Category Archives: Banking

Data Breach Report Shows That Password Attacks Are Not Being Forced To Adapt

Everyone that spends time on the Internet is familiar with the ideas of usernames and passwords. A recent investigation by the Verizon Data Breach Investigations team revealed that our passwords are not doing the job. In 2012, authentication-based attacks were the number one method used by a mile in breaches online. In fact, four of five breaches were accomplished in this manner. What does this mean to us as surfers? Actually, it means quite a bit.

It means we are giving our permission without being aware of it

Most people realize that they should not give out their personal information, but they keep on doing it anyway. In fact, the criminals are counting on it. If we give our authorization to breach our information, what could be easier for an online, anonymous criminal? Phishing emails, asking for your information directly, false websites and countless other methods are out there. Once the password or username is secured, you would be shocked at the damage they can do.

Why change what is not broken?

That is almost certainly what the criminals are thinking. For the last several years the data has not changed hardly at all. By far, the easiest way for criminals to get your information is to ask for it…..and they do. Because we are not forcing a change, they simply keep on doing the same thing.

How do we force change?

The best way is to educate ourselves. You have to understand that any company that asks for password or username in an unsolicited email is fake. No company is going to do this in our modern online world without them having an ulterior motive. Never click a link you are uncertain about. Never visit a website with a bad reputation. You can see this by checking it with your anti-virus and other online tools. Most of all, we need to change how we pick our passwords.

How can we get a great password?

The easiest way to do this is to use a system like Roboform to store your passwords after you create them.  A website like strongpassword generator can help you create a great one if you have problems making something that will be hard to crack. This is a very easy way to come up with one that won’t be discovered. Of course, many will want to do it themselves and that is fine. Just don’t use anything that is obvious like a pet name or variation of your name. The criminals are very good at discovering your information. Use a letter, number and capitalization mixture for the best results.

The Pros and Cons of Using Pay Anywhere Card Readers

Gone are the days of having to be tied down to a computer to process a payment in the world of small business. Thanks to a wonderful little idea called a Pay Anywhere card reader, you can actually accept payments anywhere that you can carry a smart phone.  Pay Anywhere is certainly not the only player in the game where card readers are concerned, but they are the most respected. Despite the great reviews for this product, however, there are a handful of concerns as well. Here is a look at the pros and cons of Pay Anywhere:

Pros of Pay Anywhere card readers

The primary positive for these little card readers would be the fact that you can get paid anywhere. Just being able to whip out the little thing and swipe a credit card on the spot will give you great freedom as a small business owner. It provides convenience to the customer and at the same time gives you the flexibility to do business anywhere.

Another great reason to go with Pay Anywhere card readers is because it has the lowest transaction fees in the business. It is cheaper than any other credit card processor, thereby saving you and the customer  money once again.

You can feel great confidence in the accuracy of this fine product, simply because it has been around longer than any other card reader service. It started way back in 1992 and continues to this day. That type of longevity can go a long way towards giving you confidence.

Finally, Pay Anywhere has a dedicated customer service line that can help you when you need it. Whether it is a technical problem or a customer service issue, Pay Anywhere is there to talk it over and work it out.

Cons of Pay Anywhere card readers Continue reading The Pros and Cons of Using Pay Anywhere Card Readers

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



Digital Assets and Death

Chances are you have a will and other paper documents that have been prepared in the event of your death. What you may not have is information on how family members can access your digital assets upon your death. It’s something that many never think to disclose. However, if family members don’t have access to this information, it can be difficult to follow the instructions in your will. Not only that, but family members may also have trouble accessing important files, such as family photos. The following explains the importance of giving access to digital assets to your family upon your death and how to do it.

Many people rely on online financial institutions for a number of services. You may have your IRA account, life insurance, and at least one bank account through an online company that doesn’t have physical offices. Without passwords, it can be impossible for family members to access this information. This means that it may be impossible for them to pay for a proper funeral or carry out your final wishes. If you work online, you may also have quite a bit of money in a PayPal account and have clients that need to be notified. All of which your family will need to know about.

It’s not only financial accounts that your family will want to access. Chances are you also have a number of family photos stored digitally. These photos should be passed down and cherished by your family, not be erased because no one knew they were on the hard drive.

There are actually a number of ways you can help your family access your digital assets. When it comes to passwords, you never want to have a file in your home that contains this information. However, what you can do is create a list of accounts and log-in information and put it in a safe deposit box at the bank. The key could then be placed with your will along with instructions on where the deposit box is located. You could also have a trusted family member keep the file. When it comes to family photos, you could also make a note in your will about their location.

Digital assets are often overlooked, but this can really hurt your family. If you want to make sure your family accesses all your accounts upon your death, you need to find a way to share this information. Whether you share your passwords before your death or leave clues on where to find the information in your will, you can make it easier for your family to move forward.

U.S. Sues Wells Fargo Bank After $36 Billion Bailout

As the U.S. economy crumbled around us, the government made a bold (and often criticized) choice to bailout many of the largest banks in hopes to get the economy back on track. Now we’re learning that many of the banks the government lent money to are being sued by the U.S. for fraud. One bank under the most scrutiny is Wells Fargo. With over $36 billion given to the bank to help rebuild the economy, it turns out that the bank wasn’t as forthcoming with information as they should have been.

The nation’s largest mortgage lender was found to have not reported loans that defaulted. In fact, out of an astounding 6,500 defaulted loans, the company only reported 300. The real issue arises in the fact that the company approved more than 100,000 loans that should never have been approved, helping cause the mortgage crisis. These were loans that were government-centered, such as FHA and HUD loans. While it was brought to the attention of the company that their lending practices were questionable, nothing was done to fix the problem. In fact, obtaining more and more government-funded loans became a priority of the bank. When loans defaulted, the government was the one footing the bill. In many cases, home buyers didn’t even qualify for these programs, but the bank approved them anyway.

While this is just the latest case of bank fraud, it’s not the first and probably not the last. Other banks that have come under scrutiny include Bank of America, Flagstar Bancorp, Inc, and more recently Chase. Each company is said to have partaken in similar actions that led to thousands of defaulted loans. However, while Wells Fargo claims that the allegations are false, other banks have reached agreements with the federal government to “fix” the problem.

If found guilty, Wells Fargo will have to pay hundreds of millions back to the federal government. However, prosecutors must be able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that Wells Fargo intended to defraud the government and this may prove tricky. Continue reading U.S. Sues Wells Fargo Bank After $36 Billion Bailout

California Man with Previous Fraud Conviction Linked to Anti-Islam Movie Questioned

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian, was interviewed by federal probation officers voluntarily at a sheriff’s station in the LA suburb of Cerritos. The interview lasted about 30 minutes and allegedly revolved around his link to an anti-Islam movie.

The 13-minute English-language movie filmed in California and circulated on the Internet under several titles including “Innocence of Muslims,” mocks the Prophet Mohammad and portrays him as a buffoon.

Nakoula was picked up for his believed involvement in the film as a possible probation violation for a bank fraud conviction. It is said that the filmmaker went by the name, Sam Bacile, which is now believed to be Nakoula.  In 2010, he pleaded guilty to bank fraud and was sentenced to 21 months in prison and five years of supervised probation. He was also was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was accused of fraudulently opening bank and credit card accounts using Social Security numbers that did not match the names on the applications. Continue reading California Man with Previous Fraud Conviction Linked to Anti-Islam Movie Questioned

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

H&R Block Premium: What comes with it?

Review of H&R Block Premium below.

We’re currently looking for a coupon for H&R Block premium. If you know of where people can get H&R Block premium coupons please comment below.

In the meantime, please feel free to use these other H&R Block Coupons.

H&R Block Software Coupons
Use this coupon and you can save
25% off H&R Block At Home Basic Online

Use this coupon to save
25% off H&R Block at Home Online Deluxe

Users who have tried both Turbo Tax and H&R Block At Home Premium point out how extremely easy H&R Block At Home Premium is to use.

One of the things that many users seem to especially appreciate about H&R Block At Home Premium is that if you do have an issue, you can actually speak with a real person, someone who has fluency in native spoken English.

Users also point out how there is no extra e file filing fee with the premium version.

H&R Block At Home Premium works on MAC or PC, in 32 bit of 64 bit systems, and is the H&R Block’s premium tool of choice for those who are self-employed.

This is also a good program for those who own rental property and do their own taxes.

In addition to all the basics you’d expect to get from any tax preparation software, H&R Block premium includes help for filing a Schedule C, as well as rental income assistance.

As mentioned, you can also do free efiling with H&R Block At Home Premium as it’s included with the program.

One of the really nice options when you buy not just H&R Block Premium, but most H&R Block programs, is that they come with 60-day Money-back guarantees.

Here’s what it says alongside the display on H&R Block’s site for H&R Block Premium:

“If you are dissatisfied with the software for any reason, H&R Block will refund the full purchase price you paid H&R Block or its authorized reseller for the software[…]You must notify H&R Block of your dissatisfaction and the reason for your dissatisfaction with the software within sixty (60) days following your initial purchase of the software.

Because this software works on Windows and Mac, it’s possible to review H&R block for all computers. If you’ve been on Mac for any length of time and tried to use personal finance software designed for PC’s, you know that other software companies in this space can give Mac users significant difficulties.

That’s not the case with H&R Block Premium.

For a premium level product, H&R Premium is quite user-friendly. Loading last year’s tax information into H&R Premium is simple, and you’re off to the races.

And if you are anything like me, you prefer it if the pain of tax preparation goes by as QUICKLY as possible.

One nice thing as well is the level of support you get with all levels of H&R Block products. (They don’t just provide support for their premium users, they provide excellent support for all their customers.)

And if you’d rather just look up the answers yourself, it’s easy to see what you should do because the online support is great.

Having taxes that are relatively complex through rental properties your own business can cause serious trepidation when sitting down to do your taxes. But H&R Block Premium really makes this process simple.

And if you need to pay state taxes in addition to federal taxes, H&R Block Premium makes this process simple because you’ve already put in 95% of the information for the state return in the process of doing the federal taxes.

If you’re thinking to do your federal tax preparation now and do your state tax return later, that is not recommended. You’ll spend way more time (and probably more money). Just get H&R Block Premium so that you can file both tax returns online while protecting your information (instead of sending tax info through the mail).

H&R Block Premium comes with 5 free efiles for federal. (NOTE: It used to come with an option to file your state return online, but now that has an extra fee. Still worth it though.)
Having never gone to a H&R Block person (as in, in-person), I can’t speak to the level of quality provided by the people that work for them. But both H&R Block Premium and H&R Block At Home Online Deluxe are great programs which should be highly considered as your next tax preparation software.

Including their premium version, H&R block tax programs which are

  • Decently priced considering what they allow you to do
  • Clearly developed with the customer in mind
  • Easy to use

Compare all levels of H&R Block at the link below:

Or, use one of these coupons to save money.

H&R Block Software Coupons
Use this coupon and you can save
25% off H&R Block At Home Basic Online

Use this coupon to save
25% off H&R Block at Home Online Deluxe

H&R Block Software: Review of 4 H&R Block Software Programs

H &R Block Software Coupons
Program #1:
Use this coupon and you can save
25% off H&R Block At Home Basic Online

H&R Block Software Coupons
Program #2:
Use this coupon to save
25% off H&R Block at Home Online Deluxe

H&R Block has 4 different software programs available for businesses in their tax payment/preparation products.

Very few people enjoy the process of preparing their taxes, and if you get the wrong program or piece of software for your particular needs, it only makes the situation even less enjoyable.

I mean, picture yourself. You’ve got all your paperwork together. You’re sitting in front of your computer. You’ve decided that this is the day you are going to get your taxes done. So you purchased software and you’re ready.

But as you sit down at your computer and put the software CD into your computer, or try to run the program, you discover… you’ve gotten the wrong tax preparation software.


Avoid the mess of that.

Use the page on H&R Block’s website which compares their different pieces of software and shows you which program you should get.

And if you’re getting H&R Block programs anyway, you might as well save money.

H &R Block Software Coupons
Program #1:
Use this coupon and you can save
25% off H&R Block At Home Basic Online

H&R Block Software Coupons
Program #2:
Use this coupon to save
25% off H&R Block at Home Online Deluxe