7 Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft This Black Friday

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Practice Safe Shopping

What does Black Friday protection mean to you? Maybe it’s helmets and elbow pads as you battle your fellow consumers for doorbuster deals. Maybe it’s protecting your space in line.

Maybe it should be taking precautions to prevent identity theft.

The holidays represent peak season for identity thieves – probably because there are more transactions and more opportunities for theft. According to 2017 data compiled by ACI Worldwide, the number of online transactions between Thanksgiving Day and December 31 increased by 19% over 2016, while attempted fraud over the same period increased by 22%.

What day in 2017 were fraud attempt rates the highest? It’s not Black Friday – it’s Thanksgiving Day. Thieves like to get a jump-start on holiday shopping, too.

Reduce your chances of identity theft over the Thanksgiving weekend by following these common-sense methods for practicing “sa…

Credit Card Limits Tightening

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Did your credit card limit unexpectedly decrease? If so, would you believe the good economy is the reason why?

Capital One and Discover, two of America’s largest credit card issuers, recently announced a tightening of credit card limits despite the strong economy. Both companies cite risk management as the reason.

While the economy may be strong now, Americans have taken on levels of debt that may not be sustainable in tougher times. According to Federal Reserve data, total consumer (non-mortgage) household debt is over $3.9 trillion. Total revolving debt (mostly credit card debt) is just over $1.04 trillion.

Both Capital One and Discover have a relatively high percentage of borrowers with lower credit scores – according to The Wall Street Journal, approximately one-third of Capital One’s card balances are held by borrowers with subprime credit scores. Consequently, both companies must be more pre-emptive at lowering risks.

By tightenin…

Most Rewards Credit Card Holders Sabotage Themselves

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Would you pay $17 to get $2 back? Few people would – but a new survey suggests that many Americans are effectively doing so because of the way they handle their rewards credit cards.

You may think, “Why have a rewards card if you don’t load it up with purchases? You have to spend money to get rewards.”

According to a new survey from CreditCards.com, too many Americans follow that line of logic – and make a huge mistake in the process. Over half of survey respondents (57%) have at least one type of rewards card, with cash-back the most popular at 43% of rewards cards – but only 41% of those respondents pay off their rewards cards in full each month.

The average annual percentage rate (APR) for credit cards is currently over 17%. Meanwhile, most cash-back rewards are in the 1-2% range, with some offering 4% to 5% on certain purchases. Interest charges on any balances will quickly overwhelm savings.

According to 2017 data from NerdWallet, the ave…

Price-Matching Credit Cards

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You have many factors to consider when choosing a credit card — interest charges, rewards programs, security measures, and the like — but do you ever consider the price-matching perk? Are you even aware that credit cards can offer price matching?

Price matching may go by different names such as “price guarantee” or “price protection”, but the basic principle is the same. If you purchase an item using that card and find the item for a lower price within a certain period of time, the card will refund the difference up to a specific dollar-value limit.

You’ll need to check with your card issuer to verify whether price matching is offered and how the system works for that card. Each card will have a limit on the amount of reimbursement, a set period for which price matching applies, and lists of excluded items. Typical exclusions include jewelry, motorized vehicles, event tickets, food/perishable items, and animals.

For most cards, you must initiate the pro…

How Would Proposed Changes To Loan Officers’ Pay Affect You?

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Do you know how your mortgage loan officer is compensated? You should if you plan to buy a home, because your loan officer’s compensation could have the potential to affect your mortgage loan – and proposed new changes could amplify the effects.

At the beginning of 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) significantly changed the rules for loan officer compensation by amending and clarifying restrictions under the Truth in Lending Act. The CFPB action was designed to reduce incentives for loan officers to steer consumers toward riskier loan products that increased loan officer compensation but may not have been in the consumer’s best interest.

Under the CFPB’s ruling, loan officers can’t receive any compensation based on interest rate, loan terms, or by steering consumers toward an affiliate third party such as an appraisal or title insurance service. They can’t receive compensation from a borrower and a related party for the same transaction. Loan …

1 In 3 Uses Credit Cards For Home Improvement

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How would you finance a home improvement project? If it’s beyond what you can pay for in cash, you might consider using a credit card instead of a home equity loan or line of credit.

According to a new survey from Houzz, one-third of Americans paid for at least part of their home renovations with plastic. Only 5% used credit cards alone, with 6% using plastic to supplement loans, and the remaining 21% using a combination of cash and credit. The median credit card user spent $10,000 on renovations in 2017, with $1,500 to $4,800 of that spending applied to credit cards.

Homeowners using credit for improvement projects frequently look for promotional credit card offers. If you want more credit, check out our list of credit card offers. Survey respondents who planned to pay off their card balances over time chose prom…

Video: How To Protect Yourself From Mail Fraud

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Did you know that an identity thief could use a government form to have your sensitive documents like your credit card statements delivered directly to them? In our exclusive video above, Professor MoneyTips Jeff Hoyt explains how easy it is for crooks to steal your identity this way and what you can do to foil their plans.

If you would like to monitor your credit to prevent identity theft and see your credit reports and scores, join MoneyTips.

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9 Holiday Shopping Tips

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What brightens up your holiday shopping season? You may prefer a quiet Christmas season at home, large family gatherings at the home of the relative who drew the short straw, or hand-to-hand combat on Black Friday at the mall. However, everyone agrees that saving money on Christmas shopping gives the holiday an extra layer of cheer. Here are nine suggestions to increase your holiday cheer and your savings account simultaneously.

1. Make a List – Avoid the temptation to go shopping without a list and look for holiday inspiration. You’ll find inspiration, along with many gift items you didn’t really want at a higher price than you should have paid. Know what you are shopping for and avoid costly holiday “mission creep.” After all, even Santa makes a list (and checks it twice).

2. Make a Budget – A budget is the key to any form of saving. Once …

EMV Chips Don’t Stop Credit Card Fraud

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New Study: EMV Cards Still Subject to Fraud

Whether you know it or not, you probably have an EMV card in your wallet. EMV cards, named for the joint development with Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, incorporate a computer chip into the physical card.

When scanned using an EMV-capable chip reader, the card generates a unique code for each transaction. Anyone stealing information at the point of sale gets a code that’s useless for future transactions – compared to the old magnetic stripe technology that transferred the same information each time. Magnetic stripe information can easily be stolen and counterfeited, while EMV cards are basically counterfeit-proof.

EMV cards were touted as a great defense against credit card fraud. Initial results were promising, as…