Credit Cards: The Smartest Holiday Shopping Choice

En español | Sure, buying holiday gifts with cash or debit cards avoids interest charges and forces you to stay within a budget to prevent overspending. Occasionally, cash purchases may even qualify you for a discount when merchants can avoid paying transaction “swipe” fees. So why should you still pay with credit cards for gifts this season – and for other transactions? Here are three ways that credit cards are the most protective payment choice: 1. Limited Losses. Under federal law, …

As Debit Card Theft Hits 20-Year High, How Safe Is Your ATM?

While breach-fatigued retailers work to reduce the theft of their customers’ plastic-payment data, scammers have turned their focus to stealing card details at the ATM. During the first four months of 2015, stealing debit card info at automated teller machines hit a 20-year high, reports credit score firm FICO, which also monitors roughly two-thirds of America’s debit cards. Compared with the same period in 2014, skimming attacks increased threefold at ATMs not located at banks and 174 percent at on-branch …

The Passcode to Hack Most Credit Card Readers

About 90 percent of checkout payment card readers, like those implicated in last year’s string of retailer data breaches, currently use the same password. Reason: The default setting hasn’t been changed – either by its manufacturer, middlemen vendors or retailer clients that purchase the devices. That’s the stunning conclusion after researchers from cybersecurity firm Trustware examined point-of-sale (POS) card readers at 120 retailers nationwide. “No one is changing the password when they set this up for the first time; everybody …

Spring Clean Your Identity Theft Risks

Spring cleaning should include more than decluttering your garage and closets. Take these simple steps to reduce your risks of identity theft: Shred — don’t just trash — unnecessary documents with your name, birth date, address, and account or Social Security numbers. Typically, bank deposit slips and ATM and credit card receipts should be shredded as soon as the transactions appear on statements, credit card statements within 45 days, and pay stubs and medical bills after one year. Never simply discard …

6 ‘Other’ Credit Card Protections

Think you’re safer paying with cash? Not always. For instance, holiday shopping means mall pickpockets are on the prowl. Despite reports of data breaches at retailers including Target, Home Depot and others, don’t shelve your credit cards just yet. Compared with debit cards, you’ll have fewer hassles and less liability should your card be used fraudulently. For certain purchases, credit cards are better than debit cards and cash because of other, lesser-known protections. These policies vary by card type and provider, so ask about your specific coverage: Extended return policies. Many retailers …

Prepaid Cards May Get Added Fraud Protections

Swipe a debit or credit card and all sorts of consumer protections are in place in case something goes awry. With a prepaid card, not so much. That may soon end. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing to extend many of the consumer rights that exist for credit and debit cards to prepaid products, such as limiting customers’ losses if their prepaid cards are lost or stolen. >> 10 Consumer Spending Regrets “People use prepaid accounts as a convenient way …