Month: November 2015

New Chip Cards: What Do They Mean for Security Breaches?


EMV chip technology is changing the way the United States handles credit transactions. As an upgrade to standard magnetic stripe cards, embedded chips don’t store unchanging consumer information. Rather, they create individual transaction codes that may only be used for one purchase, making it harder for thieves to access your information. EMV, which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, has been a staple in the European marketplace for more than a decade, and America is following suit, hoping to lessen the billions lost to credit card fraud every year. According to consumers, the change couldn’t have come at a better time. As the holiday shopping season approaches, Americans are becoming more cautious when it comes to credit card usage. In a survey conducted last year, 41% of Americans who have a credit card say their card(s) have been compromised in some way. Although EMV technology is a step in the right direction don’t get complacent; its safeguards aren’t foolproof. EMV chips still won’t protect you from:

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Cyber Monday 2015: Risks and Rewards

The biggest shopping days of the year are approaching: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The latter is a relaxing and easy way to shop from the comfort of your home, but is online buying safe? Read on to learn the risks and rewards of Cyber Monday deals. What you discover will help you safeguard your credit.

  • Risk: Phishing. Cyber thieves are skilled at masking their intent with websites that seem legitimate. This strategy lures in would-be customers and asks them to provide sensitive information like their names, addresses, bank accounts and credit card numbers. If you are unsure of a site’s validity, visit Norton’s Safe Web to verify it within their search engine. Don’t fall victim to clever tactics.
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Security Breach and the Holidays: How to Protect Your Identity and Credit


The season of holiday shopping is approaching quickly, and though it’s a time for celebration, the average consumer is wary. A study published last year revealed that “half of Americans believe concerns over credit card fraud or security breaches outweigh the rewards they could receive by using a credit card for holiday shopping.”

If you are concerned about credit card security this holiday season, follow the tips below to minimize risk, protect your identity and safeguard your credit score.

  • Make a list (and check it twice). Identity theft and credit card fraud are easily perpetrated during the holiday season when shopping trips are plentiful and it’s easy to forget where you spent your money. Don’t let a few purchases slip by, allowing a thief to use your card and information for a lengthy amount of time. This year, make a list of all the stores you visit and the things you buy. Keep receipts and compare them to your bank statement after every excursion. If you notice a suspicious charge, notify your bank immediately and ask them to freeze your account.
  • Shop safe online. Of those surveyed, 16 percent say their credit card was compromised online. Before typing in your credit card information, be sure your online retailer:
    • Utilizes a secure SSL server (you’ll know if the address begins with https://)
    • Discloses the full amount due
    • Lists their privacy policy and does not sell your information to third-party sources

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Why You Should Improve Your Credit Report


Your credit score dictates quite a bit. However, it can sometimes be difficult figuring out what affects your credit history and how. Understanding what is impacted the most will likely encourage you to reevaluate your current score and develop a plan to improve it.

Bad credit

Defining what makes a credit score low is one of the first steps toward understanding your credit report. According to, poor credit usually falls below 649, and bad credit is under 600.

You want to be aware of your current credit score at all times. This will help you determine whether you need to work toward improving it, or if you simply need to maintain your score. 

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Understanding how your credit score impacts your mortgage


Currently, interest rates are historically low, and the economy continues to improve. Factors such as these make becoming a homeowner a far more realistic endeavor. If you have interest in homeownership, knowing your credit score is a critical aspect to the home-buying process for a number of reasons.

Understand the impact your score has

According to a recent Lexington Law blog post, “Your credit history determines whether you are a trustworthy borrower. It measures how fiscally responsible you have been over the course of your monetary history.”

So, when applying for a home loan, ensure you obtain a copy of your credit report, as it determines if a lender approves you, and the interest rate affixed to the final loan product you wind up with. So, knowing your score and ensuring it is as high as it possibly can be prior to applying for a home loan is critical.

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