Connect with us

Financial advice

How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud During the Holidays



Credit Card Fraud In 2015 U.S. consumers spent over $70 billion on Black Friday and spend, on average, $830 billion on Christmas and holiday gifts. It goes without saying that U.S. consumers spend more during the winter holidays than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, this increase in spending creates a greater opportunity for scammers who prey on shoppers and, naturally, there is a significant increase in credit card fraud during this time of year.

One of the most common ways that credit card thieves steal your information is through the use of credit card skimmers. Skimmers are essentially malicious card readers that grab the data off of the card’s magnetic stripe attached to the real payment terminals so that the thieves can harvest data from every person that swipes their cards. This can usually be avoided by learning how to spot a skimmer or by using a card that has an RFID chip, however, they have their own risks as well. Additionally, some thieves will even a more advanced method of stealing information, by hacking.

Back in December of 2013 the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S., Target, released a statement regarding a historically large data breach. Credit thieves had stolen credit card information from over 70 million Target shoppers. The scammers had found a way to steal credit card information from shoppers without them even knowing. During the influx of holiday shopping, the credit card thieves hacked into Target’s network to gain access to their POS terminals and intercept consumer credit card data without them even knowing.

Avoiding Credit Card Fraud While Shopping in Retail Stores

stealing credit card informationAs I mentioned previously, to avoid having your credit card information stolen while using a credit card or payment processing terminal due to skimmers, many people resort to using the RFID chip reader when checking out. Unfortunately, RFID chips have their own security risks. Since the RFID chips emit a low-frequency signal that can be intercepted without even coming into direct contact with the receiver, they also pose a threat. Thankfully, though, to avoid having your information stolen via a fraudulent RFID scanner, you can simply purchase an RFID-blocking wallet or purse.

While paying using your RFID-enabled card can help you avoid skimmers, there is always the possibility that your information could be intercepted after payment is submitted by a hacker, such as those who infiltrated Target’s network. That type of situation is much rarer but it’s still good to be aware of the possible security risk. For that reason, we suggest using cash when shopping during the holiday season.

The benefits of using cash while shopping, especially during the holiday season when there are so many fantastic specials and deals, goes beyond the safety of avoiding card theft. Credit card debt is also a huge problem in the U.S. and much of that is due to frivolous spending during the holidays. Bringing a set amount of cash with you while shopping can help prevent over-spending. This can also help you avoid damaging your credit.

How to Shop Safely Online

In 2015 consumers spent over $69 billion online during the holiday season. Making purchases online are convenient and can save considerable time while avoiding the stress of over-crowded malls and retail stores. Making purchases online can also help you avoid credit card thieves who use credit card skimmers or RFID scanners to steal your information. Websites, however, have their own set of security risks and many people are not familiar without to spot a phony website or a non-secure site that could leave your credit card information vulnerable.

Any time you are shopping online, make sure that you first identify that the website is using an SSL certificate. You will notice, in the address bar, that the website contains a padlock icon and the address is listed as “https” as shown below:

Safely shopping online

Despite taking every precaution, it is still recommended that you check your credit report on a regular basis to catch any possible credit card fraud or identity theft before it completely destroys your credit. If you notice items on your report that you don’t recognize (such as new lines of credit being opened), file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. If your credit has already been damaged, due to credit card fraud or identity theft, contact Credit Absolute for a credit consultation.

Protect your identity with Identity IQ

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Financial advice

Managing Your Finances When Living Paycheck to Paycheck (Tips)



Managing Personal FinancesIt is never ideal for a person to live paycheck to paycheck. And if the idea of living paycheck to paycheck sounds stressful, imagine actually living life this way. Many people who don’t have a high-paying job have to find a way to live comfortably, and learning to manage your finances is a great start.

Managing your finances may seem like a difficult task when you live paycheck to paycheck, but there are things you can do to ensure your success.

Create a budget

When you have a limited income and live paycheck to paycheck, it is important for you to create a budget. The reason being you can successfully manage your finances when you keep a close eye on your income and expenses. Additionally, you can cut out unnecessary expenses and have some extra cash.

Use the half method

The half method requires you to pay bills in two separate payments rather than one lump sum. For example, if your cell-phone bill is $100, rather than pay the full balance on the due date, you can pay $50 with one paycheck before the due date, and the last $50 with another paycheck on or around the due date. With each check, you will then have $50 to save or spend.

Pay the minimum balance

If you have credit cards, consider paying at least the minimum balance when the bill comes due. It may be tempting to just not pay it, but ignoring your credit card payment will only result in you owing more money and damaging your credit score. Between the additional amount you could pay in interest and late fees, it makes sense to just pay the minimum balance and keep your account in good standing. Of course, if you can comfortably pay the full balance, that is always an option.

Renegotiate your bills

Renegotiating your bills doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the expense but find a more affordable option for you. For example, you may be able to reduce your auto insurance payment by a few dollars if you change coverage or inquire about discounts. If you have both internet and cable, perhaps you could change the plan or discuss the possibility of a more reasonable price for your budget with your provider. Maybe even dropping cable and using online streaming services is an appealing option.

Put your savings on auto

Just because you live paycheck to paycheck, doesn’t mean you can’t save. Even if it is a small amount that you are putting away every payday, over time it will add up. Whether you are building an emergency fund in preparation for the unexpected or just saving for life, you can put your savings on auto and select an amount to automatically be withdrawn from your checking and deposited into your savings.

Why managing your finances is necessary

So, why is managing your finances necessary? Poor management of your finances will do more harm than good. In fact, if you don’t properly manage your finances, you could end up spending more money than necessary and even damage your credit score. And when your credit score is poor, you will have a difficult time getting approved for credit cards, loans, and even an apartment.

When you think about the issues that can arise when you don’t have a handle on your finances, you may think twice about your situation and what you can do to change it. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, you may feel helpless, but you have options. And with all of the financial troubles you could face leading to more stress, it could easily be avoided if you take the time to manage your finances.

Made poor financial decisions in the past that negatively impacted your credit? We can help! Contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation. 

Source link

Continue Reading

Financial advice

Tips to Help Manage & Maintain a Good Credit Utilization Rate



Managing Credit UtilizationWhen you think of your credit score, you may not consider how this number is calculated or how your actions play a role. Simply put, every credit score is made up of certain criteria, and each criteria can cause an increase or decrease in credit score. With credit utilization being one of the things that can impact your score, it may be time to learn how to manage your credit utilization.

In order to successfully manage your credit utilization rate, you’ll need to understand what it is and how it can negatively or positively impact your life. 

What is credit utilization rate and how is it calculated?

Credit utilization rate is a number used to compare the amount of debt you owe to the amount of credit you have available. By dividing the amount of credit that you use by the amount of credit available, you can determine your credit utilization rate. The more of your available credit you use the higher your credit utilization rate.

For example, if you have several credit cards, one with a credit limit of $500, one with a credit limit of $200, and another with a credit limit of $300, your total available revolving credit amount is $1,000. If you use $400 of the $1,000 of available credit, your credit utilization rate will be 40%. Whereas if you were to use $100 of your available credit, your credit utilization rate would be 10%.

Why does your credit utilization rate matter?

Credit utilization is one of the many factors that can affect your credit score. It actually makes up 30% of your FICO credit score, which means it is one of the most important factors that influence your credit score. Depending on the number, creditors and lenders may or may not approve your application. This is because your credit utilization rate is another way for creditors and lenders to measure your ability to manage your finances.

If you have $2,000 of revolving credit available to you between one or multiple credit cards, in order to keep your credit utilization at or below 30%, you’ll want to use no more than $600 if you don’t want to see your credit score drop significantly.

Managing your credit utilization

Since your credit utilization rate accounts for 30% of your credit score, you want to pay close attention to this number to ensure it doesn’t start to negatively impact your score. This is especially true when you want to improve your score to increase your chances of being approved for things that require good credit such as applying for a home loan or apartment.

You can successfully manage your credit utilization rate by:

  • Increasing your credit card limit
  • Paying your credit balance in full instead of just the minimum balance
  • Keeping credit accounts open even when there is little to no use
  • Pay down debts
  • Actively monitor your credit usage

Keep in mind that the goal of managing your credit utilization rate is to keep it at 30% or less. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely stop accessing your revolving credit, but you want to do so responsibly if you don’t want to see your credit score suffer.

For credit repair assistance and financial advice, contact Credit Absolute today for a free consultation!



Source link

Continue Reading

Financial advice

Financial Literacy for Kids: How Kids Should Spend Their Money




The post Financial Literacy for Kids: How Kids Should Spend Their Money appeared first on Credit Absolute.

Source link

Continue Reading