PII at Risk Part 1: Why Your Email Account is Valuable to Hackers

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Identity is a funny thing. I used to think I knew exactly what it was made of—Social Security number, date of birth, and first and last name. Period. But then came the Internet and the notion of identity began to change and evolve along with the latest technology. Now I’m also known by my Twitter handle, Facebook name, and even my Xbox gamertag. Increasingly, in an online world, people know not only my name, but also my email address.   The miscreants of the “dark web” (anonymous, virtually untraceable global networks used by criminals) are looking for email addresses to harvest. Why? Because they make money selling consumer’s online credentials—usernames and passwords to online accounts for companies like iTunes, Groupon, dell, overstock, Walmart, BestBuy, etc[i]. These login … [Read more...]

Review: Why “My Job Chart” Is Perfect For Your Child

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myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   My Job Chart, a free online website, was created by a father of six with the goal of teaching his children about money management and the meaning of good work ethic. It’s designed to build organizational and computer skills, and teach responsibility and work ethic.   My Job Chart is a great program to help parents manage household chores and reward their kids for completing them. The program is essentially a free online chore chart and reward system that ties into a built-in rewards store. This program can be accessed online or via your Android or iPhone app. Parents can stick to the old paper and pen chore chart by printing out chores, or they can let their children … [Read more...]

Cash, Credit or Bitcoin—which payment option do you choose?

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While it is unlikely your local grocery store is currently accepting payment in bitcoin, you may have heard of this new emerging form of currency and may be wondering what is it; how does it work; and should you have some bitcoin stashed in your wallet?     Bitcoin is a new form of currency created in 2009 that only exists in digital format. At its core, bitcoin functions like other payment forms—you can purchase goods online or offline using your bitcoins as long as the seller accepts that form of payment. At present, not that many entities take payment in the form of bitcoin (coinmap.org is attempting to track physical locations that accept the currency), and people are likely buying bitcoins more as an investment with hopes they’ll go up in value over … [Read more...]

The real-life effects of data breaches and identity theft

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Due to what feels like a constant flow of data breach announcements, the threat of identity theft has become common knowledge. We hear of personal information being stolen or exposed, but how that stolen information is used remains somewhat of a mystery unless you’ve actually experienced it. So let’s take a minute to imagine what it would really be like to become a victim of identity theft. Here are three scenarios.   1. Your favorite store gets hacked Hundreds of businesses are affected by data breaches every year, and these data breaches can expose your personal information. The real victim is the consumers, not the businesses themselves. Only a few weeks ago EBay suffered a data breach affecting its millions of consumers. It appears the hackers didn’t get any financial … [Read more...]

6 Tips to Cut the Cost of Your Job Search

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Are you currently on the hunt for a new job or career? If so, you're not alone. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 21% of full-time working Americans plan on changing jobs this year.   In your zest to find a new position though, it can be easy to let expenses get the better of you—and if you're unemployed, of course, conserving money is absolutely essential. Regardless of your current situation, here are six ways to cut the cost of your job search.   #1. Carefully Consider the Benefits of Headhunters Back in the day, headhunters provided invaluable services to job seekers. However, with the expansion of the Internet, you can actually do a lot of this legwork on your own now.   Of course, if you're juggling too many responsibilities to tackle a … [Read more...]

Trouble in paradise: Quarrels over credit

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Ah, summer, the season of romantic adventures and lazy mornings. It’s the perfect time to take your special someone on a romantic getaway or relax together by the pool. Sounds blissful.     Now say you’ve been with this special someone for a while now. Say the honeymoon period is over and things are starting to get a bit serious. When you used to talk about dropping everything and traveling the world together, now those hopes and dreams have taken on more than a touch of reality: buying a car, owning a home, starting a family. And you know it won’t be long before that special question arises: “What is your credit score?”     Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Financial health has always been a consideration in relationships. But in recent years, credit has … [Read more...]

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Credit

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Understanding your full credit picture is usually a learning process. One category of common confusion is the why, what and how surrounding your three credit reports. If you don’t understand how all three of your credit reports affect your financial health, you might be facing some surprises next time you apply for a loan. Here are three things you should know:   #1.Your credit reports are fraternal Your credit reports aren’t identical triplets. In fact, the information on each report may vary greatly. That’s because lenders aren’t required to report to all three bureaus—or any bureaus for that matter. Plus, each bureau processes data differently, so the information reported could vary. For example, a small local lender may only report the credit obligation to one of the three … [Read more...]

Do you know if your HELOC is about to reset?

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If you don’t, you should look into this sooner rather than later.     During the housing boom of the mid 2000s many people took out home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) for greater financial flexibility, to have as a safety net, or as a means to avoid property mortgage insurance (PMI) by enabling them to make a 20% down payment on a home purchase.     And why not? Interest rates were very low and the process for getting approved was fairly easy for many consumers.     Many of the HELOCs opened at this time featured an interest-only period of 5,7 or 10 years followed by either a balloon payment at maturity or an amortization period requiring monthly payments of principal and interest.     What this means “in plain … [Read more...]

6 Traps to Avoid When Getting a Car Loan

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In the last quarter of 2013, the average American car buyer borrowed over $27,000. The average car payment climbed to over $450.   These numbers aren’t surprising. From 0% interest offers, easy dealer financing and long-term loans, it’s hard to stick to your guns against a persuasive car salesman. But if you’re ready for a new (or new-to-you car), you can avoid the most common car loan traps just by knowing about them.   Here are six common car-buying traps you need to avoid next time you shop for a car.   1. Buying a car based on the monthly payment   We’ve conditioned ourselves to define affordability based on whether we can make the monthly payment. You might be able to afford $500 per month in car payments. But should you really pay that much … [Read more...]

7 Strategies for Spring Cleaning Finances: Spring Cleaning Part 2

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Now that we've hopefully turned the page on winter, it's time to switch our collective attention to spring. The winter thaw means different things to different people. It can mean spring break, getting outside and enjoying activities with family and friends, and it can also mean doing some organizing.   Just like it's important to clean behind your bookcases, beds, and couches, you'd also be doing yourself a big favor by spring cleaning your finances. (We wrote about spring cleaning your credit, too.) Here are seven strategies to get started.   1. Get an Organizational System in Place If you don't already have a filing system in your home office, set one up now. You can get a scanner, digitize your documents, and store them in folders on your hard drive or a … [Read more...]

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