Family Finance: Consumer Protection Week - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Family Finance: Consumer Protection Week

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - According to some estimates, as many as 73 percent of people use the same password for multiple sites, and odds are many of those individuals are also saving their passwords in their favorite browsers.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from identity theft, as well as protect your personal information and bank accounts.
  • Forget “Remember Me” -Never use the “save ID and password” option in your browser – especially on a public computer – or on your mobile device.
  • Beware of Phishing, SMiShing and Vishing- Phishing – when a fraudster impersonates a legitimate company online in an attempt to steal confidential information – has gone offline to text and voice messaging. SMiShing, or phishing via text message, asks the potential victim to access a website or call a phone number, neither of which is legitimate. Vishing refers to phishing over the phone, whereby the potential victim is asked to respond by phone to either an e-mail or telephone message. It is often difficult to distinguish SMiShing and Vishing schemes from the companies they impersonate; when in doubt, ask to call back to a customer service number you know is valid.
  • Pass on PMI- Borrowers putting less than 20 percent down on a new home purchase are required to buy private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI insures a lender in case of loan default, but does not protect the borrower themselves. PMI can cost up to an additional $100 per month or more depending on the size and Loan to Value of the loan; that's $36,000 over the life of the loan. Ask yourself, “Is putting down less than 20 percent worth the monthly mortgage insurance?” If not, consider purchasing a home for which the money you've saved is at least a 20 percent down payment.
  • Know Your Number- Borrowers with a credit score equal to or greater than 740 will pay a full percentage less than those with a credit score of 680. One percent doesn't sound like much… until you start thinking of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Keep your credit score strong by avoiding late fees, staying current on all bills and limiting your open lines of credit to only those you need.
  • Everyone Can Afford a Financial Advisor- How much do you need to save or invest to have access to a financial advisor? For most banks or credit unions, the price of entry is simply being a customer. Many banks have licensed bankers or investment executives whose job it is to help consumers save more, spend less and plan for their futures… they just aren't being fully utilized! Get the advice you're looking for by simply calling your financial institution and making an appointment to sit down and share.
  • Keep Independent Company- Independent insurance brokers aren't bound to one company like a captive agent is, so they can look at different types of products with a critical, unbiased eye. Insurance isn't one-size-fits-all; there are many factors that make up the “bigger picture.” Your financial advisor can work with an insurance broker to identify a customized solution that will meet your needs, at a price you can afford.
  • Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance- With 70 percent of seniors needing some form of long-term care assistance before they die, your chances of caring for an aging parent or spouse are high. While health insurance and Medicare may cover some expenses, neither are usually enough to cover the high cost of caring for someone who needs constant attention. Long-term care insurance is a smart investment in your long-term healthcare needs.
  • Don't Spell “Write”- It takes an expert hacker three minutes (or less!) to crack a password. One way to make your password more effective? Use improper grammar. An algorithm developed at Carnegie Mellon University unlocked 10 percent of long passwords comprising grammatically correct phrases. Don't use personal information like a birthday or a pet's name, address, names or parts of names, phone numbers, dates… but consider making spelling errors that only you can remember!
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