for-the-month">What to Do When You&#039;ve Blown Your Budget for the Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-wake-up-calls-and-how-to-deal-with-them">8 Financial Wake Up Calls — And How to Deal With Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance audits death disasters divorce emergencies fraud going broke life insurance market crash medical bills overspending scams Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1931272 at http://www.wisebread.com Pay with a Selfie: How Safe Are the New Ways to Pay? http://www.wisebread.com/bots-chips-and-selfies-how-safe-are-the-new-ways-to-pay <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bots-chips-and-selfies-how-safe-are-the-new-ways-to-pay" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-512291874.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2016, more than half of all <a href="https://consumerist.com/2016/06/08/ups-survey-online-shopping-has-surpassed-in-store-buying-for-the-first-time/" target="_blank">purchases in the U.S.</a> were made online instead of at a brick-and-mortar store. From selfie-payments to Facebook Messenger bots, there is now a long list of unusual ways that you can pay the water bill or complete your grocery run for the week.</p> <p>But how safe are these new ways to pay? Let's take a closer look at how some of these new payment methods work, and what you can do to make them even safer.</p> <h2>1. Facebook Messenger Bots</h2> <p>Colorado-based <em>fintech </em>company BillHero was the first to leverage a Facebook Messenger chat bot to pay bills via chat commands. Later on in September 2016, Facebook enabled all of the 34,000 plus developers on the platform to support payments. The social media giant is working with several players in the credit card industry and fintech, including Visa and Braintree, to process all types of payment options.</p> <p>By opening the gates, Facebook allowed U.S. customers to complete a wide range of other transactions and purchases on Facebook Messenger. In a nutshell: The chat bot lets you know about a product that you might be interested in, and provides a &quot;buy now&quot; button. When you click it, it takes you to a checkout screen with your shipping information and payment method for you to review. Boom! Just like that, you're ready to pay.</p> <h3>But Is It Safe?<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Well, Facebook Messenger payment bots are covered by the same level of security as all other Facebook products. All transactions using a Facebook chat bot are encrypted or processed through a trusted third-party payment processor, such as PayPal or Stripe, to protect your payment information, such as your card number or CVV. Also, transaction confirmations from a bot will restrict your information, such as only showing the last four digits of your credit card number.</p> <h3>How to Make It Safer</h3> <p>Your first line of defense starts with your Facebook password. Facebook recommends building a password that has at least six characters and is a complex combination of numbers, letters, and punctuation marks. When a password isn't strong enough, the app will let you know. Also, make your Facebook password different from those you use for your online banking, investing, or retirement savings accounts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a>)</p> <p>A second tactic is to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/help/162968940433354?helpref=faq_content" target="_blank">turn on login alerts</a> so that you receive an automated alert when someone tries logging in to your Facebook account from an unrecognized device or browser. A third is to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/help/610199629080802?helpref=faq_content" target="_blank">require a password or PIN</a> whenever sending money or making payments in Facebook Messenger.</p> <h2>2. MasterCard Selfie Payments</h2> <p>Speaking of passwords, MasterCard believes that they cause too much hassle and presents the option to pay with a selfie. The &quot;selfie pay&quot; technology was first tested in the Netherlands, the U.S., and Canada and will be rolled out gradually across the world throughout 2017.</p> <p>Through a smartphone app, shoppers can confirm a purchase by taking a selfie and letting the facial recognition software verify their identity. According to MasterCard, 71% of users rated &quot;selfie pay&quot; highly during trials.</p> <h3>But Is It Safe?<strong> </strong></h3> <p>To prevent somebody from just holding up a picture of you and getting away with a $1,000 shopping spree, the app requires you to snap the picture after you blink or shake your head. Then, the app compares the selfie with stored algorithms of your face to identify you. During the trials, 73% of users believed that &quot;selfie pay&quot; will reduce fraud and 90% of them would use it in the future.</p> <h3>How to Make It Safer</h3> <p>Since &quot;selfie pay&quot; is still in the process of being rolled out, there's little that we can do as of right now. If taking selfies isn't your cup of tea, MasterCard also plans to provide a fingerprint confirmation option with the app and is currently testing voice and cardiac rhythm recognition.</p> <h2>3. Amazon Dash Buttons</h2> <p>Connected to your home's Wi-Fi, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2iTpixh" target="_blank">Amazon Dash Button</a> allows you to reorder many of your favorite products with a simple click. To set up each Amazon Dash Button, you'll need to download the Amazon app on your Android or Apple device, connect the Dash Button to Bluetooth, and also enter your Wi-Fi information. Some Dash Buttons don't support Bluetooth connection, and use your smartphone's Wi-Fi connection or speakers instead.</p> <p>Currently, the button is only available for Amazon Prime members, costs $4.99, and provides you with a $4.99 credit after your first order. There are hundreds of products to choose from including Charmin, Doritos, Greenies Dog Treats, and Red Bull! Once you click the button, an indicator light will turn green when your order is successfully placed, or red if there was a problem.</p> <h3>But Is It Safe?<strong> </strong></h3> <p>A device that connects seamlessly to your Wi-Fi, smartphone, and Amazon account &mdash; what could go wrong? While there are plenty of folks that have hacked their own button to do anything from <a href="https://medium.com/@ecaron/why-i-stopped-hacking-the-amazon-dash-button-and-learned-to-solder-84386a38bbd1#.wmcfdj5do" target="_blank">turning on lamps remotely</a> to <a href="https://medium.com/@brody_berson/hacking-amazon-s-5-dash-button-to-order-domino-s-pizza-9d19c9d04646#.j6d2iycep" target="_blank">ordering pizza</a> with one click, there are currently no reports of malicious hackers tapping into another person's Amazon Dash Buttons.</p> <h3>How to Make It Safer</h3> <p>Turn on the &quot;order protection&quot; feature on your Dash Button to prevent a new order from being placed until your prior order is delivered. This way you can prevent your spouse or son from tripling an order of detergent on the same day.</p> <p>Consider turning on the email notifications of your Amazon orders so that you can cancel any orders that you don't recognize.</p> <p>And it should go without saying, but set a strong password for your Wi-Fi and update that password at least once a year.</p> <h2>4. Chip Cards</h2> <p>No other new form of payment has generated more discontent from American consumers. From the confusion about swiping or inserting, to the awkward conversation with cashiers while waiting for your card to be processed, there is a list of reasons these metallic chips are considered an annoyance by many.</p> <p>However, the reality is that chip cards are far from being a new way to pay. They have been reducing fraud in over 130 nations around the world for several years. So, the U.S. is just playing catch-up. As of April 2016, Visa had issued <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/04/19/some-major-merchants-see-dip-counterfeit-fraud-thanks-chip-cards-visa-says/83194722/" target="_blank">roughly 265 million</a> U.S. chip-enabled credit and debit cards, and MasterCard had upgraded about 70% of its U.S. debit and credit cards to the chip format.</p> <h3>But Is It Safe?<strong> </strong></h3> <p>The evidence clearly indicates that chip-enabled cards reduce fraud. Visa has reported that among the U.S. merchants who were suffering the most instances of card fraud at the end of 2014, those that began accepting chip debit and credit cards saw instances of card fraud fall 18.3% as of the fourth quarter of 2015. On the other hand, some of the U.S. merchants who opted not to upgrade payment terminals to process chip cards experienced an increase in instances of card fraud of 11.4% for the same period. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-chip-credit-cards-make-life-easier?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways Chip Credit Cards Make Life Easier</a>)</p> <h3>How to Make It Safer</h3> <p>Simple: Opt to use your chip-enabled cards over those without a chip, and choose merchants with chip-enabled payment terminals over those who are still holding out. As with everything else, strength comes in numbers. Only when chip cards have become the norm across the nation can we all reap the enhanced security benefits of chip technology.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bots-chips-and-selfies-how-safe-are-the-new-ways-to-pay">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-apps-turn-saving-money-into-a-game-are-they-worth-it">These Apps Turn Saving Money Into a Game — Are They Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everyones-using-spare-change-apps-are-they-really-worth-it">Everyone&#039;s Using Spare Change Apps — Are They Really Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-surprising-ways-your-smartphone-can-keep-you-and-your-family-safe">6 Surprising Ways Your Smartphone Can Keep You and Your Family Safe</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Technology Amazon apps bots buying chip cards Facebook fraud payment methods safety selfie Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:31:16 +0000 Damian Davila 1890386 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Reasons Credit Is Safer Than Debit http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-534335174.jpg" alt="Woman learning credit is safer than debit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A debit and credit card may look the same, but they offer very different services. One takes money directly out of your bank account at the point of purchase. The other sends you a bill at the end of the month to pay for your transactions. If you're a Millennial who grew up during the Great Recession or someone else who's struggled with debt, a debit card may be your first choice for payment.</p> <p>But overall, Americans increasingly prefer credit cards to debit cards. In 2016, credit cards for the first time surpassed debit cards as the favored payment method, according to the TSYS 2016 U.S. Consumer Payment Study. Forty percent of respondents chose credit cards as their most preferred payment type, compared to 35% who chose debit cards.</p> <p>That makes sense from a security perspective. While debit cards have the advantage of preventing you from going into debt, they don't compare to credit cards when it comes to safety. Here's why.</p> <h2>More Types of Credit Card Transactions Are Protected by Law<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Credit card users are much better protected by law. The <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/fcb.pdf" target="_blank">Fair Credit Billing Act</a> (FCBA) allows you to dispute not only fraudulent charges on your account, but also charges that are the result of merchant error. You can even dispute authorized charges and temporarily withhold payments &mdash; without harm to your credit score &mdash; if you are unsatisfied with the goods or services you purchased and the merchant won't refund your money. (The goods must be worth $50 or more and have been bought within 100 miles of your home in order to qualify for this protection.)</p> <p>In contrast, debit cards are protected by the <a href="https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/efta.pdf" target="_blank">Electronic Fund Transfer Act</a>, which doesn't cover disputes on authorized charges to your debit card, just unauthorized charges. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-millennials-should-embrace-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Millennials Should Embrace Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Credit Cards Users Enjoy a More Generous Dispute Window</h2> <p>Legally, you've got more time to dispute a credit card charge than a debit card charge. The FCBA caps your liability at $50 as long as you dispute the transaction within 60 days of the date your billing statement was mailed to you. And there's no time limit for disputes if your credit card was included in a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-immediately-after-a-credit-card-breach?ref=internal" target="_blank">security breach</a>.</p> <p>With debit cards, your liability is also legally limited to $50, but only if you report the billing error <em>within two business days of the transaction</em>. The liability cap goes up to $500 if you report the mistake within 60 days, and you may not have any protections at all if you wait longer than that.</p> <h2>Fraudulent Credit Card Charges Don't Have an Immediate Impact<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Should a criminal make an unauthorized charge or a vendor accidentally charge you the wrong amount on your debit card, your bank account will be immediately affected until you can resolve the problem. That's not so for a credit card. An accidental or fraudulent charge on your credit card will affect your available credit until you dispute it, but unlike a charge made on your debit card, it won't affect your ability to pay bills from your bank account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Reasons I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a>)</p> <h2>Credit Cards Protect Your Purchases Better Than Debit Cards<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Credit cards often come with one or all of the following <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-reasons-to-always-use-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">protective benefits on purchases</a>.</p> <h3>Purchase Protection<strong> </strong></h3> <p>If your purchase is stolen or accidentally damaged, this benefit can replace or repair it, or reimburse you for its cost. Policies vary, but some cover you for up to $10,000. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-credit-cards-protect-your-purchases-from-damage-or-theft?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Credit Cards Protect Your Purchases From Damage or Theft</a>)</p> <h3>Extended Warranty<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Most credit cards offer an extended warranty policy that can add up to two years to the manufacturer's warranty of covered items. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-free-extended-warranties-work-on-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Free Extended Warranty Works on Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Return Protection<strong> </strong></h3> <p>There are times when you want to return a purchase, but the retailer will not accept it. Credit cards that offer a return protection policy may issue you a refund if you contact them within 90 days of the purchase.</p> <p>It's extremely rare to find a debit card that offers you any of these benefits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-return-items-through-your-credit-card-if-the-store-refuses">How to Return Items Through Your Credit Card If the Store Refuses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-free-extended-warranties-work-on-credit-cards">How Free Extended Warranties Work on Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about">14 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn&#039;t Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-reasons-to-always-use-your-credit-card">4 Surprising Reasons to Always Use Your Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-credit-card-will-save-you-money-while-holiday-shopping">11 Ways Your Credit Card Will Save You Money While Holiday Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Shopping credit card fraud credit card perks credit score debit card fraud purchase protection Warranty Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:00:10 +0000 Jason Steele 1889312 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-509629604.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's 2017. Most people aren't really thinking of filing taxes just yet, but they are starting to collect the information needed to file by the April deadline. That means the scammers are out in force again, ready to trick millions into submitting personal information, or to make payments that will go into the pockets of thieves.</p> <p>These six scams are the biggest offenders, and once again, they'll be used widely this year. Watch out for them.</p> <h2>1. The &quot;You've Got a Refund&quot; Email</h2> <p>Who doesn't love getting money back from the IRS? When you get this one in your inbox, you could certainly be fooled into thinking it's legitimate. Unlike many of the phishing emails, it appears to have decent grammar, it's well formatted, and it has something of an official look to it. What's more, the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/phishing_email.pdf" target="_blank">refund isn't huge</a>. If it had stated you were getting many thousands back, you may pause for thought. But a small sum, under $100, is less likely to trigger alarm bells. It all seems legit. But, it's not. And by clicking the link in the email, you are going to a fraudulent site designed to collect personal and banking information.</p> <p>As the IRS clearly states on its website, it will never initiate contact with taxpayers over email, text messages, or social media channels. The main contact is snail mail, and while you may get actual calls, they will be easy to verify (more on that later).</p> <p>Do not look at the &quot;from&quot; email address, either. These can be simulated to look like they have come from an official agency. Look at the link address in the email; this will definitely be going to a site that tries to look official, but isn't, such as <a href="http://www.irs-gov.com/refund" title="www.irs-gov.com/refund">www.irs-gov.com/refund</a>. The bottom line: Any kind of &quot;you've got a refund&quot; email from the IRS is a scam, and should be <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing" target="_blank">reported to them immediately</a>.</p> <h2>2. The &quot;The Bill Was Lost in the Mail&quot; Call</h2> <p>If you receive a call from the IRS saying you owe money, it's a scam. That's just a hard fact. The IRS clearly states on its website that it will never call you if you owe taxes, without first sending you a bill in the mail. Of course, thieves are getting wise to this being common knowledge, and are now saying that the bill must have gotten lost in the mail.</p> <p>At this point, you may well be put into a world of self-doubt; and that's when the scammer jumps on the opportunity. They hear the hesitation in your voice, and start alarming you. They will say that as the bill has been long overdue, you are now in serious trouble. You have to pay the back taxes immediately or risk going to jail. It's at this point that many people become so scared that they pay up. This is all a con, and you can easily verify this.</p> <p>For starters, a real IRS agent will not ask for money over the phone. If this is the request, hang up. They also will not threaten you with arrest or deportation. You can also ask for their IRS badge number and call back number. The scammer will hang up on you.</p> <h2>3. The &quot;Affordable Care Act&quot; Email</h2> <p>One of the downsides of the Affordable Care Act is that it is still quite new, and therefore, has many unknowns. There is even a page on the IRS website dedicated to the intricacies surrounding the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/individuals-and-families/the-affordable-care-act-whats-trending" target="_blank">new health care law</a>; and that is perfect fodder for a scammer. Where there is doubt, there is a chance to profit.</p> <p>The scam will come as an email (and in some rare cases, a letter) alerting you to something called a CP2000 notice. It's worth noting that this is, in fact, a real type of notice. But in this case, it's completely fake. The big giveaway is that it is issued from an Austin, Texas address, with a phony payment voucher number called a 105C.</p> <p>The scam uses language designed to scare you into paying the bill, and here's another huge red flag &mdash; the check should be made payable to &quot;I.R.S.&quot; at an Austin Processing Center address. If you receive anything like this via email, forward it to the IRS. They are currently <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-and-security-summit-partners-warn-of-fake-tax-bill-emails" target="_blank">investigating this nasty scam</a>.</p> <h2>4. The &quot;Please Verify Your Tax Information&quot; Call</h2> <p>Not all IRS scams are designed for immediate profit. This one is designed to harvest your personal information, which can then be used for identity theft, or to actually grab a refund owed to you before you even claim it. In 2013, the IRS paid out over <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-119" target="_blank">$5.8 billion in stolen tax refunds</a>, and the problem is not going away.</p> <p>As the scammer is not asking you to pay a bill, it can feel much less threatening. The fake agent will be very polite, and will say that the IRS needs to verify some information on a tax return you previously filed. They may even have some personal information that makes it sound like they have your file right there in front of them. But, the information they really want, like your SSN or bank details, will not be available.</p> <p>Questions will start out simple: &quot;I have your name as John S. Doe, could you spell that please?&quot; But this will quickly lead to &quot;And could you verify your social security number for me?&quot; At this point, the scammer won't have anything to work with, and is hoping you simply parrot back the response.</p> <p>Remember, the IRS will not call you asking for this kind of information. If you do have an issue with a former return, you will get an official notice in the mail, asking for the information to be verified. And if you doubt that, call the IRS directly.</p> <h2>5. The &quot;IRS Taxpayer Advocate&quot; Email</h2> <p>In 2014, the IRS warned of a new scam that was designed to solicit personal information, leading to identity theft and stolen tax refunds. This is known as the &quot;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-email-phishing-scheme-falsely-claiming-to-be-from-the-taxpayer-advocate-service" target="_blank">IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service</a>,&quot; and comes complete with a legitimate-looking case number, and language designed to grab sensitive personal and financial information.</p> <p>The email, which comes with a &quot;from&quot; address designed to look real, tells you that a former tax return you filed was flagged for review due to a document processing error. Once again, you will always be notified of any problems like this via regular mail, not email.</p> <p>The email will then say that you must click on a link to submit the missing or erroneous information, which will expedite the filing of the return to avoid any fees or charges. Of course, that link leads to a page hosted by the scammer, designed to collect and abuse your information.</p> <h2>6. The &quot;Federal Student Tax&quot; Call</h2> <p>A new tax scam surfaced last year, and it sadly tricked a few unsuspecting people into handing over iTunes gift cards, W-2 information, or tax return data. If that sounds a bit obvious, it's all done in a way that makes it feel legitimate.</p> <p>The scammer will call a student and tell them that they owe &quot;Federal Student Tax,&quot; which must be paid immediately. There's no such thing as the Federal Student Tax. It's a complete fabrication.</p> <p>However, the scammers have become much more sophisticated. For example, they are using caller ID spoofing to make the call look like it is coming from an official government line. Plus, information made available on the dark web can give them all sorts of information about the student's background. Together with a very professional sounding &quot;agent,&quot; this can all work to convince the student the tax must be paid. And often, they request the money in the form of gift cards, which is another huge red flag. Again, the IRS won't call and ask for money. If this is happening to you, or someone you know, tell them to hang up and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing" target="_blank">report the incident to the IRS</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-best-tax-preparer">How to Choose the Best Tax Preparer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds">Most Popular Ways Americans Spend Their Tax Refunds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes emails fraud IRS phishing scams safety scams tax refunds theft Wed, 25 Jan 2017 11:00:08 +0000 Paul Michael 1878111 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254.jpg" alt="don&#039;t fall for these investment scams" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nothing wrong with putting your money to work for you. Investments can be the difference between making ends meet, and making a mint. But remember your mom's advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.</p> <p>Following this warning is one of the best ways to avoid financial scams. Here's a list of some infamous investment frauds, and ways to spot red flags. Pay attention. Make your mom proud &mdash; and your wallet happy.</p> <h2>The Classic: Pyramid Scheme<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Many pyramid schemes come across as multi-level marketing opportunities. Investors pay fees to join and then make money from direct sales. Backers also get a cut of profits from folks they've recruited to the program. But pyramid organizers need this new money to pay off earlier investors, and often, the scheme collapses under its own weight. There's not enough money to make payoffs. Participants see investments and returns disappear.</p> <p>Pyramid schemes often spread through social media, websites, online ads, and group pitches. Be alert to these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>You're told you'll make a lot of money quickly, but you won't have to put in much effort.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You have to pay a fee to join, and your main role is getting others to sign up.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Any product that's sold has little value outside the scheme.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You can't find evidence, such as professionally audited financial statements, of sales profits. Money comes from recruitment.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Profits come from within the program. Your earnings depend upon other participants, not on outside sales.</li> </ul> <p>Lots of money, little work: this is exactly what your mother was talking about.</p> <h2>Risky Business: Energy Scams<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Legitimate investment opportunities in oil and gas development come with no guarantees. They need lots of money and time, and proceeds are uncertain. Developers might drill and drill with little return for their efforts. Investors can lose everything they put in. And that's with authentic energy exploration. If the whole purpose is to separate you from your money, participants don't stand a chance.</p> <p>So how do you separate real energy investment deals from scams? Be on the lookout for these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>Company offices are in one state, drilling is in another, and investors don't live in either. You can't easily visit the corporation or well site. If fraud is suspected, the geographic range creates a nightmare for law enforcement investigators.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You receive a surprise email or phone call. You don't hear a lot of facts, just tremendous pressure to commit. You're warned that if you don't immediately jump in, you'll miss out. Real energy companies don't fish around for investors.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Little risk, high returns: Is that what you've been promised? Run away, because that's not how it really works in the energy business.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Some get-rich-quick scams use current events as lures. If high gas and oil prices are currently in the news, investors might be convinced the time is right. But remember, well development is a long process.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>If the company is secretive and doesn't want you to talk to anyone about your investment opportunity, there's a good reason for that. It's a shady proposition. You should be encouraged to consult others and investigate the deal. And all your questions should get answers &mdash; in writing. If you get shut down, close your wallet.</li> </ul> <p>Energy development is a business, not a mystery. All aspects should be open and aboveboard.</p> <h2>I'm Just Like You: Affinity Sham<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Affinity fraud targets participants based on a specific characteristic, such as age, religious affiliation, or ethnicity. Schemers present themselves as members of the same group in order to create an immediate relationship. Some hustlers are so good they enlist recognized leaders of the community. Unfortunately, these respected notables wind up falling prey to the scam &mdash; and unintentionally drawing others in.</p> <p>You might feel a connection to the individual trying to get you to invest, but that's what these con artists count on. Be wary.</p> <ul> <li>Don't invest just because you have an association with the promoter &mdash; even if it's someone you trust. That person may have been duped. Do outside research. If that's discouraged, say no. Real investments hold up against scrutiny.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Avoid online opportunities that show up in chat groups, bulletin boards, or websites exclusive to your group. The Internet is a quick and easy way to target a specific audience.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Steer clear of any investment that guarantees low risk and high returns. The two just don't go together. Valid deals don't promise them.</li> </ul> <p>The bottom line here &mdash; listen to your mother. When it comes to changing your socks, eating your vegetables, and avoiding fraud, she knows best.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme">How to Tell if That Home Business Opportunity Is Really a Pyramid Scheme</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-more-scams-everyone-should-know-about">10 More Scams Everyone Should Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sale-aftermath-beware-of-paypal-chargebacks-0">The Sale Aftermath: Beware of PayPal Chargebacks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Investment advice energy scams fraud money protection multi level marketing pyramid schemes scams Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:31:29 +0000 Anum Yoon 1858984 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_phone_park_621595942.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a charity scam from a mile away" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to donating to charity, people have good intentions. They want to give to a worthy cause, but unfortunately, so many individuals do very little research before opening up their checkbooks.</p> <p>While many charities are legitimate, there are several that should be avoided. They are the ones that rate low, with the majority of their funds being funneled into the pockets of CEOs or marketing efforts. For example, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is one charity that is low-rated by <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&amp;listid=8">Charity Navigator</a>, yet has one of the highest paid CEOs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprisingly-easy-ways-you-can-support-charity?Ref=seealso">Surprisingly Easy Ways You Can Support Charity</a>)</p> <p>Here's how to make sure your donation is winding up in the right hands.</p> <h2>Make Sure the Name Is Right</h2> <p>Some notable low-rated charities have made it a point to choose names similar to popular nonprofit organizations. For example, Cancer Research Institute is a highly rated charity, but Cancer Survivors' Fund and American Association for Cancer Support are both low-rated charities, according to <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/charitable-donations/best-and-worst-charities-for-your-donations/">Consumer Reports</a>. Both of the low-rated charities have important sounding names, and it can be easy to confuse them when there are so many to keep track of.</p> <h2>Avoid Callers</h2> <p>Don't give in to pesky callers asking for donations. Often telemarketers are hired by select charities to help raise funds. However, the charity does not get all of those funds. Instead, a lot of your donation will end up going to the marketers rather than your cause. Definitely do not give any personal information, such as your credit card or Social Security number to any charity. Most importantly, if anybody pressures you to give money, then it is best to walk away.</p> <h2>Know Where the Money Goes</h2> <p>The highest rated charities are very transparent about where their money goes. You should be able to see the organization's annual expense reports or the charity's Form 990. Churches and other big religious groups are not required to file 990s, so be sure to check them out at <a href="http://www.ministrywatch.com/">Ministry Watch</a>, a website that helps alert donors to fraudulent religious charities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-giving-to-charity-is-good-for-you?ref=seealso">5 Ways Giving to Charity Is Good for You</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Donate Cash or Give Through Wire Transfers</h2> <p>Never give any charity cash or send money through wire transfers. If the charity insists on cash or a wire transfer, it should make you suspicious of the organization. But what about religious tithing? While dropping cash in your local place of worship's donation bucket doesn't mean you are donating to a scam charity, it is still wiser to write a check or donate online. This will allow you to keep track of your charitable giving for tax purposes. If you do give cash, try your best to get a receipt.</p> <h2>Be on Alert</h2> <p>During the holidays, more for-profit charities are likely to increase their marketing. Expect more calls and emails that will appeal to your emotions. Of course you want to help wounded veterans, homeless children, and abused pets but if you have never heard of the charity, then don't rush into donating. Charity scams also are more likely to pop up after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.</p> <p>Ask a charity if they are registered, and if they claim they are, then get the registration number. Also know that most respectable charities do not ask for donations via email, unless an individual has already signed up for the mailing list.</p> <h2>Do Some Research</h2> <p>Before you donate a large sum of money to any charity, spend a few minutes researching the organization. You should be able to find the rating of charities on the <a href="https://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau</a>, <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">Charity Navigator</a>, <a href="https://www.charitywatch.org/">Charity Watch</a>, <a href="http://www.give.org/">BBB Wise Giving Alliance</a>, and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/">Consumer Reports</a>.</p> <p>It is best to decide at the beginning of the year what your annual charitable giving will be and which charities you want to donate to. This then puts you and your budget in the right place for donating money and helping those in need.</p> <p>Charity scammers take advantage of people's goodwill and desire to help. However, these scammers can steal more than just your money. They can steal your identity if you give out too much information. Give to causes you care about while also protecting your bank account and personal information.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations">8 Charities You Can Trust With Your Holiday Donations</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs charity donating fraud Giving Back scams theft things to watch out for wire transfers Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1849882 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/medical_records_theft_4391261.jpg" alt="Finding ways to protect yourself from medical records theft" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hacker attacks on medical records are exploding, with more than 113 million health files stolen in 2015. Criminals are using health records to commit medical identity theft, a crime that causes even more suffering than financial identity theft.</p> <p>Think having credit cards or a mortgage opened in your name is a nightmare? Maybe, but it's nothing compared to what victims of medical identity theft have suffered. Victims of this crime often suffer from financial fraud, just like those who have their credit cards compromised, says Ann Patterson, program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.</p> <p>Resolving medical identity fraud is much more difficult than cleaning up a case of financial ID theft. The majority of medical ID theft victims reported spending an average of <a href="http://medidfraud.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2014_Medical_ID_Theft_Study1.pdf">$13,500 on lawyer fees</a> or medical bills in their names, compared to an average of just $55 to clean up financial ID theft, according to a 2015 Ponemon Institute survey. And with no centralized source to consult like a credit report, and no real-time alerts like banks and credit monitoring services, it may take a long time to even realize you're a victim of medical identity theft, Patterson warns.</p> <p>Whether you have just received a discomfiting letter from your health care provider that a data breach has occurred, or you simply want to head off this kind of life disruption before it happens, here are seven steps you can take to protect yourself from medical ID theft.</p> <h2>1. Read Your Mail</h2> <p>Those explanation of benefits statements from doctors' offices and hospitals may not be light reading, but you should look at them, at the least to verify that you saw the provider named on the date listed. Also, if you get mail from an unfamiliar doctor's office, don't toss it out without reading it &mdash; what you might think is junk mail could actually be a bill taken out in your name by an identity thief.</p> <h2>2. Review Your Medical Records</h2> <p>One positive thing about medical records going online is that it makes it easier for patients to periodically check that all the procedures listed there were actually performed on you, and that the details listed match your identity. If your records aren't online, you can ask to check your file when you're at the doctor's office.</p> <p>Reviewing medical records could be a matter of life and death, because &quot;information, such as an allergy to penicillin, is often <a href="http://icitech.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ICIT-Brief-Deep-Web-Exploitation-of-Health-Sector-Breach-Victims2.pdf">deleted from a patient's medical record</a> when it is stolen by a hacker or used by a buyer,&quot; warns the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology in a report that was presented to the US Senate in September.</p> <h2>3. Ask About Safeguards</h2> <p>Whether it's your doctor's office or your kids' school collecting data about your family, ask what happens to the paperwork you fill out. Is it shredded after being entered into a database, or tossed into the recycling? What kind of security protects those databases?</p> <h2>4. Don't Always Do as You're Told</h2> <p>Medical forms frequently ask for the patient's social security number. Patterson leaves that line blank, and if challenged, she explains that the omission is for privacy reasons. &quot;I have yet to be refused medical care because I refused to provide my Social Security number,&quot; she says.</p> <h2>5. Treat Health Information Like Financial Information</h2> <p>Just as you should shred your tax documents and bank statements before tossing them, you should shred your doctor's office visit receipts, prescription labels, and even destroy prescription bottles with information stickers on them, Patterson says.</p> <p>And if you wouldn't post your bank account balance on social media, don't be so quick to divulge upcoming medical treatments either. While it might be hard to imagine the harm in asking for thoughts and prayers for an upcoming surgery, Patterson urges patients to look at their profile from a criminal's point of view.</p> <p>&quot;You're putting out free information to give a detailed profile of you,&quot; she says, such as what region you live in, what doctors you frequent, and what ailments you have. If a criminal knows you have cancer, for instance, they may be able to &quot;buy painkillers in your name and not raise a red flag immediately, because it fits your profile,&quot; she says.</p> <p>If you think it's okay to share such information because your posts are only seen by friends and family, consider that, according to the Ponemon Institute, about half of medical ID fraud is committed by people who know the legitimate account holder.</p> <h2>6. Use Monitoring Services When Offered</h2> <p>It's now common for health insurers and other providers who have been hacked to offer members free fraud monitoring services. Take advantage of the offer! Patterson says that less than half of consumers offered free subscriptions actually sign up. Although they monitor for financial fraud &mdash; they won't tell you that someone checked in as you at a hospital &mdash; the services can provide valuable red flags. For instance, if a fraudulent medical bill goes into collections, it will show up on your credit report, and therefore trigger a fraud monitoring alert.</p> <h2>7. Be Careful What You Tell Your App</h2> <p>There are lots of fitness and health monitoring apps and websites nowadays, and while it's fine to sign up for one, look into the company that made the product, and think carefully about how much personal health data you share with them.</p> <p>&quot;Most of these companies are not regulated in the same way as your health care provider or health plan to protect your personal health information,&quot; MIFA warns.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-question-you-need-to-answer-to-choose-the-best-plan-on-the-health-care-marketplace">The One Question You Need to Answer to Choose the Best Plan on the Health Care Marketplace</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-an-hsa-is-actually-worth-having">10 Reasons an HSA Is Actually Worth Having</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/don-t-waste-your-money-on-homeopathic-remedies">Don’t Waste Your Money on Homeopathic “Remedies”</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Health and Beauty credit monitoring doctors fraud health care medical identity theft medical records privacy safeguards social media thieves Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1821821 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/data_breach_58553266.jpg" alt="Learning what to do if your identity gets stolen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that in 2014, 17.6 million Americans aged 16 or older were <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit14_sum.pdf">victims of identity theft</a>. That, alone, is a scary fact. And to be honest, when anyone says the phrase &quot;identity theft,&quot; most of us picture lives being upended, years of court cases, and bank accounts being wiped out.</p> <p>But let's look a little deeper into this issue, because while it is definitely something to keep on your radar, identity theft is a broad term. Plus, these days, with so many people being affected, there are more resources available than ever before to help you out. So before you go into full-blown panic mode&hellip;read on.</p> <h2>It's Highly Unlikely Someone Will Actually &quot;Steal&quot; Your Identity</h2> <p>Of the 17.6 million Americans that were victims of identity theft in 2014, only 4% of them actually had their personal information used to open a new account. Think about that for a second, and you should already be feeling much more calm. The chances of someone actually pretending to be you, opening up account everywhere in your name, and sinking you into a world of pain, are very slim indeed. Sadly, media outlets and the news don't like to cover that, because it's not sexy, and it doesn't get ratings. That's why the identity theft stories you hear about are horrific. But in reality, it is highly unlikely that you will have your literal identity stolen.</p> <h2>Identity Theft Is a Very Broad Term</h2> <p>The phrase itself puts most people in a cold sweat, but it covers a lot of different aspects of the crime. The vast majority of identity theft crimes, around 86%, are tied to the misuse of a credit card or bank account. That's it. Someone grabs your digits, takes out some cash, and calls it a day before the card gets canceled. Or, they withdraw a bunch of money and move on to someone else's account. Either way, it's quick and dirty, but rarely goes beyond that level of theft. And as the next point proves, it's not worth worrying about&hellip;</p> <h2>Credit Card and Bank Account Misuse Is Covered</h2> <p>If someone manages to get hold of your credit card, either by stealing or cloning it, they will undoubtedly go on a shopping spree. But you don't have to worry. While the initial shock of seeing thousands in charges you didn't accrue is horrifying, you are not on the hook for it. Card issuers and bank accounts cover you <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards">for most (and generally all) of the theft</a>. You will get all of those funds put back onto your account, usually very quickly, and the card issuer or bank will take the hit and investigate the crime. Sadly, very little of this money is recovered from the thieves who did the spending. Unless there is CCTV footage of them committing the crime, and significant evidence to track them down, they'll get away with it. But rest assured, you won't have to foot the bill.</p> <h2>Over 52% of Identity Theft Victims Resolve the Problem in a Day or Less</h2> <p>Not years. Not months. Not weeks. Just one day. That should come as great comfort if you're worried about the time and expense it could take to sort out the mess some nasty crook has created for you. And here's further cause to relax&hellip;only 9% of victims spent more than a month trying to get their lives back on track, and even then, it was not a month taken off work, fighting eight hours a day, seven days a week. It is simply a process that can take time to get right.</p> <h2>This Is a Common Problem, So You'll Get Help</h2> <p>When identity theft first popped up, it was hard to get card issuers and banks to listen to the facts. But these days, that has all changed. There were more victims of identity theft in 2014 than <a href="https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/property-crime/property-crime">there were property crimes</a>, so it's definitely on law enforcement's radar. Most credit card companies monitor accounts very closely, and track your spending habits. They will often shut down a card immediately if they believe there is suspicious activity going on &mdash; for instance, an unusually large purchase, many purchases in one day, or purchases made out of state.</p> <p>If your card is stolen, report it the moment you notice it is gone, or has been cloned. If you see a new account has been opened in your name, report that immediately. These companies want your business, and they are setup to handle this kind of crime.</p> <h2>It's Easy to Stop Identity Theft in Its Tracks</h2> <p>These days you have resources and tools to monitor your accounts and your credit reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) puts this kind of protection into two basic categories.</p> <h3>Credit Monitoring</h3> <p>This tracks activity on your credit reports, and notifies you if a company checks your credit history, a new account is opened in your name, a debt collector reports a late payment, your credit limits change, or your personal information changes. It's worth noting that this isn't actually protection, but a warning. However, once you're alerted, you can act on that information.</p> <h3>Identity Monitoring</h3> <p>This alerts you when personal information, including your driver's license, passport, Social Security number, medical ID number, or bank account information, is used in ways that don't show up on your credit report.</p> <p>You will already know of major identity theft protection sites and services out there, including LifeLock, CompleteID, IdentityGuard, and IDShield. Your bank account and credit card issuers may also have their own version of identity theft protection for you to take advantage of. All of these services require a nominal monthly fee, but for the peace of mind offered, it's worth it.</p> <h2>Criminals Need More Than Just Your Personal Information</h2> <p>If you see a news story talking about a data breach, take the time to find out what has actually been stolen. As Time reported in 2015, criminals can do very little with your name, birth date, and email address. Even with your address and phone number on top of that, they aren't going to be able to do much without a SSN and/or account numbers and passwords. The most they can do is some kind of &quot;phishing&quot; scam, where they will use your personal information to try and get money out of you in some way, via phone or email. But use your common sense, and never respond to a cold call or email. Always contact a business yourself to verify this.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Consumer Affairs credit monitoring data breach fraud hacked identity theft illegal phishing scams social security stolen money Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1819826 at http://www.wisebread.com Prepaid Cards About to Get Safer and Better http://www.wisebread.com/prepaid-cards-about-to-get-safer-and-better <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/prepaid-cards-about-to-get-safer-and-better" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_99043793.jpg" alt="Woman using prepaid cards that are about to get safer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have a bank account with a debit card, your money is pretty safe. If your card is lost or stolen, you can cancel it and get a replacement. As long as you check your statement and report fraudulent charges, you can get the money back.</p> <p>For various reasons (poor credit history, lack of proper ID or a permanent address, etc.) a lot of people don't have or can't get a credit card or even a bank account. For them, the invention of the prepaid card has been a great boon in many ways &mdash; but has had its downsides.</p> <p>For one thing, the consumer protection rules for prepaid cards are different &mdash; and worse. Fortunately, they're about to get a whole lot better, thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has just published new rules for prepaid cards. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards?ref=internal">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>Key Improvements</h2> <p>The new rules take effect in about a year. Here are the key improvements:</p> <h3>1. Fees Have to Be Disclosed in a Standard Format</h3> <p>Currently, there's no good way to compare one prepaid card to another. Their fees are different, their rules are different, and their dispute resolution policies are different.</p> <p>Starting next year, fees and rules will have to be disclosed in a standard format, so that it will be easy to compare two different cards. In addition, the policies that they will follow if you dispute a charge will be standard across all prepaid cards.</p> <h3>2. Fraudulent Debits Have to be Credited Back</h3> <p>With a credit or debit card, you just have to report fraudulent charges to the bank promptly after you get your statement, and the bank has to investigate the charge. If their investigation shows that it was fraudulent, they have to give you your money back. (There are limits. If you authorize someone to use your card and give them your PIN code, the bank won't replace any money they take out of your account.)</p> <p>For prepaid cards, the rules in effect right now allow the issuer to say, &quot;Treat the card like cash, because if it's lost or stolen, the prepaid value is gone.&quot;</p> <p>That's always been a pretty self-serving rule for the card issuers. They can just ignore thefts. (They're not obliged to even investigate, let alone give you your money back.) In fact, the issuers come out ahead when you lose a card. They can just keep the money, charge you an &quot;idle&quot; account fee, and then (maybe) turn over any money that's left to the state as &quot;abandoned property.&quot;</p> <p>The new rules make prepaid cards almost the same as credit and debit cards, but there is one key difference. With credit or debit cards, if the bank can't complete its investigation promptly, it has to give you your money back while it keeps looking into the matter. With a prepaid card, the bank can take extra time to make sure you're who you say you are before that clock starts ticking.</p> <h3>3. There Has to be Some Way to Track the Use of the Card</h3> <p>The deadlines for reporting fraudulent transactions to the bank start as soon as you find out about the transaction, or as soon as you get your statement. Since a lot of prepaid cards don't even have regular statements, there needed to be some kind of adjustment to that rule.</p> <p>The bank can just start issuing monthly statements, but they'd really rather not. The new rules say they don't have to, as long as they do all these things:</p> <ul> <li>Let you access your balance by telephone;</li> <li>Let you access your last 12 months of transactions electronically;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Give you a way to get the last 24 months of transactions in written form on request.</li> </ul> <h3>4. Overdraft Fees Are Strictly Limited</h3> <p>The basic rule here is that banks aren't supposed to let you overdraw a prepaid card at all. They can only let you go negative on your prepaid balance if you have a deposit pending, or if the amount is less than $10 &mdash; and then only if they don't charge a fee for doing so.</p> <p>To allow any other kinds of overdrafts, they have to get you to set up a separate credit facility, with all the usual rules for loan fees and disclosures involved in offering credit.</p> <p>That's a summary of the main rule changes. If you'd rather see a video, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has you covered with this quick video summary of the new protections:</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JPTg8ZB3j5c" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <h2>Still Under the Old Rules</h2> <p>Remember &mdash; for the next year, we're still under the old rules.</p> <p>Still, even under the current rules things are better than things used to be, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done its best to make sure you can figure out what your rights are. They've got a webpage with the details of the <a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/prepaid-cards/">limited protections that currently apply</a>.</p> <p>The new rules go into effect October 1, 2017.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/prepaid-cards-about-to-get-safer-and-better">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">The Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards">Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards: Fees and Fraud Protection</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-airline-rewards-programs-for-trips-to-europe">The Best Airline Rewards Programs for Trips to Europe</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fees fraud improvements overdraft prepaid cards regulations rules Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:30:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 1816662 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Signs Your College Is a Scam http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-your-college-is-a-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-signs-your-college-is-a-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_93713933_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="signs your college is a scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A college degree opens doors. While there are certainly ways to find professional and financial success without a college degree, it can be a harder and longer path. The relationships built, the skills learned, the knowledge granted, and the credentials earned open pathways that might have beyond an individual's reach.</p> <p>However, not all colleges in the United States deliver the type of education that will lead to financial success. ITT Technical Institutes' <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/09/itt-tech-closes/498752/">recent and sudden closure</a> after it was barred from admitting students utilizing federal funds, was a reminder of that fact. The closure of the school put the educational and financial prospects of thousands of students in jeopardy.</p> <p>Prospective students need to remember that technical schools and colleges &mdash; even nonprofits &mdash; are run like businesses. They won't necessarily broadcast that they aren't capable of delivering the type of education you expect. It's up to you to investigate the school and discover any red flags that indicate the college is a total scam. Here are a few warning signs to look out for.</p> <h2>1. It's in Poor Financial Health</h2> <p>ITT Tech's closure due to financial issues isn't an isolated, once-in-a-blue-moon incident. Inside Higher Ed reports that on average, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/09/28/moodys-predicts-college-closures-triple-2017">five colleges close down annually</a>. The number of college closures per year is expected to triple in the coming years as admission rates at smaller colleges drop. Smaller private and public colleges are dependent on tuition to remain financially viable. This means that years of low admission rates can result in a slow, prolonged death for the college which can blindside students.</p> <p>When a school closes, students might need to:</p> <ul> <li>Restart the school vetting process;</li> <li>Pay admission and application fees for new colleges;</li> <li>Find an institution that will transfer the most credits;</li> <li>Potentially apply to have&nbsp;<a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/closed-school">federal loans discharged</a>;</li> <li>Contend with issues keeping&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/09/19/64802/itt-tech-closure-could-turn-into-housing-crisis-fo/">housing benefits</a>.</li> </ul> <p>In order to avoid enrolling in a college that might go under before you graduate, potential college students can check the financial health of their college by doing a Google search about the school's financial health or admission rates.</p> <h2>2. It Lacks Proper Accreditation</h2> <p>Proper accreditation is vital to a degree or certificates' worth. According to RuthAnn Althaus, a program coordinator at Ohio University, <a href="http://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/mhadegree-org-an-interview-with-dr-ruthann-althaus/">accreditation is vital because</a> it &quot;provides assurance to students, their employers, and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that institutions are meeting rigorous educational standards and are professionally sound.&quot;</p> <p>If you accidentally attend a college without proper accreditation, you will not be qualified to work in a field that requires a degree, and employers might not recognize your degree as a valid educational credential. You can ensure that the institution is accredited by searching for the school's website for the accreditation information. Be sure to double check the accreditation claim on the accrediting institution's website.</p> <h2>3. Does It Have National or Regional Accreditation?</h2> <p>There's another layer to the accreditation conundrum. In the U.S., colleges and programs can either be regionally accredited or nationally accredited. Accreditation from nationally accredited institutions (a lot of for-profit schools fall into this category) are often not recognized by public colleges.</p> <p>ITT Tech students are currently dealing with this issue. Due to the fact that ITT Tech was nationally accredited, students have very few options as they attempt to find a replacement school. Right now, ITT students<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/09/01/options-itt-tech-students-if-profit-chain-collapses"> who want to transfer to another school</a> are limited to other nationally accredited schools and the few community colleges that are willing to consider transferring their credits.</p> <p>Before you apply to a nationally accredited institution, you should seriously consider if you would like the option to eventually transfer to a regionally accredited institution.</p> <h2>4. The School Is Facing Accreditation Probation or Withdrawal</h2> <p>Accreditation isn't a lifetime endorsement for a college. Accredited institutions must continually prove that they meet the required educational and financial standards to keep their certification. Schools that fail to meet standards can be placed on probation.</p> <p>Enrolling into a college that is in a probationary period is risky. Failure to improve can lead to the institution losing their accreditation either voluntarily or by having it revoked. The loss of accreditation will mean that if you want a degree that is actually worth anything, you will need to transfer to another school. If this happens in the middle of the semester, you can lose time and money.</p> <h2>5. It's Linked to State or Federal Investigations</h2> <p>State or federal investigations of the school or its accrediting agency might be a sign that the school will not be a good investment. While not all investigations indicate wrongdoing, in recent years, the federal and state investigations of ITT Technical Institutes resulted in the Department of Education barring the school from utilizing federal aid to enroll students. That restriction led to the collapse of the school.</p> <p>When accrediting agencies are investigated, the fallout can be even more extreme. ACICS, the agency that accredited ITT Technical Institution, has been <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/06/24/federal-panel-votes-terminate-acics-and-tightens-screws-other-accreditors">recommended for termination</a> after a federal investigation. If the recommendation goes through, <em>every college</em> ACICS accredits will have 18 months to get recertified with a different agency. Those school's ability to find another certification agency to endorse them really depends on the quality of the institution and their financial health.</p> <p>To be safe, before you enroll in a college, you should search for any news of investigations of the colleges you are vetting or the agency that accredits the college. If the investigations have to do with the school's finances or recruitment practices, you might want to dig a little deeper into the investigation before enrolling.</p> <h2>6. It Has Low Freshman Retention and Graduation Rates</h2> <p>Enrolling in a college with low student retention and graduation rates is an extremely risky endeavor. While you shouldn't discount a school entirely due to low rates, it should at least be a warning sign that should lead to further investigation.</p> <p>Low rates can be the result of:</p> <ul> <li>Students transferring to another school before graduation;</li> <li>Students taking more than four years to graduate;</li> <li>Low emotional and academic student support and guidance by teachers and advisers;</li> <li>Lower academic standards for admission.</li> </ul> <p>You can check the rates of colleges utilizing the website&nbsp;<a href="https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/">College Scorecard</a>.</p> <p>Colleges whose rates are around the national average &mdash; you probably don't need to investigate further. If the college has lower than average rates (10%-20%), that might be a major red flag to take into account before enrolling. You should at least prepare yourself for an uphill battle in your quest to earn your degree.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-your-college-is-a-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-every-college-student-should-try">8 Money-Saving Hacks Every College Student Should Try</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-freebies-for-college-students">20+ Freebies for College Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules">What Every Parent Should Know About the New College Financial Aid Rules</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Education & Training back to school college college degree fraud higher education ITT Tech scam school Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1807406 at http://www.wisebread.com This Simple Mistake on a Credit Application May Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-mistake-on-a-credit-application-may-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-simple-mistake-on-a-credit-application-may-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_17698096.jpg" alt="Woman making simple mistake on credit application" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Besides your credit score, your income may play an important factor in whether you get approved for a credit card, and the amount of credit you will be approved for. But for those with freelance jobs or other variable sources of cash, determining an exact income to report can be difficult.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-credit-card-application-tips-for-the-best-chance-of-approval?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">7 Tips for Filling Out Credit Card Applications for the Best Chance of Approval</a></p> <p>Obviously, you want to be as accurate as possible, but you also want to report the highest amount of income applicable so that you can qualify for your card. Your income is how credit card companies can determine if you are able to pay back your debt. Even if you do not plan on accumulating credit card debt, credit card companies still look at you as a debt risk. If you only say that you make $20,000 a year, then why would a credit card company want to take a chance on you with a $12,000 credit line?</p> <h2>Types of Income You Can Report on a Credit Card Application</h2> <p>Applicants over the age of 21 can list a wide range of types of income that they have reasonable expectation of access to. Here are some of the following types of income considered:</p> <h3>Personal Income</h3> <p>Put simply, this is your gross income figure. If you are a freelancer or self-employed, base this number off your total income the year before or your average monthly income multiplied by 12. For example, if you regularly make $2,500 to 3,000 per month, then reporting an income of $33,000 should be fairly accurate.</p> <h3>Spousal Income</h3> <p>As of 2013, you can count income from your spouse or partner on your application.</p> <h3>Allowances and Gifts</h3> <p>Do you regularly get a few hundred dollars for your birthday from family members and friends? You can add it to your income list.</p> <h3>Scholarships and Grants</h3> <p>This is a benefit for college students who have received scholarships and grants for the school year. If you are not accepted for a credit card, call the reconsideration line and talk about your scholarships and other redeeming qualities (i.e. leadership programs you run at school, GPA, and other accomplishments that can boost your credit worthiness).</p> <h3>Trust Fund Distributions</h3> <p>If you're fortunate enough to have a trust fund, report the average amount you expect to receive in a typical year.</p> <h3>Retirement Fund Distributions</h3> <p>Retired? Great! Don't forget to list distributions from 401Ks, IRAs, or other retirement funds.</p> <h3>Social Security Income</h3> <p>Ditto for Social Security income. List your yearly benefit amount as income.</p> <p>For borrowers between 18 and 21, only independent income can be reported. This includes personal income (including any regular allowances from relatives) and scholarships and grants. Borrowers between 18 and 21 might have better luck being added as an authorized user on a parent's account. This can help build up credit history without having to turn to high interest fee cards.</p> <h2>Types of Income You Should Not Report</h2> <p>Note that student loans do not count as income. Once you graduate, student loans become debt you must repay, and it is best not to pile on credit card debt on top of that.</p> <p>Your mortgage or equity in your home should also not be considered income.</p> <h2>Consequences of Lying About Income on Credit Card Applications</h2> <p>While you might want to gain access to a credit card, it is never a good idea to lie about your actual income. Stretching the truth on your application and getting approved can mean that you are more likely to get into debt without the income to get you out.</p> <p>On a more serious note, lying on credit card applications is considered credit card fraud, which is punishable by up to $1 million in fines and up to 30 years of prison. While these punishments are on the extreme side, individuals caught falsifying income to gain loans or credit cards have been hit with hefty fines.</p> <p>In 2012, 52-year-old New York resident David P. Gaylord faced charges for reporting an inflated income of $90,000 to $122,000 on three credit card applications in 2006. However, the IRS reported his income as $12,488 that year. Gaylord was sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $46,914.73 in restitution.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-your-credit-card-application-was-denied-and-what-you-can-do-about-it?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=cc_article">Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied and What to Do About It</a></p> <p>If you are still unsure about how to fill out your application, consider calling the credit card company to talk with a person who can guide you through the application process.</p> <p><em>Do you have multiple sources of non-wage income? How do you report it on credit apps or elsewhere?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-mistake-on-a-credit-application-may-cost-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards">Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards: Fees and Fraud Protection</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-simple-thing-you-can-do-to-start-budgeting-today">One Simple Thing You Can Do to Start Budgeting Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-signing-up-for-a-new-credit-card">5 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for a New Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit">4 Reasons Credit Is Safer Than Debit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stupid-credit-card-tricks-how-your-credit-card-company-lies-to-you">Stupid Credit Card Tricks: How Your Credit Card Company Lies to You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards allowances applications credit approval fraud honesty income reporting retirement scholarships trust funds Thu, 01 Sep 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1783711 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do When You Suspect a Scam http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_using_phone_39165382.jpg" alt="Man reacting when he suspects a financial scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Within days of filing my taxes this year, I started getting suspicious phone calls. Apparently, the IRS was suing me and I had to pay a &quot;settlement&quot; amount, or I would be hearing from lawyers pursuing a much greater amount of money.</p> <p>Fortunately for me, my husband works in the financial industry and knows <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-the-irs-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about-them" target="_blank">how the IRS works</a> &mdash; they always send a letter first. Since I knew from the outset that the call was a scam, it was actually kind of funny to be on the receiving end of one of these calls that I'd heard so much about.</p> <p>But for many, many people &mdash; up to one in 10 in <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/9401927/One-in-ten-people-fall-victim-to-scams-investigation-finds.html">the general population</a>, and one in five in <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303330204579248292834035108">the over-65 demographic</a> &mdash; these calls aren't funny at all. They are terrifying, and people will spend whatever they have to in order to keep the supposed IRS off their backs. And this IRS scam isn't the only one!! In fact, there are several common phone scams that take financial advantage of people who simply don't know any better.</p> <p>Wondering how to spot one of these scams, both in the calls you get and in the lives of those you care about? Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>Government Agencies Won't Call You Out of The Blue</h2> <p>Most government agencies will <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls">contact you first by mail</a>, even if they think you owe them quite a bit of money. So if someone calls and claims to be from the IRS, FBI, local law enforcement, jury duty enforcement, or any other government agency, you can be pretty sure that they are scamming you. This is especially true if they are asking you for money, for you Social Security Number, or anything else like that.</p> <p>If you're unsure as to the legitimacy of the call, tell the scammer that you are driving and cannot pay right now, but you'd like to call back as soon as you've stopped. Get as much information as you can, like the name and the official title of the person calling you, and the name of the department they claim to be representing. Then, when you're off the line, do some research. Find a phone number or email address for the department and call them directly. Explain the call you received and that you aren't sure it was legitimate, and let them help you figure it out.</p> <p>These calls can be especially harmful to people who feel vulnerable or afraid, like many elderly people, people living alone, etc. If you know or love someone in one of these categories, make sure they know that these calls can be fake. Offer to back them up if they ever need it, and remind them that they have rights, too.</p> <h2>Cold Calls From Charities</h2> <p>Did you ever get a call out of nowhere from a charity, cause, or campaign asking for an immediate donation? These can be among the most confusing calls to receive, because some non-profits use this as a legitimate marketing technique.</p> <p>If you aren't sure that the call is legit but you're interested in a cause, explain that you are uncomfortable giving out financial information over the phone. Get the exact name of the organization and Google it. See if you can find any reviews of the organization. Then, donate online or call the number provided on the website to make your donation.</p> <p>Also, don't share personal information, like your Social Security Number, over the phone. It is perfectly acceptable to simply say that you don't give out that data that way. If they pressure you, they either aren't legitimate or they might not be an organization you'd want to donate to anyway.</p> <h2>Computer Support Scams</h2> <p>If anyone ever calls you out of the blue and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/consumer-protection/how-to-identify-a-phone-scam/">asks you to install</a> something on your computer, run away. The programs they have you install will mine your personal data and collect things like usernames and passwords, which the scammer can then use to steal your identity and your money.</p> <p>Instead of following the directions a cold-calling supposed computer tech gives you, you can either tell them that you're not worried about your machine or you can thank them for their information and tell them you'll have someone look at the machine in person (and you can actually do this, if you're concerned).</p> <h2>If You Get Scammed, Act Fast</h2> <p>If you get scammed, take a deep breath. There are still some things you can do to give yourself the best chance of recovery. First, create an <a href="https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/">identity theft report</a> through the Federal Trade Commission. This might not get you your money back immediately, but it will help them follow up on and catch scammers.</p> <p>Next, place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies (<a href="http://www.experian.com">Experian</a>, <a href="http://www.transunion.com">TransUnion</a>, and <a href="http://www.equifax.com">Equifax</a>). This automatically causes all three agencies to tell potential creditors to take extra steps to confirm your identity before opening any sort of line of credit, which can stop scammers in their tracks.</p> <p>If you think your Social Security number might be compromised, contact <a href="https://faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/Article/3792/What-should-I-do-if-I-think-someone-is-using-my-Social-Security-number">Social Security</a> and the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft">Internal Revenue Service</a>. They will help you take steps to ensure your number is not used fraudulently.</p> <p>Even if you don't get scammed, report potential scam calls to the FTC. This helps them track and stop scammers before they hurt someone else.</p> <h2>Helping Potential Scam Victims You May Know</h2> <p>Maybe you feel confident that you could avoid being scammed, but you're concerned for elderly relatives or other people you know. Start by having a conversation about the types of scams that are out there and the impact they could have. If you are in a place to do so, set up a system for a loved one where you or another close friend or family member can verify the legitimacy of an organization before the vulnerable person donates. Having this in place ahead of time can help stop the scam before it starts.</p> <p>If you can't have that conversation or you're not sure how well the other person took it, keep your ears open. Many scams play on fear and anxiety, and people who have given into that often talk about it. If someone mentions owing money to the IRS or another government agency, ask some more questions.</p> <p>Similarly, listen for discussions about donating money, prepaying funeral expenses, and more. Even if your loved one has already been scammed, keeping your ears open can help you nip the problem in the bud before it destroys their financial future.</p> <p>If you have a loved one who has been scammed in the past, it might behoove you to set up some sort of joint access to their bank and credit card accounts. That way, you can monitor any money movement and spot transactions that might be fraudulent.</p> <p>You can also teach yourself and your loved ones to become scam resistant. Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize (if they have something to say, they can leave a message!). Google the numbers before you call them back, as there are websites that will report on whether or not the number belongs to a fraudster. Look up the numbers for the folks who call you independently, so you can check on the legitimacy of the call before you disclose any information.</p> <p>Maybe most importantly, learn to control your own feelings. Dealing with scammers is difficult because they try to manipulate emotions. Staying calm is usually more than half the battle, rather than giving in to fear, anxiety, a desire to help, and more. Train yourself to do this and help the potentially vulnerable people in your life to do the same, and you will be nearly scam resistant.</p> <p><em>Have you or a loved one been scammed? What was the scam and how did you recover?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-ways-thieves-use-your-stolen-credit-card">Top 5 Ways Thieves Use Your Stolen Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance crime elderly fake calls federal trade commission financial abuse fraud IRS scams theft Tue, 12 Jul 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1749903 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons to Stay Away From Penny Stocks http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/penny_stock_investment_407668.jpg" alt="Learning reasons to stay away from penny stocks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Penny stocks are inexpensive equities trading for as little as pennies per share. Because they do not meet rigorous financial reporting requirements, you won't find these stocks listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. Instead, they're traded on the over-the-counter market rather than the stock exchanges where more reputable stocks are found. You've probably heard stories about people getting rich from penny stocks, but consider these reasons to stay away. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-making-the-biggest-investment-risk-of-all" target="_blank">Are You Making the Biggest Investment Risk of All?</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Don't Know What You Are Buying</h2> <p>When I look at buying something that is really cheap, my first question is, &quot;Why is that so inexpensive?&quot; Most penny stock is in companies with few or no assets. It's also hard to know what you are getting, since the financial reporting requirements are less rigorous than for other stocks. Without audited financial reports, it is easy to be misled as an investor and buy stock in a company that is basically worthless.</p> <h2>2. Penny Stocks Can Be Difficult to Sell</h2> <p>A big consideration for any investment is your exit strategy &mdash; how will you get your cash out? Since penny stocks are not traded on stock exchanges, it can be difficult to find a buyer when you want to sell. There are just not that many investors looking for stock in companies with low asset value and less than standard financial documentation.</p> <h2>3. Penny Stock Scams and Fraud</h2> <p>Penny stocks are often associated with scams and &quot;pump and dump&quot; schemes. Some penny stock investors will buy lots of shares of worthless stock, promote it through mass email as the next &quot;hot stock,&quot; and then sell it when the stock price peaks. The stock price then goes back down and everyone who thought they were buying a hot stock is left with a loss and a stock that is hard to sell.</p> <h2>4. Like Day Trading, But Worse</h2> <p>Many people who invest in penny stocks are not investing based on the value of the business, but are trying to make money from the volatility of penny stocks &mdash; buying a stock when the price is moving up, and selling it within a few days before the price goes back down. But you know that trying to time the market is always risky. Doing this with penny stocks is even riskier than with other assets, since limited financial information is available.</p> <h2>5. You Will Likely Lose Money</h2> <p>Since penny stock companies have low asset value, there is significant risk that the company could go bankrupt and leave you with worthless stock. A buy and hold strategy for penny stocks may leave you with zero value instead of growth in the stock price. Even if you don't plan to hold a penny stock for long, you are most likely to notice a penny stock while it is &quot;hot,&quot; meaning you are buying near the peak price and will probably lose money by the time you can sell it.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned playing with penny stocks?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-loss-aversion-is-costing-you-more-than-your-fomo">Your Loss Aversion Is Costing You More Than Your FOMO</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/womanhood-microscopic-and-other-hot-stock-tips">Womanhood microscopic and other hot stock tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-add-gold-to-your-portfolio">4 Ways to Add Gold to Your Portfolio</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment day trading fraud losing money over the counter penny stocks scams stock market Mon, 04 Jul 2016 10:00:04 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1743167 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_holding_phone_39165382.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a credit repair scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When your credit has taken a significant hit and you need professional assistance, a credit repair company can do wonders for your financial situation. They can help you get your credit back on track and even work to remove errors from your credit report that may be affecting your score. In turn, this can help you more easily qualify for a loan or credit card.</p> <p>However, just as there are people out there who want to help you, there are also people who want to take advantage of your situation for profit. That's why we've provided some of the top signs to help you spot a credit repair scam before you, too, become a victim.</p> <h2>They Ask for Money Upfront</h2> <p>The FTC prohibits agencies from requiring money upfront, before the work is done. Any company that asks for money upfront before providing services is likely trying to get your financial information.</p> <h2>They Provide a New SSN or EIN</h2> <p>Credit repair companies may require your Social Security number. What is <em>not</em> necessary is an employer identification number. If the company requires you to apply for a new employer identification number, this is a good indication that they may be scamming you.</p> <p>Some companies may also provide you with a new Social Security number and suggest that you apply for credit using that new number. This is illegal and you are likely using a stolen Social Security number (often from a child), so you should report the company immediately, before you are involved in an identity theft scheme. Often, the agency will claim that they can provide you with a &quot;<a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0225-credit-repair-scams">new credit identity</a>&quot; using this method, which is a red flag.</p> <h2>They Encourage You to Lie</h2> <p>If the company encourages you to misrepresent yourself, this is a huge red flag. For instance, according to Credit.com, some agencies may encourage you to sign an identity theft affidavit, even if you weren't a victim of identity theft. By misrepresenting yourself, you are only putting yourself in danger.</p> <h2>They Make Lofty Promises</h2> <p>Any information that is correct on your credit report will stay there. This means that accurate reporting like bankruptcy, judgments, and liens will remain on your credit report. A company shouldn't promise to have them removed. If they make these types of impossible promises, they are likely running a scam. If they have aggressive advertising that makes promises in regards to the results they can achieve or how much your credit will recover, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>They Discourage You From Taking Actions</h2> <p>If they discourage you from contacting any of the three national credit reporting companies directly, run the other way. If they don't inform you of your legal rights and what you can do for free to repair your credit on your own, then they aren't a trustworthy organization.</p> <h2>They Can't Explain Their Services</h2> <p>The agency you are working with should be able to clearly explain in detail what the services are that they'll be providing. If they simply make a claim as to the results they will achieve, or how long it would take them to achieve those results, then you never know what you're getting into. For instance, if they guarantee you will see results in 48 hours, you should know that nobody can make these claims confidently, so they can't be trusted.</p> <h2>They Don't Provide a Clear Contract</h2> <p>A reputable agency is required to provide a contract that clearly describes the services being offered and the total cost of services. It should also clearly state the name and business address of the agency.</p> <p>You have <a href="http://www.bbb.org/blog/2015/06/dont-fall-for-credit-repair-scams/">the right to cancel</a> the contract within three days without incurring any fees, thanks to the Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law. You should also be provided with a copy of these Consumer Credit File Rights upfront. If the company fails to inform you of these rights, run the other way.</p> <h2>They Don't Care About Your Story</h2> <p>Any reputable agency will want to know about your credit history, what the issues are, and what your credit reports look like before discussing their services. If they don't care to know your backstory and start making promises right off the bat, this is a warning sign.</p> <h2>They Ask You to Waive Your Rights</h2> <p>You have rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the company asks you to waive these legal rights, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>You Can Do It Yourself</h2> <p>There are certain effective steps you can take on your own to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-secured-credit-card-can-repair-your-credit-score-heres-how-to-pick-the-best?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">improve your credit score</a>. Taking these steps on your own will require some time and effort, but won't cost you anything.</p> <p>If you decide to work with certain credit repair companies, consider first looking them up on the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau (BBB)</a>, <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov">Federal Trade Commission</a>, and your <a href="http://www.naag.org/">state attorney general's office</a> to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <p><em>Do you have any experiences with credit repair companies? Were you the victim of a credit repair scam? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance BBB credit repair federal trade commission fraud identity theft scams schemes social security number Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1725701 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Choose the Best Tax Preparer http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-best-tax-preparer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-choose-the-best-tax-preparer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_meeting_accountant_000068401307.jpg" alt="Couple learning how to choose the best tax preparer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody's favorite time of year &mdash; <em>tax season</em> &mdash; is here again! To make this year's lead-up at least a little less stressful, consider these tips on how to choose a competent preparer who will provide you peace of mind and perhaps even a decent refund.</p> <h2>1. Research Their Qualifications and Credentials</h2> <p>You have to begin somewhere in your search for a professional tax preparer who will help you file your returns accurately and efficiently &mdash; and that's by researching your candidate's qualifications and credentials.</p> <p>For starters, says Steven V. Melnik, associate professor of tax law with the Department of Accountancy in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, tax preparers must have an IRS-required Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).</p> <p>&quot;Make sure your preparer includes their PTIN in the section labeled 'Paid Preparer Information' on your return,&quot; he advises. &quot;Research the preparer's history to check for derogatory remarks, disciplinary actions, or any sanctions for fraudulent returns, and select someone who has prepared returns on a full-time basis for at least five years, has audit experience, and works with clients who are similar in needs.&quot;</p> <p>As an additional step, you also should research your candidates' names on the <a href="http://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf">IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers With Credentials and Select Qualifications</a>, according to Georgia-based tax professional Yvette D. Best.</p> <h2>2. Ask for References</h2> <p>Because your tax preparer is handling your very sensitive and important financial information, it's essential to ask for references that can vouch for their work. Anybody can tell you they're the best in the biz, but it's wise to hear it from secondary sources so you're confident that you're choosing the right person for the job.</p> <p>&quot;A respectable tax preparer should provide you with referrals from past clients to confirm their reputation,&quot; Melnik says. &quot;Ask those clients if their returns were audited as a result of any tax preparer errors.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Consider Your Circumstances</h2> <p>Not all tax returns are created equal, and as such you should choose a preparer who is adequately educated on how to properly file yours.</p> <p>&quot;If you're a W-2 employee who has only one income stream, for instance, it may not even be necessary to get outside help,&quot; says Jessie Seaman, a managing licensed tax professional at Tax Defense Network. &quot;Online tax software has become intuitive and simple to use, so you may find this a preferable option. Alternatively, if you're a contractor or run your own business, it's in your best interest to find a tax professional that you can rely on long term. This tax professional should have a history of helping clients who have circumstances similar to your own.&rdquo;</p> <p>John O. McManus, a top AV-rated estate-planning attorney and founding principal of McManus &amp; Associates, adds that a tax preparer should have the knowledge and expertise to understand the complete picture of your finances. It's important that income tax planning be coordinated with retirement and financial planning efforts, as well as asset preservation strategies, if these components are relevant to your returns.</p> <p>&quot;Many people don't realize that they may be able to tap an estate planning attorney or other financial advisor for personal income tax return preparation, in order to bring together their <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">income tax planning</a> with their wealth management plan as a whole,&quot; McManus explains. &quot;For example, income tax on the capital gains from the sale of an asset could be well over 30%, including federal, state, local impositions, and the Medicare surtax. For stock positions, business interests, real estate, and alternative investments that have appreciated significantly, top-notch income tax planning becomes critical.</p> <p>While income tax planning focuses on your earnings, using an estate planning attorney or financial advisor for income tax preparation also helps you monitor the tax laws and the implications of potential changes, so you can address them in your overall financial planning.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Inquire About All Associated Fees Upfront</h2> <p>The last thing you want during an already stressful tax season &mdash; especially one where you may not receive a refund and instead owe money &mdash; is to be blindsided by fees on the backend of the preparation. To avoid this unwanted surprise, ask about all associated fees upfront. Most preparers offer services at a flat rate per return, Melnik says. As such, you want to avoid preparers who require a percentage of your refund as payment, since there's a chance they could inflate it to receive a larger fee &mdash; and that spells trouble all around.</p> <h2>5. Ensure That Electronic Filing Is Available</h2> <p>Electronic filing is the easy and quickest way to file your return (and get your refund) these days. But it's not just the convenience that makes e-filing attractive. It also helps separate the true tax professionals from the amateurs.</p> <p>&quot;The IRS requires that paid preparers who prepare more than 10 returns per year must file electronically, unless the client elects to file a paper return,&quot; according to Melnik.</p> <p>Take a pass if your preparer doesn't offer electronic filing. It shows lack of experience and your return may be more susceptible to inaccuracies.</p> <h2>6. Choose a Preparer Who Is Accessible</h2> <p>Another important aspect of choosing the right tax preparer for you is having someone who's there when you need him or her. You never know what kind of issues will pop up before, during, and even after your taxes are filed, and you want someone on your side who will addresses whatever issues you have promptly.</p> <p>Melnik advises, &quot;Never retain a preparer who you are not able to contact when needed. Reputable tax preparers will try to respond to your inquiries within a stated reasonable time &mdash; such as within 24 hours or 48 hours. Sometimes you may need to contact your preparer after the tax-filing deadline. Your preparer should be available year round or have a qualified backup to handle an emergency.&quot;</p> <h2>Beware of Fraudulent Preparers</h2> <p>Not everyone is the best at their job &mdash; including tax &quot;professionals&quot; &mdash; and sometimes there are even bad apples in the mix. The tips above on how to choose a tax preparer wisely are critical in picking the right person for your situation, but just as important is being aware of the red flags that come with this territory and how to avoid them so you're not taken for a proverbial ride by a fraudulent preparer.</p> <p>&quot;First, be wary of anyone who contacts you about handling your taxes,&quot; Seaman says. &quot;Also, if you call a potential preparer and learn that he or she will require a percentage of your tax return, as opposed to a flat fee, you don't want to use them. Further, if the person promises an inflated refund because of loopholes or vague tax tricks, you need to keep looking.&quot;</p> <p>Additionally, Melnik details a few more common warning signs of a fraudulent preparer:</p> <ul> <li>The preparer asks what amount of refund you would like to receive. A tax preparer cannot inform you of your refund prior to preparing the tax return. That's an indication that your tax preparer will prepare a fraudulent tax return.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>He or she asks you to sign a blank return. Never sign a blank return under any circumstances. Do not sign a return without reviewing the return. Be sure to ask questions about any items that you find may be questionable.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You're asked to deposit your refund into their account. A reputable tax preparer will not require you to deposit your refund into their account absent a valid reason that should be disclosed to you, nor will they ask for a percentage of your refund. If you are asked to do this by your tax preparer, it is likely that you will be the victim of fraud.</li> </ul> <p><em>Do you use a tax preparer? How did you choose?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-best-tax-preparer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-you-should-really-fear-an-irs-audit">10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-tax-preparer-makes-a-mistake">What to Do When Your Tax Preparer Makes a Mistake</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accountant authentic cpa credentials filing fraud IRS tax preparer Mon, 21 Mar 2016 09:30:20 +0000 Mikey Rox 1675259 at http://www.wisebread.com