Category Archives: Your Safety

Restaurant Tips Reach a Tipping Point

Compare Credit Cards

© DontSpendMore.com

 restaurant_tips

From New York to California, restaurants are adopting a “no tipping” policy. Establishment owners have cited various reasons for doing away with the tips altogether. No doubt, the policy change has generated substantial publicity for the businesses and social media is lighting up with savory comments for and against the “no tipping” policy.

Until recently, many restaurant employees would receive lower wages with the promise that the tips generated during the shift would cause the wages to jump substantially higher. Restaurant tips have motivated wait staff to provide better service in the hopes of receiving a generous gratuity. This was a win-win for both business owners and front line staff. Owners benefited from satisfied customers while employees went home with a fatter pay check.

The problem with the policy is not only an extra burden on customers but also a cold war styled territorial dispute between servers, at least in some establishments. In fact, some employees had boiled the process down to a science. Flower in the hair, red dresses, blond hair, smiley faces on checks … these were some factors that generated higher tips, at least from men. 1

That is about to change, though.

A new breed of employers is favoring higher wages and a more stable paycheck over restaurant tips and gratuities. A major change is sweeping restaurants nationwide and from East Coast to West Coast, establishments are doing away with restaurant tips. New York-based Restaurant Riki cites Japanese customs for its no gratuity policy, while Sushi Yasuda chases customers to return what was left behind. According to some business owners, the idea of rating server performance with tips was downright condescending.1

Restaurant tips are disbursed individually to the server or added to a common pool that is distributed to all servers at the end of the shift.

The eateries that favor a no restaurant tips policy try to make up for the difference by offering staff higher wages and a more stable takeaway. The policy is receiving mixed reactions from guests. Some prefer not having to do the extra math after a wonderful meal, while others are concerned about the impact on service quality. This is a major cause of concern for frequent guests who often build a personal rapport with their servers.

On the flip side, a sluggish economic recovery is forcing patrons to lower their tips, especially for unemployed folks who have no choice but to eat out while interviewing and traveling.

How to tip at a restaurant

Despite the shift away from restaurant tips, many owners will still consider redistributing the tips to employees or giving them away to charity.

At a surface level, restaurant tips may sound like a simple issue but many guests are still not sure about the amount they should be leaving aside as gratuity. A good restaurant tipping guide would spell out the tip percentage to 10% to 20%, but we have seen ranges as low as 5% as well (especially if the service is extremely poor or unreasonably rude).

Not all restaurants allow customers to do the math, though. I once visited a Malaysian restaurant in Flushing, NY. While the service was good and the food was descent, the check had a pre-calculated gratuity added to the bill. I had no discretion to tip more or less. When questioned, the disgruntled server simply asked me to pay up. No option, apparently!

Here are some ideas if you consider tipping:

(i) If you decide to leave your server a tip, cash is preferable because it can be used right away. Credit card payments are not bad, but there is generally a lag period before the server gets paid. There is also the issue of a portion of the bill going toward credit card processing fees (can range between two percent to five percent, depending on the merchant service being used).

(ii) Generally, the total is based on pre-tax amount and is computed without considering discounts.

(iii) How satisfied were you with the service? If the drinks were on the table within two minutes of seating and the server was providing refills before asking, you are receiving exceptional service.

(iv) Give consideration for local cost of living. If you live in an expensive city, a higher tip is probably a good idea.

(v) The server’s personality and needs are also given consideration, at least by some guests. Students often resort to waiting tables to make their way to college. Giving them an extra hand does not hurt.

(vi) Some restaurants make their wages public. If you are aware of the wages being paid, you will be in a better position to judge the amount you need to add as gratuity.

Restaurant Tipping Chart

Level of Service and Restaurant Tip Percentage

Exceptional Service – 20%

Good Service – 15%

Average Service – 10%

Extremely Poor Service – 5%

1. CBS News

2. Image Credit: Elviz Low via Creative Commons

What does Google know about you? How to Delete your Web History on Google

(C) DontSpendMore.com

remove_google_history

Google is synonymous with the Internet. Over the years, Google has served countless searches and has made online searches easier and faster. What many people don’t know is that Google does store your Web history and while the history is very secure and is accessible only to you, many still feel uncomfortable knowing that someone has stored all the searches they made.

Whether you were searching for the cute next door neighbor or an extremely personal and sensitive issue, the search data may be stored in Google’s ginormous data universe.

Want to control your Web history?

First, no one can access this data, except you. But if you still want to delete the data from Google’s servers, Google offers users the option to do so. You have one of three options:

(i) View and download your Web history

(ii) Archive your data

(iii) Delete it permanently … and guess what … from the beginning of time. Perhaps, Google considers itself to be synonymous with the beginning of time.

So, here are the step-by-step instructions

View and download your Web history

Curious about what you were searching after that strange overnight party in 2008? Well, now you can refresh your memory. Simply visit https://history.google.com/history/

Once there, click on the Settings tab on the top right of the screen. If you wish to download the data, click on Download and it will let you select the dates you are interested in and download the results. Once the results are ready, you will receive a link via e-mail.

An important caveat: Don’t download this data if you are on a shared computer.

Delete your data permanently

Not comfortable with the data sitting on Google’s servers? No problem. Google offers you the opportunity to make a squeaky clean start. Click on the settings button, choose remove, and select the dates you want to delete the data for.

Voila!

The screen also allows you the option to turn the Web history feature off.

Image Credit: Creative Commons, Patrick Barry

Cell Phone Scams: How To Protect Yourself

By Dr. Kavita

Cell phone scams are very common and you hear about them almost every other day. Some scams are less risky than others, but scams need to be spotted and prevented before they can cause any major trouble.

Click here to compare cell phone plans, including free phone on activation offers.

Here are a few tips that will familiarize you with the commonest kind of cell phone scams going around:

Fraud SMS (text messages) prompting urgent action

There are several innovations of this cell phone scam method, but the end result is that you get a spontaneous SMS on your cell phone which forces you to do something that may prove detrimental to your financial and personal well being.

Most frequent scam is a SMS that fools you into thinking that it is a message from your bank. This could possibly also turn up as an automated voicemail warning that your bank account has been suspended. It also directs you to call a toll free 1-800 number. If you fall in to this trap and make the call, you will then be directed to enter your bank account number, PIN and other details. In case you still did not get the point, you are being subjected to an identity theft.

Click here to compare cell phone plans, including free phone on activation offers.

Ring tone scams

Apart from being an inexcusable type of nuisance with their dreadful sounds, cell phone users who are habituated to downloading new and free ringtones could be inviting shrewd cell phone scamsters.

Ring tones that are downloaded for free from questionable websites or have been shared by friends via some social media platforms could be hacked by scammers. These bad guys then modify the ring tone and install a virus that either damages the phone or pilfers your sensitive personal and possibly financial information.

Secondly, you may find a SMS inviting you to download a ringtone by replying to that message or they may provide another toll free 1-800 number for you to call and select a ring tone. But if you act on these instructions, you may incur a hefty charge and/or inadvertently subscribe to some unwanted services that will be billed each month to your account.

Innocent looking messages

Sometimes you might receive an apparently innocent looking text message on your cell phone that prompts you to click on it because you think it is from someone who knows you. If you click on this type of sms, you are stepping in to a danger zone. Just like the ring tone scam above, such messages could have virus installed and clicking on them might install one of these viruses on to your cell phone. These viruses have varied functions. Some are designed to steal your sensitive info while you are unwarily using the phone.

How to prevent such cell phone scams?

The bottom line in preventing such scams is to be vigilant of unwanted / unknown calls and messages. Never ever divulge any info to any caller and also do not click on messages from unknown senders.

Click here to compare cell phone plans, including free phone on activation offers.



Share Article

How To Cut Energy Costs: Lower Energy Bills And Save

By Dr. Kavita

Energy costs have escalated over the past couple of years and people are worried about how to cut energy costs. Today’s post discusses a few workable tips that can contribute towards lower energy costs and bills each month.

Click here to compare costs and save on your monthly bills. Save on credit cards, cell phones, Internet access, long distance, and so much more. Free comparison tools.

Invest some time

Each day when people are leaving their offices/work places and homes, there are so many gadgets and switches left on. This is an utter waste of electricity. It is a good practice to train employees to use energy efficiently. The same holds good for home energy consumption as well. Before retiring for the night, spend some time in making sure that all of the electrical gadgets and switches are off, if they are not in use. This one simple strategy could cut energy costs and lower your bills by as much as ten percent.

Regular maintenance 

Not many people find it necessary to get their electrical gadgets checked by a professional, but regular maintenance is very important for optimum energy usage. Electrical gadgets and equipments should be serviced every year, even if they appear to be in good working condition in order to prolong the life of the equipments and also for reduced energy consumption. Regular maintenance could add another eight to ten percent toward lowering energy bills. Often the cost of the maintenance check is much lower and nets a gain in the effort toward cutting energy cost.

Click here to compare costs and save on your monthly bills. Save on credit cards, cell phones, Internet access, long distance, and so much more. Free comparison tools.

Avoid factors that increase humidity

Humidity has an important relation to room temperature. Air conditioners usually work overtime to cool rooms with higher levels of humidity. This means excessive consumption of energy as well. Leaving the floors wet after mopping will increase the humidity. So will hanging your wet laundry to dry in the room. Avoid doing anything that increases the moisture level of the rooms, when you plan to use the air conditioner.

Close doors and windows

It is far easier for your air conditioner to cool and your heater to heat the room when the windows and doors are kept closed. Leaving either of them open will allow outside air to rush in to the room. This air is definitely many degrees warmer / cooler than your room air. When your heating / cooling equipments have to deal with this constant mixing of air with different temperatures, they use up more energy to produce optimal cooling / heating results.

So, always make it a point to keep the room sealed as far as possible while using the air conditioner/heater.

Avoid using heaters and coolers together

Many a time you use your air conditioner to cool the room, but you also have switched on certain electrical equipments here that emit heat. For example, you are using your oven along with the air conditioner. This can put a heavy load on your air conditioner and it guzzles energy in order to cool the room efficiently. Avoid mixing such equipments which produce contradicting results.

Ensuring that these simple steps are taken each time you use your electrical appliances and gadgets can help in reducing your monthly energy costs by a considerable amount.

Click here to compare costs and save on your monthly bills. Save on credit cards, cell phones, Internet access, long distance, and so much more. Free comparison tools.

Temporary Credit Card Number Or Virtual Credit Card: What You Should Know

Temporary credit card number (or virtual credit card) may be an additional, though not impenetrable, layer of defense in your fight against fraud.

In recent years, over a third of credit card users have been subjected to some form of credit card fraud or digital theft. The statistics are staggeringly high and account for billions of dollars in losses every single year. The problem is pervasive not just here in the United States, but across international borders as well.

Vigilance and education may be potent defenses in the fight against credit card fraud but in the past several years, credit card companies have become more proactive and have offered new tools, such as temporary credit card numbers (AKA virtual credit card, disposable credit card, one-time use credit card, use-and-throw credit card, online-only credit card, and many such commonly-recognized names).

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers, including no annual fee offers, travel rewards, and more. Free comparison tools and reviews.

A temporary credit card number is a computer-generated e-version of your physical credit card. While the virtual credit card is linked to the original, the numbers on the virtual credit card are completely different from its physical plastic cousin.

Why use a virtual credit card?

Using a disposable credit card has several benefits. First, it serves as an additional obstacle that digital thieves have to cross over. Although, it is not completely hacker proof, it does serve as a slight deterrent to lazy hackers — if they weren’t lazy would they resort to stealing other people’s hard-earned credit?

Theoretically, if your temporary credit card is compromised, you would need to cancel just that number as opposed to your entire account and all associated information. Further, some credit card companies place a cap on the total dollar amount that could be charged on a disposable credit card so your risk is minimized. Remember, it is still possible to reach your primary account but there is an additional barrier that makes the work that much harder. For many digital thieves, this additional level of security could be a great “put off”.

Technically, you could opt to sign up for either a one-time use credit card (100% disposable) that could be used for one pre-approved transaction or a temporary credit card that could be used with multiple merchants, for a much longer duration of time, and for substantially higher amounts. Your credit card company’s website should provide basic information about obtaining and using a disposable credit card.

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers, including no annual fee offers, travel rewards, and more. Free comparison tools and reviews.

Are the terms on a temporary credit card different?

Ideally, no, but you would need to check with the credit card company that is providing you with the virtual credit card. As a general observation, the terms (such as interest rate, grace period, repayment terms, and other charges) would mimic the primary credit card to which the virtual clone is linked.

How can I obtain a virtual credit card?

Under most circumstances, you will be able to obtain a temporary credit card number on your issuer’s website or by calling the customer service hotline.

Does my company offer a temporary credit card number?

Most major credit card companies offer temporary credit card numbers. You can check your issuer’s online provider or call their toll free number to obtain additional information. If, for some reason, your credit card company does not offer a virtual credit card, you can purchase one online from third party services. The ideal way, however, would be to obtain one from your credit card company.

Where can I use it?

It works pretty much the same way as a physical card and for most purposes it would be accepted anywhere your regular card is accepted.

What else should I know?

A virtual credit card is not 100% hacker safe; it is simply an additional layer or hurdle that a hacker needs to cross. You still need to monitor both your account and your credit report to ensure there are no unwanted charges or thefts taking place on your account. If your security has been compromised and unauthorized purchases have taken place, you can always dispute the transaction. You can read more about disputing a credit card transaction.

You can also have a virtual card account associated with a debit card but there is a catch here. If your security is compromised, your balance could be at stake as well.

Can I have more than one virtual credit card?

Under most circumstances, yes, you can have more than one disposable card. You can have more than one temporary credit card, provided your issuer allows you to obtain more than one number.

How much would my credit line be?

Ideally, your credit line would be equivalent to your regular account but both you and the credit card company would have the discretion to adjust the limit as well as daily spending restrictions on the card to avoid unwanted purchases from taking place.

How is virtual credit card different from a regular credit card?

Not much difference. Other than being unable to carry it in your wallet, the digital counterpart functions in pretty much the same way as its plastic twin. Furthermore, you can use your temporary card for phone purchases and in rare circumstances physical, in-store purchases as well (the merchant would have to key the numbers in — most merchants may not accept them in store but would welcome them online).

Further, some merchants will find it difficult to process these cards, but most should be able to work through it just fine. As a precaution, you may want to have an alternate source of payment read should the digital card fail to do its job.

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers, including no annual fee offers, travel rewards, and more. Free comparison tools and reviews.

Can I get a prepaid version?

Yes, both your credit card provider and third party services would be able to offer you a prepaid version (which is just like a debit card) that allows you to purchase a prepaid credit card for any amount you need. In such a case, you could fund $100 and obtain a prepaid credit card that would have a credit line of up to $100. The advantage of a prepaid temporary credit card is that you won’t need to worry about security issues, unless, of course the site where you purchase the virtual prepaid version is compromised.

How long does it take to obtain a temporary credit card?

Instantly. Since the temporary credit card is computer-generated you can obtain it in real time and start using it almost instantly. No need to wait for the plastic version to arrive via snail mail.

What is a substitute credit card number?

A substitute credit card number is the same as a virtual credit card number or a temporary credit card number. Some banks prefer to use that term.

What is the expiration date?

When you purchase the card, you can set a pre-determined expiration date either at your choice or based on the conditions and guidelines imposed by the issuer.

Is there a fee?

Again, you would have to refer to the terms and conditions outlined by your service provider but, theoretically, there should not be any fee.

How to protect your temporary card number?

The basic precautions are the same as those that apply to traditional credit cards. Ideally, you should do at least the following:

- Verify the security certificate of the merchant

There are several ways to check the authenticity of the security certificate. You should take a look at your browser’s settings. There should be an option that will walk you through identifying and authenticating security certificates. Also, if you see a “lock sign” at the bottom of your browser, that is an indication that the site is secure.

- Check online if the merchant has negative reviews

Don’t trust every review sites. There are plenty of review sites that have some form of a “paid relationship” with the business being reviewed. If so, the review is going to be biased and you shouldn’t be trusting it. There are, however, genuine review sites that don’t sell reviews. The wisdom goes in favor of both positive and negative reviews. Just as positive reviews can be purchased, jealous competitors may purchase negative reviews as well. Use your judgment and plenty of common sense.

- Query BBB to evaluate complaints

The Better Business Bureau may also be able to provide you with a better idea about the company’s reputation and complaints. There are plenty of other sites that provide an unbiased overview of the company’s reputation and track record.

- Call the merchant to determine privacy policy, security practices, and other similar parameters

If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to call the company’s toll free number and ask pointed questions about the provider’s security policies and privacy policy.

Remember, it is your personal financial information that is at stake. A few extra minutes of research may sound cumbersome but could go a long way toward protecting your financial instruments.

In conclusion

Temporary credit card (or one-time use credit card) is not a complete solution. It does provide an additional layer of protection under many circumstances and for many that in itself is a sufficient benefit to continue using disposable credit cards.

DontSpendMore.com is a free site that allows consumers to compare multiple offers and save on credit cards, cell phones, long distance, insurance, and many similar items. With free comparison tools and hundreds of offers, the site cuts down research time significantly.

Nimish Thakkar is the founder of DontSpendMore.com. He holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA in Finance. Thakkar has been featured on major media outlets, such as The New York Times Blog, Reuters, and numerous others.

Credit Card Declined: Reasons Your Card Did Not Go Through And How To Handle It

credit_card_declined copy“Credit card declined. Sorry your transaction did not go through.” Whether at a supermarket or on a much-coveted dinner date, no one wants to hear these words from the merchant. Apart from the subtle overtone of an insult, one simply stops and wonders: “Why is my credit card being declined even though I haven’t maxed out on my credit line?” From the obvious to the not-so-well-known, there could be several reasons why your credit card may be denied authorization.

In this post, we will share some common credit card declined reasons and also focus on how you can handle these denials.

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers. You may be paying a very high APR. Review no annual fee offers from top credit card companies. Free comparison tools.

Have you maxed out on your credit limit?

If you have maxed out on your $5,000 credit limit, the reason is very simple: You simply do not have adequate available credit and the company is not going to honor the transaction. While some issuers have stringent “do not honor credit card” policies in the case of over-the-limit transactions, others will bend their policies a little for good customers, especially if the occurrence is a first time issue. On the other hand, some companies will let a few dollars slip through and surprise you with some form of penalty or finance charge. Blame it on the fine print!

What you can do?

If you don’t have a backup funding source (an alternate credit card, debit card, or e-check), call your credit card issuer’s toll free number or customer service helpline. If you have been a good customer and have an otherwise strong track record with payments, chances are the credit card company may increase your credit limit on the fly.

Furthermore, some companies have online portals where you can request a credit limit increase and in most cases the decision would be provided almost instantly. If approved, the limit increase may take effect immediately, unless specified otherwise in the contractual agreement governing the limit increase.

If that does not work and you have bank accounts linked to the credit card company (as payment sources for billing purposes), try making a payment online to reduce the balance owed. Depending on the company’s policies, your payment may nor may not be reflected immediately. In some cases, you may have to wait twenty four hours (or one business day) before the payment clearance and recording.

Finally, you can request the customer service representative to allow the transaction to go through without any penalty. In some cases, especially first instances, they will honor the request but the decision would vary with each individual company’s policies and terms. If your customer service representative cannot help you, try speaking with a higher up such as a supervisor or manager. Often, supervisors have much more discretionary decision-making authority than front-line customer service associates. A little escalation can benefit your cause.

Is the credit card being declined due to suspected fraud?

Another common reason for credit card decline is that the issuer does not trust the transaction as being legitimate. Sophisticated phishing sites and credit card scammers often steal credit card numbers and rack up purchases in an organized manner. Billions of dollars are stolen from unsuspecting victims every single year. If the company suspects that your card number was stolen, it is possible that they will become extra vigilant and deny transactions they suspect as being “fraudulent”. Financial systems have advanced significantly and more often than not the red flags are placed by automated systems without the need for human intervention. A live representative can override the system’s decision if permitted by internal policies.

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers. You may be paying a very high APR. Review no annual fee offers from top credit card companies. Free comparison tools.

Several factors could trigger this suspicion. Let’s consider a few:

- Unusual activity. Let’s say you have a five-year track record with the credit card company and during these five years you have never authorized any sort of casino-related transaction. If your card suddenly shows a $2,000 charge from a “Happening Casino” in Vegas, the credit card company may suspect theft and place a temporary hold on the transaction.

- Frequent activity. Another cause could be the frequency of purchases. If you are the sort who makes weekly purchases on a regular basis, a sudden burst in activity (as in too many purchases within an hour) could raise some red flags with automated systems and cause your card to be flagged and declined.

- Large purchases. This one’s a no brainer. A sudden $5,000 vacation package purchase may put the company’s systems on red alert.

What you can do?

Call your company before-hand to obtain pre-authorization if you are going to engage in one of the unusual purchases. Some credit card companies will take in a request for pre-approval, while others won’t. You will have to call your credit card company to figure that out.

The same can be applied after-the-fact as well. Let’s say your purchase for a new laptop was denied. Call your credit card company and verify your identity. Once they are certain that you are a genuine customer, they will let the transaction fall through in most cases. Again, internal policies govern the rules.

Are you exceeding your daily limits?

While most users are aware of the total available credit card limit, many are not aware that some issuers, especially debit card issuers, impose stringent daily spending limits.

Let’s say you have a credit line of $10,000 and a daily spending limit of $500, it means that you cannot charge or withdraw (as cash advance) an amount over $500. So, if you decide to splurge on the coolest gadget on the market, chances are that your transaction will meet the proverbial “credit card decline” almost immediately, especially if the cost of the gadget is over $500.

What you can do?

Most merchants will allow you to use two (or more) credit cards as funding sources if the purchase is for a larger amount. In this case, you can use two funding sources (two credit cards, combination of credit and debit card, combination of credit card and e-check, and other approved combinations) to foot the bill for your purchase.

Are you stretching your boundaries?

If you live in New York and make a sudden purchase from a ghost town in an unfamiliar country or a country or region flagged for its nefarious activities and organized crime rings, there is no way the transaction will pass through security screens even if the transaction was genuine and authorized by you. The reasons are obvious but again you can work with your credit card company to ensure your transaction passes through security screens.

What you can do?

Speak with your issuer before you initiate your purchase and get a pre-approval. Inform the provider that the transaction is legitimate and that you have authorized the purchase. While most companies may allow the transaction to pass through, some will still refuse, especially if an organized crime ring is regularly scamming the credit card company’s consumers.

In this case, you will have to make alternate payment arrangements, such as a money order or an instant wire transfer.

Common sense approach

If denied, your first response should always include calling your credit card provider to work out any issues you may be having, including billing issues, credit limit related problems, and unusual purchase behavior.

Always keep an alternate credit (or debit) card handy for emergencies. If you are unable to obtain a second credit card, consider keeping a debit card or prepaid credit card handy. You can purchase such cards online. You can review our selection of prepaid credit cards as well.

Receiving a credit card declined message is not fun, especially if you are initiating a genuine purchase for a product or service. Though frustrating, bear in mind that the denial is for your own good, to protect your card from unscrupulous financial bandits who will not just make money off your hard-earned credit history but also cause your credit score to nosedive. Here are some quick resolutions you may want to remember:

- Call your credit card company’s toll free number

- Obtain pre-authorization before you start the purchase process

-  Ensure your payment history is always on track

- Regularly review your activities to spot for irregularities

- Think from the credit card company’s perspective

- Try to have alternate financial instruments in your wallet (additional credit card, debit card, prepaid credit card, check)

- Know your provider’s terms and conditions, especially clauses related to daily spending limits, total available credit limit, and other similar terms

- Try to keep your “amount owed” figure to the bare minimum

- Visit your credit card company’s website on a regular basis and request limit increases when appropriate

- Know the merchant you are working with; check their reputation and dispute history

- Don’t provide your credit card number to companies suspected of illegal activities

- Avoid purchasing from foreign countries, unless absolutely necessary

- Check your merchant’s security certificate before buying; most browsers will provide basic information about a site’s security certificate

- Finally, don’t forget the green bills when necessary; cash still rocks!

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers. You may be paying a very high APR. Review no annual fee offers from top credit card companies. Free comparison tools.

Credit Card Declined: Reasons Your Card Did Not Go Through And How To Handle It was authored by Nimish Thakkar. Nimish is the CEO and founder of DontSpendMore.com. He holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA in Finance. He is a published author who has appeared on thousands of news sites, including The New York Times, Reuters, and several globally-reputed media organizations.

Loan Fraud: Three Tips To Protect Yourself

By Dr. Kavita

A loan is something that comes as a much needed assistance or relief from a messy financial situation. That is exactly why we all apply for loans, isn’t it? But imagine for a moment that this loan which was supposed to be the answer to your burning problem suddenly becomes more painful and troublesome than your original difficulty.

The loan which was looked forward to as a respite from financial difficulty is now an attempt by a fraudster to deprive you of your hard earned money. Harsh, but true. It happens every single day. Just visit FTC (Federal Trade Commission’s) website and you will see all the latest scams laid out for you.

Click here to compare multiple offers and save hundreds of dollars every month. Credit cards, loans, cell phones, and more at DontSpendMore.com.

How do loan frauds happen?

The scam typically begins with a phony lender approaching you with his/her loan offer right in your inbox. These scammers frequently mention the familiar name of a genuine lender to get customers in.  After all, if they reveal that they are affiliated with a business that you recognize to be legitimate, they must also be authentic, isn’t it? Not at all!

Their e-mail may also mention an address that you need to reply to. There are also details of a third party consultant who will initiate the loan application process, in case you are interested. If you believe this trick and respond back to the address/phone number given in the mail, you will be asked to share your sensitive info like date of birth and social security number. Then after a short duration of interactions, your loan suddenly gets a magical approval.

To cut a long story short, you will be made to believe that your loan is fully approved and all that you need to do is to wire an advanced payment to the scammer. If you continue to be naïve even at this point, you will in all probability send the money and once you do this, all that you will get is a bank account that is much lighter and a scammer who has fled with all your sensitive information.

Don’t be surprised to read this, because it is possible and there are so many unfortunate people out there who have been actually scammed by loan fraud. As the popular adage says, ‘Better safe than sorry’, so here are three tips to protect you from having to go through the pain and loss of loan fraud.

Do not trust any loan offer that comes unasked

The common trait with all the loan fraudsters is that they will always initiate the first conversation. You will find a loan offer even when you never asked for it. Heed this warning and simply refuse to respond to these emails, no matter how awesome the loan offer is.

Do not deal through mediators

If the loan offer is actually from the reputable company that you think the e-mail is from, do you think that they need a mediator? Just read the email, but avoid clicking on any links in the mail, no matter how legitimate they look. Use the Internet to search for the company’s site and check their loan offers directly.

Never share your sensitive info

Unless you have dealt with the company directly via their support center, do not ever share your financial and other important personal information, such as social security number and so on.

As a final note, it always helps to heed to your intuition, because when something appears too good to be true, it usually is not. Be safe. Don’t fall prey to unscrupulous loan fraud schemes.

Click here to compare multiple offers and save hundreds of dollars every month. Credit cards, loans, cell phones, and more at DontSpendMore.com.

How To Reduce Debt, Especially Credit Card Debt In Six Easy Steps

Dr. Kavita

Credit card debt has now become a cuss word for a vast majority of us. America and many other developed nations of the world are reeling under credit card debt. We hear millions of readers ask us the same question again and again: How to reduce debt? Maybe it is the convenience that credit cards give us to buy now and pay later that pushes us into the dark hole of debt. Before we realize we are already in a financial mess and chances of coming out of that dark hole of debt seem very slender.

Today we will discuss how credit card debt can be eliminated in six simple steps.

Click here to compare credit card offers for debt consolidation. Transfer higher rate balances to 0% APR credit cards.

Make a list of your debts

Maybe you have many credit cards and have different amounts of debts on each of them or hopefully just some of them. Whatever the amount and rate of interest that is being charged on the cards must be written down in a list. This list should help you provide a quick assessment of your outstanding debts at the first look.

Determine a monthly budget

Despite the fact that you are drowning in credit card debts, you must be having a source of income that provides you with a certain amount of money each month. Try to budget this amount and make clear cut demarcations for your monthly expenses (that are unavoidable) and then put the rest of the money in to a debt fund.

Look at the debt with highest rate of interest

Now at this point, you will need to go back to your list of credit card debts and then find out the one that has the highest rate of interest being charged to you. This debt is the most dangerous one that is undermining your financial stability.

Now look at the amount that you are paying each month towards this debt. Whatever that amount is, you now need to put away more from your debt fund towards this particular installment. Usually most of us do not have any debt elimination strategy/plan. And all we can think of is to equally distribute all our monthly savings between the numerous credit card debts that we carry. But this will not help with effective debt elimination.

Instead, prioritize the debts according to rate of interest and then systematically distribute the funds between them.

Keep continuing until you pay off your debt

Try to stick to this schedule until you get the credit card debt with the highest rate of interest off your chest. Once you finish the debt payment on this card, make sure you get rid of it totally.

Pick the next card

Using the same strategy, now you need to pick the credit card with the next highest rate of interest and focus on this one until you get the debts on it fully paid, like the first one.

Stick to basic minimum

This process will not help you get debt free overnight, but it definitely works if you stick to the schedule consistently. Once you get all the major debts paid off, stick to the basic minimum number of credit cards that you require. More credit cards only mean more debt.

We hope you liked our article How To Reduce Debt, Especially Credit Card Debt In Six Easy Steps. If so, do let us know in the comments below.

Click here to compare credit card offers for debt consolidation. Transfer higher rate balances to 0% APR credit cards.

Credit Card Scam: Protect Yourself From Fraudsters

Dr. Kavita

Credit cards have made life much easier for those who use it. These plastic cards have ensured that you need not carry wads of cash everywhere you go. But sadly, sometimes credit cards become a source of heartburn for many consumers; thanks to the credit card scamsters who roam around the free online world.

Click here to compare credit card offers and also review prepaid options for your safety

What does credit card scam mean?

Credit card scams usually entail fraudsters gaining unlawful access to the information on your credit card. They then use this information to conduct purchases that are then billed to your card.

How do these scams happen?

These scams could take shape in many different ways. Sometimes you hand over your credit card to a waiter at a restaurant and he says that he has to take it to the billing counter to be swiped. But en route to the billing counter, he manages to click a photo of the card and its details and stores it away for further use. Simple, right! It may not be prevalent but it is certainly a possibility.

Or you could be conned into giving your credit card details on phone to some company promising a “too good to be true” service or offer.

The computer which you have used for your credit card transactions online could have malware installed on it and which phishes your details and passwords etc. This can happen with both public computers and your personal home computer, if you have not installed adequate protection against such phishing attempts.

How can you protect yourself from a credit card scam?

The first step to protecting yourself from credit card scams is to be aware and stay alert. Never ever lend your credit card to anyone. Even if it is a loved one, they may not take the same care as you would there is a chance that the credit card information could be stolen due to such negligence.

Never reveal your credit card details to anyone on phone or in person or online unless you are very sure about their identity and intention. Be extra vigilant when shopping or using your credit card online. Make sure that the website where you conduct your online transaction has SSL security certification and protection.

Do not let your credit card get out of sight even for a minute when conducting transactions in shopping malls or restaurants.

Do not keep your credit cards in your wallet; instead find a different and safe location for them. Thieves and pickpockets aim for the wallet, so it is better to avoid taking this risk.

Always write down or save the credit card details and the emergency phone number that you are supposed to call in case of theft of the card in a secure and easily accessible location, so that you can act swiftly in the event of loss.

Credit card scams are very common nowadays and nothing is going to help you if you think that such things will not affect you. Stay alert and proactively use the tips above to avoid being conned.

Click here to compare credit card offers and also review prepaid options for your safety

Credit Card Fraud: Three Tips To Protect Yourself

Dr. Kavita

Credit cards were originally created to make life easier, shopping convenient, and travelling stress-free. But sadly the current situation of credit card users is far from being stress-free or easy or even convenient for that matter.

Credit card fraud has witnessed an unprecedented boost in the past few years and that is definitely not helping consumers in any positive way. Seeing how common these frauds have become, it is high time to take some precautionary steps and safeguard ourselves from being cheated and conned. Here are there tips to protect yourself from credit card fraud:

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers. Free tool to calculate your interest expenses and save hundreds every month.

Be extra vigilant

There may be many people who will consider you as being paranoid, but being extra vigilant about your credit card has its own benefits. Do not allow your card to leave your sight even for a split second when you are shopping and have handed over your card to the cashier to be swiped. Do you know a small sleight of the hand and your card could be scanned through an “illegal reader” right in front of your eyes? Some gas pumps have hidden scanners that can record your number if you are not vigilant.

Similarly keep a lookout for your card when the waiter takes it to the billing counter in a restaurant. Avoid handing over your credit card to any employee when you are staying in a hotel and insist on making that trip to the billing counter yourself.

Do not leave your credit card unattended even for a minute. You really cannot trust anyone when it comes to credit cards. All it takes is a second to click a snap of your credit card and store it away on a cell phone for future use.

Be smart when shopping online

Online shopping is the most preferred mode of shopping nowadays and that may be because we are increasingly accustomed to getting things done at our fingertips. But this sort of extreme convenience can often bring in some unwanted side effects as well, like online phishing of your credit card details and ensuing misuse and fraud.

Do not use your credit card online unless you have a basic knowledge about security certificates of online shopping sites. Reputable and safe websites will have a SSL certificate displayed clearly, especially in close proximity to the pay button. Make sure that you recognize a SSL certificate and also check for https in the browser.

Do not be naïve

In a single day, you might be receiving at least a few e-mails and text messages that pretend to act as warning messages about a supposed fraud/unauthorized access to your bank account. These messages will typically ask you to login via a link in the message and will also ask you to update your bank account details by visiting your bank website using that link, in order to prevent further damage. Do not be naïve enough to click on such fraud links, because these could be phishing attempts by fraudsters who want to get their hands on your credit card and bank details. Though the site that you visit via these links may closely resemble your bank website, the truth is that this site is merely a clever imitation.

Most importantly, monitor your credit card activity every single day. Most credit card companies will give you access to an online area where you can check your transactions and monitor activity. This is the best place to start practicing safety.

Hopefully, these three tips will help you stay safe while using your credit card.

Click here to compare 0% credit card offers. Free tool to calculate your interest expenses and save hundreds every month.