Preventing credit card fraud

Credit cards are surely one of the most efficient financial products out there. They make life more convenient if you have to cover an emergency regardless of whether you’re at home or abroad.

They are lightweight, don’t take up any bulk and using them often earns you points which can be redeemed for all kinds of useful products and services. On top of this, they are widely-accepted both in stores and online.

The widespread use of credit cards has a potentially dark side though; identity fraud.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada says that thousands of Canadians are victims of credit card fraud each year so following these tips to prevent credit card fraud is essential.

 The basics

It may be tempting to allow people who are close to you to use your credit card but this is not advisable. You can’t necessarily monitor where they are spending and this could make you more vulnerable to attack.

Another obvious tip is to destroy a credit card as soon as it expires so that your details cannot be obtained. Some paper shredders are strong enough to cut through the plastic but otherwise a pair of decent scissors should do the job.

Take care online

Shopping online has a host of advantages, the most obvious of which is convenience. It’s no wonder then that shopping online has risen considerably over the past few years but what risks does this open you up to?

To make your online shopping experience a secure as possible you should only use what are called ‘secure’ web pages.  You know this is the case if the address starts with ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’).

Also, if there is a locked padlock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the browser you are shopping on a secure web page. Don’t be fooled by padlock symbols in other areas of the webpage as these could be an attempt to make a fraudulent site appear legitimate.

 Get protected

It’s wise to choose a credit card provider which takes your security seriously and offers necessary support and advice in the event of identity theft.

Credit cards are protected through a sophisticated screening network which can spot transactions which look unusual and potentially fraudulent.

Under a ‘Fraud Protection Guarantee’, an Amex customer will not be held responsible for any charges which are fraudulent if they have been responsible about protecting their card details.

This kind of scheme is worth its weight in gold for your peace of mind.

Check statements

Set aside a regular time to check credit card transaction receipts against your statement.

Doing this online every week is recommended as it will give you the chance to keep on top of any irregularities.

 

 

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How (and Why) You Should Teach Your Kids about Personal Finance

It’s often lamented that “kids these days” don’t know the value of a dollar, nor do they know how to properly save. If you currently have children living at home, a strong foundation in personal finance is one of the most important lessons you could teach them, one that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Not sure how to go about teaching them how to properly manage their money? Read on to find out!

Basics of Budgeting

First things first: if your kid doesn’t know how to set up a budget and follow it, then the rest of the financial lessons below probably won’t be taken too seriously. Budgeting can be a dry activity, but using a system of stickers or rewards (depending on your child’s age) can encourage them to stay positive and follow through on their goals. All it takes is a simple chart of their income and outflow and some mechanism like personal finance software for tracking their progress toward their savings goals.

Savings Habits: Start Young

Speaking of savings, one of the biggest problems facing teenagers and twentysomethings today is debt. Whether it’s from taking out too many student loans or abusing the credit card privilege, venturing out into the “real world” with a massive load of debt on your shoulders makes life much more difficult. To teach your kid the true value of saving money, start with the classic: an allowance. Getting money in exchange for work is a basic, but crucial lesson for later in life. If money is tight, consider restricting their allowance to a few dollars per week, and maybe even offer a parental match for every dollar saved (similar to the 401(k) match some employers offer as an incentive for their employees to save for retirement). This way, they’ll approach saving as a fun activity that can eventually lead to a big purchase, rather than seeing it as a chore.

Coupon Clipping 101

Who says coupons are only for adults? Although coupon clippers are generally portrayed as stay-at-home moms, the whole family can get involved! Whether it’s surfing online for coupons at sites or browsing through stacks of newspapers for sweet deals, clipping coupons together as a family not only saves money when it comes time to shop, but it also encourages a frugal approach to shopping.

Encourage Entrepreneurial Spirit

Lemonade stands in summer, cookie and hot cocoa stands in winter. It seems simple enough; but why stop there? Kids have wild imaginations and what better way to harness that creativity than through a productive, entrepreneurial outlet? Whether it’s hosting an art show for family members and auctioning off their masterpieces, tutoring younger siblings or neighbors, cleaning yards/pools/houses/cars/etc., caring for animals (or, my personal favorite, setting up a balloon animal stand and selling creations at $1 each)…all of these are viable sources of income and teach kids to do more than wait for a job to appear; they have to go out and make their own opportunities.

Nip Impulse Purchases in the Bud

Kids and teenagers are notorious for exhibiting a lack of restraint when it comes to buying things they want (especially when it’s not their money). This bad habit, if left unchecked, could follow them into adulthood, spelling disaster for their finances. By teaching your kids the difference between “wants” and “needs” (as well as sticking to a budget, as mentioned previously), you could save them a lot of headache and debt later on.

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Why You Should Go International with Your Online Business

There are businesses throughout the world competing with each other for the attention of their market. Businesses no longer remain local when trying to market their products. Unless you have a business selling services to a local audience, there is no reason why you should not engage the international stage with your company. In the worst case scenario, you do not make any money beyond the local population. In the best case scenario, you are able to start selling around the world to an ever-growing section of the population that loves what you have to offer. To make it work, make sure you are marketing effectively, work on shipping costs and be prepared to start ramping up production. If successful, you will be thankful you tried.

Market Effectively

One essential rule in business is that you cannot ever expect business to come to you, so you need to find ways to get more business. This means marketing to the people who are most likely to buy from you. Developing a good marketing solution means utilizing all the tools at your disposal. Make sure you include social media, blogs, good website design, videos and more in your marketing strategy. Also, make sure you are able to start marketing in more than one language. The more you are able to engage people in their native language, the easier it is going to be to bring in more attention for your business.

Work on Shipping Costs

Your profits vary a great deal if you are paying for shipping costs around the world as opposed to down the street. Keep this in mind as you are pricing items and when deciding how much you will charge to cover shipping and handling. One good way you can be sure you are lowering your shipping costs is through fulfillment shipping. This is where you ship a massive freight of goods to a country for a discounted rate. Once in the country, the goods are shipped as ordered for a lowered rate.

Be Prepared for More Work

If all of your efforts are successful, there is a good possibility you are in for a mountain of new work to accomplish. It will do no good to bring in a lot of orders and sales if you cannot even fulfill them. Start stockpiling products to ship out as soon as the orders start rolling in. This way, you will not be playing catch up. If you realize that the orders are coming in faster than you can make replacement products for your stockpile, start hiring people and creating new manufacturing methods. If you are lucky, your business will grow as you fill more requests and win the hearts of satisfied customers.

As long as you are marketing effectively, lowering shipping costs and preparing to be busy, you are ready to enter the International markets. Starting down this road can easily lead to an ever-growing business.

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