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  • Afraid woman

    Help! I Just Found Out I Have Bad Credit

    credit Personal Finance 

    If you’ve gone a long time without checking your credit (or if you’re checking it for the very first time), you may be in for a surprise. A whopping 56% of Americans had bad credit scores, per a survey from early 2015. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to panic if your score is below 600 (the generally accepted definition of subprime.) Instead, you can follow these simple steps in order to unearth what’s going on — […]

  • Will Someone Else Be Cashing Your Tax Refund This Year?

    Column Data Security Blog 

    Here is the IRS’s phone number: 800-829-1040. With an anticipated $21 billion in tax refund fraud this year, you might need it. And that figure doesn’t include losses from dodges like the IRS phone scam, which has been enjoying a renaissance of late. IRS phone frauds aren’t terribly difficult to detect. You get a call from the IRS saying you owe money and that you must pay immediately. The threat of police intervention may or […]

  • Financial info

    The 5 Most Important Numbers in Your Financial Life

    Personal Finance Money 

    There are a lot of numbers in finances, so it’s understandable that some of us get confused from time to time. That said, there are some numbers that are essential when it comes to understanding our overall financial health. To help you get a better handle on the state of your finances, here are the five numbers you should know. 1. How Much Money You Have Coming In This might seem like a no-brainer, but […]

  • Filing taxes

    Why You Should Be Careful Who You Pick to Do Your Taxes

    Financial Literacy Personal Finance Identity Theft 

    When you decide to work with a professional tax preparer, you’re trusting that person with your most sensitive personal information. As a quick Internet search for “tax preparer fraud” shows, those people abuse that information from time to time. For example, at the very end of 2015, a former tax preparer in Arkansas pleaded guilty to charges associated with a tax fraud and identity theft scheme that involved filing false tax returns using stolen names, […]

  • Why You Aren’t the Only One Who Knows the Answers to Your Security Questions

    Personal Finance 

    If you’re protecting important personal accounts with nothing more than a few security questions, it may be time for an upgrade. A study from Google recently compared the use of security questions to other account recovery methods like SMS (short text messages) and an alternative email address. It found that true or made-up responses to questions like, “What was your mother’s maiden name?” or specific answers to prompts such as “Favorite Superhero,” “First Car” or […]

  • Credit Card Interest Rate

    How to Score a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate

    Financial Literacy credit Personal Finance 

    The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first-time in nearly seven years this December, citing improvements in the economy. That means anyone with a variable-rate credit card might see their annual percentage rate go up. But you don’t have to weather the storm: Depending on your spending habits and financial health, there may be ways to score a lower APR in 2016. Here’s how. 1. Raise Your Credit Score A good credit score entitles you to the best […]

  • Responsible financial decision

    3 Smart Ways to Use Your Holiday Bonus

    Personal Finance 

    More than half of employers (54%) said they planned to give holiday bonuses in 2015, up from 47% in 2014, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder. (Sadly, only 14% plan to give more than last year.) If you happen to be one of their lucky employees, perhaps you’re wondering how to put that cash to use. Fortunately, we have some ideas. 1. Sock It Away Study after study highlights Americans’ poor saving habits. Without emergency savings, you could […]

  • 12 Resolutions That Could Save Your Identity in 2016

    Column Blog Personal Finance 

    Another New Year is upon us. Bring on another raft of resolutions I say! I mean, what would a New Year be in the absence of resolutions? As Aldous Huxley wrote in Time Must Have a Stop, “Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.” This year, I am advocating something simple: It’s high time we (as in all of us – business, government and consumers) […]

  • Tax return

    4 Last-Minute Tax Moves You Can Make on Dec. 31

    Financial Literacy Lifehacking Personal Finance 

    Why hello there, Procrastinator. I know you’re busy wondering how 2015 got away from you, but here’s some good news: 1. Clean Your Closet If you itemize deductions, you might want to take some time to round up unused clothes and household items, and donate them before Dec. 31. “Take a picture of what you’re donating, make a complete list of items and value, and get a receipt,” said Gail Rosen, a certified public accountant based in Martinsville, […]

  • Cyber thief

    2015: The Year in Data Breaches

    Data Security 

    Every year at about this time, technology reporters typically recount the big computer crimes from the past 12 months and proclaim “The Year of the Hacker” or some such moniker. This year, it fits. Two years ago, the Target hack ushered in a new era of credit card theft awareness and ultimately helped inspire a big change in the way Americans use plastic. But as we all know, theft of credit and debit card information has a limited impact on consumers […]

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