10 February | Posted in Bank Credit Cards |
Banks vs. Credit Unions
Does it really make a difference whether you conduct your financial affairs at a bank or a credit union? A lot of people seem to think it does. Believers report that credit unions offer the lowest interest rate around for banking, credit cards and loans.
What is a credit union?
A credit union differs from a bank by the fact that it is owned and directed by its members. Members of the Credit Union elect their usually volunteer Board of Directors through a one person one vote system. The definition provided by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) says credit unions are not-for-profit cooperative institutions. Credit unions are generally smaller institutions than most banks.
How do credit unions differ from banks?
Banks in the United States typically have $1.53 billion in assets as opposed to credit unions which on average have only $93 million in assets. Most credit unions do offer the same types of services offered by banks such as savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, loans, certificates of deposit and online banking. Some credit unions call these banking functions by different names such as share accounts, share draft accounts and share term certificates. In general, only members of a credit union can use their services. You must be eligible to join a credit union.
Banks are for profit shareholder owned companies that are regulated by state regulators or the federal government. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures banks. The purpose of banks is to make money for their shareholders.
Advantages of credit unions
Credit unions are not publicly traded corporations so in general they can offer lower rates on credit cards, banking, savings accounts, and loans. Though not insured by the FDIC credit unions do have a federal insurance program called the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Most credit unions are profitable but this money is used to lower loan rates, and fees when possible. Since members are also owners of the credit union, some credit unions will offer bonus checks to members when there are particularly high earnings.
In financial surveys credit unions almost always outperform banks in terms of customer satisfaction. This may come directly from feeling a part of the institution, an owner rather than a customer. When an organization’s primary focus is not on making a profit but on making the members more financially secure this could translate into more satisfaction with the whole financial experience. If you like small financial institutions credit unions are smaller and you are more likely to get to know the employees.
Advantages of banks
The strengths of credit unions may have you rushing to open an account with your closest credit union but banks do have their strong points too. Larger banks may be able to offer the best rates around for financial products. Do some comparison shopping before opening an account anywhere. Banks in general offer more products and services than available at a small credit union. Banks may also have more online banking services and 24 hour customer service phone lines than credit unions. Again compare options when opening an account.
3 February | Posted in Credit Card Security |
The $9.84 Charge Scam
Following the widespread credit data breach that affected Target customers (as well as customers of other major retailers) over the holiday period, the Better Business Bureau has now issued a new safety warning, and there is a possibility that this warning is related to the holiday data breach.
Reports are emerging that consumers are finding unauthorized charges on their statements. In most cases this charge is $9.84, categorized on the statement as a ‘Customer Support’ charge with one of a number of fake websites.
When victims visit the website levying the charge, they are provided with a telephone support number and an email address. After getting in contact, they are told that the charge will be removed and the amount credited to the affected account. It is not certain whether this information is fake, and whether getting in contact will actually lead to the account being reimbursed.
We recommend that all affected consumers DO NOT get in contact with these fake websites. There are a number of recommendations provided by the BBB to help consumers protect themselves:
- If you suspect fraud, get in contact with your card issuer.
- You should destroy your current card and request a new one.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file (visit the Federal Trade Commission Website ftc.gov)
- Be vigilant with all of your existing accounts
Investigators are still determining whether this scam has anything to do with the data stolen over the holiday period.
The ‘One Ring’ Return Call Scam – DON’T RETURN THE CALL!
The BBB is also warning consumers about another scam, which appears to be unrelated to the holiday-period data breach and the $9.84 charge scam. As of writing no complaints have yet been filed, however the president of the BBB Steve J. Bernas has stated that this scam is spreading across the U.S. very quickly and it is only a matter of time before complaints are filed.
In this scam, malware is used to infect personal computers, which then make thousands of calls to random telephone numbers. Each call only lasts for one ring before it disconnects, hence the name.
The purpose of the scam is to tempt people with missed calls on their phones to return the call. When they do so, they are charged $19.95 for an international call fee. Victims have reported that the calls are coming from various international locations, mainly foreign British territories.
If you have been affected by this scam, you should immediately alert your cell phone carrier and watch your bill carefully. The earlier you report the fraud, the better chance you will have of having the charges partially or fully reimbursed.
The BBB states that the best way to protect yourself from this fraud is to not answer or return calls for any international numbers that you do not recognize.
For more help and information, visit the Better Business Bureau website bbb.org.
28 December | Posted in Credit Card Security |
Watch Out! Target Credit Card Breach
If you have shopped at Target recently with a credit card then it is important that you check your credit account. The major US retailer was recently the victim of a major payment data breach, so if you are a Target shopper or have been in between certain dates, then you’ll want to pay attention and see if this affects you, no matter how many transactions you have made or how much you have spent.
The Target Breach
While the exact details of the breach are unclear, a picture is slowly emerging. Attackers managed to install malignant software onto payment desk computer systems in over 1,800 Target store locations It is not yet known how the attackers were able to successfully achieve this across so many stores.
Between November 27 and December 15, 2013, this software stole information from credit or debit cards that were used by customers to make payments at brick-and-mortar Target stores. This has allowed the attackers to gain access to customer names, credit card numbers, CVV security codes and expiration dates (with debit cards as well as credit cards).
This is proving to be a very serious and widespread security breach. The security of up to 40 million credit/debit cards may have been compromised. Not long after the breach, credit card issuers began to report fraudulent activity across the U.S. Target is now being sued by numerous customers for the breach, which could amount to millions in damages being paid out.
Am I At Risk?
The attack took place between November 27 and December 15, 2013, so if you paid for your purchase by credit or debit card at a U.S. brick-and-mortar Target store during this time then you should assume that you are at risk. Data gained from your card’s magnetic stripe could be used to create counterfeit payment cards. This was not a server data breach, so you are not at risk if you shopped online with Target.
If you have been a victim of this massive fraud, please comment below and share your experience to help others who may be similarly situated.
What Can I Do To Protect My Account?
Unfortunately there is not a great deal that you can do to prevent the attackers from exploiting your details if they have managed to get hold of them already. In this case your only real option is to remain highly vigilant. The best thing to do is to keep a very close eye on your credit card statements, and to get in contact with your provider immediately if you see any fraudulent activity.
Account alerts can be set up with online credit card management services, and fraud alerts can be registered with each of the major credit reporting agencies. Your credit card issuer or bank may also be helping to keep an eye on things for you. For example, JP Morgan Chase has temporarily lowered daily spending limits for vulnerable cards, while other banks are tightening security and keeping a very close eye to spot fraudulent activity.
Target has stated that they would offer free credit monitoring for any of their customers that have been affected by fraud. If you used a credit card at Target during the aforementioned period, the only fail-safe way to protect yourself would be to cancel your account and have your credit card issuer issue a new card.
Credit Card Payment
Credit Card Payment
Credit card holders should carefully monitor their credit card payment. Are you aware your minimum MasterCard credit card payment is rising?
A new govt. program working to get USA citizens out of credit card debts are pushing MasterCard issuers to raise minimum standard payments. If you are an American, your minimum monthly MasterCard payment may shortly be doubling.
Who’s Raising Your Monthly Minimum MasterCard Payment? Whose concept was it to extend card minimum standard payments? The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Office which has become more concerned with ruling in the abuses of MasterCard corporations.
BOA has been asking for the higher monthly minimum amount. MBNA, Citigroup (a.k.a. Citibank), Discover, and Chase (on some of its cards) have been breaking the news to their card owners . How Much Will Card Minimums Increase? For many visa cards, eg MBNA and B of A, the new rates mean that monthly lowest payments will double. At this time, the monthly minimum amount is only 2 percent of the balance on the majority of these cards. The new rate will be around 4% (the particular number may vary greatly from card provider to card company).
This indicates that if you’ve got the average American Visa card balance of approximately $10,000, your minimum regular payment will go from $200 / month to $400 / month. Why the MasterCard Minimum Amount Increase? You’re probably wondering why any person would wish to make you pay a higher minimum standard payment. The basic reason for making you pay more is: for your own good.
Credit Card Payment Tips
According to Mike Peterson, founder of American Credit Foundation, by doubling the sum you pay each month towards credit card debts, you may ease back on what you pay towards interest by much more. Look: Old monthly minimum amount of two percent of balance, $2,000 bank card arrears at 18% % interest:
- Time to repay debt in full: about thirty years.
- Interest paid: about $5,000 two and a half times what you first borrowed! New monthly minimum amount of 4% of balance, same debt:
- Time to pay down debt in full: about ten years.
- Time saved vs. Old payment: twenty years.
- Interest paid: about $1,100slightly over half what you originally borrowed. Total saved versus. Old payment: $3,900.
Tips for Paying Double Simply How does one pay off your new, higher card balance?
Yes, you will need to make major sacrifices to cease using your ATM card. If you have difficulty resisting the enticement to charge, these are some solutions that have really worked: * Give your MasterCard’s to a chum or relation to hold in safe keeping. * Freeze the cards in a block of ice. * Never carry more than one Visa card with you. Economize on the Tiny Things According to Michael Peterson of the North American Credit Foundation, even little savings truly add up when talking of debt. His favorite example is the Cola example: * If you purchase one Cola a day at $1 / day that is $365 / year. * If you instead invested that one greenback a day at ten percent interest (the average annual return on major stocks during the last half century), you’d be a millionaire inside fifty six years. * Naturally, with cards, this logic works in reverse : if you are sufficiently fortunate to be paying only ten percent interest, 50 years of charging Cola to your MasterCard will mean you have lost the same quantity, not just in interest paid, but in the lost chance to save and invest. One greenback a day is $30 / month, 15% of the average $200 increase in Visa card minimum regular payments.
So as to get that complete $200 increase out of your daily budget, you would just have to save $200 / thirty or less than $7 a day. OK, perhaps you are not drinking 7 Diet Cokes a day.
Saving weekly instead of daily, $200 / month works out to about $45 / week, or the price of an eatery meal for a tiny family–another luxury you may want to skip till you are debt-free. Larger Savings * Taxes. Most US citizens could pay tons of bucks less tax every year if they just took all of the discounts they were suitable for up front, instead of waiting to get a repayment in April. By April, you’ll have spent an enormous piece of cash on interest on debt that you would not have spent if you would had the cash to hand. * Pleading. Call the card firms and ask if they can permit you to set up a repayment schedule, or at a minimum supply a transient extension. Simply calling and informing them you have not forgotten about them can help in keeping you out of the worst difficulty. * Credit counseling. Credit advisors can talk with MasterCard issuers to help get a repayment agreement you can stay abreast of. They can also open your eyes to untouched income sources you never knew you had, like kicking the $1,000,000 Cola habit. With only a modest amount of planning, you can make the higher minimum standard payment work to your benefit, just as the policy’s writers intended.
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Bill Pay
Need to pay your LADWP bill or need to login to view your bill or manage your account online? Check out your payment options right here and get your bill paid on time. Payment information, contact details and further guides are provided to help you. To make a payment online or manage your account, follow the link provided below on this page to the LADWP bill pay login. You will also find useful “pay my bill” information such as the customer service number, payment mailing address, and billing phone number below.
Pay My Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Bill
With LADWP you can pay your residential water/power bills online, by phone, by mail and in person. In addition to these payment options, you can also pay with Western Union. Be aware that Western Union charges for their payment services.
Pay Online: Online services are available for all LADWP customers, and through online services you can manage your account and make bill payments. Both one-time payments and automatic payments are available. You can make a transfer from a checking/savings account, or pay by Visa/MasterCard. With automatic payments you can make sure your bills are always paid on time. To make your LADWP bill matrix payment online click the “Pay Online” button below to login, register, view your bill or manage your account online.
Pay by Phone: You can pay over the phone with the LADWP Interactive Telephone Response system. Call 1-800-342-5397. You can pay by checking/savings account, or by Visa/MasterCard. This service is available 24/7. There is no fee. Make sure you have your account details to hand.
Pay by Mail: The LADWP bill payment mailing address is: LADWP, P.O. Box 30808, Los Angeles, CA 90030-0808. Make sure you write your account number on the reverse side of the check.
Pay in Person: Pay in person at any one of LADWP’s customer service centers. These centers are open Monday – Friday, 9AM – PM. You can find your nearest customer service center at the LADWP website. Service centers do not accept debit or credit card payments.
Opening & Closing Accounts
Start a New Service / Add Service: You can start a new service online at the LADWP website. New services come with a Start Service Fee of $19. Other possible introductory fees include a sewer service charge and a solid resources fee.
Turn Off / Transfer Service: You can turn off an existing water/electrical service through your online account. Log in to your account and follow the instructions to turn off your service.
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power offers low income discount programs and special payment arrangements for people on low income, people in financial difficulty, senior citizens and the disabled. You can apply for assistance online, or by calling customer services (see below).
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Contact
Customer Contact Center: 1-800-342-5397. Available Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, Saturday: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Emergency services are available 24/7
Customer Contact Center (TDD): 1-800-432-7397
Commercial Customers: 1-800-499-8840. Available 7 a.m. to 6 p.m
Owens Valley Customers: (760) 873-0251. Available Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m
Mailing Address: LADWP, P.O. Box 51111, Los Angeles, CA 90051-0100
About Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
With over 4 million customers in Los Angeles and surround areas, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is the largest municipal utility in the U.S. The utility was founded in 1902 to supply water to residents and business, and soon after began delivering electricity. Today the utility is focused on delivering the most reliable services and diversifying its energy sources.
NV Energy Bill Pay and Login
Need to pay your electricity bill with NV Energy or looking to login to view your bill or manage your account online? Look no further. Below you’ll find a clear overview of your payment options. Choose the option that works for you and get your bill paid! To manage your account online, follow the link to the NV Energy login. To make a payment online or manage your account, follow the link provided below on this page to the NV Energy bill pay login. You will also find useful “pay my bill” information such as the customer service number, payment mailing address, and billing phone number below.
Pay My NV Energy Bill
Like any good utility, NV Energy offers its customers a number of different account management and bill payment options. Check out the available options and get your bill paid!
Pay Online: NV Energy offers MyAccount to all customers. With MyAccount you can manage your energy account, analyze your energy usage and pay your bills. Payments are transferred immediately. To make your NV Energy bill payment online click the “Pay Online” button below to login, register, view your bill or manage your account online.
Automatic Monthly Payments: With Electric Check you can arrange monthly automatic withdrawals from your checking/savings account. This service is available through MyAccount.
Pay by Phone: Phone payments are available by ATM, credit or debit card or check through Western Union Speedpay. Supported ATM cards are STAR, NYCE, ACCEL and PULSE. Call 1 (800) 809-1013 (Northern Nevada) or 1 (800) 253-8084 (Southern Nevada).
Pay by Mail: You will find the payment mailing address included with the pre-addressed envelope in your monthly bills. The NV Energy bill payment address is: NV Energy, PO Box 30065, RENO, NV 89520-3065 (Nevada); NV Energy, PO Box 30086, RENO, NV 89520-3086 (Southern Nevada).
Pay in Person: You can pay your bill at an authorized Shop & Pay Payment location, or at an NV Energy Customer Service Office. Payments made in person are guaranteed to be transferred on the same day. Payment locations are provided at the NV Energy website.
Opening & Closing Accounts
Start New Service: You can start a new service with NV Energy with the online Start Service Tool. You can also call customer services (check below).
Transfer Existing Service: You can transfer an existing service by logging into the MyAccount Service.
Turn Off Service: You can close your account and stop your service by logging into the MyAccount service.
NV Energy Contact (North Nevada)
Main Customer Services: (775) 834-4444
Main Customer Services (TTY): (775) 834-3411
Emergencies: (775) 834-4100
Mailing Address: NV Energy, PO Box 10100 Reno, NV 89520
NV Energy Contact (South Nevada)
Main Customer Services: (702) 402-5555
Main Customer Services (TTY): (702) 402-5080
Emergencies: (702) 402-2900
Customer Service Offices: North Las Vegas Office Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1737 Hunkins Drive, North Las Vegas, Nevada 89030
About NV Energy
NV Energy is a public utility that has served the citizens of northern Nevada for over 150 years and the citizens of southern Nevada for over 100 years. NV Energy covers 46,000 miles across many communities, and also delivers natural gas to over 155,000 people in the Reno-Sparks area. In total the utility services roughly 1.3 million customers.
For people who want to help the environment, NV Energy offers the RenewableGenerations program. Under this program you can earn rebates for installation green energy generating technologies at home or work. A new Production Based Incentive program for Solar Electric, Hydro and Wind is also coming soon.