Checking Account Scams

MoneyTips

Your checking account is a tempting target for thieves. You must stay alert for the many varieties of checking account scams – but first, you must be able to recognize a scam when you see one. Have you ever been targeted by any of the scams below?

Free Prizes – This scam usually starts with a postcard or a telephone call notifying you of a prize that you have won. If you respond positively, the telemarketer will ask you for your checking account number, either for verification or to use for direct deposit. Once they have your account number, scammers will be able to apply a “demand draft”, allowing them to withdraw funds directly from your account without your signature.

Variations of this theme exist, such as a special credit card offer that applies even if your credit history is suspect. In all cases, the end result is the same – the telemarketer will ask for your checking account information. Don’t give it to them.

Compromise…

9 Holiday Shopping Tips

MoneyTips

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 …

Black Friday Predictions

MoneyTips

Black Friday arrives on Friday, November 23. Do you plan to join the frenzied early sales with hundreds of your fellow consumers, scour the Internet for online bargains as soon as you’ve digested your Thanksgiving turkey, or wait until the first shopping wave dies down and take your chances a little later in the day?

Whatever your strategy, a battle plan is important – and battle planning requires reconnaissance. Here are a few Black Friday predictions to consider as you formulate your plans.

Spending Increases – Here’s an easy prediction – people will spend more over the period from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday than they did last year. BestBlackFriday.com predicts an average spending of $340.33 per consumer, up almost $5 from last year.

The online spending component is exploding. Last year marked the first time that Black Friday online shopping topped $5 billion. BestBlackFriday.com predicts $5.8 billion, an increase of mo…

Be on the Lookout for Home Improvement Scams

MoneyTips

Ah, summertime. The weather warms up, the flowers bloom, and the flocks of home improvement scammers return for their annual summertime gathering.

Like other unwanted pests, shady home improvement contractors tend to show up in the spring and summertime offering services ranging from driveway sealing to chimney repair to roof replacement to a complete home makeover. These scam artists often prey on the elderly, who can be more easily tricked or bullied into signing bad contracts. Avoid this situation by taking some precautionary steps.

  • Initiate the Search – Some contractors will approach you unsolicited and ask if you want particular work done because they just happen to be in the area, have excess supplies to deal with, or would like to use your home as a model for their services. Even if they seem sincere, ask for contact information and let them know you will be in touch if you need work done. Never sign contracts on the spot.

Free Government Program Can Help You Master Your Finances

MoneyTips

You’re never too old to learn new things – including better money management practices. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) agrees.

To address financial literacy concerns, the FDIC created the Money Smart teaching program in 2001 to help educators and financial institutions increase consumer understanding of basic financial systems work and how to use them to stay financially healthy.

The Money Smart for Adults program is expanding to include more topics. According to the FDIC website, the updated Money Smart for Adults program is set to begin in fall 2018.

The updated program contains eleven separate modules that take one to two hours of time per module. Topics include how banking services work, the basics of credit and credit histories, how to use credit cards…

Scary Financial Facts

MoneyTips

Are you ready for some Halloween horror stories? Forget Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers – we’ve got something really scary for you. Those three famous horror movie characters can’t compete with these three real-life financial horrors.

The Debt’s Coming from Inside the House! Get Out Now! – America’s national debt has topped a staggering $21.6 trillion – but your main concern is your own household debt. Unfortunately, America’s household finances aren’t in much better shape.

According to the New York Federal Reserve’s Q2 2018 Household Debt and Credit Report, aggregate household debt is $13.29 trillion – the highest collective debt ever. Household debt has been rising for the last sixteen quarters. Outstanding student loans alone have topped $1.5 trillion. Revolving debt – mostly credit card debt – hit $1.03 trillion.

Out-of-control spending can crush your finances. To prevent spending binges,

Credit Checks And Jobs

MoneyTips

Finding a job can be a stressful and difficult task – and if you have poor credit, you may have an even harder time finding a job. A 2016 CareerBuilder study found that almost one-third of employers run credit checks on their potential hires, on the assumption that people with good credit are more likely to be productive employees.

That assumption may or may not be true – but, in most states, an employer is able to use your credit as part of the hiring evaluation process. The District of Columbia and eleven states currently limit the gathering or use of credit history in making employment decisions: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Aside from these states and a few cities in other states, including New York City, NY, and Philadelphia, PA, your credit history is fair game.

When credit is considered in the hiring process, the unemployed with low credit scores can fall into a “poverty t…

Video: Seniors, Don’t Worry About Timeshares You Can’t Afford

MoneyTips

By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS
Nonprofit Law Firm

I just got off the phone with a senior couple who have a timeshare they can’t afford and don’t use any longer. They had called a company who advertised that they help people get out of timeshares. (I hear such advertisements on the radio and television regularly.) The senior couple had paid this company nearly $3,000. The next payment of $1,000 was scheduled to come out of their account in a few days. I took a deep breath and explained that they didn’t actually need to keep paying for their timeshare, let alone pay someone to help get out of it. The timeshare company couldn’t take anything from them if they simply stopped paying. The law protects their retirement income from collection – including wage garnishments and bank levies from the timeshare company. That includes Social Security, pensions, VA benefits …

We Prefer Using Cash Over Credit For Small Purchases

MoneyTips

Do you use your credit card for most purchases? Are there times you prefer paying with your debit card? Perhaps you still use those funny green paper rectangles with numbers on them?

Cash hasn’t been forgotten, especially for smaller payments. A new study by CreditCards.com shows that 45% of consumers who have rewards credit cards still prefer to use cash for payments below $10. Even debit cards are more popular than credit cards on small payments, by a 30% to 23% margin.

This finding is consistent with previous data from the Federal Reserve’s Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC). In 2016, the DCPC found that 55% of all payments of $9.99 or less used cash, while cash prevailed for 35% of purchases between $10 and $24.99 but only 19% of purchases from $25 to $49.99. The CreditCards.com study agrees, showing that $25 is the median tipping point for using credit for purchases.

Why wouldn’t you use a credit card for all purchases when you get rewards fro…