Posted by – April 5, 2011
Credit card fraud and identity theft are big businesses these days, and it’s important to be on alert.
Credit card skimming is one kind of credit fraud that can be particularly hard to catch.
Say you use your card for a normal, legitimate transaction and someone then steals your number. For instance: an employee of a company writes down your credit card digits and then uses them to order a bunch of music from Amazon (obviously easier to catch). Or: a more sophisticated thief might use a small electronic device called a “skimmer.”
The Consumerist has a photo illustration of what one skimmer looks like when attached to an ATM:
(Go to The Consumerist for a full illustrated breakdown of how skimmers work.)
Posted by – March 31, 2011
The MintLife blog post “6 Ways to Cut Your Wireless Bill” is a great synopsis of the ways you can not spend money on your cell phone.
And here’s a synopsis of their synopsis. (For the full Mintlife post, click here.)
- Buy into a package (instead of purchasing features a la carte)
- Get rid of the stuff you don’t really need or use
- Utilize your rollover minutes strategically
- See if you can get a corporate rate through your company
- Use Skype instead
- Use your smartphone apps to do things for free
And we found a great website called Billshrink that helps you determine whether you could be getting a better deal on your cell phone plan. It will analyze your current bill to show you how your money and your cell phone time is being spent. Then, it will make recommendations on better plans.
Posted by – March 29, 2011
Doughroller calls the interchange fee “the biggest credit card fee you have never heard of.”
That’s because you don’t pay it directly — it’s a fee that’s charged to businesses when they accept your card for transactions. Most sources will agree that interchange fees comprise about 2% of any given credit card transaction.
As a consumer, you don’t see this fee show up on your credit card, but you do pay it — in the form of jacked-up prices that businesses apply in order to cover their own expenses.
In part, this is why store clerks will sometimes ask you if you want to use your bank card for “debit or credit.” If you choose debit, they don’t always get charged the fee, which saves them money. To drastically oversimplify what is a very complex equation, banks want you to choose “credit” (so they get the fee), but retailers want you to choose “debit” (so they don’t have to pay it).
It might not make any difference to you as a consumer — unless your bank is incentivizing you to choose “credit” by charging you a fee every time you choose “debit.”
Posted by – March 24, 2011
What does “last will & testament” mean, anyway?
We can thank old British laws for handing down this phrase. A will, traditionally, dictated how “real property” would be allocated (in other words, land and things of physical value). A testament dealt with personal property — things of sentimental or family value.
These days, there can be a less concrete line drawn between what is “real” and what is “personal,” so we just use the phrase “last will & testament” to cover all our bases.
Incidentally, when it comes to your last will & testament, you are the testator in question.
Oh, and a holographic will is an informal will made under extenuating circumstances, and without the usual legal witnesses and signatures. Even with a holographic will, however, the testator’s signature is required.