Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to prep (or not) for President Trump’s proposed tax changes. Also in the news: You could be owed money in the Western Union fraud case, why inauguration rental hosts could get a tax break, and 4 ways your expenses can skyrocket when having kids.

How to Prep (or Not) for Trump’s Proposed Tax Changes
How these changes could affect you.

Western Union Fraud Case: Are You Owed Money
A new website has been set up for victims.

Inauguration Rental Hosts May Get Tax Break
A federal tax code could save hosts money.

Thinking of Having Kids? 4 Ways Your Expenses Can Skyrocket

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

types-of-scholarshipsToday’s top story: Clever strategies to fund your child’s college education. Also in the news: How to choose a qualified credit counselor, how the wage gap for women turns into a retirement gap, and how to protect yourself from ATM fraud.

3 Clever Strategies to Fund Your Child’s College Education
Thinking outside the box.

3 Steps to Choosing a Qualified Credit Counselor
Finding the counselor who can best serve your needs.

For Women, Wage Gap Becomes Retirement Gap
The 21% gap.

Warning: ATM Fraud Is on the Rise
Protecting yourself from ATM skimming.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

taxesToday’s top story: What to do if you’re a victim of tax fraud. Also in the news: Personal finance items couples hide from each other, why Millennials will spend more on Valentine’s Day, and why you should watch out for student debt predators.

Victimized by tax fraud? Here’s what to do
Take a deep breath.

What personal finance item have you ‘hidden’ from a spouse or partner?
A bounced check or a little bonus? What about a hidden credit card?

Need to slash student debt? Watch out for rip-offs
Watch out for predatory loans.

Millennials to Spend More Than Others on Valentine’s Day, Survey Finds
Ah, young love.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

kids-and-credit-cardsToday’s top story: Five of the most inspiring personal finance stories of 2015. Also in the news: How to avoid holiday fraud, helping your kids establish credit, and when it’s time to leave your bank.

The 5 most inspiring personal finance stories of 2015
Inspiration for the new year.

Three Ways To Avoid Holiday Fraud
Staying on your toes.

How to help your kids establish credit
Starting them off on the right foot.

Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Bank (and How to Choose a New One)
Making the first move.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: A guide to student loan debt for new college grads. Also in the news: What parents should teach their kids about finances, what to do before hiring a financial adviser, and major money mistakes made by seniors and retirees.

The New Grad’s Guide to Student Loan Debt
Congratulations! Time to pay up!

11 Financial Words All Parents Should Teach Their Kids
Get them on the right path early.

4 things to do before hiring a financial adviser
Research is key.

Major money mistakes for seniors and retirees
Fraud can wreak havoc on seniors’ finances.

Don’t Touch the Minibar! How to Avoid 10 Annoying Hotel Fees
Don’t even breathe near it.

Will Apple make breaches obsolete?

download (1)If your credit or debit cards haven’t been compromised, you’re part of a shrinking demographic. Database breaches in recent months have exposed tens of millions of cards to potential fraud.

But Apple’s new payment system has the potential to sidestep the bad guys and someday, perhaps, make breaches a thing of the past, according to LowCards.com’s Bill Hardekopf.

Apple Pay, announced Monday, allows people to pay for stuff with their phones, but your credit and debit card numbers won’t live there. The system generates unique tokens that are used instead. No longer would your sensitive financial information be sent into the ether, to be stored in insecure databases.

You can read more at “Could Apple Pay Be the End of Data Breaches?

Credit card fraud alerts: don’t be too impressed

Dear Liz: My wife and I have had our bank’s airline cards a long time, but we want to change because it’s become almost impossible to cash in the miles. What I don’t see in various card-comparison articles are ratings of the card issuers for customer service and fraud protection. Our bank has been quite good at both, but what about the other issuers?

Answer: People are often unduly impressed when their credit card issuers contact them frequently about possibly fraudulent charges. The issuers are the only ones at risk in these situations, since under “zero liability” policies you can’t be held responsible for bogus charges. Also, if their software were better, they might do a better job of separating legitimate from fraudulent transactions and have to bother you less.

In any case, it’s tough to tell as a customer how good the issuer’s fraud prevention measures are. So perhaps a better metric to use is customer service, and J.D. Power publishes an annual credit card satisfaction study that tries to gauge six factors: interaction; credit card terms; billing and payment; rewards; benefits and services; and problem resolution. American Express has ranked at the top of the survey every year since it started seven years ago. Discover ranked second for 2013 and Chase ranked third.

Protect yourself from holiday credit card fraud

GiftHoliday shopping means more opportunities to whip out your plastic—and more opportunities for thieves to try to steal your identity. Here’s what you should do.

Be vigilant. If you haven’t already, sign up for online access to your bank and credit card accounts. You should be reviewing your transactions at least weekly.

Be reachable. Update your contact information so your issuer can reach you quickly in case they spot fraud.

Be alerted. While you’re at it, sign up for alerts. Most issuers allow you to get a text or email alert for large or overseas transactions.

Beware fraudulent deal sites. Their eye-popping bargains may just be a way to get your credit card numbers. Stick with the real deal, like DealNews.

Be diligent. Install and update anti-malware software.

Be smart. Use your credit card rather than your debit card in high-risk situations, as I wrote in “Debit cards can be riskier than credit cards.” If you must use a debit card, sign for it rather than using your PIN since that typically offers you better protection against fraud.

Debit cards can be riskier than credit cards

Dear Liz: I’m in my early 30s and never carry cash. I charge everything on my debit card. This seems to be a topic of discussion in my office. My co-worker keeps getting his identity stolen and says that using debit cards to pay for everything wreaks havoc on your finances. He says I should use my credit card instead. I just finished paying off all the expenses that creep up when buying a house and really don’t want to start using credit cards again. I don’t think I’d be as good as keeping track of where my money goes when it’s not coming automatically out of my account. But I don’t want to end up losing it all now that identity theft is running rampant. What’s the best solution here?

Answer: What you like most about your debit card — that the charges come directly out of your checking account — is also its greatest flaw. A bad guy who gets access to your account can drain it, and you’re left fighting to get your money back.

Contrast that with fraud on a credit card: You’re not required to pay the disputed charges while the credit card issuer investigates.

That doesn’t mean you should never use a debit card, but you should avoid using it in higher-risk situations. Using a debit card for online purchases isn’t smart, because your computer could be compromised with malware and because merchants often store purchase information in less-than-secure databases.

You also shouldn’t hand your debit card to anyone who could take it out of your sight, such as a waiter at a restaurant, since that person can swipe it through a device called a skimmer to steal the card’s relevant information before handing it back to you. Gas stations and outdoor ATMs can be risky as well, since criminals can more easily install devices to swipe your information than at more protected, better supervised locations.

Even at trusted merchants, though, things can go wrong. Tampered debit card terminals at Michaels craft stores allowed thieves to access customers’ bank accounts.

Using a credit card clearly has advantages, and doesn’t have to be an invitation to debt. Most issuers allow you to set up text and email alerts that let you know when balances exceed limits you set. Apps on your smartphone can help you keep track of charges as well.

Vigilance is the key to limiting the damage caused by identity theft. You should review transactions regularly on all your credit and bank accounts, regardless of what method you choose to pay.

Finally, keep in mind that debit cards do nothing to improve your credit scores, since debit cards are not attached to credit accounts. Light but regular use of credit cards can help achieve good scores, which in turn will save you money on mortgages, auto loans, utility deposits and, in most states, insurance premiums. You don’t need to carry a balance to have good scores, so exercising a little discipline in tracking your balances and paying them in full each month can save you money.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailAdvice on how to hire a contractor, how not to waste your summer vacation money on AMT fees, and what to do when you realize someone has hacked your email.

Top 8 Pro Tips on Hiring a Contractor
Home renovations can be much less stressful with the right contractor.

Save Money on Summer Travel by Avoiding ATM Fees
How not to waste your souvenir money on ATM fees.

9 Things to Do When Your Email is Hacked
Panicking is not one of them.

9 Ways to Save on Flights
How not to waste the aforementioned souvenir money on plane tickets.

Do Women Over 50 Need Life Insurance?
The pros and cons of purchasing a policy after 50.