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  • How Credit Cards Differ From Debit Cards

    A debit card is a smart way to shop if you want to avoid using a credit card that will charge you interest if you dont pay the balance in full each month. But because a debit card is directly tied to your bank account, you can lose a lot of protections.

    Debit Card Hassles
    While a debit card can be seen as safer than carrying cash, it can be a costly mistake if a thief steals it or your personal information to empty your bank account.

    If your credit card is lost or stolen, or the information on it is stolen, you cant lose more than $50 in unauthorized transactions, according to federal law. The same is true for an ATM or debit card if you report it within two business days, according to the Federal Trade Commission. You wont be responsible for any unauthorized withdrawals if you report the card missing before someone uses it without your permission"thats the good news. But it can get much worse with a debit or ATM card, the FTC says, if unauthorized use happens before you report it.

    If you report a debit card loss within 60 days after your statement is mailed to you, you could lose up to $500 in unauthorized transfers. If you dont report it within 60 days, you risk unlimited loss. You could lose all of the money in that account and the unused portion of your maximum line of credit for overdrafts. The thieves could overdraft your account if you wait more than two months to report it.

    Once you report the loss or theft of your debit card to the issuer, youre not responsible for additional unauthorized use.

    Credit Card Protections
    If your credit card or number is stolen, federal law offers a simple protection: Youre only liable for up to $50 in unauthorized transactions. That comes with one important caveat"you must report it to your credit card issuer.

    Some issuers wont charge you the $50 and are vigilant, alerting customers when they see potential credit card fraud.

    The $50 limit after quickly reporting the loss of a credit or debit card is great if you do it within two days. But wait any longer than that and a debit card could be much costlier than a credit card if thieves get their hands on it.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Why You Should Invest in Landscape Design

    From breathtaking gardens to verdant outdoor living areas, here are a few reasons to invest in your landscape design.

    Curb Appeal

    Working with a professional landscape designer is a guaranteed way to increase your homes curb appeal.

    Better Views

    Whether youre using lush plantings to create privacy or designing formal gardens, you can easily improve the views throughout your home.

    Improved Outdoor Living

    Your landscape design should meet your lifestyle. That might mean a lush entertaining area, a beautiful garden, or incorporating a playground for the kids.

    Increase Property Value

    According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, landscape improvements can return 100-200 percent of their cost when a house is sold.


    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • What to Know Before Applying for a Student Credit Card

    Building good credit takes time, and it can be a few years before college students or graduates have a good enough credit score to get a credit card or loans at low interest rates.

    A student credit card can help as a college students first credit card, though it does come with some conditions.

    First, a student will have to do more than attend college. Theyll need some type of income, and without any credit history, a card may be difficult to be approved for.

    One way to get around this is to get a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit of anywhere from $300 to $5,000 as collateral. The deposit will be paid to the card issuer if you dont pay your bill. Secured cards may have high activation fees, as well as annual fees.

    Some secured cards allow customers to move to unsecured cards, which simply means that you wont have to give the lender a deposit after 12 months of good credit behavior, such as paying bills on time.

    Other credit cards aimed at students allow co-signers, or people you know who have an established credit history and will be responsible for the bill if the student doesnt pay it. Such a card may be needed if you dont have a steady income and are applying for your first credit card.

    Most student credit cards dont have sign-up bonuses, rewards points and other perks, though some offer lesser rewards for newbies; however, that shouldnt be the point of getting your first credit card as a student.

    The main point is to use your student credit card as a tool to learn how to responsibly use and manage small amounts of credit, pay bills on time, and spend within your means. Students are unlikely to buy big purchases with credit cards, but to pay off what they can afford each month without paying interest.

    Starting good credit habits early in life can pay off years later when you want to get an auto loan, home mortgage or apply for additional credit cards.

    If you dont use your credit card well, remember that any negative information can stay on a credit report for seven years in most cases. That can be a long time until youre able to qualify for a credit card at all, let alone one with a good interest rate.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Is Your Carpet Keeping a Dirty Secret?

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Protecting Your Identification With a Fake Birthday

    Other than your Social Security number, birthdays are one of the worst things to share online when registering for an account. If youve also given up your mothers maiden name, you might as well give online thieves a link to your bank account with the password.

    Stealing your identity is how scammers open fake credit or debit cards in your name and buy all sorts of things before you learn of the crime. Your date of birth is one of the most important pieces of personal information to keep secret online, and theres an easy way to protect it"lie.

    When signing up for a product or service online that requires registering as a user, give the site your “unbirthday.” That is, a date you select that isnt your real birthday, but a fake one you can use over and over again online.

    For example, you can still use your real year of birth so that its easy to remember, but change the day and month. You may want to select Jan. 1 or April 15 (Tax Day) to make it easy to remember.

    Websites may want your birthday for a few reasons. It can be used for security to verify you are who you say you are when you forget your password and cant log in. Most likely its for demographic information the site sells to advertisers.

    Some sites have a legitimate need to know your real birthday. If youre applying for a credit card, your birthday and other personal information will be used to verify your identity and check your credit score. Debt collectors may also use it to verify your identity.

    On sites that youre uncomfortable giving your birthdate, such as a site where youre not buying anything, you can also give a fake name. If the service is ever hacked, its less information that scammers will have about you.

    Even when buying something online, a site doesnt need to know your birthday, mothers maiden name or other personal information. All it needs is your payment and accurate billing and shipping information.

    One word of caution"some sites such as Facebook will kick you off their service for lying to them, even if its only a fake birthday. Its your call if you want to try to get away with a fake birthday on a site that only wants it for demographic purposes.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

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