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Tips to Ward Off the Evils of Credit Card Fraud

A guest post by Dorothy of the [redacted due to the guest poster’s idiocy]

Credit cards are a common financial accessory that people use for their day to day transactions. So it is important that we protect our credit cards. As information technology is booming, scammers are taking advantage of it and are fraudulently stealing credit card numbers. As a result, credit card frauds are leaving people distressed and pushing them towards a severe financial crisis.

Credit cards come with a lot of utilities. But if they are stolen or forged, it takes a heavy toll on your finances. In the U.S. you will find various credit card debt management or consolidation plans. However consolidating debts could ruin your credit score as well. There are many consolidation firms that mislead people with their flashy adverts and a false promise. Confide into them only when you have cross-checked their goodwill. One reason why these credit card frauds are increasing is losing your cards or leaving your receipt after shopping or making any other transactions. This allows credit card fraudsters to access your card numbers. Here are some tips for you for not getting into the trap of fraudsters:

  • Make sure you check your monthly statements and evaluate them. You can also use the direct bill payment system through your credit cards to avoid frauds.
  • It is very important to protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN) if your card has an access to an Automated Banking Machine.
  • Make sure you dispose of all your unwanted cards and destroy them as well.
  • In case your card is stolen, report it immediately. Card frauds take place within a few hours after the theft.
  • If you suspect a fraud, report it to your credit card company.
  • Ensure that your card has security features such as signature panel, hologram, magnetic stripe and embossing.
  • Never sign a credit or debit receipt without an amount. If you find blank spaces, mark X or draw a lime across the space.
  • You can also go for a registration service. You will have to pay a small fee to manage your credit cards. In case you lose your cards or they get stolen, the service will report this loss and request for new credit cards.

Fraudsters often get access to your credit card from various fraud companies. So never give out your account details to a company who has called you. You can check out the reputation of a company at your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau. The moment you lose your credit card report it. Remember that you can never be made liable for any unauthorized charges.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent credit card frauds and other criminal practices. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The Best Recovery for a Financial Hangover – Part 4 of 4

Seven Resolutions to Begin in 2010

  1. Control spending: If you spend less you'll have more money available to pay down debt and save for the future. Write down your expenses for a month to see where your money is going. You might be surprised by how easy it is to find places to scale back.
  2. Create a debt repayment plan: If you carry credit card debt, write down everything you owe and make a plan to pay it off. Start with small items you can act on right away–it will make tackling the bigger debt easier. Also, try buying with cash only. It’s a sure-fire way to prevent increases in your credit card debt.
  3. Set up auto-savings plans: Arrange with your bank or another financial institution to have a set amount deducted from your checking account to a savings account each pay period. Of the Americans who have been able to contribute to emergency savings funds, automatic withdrawal is the most popular method, according to the Consumer Federation of America.
  4. Boost retirement savings: If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, increase your contributions. If you don't have an employer plan, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and arrange for contributions to be made automatically from your checking or savings account.
  5. Create a long-term plan: Write a list of your long-term goals, such as buying a home or saving for college or retirement. Visit the Life Events section of Smart About Money for concrete tips on accomplishing those goals.
  6. Protect Yourself: Be prepared for the unexpected by making sure you, your family, your assets and investments are insured and fully covered. If you do not have a will, make 2010 the year you establish a life plan.
  7. Find a financial buddy: Share your financial resolutions with a friend, colleague, or family member, and you’ll be more likely to keep them. Find someone else who wants to turn around their debt or cut their spending, and establish a mutual support system.

The Best Recovery for a Financial Hangover – Part 3 of 4

Tackling the Little Things

Getting debt under control and improving savings habits are two big steps to a better financial life, but those actions only are possible if Americans have more specific aspects of their financial lives under control.

While the economy recovers, job stability remains a vast and very valid concern. Without income, saving stops and debt can spiral. Even if they still have a job, Americans need to assess their marketability and increase their professional value by networking and upgrading job skills.

If someone experiences a job loss, it’s important to be proactive. They should negotiate severance pay, file for unemployment benefits and look into alternative insurance plans, because living unprotected will risk their family’s security. Individuals who have lost their jobs also should immediately start looking for work. Most states allow people to work a certain number of hours, and earn up to half their previous income, and still retain unemployment benefits.

Those who are struggling financially also might find it difficult to pay their mortgage. If individuals have missed a payment, they should immediately search through financial records or identify spending habits to find out what caused the missed payment. They also should contact their lender, who is required to examine their client’s financial life before taking any drastic action against the client’s home.

Even without a job loss or mortgage trouble, it’s time for Americans to involve their entire family in assessing the household budget. Tracking spending for a month will reveal some easy places to cut back without causing any significant lifestyle changes. Turning off lights and appliances, cutting down on weekend trips and dinners out and eliminating habits such as smoking all will help reduce household spending. And, it will give the family a head start on saving in case of emergencies.

For Americans to recover, maintain or rebuild their financial lives after this recession, they need to make permanent changes so they’re prepared for any future trouble in the economy. Identifying areas in which they are struggling, scrutinizing bills and spending habits and prioritizing aspects of their financial lives will help individuals create a proactive financial plan to last the whole year, and beyond.

Next Up: Seven Resolutions