fraud http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/119/all en-US Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_sitting_in_front_of_working_computer.jpg" alt="Woman sitting in front of working computer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few years ago, I logged on to the website of an airline mileage program to book a flight, only to find that my miles were gone. I called the airline in a panic, and was told that another customer must have given my frequent flyer number by mistake when booking their flight. The miles were soon restored to my account. No harm was done &mdash; except to my confidence in the system.</p> <p>In a time when two-factor authentication and complex passwords are required to conduct so many transactions, it's unusual that many airlines and points programs still allow you to book with rewards simply by giving your membership number over the phone. Booking online does require passwords, but with so many large-scale data breaches happening recently, many of our passwords have been compromised.</p> <p>So it's no big shock that cybercriminals have been monetizing stolen rewards points on the dark web by selling discounted trips, paid for with stolen points. In fact, some have even been so brazen as to set up travel agencies and travel portals, complete with photos from happy customers, security firm Flashpoint reports.</p> <p>Here's how you can protect your hard-earned points from sticky fingers.</p> <h2>Exercise &quot;password hygiene&quot;</h2> <p>If you haven't changed all your passwords recently &mdash; especially since Yahoo recently disclosed that <em>all 3 billion</em> of its accounts were hacked in 2013 &mdash; do it now. Make your new password longer and more complex. If you're not good at thinking up hard passwords, try a password generator like the one offered by <a href="https://lastpass.com/generatepassword.php" target="_blank">LastPass</a>. And keep updating your passwords about twice a year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>Monitor your mileage accounts</h2> <p>I use <a href="https://awardwallet.com/account/list" target="_blank">AwardWallet</a> to keep track of how many miles I have in the dozen or so points accounts that I maintain for my family. Not only can I glance over all the accounts on the software's dashboard, but it actually sends me an alert when my totals change. So if a hacker used my frequent flyer miles to book a flight, I'd get an alert right away. There are other points tracking tools available as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-best-tools-for-tracking-your-rewards-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Best Tools for Tracking Your Rewards Miles</a>)</p> <h2>Guard those account numbers</h2> <p>Most credit card companies have stopped printing your card number on every bill, but awards programs haven't gotten so guarded yet. I receive junk mail with my frequent flyer number on it, which is bad because mailbox theft is a common criminal tactic. You can ask your points programs to stop sending you junk mail, and you can also consider getting a locking mailbox to prevent this and other forms of identity fraud. Treat those numbers like the sensitive private information they are. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <h2>Don't log onto your points account on a public Wi-Fi connection</h2> <p>Most of us know not to use online banking while sitting in the airport, but we might not think twice about checking our mileage totals. Don't do it. Criminals can set up Wi-Fi connections that scrape users' data while they log in. Doing this at airports and hotels makes a lot of sense from the thief's point of view &mdash; if you want to find customers with a lot of miles, try the airport. (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> <h2>Beware of shifty agents and brokers</h2> <p>There are &quot;mileage brokers&quot; out there who have accrued large mileage totals, and who offer to book you discount flights which they will pay for with miles. Don't bite, because you have no way of knowing whether the miles they are using were acquired legally or stolen. As a personal rule, I wouldn't give my mileage or points account numbers to anyone I wouldn't hand my credit card to.</p> <h2>Contact the program immediately if you suspect a problem</h2> <p>If you aren't able to log onto your account, you might have just forgotten your password &mdash; or someone might have changed it. If you notice an unexplained password problem or any other mysterious activity, change your password immediately, and call the security team for your points program.</p> <p>They should be able to investigate whether there's been a breach, and they may be able to add extra security to your account, such as requiring a password for any reservation change, or adding two-factor authentication for logging in. As with all forms of identity theft, being proactive helps nip problems in the bud. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyour-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYour%2520Travel%2520Rewards%2520Points%2520Were%2520Stolen.%2520Now%2520What_.jpg&amp;description=Your%20Travel%20Rewards%20Points%20Were%20Stolen.%20Now%20What%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Your%20Travel%20Rewards%20Points%20Were%20Stolen.%20Now%20What_.jpg" alt="Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?" width="250" height="374" /></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/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">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-12"> <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-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft">How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft</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-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</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/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was 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/how-to-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Travel fraud hacked identity theft miles passwords secure connections security breach travel rewards Fri, 12 Jan 2018 10:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2083333 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/entrepreneur_calling_customer_support_to_solve_a_problem.jpg" alt="Entrepreneur calling customer support to solve a problem" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit cards are one of the most secure methods of payment, but they're not perfect. In fact, your cards are a huge target for hackers and other criminals who try to steal your account information to make fraudulent charges.</p> <p>Thankfully, you are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which allows you to dispute a charge on your credit card and temporarily withhold payment on that charge while the card issuer investigates. During that time, the issuer can't legally charge you interest on that charge or report your payment as late to the credit bureaus. (You do, however, still have to pay for all undisputed charges on your bill by the due date.)</p> <p>If a stranger uses your card fraudulently, this law limits your liability to $50, and if the thief uses your card online or over the phone, you aren't liable for anything. In any case, all of the major payment networks offer a zero liability guarantee, meaning you likely won't be responsible for even $50. To enjoy the protection of this powerful law, however, you have to identify fraudulent charges and dispute them with your card issuers.</p> <h2>Identifying fraudulent charges</h2> <p>These days, your card issuer often spots fraudulent charges before the cardholder does. When that happens, they'll usually call you to alert you, and issue a new card immediately while closing the old account to prevent any further fraudulent charges.</p> <p>However, sometimes the card company doesn't catch a fraudulent charge. That's why it's important that you scrutinize every transaction on your credit card statement each month. Sometimes a fraudster may charge small amounts &mdash; maybe a few cents &mdash; to test out whether they can use your account for larger transactions. Beware of charges that are less than a few dollars.</p> <p>Unfortunately, your statement will not offer you much detail about a charge other than the date, the merchant name, and the amount. To make matters worse, some charges may appear with a merchant name that differs from the name of the company that's advertised.</p> <p>When you see an unfamiliar charge on your account, first spend a moment researching the name of the merchant. A quick internet search may reveal that it wasn't a fraudulent charge, it was just processed under a merchant name that's different from the one you remember doing business with.</p> <p>Also check to see that the charge isn't something you inadvertently authorized &mdash; maybe you signed up for a free trial subscription and forgot to cancel it before it automatically turned into a paid service. If the merchant's terms and conditions spell out that this was going to happen, you'll have to take it up with the merchant. It's not considered fraud by the card companies.</p> <p>Finally, a charge is not considered fraudulent if it benefits you. For instance, if your spouse used your card without your knowledge to pay the phone bill or to buy groceries for you both, that's not considered fraud.</p> <h2>How to dispute a fraudulent charge</h2> <p>Once you've done a little bit of investigation and concluded that a charge is likely to be fraudulent, your next step is to notify your card issuer. One way is to call the number on the back of your card and ask to speak to the fraud department. Keep notes about when you called, who you spoke to, and what was discussed.</p> <p>Many credit card issuers also provide a way to dispute a fraudulent charge online. In that case, you should take a screenshot of your confirmation page or print it.</p> <p>Once you've disputed the charge, your card issuer will likely give you a temporary credit that will become permanent if the fraud team's investigation confirms that fraud has occurred. You'll also usually be sent a new credit card and have the old one closed.</p> <h2>Winning the dispute</h2> <p>Just because you've received a temporary credit to your account, it doesn't guarantee that you will eventually win the dispute. As part of its investigation, the credit card company will contact both you and the merchant to ask for both sides of the story. For example, if you claim a charge was unauthorized, the merchant could respond with a signed receipt showing your authorization, or a recording of a telephone call where you approved the charge. And if you claim that you never received the goods you ordered, the merchant could offer a tracking number that proves delivery.</p> <p>When a merchant is actively fighting your dispute, you must provide proof supporting your claim. If you are claiming a charge was never authorized, the burden of proof is on the merchant to show that you gave it permission to charge your credit card.</p> <h2>Preventing fraud in the future</h2> <p>If you found an unauthorized charge from a company that you've never done business with, then it's likely that your account information has been compromised in some way. The best way to prevent further unauthorized charges is to report your card as stolen and have it replaced. There is no charge to cardholders to take this step.</p> <p>You will also want to monitor your credit to spot other possible fraudulent charges. Regularly viewing your credit score for significant changes is one way to spot potential problems early. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">Credit cards that offer free credit scores</a> make it easy to stay on top of changes.</p> <p>You can also request <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report?ref=internal" target="_blank">free copies of your credit reports</a> from the three major consumer credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. Finally, you can request a credit freeze from the major consumer credit bureaus that will prevent anyone from opening a new account in your name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <p>The good news is, credit cards come with robust legal protections against fraudulent charges and other billing errors. But you must do your part to use this law. By identifying and reporting fraudulent charges, and providing documentation supporting your claims, you can win credit card disputes.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Win%2520a%2520Fraud%2520Dispute%2520With%2520Your%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Company.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Win%20a%20Fraud%20Dispute%20With%20Your%20Credit%20Card%20Company"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Win%20a%20Fraud%20Dispute%20With%20Your%20Credit%20Card%20Company.jpg" alt="How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company" width="250" height="374" /></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/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company">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/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit">4 Reasons Credit Is Safer Than Debit</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/make-a-list-and-check-it-twice-to-save-money-and-reduce-fraud-risk-during-the-holidays">Make a List and Check It Twice to Save Money and Reduce Fraud Risk During the Holidays</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/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it">Is Credit Monitoring Ever 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/credit-card-fraud-and-how-to-avoid-it">Credit Card Fraud and How to Avoid 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/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards account hacked account protection credit card dispute credit card fraud credit card tips fraud identity theft privacy Wed, 10 Jan 2018 09:30:10 +0000 Jason Steele 2085317 at http://www.wisebread.com Make a List and Check It Twice to Save Money and Reduce Fraud Risk During the Holidays http://www.wisebread.com/make-a-list-and-check-it-twice-to-save-money-and-reduce-fraud-risk-during-the-holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-a-list-and-check-it-twice-to-save-money-and-reduce-fraud-risk-during-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/santa_credit_card_186577833.jpg" alt="Santa shopping with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year, but it's also the most expensive, and when it comes to identity theft and credit fraud, potentially the riskiest season.</p> <p>More than half of consumers report they are stressed about their finances during the holidays, according to a <a href="https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/holiday-extras/" target="_blank">survey by Experian</a>. Forty-three percent of respondents said the extra expense caused them to enjoy the holidays less.</p> <p>And while everyone is shopping, identity thieves are hard at work. Shoulder surfing at the checkout counter, credit card skimming, and online shopping scams all increase the risk of fraud during the holiday season.</p> <p>So, how do you save money and protect against identity theft during the holidays? The answer is simple: Be like Santa Claus.</p> <p>Many parents and grandparents like me have gotten to know the jolly old elf very well over the years. In fact, I've come to know him so well that I've begun to take on a more than passing resemblance. There's not much I can do about the increasingly white beard, but the bowl full of jelly needs work! Fortunately, it's not the short, round physical attributes that we should emulate. Instead, we should make full use of Santa's best productivity secret: the list.</p> <h2>Create a holiday list and stick to it</h2> <p>Take Santa's advice: make a list and check it twice. Santa does it to know who's been naughty and nice. We should do the same to protect ourselves from the naughty and spend responsibly for the nice. Not quite as catchy, but you get the point. At a minimum, your list should include:</p> <ul> <li>Who is receiving the gift.</li> <li>What you're buying for each person.</li> <li>Where you are buying each item &mdash; online or in a brick and mortar store.</li> <li>How much you will spend per person.</li> </ul> <p>A list will help prevent impulse buying, which is key to saving money during the holidays. Thirty-one percent of the people responding to the Experian survey said they have gone into debt because of unexpected holiday spending.</p> <p>Don't be afraid to reevaluate. You might have to check some off the list, or reduce the amount you'll spend &mdash; especially if you have a big family where you must give a gift to each person.</p> <p>Instead of giving to everyone, you might trim your list by suggesting a secret Santa gift exchange for the adults or older children. It's fun, saves you money, and has Santa's stamp of approval.</p> <p>Another possibility is buying just one gift or a couple of items that your family might enjoy together. Often, those gifts have a more meaningful impact and save you time and money.</p> <p>While it might be hard, you might also consider crossing a few folks off the gift list and just send them holiday cards or e-cards.</p> <h2>Other ways your list can help you save money</h2> <p>A list can also guide decisions about whether to apply for store credit to save additional dollars. Consider applying at a store where you will make multiple purchases, or where you will buy a high-priced item.</p> <p>It is not a good idea to apply at every checkout counter you visit, but taking advantage of new account discounts at a store or two during the holidays can be a great decision, as long as you stick to your budget.</p> <h2>Your list can help protect you from identity theft, too</h2> <p>Knowing what you bought, where, and for how much can also help protect you from identity theft, or at the very least discover and respond to it more quickly. Sticking to your list can help you in several ways:</p> <ul> <li>You limit exposure of your personal and financial information. Unplanned spending can result in swiping your card or applying for credit in more places and with no record to track.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You will have a complete record of your purchases and any new applications for credit. Comparing your billing statements to your list can help you identify incorrect charges or potentially fraudulent activity quickly.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You will be able to instantly identify new accounts that aren't yours when the January billing statements arrive. Early recognition of fraud helps stop the crime and speeds recovery if you do become the victim of credit fraud.</li> </ul> <p>Santa understands that preparation is the key to holiday gift giving. While we don't have a workshop full of elves, we do have pen and paper (or a smartphone and a notes app). Make a list, check it while you shop, and you'll have a less expensive, happier holiday season that will carry over into the new year even after the January bills arrive.</p> <p>While Christmas elves quickly wrap up gifts, so is the end of the year. Despite the new year approaching, Experian continues to guide you through all your financial paths, including the holiday season. Whether it's credit concerns, <a href="https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/its-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year-for-criminals-cheats-and-scammers/" target="_blank">protecting your identity</a>, managing your budget, etc. &mdash; we are here to bring clarity to your questions.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fmake-a-list-and-check-it-twice-to-save-money-and-reduce-fraud-risk-during-the-holidays&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FMake%2520a%2520List%2520and%2520Check%2520It%2520Twice%2520to%2520Save%2520Money%2520and%2520Reduce%2520Fraud%2520Risk%2520During%2520the%2520Holidays.jpg&amp;description=Make%20a%20List%20and%20Check%20It%20Twice%20to%20Save%20Money%20and%20Reduce%20Fraud%20Risk%20During%20the%20Holidays"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Make%20a%20List%20and%20Check%20It%20Twice%20to%20Save%20Money%20and%20Reduce%20Fraud%20Risk%20During%20the%20Holidays.jpg" alt="Make a List and Check It Twice to Save Money and Reduce Fraud Risk During the Holidays" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rod-griffin">Rod Griffin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-a-list-and-check-it-twice-to-save-money-and-reduce-fraud-risk-during-the-holidays">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-8"> <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-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company">How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company</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/9-ways-to-use-miles-and-points-for-holiday-gifts">9 Ways to Use Miles and Points for Holiday Gifts</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/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit">4 Reasons Credit Is Safer Than Debit</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/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it">Is Credit Monitoring Ever 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/the-worst-holiday-credit-cards">The Worst Holiday Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Shopping fraud holiday shopping holiday shopping tips identity theft santa santa claus Tue, 19 Dec 2017 10:00:06 +0000 Rod Griffin 2074531 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Freeze Your Credit http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-freeze-your-credit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_data_security.jpg" alt="Credit card data security" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cybersecurity experts called it a wake-up call: In September 2017, national credit bureau Equifax suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of over 145 million customers. The breach was a startling reminder that your personal information might not be as secure as you would like to believe. It also woke many consumers up to the concept of freezing their credit.</p> <p>Here's a quick guide on how credit freezes work, how you can apply one yourself, and what you have to do to thaw your credit freeze. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>What a credit freeze does</h2> <p>A credit freeze prevents lenders or financial institutions from accessing your credit report. It can also stop an identity thief from opening an account or getting credit in your name, even if they have accessed your personal information through a security breach like the one that hit Equifax in September.</p> <p>Even if Equifax reports that you weren&rsquo;t impacted by the breach (which you can check at <a href="https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/" target="_blank">EquifaxSeurity2017</a>), you might still consider a credit freeze. Doing this stops any of your personal and financial information from being reported to lenders and creditors. This is important; if a thief tries to use this information to apply for a new credit card or loan in your name, the application would automatically be rejected. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>How to apply a freeze</h2> <p>Even though Equifax suffered the breach, freezing your credit with Equifax alone is not enough. To completely protect your personal information, you must freeze your credit with all three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.</p> <p>The quickest way to do this is by logging onto the security freeze pages maintained by each bureau:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp" target="_blank">TransUnion</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp" target="_blank">Equifax</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze" target="_blank">Experian</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>You can also call each of the bureaus by phone to request a credit freeze. You can reach Equifax at 1-800-685-1111, TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872, and Experian at 1-888-397-3742.</p> <h2>What you need for a freeze</h2> <p>First, you'll usually have to pay to file a credit freeze. That fee varies depending on where you live. Fees typically range from $3 to $10, but in many states, this fee is waived if you can prove with an investigative or incident report that you already have been the victim of identity theft.</p> <p>Depending on where you live, you'll have to provide a list of documents that the credit bureaus can use to verify your identity. For instance, in California, you must provide your full name, including your middle initial and any suffixes such as &quot;junior&quot; or &quot;senior.&quot; You must also provide your Social Security number; complete addresses for the last two years; birth date; copy of a government-issued ID card such as a driver's license or state ID card; and one copy of a utility bill, bank statement, insurance statement, or other form of proof of identity.</p> <p>The credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming that your freeze is in place. It will remain in place until you ask to remove it.</p> <h2>Unfreezing</h2> <p>You probably don&rsquo;t want your credit freeze to remain in place forever. If you need to apply for a mortgage or auto loan, for instance, you&rsquo;ll want lenders to be able to access your credit. Fortunately, each credit bureau will send you your own personal identification number &mdash; or PIN &mdash; that you can use to unfreeze and refreeze your credit.</p> <p>If you are applying for a car loan, for instance, you can use your three PINs to temporarily unfreeze your credit. Your auto lender can then check your credit. Once your loan is granted, you can refreeze your credit with your PIN.</p> <p>Unfreezing your credit can range from free to $12. You can unfreeze your credit for one specific creditor or for a set period of time.</p> <p>Your credit freeze will remain in effect in most states until you request its removal. But in the states of Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and South Dakota, credit freezes are automatically removed after seven years. You can freeze your credit longer in these states, but you&rsquo;ll have to remember to renew the freeze on your own.</p> <h2>The fraud alert alternative</h2> <p>A credit freeze is labor-intensive. It can also slow your ability to qualify for new loans or credit cards. As an alternative, you could consider signing up for fraud alerts from all three bureaus.</p> <p>In a fraud alert, a credit-reporting agency will put a warning on your credit reports. This tells lenders that they need to carefully verify the identity of anyone trying to open an account in a consumer&rsquo;s name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-freeze-your-credit&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Freeze%2520Your%2520Credit.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Freeze%20Your%20Credit"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Freeze%20Your%20Credit.jpg" alt="How to Freeze Your Credit" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit">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-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was 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/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</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/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to You?</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/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance breach credit freeze credit report Equifax Experian fraud identity theft security TransUnion Fri, 15 Dec 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Dan Rafter 2071390 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Credit Card Notifications That Can Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/9-credit-card-notifications-that-can-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-credit-card-notifications-that-can-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_businessman_shopping_in_the_city.jpg" alt="Young businessman shopping in the city" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When used properly, a credit card is a great way to overcome short-term cash crunches, build up your credit score, and even give you some rewards for your regular spending. But credit cards come with additional hassles that can trip up your financial goals. Forgetting a payment, overspending, or even identity theft can lead to a financial mess. The good news is that credit card companies these days want to help you avoid these problems as much as you do. Automated notifications from your credit card issuer can keep you on track. If you haven't already, turn these alerts on, stat!</p> <h2>1. Payment due reminder</h2> <p>The biggest component of your credit score is your payment history (35 percent of your score). It makes absolute sense: When evaluating your credit application for a mortgage or car loan, the first thing that any lender wants to know is whether or not you've paid your other accounts on time. A payment due reminder helps you to never miss a monthly payment, especially if you don't use auto-pay for your bill. Remember that a good track record on your monthly credit card payments will boost your score over time and help you avoid late fees and APR penalties.</p> <h2>2. Payment received</h2> <p>This alert confirms that your credit card company received your payment, giving you peace of mind. When rebuilding your credit score or trying to qualify for a loan, knowing that your payment is checked off for the month provides you a much needed sense of relief and accomplishment, which can help you keep working toward your financial goals.</p> <p>This can also help if you have an authorized user who is supposed to pay for their own charges, for example your teenager. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-never-make-a-late-credit-card-payment?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment</a>)</p> <h2>3. Single transaction</h2> <p>The second largest component of a credit score is the amounts owed on accounts (30 percent of your score). While owing money on your credit card doesn't necessarily lower your score, lenders like to see a lower <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit utilization rate</a>. Credit reporting bureaus suggest keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent to gain credit points faster.</p> <p>A single transaction notification alerts you if your account has been charged a single purchase amount that would put your account over that 30 percent threshold. If you already have a set monthly budget of credit card expenses, set this alert to remind yourself that you need to stop making additional charges and focus on reducing your card's current balance.</p> <h2>4. Approaching credit limit</h2> <p>Avoid going over your credit limit by knowing when your available credit is less than a certain amount. This alert is useful in a few different ways:</p> <p>While a credit card isn't ideal for emergency expenses, knowing how much of your balance is available can reassure you that you <em>could</em> cover a sudden emergency room visit or car breakdown if you had to. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-credit-card-for-an-emergency-without-drowning-in-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a>)</p> <p>This helps you keep tabs on that 30 percent credit utilization ratio and work toward getting back on track.</p> <p>It can serve as a reminder that you've reached or exceeded your allotted monthly budget and can't spend for the rest of the month.</p> <h2>5. Daily usage</h2> <p>This alert watches for too many transactions and lets you know if the number goes over a set limit. A daily usage alert is a friendly nudge that keeps you in check and encourages you to watch your expenses more tightly. Perhaps it's time to make more payments in cash. Paying with cash increases the &quot;pain&quot; of making a payment, which in turn decreases your chances of overspending and can boost your satisfaction with your purchase.</p> <p>Receiving a daily usage alert too often can also serve as red flag that you may have to turn to more drastic measures to rein back credit card usage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-guaranteed-way-to-avoid-impulse-credit-card-purchases?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Guaranteed Way to Avoid Impulse Credit Card Purchases</a>)</p> <h2>6. Suspicious activity</h2> <p>Data breaches are increasing every year. According to data from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of U.S. data breaches through June 30, 2017 recorded a half-year record of 791 and was on track to reach an all-time high of 1,500 by end of this year. Many of the targets of these breaches are companies holding your credit card information.</p> <p>Getting a notification about potentially fraudulent activity on your account is a great way to stop thieves in their tracks. Since some thieves first test your card with a small amount that is likely to go unnoticed, getting that notification of suspicious activity allows you to quickly take action and address the potential threat. (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> <h2>7. Weekly snapshot</h2> <p>If you don't use your credit card that often, a weekly snapshot alert may be sufficient. Check if your credit card issuer offers a notification that sends you a weekly summary of charges, payments, and other information. This way you'll stay on top of your credit card account regularly without having to think about it.</p> <h2>8. Online statement available</h2> <p>This alert lets you know as soon as your online statement is ready to view. It's a good habit to check your monthly credit card activity to ensure there are no erroneous charges.</p> <p>This notification is particularly useful for business owners who use their credit card statements for bookkeeping and reconciling financial statements. Whether you complete these task yourself or have an accountant, you'll know it's time to get working on crunching those numbers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-habits-of-highly-responsible-credit-card-users?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Habits of Highly Responsible Credit Card Users</a>)</p> <h2>9. Credit score changed</h2> <p>As stated at the beginning, proper use of a credit card is a means to build up your credit score. So, of course you'll want to know when your credit score changes. Many lenders offer their customers free credit scores, so if your credit card issuer does, consider signing up for a credit score update. Contact your credit card company and find out the process for setting up notifications. Depending on the company, you may be able to get alerts via email, text message, or in-app push notifications. Select the notifications that make the most sense to your unique financial situation and will help you achieve your financial goals.</p> <p>Just make sure that the reported credit score is the one that the lender of your mortgage, car loan, or other type of financing actually uses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-or-fako-are-free-credit-scores-from-credit-cards-the-real-thing?ref=seealso" target="_blank">FICO or FAKO: Are Free Credit Scores From Credit Cards the Real Thing?</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-credit-card-notifications-that-can-save-you-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Credit%2520Card%2520Notifications%2520That%2520Can%2520Save%2520You%2520Money.jpg&amp;description=9%20Credit%20Card%20Notifications%20That%20Can%20Save%20You%20Money"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Credit%20Card%20Notifications%20That%20Can%20Save%20You%20Money.jpg" alt="9 Credit Card Notifications That Can Save You Money" width="250" height="374" /></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/9-credit-card-notifications-that-can-save-you-money">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/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</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-after-the-holidays-moves-your-credit-score-will-thank-you-for">5 After the Holidays Moves Your Credit Score Will Thank You For</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/6-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</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-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</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-monthly-bills-that-vary-based-on-your-credit-behavior">5 Monthly Bills That Vary Based on Your Credit Behavior</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance alerts balance bills credit notifications credit score credit utilization fraud limits payment reminders security statements Thu, 30 Nov 2017 09:00:08 +0000 Damian Davila 2062570 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_man_using_a_laptop.jpg" alt="Young man using a laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unlike your bank accounts that are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for losses up to $250,000, there is no such universal protection for your retirement funds. If you get hacked, thieves can gain access to your retirement account and transfer funds into their own pockets.</p> <p>What would happen if your investment account was hacked and funds were stolen? Many brokerages have customer protection guarantees in case of unauthorized account activity, but customers are responsible for taking certain action before and after the hack to qualify for reimbursement of stolen funds.</p> <p>Investment brokerage policies vary on the subject of restoring losses from unauthorized activities. In general, customers are responsible for promptly detecting and notifying the brokerage of unauthorized activity, and for showing that the security lapse was not their fault.</p> <p>Here are steps you can take to protect your retirement account.</p> <h2>Monitor investment accounts</h2> <p>Unlike a checking account or credit card account that is typically monitored fairly closely, a transfer from an investment account can easily go unnoticed for months until a quarterly statement. The first step in getting funds restored to your retirement account after a hack is to notify the brokerage that unauthorized activity has occurred.</p> <p>Instead of waiting for a quarterly account statement in the mail, you can access your account electronically to check for unexpected activity. Some brokers allow you to set up alerts and receive notifications by email if a transaction has processed.</p> <h2>Protect account access credentials</h2> <p>There are several important security measures you can take to prevent a thief from accessing your retirement account.</p> <h3>1. Set up two-step verification</h3> <p>An easy way to boost the security of your access credentials is to sign up for two-step verification with your brokerage. This means that in addition to your password, you&rsquo;ll need a one-time numeric code that is sent to you via text message or email when you try to log in. This adds a layer of security; simply having your login and password is not enough for a thief to gain access to your account.</p> <h3>2. Beware of phishing scams</h3> <p>Criminals often send out emails that appear to be legitimate asking for login information. They may also try to trick you into clicking on a link that leads to a fake website designed to capture your username and password when you try to log in. Some internet security products verify that websites are authentic and post a warning when you try to access unconfirmed sites, in order to provide protection from phishing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-phishing-scams?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Avoid Phishing Scams</a>)</p> <h3>3. Don't sign in on a public Wi-Fi connection</h3> <p>Avoid using public computers to access your retirement account, and avoid logging in over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. You should also avoid reusing the same password for multiple accounts.</p> <h3>4. Don't share your login with anyone</h3> <p>Think twice before sharing your access credentials with others, even companies such as Mint or Personal Capital that use your login to help monitor your account. If a company that has your login information gets hacked, and your access credentials are stolen and used to drain your account, this loss may <em>not</em> be covered by the recovery policy of your broker. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>Secure your computer</h2> <p>Hackers can steal retirement account access credentials directly from your computer. Install anti-virus and anti-malware software, including a firewall, to prevent thieves from breaking in. Use a login for your computer to keep others from accessing your files. After a hack, investigators from the brokerage may want to examine your computer to see that you were using reasonable security features when determining whether you were at fault for the hack.</p> <h2>Policies of major brokers for hacked accounts</h2> <p>Account restoration policies in response to unauthorized activity vary by broker. Following are links to policies at major firms so you can check to see what is required to get retirement funds restored after a hack.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://www.fidelity.com/security/customer-protection-guarantee" target="_blank">Fidelity</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/legal_compliance/schwabsafe/security_guarantee.html" target="_blank">Charles Schwab</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.scottrade.com/documents/pdf/osc.pdf" target="_blank">Scottrade</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/help/SecurityOnlineFraudPledgeContent.jsp" target="_blank">Vanguard</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://us.etrade.com/e/t/home/securityguarantee" target="_blank">E*trade</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.tdameritrade.com/security/asset-protection-guarantee.page" target="_blank">TD Ameritrade</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>In general, you are responsible for monitoring and protecting your own retirement account by keeping your password secure and taking reasonable security precautions on your computer or other devices. If the hack and resulting loss occurs due to breach of the brokerage's computer system, you'll likely get your funds restored based on the policies of most brokerages.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Protect%2520Your%2520Retirement%2520Account%2520From%2520a%2520Hack.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Retirement%20Account%20From%20a%20Hack"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Retirement%20Account%20From%20a%20Hack.jpg" alt="How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack" width="250" height="374" /></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/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</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/ucla-security-breach-affects-800-000-people-not-just-students">UCLA security breach affects 800,000 people (not just students)</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-your-child-from-identity-theft">How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft</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-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Retirement fraud identity theft passwords phishing protections retirement accounts scams security breach stolen funds Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2048695 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/computer_hacker_stealing_information_with_laptop.jpg" alt="Computer hacker stealing information with laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your ex-spouse calls you, but the name on the caller ID is your child's. You receive a hospital bill for a C-section supposedly performed on your eight-year-old son. Or, you bring your child to the bank to open her first savings account, and are denied because they say she has a record of bad checks.</p> <p>All these are warning signs for a surprisingly prevalent crime: child identity theft. Most adults are aware that their own names and Social Security numbers can be hijacked by scammers who open fraudulent accounts in their names; not everyone realizes that the same thing can and does happen to kids.</p> <p>Identity theft can interfere with college, job prospects, buying a car, or getting that first mortgage. So it's important for you to understand how to protect your kids from this fraud. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-comprehensive-guide-to-identity-theft-everything-you-need-to-know?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Comprehensive Guide to Identity Theft: Everything You Need to Know</a>)</p> <h2>Fraudsters love kids</h2> <p>You might think a kid's identity wouldn't appeal to scammers. After all, kids have no credit history and they're not even old enough to get their own credit cards. But the victim being under 18 is generally not a problem for opening new accounts. The credit bureaus don't know the applicant's age, says Eva Velasquez, CEO and President of the Identity Theft Resource Center.</p> <p>And, a blank credit history can be attractive to a criminal who might have many blemishes on his or her own report, says Robert Chappell, a state police captain who wrote <em>Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know</em>.</p> <p>Even better, from a crook's perspective, is the fact that the crime can go undetected for years since no one usually thinks to check a kid's credit report.</p> <p>&quot;In many instances, the first time a young adult might discover they're a victim of identity theft is when they try to apply for a loan for college and are denied because someone else either already destroyed their credit or already took out a student loan using their Social Security number,&quot; Velasquez says.</p> <h2>How does your child's info get out there?</h2> <p>Anyone with access to a child's Social Security number and date of birth can apply for accounts and services in their name. There are a number of ways scammers can get their hands on those vital digits:</p> <h3>Paperwork</h3> <p>When this information is written on school or sports team forms, it's seen by staff. If forms aren't shredded properly before disposal, it can also be found in recycling bins by thieves. To defend against these risks, be judicious about what you write on forms.</p> <p>&quot;Leave the Social Security number blank. A Social Security number is like gold to a thief,&quot; Chappell says.</p> <h3>Hacking</h3> <p>When hackers broke into health insurance company Anthem's database in 2015, tens of millions of children's records were among those compromised. There's not much you can do to prevent a breach like that, but if you get a letter notifying you that your child's account was involved in a hack, take advantage of any credit monitoring service offered.</p> <h3>Friends and family</h3> <p>Disturbingly, often the person who steals a child's identity is a relative or close friend.</p> <p>Even parents are sometimes tempted to put their children's names and Social Security numbers on account applications if their own credit is bad. To prevent a relative from exploiting your child's identity, Chappell advises keeping kids' sensitive documents under lock and key, just as you should your own.</p> <p>&quot;Don't carry your child's Social Security card around in your wallet or allow your child to carry their Social Security card,&quot; Chappell advises. &quot;It's just not needed on a daily basis.&quot;</p> <h2>What should you do if your child's identity is stolen?</h2> <p>Follow these tips from the Federal Trade Commission and other experts:</p> <ul> <li> <p>File a police report and report the crime to the FTC at <a href="https://www.identitytheft.gov/" target="_blank">IdentityTheft.gov</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>Contact the three major credit bureaus to request your credit reports (you can access all three credit reports via <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>). Ask each bureau to remove any fraudulent accounts. Then freeze your credit so no new accounts can be opened.</p> </li> <li> <p>Contact the appropriate creditor to explain that the fraudulent account was opened in a minor's name.</p> </li> <li> <p>Consider paying for a credit monitoring service.</p> </li> <li> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.identitytheft.gov/" target="_blank">FTC's Identity Theft Resource site</a> for more help.</p> </li> </ul> <p><span style="background-color: transparent; font-size: 13px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</h2> <h2 style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: 13px;">Like this article? Pin it!</span></h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Protect%2520Your%2520Child%2520From%2520Identity%2520Theft.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Child%20From%20Identity%20Theft"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: 13px;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Child%20From%20Identity%20Theft.jpg" alt="How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft" width="250" height="374" /></span></p> <p></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</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/how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-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-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/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</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-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair 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/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</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-smart-financial-gifts-to-give-your-kids-this-year">6 Smart Financial Gifts to Give Your Kids This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance children credit freezes federal trade commission fraud identity theft kids protections security breach social security Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2035898 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/anonymus_with_laptop.jpg" alt="Anonymous with laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you get mugged, you know immediately that you're the victim of a crime. But with identity theft, you can be victimized for years before you realize what's happening. And the longer the criminal uses your name, Social Security number, and credit, the more damage is done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <p>With the recent Equifax breach exposing the personal information of as many as half of Americans, we could be in for an identity theft epidemic. Keep alert for these signs that your identity has been stolen, so you can stop the damage before it goes too far. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>1. Strange bills or statements arrive</h2> <p>It's very important to always open your mail, even if it doesn't look important. A bill or statement from an unfamiliar service provider or credit account can often be the first sign of identity theft.</p> <p>&quot;You may think it's just junk mail, but you might discover it's an invoice for a surgery in a state where you don't live,&quot; warns Ann Patterson, program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. &quot;That is a very good indication that you've been a victim.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Bills stop arriving</h2> <p>On the flip side, make sure you are receiving all bills and statements you normally receive. If one falls off, it could be that a criminal has changed the address on that account, which could help them establish other accounts going to a different address.</p> <p>If your mail dries up altogether, that's a sign that a thief may have filed a change of address request at the post office &mdash; they could be getting all your mail with all the sensitive information found there.</p> <h2>3. Odd charges on credit accounts and checking accounts</h2> <p>Credit card companies have gotten good at alerting customers to fraudulent attempts to make charges, but they can't catch 'em all. Keep a keen eye on your credit card and bank statements. The first charge an identity thief makes may be small, because they're testing to see whether the card is active. There are also scammers out there who make their money by processing many small charges on many credit accounts.</p> <h2>4. Your find yourself getting rejected for things</h2> <p>Your health insurance company rejects your claim because you're over your annual limit &mdash; but this was your first claim. You're turned down for a new credit card or your charges are denied at the store. You apply for life insurance and are charged a higher rate due to a pre-existing condition that you don't have. The ATM won't give you any money.</p> <p>Don't brush off any of these events. It could be a fluke, or it could be a sign that something sinister is going on.</p> <h2>5. You receive suspicious phone calls</h2> <p>A neighbor of mine recently received a phone call that purported to be from her bank. The caller read back a list of recent transactions, which set her mind at ease that the call was legit, even though she knew that caller ID numbers can be spoofed. She was then tricked into sharing a PIN with the caller.</p> <p>What might be happening if you get a call like that? You may already be a victim of identity theft, with the criminal already accessing your bank account. They may use the information they already know to trick you into giving them more information, or the access they need to start stealing money.</p> <h2>6. You receive strange texts or emails</h2> <p>If you are smart, you've set up two-factor authentication on important accounts. This means that you have asked your bank or other service providers to email or text you before allowing you to sign onto your account or take other actions, such as transferring out money. The text may provide you with a one-time code that you need to type into the website to log in, for example.</p> <p>If you receive a text or email with a PIN when you didn't request one, this is a big red flag that someone has your login credentials and is trying to take control of your account. Contact the company immediately through the phone number on your statement. And change your password.</p> <h2>7. Creditors and collections agencies start calling you</h2> <p>You got a call from a car dealership warning that your payment is late. The only problem is you didn't recently buy a car, and you have no current car payments. This is a huge red flag. Do not simply write off such calls as errors or wrong numbers.</p> <h2>8. You don't receive your tax refund, or the IRS notifies you that you filed two tax returns</h2> <p>The Department of Justice reports that people have stolen billions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury by filing tax returns using stolen identities, and pocketing the refunds. Just make sure it's really the IRS contacting you, instead of a scammer posing as the IRS. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>9. There are accounts you don't recognize on your credit report</h2> <p>If any of the above warning signs occur, you should definitely request a free copy of your credit report and study it carefully. If there are any credit accounts listed there that you didn't open, your suspicions will be confirmed.</p> <p>Even if you didn't experience any warning signs, you should check your report regularly, especially in light of the Equifax breach. You can request a free report from each of the three agencies once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, so if you request one every four months, you'll be able to stay pretty on top of things. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Signs%2520Your%2520Identity%2520Was%2520Stolen.jpg&amp;description=9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen.jpg" alt="9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen" width="250" height="374" /></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/9-signs-your-identity-was-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-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/how-to-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</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-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair 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/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</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/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banking breach Equifax fraud identity theft mail fraud protection scams stolen credit cards warning signs Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2029964 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_concerned_paperwork_603316058.jpg" alt="Woman protecting her credit after equifax breach" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Approximately 143 million records were stolen in the recent breach of Equifax, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Even before the Equifax incident, identity theft has been on the rise. With this recent theft of millions of records, the risk of credit fraud is sure to grow.</p> <p>You can take measures to protect yourself from identity theft. These options range from watching out for suspicious activity on your accounts, to paying for credit monitoring services or even freezing access to your credit reports.</p> <p>Is it worth the trouble and expense to freeze your credit report, or can less intensive steps sufficiently mitigate your risk of identity theft? Here are the options available to you.</p> <h2>Manual account monitoring</h2> <p>You can check your monthly statements from existing bank and credit accounts for unexpected transactions. If you see a transaction you did not make, you have a major red flag.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>The cost is zero, but it takes effort to stay on top of all your statements and look for unexpected activity. If you spot theft, you will need to work with your financial institution to undo the fraudulent transactions.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>In many cases, you will not be responsible for fraudulent transactions if you report them to the financial institution and work to resolve the issue. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Credit Is Safer Than Debit</a>)</p> <h2>Manual credit report monitoring</h2> <p>In addition to monitoring transactions on your existing accounts, you need to keep watch in case thieves open <em>new </em>credit accounts using your stolen personal information. You can request a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) and manually check for new accounts that were created by someone else.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Free if you use the free credit reports, limited to one per year per credit bureau. If you want to check your reports more frequently than once per year, you can pay a small fee, typically around $10 per report.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>Even if you are diligent in requesting and checking your credit reports, a fraudulent account could go unnoticed for some time due to the delay between when a fraudulent account is created and when you obtain an updated credit report and notice the new account.</p> <h3>How to get your free credit reports</h3> <p>Visit <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> to request your free credit reports. You can request reports from all three credit bureaus at once, or you can order from one bureau at a time. Ordering one free report every four months can help you keep an eye on your credit throughout the year without paying any fees.</p> <h2>Credit report monitoring service</h2> <p>You can sign up for credit monitoring services that send alerts when new credit accounts are opened, or when a credit inquiry has been made on your report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-credit-monitoring-ever-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Credit Monitoring Ever Worth It?</a>)</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Credit monitoring services are offered by the credit reporting agencies and other companies with costs ranging from a few dollars per month up to $25 per month. Free credit monitoring is available from Credit Karma whose free service is supported by loan and credit offers.</p> <p>Credit monitoring is automatic in the sense that it provides alerts when an inquiry occurs or a new account is opened, but you will need to check the alerts to see if the activity is legitimate. And if there is fraudulent activity, you will need to take steps to counter it.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>Credit monitoring provides alerts when new credit accounts are opened, but it does not stop thieves from opening fake accounts. The automatic monitoring simply helps you spot fraudulent new accounts quickly and take action to reverse charges and close the accounts.</p> <h2>Identity theft insurance</h2> <p>Identity theft insurance pays for some of the expenses you could incur associated with restoring your identity, including legal fees and fees from financial institutions. Coverage may also include out-of-pocket losses from credit fraud or other misuses of your personal information.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>Identity theft insurance typically costs around $25 to $60 per year and may include credit monitoring and other services.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>If you become a victim of identity theft and are covered by identity theft insurance, the ball will still be in your court to resolve the issues. The insurance will cover certain types of expenses you may incur and limits your out-of-pocket losses.</p> <h2>Fraud alert</h2> <p>You can place a fraud alert on your credit report, which notifies credit issuers to contact you for confirmation before setting up a new credit account. An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days, and you can extend it for another 90 days after that. An extended fraud alert for confirmed cases of identity theft lasts for seven years.</p> <p>In addition to putting a fraud alert on your credit report for new credit accounts, you can also request a security alert with <a href="https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsystems/consumerdebit/page/IdentityTheft/securityalert/!ut/p/z1/pZLLDoJADEW_hi0tD5G4m0REBV9BIs7GoMERg4xBhN930BWKsKC7ac5J25sBCgHQNCxiFuYxT8NEvPfUOCAZE0X30LXXqwkSa7E0Pd9VUTdgVwdW060qAMu1NdVRbB-B9vE3eqvv_PhfAA77-WLBt_-nCHb4jtF9P60jDQm2AlVErUOqDLquaB9hKTAHyhJ-_PwIkh41kwHNonOURZn8zET7kuf3x0hCCcuylBnnLInkE79J2KRc-COHoE7C_eaLCjCeXQdJ4ZIXbQAyMA!!/dz/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/" target="_blank">ChexSystems</a> for new checking and savings accounts.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>It is free to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Once you put a fraud alert on your file with any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, it will be shared with the other two.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>When a fraud alert is on your credit report, credit issuers are supposed to contact you before opening a new credit account, but compliance may vary.</p> <h2>Credit report freeze</h2> <p>A credit freeze with the credit reporting agencies prevents your credit report from being shared unless you &quot;unfreeze&quot; your credit report. This prevents thieves from opening fraudulent new credit accounts using stolen personal information.</p> <h3>How much cost and effort?</h3> <p>A credit freeze comes with a higher level of hassle and cost than some other fraud prevention measures. You need to freeze your credit report with each of the three credit reporting agencies, which means requesting the freeze three times. Then every time you want to apply for a credit account, or allow access to your credit report for an employment or housing application, you will need to unfreeze your credit report, then refreeze it afterward.</p> <p>You'll pay fees every time you freeze or unfreeze your account. The fees vary by state, but generally they range from $5 to $15 for each freeze and unfreeze. Note that in light of the security breach, Equifax is offering <em>free </em>credit freezes until November 21, 2017.</p> <p>Each bureau will give you a personal identification number (PIN) that you'll need to keep track of in order to unfreeze your reports. You can also request a security freeze with ChexSystems to block new checking or savings accounts from being opened at no cost.</p> <h3>How much protection?</h3> <p>A credit freeze is effective at stopping new accounts from being opened, but you'll still need to monitor existing bank and credit accounts for fraudulent activity, since existing accounts are not affected by a credit freeze. If you know you'll be applying for credit (or a job or apartment that might require a credit check) multiple times in the near future &mdash; or if a credit freeze just sounds like too much hassle &mdash; you may be better off signing up for a credit monitoring service and perhaps placing a fraud alert on your credit report instead of doing a freeze.</p> <p>If you rarely or never apply for credit, and will not need to provide access to your credit report for employers or landlords, you may be better off freezing your credit report indefinitely. Keep in mind, though, that it is possible that the PIN needed to unfreeze your credit report could be compromised by thieves, who could unfreeze your credit report themselves. For added protection, you could place a fraud alert on your credit report before freezing it.</p> <h3>A &quot;lock&quot; may be another option</h3> <p>Starting January 31, 2018, Equifax will be offering consumers a new, permanent service that gives them the ability to &quot;lock&quot; and &quot;unlock&quot; their credit report at will. This new service is reported to work in a similar fashion to a freeze, and it is yet to be determined what exactly will differentiate the two methods. Equifax claims the service will include more &quot;modern authentication techniques&quot; for unlocking and accessing your credit report. If you elect this route, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before signing up.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Protect%2520Your%2520Credit%2520After%2520the%2520Equifax%2520Breach.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Credit%20After%20the%20Equifax%20Breach"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Credit%20After%20the%20Equifax%20Breach.jpg" alt="How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach" width="250" height="374" /></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/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">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-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</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/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to 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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</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-read-a-credit-report">How to Read a Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News credit alerts credit freeze credit monitoring credit reports Equifax Experian fraud identity theft identity theft insurance insurance security breach TransUnion Mon, 02 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2029142 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior_woman_giving_credit_card_details_on_the_phone.jpg" alt="Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was a child, my grandmother often watched me while my parents were away. One day, I was sitting at the kitchen table while she made a sandwich for me, and the phone rang.</p> <p>My grandmother answered, and a deep, muffled voice said &quot;Mom? Thank God, I need help.&quot; The man, claiming to be my dad, told her he had been stranded and horribly injured, and needed her to drive to his location with money.</p> <p>My grandmother was shaken, but promised to send help right away. She quickly hung up and tried to get a hold of my mom. Thankfully, my dad was the one to answer the phone, completely healthy and carefree.</p> <p>I look back and still shudder at what could have happened if my grandmother had driven to where the man told her. It was my first introduction to con artists who take advantage of the elderly, but it continues to be a major issue. In fact, losses from elder fraud cases cost more than $36 billion in 2015, according to a True Link Financial report on financial elder abuse.</p> <h2>Preying on the elderly</h2> <p>The elderly are targeted by con artists because they tend to be less familiar with the latest technology and trends. They're less likely to recognize an email from a fraudulent &quot;bank,&quot; for example, asking for personal information. Worse, many seniors are simply lonely and isolated. Scammers prey on that. A kind, friendly voice on the other end of the phone can be convincing. And once a scam is complete, the victims often feel so bad about falling for it in the first place that it prevents them from reporting the crime to the police or even family members. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>How to protect your loved ones</h2> <p>Shielding your elderly parents or relatives from harm can be difficult, especially if they live alone. These four tips can help prevent con artists from successfully targeting them.</p> <h3>1. Have a family code word</h3> <p>Come up with a family code word to use when there's a real emergency. Pick an odd word that has meaning to your family and is easy to remember. That way, if someone calls claiming to be a family member in need of help, your elderly relative can prompt them for the code word to verify their claim.</p> <p>If my family had a code word and my father really needed help, stating our designated word would have shown my grandmother it was a legitimate crisis. A scammer would have no idea, and would be revealed as soon as they couldn't relay the word.</p> <h3>2. Encourage them to ignore the phone</h3> <p>Many scammers will call just to find out if a person lives alone. Program your loved ones' phones with the numbers of family and friends, and encourage them to not answer the phone if they don't recognize the number.</p> <p>If a caller leaves a voicemail saying they're with a particular company &mdash; for example, a bank or credit card issuer &mdash; show your relative how to verify the number by looking up the company online, rather than just blindly returning the phone call. Taking that extra step to check a bank or credit card company's information can save your loved one from falling for a trick.</p> <h3>3. Help monitor accounts</h3> <p>If your relative is comfortable with this, offer to check over credit card or bank statements. Review them periodically for odd purchases. This is not quite the same as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-youll-encounter-when-taking-over-a-loved-ones-finances" target="_blank">taking over your loved one's finances</a>; it's just providing a second set of eyes. If your homebody great-aunt suddenly has charges for a Vegas shopping spree, for example, you'll be able to alert her and help dispute the charges right away.</p> <p>Some banks will let even you monitor the account, but won't give you access to the funds, which can give your loved ones peace of mind.</p> <h3>4. Check AARP's Fraud Watch Network</h3> <p>Some scams are regional, affecting only certain cities or neighborhoods. And the latest iterations of fraud can evolve over time, preying on the unsuspecting.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/" target="_blank">AARP's Fraud Watch Network</a> reports on fraud trends both nationally and locally. If you sign up for their alerts, you will receive notifications about scams happening in your area. By getting those alerts, you can warn your elderly relatives and friends about potential con artists and how they work.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Elderly%20Loved%20Ones%20From%20Financial%20Scams.jpg" alt="How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">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/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</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-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</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-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a 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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs con artists elderly family members fraud identity theft phone scams protecting relatives scams technology Mon, 04 Sep 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 2012632 at http://www.wisebread.com 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-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/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/6-times-you-need-to-update-your-will">6 Times You Need to Update Your Will</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/3-mistakes-that-make-a-bad-credit-situation-worse">3 Mistakes That Make a Bad Credit Situation Worse</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</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-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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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/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> </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/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company">How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company</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-credit-cards-protect-your-purchases-from-damage-or-theft">How Credit Cards Protect Your Purchases From Damage or Theft</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>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-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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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-choose-the-best-tax-preparer">How to Choose the Best Tax Preparer</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-12"> <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/10-more-scams-everyone-should-know-about">10 More Scams Everyone Should Know About</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-10-scams-of-2006">Top 10 scams of 2006</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</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