Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Victim of ‘Divorce Season’? Protect Your Finances. Also in the news: Mixing up these student loan terms could cost you, why deductions aren’t the only way to save on real estate taxes, and why you still need to cut up your canceled credit cards.

Victim of ‘Divorce Season’? Protect Your Finances
March and August are bad months for marriage.

Mixing Up These Student Loan Terms Could Cost You
Know your student loan vocabulary.

Deductions Aren’t the Only Way to Save on Real Estate Taxes
Alternative tax incentives.

Do You Still Need to Cut Up Your Canceled Credit Cards?
Get the scissors.

How to help your parents protect their money

Our financial decision-making abilities peak in our 50s and can decline pretty rapidly after age 70, researchers tell us. That’s how otherwise smart older people fall for sweepstakes frauds, Nigerian investment schemes and the grandparent scam, where con artists pretend to be grandchildren in a financial jam.

But few people want to hear that they’re not as sharp as they used to be. Many won’t recognize the rising risk of losing hard-earned life savings as they age, says financial literacy expert Lewis Mandell, author of “What to Do When I Get Stupid: A Radically Safe Approach to a Difficult Financial Era.”

“As our ability to make sound financial decisions decreases with age, our self-confidence in this area actually increases,” Mandell says.

In my latest for the Associated Press, what adult children can do to protect the finances of their parents.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How medical bill advocates can slash your costs. Also in the news: How two-factor authentication protects your online info, how investing apps can foil financial planning, and four credit card trends for 2017.

How Medical Bill Advocates Can Slash Your Costs
An advocate will go to bat to reduce your medical costs.

How Two-Factor Authentication Protects Your Online Info
Taking the important steps to protect your online information.

Investing apps can foil financial planning
Trusting your intuitions.

4 credit card trends for 2017 and what they mean for you
The good news and the bad news.

Your mother’s maiden name is not a secret

Your mother’s maiden name is probably not a secret. Neither, necessarily, is your high school mascot or the size of your car payment. But some banks and brokerages still pretend this is information only you would know, and that could be putting your money at risk.

So-called security questions long ago outlived their usefulness, since they can be hard for the right people to remember and easy for the wrong people to guess or steal.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why security questions are no longer the most secure way to protect your information.

Q&A: Getting help with credit scores after identity theft

Dear Liz: Would you please help readers learn how to fix credit scores after identity theft? I have been a victim at least eight times in the past five years. I have filed three police reports regarding these matters and sent them along with other proof to the big three credit report agencies. Only one quickly answered and deleted the false entries.

Answer: You have a friend in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In the past, complaints about credit bureaus went into a black hole. The Federal Trade Commission collected them but warned consumers that it couldn’t expect any action on their individual cases. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, by contrast, forwards consumer complaints directly to the financial company and works to get problems solved. The bureau says 97% of complaints get a timely response.

Before you make your complaints, though, you should check your credit reports again. One bureau may have been faster in responding, but the other two may have since deleted the bogus accounts.

Q&A: The insecurity of bank security questions

Dear Liz: I recently opened an account at a bank that boasted “multi-factor authentication,” but I looked into the claim and it turns out the bank is using passwords plus answers to security questions, such as the name of your first pet, as the “multi-factor authentication.” I expect you know that the real multi-factors are something you know, like a username and password, something you have, like a code that has been sent to your phone or email, and something uniquely inherent to you, like a fingerprint. Clearly, this bank is misrepresenting its “multi-factor authentication.”

Answer: If there was any doubt about how insecure security questions are, it should have been settled with the hack of the IRS’ Get Transcript service. The criminals gained access to 700,000 taxpayer accounts by correctly answering multiple questions with answers supposedly known only to the affected taxpayers. In reality, the answers to many security questions can be purchased from black market databases or simply found by perusing people’s social media accounts.

If your financial institutions are still using security questions to identify you, you should demand to know why. If the institution doesn’t offer at least two-factor authentication (a password plus a code), you should consider putting your money somewhere else.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

phone-scammerToday’s top story: How to tell if that IRS tax collection call is fake. Also in the news: Strategies to maximize your child’s financial aid eligibility, how to lower your cell phone bill, and how to prevent a divorce from ruining your finances.

7 Ways to Tell If That IRS Tax Collections Call Is Fake
Don’t get duped.

Strategies to Maximize Your Child’s Financial Aid Eligibility
Increasing your odds.

4 Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
The telecoms are rich enough.

10 Ways to Prevent a Divorce From Ruining Your Finances
Protecting what’s yours.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: 3 options to save for your child’s college education. Also in the news: Yahoo and your credit cards, a personal finance checklist for 40-somethings, and how not to blow your pay raise.

3 Options to Save for Your Child’s College Education
A look at different savings plans.

Will Yahoo Breach Compromise Credit Cards? Probably Not
But you should still check your credit and change your passwords.

The 6-Point Personal Finance Checklist for 40-Somethings
It’s a great time to get your finances in order.

If you got a pay raise, here’s how not to blow it
Making the most of your pay increase.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Image9Today’s top story: Summer tax tips to avoid surprises in April. Also in the news: Common savings mistakes you can fix right now, why mobile banking is only as safe as your app, and four ways Millennials are smarter about money than Baby Boomers.

5 Summer Tax Tips to Avoid Surprises in April
It’s never too early to start.

3 Common Saving Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now
Easy fixes.

From download to deposit, mobile banking only as safe as your app
Protecting your information.

Four Ways Millennials are Smarter About Money Than Boomers
They’re all about the budgets.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to improve your online banking security. Also in the news: Avoiding overwhelming student debt, getting the most out of your 401(k) plan, and 12 cheap ways to keep your kids busy this summer.

5 Ways to Improve Your Online Banking Security
Protecting your information.

8 College Planning Tips to Avoid Overwhelming Student Loan Debt
There are alternatives.

401(k) Fatigue? Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your Plan
Don’t leave money on the table.

Summer is coming: 12 cheap ways to keep your kids busy
Summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune.