Tag Archives: Banking

The Basics: Secured Credit Cards Versus Unsecured

There are two types of credit cards – secured and unsecured. But what’s the difference?

macro money Image by Flickr creative commons user kevin dooley

About Secured Credit Cards:

What makes it “secured” is that you will put a deposit down on this card. Your credit limit will generally be equal to the deposit that you make. So if you deposit $500, your limit will be $500. Banks can also choose to reward you for responsible management of the card by extending your line of credit beyond the amount of your deposit. The point is to improve bad credit or to establish nonexistent credit. This may be a good idea for people who would likely be turned down for an unsecured card.

You can apply for a secured card at many different banks or credit unions. To choose your card wisely, you should look at widely varying factors such as:

  • Application fees
  • Monthly or annual fees
  • Interest rate

Beware of cards that charge you an “insurance” fee every month. You should pay off your total balance on a secured card every month, rather than allowing a balance. Secured cards are generally not supposed to be used for the long-term, but only until you build credit and then are offered a reasonable unsecured card. After you close the secured card, you’ll get your deposit back.

 Unsecured Credit Cards:

Continue reading The Basics: Secured Credit Cards Versus Unsecured

ATM Safety: What You Need to Know

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can give you easy, fast access to the money in your bank account. When you insert your card into the machine, it reads the information on the card’s magnetic strip. It then asks you for your pin number and, voila! You have the ability to withdraw money from your checking or savings account. According to statistics published in 2012 by Statistic Brain, there are 2.2 million ATM machines in service, with a new ATM machine being installed every 5 or so minutes. It’s important to note that most of these machines charge a fee for their service, but with modern-day thieves focusing on ATM technology in order to steal your cash, a fee might be the least of your worries.

What Security Measures Are In Place?

Many ATMs are monitored by surveillance cameras to prevent identity thieves from tampering with machines and also to discourage muggers from targeting people who are withdrawing cash. ATM customers are cautioned not to write their pin number down where passers-by can see it and to take precautions against allowing others to see the number that they punch into the keypad.

Unfortunately, there are ways that scammers target ATM machines that render these security measures useless.

ATM Skimming:

Incidents of ATM skimming are on the rise. Skimming occurs when identity thieves modify ATM machines. They insert a phony card reader over the legitimate card reader. This will read the magnetic strip. The information that it reads off of a debit card is either stored in the device or transmitted via wireless to another location. This is combined with either a spy cam or a device fitted over the keypad to read the users’ pin numbers. With these two bits of information, thieves will have easy access to a user’s checking account. They will either remove funds from the account, or sell the information online. The highest bidder will receive your sensitive information.

To prevent this from happening to you, it’s advised that you use only ATM machines located inside a bank, where it is less likely that scammers will have tampered with a machine unnoticed. Also, look out for keypads and card readers that look slightly off. They may be protruding oddly from the machine or a slightly different color than the rest of the ATM.

Sketchy ATM Purchases:

Did you know that used ATMs can be sold on eBay and Craigslist? If the machines are not properly wiped of data, the purchaser may be able to access users’ information electronically. Again, users are encouraged to stick to using only ATMs located at banks, rather than those at retail stores or in out-of-the-way spots, which may later be discarded or sold without being properly wiped of data.

Users should also monitor their checking account transactions closely. Some identity thieves may “test” a user account by making small transactions, sometimes for amounts less than a dollar. They assume that most users won’t notice small transactions like these.

Bank account holders can also be advised to withdraw money directly from a bank teller rather than an ATM to eliminate the risk of ATM-related identity theft and also to avoid ATM fees.



Debit card safety: Think before you swipe



Consumer and Companies Working Together to Stay Safe from Cyber Fraud

Banks and other financial institutions are struggling to keep up with ever advancing technology while still protecting our money, in part because we want instant access wherever we are. But mobile banking comes with risks, especially that our information and account numbers are vulnerable without strong safeguards in place. And while the banks are continually increasing and assessing security measures, thieves are also working to learn ways around online security.

Today, millions of transactions are happening online or over mobile apps, and that brings an increase in the risk of cyber fraud, where skilled hackers can steal your information, your money and your identity.

One of the challenges banks face in protecting our accounts is that they have to keep us happy. That mean making sure we can access our own accounts with a minimum of fuss, yet we still expect the banks and other financial institutions to protect us from cyber fraud. Of course, it’s in the banks best interest to protect our money, or we might just take our business elsewhere, and they know that. It’s a fine balancing act they have, and it’s important that we play a bigger role in preventing cyber fraud.

Banks are realizing that Continue reading Consumer and Companies Working Together to Stay Safe from Cyber Fraud

Don’t play games with your online and mobile banking

Last month the FBI warned consumers about a new online backing hoax as warning consumers about, called “Gameover.”  Gameover is a malware (software designed to hurt your computer and to steal information) that comes to you via an email message, supposedly from National Automated Clearing House Association, the Federal Reserve or the FDIC.

How does Gameover work?

The message attempts to trick you into logging into “your account” or a reasonably, believable fake site, and basically handing over your information as you log in.  Gameover takes over your computer and is able to obtain usernames, addresses, passwords and then of course, your money.  But that’s not the best part of this “game.”   The “bad guys” then attempt to make sure you can’t head over to bank account in a new window or tab and use their link instead by creating a Denial of Service attack.  a DDOS attack shuts down a business or person’s website using a botnet at the server so the link “in” maybe the only way you see to handle your personal finance emergency.

No mystery to these mystery shoppers

The newest investigations have uncovered that once the money is stolen Continue reading Don’t play games with your online and mobile banking

Citigroup joins group of online hacker victims

Another day, another new cyber attack on a major corporations website. Recently Citigroup announced that their websites security was breached. Initially Citigroup said that less than 1% of their customer base would be affected by the breach, but that number has since risen.

Hackers at large

The attack took place on May 10th 2011 and it immediately compromised 21 million online accounts. Citigroup said that less than 200,000 accounts were affected but that number has since grown to almost 400,000, and the number could rise even more in the coming weeks.

All of the usual information was stolen from the site including names, addresses, but Citigroup states that social security numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth, and card expiration dates were not stolen. Only time will tell if they are correct about that.

Citigroup now joins Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and Epsilon as victims in the hacking wars. The question that needs to be asked is why are all of these major corporations websites so easy to hack? So far in 2011 there have been a staggering 114 million accounts exposed because of websites being hacked.

Lack of security

It seems to me that the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Epsilon and now Citigroup should be doing everything in their power to make sure that their websites are safe and secure, yet hackers seem to be able to break down their defenses with ease. Only after the initial attacks occur do these companies take measures to make sure it does not happen in the future, Citigroup also falls into this category.

Following the attack on the companies servers, a Citigroup spokesperson said it has put fraud alerts, and enhanced monitoring services on accounts there were deemed to be at risk. Why not have these safety measures in place from the very beginning, and instead of putting these enhanced features on certain accounts, why not put them on every account? Surely the customers deserve this level of protection. Unfortunately it probably boils down to money and extra cost. However, it seems as if the feds are finally stepping in.

Greater security needed

The FDIC has said that in future all banks will have to offer improved security to their customers, and that new regulations surrounding site security will be put into place. The chairman of the FDIC has suggested that banks put extra layers of protection in place so that account authentication is stronger. While this may mean that logging into your account may take a little longer than normal, it will certainly be better than having your personal information stolen.

The good news is that Citigroup seemed to react very quickly to the breach on their servers. Citigroup has notified all of those who were affected, and immediately sent out new credit cards too. Customers were also told to keep an eye on their accounts to make sure that there are no unauthorized purchases.

I am hoping that companies around the globe are taking note at the current trend of website hacking, and that they take measures to secure their servers, and customers personal data now while they still have the chance. Lets hope that there are no more accounts added to the 114 million that have already been affected this year.

This guest post is by Brett Day,  from Moore, Oklahoma. He is a featured contributor for Associated Content in Technology. He has a huge interest in the world of technology, home theater, and video games. Brett loves writing and sharing his knowledge on all of these subjects.

New and Improved Counterfeit Check Scams

As long as there have been checks, there have been scams associated with them. In the “old” days it was forgery. A scam artist would get a hold of an individual’s check book, forge their signature and the victim would be left with a wiped out bank account.

In the age of technology, the scams have become more sophisticated. We rely on computers today to do everything from communicate to organize our lives. Most businesses conduct some sort of business online with their customers. Because of this, the scam artist has become more creative in their pursuit of a quick buck at the expense of someone else.

One of the latest check scams combines the old with the new. A thief will Continue reading New and Improved Counterfeit Check Scams

JP Morgan Chase Bank Review: Is Bigger Better?

JP Morgan Chase is a relatively new bank as two financial giants, JP Morgan and Chase Manhattan, merged. Even more recently JP Morgan Chase absorbed Bank One, Washington Mutual and other smaller banks.Does this make them bigger AND better?

Continue reading JP Morgan Chase Bank Review: Is Bigger Better?

Winning Tips for Saving Money & Stretching Your Paycheck That Can Work for You

Most people are doing all they can to bring in as much money as possible, and with these 5ive tips to help you get more “bang” for your buck you can find ways to make your paycheck go just a little bit further and pay off debt.

Continue reading Winning Tips for Saving Money & Stretching Your Paycheck That Can Work for You

Not Kiss and Tell but Clickatell: An Effective Tool in Preventing Identity Theft?

If identity theft crimes are happening faster and faster then, checking hard copy statements that arrive in the mail once a month is clearly not enough to stop identity theft. Maybe we need to check on our finances more frequently – and Clickatell SMS thinks so too.

Continue reading Not Kiss and Tell but Clickatell: An Effective Tool in Preventing Identity Theft?