Many people have had very sensitive personal information exposed in the Equifax breach — Social Security numbers, account numbers, even drivers’ license numbers. Equifax is offering free credit freezes until November 21, 2017.
If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, consider the following:
- A freeze means that no one (including you) can access your credit file until you unfreeze it, using a PIN or passphrase. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
- To be effective, you must place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
- A freeze can cost you money every time you freeze and unfreeze your file- at a cost of $5 to $10 per agency each time, depending on your state’s law.
Fraud alerts are free. With a fraud alert, creditors must try to verify your identity before extending new credit. The alert lasts for 90 days, You can renew it but you will need to remind yourself or it will expire automatically. Identity theft victims, however, are entitled to an extended fraud alert which lasts seven years. To place an alert, contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, either by phone or online.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they are willing to pay about $5 to $10 each time they freeze or unfreeze their accounts with each credit agency.
- Let students debate the issue: “A fraud alert is better than a credit freeze.”
- What are the differences between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
- Should you consider a fraud alert or credit freeze if you become a victim of an identity theft? Why or why not?
Can you imagine getting paid each day that you work? That’s the idea behind Instant Financial’s app, which puts cash in the hands of workers on the same day they work. This program attempts to reduce absenteeism and employee turnover for restaurant chains.
At the end of each workday, employees may take 50 per cent of their pay for that day and transfer it to an instant account; the other half is paid at the end of the regular pay period. Funds in the Instant account may be accessed with a debit card or transferred to a bank account.
The app can reduce the use of payday loans, with exorbitant borrowing rates, as workers have access to funds between pay periods. Instant Financial makes money from fees charged employers and merchants when debit cards are used; although employees may pay ATM fees.
A major concern of the app is that it might discourage long-term financial planning. Poor budgeting habits could result in increased use of debt due to a lack of funds at the end of the month. Employees who use the app are encouraged to practice wise money management, including creating and building an emergency fund and other savings.
For additional information on instant pay, click here.
- Have students talk with others about the benefits and drawbacks of an instant account.
- Have students describe two situations: (1) a person who used the instant account wisely, and (2) someone who mismanaged their money as a result of using the instant account.
- What factors might be considered when deciding whether or not to use an instant account?
- Describe how an instant account might result in improved money management and in weakened money management activities.
Natural disasters create a need for unique actions. After physical safety is assured, some of the activities related to finances include:
- contacting your insurance company – request a copy of your policy, take photos and videos to document your claim.
- registering for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
- talking with your mortgage lender and credit card companies since you may not be able to make upcoming payments on time.
- contacting utility companies to suspend service if you will not be living in your home due to damage.
Beware of various scams that surface after natural disasters. These frauds can include phony repairs, deceptive contractors, requiring up-front fees, fake charities, and misrepresenting oneself as an insurance company agent or government representative to obtain personal information.
Assistance for the personal and financial chaos created by a hurricane or other natural disaster may be obtained from these organizations:
For additional information on financial actions for disasters, click here.
- Have students role play situations that might require actions such as those described in this article.
- Have students create a video with suggestions to take when encountering a natural disaster.
- How might the advice offered in this article be communicated to people who are victims of a natural disaster?
- Describe common mistakes people might make when encountering a natural disaster.
Consumers across the country report that they’re getting telephone calls from people trying to collect loans the consumers never received or on loans they did receive for amounts they do not owe. Others are receiving calls from people seeking to recover on loans consumers received but where the creditors never authorized the callers to collect them.
The FTC is warning consumers to be alert for scam artists posing as debt collectors. It may be hard to tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a fake one.
A caller may be a fake debt collector if he/she:
- is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize;
- refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
- asks for personal financial or sensitive information; or
- exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to make a list of protections provided by the Fair Collection Practices Act.
- Ask students to prepare a list of steps they should take if the harassment continues.
- If you think that a caller may be a fake debt collector, why is it important to ask the caller for his name, company, street address, or telephone number?
- If you think that a caller may be a fake debt collector, should you stop speaking with the caller? Why or why not?
Collectible coins have some historic or aesthetic value to collectors. The value of many collector coins exceeds their melt value because the precious metal content is so small. Coin collectors refer to this collectible value as numismatic value, and it is determined by factors such as the type of coin, the year it was minted, the place it was minted, and its condition—or “grade.”
Dealers who sell collectible coins often have valuable coins graded by professional services. A grader examines the coin’s condition based on a set of criteria. Then the grader assigns it a numerical grade from one to 70, and places it in a plastic cover for protection. But factors like “overall appearance” and “eye appeal” are subjective, and the grade assigned to a particular coin can vary among dealers.
Expect to hold your investment for at least 10 years before possibly realizing a profit. That’s because dealers usually sell collectible coins at a markup. In addition, the market for numismatic coins may not be the same as the market for precious metals or bullion coins. It’s possible that the price of gold can increase while the value of a gold numismatic coin decreases.
For more information click here.
- Ask Students to make a list of the risks and rewards of investing in collectible coins.
- Ask students how they can protect themselves from fraudulent practices in the collectibles market.
- What are some important questions to ask before you invest in collectible coins?
- Is it possible to make a practical decision about buying a particular coin based on a photo or conversation with the seller?
- Why is it important to get a second opinion about the grade and value of the coin you are considering to buy?
Changes are coming to your Medicare card. By April 2019, your card will be replaced with one that no longer shows your Social Security number. Instead, your card will have a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that will be used for billing and for checking your eligibility and claim status.
Having your Social Security number removed from your Medicare card helps fight medical identity theft and protects your medical and financial information.
Here are some common Medicare scams relating to the new cards:
- Someone calling, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking for your Social Security number or bank information.
- Someone asking you to pay for your new card.
- Someone threatening to cancel your benefits if you don’t provide information or money?
For more on the new changes to your Medicare card, visit Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And report scams to the FTC.
For more information, click here.
- How do you think this change will affect patients? You?
- Replacing Social Security number with Health Insurance Claim Number will cost millions of taxpayers dollars. Do you think it is worth the expense?
- What is the biggest reason the Social Security is taking the Social Security Number off of Medicare cards?
- How will the new system affect people with Medicare?
- Who will be the affected stakeholders?
- How does it work?
Most usage-based car insurance policies have you plug a small device into your car’s diagnostic port, which is usually under the dashboard. Others use cell phone connections or apps. All of them send information about your driving to your insurer.
- Is it a good deal?
It could lower your premium if you drive safely and don’t drive lots of miles.
- How about my privacy?
There are many privacy issues to consider related to these types of policies.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to find out if their car insurer offers usage-based insurance.
- Under what circumstance will you consider purchasing usage-based car insurance?
- What might be the purpose of using global positioning systems and other technology in determining the car insurance premiums?
- Will younger drivers embrace the monitoring devices, especially when car chips allow parents to monitor the speed and braking habits of young drivers?
CPAs and financial advisers point out five “silent killers” that create barriers for the successful implementation of estate, retirement, and investment plans. These common mistakes are:
1. Unrealistic Expectations. A valid financial plan must be based on practical assumptions, such as an appropriate forecast of rate of return, inflation, and future cash flow needs
2. Emotional Decision Making. Feelings and personal sentiment must be identified and minimized when setting goals and planning financial projections.
3. Inflexibility. A useful financial plan must take into account unexpected events. Creation of an emergency fund and contingency plan is vital.
4. Inaction. Without a plan for action, the perfect financial plan is worthless. Common results of inaction can be not having appropriate of property and casualty insurance coverage, financial hardship of dependents due to inadequate life and disability coverage, failing to address how assets are to be distributed in an estate plan, and overlooking a tax strategy.
5. Unclear Values and Priorities. Being on the wrong path will result in an undesired financial destination. Reflection of areas of importance and priorities is fundamental for implementing a financial plan and achieving financial goals.
For additional information on financial planning silent killers, click here.
- Have students talk with others about barriers they have encountered in their financial decision making.
- Have students create situations that reflect each of the five situations. Ask them to suggest actions to overcome these difficulties.
- Explain which of these financial planning barriers you believe is the most dangerous.
- What are possible actions a person might take to avoid these financial planning barriers?