Month: December 2014

State Fighting Back Against Hacking, ID Theft

updated: 12/23/2014 12:30:33 PM

State Fighting Hacking, ID Theft Report

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is urging the legislature to take up more strict measures to deal with identity theft and data breaches. He says current laws are inadequate to handle a global issue.

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7 tips to protect against ID theft during holidays

7 tips to protect against ID theft during holidays

The Federal Trade Commission reported that consumers lost more than $1.6 billion to fraud in 2013. And considering some of the high profile data breaches and online security problems lately, including an

Voices: Bill Carter, on Offering Workplace Financial Planning

Voices is an occasional column that allows wealth managers to address issues of interest to the advisory community. Bill Carter is president of Carter Financial Management in Dallas.

Large public companies have been offering financial planning as a workplace benefit since the mid-2000s, but it’s not a common benefit at small and midsize companies, where executives arguably need it the most. Executives at smaller companies often are totally focused on making the business grow, and so it’s easy for them to fall into the…

News Corp Buys India-Based Financial Planning Service

Fresh from making its first investment in India last month, News Corp has now completed its first acquisition in the country, buying financial planning service as Next Big What first reported.

The service is designed to be a one-stop-shop that uses data and algorithms to help consumers in India make better financial decisions, for example related to retirement, insurance, education and home ownership.

News Corp did not provide a price for the deal, which includes parent company FinDirect Services and follows its $30 million investment in real estate service PropTiger. In a statement that is indicative of News Corp’s startup focus in India, chief executive Robert Thomson said both deals are about using the power of data to help improve purchasing and financial decisions.

“Our latest investment builds on our abiding belief that a digital India needs more trusted, reliable and independent data. will help Indians make the most important decisions by using accurate information tailored to their personal needs,” Thomson said. was founded in 2013 and is based in Mumbai. It claims to have assisted 40,000 users’ financial decisions to date.

Sudbury school to focus on money management for kids

The Rainbow District School Board is receiving a grant to offer special talks on a variety of topics.

At Carl A. Nesbitt Public School, students and their parents will be able to take part in a talk about money management.

According to the Canadian Foundation of Economic Education, 50 per cent of high school graduates, students between the ages of 17 and 20, have debt.

It’s a statistic that is surprising for Ruby Lougheed Yawney, a senior financial advisor, who will be giving the upcoming talk to parents and students.

She said children need to be taught to be able to look at different kinds of debt, and decide which kind of debt will impact their future.

“You’ve got your education which if going to be your best investment of your lifetime … it’s going to help you with your income potential in the future. So that’s a good investment.” she said.

“[But] do you really need that cell phone? Is there a compromise somewhere?”

Lougheed Yawney adds students also need to look at the differencebetween using cash or a debit card for purchases.

“I think when you’ve gone from physical money … and then this next generation, I think we have to … work a little bit harder at teaching them the value of a dollar and these whole financial principles of living within your means,” she said.

“We need to talk about where money comes from [and] what it is.”

The upcoming workshops will take place on November 17 and November 24.

Don’t Let Debt Ruin the Holidays

While the holiday season conjures thoughts of joy and family celebration, for those in credit card debt, it can be a stressful time. This year, don’t let spending and debt fears interfere with your cheer. Consider the following ways to manage and reduce your personal debts while enjoying holiday traditions.

First, Tacke Your Everyday Budget

Before you start spending, it’s important to figure out exactly where you stand financially right now. This includes assessing your current debt. You may have a general idea of what you owe, but writing it all out with dollar figures can make it real. Include everything from your mortgage and credit card to your student loans and that $10 you owe a friend to get a full picture.

Generally, it’s a good idea to pay off debt with the highest interest rates first and pay on time, with more than the minimum due. Some people prefer to pay off the smallest debt first (remember that $10 you owe a friend) to start crossing things off the list. Whichever path you choose, the idea is that you are focusing on debt repayment. Once you have a plan in place, you can think about spending more purposefully this holiday.

Holiday Budget

Make a list of people you plan to buy for this holiday season. Include what gifts you would like to buy them or how much money you plan to spend. This can help you develop a budget. If you don’t know exactly what to get everyone on your list, leave a few similarly priced options.

It’s important not to let your feelings (you want loved ones to feel loved or thrilled by their presents) compel you to spend more on gifts than you can realistically afford. Your family, friends and loved ones will understand your situation and appreciate any effort regardless of the price tag. Stick to your list and try to avoid impulse spending. If you see something great for someone but you’ve already bought their present, make a note for next year or for that person’s birthday.

The best advice is to start your holiday planning and shopping early (of course, now that advice is for next year). This can spread your purchases over several months and allow you to comparison-shop. If you can’t do that, include a category for gifts in your yearly budget. This can include birthdays and holidays and then be spread over 12 months. So if you are setting aside a certain dollar amount each month into an account for this purpose, you can pay with cash when it’s time to buy.

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Be Creative

Another great way to limit spending is making use with what you already have. If you have lots of credit card debt, you might also have lots of credit card rewards stocked up. See if these can help you get gifts or be used to travel during the holidays.

Homemade, DIY gifts and decorations save you time and money, but can be appreciated even more than store-bought items because they are more personal. Also consider some free activities you and your family can share, and even try using these as gifts.

Plan an ice skating trip with your niece or nephew or promise a romantic evening in the New Year for your spouse. This means no spending now and thus, no more debt. Fun doesn’t have to come with an anxiety-inducing cost.

Finances First

No matter what holiday craziness is distracting you, its important to pay your bills on time. If this is impossible, contact your creditors and let them know you are struggling to make ends meet. Tell them why it is a difficult time for you and see if they can work out a modified payment plan to a more manageable amount and timetable.

Make the most of post-holiday sales and consider gifting in January (or giving gift cards that are likely to buy much more after the holidays) as a way to stretch your dollars. For the most part, the items will not change, but their prices will. This can be really helpful if you are in debt.

The cost of maxing out your credit cards during the holidays can linger long after the holidays because of the impact it can have on your credit score. And bad credit can cost you thousands over your lifetime. You can see how your credit card spending is affecting your credit scores for free on

More Money-Saving Reads:

  • What’s a Good Credit Score?
  • What’s a Bad Credit Score?
  • How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life

Image: iStock

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Do you need ID theft insurance or credit monitoring?

You’d have to be living under a rock not to be concerned about identity theft. It seems like every other month there’s a new report about another massive data breach somewhere in the world.

Not surprisingly, a thriving industry has sprung up around helping to protect consumers from identity theft. Most of these services are pretty expensive and many consumer organizations argue that they merely take actions you could easily carry out yourself for free. But if you don’t have the time or wherewithal, you may want to enlist a professional to help unravel the mess.

Following are some of the identity theft prevention services being marketed, as well as questions to ask when considering them:

ID theft insurance is commonly offered as a rider to homeowners or renters insurance and typically costs $25 and $60 a year. Note: it doesn’t protect you from being victimized in the first place nor does it cover direct monetary losses resulting from identity theft. Rather, it reimburses costs associated with reclaiming your financial identity (eg, phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, wages lost when pursuing resolution and hiring an attorney).

Questions you should ask:

  • What are the policy’s limits?
  • Is there a deductible?
  • If lost wages are covered, what limits apply and what triggers this coverage?
  • If legal fees are covered, what limits apply and must the insurer preapprove the work?
  • How much personalized assistance will you get – will they assign a case manager to execute on your behalf or merely give you a checklist to follow?

Credit monitoring services track your credit reports and contact you whenever key changes occur – things like new accounts opened in your name, address changes, credit inquiries and increased credit limits. They usually cost from $10 to $30 a month and services provided are all over the map. For example:

  • Some monitor and provide credit reports from all three major credit bureaus; but some only track one.
  • More expensive plans provide additional services including monitoring public records, black market website surveillance, and computer protection programs like antivirus and keystroke encryption software.
  • Some provide one or more free (or low-cost) credit scores.

Keep in mind when considering whether to buy credit monitoring:

  • Many creditors report information to all three credit bureaus, but some only report to one, so your three credit reports may contain different information.
  • Because many lenders only report activity to credit bureaus monthly, it could take weeks before your monitoring service spots fraudulent behavior.
  • Ask how you’ll be notified of flagged changes (email, text and/or mail) and how frequently (daily, weekly, monthly).
  • You can order one free copy of each credit report from annualcreditreport.comper year, so by staggering them, you could get a different report every four months.

If you know – or fear – that an account has been compromised but don’t want to fully block access to your credit reports through a credit freeze, you can place a free, 90-day initial fraud alert with the three credit bureaus. This means businesses must verify your identity with you before opening new accounts.

You can renew the alert after 90 days. If you don’t want to be bothered remembering, some monitoring services will file your renewals for a fee.

For more tips, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Privacy and Identity page at

Bottom line: Do you want to monitor your own credit (which is free but time-consuming) or hand off the task to a third party and pay hundreds of dollars? Either way, make sure it gets done.

Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To Follow Jason Alderman on Twitter: