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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8 Ways to Prevent High Energy Bills This Winter

When you live in a cold climate, a fair portion of your budget goes to keeping you and your family warm and staving off the arctic temperatures.  Of course, no one wants to pay more than they need to.  The key to lowering your energy consumption in the winter is to take action early in the season.  Now is the perfect time.

An Ounce of Prevention. . .

One of the best ways to use less energy is to look for silent money drains.  Do you have a drafty old door?  If you can’t afford to install a new one, consider installing weather stripping at the bottom to keep out the cold.  If you don’t want to spend the money for that, you can put something by the door to block the cold such as an old towel, though weather stripping would work better.

Likewise, an easy, fairly frugal solution for drafty old windows is to install plastic window covers.  You’ll keep the cold out and save a bundle on energy bills.  If you don’t like the look of plastic on your windows, heavy thermal curtains can also do a good job of keeping out the cold.

Don’t forget to also insulate your pipes, especially around your water heater.

Caulk any areas where drafts might seep in such as where your floor and wall meet if the two have started to pull away from each other as they tend to do in old houses.

Comparison Shopping

Don’t forget to also take the time to comparison shop.  You likely have several energy providers you can choose from.  Don’t assume that the company you went with last year will automatically offer you the best rate.  Instead, take the time to comparison shop using an online tool such as the one at Totally Money and see which will offer you the best deal.

If possible, consider signing up for the company’s budget plan.  Then, you can pay the same fixed rate every month rather than being susceptible to high energy bills in the winter and low ones in the spring and fall.

Bundle Up

If you’re someone who likes to keep your home toasty so you can wear t-shirts and shorts all winter, please reconsider.  Instead, drop your heating temperature by a few degrees and wear long pants and a shirt and sweater or sweatshirt.  Some people even invest in thermal long underwear to wear under their pants at home so they can keep the temperature even a bit lower.

Even better, MSN suggests installing an automatic thermostat so you can drop the temperature significantly when you’re at work and bump it up an hour or so before you come home so your home won’t be uncomfortably cold.

Saving on your energy bill not only helps you keep more money in your wallet, but just as important, it helps you use less of Earth’s natural resources.  Curbing your energy consumption is a win-win on many levels.

What are your favourite tips for saving on energy usage?

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Save Water by Using a Rain Barrel

Are you a fan of sustainability and being eco-friendly? Then you’ll love this idea. Most of us have rain gutters on our houses. It keeps the water from running down onto our heads when we walk out the door, and it helps transport all that water away from our house, rather than constantly dripping right next to our foundation.

So where is your rain gutter sending your rain water? For many of us, the spout is about 12 inches away from our house, and is just simply pointed away from dwelling place. It works well, but guess what? By doing this, we’re wasting a very precious resource.

The Resource of Water

Many of us forget just how precious water is. What if you didn’t have a shower? What if you didn’t have a faucet that just squirted water out at your bidding? I’m sure you’ve seen videos of those poor countries that have to walk for miles just to get to a fresh water source. They then fill up one or two buckets for their families and haul it all the way back home. This water is not flowing through a faucet or coming out of a shower head. Nope, it’s definitely much more labor intensive.

The way we use water today is quite wasteful. We take long showers, leave the water running the whole time we brush our teeth, and we might even water our lawns for hours at a time. Rather than being so wasteful, why don’t we do the best we can to preserve our fabulous resource of water?

The Rain Barrel

A rain barrel is an incredibly simple too, but it’s unbelievably effective. Instead of just pointing your water spout away from your property and letting the water flood into your yard, why not shorten up that trough a little bit and run the water into a rain barrel? This barrel is most commonly a 55 gallon drum will a screen on top that will filter our any sticks or leaves that might come through your rain gutters. Obviously, this simple filtering system doesn’t make the water safe for drinking, but it makes it perfectly safe for watering your garden or your plants around the house.

When I first heard of the rain barrel, I wondered how you got the water out. Most of these barrels come with a short hose that’s attached to the bottom of the barrel and the water is emitted by the simple power of gravity (as I said, this barrel is very simple). So, there is some pressure there, but only what gravity will provide. Think of it as a big Gatorade jug. There will be some pressure, but it’s definitely not a pressure washer.

With this barrel, you’ll not only be reducing your water usage, but in doing that, you’ll also be reducing your monthly bills! All it takes is a simple barrel at the end of your gutter system and you’ll be doing good things for the environment and saving a little money in the process!

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