Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 places to get a slice of savings on Pi Day. Also in the news: Choosing between a Roth 401(k) and a Roth IRA, guarding your cash from debit card fraud, and credit bureaus may get a boost from Congress.

7 Places to Get a Slice of Savings on Pi Day
Happy 3.14!

Roth 401(k) vs. Roth IRA: Which Is Better for You?
Making the right choice.

Debit Card Fraud Still Rising; Here’s How to Guard Your Cash
Protecting your money.

Despite Equifax breach, Congress may boost credit bureaus
Rewarding bad behavior.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why tax refunds aren’t fun anymore. Also in the news: 12 first-time home buyer mistakes and how to avoid them, 9 easy ways to earn travel rewards you’ll actually use, and Equifax says hackers stole more info than previously reported.

Why Tax Refunds Aren’t Fun Anymore
No more splurging.

12 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Avoiding the pitfalls.

9 Easy Ways to Earn Travel Rewards You’ll Actually Use
These rewards won’t collect dust.

Equifax says hackers stole more than previously reported
Roughly 2.4 million more.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Know how and when to thaw your credit. Also in the news: How to find lost 401(k) cash and other unclaimed money, why you should listen to money podcasts, and serious financial mistakes to avoid when getting engaged.

Don’t Be Frozen Out — Know How and When to Thaw Your Credit
Credit in the post-Equifax breach world.

How to Find Lost 401(k) Cash (and Other Unclaimed Money)
Reunite with your lost money.

Why You Should Listen to Money Podcasts
A few recommendations.

Getting engaged? Don’t make these serious financial mistakes
Starting off on the right foot.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why many consumers still #BankBlack. Also in the news: 3 reasons to choose a credit card over debit, how and why to use the Equifax free credit lock app, and how to review and dispute the salary data Equifax collects on you.

Here’s Why Many Still #BankBlack, Despite Fewer Options
Providing needed access.

3 Reasons to Choose a Credit Card Over Debit — and When Not To
Using your card strategically.

How and Why to Use the Equifax Free Credit Lock App
Locking your credit vs freezing it.

How to Review (and Dispute) the Salary Data Equifax Collects on You
Credit bureaus want your salary info.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Equifax extends credit freeze deadline. Also in the news: Why single parents are turning to online colleges, how credit card rewards can take the sting out of a starter budget, and strapped families hope President Trump will tackle student loans in tonight’s State of the Union address.

How to Freeze Your Credit With Equifax
Extended deadlines.

For Some Single Parents, Online College Holds the Key

Credit Card Rewards Take the Sting Out of a Starter Budget

Strapped families hope Trump’s speech will tackle student loans
The State of the Union speech is tonight.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Making your investing resolutions a reality in 2018. Also in the news: Free activities to get your family out of the house, learn the truth about overdraft fees, and 3-month Equifax fraud alerts are expiring.

Make Your Investing Resolutions Reality in 2018
A whole new outlook for a new year.

Get Your Family Out of the House With These Free Activities
Fun doesn’t have to cost money.

Learn the Truth About Overdraft Fees — and Save Money
Expensive mistakes.

Warning: Your 3-month Equifax fraud alert is expiring
Should you freeze your credit?

Equifax hack: Freezing your credit isn’t enough

The Equifax hack exposed the names, addresses, birthdates and Social Security numbers of up to 145.5 million Americans. Drivers license information for 10.9 million people was also exposed, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Credit freezes won’t prevent criminals from taking over credit, bank, retirement and investment accounts, says security expert Avivah Litan with Gartner Research. Thieves also could use the purloined information to snatch your tax refund or mess with your Social Security benefits. Your email, phone, shopping and cloud-based storage accounts aren’t safe, either.

Read my Associated Press column for the steps you should take now.

Q&A: Free credit monitoring won’t prevent identity theft

Dear Liz: I thought I would share some information in light of the Equifax disaster.

Two of my credit card issuers provide free credit monitoring. Capital One scans my TransUnion file and Discover uses Experian. Both send email and text alerts about new activity and a monthly “reassurance” email when no such activity turns up in the previous 30 days.

Along with the credit freeze I placed at Equifax, I feel pretty secure at the moment. I’m sure that other credit card issuers have similar programs in place, and perhaps people should ask their financial institutions if such monitoring is available to them as account holders.

Answer: Free credit monitoring can certainly be helpful, but understand that it can’t prevent identity theft. At best, credit monitoring alerts you after the fact if someone has opened a new account in your name. Only credit freezes at all three bureaus can prevent those accounts from being opened in the first place.

Unfortunately, credit monitoring and freezes can’t help you with the most common type of identity theft, which is account takeover. That’s when someone makes bogus charges to your credit cards or steals money from your bank accounts.

Financial institutions use different types of software to detect fraud, but nothing replaces vigilance on the customer’s part. We should be reviewing transactions on our accounts at least monthly if not weekly. Online access to accounts can help you better monitor what’s going on.

You also can set up alerts that will email or text you if large or unusual transactions happen. (Just beware of a common scam where you’re texted an “alert” that your account has been frozen, along with a link that encourages you to divulge your login information.)

Even if you do everything in your power to avoid identity theft, you still can’t prevent scammers from using your information to file bogus tax returns, get medical care or commit criminal identity theft (by giving your name to the police when they’re arrested, for example). As long as Social Security numbers are used as an all-purpose identifier by businesses and government agencies alike, you can’t make yourself completely secure.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Mad at Equifax? Use that fuel to boost your cybersecurity. Also in the news: What to weight when considering a secured credit card, what not to do on your Facebook small business page, and 3 mistakes to avoid when picking a Medicare plan in open enrollment.

Mad at Equifax? Use That Fuel to Boost Your Cybersecurity
Batten down the hatches.

What to Weigh When Considering a Secured Credit Card
Things to watch out for.

What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small-Business Page
Setting the right tone.

Avoid these 3 mistakes when picking a Medicare plan during open enrollment
Choose wisely.

Equifax just changed the rest of your life

Adding freezes to your credit reports is an appropriate response to the massive Equifax database breach that exposed the private information of 143 million Americans.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking those freezes will keep you safe, however.

Credit freezes lock down your credit reports in a way that should prevent “new account fraud,” or bogus accounts being opened in your name. But there are so many other ways the bad guys can use the information they stole, which included Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers. In my latest for the Associated Press, find out the other ways the Equifax breach will affect your life for years to come.