Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/all en-US 4 Affordable Destinations That Are Safer Than You Think http://www.wisebread.com/4-affordable-destinations-that-are-safer-than-you-think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-affordable-destinations-that-are-safer-than-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/the_monastery_al_deir_temple.jpg" alt="The Monastery (Al Deir Temple)" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are countless corners of the world that are completely misunderstood and labeled as &quot;unsafe,&quot; when the reality is far from that simple. Violence, wars, terrorism, and drugs can all destroy a country's image and leave lasting negative consequences for its tourism industry.</p> <p>But if you're looking for a budget vacation that's a little out of the ordinary, then consider exploring countries that for one reason or another haven't always enjoyed the best of reputations. Here are four affordable destinations that are actually less dangerous than you might think. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</a>)</p> <p>*All cost estimates are taken from Numbeo.com, a trusted source of user contributed data for the cost of living in countries, and leading hotel site Booking.com.</p> <h2>Rwanda</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/model_resettlement_village%20in_northern_rwanda.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Rwanda's recent history has been deeply shaped by the brutal civil war that was waged here in the early 1990s, and in so many ways it's still struggling to overcome the devastating aftermath. Up to a million people are estimated to have been killed during the unrest and the genocide that followed. Though this war ended over 20 years ago, for many it's still the first thing that springs to mind when Rwanda is mentioned, deterring some potential visitors.</p> <p>Today, the landscape in Rwanda is very different, and though the scars remain, it's beginning to build a reputation as one of the continent's finest tourist destinations. It's now widely regarded as one of the safest and most politically stable countries in Africa. At the time of publishing, the U.S. State Department rates it as having the lowest possible travel advisory level, with no current security alerts.</p> <p>Despite its diminutive size, it packs a punch far above its weight in terms of attractions. Known as &quot;The Land of a Thousand Hills,&quot; its undulating terrain is home to some incredible scenery and rare animals. This includes the famous National Volcanoes Park where you'll find some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas.</p> <p>Rwanda is also rated as one of the most affordable countries to visit in the region. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will set you back just $2.88, and a room in a budget hotel will start at around $30 depending on which area you're in.</p> <h2>Morocco</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/ait_benhaddou_moroccan_ancient_fortress.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>North Africa has developed a less than stellar reputation in recent years having been blighted by numerous acts of horrific terrorism. Morocco has also experienced terrorist-related incidents in the past, and it should be pointed out that the U.S. State Department says that &quot;the potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens exists.&quot;</p> <p>However, the State Department&rsquo;s travel advisory level for Morocco is currently at level 1, the lowest possible level, and there have not been any terrorist attacks in Morocco since 2011. It's widely considered one of the safest countries in the region and its continued high levels of tourism bear testament to this.</p> <p>Exquisite architecture intricately decorated with tiled mosaics, bustling marketplaces full of vibrantly colored spices and fabrics, and swathes of sand dunes stretching out for miles on end are just some of the reasons to visit Morocco. The cuisine is also a huge draw, with richly spiced dishes mixing sweet and savory to mouth watering effect.</p> <p>Thanks in part to the large numbers of tourists it receives, Morocco is one of the most reasonably priced countries in the region. Budget rooms are available starting at around $30 and a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost a little more than $3.</p> <h2>Colombia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/clock_tower_gate_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>The shadow cast by drug kingpins like the notorious Pablo Escobar still lingers over Colombia, and these associations have proved difficult for the South American country to eliminate. Potential visitors still sometimes fear accidentally getting caught up in the drug trade, being kidnapped by guerrilla fighters, and becoming the victim of organized gang violence. This hasn't been helped by the recent release of popular movies and TV series on the subject.</p> <p>While these fears would have been well founded in the '80s and '90s, Colombia has worked hard to free itself from the clutches of organized crime. In the process, it's begun reinventing itself as a favored tourist destination for travelers wanting a taste of this previously unexplored South American country.</p> <p>Colombia has an attractive mixture of cutting edge modernity and a diverse range of breathtaking, untouched landscapes. This is showcased in cities like Medellin, whose stunning scenery includes swathes of lush jungle and a Caribbean coastline filled with pristine beaches.</p> <p>Colombia is also one of the most affordable countries in South America. That&rsquo;s one reason it's currently enjoying a wave of popularity among young backpackers. Even in the bigger cities, budget rooms are available for less than $25 per night and a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost less than $4.</p> <h2>Jordan</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/red_sand_in_wadi_rum.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>The Middle East is widely regarded as a no-go zone by many people who view the entire region as dangerous. This opinion is fueled by the political instability and well-publicized conflicts that are still ongoing in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. Because of this, the Middle East in general is not considered your typical vacation destination, and there's a lot of fear around visiting.</p> <p>The tiny country of Jordan, however, is trying its hardest to buck the trend and has become something of an &quot;it&quot; destination in recent years. Though there are safety warnings for the areas close to the borders it shares with some of its neighboring countries, it's stable politically and generally safe to visit.</p> <p>The main reason that people come to Jordan is to visit the famous archaeological wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site, Petra. This ancient city is made up of buildings that were meticulously carved into the red sandstone rock face over 2,000 years ago, when it was the epicenter of a vast empire.</p> <p>But that's not all there is to Jordan. Modern cities like Amman and exciting adventure activities available make it a diverse location. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-incredible-unesco-world-heritage-sites-right-here-in-the-us?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Here in the U.S.</a>)</p> <p>Budget hotel rooms come in at less than $30 in many areas, or for even less you can spend the night under the stars in a traditional Bedouin camp. An inexpensive meal will cost around $7.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-affordable-destinations-that-are-safer-than-you-think">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/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</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-travel-destinations-for-introverts">9 Travel Destinations for Introverts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong">8 Places to Travel Where the Dollar Is Still Strong</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/stay-secure-in-your-hotel-with-this-8-point-safety-check">Stay Secure in Your Hotel With This 8-Point Safety Check</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-get-to-machu-picchu-and-back-for-30">How to Get to Machu Picchu and Back for $30</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel affordable travel safe travel safety advisory travel destinations travel safety travel tips Thu, 26 Apr 2018 08:30:15 +0000 Nick Wharton 2135304 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-millennials-can-avoid-of-financial-fraud <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-ways-millennials-can-avoid-of-financial-fraud" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/furious_man_with_empty_credit_card.jpg" alt="Furious man with empty credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We tend to think of financial fraud as a retiree problem. After all, older adults are more likely to be sitting on a large nest egg and are often resistant to getting financial help from others for fear of losing independence. Both of those traits make them tempting targets for scammers and con artists.</p> <p>However, just because scammers traditionally like to hit up Nana and Poppy does not mean that young adults are shielded from the problem. In fact, according to a recently released Federal Trade Commission study, more adults aged 20&ndash;29 reported losing money to financial scams in 2017 than did any other age group. The study found that 40 percent of adults in their 20s lost money to fraud, as compared to only 18 percent of people over the age of 70 &mdash; although the median amount lost was lower among 20-somethings than among the elderly.</p> <p>We've done a great job of helping to alert older adults to the dangers of financial fraud. Now we need to make sure everyone else also knows what they need to do to steer clear of scams. Here is what you need to know about protecting yourself from financial fraud.</p> <h2>The most common types of fraud</h2> <p>Of the types of fraud reported to the FTC, the three most common scams were debt collection (23 percent), identity theft (14 percent), and impostor scams wherein the scammer pretends to be either a government official, a loved one in trouble, or someone else the victim knows (13 percent).</p> <p>Although debt collection was the issue most commonly reported to the FTC, impostor scams were the type of fraud that cost victims the most money. Consumers reportedly lost $328 million total in 2017 to this type of scam.</p> <p>Each of these types of fraud requires a different protection strategy, and savvy consumers should use all of these approaches to make sure they are covered in case of any type of fraud.</p> <h2>1. Know your debt collection rights</h2> <p>Getting a phone call from a debt collector can be nerve-wracking for anyone, and debt collection scams rely on your natural fear of financial consequences. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of such a scam is to know your rights as a borrower. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, any debt collector who contacts with a claim that you owe payment is required by law to tell you the following information:</p> <ul> <li> <p>The name of the creditor.</p> </li> <li> <p>The amount you owe.</p> </li> <li> <p>The fact that you can dispute the debt.</p> </li> <li> <p>The fact that you can request the name and address of the original creditor if it is different from the current creditor.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If a debt collector doesn't provide this information when first contacting you, he or she is required to send you written notice that includes this information within five days of that initial contact.</p> <p>It is a red flag if you receive a call from a debt collector who balks at providing you with this information. In addition, while debt collectors have the right to be persistent and can tell you the potential consequences of failing to pay your debt, intimidation tactics to get you to pay what they claim you owe are also a common scheme from con artists.</p> <p>You also have the right to refuse to discuss any debt until you receive a written validation notice from the creditor, which must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a description of your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.</p> <p>Asking for this notice will protect your rights with legitimate debt collectors and scare off any scam artists who are trying to make a buck off your fear. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-debt-collectors-dont-want-you-to-know?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things Debt Collectors Don't Want You to Know</a>)</p> <h2>2. Freeze your credit to protect yourself from identity theft</h2> <p>Identity theft is the 21st Century boogeyman, and for good reason. Our information is only as secure as the company that has collected it. No product or service can wholly protect you from the possibility of someone using your identity.</p> <p>However, you can make it more difficult for hackers and scammers to get hold of your identity by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">freezing your credit</a>. With this process, you pay a small fee to each credit reporting bureau (which has been waived by Equifax in the wake of their recent data breach), and no one, including you, can open new credit in your name until the freeze is lifted.</p> <p>This is one of the most effective tools in fighting identity theft, since you take out the possibility of human error. The most common method identity thieves use to steal your information is by calling and asking you. Such a thief will pretend to be from your bank or another institution you trust and will request things like your Social Security number and birth date. Even if you fall victim to this kind of fishing scam, a credit freeze can ensure that the thief is unable to live large on your credit. (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>3. Ask for specifics to prevent impostors from getting your money</h2> <p>Impostor scams come in two common varieties: impostors pretending to call from the IRS or another government or official agency, and impostors pretending to be a loved one who is in trouble. In both cases, the impostor will play on your emotions &mdash; fear of an audit, fear for a loved one &mdash; to get you to wire money to their account.</p> <p>In both cases, the more specific information you can ask for, the better your chance of scaring off the impostor. For instance, if you are contacted by someone claiming to be an IRS agent, you can request the caller's name, badge number, and callback number and say you will get back to him or her. Then, you can contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 to find out if your caller is an actual IRS employee who has a legitimate reason for contacting you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a>)</p> <p>You can use this same strategy for any caller who claims to be a representative from an institution or agency you deal with. If someone calls claiming to be from your bank, ask him or her for a name and callback number, and get in touch with your bank via their main phone number to determine if the issue is legitimate.</p> <p>Similarly, the loved one impostor scam can be stopped in its tracks by asking the caller (or emailer) to verify certain information that only your relative would know. If you are still feeling unsure, ask for a callback number in this case, too, and contact another family member to find out if there is any possibility your cousin Emma is stuck in a hospital in London before you start wiring money. (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>Keep their hands off your money</h2> <p>Scammers, con artists, and identity thieves all have your number. Every single one of us can be vulnerable to their tactics. But knowing your rights, taking your credit out of circulation, and asking for specific details can help you keep your information and your money secure.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-millennials-can-avoid-of-financial-fraud">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</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-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-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/how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft">How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Consumer Financial Protection Bureau debt collectors emails federal trade commission fraud identity theft phone calls protections scams Wed, 25 Apr 2018 08:30:10 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2131421 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Easy Ways to Protect Your Debit Card From Skimmers http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-protect-your-debit-card-from-skimmers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-easy-ways-to-protect-your-debit-card-from-skimmers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/swipe_it_off_my_cheque_account.jpg" alt="Swipe it off my cheque account" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've no doubt heard news reports about debit card skimmers being found at certain retail or banking establishments. Card skimmers can be installed at ATMs, restaurants, gas payment terminals, and even store check-out lines. The phony equipment is small and can be hard to spot. Some card skimmers even include a phony keypad that fits over the real one to steal your PIN.</p> <p>Your debit card account number can be stolen if you swipe your card in a skimmer. Unlike credit card transactions, debit cards may not offer much protection against fraudulent purchases. Your checking account could be emptied, and you might not be able to reverse the charges.</p> <p>Your best defense against debit card skimmers is vigilance and awareness. Here are a few ways to protect yourself.</p> <h2>1. Spot a skimmer before you swipe</h2> <p>When using a card terminal, look it over before you swipe. It can be difficult to spot a well-hidden skimmer, but some clues can help.</p> <p>If the terminal you are about to use does not match the other ones at the location, you might be looking at a skimmer. Number pads that look mismatched or are an odd size are a red flag. Press on the card receiver and wiggle the keypad; skimmers are designed to be retrieved quickly by thieves and may have loose parts. A keypad that is sitting on top of the machine rather than flush with the surface of it can also be a sign of a skimmer. If you're at a gas station, look at the card scanner at the pump you're about to use; ensure that the security tape is still intact over the panel before you insert your card.</p> <p>When you're choosing a payment terminal or ATM, go for one that is close to store employees, a security camera, or is in an open and well-lit area. These are less likely to have been tampered with by thieves that do not want to be noticed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer</a>)</p> <h2>2. Dip, don&rsquo;t swipe</h2> <p>If you have the option to insert your card into the payment terminal rather than swipe, do that. Chip cards, otherwise known as EMV cards, are much more secure since they do not pass your actual account numbers to the retailer. Even if someone steals the numbers from an EMV transaction, it is not useful to thieves since a unique number is generated for each transaction.</p> <p>Some stores have not yet adopted chip readers and will still ask you to swipe your card through a magnetic card reader. If you swipe your debit card instead of dipping it, you risk your account information to skimmers. Some thieves have taken to &quot;shimming&quot; rather than skimming; tampering with chip reader machines by installing a paper shim to block the chip reader, forcing people to swipe their cards instead. If in doubt, pay with cash. (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> <h2>3. Don&rsquo;t let your debit card out of your sight</h2> <p>At restaurants, the normal payment procedure is to give your debit or credit card to the waitstaff who takes it away to swipe it. If you hand your debit card to someone else to process, they can run your card through a second card reader and steal your information. Or, someone could simply write down your account number and the security code from your card and use it for fraudulent transactions. The best security practice is to never let your debit card out of your sight and pay for your restaurant meals with cash.</p> <h2>4. Monitor bank statements</h2> <p>You can monitor your bank statements regularly to spot suspicious activity early in case a criminal does get your account information by skimming your debit card. If you do find fraudulent transactions, work with your bank to close your account right away and minimize your losses. Your bank may offer automatic account alerts to make monitoring your account easier.</p> <h2>5. Withdraw cash at the bank, not the ATM</h2> <p>I prefer to withdraw cash at the bank a couple of times a month instead of stopping by an ATM every time I need cash. I show my driver&rsquo;s license at the bank to make a withdrawal &mdash; no debit card is required. Not only does getting cash at the bank eliminate the risk of debit card skimming, but you avoid any ATM fees as well.</p> <h2>6. Pay with a credit card instead of debit card</h2> <p>Of course, the best way to protect your debit card from skimmers is not to use your debit card. It is safer to use a credit card for transactions since credit cards offer protection from fraudulent purchases. If you don&rsquo;t want to pay interest to use a credit card, simply pay off the credit card balance every month. Using a credit card provides a barrier between your checking account and thieves who could skim your account information from your debit card. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-credit-is-safer-than-debit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Reasons Credit Is Safer Than Debit</a>)</p> <p>Another option is to pay with cash to avoid the risk of skimming altogether. I use an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system?ref=internal" target="_blank">envelope budgeting system</a> and pay for all food expenses with cash. This greatly reduces the number of card transactions I make each month, and therefore reduces my risk of having account information stolen by a skimmer.</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/6-easy-ways-to-protect-your-debit-card-from-skimmers">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/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</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/3-ways-millennials-can-avoid-of-financial-fraud">3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud</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-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs ATM card skimmers debit cards fraud gas stations payment security stores theft Wed, 18 Apr 2018 08:30:09 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2129586 at http://www.wisebread.com This Airbnb Scam Will Ruin Your Vacation — and Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/searching_for_accomodation.jpg" alt="Searching for accomodation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Recently, I came close to falling for an Airbnb scam in which I would've lost $3,300 on an apartment booking in Lisbon. Fortunately, I realized something wasn't quite right and backed out at the last minute, but there are many people who haven't been as lucky. After a bit of research, I came across dozens of travelers who have fallen for it &mdash; one who even lost $30,000 attempting to book a luxury villa for six months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</a>)</p> <p>Here's how this particular scam works, and what you should always look for when booking through Airbnb.</p> <h2>The scam</h2> <p>There are numerous ways this scam can occur, but they all start when you begin communicating with the host about a property that seems like a great deal. Perhaps you send them a question via Airbnb, and they ask you to email them instead, as it will be easier or more convenient. Or maybe you've found a property on a different site like Craigslist and you begin with an email conversation. Either way, once you take the communication off the Airbnb messenger, they will begin to hook you in by being helpful and friendly.</p> <p>They will answer any queries you may have and tell you a convincing story as to why their property is slightly below market value. Once you reach the stage of being ready to book, they will send you a link to the Airbnb listing asking you to complete the booking through the site as it offers protections for both of you. So far so good, right?</p> <p>When you click the link, you'll be taken to a site that looks and feels like Airbnb, and for all intents and purposes seems totally legit. You'll be able to read reviews of the property and enter the dates that you want to book it for, and even the URL will look genuine. You'll then complete the next stage of entering your dates and making a payment to secure the booking. But if you do, you will immediately lose all of the money.</p> <p>As a seasoned world traveler, there are subtle differences that I picked up on before paying the $3,000 dollars to secure the property I was interested in, but that many other people might miss. The first red flag was that the property's full address was listed on the property page, but Airbnb only shows the exact address once you've booked and paid. Then I noticed a live chat function at the bottom of the page that I used, but I&rsquo;m familiar enough with Airbnb that I know it doesn't offer a live chat function. This was clearly not the real Airbnb site.</p> <p>The best way to avoid falling for this ruthless scam is to always make sure you book directly through Airbnb, either through their secure app, or by manually entering the URL directly into your browser.</p> <h2>Other common Airbnb scams</h2> <p>Here are some other common Airbnb scams to watch out for.</p> <h3>Advance fee scam</h3> <p>This is where someone will offer to give you a discount or something else in return for paying in advance and not using the Airbnb payment method. They'll probably justify it by claiming you'll both save on fees and they'll pass part of that savings on to you. While it may sound great, you'll more than likely lose that money and the payment will be untraceable.</p> <h3>Phishing scam</h3> <p>You'll be sent an email that looks as though it's from Airbnb, asking you to click on a link and enter some personal details such as passwords or payment methods. Scammers will then potentially use this information to gain access to your other accounts. Phishing emails can also contain malware that can harm your computer and also be used to record things like passwords to sites you frequent. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a>)</p> <h3>Wire transfer deposit</h3> <p>You'll be offered a fantastic savings on your booking for paying the deposit using a wire transfer service rather than the Airbnb payment process. Once that payment is received, the property will be taken down and you won't receive your money back.</p> <h2>Golden rules for booking Airbnb properties</h2> <p>In order to remove any potential for being scammed on Airbnb, follow these safety rules every time you book.</p> <h3>Keep all communication on the site</h3> <p>Never communicate with hosts outside of the Airbnb messaging portal. If they email you or send you a private number to contact them, this should set alarm bells ringing immediately. If they insist on not messaging through Airbnb, cease contact and report them to Airbnb.</p> <h3>Read all the reviews</h3> <p>Check the reviews carefully and look out for patterns of cancellations or lots of undetailed, poorly worded reviews.</p> <h3>Pay on Airbnb only</h3> <p>Always make payments through Airbnb and never respond to any requests to transfer money via bank transfer, credit card, or anything else. Paying outside of Airbnb will make it more difficult to trace the payment or prove that it was acquired fraudulently.</p> <h3>Look closely at the URL</h3> <p>Double check that you are definitely on the official Airbnb site when you're completing your booking. The best way to do this is to type the site name directly into your browser.</p> <h3>Don't trust cheap listings</h3> <p>Don't trust properties that are advertised at way below market value. While you can find great deals on Airbnb, unfortunately, if it seems too good to be true, it more than likely is. Hosts want their listings to be competitive and priced similarly to other properties in the area. If a property is listed cheaper than it should be and there's not a clear reason why, it's best to avoid the risk and move on.</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%2Fthis-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThis%2520Airbnb%2520Scam%2520Will%2520Ruin%2520Your%2520Vacation%2520%25E2%2580%2594%2520and%2520Your%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=This%20Airbnb%20Scam%20Will%20Ruin%20Your%20Vacation%20%E2%80%94%20and%20Your%20Budget"></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/This%20Airbnb%20Scam%20Will%20Ruin%20Your%20Vacation%20%E2%80%94%20and%20Your%20Budget.jpg" alt="This Airbnb Scam Will Ruin Your Vacation &mdash; and Your Budget" 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/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget">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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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/stay-secure-in-your-hotel-with-this-8-point-safety-check">Stay Secure in Your Hotel With This 8-Point Safety Check</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/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals">Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags With Vacation Rentals</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/your-hotel-room-has-bedbugs-now-what">Your Hotel Room Has Bedbugs. Now What?</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-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel accommodations AirBnb airbnb scam airbnb tips booking an airbnb scams travel tips Thu, 12 Apr 2018 08:30:05 +0000 Nick Wharton 2128969 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Provide Proof of Onward Travel During an Open-Ended Trip Abroad http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-provide-proof-of-onward-travel-during-an-open-ended-trip-abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-provide-proof-of-onward-travel-during-an-open-ended-trip-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/waiting_for_my_departure.jpg" alt="Waiting for my departure" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're traveling overseas on a one-way ticket, but haven't booked a journey out of the country you're visiting, you may be in for a shock at the airport. As a precaution against tourists overstaying their visas, many countries require that you prove your intention to leave. Usually they pass the responsibility of checking this onto the airlines, meaning you'll probably be asked for what's known as &quot;proof of onward travel&quot; when you're checking in at your departing airport. If you don't have a ticket to demonstrate how and when you'll be leaving the country, you may be prevented from boarding the aircraft.</p> <p>But what if, like many long-term travelers, you don't have an exact itinerary or solid idea of how and when you're going to leave? Here are six ways to provide proof of onward travel without having to compromise on the spontaneity of your trip.</p> <h2>1. Buy a refundable ticket to depart</h2> <p>By booking yourself a fully refundable ticket to anywhere outside of your destination, you'll have irrefutable proof that you intend to leave the country when you say you will. Even in the unlikely event that the airline checks your reservation, then you have a ticket that is legitimately valid.</p> <p>Print the travel details before arriving at the airport so you have them, if requested. Once you're safely in your new destination, cancel the ticket and redeem your refund.</p> <p>This is probably the safest way to provide proof of onward travel, but you need to pay close attention when reading the terms and conditions before finalizing your booking. While some airlines claim to offer refundable tickets, what they actually offer is the price of your ticket returned in voucher or credit form. These tend to only be redeemable with the same carrier, and the cash that you've forked over won't be coming back to you. Also, refundable tickets tend to be significantly more expensive than a regular fare, so be prepared to pay extra up front.</p> <h2>2. Book a 24-hour refundable ticket</h2> <p>Under the 24-Hour Reservation Requirement, mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, all U.S. airlines and foreign air carriers marketing to U.S. customers are obligated by law to &quot;allow a reservation to be canceled within 24 hours without penalty.&quot; Many other carriers and flight brokers offer the same terms when purchasing flights with them.</p> <p>There are two ways to use this 24-hour cancellation period to your advantage. First, you can book a ticket, wait for your reservation details to come through, and print them off before immediately canceling. You run the risk that the airline you&rsquo;re flying will check your return reservation and see it canceled, of course, though it's rare they do anything more than look at the documents you provide. If you choose this option, book with a different company than the one you're flying with so it's not as easy for them to check the reservation.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can purchase the onward ticket on the day of your flight so it's valid regardless, and as long as you arrive at your destination within that 24-hour period, you can cancel the departing flight when you land. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-on-flights-using-fare-alerts?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save Money on Flights Using Fare Alerts</a>)</p> <p><strong>Bonus tip:</strong> Expedia.com offers free one-click 24-hour cancellation on most flights. You don't have to call the airline or talk to a representative, as there's an easy cancel button that will allow you to get a full refund with no questions asked. Just make sure that the flight says &quot;Free 24-Hour Cancellation&quot; during the booking process at Expedia.com.</p> <h2>3. Use fare rental sites</h2> <p>An entire industry has arisen because of the need to provide onward travel, with companies like BestOnwardTicket offering a fare rental. For a fee of around $12, companies like this will purchase your chosen tickets based on the details you provide. They will then automatically cancel them within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the option you select.</p> <p>It's similar to booking a ticket yourself, but you don't have to worry about canceling it as that responsibility falls to the fare rental company. There are no concerns around having the funds in place for the ticket in the first place, and you don't have to do anything to secure that refund. You also don't have to spend time looking for a carrier that offers a refund or searching for suitable flights yourself.</p> <p>Note that some companies offering this service should not be trusted, so make sure to read customer reviews and thoroughly vet their terms and conditions before paying any fees.</p> <h2>4. Get a pre-booked itinerary from a travel agent</h2> <p>Pre-booked travel agent itineraries are more commonly used for visa applications where it's important to show not only your onward travel details, but also your timetable for your entire journey. As part of this, many travel agents offer a service where they will hold airline tickets for a certain period of time for you, usually between seven and 21 days.</p> <p>It's similar to the fare rental services, but they tend to be slightly more expensive at $35 and up. The benefit of these itineraries is that they can be used by people traveling to multiple countries because you're able to put more than one flight on them. Companies such as Flight Reservation for Visa and Visa Reservation offer competitive services.</p> <h2>5. Purchase a cheap ticket</h2> <p>In some instances, the most hassle-free option may be to purchase a cheap ticket to another country. It will give you peace of mind knowing you have an authentic ticket in your possession, and depending on where you are in the world, tickets can be extremely low-priced. Budget airlines regularly do flash sales, and many have routes that are always affordable.</p> <p>Remember, proof of onward travel doesn't have to be a flight, either, so you have many options to find an affordable ticket out of the country. Bus journeys or ferry crossings are commonly cheaper than flights, and you can often book them online in advance. This option also comes without the inconvenience of having to go through a refund claim. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-flight-booking-hacks-to-save-you-hundreds?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds</a>)</p> <h2>6. Sign off</h2> <p>Some airlines allow you to sign a contract at the departing airport saying that you don't have valid proof of an onward journey, but you do have means to leave the country. If you arrive at your destination and are turned away by the immigration officers, this contract simply relieves the airline of any responsibility or liability for bringing you into the country, and you'll be required to pay for a deportation flight ticket yourself.</p> <p>I recently signed a document like this flying with Air China from Tokyo to Manzanillo, Mexico. Upon arriving at the airport, I was not asked about onward travel and was allowed into the country as usual.</p> <p>If you arrive at the airport without proof of onward travel, you may want to speak to a manager at the check-in counter and request to sign a contract that will allow you to risk the journey.</p> <p>Note: This is still a risky way to go, because if you don't know the regulations in the country you're arriving in and you do get turned away, it could be a costly endeavor.</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-provide-proof-of-onward-travel-during-an-open-ended-trip-abroad&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Provide%2520Proof%2520of%2520Onward%2520Travel%2520During%2520an%2520Open-Ended%2520Trip%2520Abroad.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Provide%20Proof%20of%20Onward%20Travel%20During%20an%20Open-Ended%20Trip%20Abroad"></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%20Provide%20Proof%20of%20Onward%20Travel%20During%20an%20Open-Ended%20Trip%20Abroad.jpg" alt="How to Provide Proof of Onward Travel During an Open-Ended Trip Abroad" 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/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-provide-proof-of-onward-travel-during-an-open-ended-trip-abroad">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/3-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-passport">3 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Passport</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/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget">This Airbnb Scam Will Ruin Your Vacation — and Your Budget</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-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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-atm-mistakes-to-avoid-overseas">11 ATM Mistakes to Avoid Overseas</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel customs international travel onward travel Passport travel tips travel visa traveling overseas Wed, 28 Mar 2018 09:30:21 +0000 Nick Wharton 2123637 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Times a Handwritten Letter Can Save You Big Bucks http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-a-handwritten-letter-can-save-you-big-bucks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-times-a-handwritten-letter-can-save-you-big-bucks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/portrait_of_a_cheerful_blonde_woman_writing_diary.jpg" alt="Portrait of a cheerful blonde woman writing diary" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When's the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? Letter writing is becoming extinct, but before kissing your stationery goodbye forever, consider these money saving benefits of sending handwritten letters. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-life-skills-that-are-now-completely-obsolete?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Life Skills That Are Now Obsolete</a>)</p> <h2>1. To get your dream home</h2> <p>When you find a home you love, there is a good chance that other potential buyers want to slap a welcome mat down, too. This is especially true when the market is a seller's market and good homes sell quickly. When my husband and I were looking for a large one-story home in 2016, the listings were slim. When we finally found our dream home, our realtor suggested we send a personalized letter along with it.</p> <p>I wrote a genuine letter about how beautiful the house was and that it was the perfect spot for our growing family. The letter worked, and we got our dream home instead of settling for a spot that might make us want to move a year or two later.</p> <p>A heartfelt letter only takes about 20 minutes to write, so why not spend the extra time penning one before sending in your offer? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-your-dream-home-with-the-perfect-offer-letter?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Score Your Dream Home With the Perfect Offer Letter</a>)</p> <h2>2. To save your credit score</h2> <p>When your credit report has a negative mark, such as a missed or late payment, sending a goodwill letter to the creditor can help solve the issue. An effective goodwill letter will get the creditor to empathize with your situation &mdash; perhaps you just had a baby or experienced a job layoff &mdash; while also pointing out that you are a good credit user. This is easy to prove when you have a track record of on-time payments and have been with the creditor for several years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-goodwill-letter-can-save-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How a Goodwill Letter Can Save Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>In many cases, the creditor will refund your late fee. In the best cases, they will remove the mark on your report, which should cause an uptick in your score. Though you might have to follow up after the letter with persistence to get a creditor to reconsider removing the mark.</p> <h2>3. To get the job you want</h2> <p>It should be common practice to send a thank-you note immediately after a job interview, but many applicants don't. The letter should be a short read that genuinely thanks the interviewer for their time in the first paragraph, reminds them how much you want to use your skills to enhance their team in the second paragraph, and finally emphasizes how grateful you are for the opportunity in the last paragraph.</p> <p>Even if you don't get the job, you will have made a good impression, and you increase your chances of future employment opportunities with that company. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-you-must-do-after-the-interview-to-land-the-job?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Things You Must Do After the Interview to Land the Job</a>)</p> <h2>4. To get better service</h2> <p>In 2012, I bought a washer and dryer, but when it was installed, the installer cut the water line and flooded the hallway and my baby's nursery. The company fixed the issue with some repair work and by placing industrial fans in my home for several days. However, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth for trusting that company with installing another home appliance.</p> <p>I decided to write a letter to the corporate office, and they passed down the letter to my local store manager. In this letter, I explained what had happened and how I was in the market for a new refrigerator, but felt like I couldn't trust the company due to the horrible experience.</p> <p>Shortly after they read my letter, the local manager reached out to me and offered me a huge discount on a fridge. We ended up getting a $3,000 fridge for $1,250 after the discount and also because it was a floor model. The manager also offered next day delivery with their staff instead of outsourcing the delivery to a third-party company like they had done with the washer and dryer.</p> <p>Reach out to companies with letters whether you have received poor or amazing service. A professional complaint letter (i.e. not whining or full of cussing) is valuable to companies, and they are more likely to reach out to you to either fix the problem or offer a gift card or discount. Similarly, a positive letter for good service or your love of a product could result in free swag, too.</p> <p>What makes a handwritten letter so effective in saving money is that it rarely happens in today's go, go, go lifestyle. Shooting off a complaint on Twitter or sending an impersonal LinkedIn message just doesn't have the same touch that a handwritten letter does.</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%2F4-times-a-handwritten-letter-can-save-you-big-bucks&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Times%2520a%2520Handwritten%2520Letter%2520Can%2520Save%2520You%2520Big%2520Bucks_0.jpg&amp;description=4%20Times%20a%20Handwritten%20Letter%20Can%20Save%20You%20Big%20Bucks"></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/u5180/4%20Times%20a%20Handwritten%20Letter%20Can%20Save%20You%20Big%20Bucks_0.jpg" alt="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Times%20a%20Handwritten%20Letter%20Can%20Save%20You%20Big%20Bucks.jpg" 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/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-a-handwritten-letter-can-save-you-big-bucks">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/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</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/4-ways-women-can-avoid-paying-the-pink-tax">4 Ways Women Can Avoid Paying the &quot;Pink Tax&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-price-match-policies-you-should-be-wary-of">8 Price Match Policies You Should Be Wary Of</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-coupons-trick-you-into-spending-more-money">5 Times Coupons Trick You Into Spending More Money</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-disappearance-of-real-america-my-guest-post-at-zen-habits">The disappearance of real America - my guest post at Zen Habits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping handwriting old school customs pen pal saving money stationery writing letters writing utensils Thu, 08 Mar 2018 09:30:09 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 2112854 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Places to Travel Where the Dollar Is Still Strong http://www.wisebread.com/8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/landscape_of_coron_busuanga_island.jpg" alt="Landscape of Coron, Busuanga island" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The dollar is weaker in general than it has been in some time. In 2017, the greenback recorded its first drop in five years against the basket of currencies that make up the U.S. Dollar Index: the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona, and Swiss franc.</p> <p>That trend looks set to continue over 2018, with analysts predicting further decreases throughout the year. While a weak dollar is great for U.S. companies selling to overseas markets, it's bad news for many travel lovers looking to head overseas. Put simply, you're likely to get less when you exchange your dollars into the local currency.</p> <p>The euro and the Chinese yuan, in particular, are two currencies that have seen huge rises over the past year, meaning now's not the best time to visit these regions. Despite this general trend, there are some countries where the dollar has either continued to make gains or maintained its former strength and will still give you great bang for your buck. Here are nine places to travel in 2018 where the dollar is still strong. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</a>)</p> <p><em>*All exchange figures have been taken from </em><a href="http://xe.com/currencycharts/" target="_blank"><em>XE Currency Charts</em></a><em>, a trusted authority in currency exchange.</em></p> <h2>1. Mexico</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/san_miguel_de_allende_mexico_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Mexico has always been a go-to for American vacationers on the lookout for bargains, thanks to its convenient location and relatively low cost of living. It's also a stunningly diverse destination perfect for city breaks, beach holidays, adventure getaways, and everything in between.</p> <p>While a decade ago a dollar would have bought you around 10 Mexican pesos, today you'll receive almost double that. Though 2017 saw unbelievable highs of over 21.5 MXN at the exchange booth, current rates of over 18.5 still mean your dollar will go much further than in years past. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-countries-where-you-can-travel-on-30-a-day-or-less?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Countries Where You Can Travel on $30 a Day or Less</a>)</p> <h2>2. Argentina</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/iguazu_falls_on_the_border_of_argentina_and_brazil.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Argentina makes a fascinating travel destination, boasting some of the best wine and beef in the world, as well as the sensual tango dance. That said, it's not a place that's always been associated with great value, particularly when compared to some of its South American neighbors.</p> <p>Not so today, at least for travelers carrying U.S. dollars. The Argentine peso plummeted 34 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2015, and has continued to fall ever since. As of the time of publishing, you'll receive more than 20 Argentine pesos per dollar, whereas 10 years ago you'd have only gotten around three. That gives you much greater purchasing power. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-wisely-choose-your-next-travel-destination?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Wisely Choose Your Next Travel Destination</a>)</p> <h2>3. Brazil</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/christ_the_redeemer_in_rio_de_janeiro.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Brazil has a vibrant and colorful culture borne of a fascinating and mixed history that's completely unique to South America. With a land mass that's nearly as large as the United States, Brazil presents endless opportunities to explore some of the most exciting wildlife on the planet. It's packed full of iconic attractions such as Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue, a large chunk of the Amazon rain forest, and some of the world's most famous beaches.</p> <p>While a decade ago, Brazil was considered to be a relatively expensive destination, it's become far more affordable over the past few years. The exchange rate has hovered above three Brazilian reals to the dollar since mid-2016, providing visitors with favorable exchange terms to explore this South American behemoth.</p> <h2>4. Colombia</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/la_piedra_del_penol_medellin_colombia.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Colombia is enjoying a moment in the spotlight, having been touted as a must-see destination by numerous travel writers over the past few years. No longer widely considered a prohibitively dangerous country, visitors are beginning to discover a different place from the stereotypes often portrayed.</p> <p>Since 2015, the U.S. dollar has been performing consistently well against the Colombian peso, and this year hasn't seen any significant drop. The dollar's been hovering at around 3,000 pesos. That's a lot more value for U.S. travelers compared to the five years leading up to 2015, when it languished below the 2,000 peso mark.</p> <h2>5. The Philippines</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/landscape_of_coron_busuanga_island.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Made up of more than 7,000 individual islands, the Philippines possesses some of the most idyllic tropical paradises in Southeast Asia. White sand beaches, warm turquoise waters, and picturesque rice terrace landscapes are just a few of the reasons that it's one of the most exciting destinations in the region.</p> <p>The start of 2018 has seen the best exchange rates available against the Philippine piso in a decade, with a dollar buying you more than 52 pisos. That rate has been rising steadily since mid-2012 and doesn't appear to show signs of slowing down anytime soon.</p> <h2>6. Costa Rica</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/arenal_volcano_in_wispy_clouds.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>With stunning beaches on both its Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, jungles alive with eye-catching wildlife, and plenty of adventure to be had, the volcanic landscapes of Costa Rica are well known to visitors from the U.S. Not only is it a popular vacation destination, but there's an established expat community here as well.</p> <p>Since 2014, the dollar has been fairly steady against the Costa Rican colon, and now trades at about 570 colon to the dollar. Five years ago, $1 would have only gotten you less than 500 colon. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-overseas-wedding-destinations-anyone-can-afford?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Overseas Wedding Destinations Anyone Can Afford</a>)</p> <h2>7. Laos</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/buddha_park_in_vientiane_laos.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>This Southeast Asian gem is one of the region's most underrated destinations, which means it has been largely untouched by mass tourism. It may not offer the variety of neighboring Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand (in particular there are no beaches or islands). But there are swathes of lush, green jungle, an interesting capital city called Vientiane, and delicious cuisine on offer.</p> <p>Since 2013, the strength of the dollar has steadily risen against the Laotian kip, meaning you'll receive around 8,300 kip to the dollar. The dollar went as low as around 7,600 in 2013, so today's figures give you a significant amount more. Rates have been holding pretty steady since the turn of the year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-get-free-travel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Easy Ways to Get Free Travel</a>)</p> <h2>8. Nicaragua</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/guacalito_beach_aerial_view.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>This Central American country has been developing a reputation as something of an adventurer's paradise in recent years. Exciting outdoor adventures include volcano surfing, underwater cave diving, and activities like hiking, zip lining, and horseback riding. There are also numerous pristine beaches and beautiful colonial towns to be discovered.</p> <p>Over the past decade, the exchange rate has risen steeply on a straight path in favor of the U.S. dollar. Ten years ago, you'd have gotten around 19 Nicaraguan córdoba to the dollar, whereas now you'll get more than 30, with the trend seemingly only improving.</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%2F8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Places%2520to%2520Travel%2520Where%2520the%2520Dollar%2520Is%2520Still%2520Strong.jpg&amp;description=8%20Places%20to%20Travel%20Where%20the%20Dollar%20Is%20Still%20Strong"></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/u5180/8%20Places%20to%20Travel%20Where%20the%20Dollar%20Is%20Still%20Strong.jpg" alt="8 Places to Travel Where the Dollar Is Still Strong" 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/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong">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/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</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/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals">Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags With Vacation Rentals</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-overwater-bungalows-you-can-book-with-rewards-points">5 Overwater Bungalows You Can Book With Rewards Points</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-get-to-machu-picchu-and-back-for-30">How to Get to Machu Picchu and Back for $30</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-travel-destinations-for-introverts">9 Travel Destinations for Introverts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel affordable travel currency destinations dollar exchange rate getaways travel tips usd vacation tips Wed, 07 Mar 2018 09:30:06 +0000 Nick Wharton 2113553 at http://www.wisebread.com Your Hotel Room Has Bedbugs. Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/your-hotel-room-has-bedbugs-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/your-hotel-room-has-bedbugs-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/that_makes_me_want_to_eww_all_over_the_place.jpg" alt="That makes me want to eww all over the place" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bedbug infestations can quickly turn into a living nightmare. It seems like almost everyone knows at least one or two people who've been affected by the epidemic. What's more, bedbugs can easily be transported from one place to another via shoes, luggage, public transportation, and found in places you frequent like the grocery store or your favorite cafe.</p> <p>Perhaps one of the most unnerving discoveries you'll ever make is finding bedbugs in your hotel room or vacation rental. You don't expect the place you've trusted to provide you with rest, refuge, and recreation to add another layer of stress to your life. So when bedbugs pop up, you'll want to know the next steps to take so that you might get some type of compensation or refund for your trouble, and be able to prevent the bugs from coming home with you.</p> <p>If you find out that your hotel or vacation rental has bedbugs, here's what you should do.</p> <h2>Find the bedbugs</h2> <p>Hunting for a bedbug may not sound like your idea of fun, but it can help set up a convincing case for the hotel to take action. The EPA provides a handy guide on what the itchy offender looks like, along with the <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-12/documents/bedbug-tips.pdf" target="_blank">evidence that the bedbugs</a> are around: dark blotchy blood stains, insect skins that have been shed, and even small dark droppings left by the bug.</p> <p>Common places they will hang out include the creases of sheets and crevices of furniture, so start with your mattress. Lift it up. Check the edges and then look around the baseboards, electrical switch plates, curtains, and vents. Basically, anywhere there's a recess that could harbor the small bug is where you should look. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-bedbug-detector-is-cheap-and-effective-and-full-of-science?seealso" target="_blank">This DIY Bedbug Detector Is Full of Science</a>)</p> <h2>Take photos</h2> <p>Once you find the bedbugs, take pictures of every place you've found them. You want to get &quot;action shots&quot; up close and far away so that when you present the photographic evidence to the hotel, they will recognize their interior and the fact the bugs are, indeed, present on their property. If you can capture a bug, even better!</p> <p>As you can imagine, there could be people who take advantage and might fraudulently plant or complain about bedbugs in order to get money back or a full refund for their hotel stay. So you want to make an airtight case that proves the presence of bedbugs.</p> <p>Don't forget to take pictures of yourself, too. If you've got welts or red streaks from scratching, take pictures of them. If you visit a local urgent care facility to be treated, present the record of your visit and any prescriptions given to you for treatment.</p> <p>Of course, there's no guarantee that your host will offer compensation for the inconvenience, but it's worth trying everything you can to convince them that this problem originated on their premises.</p> <h2>Protect your belongings</h2> <p>Once you're sure your hotel or rental has bedbugs, it's time to check your luggage. Empty your bags, and check your clothing.</p> <p>Even if you don't find any bedbugs in your belongings, there are few things that you can do to prevent bedbug eggs or larvae from becoming full grown bedbugs that latch onto your luggage and head home with you:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Place your belongings, like clothing, in plastic bags you can seal until you are able to inspect and clean them.</p> </li> <li> <p>Place the clothing you will be taking home in the wash and then dry on high heat (which bedbugs hate) to kill any bedbugs that could be hiding.</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the carpets and furniture thoroughly vacuumed. This is an effective way to kill adult bedbugs as well as nymphs and eggs, but isn't a foolproof way to remove all bedbugs from the environment. Professional assistance may still be required, but it works as a short-term solution to the problem.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Alert your host</h2> <p>Your host may or may not be aware of the presence of bedbugs. They could offer you another room or send a pest control worker to contain the problem immediately.</p> <p>Be diplomatic in your approach, because you could forfeit your chance at getting a refund. Present your photographic evidence, any stained sheets, or the actual bug so they know your claim is real. Be clear on the outcome you desire. If you want your stay refunded, let them know that. If you want them to cover the cost of cleaning or replacing your belongings, make that clear as well.</p> <h2>Report the problem</h2> <p>If your hotel has bedbugs, you can alert local health department officials. They may have even more tips on things you can do to protect yourself in the moment and upon returning home.</p> <p>If you're not getting anywhere with your host or hotel management in terms of a resolution, reach out to corporate offices. Some people even report their problems on social platforms like Twitter to get an immediate resolution. Most hotel chains want to avoid this negative PR attention, so this can be an effective way to get a quicker customer service response.</p> <p>Then there are national registries like <a href="http://bedbugregistry.com/" target="_blank">Bedbug Registry</a> and <a href="http://www.bedbugreports.com/" target="_blank">Bedbug Report</a>, where you can report bedbug infestations at hotels. Don't forget to leave reviews on sites like Yelp and Google business, or even the platform where you booked your stay, like Airbnb or VRBO. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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-hotel-room-has-bedbugs-now-what&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYour%2520Hotel%2520Room%2520Has%2520Bedbugs.%2520Now%2520What_.jpg&amp;description=Your%20Hotel%20Room%20Has%20Bedbugs.%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%20Hotel%20Room%20Has%20Bedbugs.%20Now%20What_.jpg" alt="Your Hotel Room Has Bedbugs. 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/aja-mcclanahan">Aja McClanahan</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-hotel-room-has-bedbugs-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-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals">Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags With Vacation Rentals</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/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget">This Airbnb Scam Will Ruin Your Vacation — and Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018</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-provide-proof-of-onward-travel-during-an-open-ended-trip-abroad">How to Provide Proof of Onward Travel During an Open-Ended Trip Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Health and Beauty Travel AirBnb bedbugs hotel rooms how to get rid of bedbugs pests travel tips vacation rentals Tue, 27 Feb 2018 09:30:09 +0000 Aja McClanahan 2110072 at http://www.wisebread.com How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_working_on_laptop_at_home.jpg" alt="Woman working on laptop at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit report plays an important role in determining whether you can get a loan, a credit card, insurance, an apartment, and even a job in some cases. It can also help determine how much interest you pay on a credit card or loan, and your insurance rate.</p> <p>So, if your credit report contains errors &mdash; say, your report lists a loan you didn't initiate, an incorrect balance, or a closed account still being reported as open &mdash; that can result in a higher interest rate, or an outright rejection. Fortunately, the <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act" target="_blank">Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)</a> gives consumers protections, including the ability to access their credit reports and dispute errors on them.</p> <p>Enacted in October 1970, just as small, local credit reporting agencies were consolidating and becoming a national presence, the FCRA imposes strict guidelines on consumer reporting agencies and the companies that feed them data. Understanding your rights under this law helps you stay on top of your credit and finances. Here's an overview of your rights under the FCRA and how to exercise them.</p> <h2>You have a right to see your credit reports</h2> <p>The act says that you're entitled to view your credit file from each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free once every 12 months. You easily can do so at <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. Just be sure you look at the web address closely if you type in the URL. Some copycat websites exist that may charge you for this service or may not be legitimate services.</p> <p>If you're requesting your credit file online, you'll need to answer some ID verification questions to prevent scammers from posing as you. The online verification process can be frustrating to some consumers. &quot;If they have thin credit files, a lot of those questions won't be pertinent,&quot; explains Linda Sherry, a spokesperson for Consumer Action, a national nonprofit that educates underrepresented consumers about their rights. If the website won't verify your identity and share your credit file, the alternative is to request information via the automated phone system or through the mail.</p> <p>In addition to your three annual credit reports, you're entitled to a free annual copy of any reports from other types of consumer reporting agencies. These include agencies such as LexisNexis, CoreLogic, and Certegy Check Services, which may collect noncredit information about you such as your rent payments, insurance claims, or check-writing history. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201604_cfpb_list-of-consumer-reporting-companies.pdf" target="_blank">list of more consumer reporting companies</a>. Each one has its own procedures for requesting your free report. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-challenged-how-alternative-credit-data-can-help-those-with-little-or-no-credit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Alternative Credit Data Can Help Those With Little or No Credit</a>)</p> <h2>You have a right to ask for a credit score</h2> <p>The FCRA also gives you the right to request a credit score. Don't confuse that with a credit report. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same?ref=internal" target="_blank">Credit scores and credit reports</a> are not the same thing. The contents of your credit report determine your credit score, which can vary depending on which credit bureau supplies the information and which scoring model is used. In other words, you don't have just one score; you could have many different scores based on which factors are weighted more heavily.</p> <p>Most credit agencies and other businesses charge you for your credit score and it's legal for them to do so. Fortunately, an increasing number of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards provide free credit scores</a> so you may not need to pay for a credit score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-vs-fakes-are-you-getting-the-wrong-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">FICO vs. Fakes: Are You Getting the Wrong Credit Score?</a>)</p> <h2>Access to your credit report is limited</h2> <p>Credit reporting agencies may only share your credit record with people or institutions who have a legitimate reason to see it. Typically, that means someone who is considering your application for credit, insurance, housing, or a job, or who is a current creditor.</p> <p>Potential employers and landlords generally need your written consent to check your credit. If a reporting agency shares your credit file with someone who doesn't have a valid need, it could be in violation of your rights under the FCRA.</p> <h2>You have the right to dispute errors on your credit reports</h2> <p>Once you receive a credit report, review it line by line for errors. &quot;If you see something there that's labeled as negative that may be pulling down your score or your ability to access credit, look at it carefully and make sure it's accurate,&quot; says Sherry. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>).</p> <p>If you don't recognize a line of credit or other loan, that could be a sign of identity theft, but don't panic. It could also be that you don't recognize the name of a creditor you actually did have an account with. Maybe you took out a store credit card and the issuing bank's name is unfamiliar to you (you'll likely see the name of the issuing bank, not the retailer where you opened the card). Or perhaps your mortgage was sold to a new loan servicer.</p> <p>Google any unfamiliar creditors to check if the loan might be legitimate before you try to dispute it. If you still suspect identity theft, Sherry suggests filing a police report. (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> <p>The FCRA also grants you the right to dispute any erroneous information you find with the credit reporting agency or agencies. They must investigate your dispute and respond (typically within 30 days) unless they deem your dispute frivolous.</p> <p>To dispute an item with a credit bureau, mail the credit bureau a letter and copies of documents that support your position (for instance, a notice stating a loan is paid in full if your credit record is still showing an outstanding balance). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has this <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report" target="_blank">sample letter</a> showing you how to dispute items on your credit report.</p> <p>The FTC recommends sending dispute letters by certified mail, &quot;return receipt requested.&quot; That way you have proof of what the credit reporting agency received and when. Also keep your own copies of your dispute letter and any supporting documents.</p> <p>If the credit bureau corrects an error, it must send you a new, free copy of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. That way you can check to see that all the mistakes have been corrected.</p> <p>You can also dispute inaccurate information with the company that provided the information to the credit bureau. For instance, if a bank claims you defaulted on a loan that you know you paid in full, also contact the bank so that you don't have to deal with erroneous collections actions later on.</p> <p>Starting in September of 2018, credit agencies will be required to send you a detailed report of their dispute investigation, providing you with contact information of the company or companies that supplied the data in question. The bureau will also have to explain what you can do if you're not happy with the investigation's findings.</p> <h2>Negative information can't stay on your credit record forever</h2> <p>It's helpful to understand the difference between negative and positive credit information. Late payments or accounts in default are negative factors on your credit report, while on-time payments and low balances reflect positively on your credit report. Positive items stay on the report up to 10 years after the date of the last activity on the account. But by law, credit bureaus cannot report negative information that is more than seven years old, except for some forms of bankruptcy, which may linger on your credit report for 10 years.</p> <p>Sherry says negative items are typically labeled as negative on your credit report. But take heart. Negative information that's accurate won't haunt you indefinitely. What's more, the weight that lenders give to negative items they see on your credit report decreases over time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <h2>You have a right to know if you've been rejected because of information on your credit report</h2> <p>When a creditor, employer, insurer, or landlord denies your application based on the contents of your credit report, it's called an adverse action. They must then notify you and tell you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency that provided the information.</p> <p>You're entitled to order a free copy of your credit report from the bureau that provided the information within 60 days of an adverse action. (This is in addition to the three free reports you're allowed every year.) However, it's wise to check your credit report in advance so you have time to correct errors <em>before</em> you get turned down for a mortgage or lose a job offer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-your-credit-card-application-was-denied-and-what-you-can-do-about-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Your Credit Card Application Was Denied &mdash; And What You Can Do About It</a>)</p> <h2>You can take further action</h2> <p>If you've lost a dispute over your credit record and aren't happy with the result, you can file a complaint with the <a href="https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/" target="_blank">Consumer Financial Protection Bureau</a>.</p> <p>In other cases, you may be able to sue for damages in state or federal court.</p> <ul> <li> <p>You can sue a credit reporting agency (CRA) if they allow someone to view your credit report without a permissible purpose.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue a CRA if you tell them about an error on your report and they fail to fix it and as a result, you receive an adverse action. While the CRA is investigating items you dispute, they must indicate on your credit report that the item is in dispute.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue a credit information provider if they willfully provide incorrect information to the CRA.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue an employer or other party who views your credit report without disclosing it to you or securing permission from you.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can sue someone who pulls your credit report and doesn't dispose of your information appropriately, which results in your identity being stolen.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Lawyer Sonya Smith-Valentine says consumers sometimes get confused about their right to sue after they receive an adverse action. To be clear, you won't get awarded damages if the adverse action occurred <em>before </em>you notified the credit bureau. Many consumers don't realize this nuance, according to Smith-Valentine, who is president of <a href="https://www.financiallyfierce.com/" target="_blank">Financially Fierce, LLC</a> and a former managing attorney with Valentine Legal Group, which handled financial and consumer protection litigation.</p> <p>&quot;They tried to get a mortgage or a job and found out because of going through this that there was a mistake,&quot; she says. &quot;They want to be compensated for losing out on the job or the house, but [the FCRA] does not allow for harm that occurred before you contacted the credit bureau about the mistake. That's where a lot of people get tripped up.&quot;</p> <p>Your right to legal action doesn't kick in until after the creditor or credit reporting agency has been notified of an error and has had a chance to fix their mistake. All the more reason to be proactive about requesting your credit report and reviewing it for errors.</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-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520the%2520Fair%2520Credit%2520Reporting%2520Act%2520Protects%2520You_0.jpg&amp;description=How%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Reporting%20Act%20Protects%20You"></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%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Reporting%20Act%20Protects%20You_0.jpg" alt="How the Fair Credit Reporting Act Protects You" 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/susan-johnston-taylor">Susan Johnston Taylor</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-reporting-act-protects-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</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/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</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/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse">Here&#039;s How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse</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/heres-what-happens-to-an-account-in-collections-even-when-you-pay-up">Here&#039;s What Happens to an Account in Collections — Even When You Pay Up</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit cards credit report credit score fair credit reporting act fcra Fri, 02 Feb 2018 09:30:05 +0000 Susan Johnston Taylor 2097520 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018 http://www.wisebread.com/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/reykjavik_capital_city_of_iceland.jpg" alt="Reykjavik capital city of Iceland" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether it's a short vacation or a longer excursion, preparing for a trip abroad can be a stressful experience, even for experienced travelers. Organizing flights, accommodations, packing, getting to the airport, and making sure everything at home is sorted for while you're away can easily frazzle the nerves. Because of this, the last thing you want to have on your mind is whether or not your destination is a safe place to visit.</p> <p>What constitutes a safe country is clearly a contentious and subjective question, and there's no definitive way to determine it. Different countries have their own methods to measure crime, and of course, threat levels are constantly changing. Currently, there are 45 countries that the U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for and there's even a <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/worldwide-caution.html" target="_blank">Worldwide Caution</a> in place.</p> <p>The good news is that by many measures, the U.S. actually ranks quite poorly, meaning that by leaving the country, you're likely to be heading somewhere already considered safer. However, choosing a destination that's considered &quot;safe&quot; can still be tricky. Here are five of the safest countries to travel to in 2018, based on current crime rates and existing security alerts.</p> <p>*All statistics are taken from the <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html" target="_blank">U.S. Department of State</a> and the Institute for Economics and Peace's <a href="https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9JDcB_PDjM1SUN6NXpzMmh3OTQ" target="_blank">2017 Global Peace Index report's</a> Societal Safety And Security Domain section.</p> <h2>1. Iceland</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/aurora_over_kirkjufell_and_waterfall_at_night.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Iceland's popularity has skyrocketed over the past decade with visitor levels rising from around 422,000 annually in 2006 to over 1.7 million in 2016. This is thanks largely to a concerted effort by tourism authorities to increase visitor numbers, as well as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fly-out-of-these-airports-and-save-big-on-airfare?ref=internal" target="_blank">Icelandic airlines offering affordable transatlantic stopover</a> options. As a result, the gorgeous landscapes, giant volcanoes, natural hot springs, spurting geysers, and vast glaciers, plus the likelihood of witnessing the magical Northern Lights have made Iceland extremely popular.</p> <p>Iceland is also one of the safest countries on earth, coming in at the number one spot on the Global Peace Index, as it has done continuously since 2008. It has extremely low crime rates, and has no current alerts or warnings issued by the Department of State. The <a href="https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21376" target="_blank">Overseas Security Advisory Council report 2017 report for Iceland</a> states &quot;crime continues to be lower than in most developed countries and countries of similar size and demographics.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-wisely-choose-your-next-travel-destination?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Wisely Choose Your Next Travel Destination</a>)</p> <h2>2. Sweden</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/aerial_panorama_of_stockholm_sweden.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>This stunning Scandinavian country nestled in between Norway and Finland celebrates the outdoors in a big way. Its vast natural landscapes are decorated with huge lakes, fast-flowing rivers, and gigantic glaciers, as well as forests, sandy beaches, and hundreds of coastal islets. The country's wide reaching <a href="https://visitsweden.com/freedomtoroam/" target="_blank">Freedom to Roam laws</a> mean that every citizen has the opportunity to take full advantage of them. It also has a number of charming, colorful cities packed with culture and history such as Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenburg.</p> <p>Sweden is rated fifth on the Global Peace Index table, making it one of the safest countries to visit. Though it has extremely low levels of crime, <a href="https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21476" target="_blank">OSAC's 2017 Sweden report</a> claims that the national averages are bolstered by low rates outside of the urban areas. It does, however, concede that, &quot;The general crime rate in Sweden is below the U.S. national average,&quot; and there are no Department of State warnings at this current time.</p> <h2>3. New Zealand</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/queenstown_new_zealand.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Spread across two main land masses known as the North and the South islands, New Zealand, and more specifically Queenstown, is often referred to as the &quot;adventure capital of the world.&quot; It's where the first commercial bungee jump was born, is a popular site for paragliding, sky diving, and hang gliding, and you can also enjoy extreme water sports like jet boating. But it's not all pulse-raising activities; New Zealand is also considered a place to escape into nature and enjoy the widespread wildlife.</p> <p>This country of two halves lands at number two on the Global Peace Index report as the first of only two countries outside Europe to appear in the top 10. There are no Department of State warnings on New Zealand and the <a href="https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=22551" target="_blank">OSAC 2017 New Zealand report</a> says, &quot;In general, crime is less prevalent in New Zealand than in major cities in the U.S.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Japan</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/byodo-in_buddhist_temple_in_uji_kyoto.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Made up of hundreds of volcanic islands, Japan is well known for its diverse natural landscapes and its modern cities. Deeply rooted, centuries-old tradition sits seamlessly alongside contemporary cutting edge technology, and this unique combination of ancient and current can be seen in everything from the culinary scene to the architecture. Futuristic robot shows are as popular as wilderness hikes in national parks, and up-to-the-minute technology is as revered as the many temples and shrines.</p> <p>As the other non-European entrant on the Global Peace Index, Japan appears at number 10 on the list. For a country of its size and stature, the crime rates are remarkably low, particularly for murder and gun crime, which some reports suggest has been virtually eradicated. With no travel alerts or warnings, it's certainly one of the safest options for 2018.</p> <h2>5. Portugal</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5197/camara_de_lobos_madeira.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p>Located in the southeast corner of Europe, Portugal has long been a popular tourist destination, thanks to its warm climate and diverse culture. In its role as one of the most prominent sea faring nations, Portugal built up a vast global empire. Historic cities, bountiful beaches, and fine food and wine are what attract the majority of visitors to this fascinating country.</p> <p>Coming in at number three on the Global Peace Index, Portugal &quot;has a relatively low rate of violent crime&quot; and &quot;is a generally safe country&quot; according to the <a href="https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21374" target="_blank">2017 OSAC Portugal Report</a>. It's worth noting, however, that petty thefts and muggings are said to be higher in tourist areas around peak times. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-theft-while-traveling?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Avoid Theft While Traveling</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <div style="display: none;"> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20of%20the%20Safest%20Countries%20to%20Visit%20in%202018_0.jpg" alt="5 of the Safest Countries to Visit in 2018" width="212" height="605" /></p> </div> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20of%20the%20Safest%20Countries%20to%20Visit%20in%202018%20%281%29.jpg" style="float: left; width: 30%; margin-right: 3%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /></p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20of%20the%20Safest%20Countries%20to%20Visit%20in%202018%20%282%29.jpg" style="float: left; width: 30%; margin-right: 3%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /> <img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20of%20the%20Safest%20Countries%20to%20Visit%20in%202018.jpg" style="float: left; width: 30%; margin-right: 0%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-of-the-safest-countries-to-visit-in-2018">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/8-places-to-travel-where-the-dollar-is-still-strong">8 Places to Travel Where the Dollar Is Still Strong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-free-treks-in-the-world">7 Best Free Treks in the World</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-get-to-machu-picchu-and-back-for-30">How to Get to Machu Picchu and Back for $30</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-travel-destinations-for-introverts">9 Travel Destinations for Introverts</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/this-airbnb-scam-will-ruin-your-vacation-and-your-budget">This Airbnb Scam Will Ruin Your Vacation — and Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel getaways iceland japan new zealand Portugal safe travel sweden travel abroad travel destinations travel tips Mon, 29 Jan 2018 09:30:09 +0000 Nick Wharton 2094582 at http://www.wisebread.com How the Fair Credit Billing Act Protects You http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-billing-act-protects-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-fair-credit-billing-act-protects-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_reading_paper_637774894.jpg" alt="Woman learning about the Fair Credit Billing Act" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ever spotted a billing error on your credit card statement? Perhaps a merchant charged you the wrong amount, or charged your card for something you never authorized or never received. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), which was enacted in 1974, has provisions designed to protect consumers. Its protections can apply in cases where someone else uses your credit card fraudulently, when a merchant fails to deliver goods as promised, or when a credit card issuer improperly applies payments.</p> <p>There are a few areas the FCBA definitely <em>doesn't</em> cover. If you run into issues involving a debit card, that would fall under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, not the FCBA. Business credit cards and installment loans such as car loans or student loans also fall outside of the FCBA.</p> <p>Most other billing errors on credit card bills <em>do</em> fall under the FCBA. The law also protects you if you have an open-end loan, such as a line of credit. It helps to know your rights and how you can exercise them. Here's how you're protected under the FCBA.</p> <h2>You have the right to dispute billing errors</h2> <p>The FCBA defines billing errors as any of the following:</p> <ul> <li>Charges you did not make. The FCBA limits your liability to $50 per unauthorized charge (but all the major credit card networks have zero liability policies for unauthorized transactions, meaning you usually won't pay a cent anyway).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charges with the wrong date or amount.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charges for goods or services you did not receive.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charges for goods or services that were significantly not as described.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charges for goods or services that were not delivered as agreed or were received damaged.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charges made after you canceled a contract with the merchant.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Failure to reflect payments or credits to your account (for instance, if you return something and you're not credited for the item).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Failure to send bills to your current address (as long as the creditor has your change of address in writing at least 20 days before the billing period ends).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Math errors.</li> </ul> <h3>Check credit card statements regularly</h3> <p>Many credit card issuers have become more vigilant about fraud since consumer data breaches ramped up a few years ago. For instance, some card companies will contact customers about suspicious activity or allow card holders to temporarily &quot;turn off&quot; a lost card, rendering it inactive for a period of time. (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>Still, credit expert John Ulzheimer, formerly of FICO and Equifax, says consumers should keep monitoring their accounts and know their dispute rights under the FCBA. &quot;Consumers should be cognizant of credit card fraud,&quot; he says. &quot;It limits the inconvenience&quot; if you can detect fraud early.</p> <p>Before you file a dispute with your credit card issuer, contact the merchant and try to resolve the error with them. You might discover that you actually did authorize the charges. For instance, maybe you signed up for a subscription without realizing that the terms of service included auto-renewal in the fine print. Or perhaps you don't recognize the name of the company but it's actually the parent company of a vendor you did authorize. Your credit card issuer wants you to eliminate these possibilities before they get involved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-win-a-fraud-dispute-with-your-credit-card-company?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Win a Fraud Dispute With Your Credit Card Company</a>)</p> <h3>Dispute billing errors promptly</h3> <p>If an error isn't resolved or explained by the merchant, send a dispute letter to the creditor. &quot;You have to go and look on your invoice or monthly statement to find the address where they want you to send billing inquiries,&quot; says Sonya Smith-Valentine, president of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.financiallyfierce.com/" target="_blank">Financially Fierce, LLC</a> and a former managing attorney with Valentine Legal Group, which handled financial and consumer protection litigation. &quot;It's not the address where you send your payment.&quot;</p> <p>Be sure your letter includes your name, address, account number, and a description of the billing error. You can use the <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0385-sample-letter-disputing-billing-errors" target="_blank">FTC's sample dispute letter</a> for help. You need to file your dispute within 60 days after the first bill with the error was mailed to you, so time is of the essence. If you discover several months later that you're still being billed for a subscription you thought you canceled, you may not be able to recoup all of your losses.</p> <p>&quot;All of these things are unfortunately specified in the law so that if you make a mistake, you no longer get the protection [of FCBA rights],&quot; Smith-Valentine says. Creditors may still resolve things in your favor if you file your dispute late or mail the letter to the wrong address, but they're not obligated to do so.</p> <p>Many credit card companies now give you the ability to file a dispute via their websites or mobile apps. The Federal Trade Commission, however, recommends sending a letter by certified mail and requesting a return receipt so you have proof that the creditor received your dispute letter.</p> <p>Along with your letter, include copies (not originals) of sales slips or other documents that support your dispute. For instance, if you returned an item that the merchant says it never received, you might include a shipping receipt with a tracking number showing the item was, in fact, returned. Also keep a copy of your dispute letter and any supporting documents for your own records.</p> <h3>You can withhold payment on the disputed amount during the investigation</h3> <p>&quot;Once you contact your credit card company, they've got 30 days to acknowledge that they received your letter, and two billing cycles to resolve the problem,&quot; Smith-Valentine explains.</p> <p>While your credit card company investigates the item(s) you've disputed, you don't have to pay unauthorized or erroneous charges. Even if you don't pay for these charges, the card company cannot threaten your credit or report you as delinquent during their investigation. However, you must still pay other outstanding balances on your credit card. This includes interest not related to the amount you've disputed. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Dealing With Nasty Debt Collectors</a>)</p> <h2>If an error was made, you're entitled to a refund</h2> <p>Once the investigation is complete, if the creditor finds there was an error, it must explain to you in writing how it will make things right. It must also credit your account for the incorrect amount and remove all finance charges, late fees, or other charges related to the error.</p> <p>If the investigation determines that you only owe part of the disputed amount (for instance, maybe part of your online order never arrived but other items did), the credit card company must send you a written explanation. You are also entitled to request documentation proving that you owe that portion of the disputed amount.</p> <h2>If you're found in the wrong, you're entitled to an explanation in writing</h2> <p>If the creditor determines your bill does <em>not</em> contain any errors, on the other hand, it must notify you in writing about how much you owe and why. You may request copies of relevant documents as proof. In addition to the disputed amount, you'll also owe any finance charges that accumulated during the dispute process and possibly the minimum amount you missed due to the dispute.</p> <p>Still not convinced you owe money as the creditor claims? Write to the creditor within 10 days after receiving its explanation, and state your refusal to pay the disputed amount. The creditor may begin the collections process, but if it reports you as delinquent to a credit reporting agency, the report also must state that you don't agree that you owe the money.</p> <p>If the lender fails to follow these settlement procedures, it may not collect the amount in dispute or any related finance charges, up to $50, even if its investigation reveals that the bill was correct. If, for instance, the credit card company threatens to report your nonpayment (or actually reports it) during the dispute period to the credit bureaus, it wouldn't be able to collect the amount it says you owe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>You're entitled to have your payments applied to your account in a timely fashion</h2> <p>The FCBA requires credit card issuers to send you a statement at least 21 days before your payment is due &mdash; meaning, before the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-didn-t-understand-about-credit-card-interest-grace-periods-and-penalty-aprs?ref=internal" target="_blank">grace period</a> expires. For open-end credit (such as a line of credit), the rules are a little different. A lender must send your bill at least 14 days before a minimum payment is due.</p> <p>The law also requires that your payment be credited to your account on the day it was received. However, creditors can set a reasonable cutoff time for payments to be credited on the same day. The earliest cutoff time allowable is 5 p.m. on the due date, so payments made after the cutoff time would be credited to your account on the following business day. Note, however, that the creditor can decide in which time zone that cutoff time falls. So if it says your payment is due at 5 p.m. Eastern time, but you live in California, you'll need to submit your payment online before 2 p.m. Pacific time.</p> <p>In addition to these rights, credit card companies have to give you a written notice of your right to dispute billing errors whenever you open a new account and periodically over the life of that account.</p> <h2>You can sue creditors who violate your rights</h2> <p>You can sue a creditor who infringes on your rights under the FCBA, and you may be awarded damages if the court agrees that the creditor violated your rights. &quot;The damages usually are twice the amount of any finance charges as long as it's between $500 and $5,000,&quot; says Smith-Valentine. (Damages can be even higher if the creditor has a history of violations.) &quot;These aren't high dollar amounts, so you're not gonna walk away a millionaire, but your problem will get resolved,&quot; she adds.</p> <p>In some cases, the creditor may be obligated to cover your legal costs in addition to paying damages. &quot;A lot of times attorneys who will take the case won't charge you because they know they can get the court to pay your attorney costs,&quot; Smith-Valentine says.</p> <p>Not comfortable going to court? You may not have to. &quot;More often than not, [these issues] get resolved before going to trial,&quot; Smith-Valentine concludes.</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-the-fair-credit-billing-act-protects-you&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520the%2520Fair%2520Credit%2520Billing%2520Act%2520Protects%2520You.jpg&amp;description=How%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Billing%20Act%20Protects%20You"></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%20the%20Fair%20Credit%20Billing%20Act%20Protects%20You.jpg" alt="How the Fair Credit Billing Act Protects You" 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/susan-johnston-taylor">Susan Johnston Taylor</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-fair-credit-billing-act-protects-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card">Is a Prepaid Debit Card Really Cheaper and Better than a Bank Debit Card?</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/re-age-your-credit-card-debt-to-protect-your-credit-score">Re-Age Your Credit Card Debt to Protect Your Credit Score</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/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</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-easy-ways-to-protect-your-debit-card-from-skimmers">6 Easy Ways to Protect Your Debit Card From Skimmers</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-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards billing statements credit card billing credit card tips debit cards fair credit billing act fcba using credit cards Fri, 26 Jan 2018 09:30:19 +0000 Susan Johnston Taylor 2091495 at http://www.wisebread.com How Being Uninformed Costs You Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-being-uninformed-costs-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-being-uninformed-costs-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/please_sign_the_contract.jpg" alt="Please sign the contract" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever negotiated what you thought was a good deal, only to find out later that you didn&rsquo;t have all of the information? You probably could have gotten a <em>better</em> deal (or wouldn&rsquo;t have made the purchase at all) if you had all the facts. That&rsquo;s an awful feeling, because you feel like you let yourself down.</p> <p>In fact, there&rsquo;s a name for this kind of interaction, and there are things you can do to keep it from hurting you again.</p> <h2>Information asymmetry</h2> <p>When one party in any sort of transaction knows more than another, it&rsquo;s called information asymmetry. This mismatch of knowledge means that one person &mdash; the one with more knowledge &mdash; has more power in the transaction.</p> <p>That power differential is why you often feel terrible when you find out you got a bad deal because you didn&rsquo;t know enough. You may feel like you didn&rsquo;t hold the cards you thought you held &mdash; like you were manipulated, cheated, or lied to.</p> <h2>Information asymmetry and your money</h2> <p>When you don&rsquo;t have all the information, you end up losing money. My family experienced this when we bought our first used car. We did all of the right things: drove it around, took it to a mechanic, and asked good questions. However, the previous owners didn&rsquo;t disclose that they had used the wrong kind of chemical in the radiator, clogging the entire system. They cleaned it up just enough so it would pass the typical mechanic&rsquo;s inspection, and they sold it to us.</p> <p>We found out soon enough what had happened, and we had to replace almost every component of the car&rsquo;s cooling system. It was incredibly expensive. A mechanic let us know what he found inside, and we were furious. Had we known about the previous owners&rsquo; mistake, we would have never bought the car.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve found yourself in a similar situation, you know the pain of paying for someone else&rsquo;s transgressions. Information asymmetry causes many of our most frustrating money moments, because you almost always lose when you don&rsquo;t know as much as the person you&rsquo;re negotiating with. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-negotiation-mistakes-that-will-destroy-your-deal?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Negotiation Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Deal</a>)</p> <h2>Mitigating the effects of information asymmetry</h2> <p>While you can never get inside another person&rsquo;s head, there are ways to get as much information as possible before you make a financial decision. Research shows that a balance of information creates the best deals possible &mdash; the kind where everyone ends up happy. Therefore, both parties should be interested in disclosing as much information as necessary. Here are some steps you can take to help that happen. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-negotiating-skills-everyone-should-master?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Negotiating Skills Everyone Should Master</a>)</p> <h3>1. Educate yourself</h3> <p>Before you enter into any sort of financial transaction, make sure you understand how it works. If you&rsquo;re getting a mortgage, understand the interest rate, whether your loan is fixed or adjustable, and the loan&rsquo;s terms. If you&rsquo;re entering into a business deal, understand the details of what the other person or company does, so you can make sure they are doing as much as possible for you. This takes time, but it will help you get the best deal.</p> <h3>2. Read the fine print</h3> <p>People end up uninformed when they don&rsquo;t read every detail that is available to them. Sometimes, the fine print is literally so fine that it&rsquo;s hard to read. When you take the time to read and understand it, though, it will often give you additional information that you need to understand the deal you&rsquo;re getting &mdash; and to negotiate a better one if you need to.</p> <h3>3. Ask an expert</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t understand some aspect of a deal, ask someone who knows the subject at hand to help you out. People sometimes balk at this step because experts often charge money for their assistance (think auto mechanics, home inspectors, and lawyers). However, if you want to be sure you&rsquo;re getting a good deal, it&rsquo;s worth the investment.</p> <h3>4. Ask specific questions</h3> <p>People can always choose to lie, but many will not if you ask them a specific question. Even if they&rsquo;re willing to hide something or omit a detail, they often aren&rsquo;t willing to outright lie about it to your face. For instance, if you ask, &ldquo;Have you ever had problems with this home&rsquo;s foundation?&rdquo; you are more likely to get an honest answer than if you just ask, &ldquo;Any serious issues with the house?&rdquo;</p> <h3>5. Bring out the big guns</h3> <p>This isn&rsquo;t always possible, but sometimes it&rsquo;s appropriate to get someone with authority on your side, especially if you feel powerless. When it comes to information asymmetry, this often means paying a lawyer to represent or advise you. This can be expensive, but if you&rsquo;re in a major negotiation or you feel like something is wrong but you don&rsquo;t know what, it can save you a bundle in the end.</p> <p>You can lose a lot of money because of information asymmetry, but you don&rsquo;t have to. Train yourself to carefully gather as much information as possible before you enter into any sort of negotiation, and try to level the playing field as much as you can. Use your intuition during the transaction to gauge whether something is wrong. If you feel that way, investigate some more. In the end, you will get a deal you feel good about.</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-being-uninformed-costs-you-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Being%2520Uninformed%2520Costs%2520You%2520Money.jpg&amp;description=How%20Being%20Uninformed%20Costs%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/How%20Being%20Uninformed%20Costs%20You%20Money.jpg" alt="How Being Uninformed Costs 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/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-being-uninformed-costs-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-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/sometimes-i-wish-i-had-beautiful-long-blonde-hair-and-ample-cleavage">Sometimes I wish I had beautiful long blonde hair and ample cleavage.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</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-ways-to-trick-salespeople">6 Ways to Trick Salespeople</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/the-7-best-objects-to-pawn">The 7 Best Objects to Pawn</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-refill-an-ink-cartridge-with-a-small-piece-of-tape">How to refill an ink cartridge with a small piece of tape</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs bargaining buying deals information asymmetry negotiation power imbalance research salespeople selling Thu, 21 Dec 2017 10:01:05 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 2074043 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-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-millennials-can-avoid-of-financial-fraud">3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</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/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 Get Your Money Back When You’re Denied a Refund http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-your-money-back-when-you-re-denied-a-refund <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-your-money-back-when-you-re-denied-a-refund" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/angry_student_talking_on_phone_with_customer_service.jpg" alt="Angry student talking on phone with customer service" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes a credit card transaction just doesn't go well. You might receive an item that doesn't match the description. The item could arrive broken, or your item might never arrive at all.</p> <p>When there are problems with a transaction, most merchants will work with you to resolve your issue and make you a happy customer. But what can you do if they refuse to give you a refund?</p> <p>I recently called a merchant for help resolving an issue with a purchase I made. The customer service representative said they had done all they could do and they would not be able to resolve my issue. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and was told that there was no supervisor I could speak with. When a merchant denies your request for a refund, it may seem that there's nowhere else to turn. But if you used a credit card to pay, you have a powerful tool that you can use &mdash; the chargeback. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-return-items-through-your-credit-card-if-the-store-refuses?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Return Items Through Your Credit Card If the Store Refuses</a>)</p> <h2>What is a chargeback?</h2> <p>Your credit card company can remove a charge from your credit card statement if the charge is fraudulent, was made in error, or if you did not receive the item you were promised. A chargeback can be used to resolve issues with a transaction even if a merchant does not cooperate or respond to your complaint. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-awesome-credit-card-tricks-that-will-save-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Awesome Credit Card Tricks That Will Save You Money</a>)</p> <h2>What are the requirements to pursue a chargeback?</h2> <p>The legal basis for reversing credit card charges in disputed transactions is established by the <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/fcb.pdf" target="_blank">Fair Credit Billing Act</a>. Some of the basic requirements for disputing a credit card charge and getting a chargeback are:</p> <ul> <li> <p>A valid reason to reverse a credit charge such as billing error, fraudulent charge, incorrect item, or damaged item.</p> </li> <li> <p>The customer must dispute the charge within 60 days of when the statement was sent, although some credit card companies have policies that allow customers more time to file a complaint.</p> </li> <li> <p>The credit card company may request that the customer attempt to resolve an issue relating to goods with the merchant first before proceeding to dispute a credit charge.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How long does it take to get your money back?</h2> <p>After you contact your credit card company to dispute a charge, a conditional refund may appear on your statement immediately while the issue is being investigated. If the investigation does not result in overturning your claim, the refund will stand. The investigation can take several weeks to complete while the merchant has the opportunity to produce documentation to substantiate the credit charge. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</a>)</p> <h2>How to get a chargeback</h2> <h3>Step 1. Document it</h3> <p>Collecting documentation of your issue with a transaction will help you resolve it successfully. If you receive an item that is damaged, take pictures as you unbox it. If you receive the wrong item, take pictures of the item and save screen captures of the item description. Save any invoices and packing slips you received with the package or via email, as well.</p> <h3>Step 2. Contact the merchant</h3> <p>Call or email the merchant to describe your issue and state what you want the merchant to do to fix it. Document your communication with the merchant. Save copies of emails, and for phone calls note the date, time, phone number, name of the person you spoke with, and what the representative said.</p> <h3>Step 3. Initiate a credit dispute</h3> <p>If the merchant does not resolve your issue, contact your credit card company to dispute the credit charge and initiate the chargeback process. You may need to initiate the dispute within 60 days of the purchase, depending on your credit card company's policy.</p> <h3>Step 4. Document your complaint</h3> <p>Your credit card company may ask you to complete forms describing the reason you are disputing the credit charge and to provide copies of invoices and other documentation to support your complaint. Keep copies of all forms and documents that you provide.</p> <h2>What if the chargeback is rejected?</h2> <p>If the merchant provides evidence that the credit charge was legitimate, the chargeback may be rejected. At this point, the credit charge will reappear on your statement. If you want to take further measures to resolve your issue, you could request a &quot;Claims and Defenses&quot; chargeback if you have an issue with the quality of goods or services that you received on a credit charge.</p> <p>Depending on the nature of your claim, the next step after attempting a chargeback may be to seek legal advice and contact the merchant again to request resolution. The merchant may be motivated to resolve your issue to avoid a lawsuit if they think you have a strong case.</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-get-your-money-back-when-you-re-denied-a-refund&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Get%2520Your%2520Money%2520Back%2520When%2520You%25E2%2580%2599re%2520Denied%2520a%2520Refund.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Get%20Your%20Money%20Back%20When%20You%E2%80%99re%20Denied%20a%20Refund"></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%20Get%20Your%20Money%20Back%20When%20You%E2%80%99re%20Denied%20a%20Refund.jpg" alt="How to Get Your Money Back When You&rsquo;re Denied a Refund" 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-get-your-money-back-when-you-re-denied-a-refund">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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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-get-a-groupon-refund-when-a-company-closes">How to Get a Groupon Refund When a Company Closes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping chargeback credit dispute getting a refund how to get a refund refund shopping tips transactions Mon, 30 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2041945 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags With Vacation Rentals http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/this_room_is_amazing.jpg" alt="This room is amazing" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation rentals are being made widely available these days, especially with the advent of rental sites like Airbnb. Almost anyone, anywhere, can rent their home to you, and that means you have many more choices. But it also means you have a lot more people looking to take advantage of you. Make sure you do your research before you book.</p> <h2>1. Photos of unmade beds and untidy rooms</h2> <p>If you're looking through the gallery of a prospective vacation rental, coming across unmade beds, sinks full of dishes, and cluttered surface areas is a massive red flag. These photos are the owner's chance to put their best foot forward. It's their opportunity to show you just how good the property will be to stay in. If they cannot be bothered to make beds, load the dishwasher, and clean up the counters, you've got one lazy owner on your hands. And where there are lazy owners, there are all kinds of other problems. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</a>)</p> <h2>2. Suspiciously-absent photos of some rooms (or no photos at all)</h2> <p>Todd Barry, a fantastic comedian, does a bit about this and living in New York.</p> <p><em>&quot;I had a realtor send me a link of a place to look at&hellip; there were four pictures of the apartment. Three of the exterior of the building, and a picture of the stove. I don't think those guys with the camera were looking at an awesome living room going, 'no, let's not play all our cards&hellip; oohh, nice paper towel rack.'&quot;</em></p> <p>Basically, if there aren't pictures of every room, they don't want you to see them for some reason. If there are no photos at all, you're just asking for trouble.</p> <h2>3. The price is way too good to be true</h2> <p>If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. If you're looking around and see average prices of $1,000 per week in one area, and then out of nowhere a $600 listing shows up, you should ask yourself why. Is it possible that this is an old couple that doesn't really care about profit and just wants to see people happy? Doubtful. More likely, the price is part of a bait-n-switch scam, or some other kind of offer that comes with all kinds of baggage. &quot;Well, yeah, it's $600, unless you were planning on using the bathrooms and the kitchen. Oh, you were? That'll be $1,100 then.&quot; By all means investigate the lower prices, but too low is a warning sign of a nightmare coming your way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-cities-where-airbnb-is-way-cheaper-than-a-hotel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Cities Where Airbnb Is Way Cheaper Than a Hotel</a>)</p> <h2>4. The listing is filled with inaccuracies</h2> <p>This can come in many forms. First, look for the obvious grammatical errors. One or two in places that make sense are fine (such as autocorrect assuming a different word), but when the text is just filled with awful grammar, sentences that are illogical, and sayings that just sound a bit off, this could be the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for?ref=internal" target="_blank">sign of a scam</a>. Also, look for other inaccuracies, such as stating the home has three bedrooms in the title, but lists only two in the main body of the ad.</p> <h2>5. The description of the rental is very &quot;creative&quot;</h2> <p>The camera absolutely lies to you, and with a good fisheye lens or sharp angle, a vacation rental the size of a shoe box can be made to look roomy. On top of that, the owner may get a little tricky with the descriptions, and you should be sure you know what you're getting yourself into. &quot;Minimalist&quot; is often used to describe a place with a lot of bare walls. &quot;Cozy&quot; or &quot;snug&quot; could be a red flag that the place is very small. &quot;Quaint&quot; or &quot;old-world charm&quot; is sometimes a way to describe a house in need of repairs, or very out of date. &quot;Vibrant neighborhood&quot; is code for loud, busy, and chaotic; so expect 1 a.m. revelry outside. If you see a lot of these descriptions, and a lack of clear photographs, steer clear.</p> <h2>6. You are asked to wire the payment</h2> <p>Who wires money anywhere these days, with PayPal, Venmo, and credit cards so readily available? There is usually a good reason the owner has requested a wire transfer, but it's not good for you. Wire transfers cannot be reversed once the recipient has collected the cash, and they are also very difficult to trace. In this case, you may be getting conned by someone trying to rent out a property that either isn't theirs, or doesn't exist. In both cases, you could turn up to a property with all your bags, and have nowhere to stay. Always use a guaranteed, safe, traceable method of payment.</p> <h2>7. There are only a few reviews</h2> <p>We are all different, we all like different things, and we all have different tastes. Go to any kind of review site, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, and you'll see a range of comments and reviews from customers. Usually, you want to see many reviews with an average up in the fours. If your budget dictates something less, threes are OK, if there are plenty of reviews stating why. But if you see only two or three reviews that are short and perfect, with five out of five, take heed. This could be a place that has not been genuinely reviewed yet, and these are left by anonymous reviewers who are probably related to (or are) the owner. Some places will be brand-new on the market, so it's unfair to expect a mass of reviews for those. But if they're honest about it, you're in much better shape. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-vacation-rental-alternatives-to-airbnb?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Vacation Rental Alternatives to Airbnb</a>)</p> <h2>8. The owner is not easy to get hold of</h2> <p>Most people who are managing vacation rentals are very responsive. This is, after all, a customer service business. So if you are having trouble calling or emailing the owner, you should find out why. For example, if you're sending out emails in the afternoon, but get replies in the middle of the night, that's a sign the owner is in a different time zone. This could be good if you're renting a place in France and you're in Ohio. But if you're renting a place in Florida, the manager should be able to respond during business hours. Check the email address, too. Is it something normal, like a name or business? Or is it some bizarre collection of letters and numbers? If so, it could be an auto-generated email address belonging to a scammer. And if you call and call and never get an answer, something is very wrong.</p> <h2>9. There's no specific address for the property</h2> <p>Scam artists are everywhere, and vacation rentals are no exception. If you cannot look up the address of the property and do your research, you've got a problem. The owner of a vacation rental may say in the ad that they don't want to publish it due to safety and security reasons, and that's up to them. But if you contact the owner and are still not given an address, something fishy is going on. Google maps makes it easy to scope out almost any place, and if it's not covered by that, there should be other references to it. If you're dealing with a scam of some kind, the scammer will know you'll want to do your research and will therefore not disclose it until you have sent money. After that point, you may never hear from them again, or you'll be given the address to a property that doesn't exist, or was pulled from another listing.</p> <h2>10. The contract has some worrying clauses</h2> <p>If you actually get to the stage of signing some kind of contract, read it carefully. Sometimes you'll come across some language that could leave you out of pocket, or even out of a place to stay. You will no doubt have to put down some kind of refundable security deposit, which protects the owner of the property should you go all metal band and trash the place. But if is says &quot;non-refundable security deposit&quot; or &quot;cleaning services will be deducted from your security deposit,&quot; that's a good enough reason to back out and renegotiate. You may even come across language that states the home must be vacated should the owner wish to return at any time. So, don't sign anything that you have not read thoroughly, or do not agree with.</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%2Fwatch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWatch%2520Out%2520for%2520These%252010%2520Red%2520Flags%2520With%2520Vacation%2520Rentals.jpg&amp;description=Watch%20Out%20for%20These%2010%20Red%20Flags%20With%20Vacation%20Rentals"></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/Watch%20Out%20for%20These%2010%20Red%20Flags%20With%20Vacation%20Rentals.jpg" alt="Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags With Vacation Rentals" 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/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-10-red-flags-with-vacation-rentals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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