Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth It?

Credit

You know that your credit is important.

From getting a mortgage, to buying a car, to getting the best insurance rates, your credit can impact how much you pay, and whether you get the loan you need.

Staying on top of your credit is important if you want to save thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

On top of that, identity theft is the fastest growing crime, and everyone is vulnerable.

No matter how hard you try to keep your information safe, there is no way to completely guarantee that you won’t end up the victim of identity theft.

One of the earliest ways to catch identity fraud is to keep tabs on what is happening with your credit.

Because good credit is such a concern, and because identity theft is a very real fear, many people turn to credit monitoring services.  These services can help you keep track of whether or not your credit is improving, as well as notify you when someone opens credit in your name (and signaling that someone else might be using your identity).

But are credit monitoring services worth it? Continue Reading

Victim of Identity Theft? Here Are Your Next Steps to Protect Yourself

Credit card security

One of the fastest growing crimes in identity theft.

It’s the theft of information about you — information that can be used by fraudsters to pretend to be you and get access to a number of perks using your good name.

Whether your credit card number has been stolen, or whether someone is using your information to qualify for a car loan, it’s possible for someone else to pretend to be you.

Your stolen identity can impact you and your finances.

Obviously, if someone steals your credit card information and makes purchases, that can impact your abilities to use your own financial resources — at least until you take action.  If someone is using your card for purchases, you could be denied when you go to make purchases later.  And, if someone uses your information to open a loan, it shows up as your debt in your credit report.  If the fraudster isn’t making payments, it’s your credit that is sunk.

Once you realize that your identity has been stolen, it’s important to take action.

Here are the steps to follow as soon as you realize that your identity has been compromised: Continue Reading

What is Passive Investing?

For some, the idea of investing conjures up images of crazed traders on the floor of an exchange.

Others think of someone in a home, sitting in front of a computer screen, desperately trying to time the exact best time to buy — and then to sell.

These images, and the idea that you have to be on top of all the market movements and news, discourage many from investing.

Not all investing is a short-term attempt to profit, though.

Indeed, many investors are passive investors, doing very little to actively manage their portfolios.  Think investing in a tax-advantaged retirement account like a 401(k) or an IRA.

A passive investment doesn’t have to be all about your retirement account, though.  Anyone can be a passive investor and come out just fine in the end.

Definition of Passive Investing

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How to Avoid Investment Scams

We all want to make more money.

And, for many, the dream is to make money quickly and with a minimal amount of work.  This is why investing is such a popular method of making money.

If you take a measured approach, you should be able to regularly invest in carefully chosen stocks, index funds or some other boring investment, and, over time, amass a reasonable amount of wealth as you receive returns on your investment.

Many people, though, don’t want to take the measured approach.

There are stories of people making money fast by choosing the right investment, at the right time.

How many of us regular folks harbor the dream of, perhaps, taking $10,000 in capital and turning it quickly and painlessly into ten times that amount?

The unfortunate truth is that investments that promise such riches, fast and easy, are usually scams.

Does that Investment Send Up Red Flags?

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Education: Your Hedge Against Inflation

education_pays_bls

Every now again, we hear about inflation, and the way it erodes your earning power.

As prices rise, you either have to earn more money, to keep pace, or you have to cut back on your spending so that you aren’t using as much of your money.

Most people prefer to look for better returns.

The right investments, or leveraging your money on low-rate loans to position yourself for the future, can help you make the most of your money now and hedge against inflation.

However, you can also hedge against inflation in a more indirect way: Get an education.

Higher Degree = Better Earning Power

You’ve heard stories about how someone with a degree makes more money than someone without one.  And, for the most part, it’s true.  If you invest in a college education, you are repaid with a higher lifetime earning power.

Take a look at the following chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on how education pays off:

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Should You Give Human Resources Access to Your Facebook Profile?

More and more, our private lives are available online.

When you sign up for a social network, you are putting yourself out there.

Post on Facebook?  Send a tweet?  Share on Google +?  You are putting information about yourself in the public domain, and it could be searchable.

While some privacy settings can limit what’s out there, you never know what sort of trail you are truly leaving online.

This is becoming important because, increasingly, companies are using online search as a way to determine whether or not you would make a good hire.

Social media is becoming a big part of the job search, and you need to be aware of this.  There are even companies offering services compiling social media profiles for employers.

Some companies, though, are going beyond simply searching the web for dirt on your past, or purchasing a report on your social media habits from a third party.

There are reports that some companies are actually asking for Facebook logins, and making friend requests.

Should Employers and Potential Employers Ask For Your Facebook Password?

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