NextAdvisor Blog - Michael Osakwe

Michael Osakwe is a NextAdvisor.com writer covering web hosting, video conferencing and voice technologies, as well as a multitude of personal finance topics. His writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Grindstone and various small, personal blogs across the web. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Political Economy and a minor in Public Policy. You can follow him on Twitter @Michael_Advsr.

Posts by Michael Osakwe:

Can My Bank Account Application Be Denied?

Banks are one of the most important foundations of personal finance, as they allow people to save money, plan expenses and set financial goals. While most Americans are familiar with the benefits of banking, few might know that their banking habits are being evaluated by reporting agencies
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How to Remain Safe While Shopping Online

Amazon Prime Day has long passed, but a lot of consumers are still shopping online for deals, especially now that the back-to-school season is in full-swing and the holidays are right around the corner. Last year, 79% of Americans — that’s eight-in-ten people — made at least
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Credit 101: What is Your Credit History?

There are a lot of factors that go into creating your credit scores, but perhaps the most important is your credit history. Broadly speaking, your credit history is what helps lenders determine if you’re a reliable borrower, but the specifics that go into constructing credit histories might be
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Proposed Bill Aims to Secure Internet of Things Devices: How Will It Impact You?

It’s likely no surprise to anyone who has used the web that the Internet is, on some level, insecure. This problem has become more pronounced as the number of computers and devices connected to the Internet has increased. While hackers and other bad actors play a prominent
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Mixed Credit Reports and Your Identity: What You Need to Know

Many Americans understand the importance of their credit and the life-altering implications that bad credit can have. While actively managing your credit is an important step in building and maintaining good credit, it is far from the only step; monitoring your credit is equally critical in making
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5 Things Online Dating Newbies Should Know

While online dating can be convenient and fun, online interactions are in a lot of ways more difficult to navigate. Because of this, the transition to online dating isn’t always as smooth or straightforward as people think. That’s why we’re going over the “rules” or etiquette that
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Online Banks vs. Traditional Banks: Which is Best for Your Wallet?

Despite currently offering rock-bottom interest rates, the products and services banking institutions offer remain the cornerstone of good financial planning. As such, deciding where to bank is a fairly important decision for anyone trying to advance their financial goals. In this post, we’ll go into detail about
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Card Skimming Has Evolved: Here’s How to Protect Yourself

We all know that our credit cards or debit cards could be stolen or misused – either through physical theft or through online phishing. But there’s another tool scammers can use to steal your credit or debit card number — card skimming. We discuss the phenomenon of
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Reasons People Use Free Wi-Fi (and Why You Shouldn’t)

This month, cybersecurity company Symantec released the results of its second Wi-Fi Risk Report, which digs into the reasons why consumers, both in America and across the world, use free or public Wi-Fi. While experts have espoused the dangers of accessing public Wi-Fi for years, if Symantec’s
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5 Frequently Asked Questions for VoIP Newbies

For the uninitiated, VoIP might seem like a mysterious concept – at first glance, using the Internet to make calls doesn’t seem like dependable form of communication. As such, there are a number of questions or misconceptions that would-be VoIP users or VoIP newbies likely need answered
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CIT Bank vs. Discover Bank: Which is Best for My Online Savings Account?

Despite the current bedrock interest rate environment among brick-and-mortar banks, there remains a handful of banks where you can get a competitive Annual Percentage Yield (APY) and great service. Most of these banks are online and branchless, but while they might lack in-person support, they tend to
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Verizon Data Leak May Have Exposed Millions of Customers

Another day, sadly, means another opportunity for another data breach. In what appears to be the result of a major oversight, it has been reported that a server containing Verizon customer data was exposed to the open Internet for an unspecified amount of time. Verizon released a
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Should You Take on Debt to Fund a Financial Emergency?

While we never hope to experience emergencies, life can surprise us and leave us in a less-than-ideal situation, sometimes requiring us to spend money on unplanned expenses. This is why it can literally pay off to financially prepare for emergencies by creating an emergency fund. But what
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Reservation System Breach Affects Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos, Loews Hotels

Along with death and taxes, data breaches are one of the only constants in this technology-driven world. As hackers target bigger fish, breaches in the retail and hospitality industries are becoming extremely common, meaning that more recent data breaches affect larger pools of people. In this blog
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Should Your Children Use Social Media?

In today’s world, technology surrounds us. Not only do we have computers that follow us wherever we go in the form of phones, tablets and laptops, but because of these devices, we are also constantly online. As ubiquitous as technology is, though, it’s important to take a
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Attending an Event or Concert This Summer? Here’s How to Avoid Ticket Scams

With the summer in full swing, many places will be hosting tons of concerts, festivals and other exclusive events. While you can’t put a price on fun or the memories you’ll make this summer, scammers will take a crack at guessing what you’ll be willing to pay
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What’s the Difference Between Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes?

With identity theft on the rise and news of data breaches popping up almost daily, your credit will likely at some point be the target of fraudsters and identity thieves – assuming they haven’t gotten to it already. This means that you may inevitably face the choice
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What are Credit Report Statements?

Given the degree to which identity theft and credit report errors occur, it’s not uncommon that you’ll find something on your credit reports that isn’t yours. Even though you can dispute inaccurate, derogatory marks that unfairly mark your credit, your dispute may be rejected and you may
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Mid-Year Financial Checkup: Where Do Your Finances Stand?

When it comes to your financial health, it always pays to know where you stand, and a financial checkup can help you do just that. With June nearly over, we’re already halfway through the year, making it an excellent time to step back and assess what has
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Is Your Social Security Card Missing? Here’s What You Should Do

Given how important your social security number is, as it helps you get everything from credit to a place to live, your social security card is possibly one of the most valuable things you own. Unfortunately, like your wallet or cell phone, your social security card is
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Summer Safety Checklist: How to Protect Your Identity, Family and Home

While most people know summer as the season for barbecues and beach parties, it’s primarily known by law enforcement as the season for crime. Unfortunately, this is a pattern that has held true for a long time across the country, and even in some other parts of
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Fed Expected to Raise Interest Rates: How This Impacts You

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is meeting to discuss the state of the economy, and decide whether or not to raise interest rates. Although the affairs of the Federal Reserve might come across as complex and perhaps even detached from the financial realities of
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What Can You Do if the Domain Name You Want is Taken?

One of the first things that anyone signing up for a web hosting or website building service has to do is enter in a domain name – the very words that will serve as their website or blog’s name. Even if you opt for a free account
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Is It Safe to Link Your Bank Account to Third-Party Finance Apps?

Mint, PayPal, Venmo, Digit – in the growing world of personal finance apps, these are well-known services that provide a lot of utility to their users. While these apps allow users to save money, allocate their investments efficiently or simply not have to worry about splitting a
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What You Should Know About Twitter’s New Privacy Policy

Late last month, Twitter announced that its privacy policy will be getting some major changes, effective June 18, 2017. With that date fast approaching, we thought it best to go over these changes in-depth and elaborate on how they’ll affect the average Twitter user. Read below to
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Look Out for These 3 Scams This Summer

Summertime means warm weather and lots of fun. Unfortunately, the weather and your grill may not be the only things heating up this summer. That’s because the high volume of traveling and commerce makes the summer a season that scammers can’t afford to take off. Not only
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Do You Need Auto Insurance for a Rental Car?

Summer has finally arrived, which means that many of us will soon be hitting the open road and putting some major mileage on a vehicle – possibly one provided by a rental car company. One of the big questions you might find yourself asking while in line
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Trying to Rebuild Your Credit? Watch Out for Credit Privacy Number Scams

In the world of credit repair and legal services there is something known as a credit privacy number (CPNs), which can supposedly protect consumers’ social security numbers from identity theft, or in the instance of credit repair, help people gain excellent credit. Since this all sounds a
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How to Know if You’re Using a Fake Website

We frequently talk about scams designed to steal your personal information or online account credentials. While scammers have a plethora of tricks and techniques for deploying scams, a major part of these schemes is fake websites. That’s because scammers often lure intended targets into clicking on a
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What Consumers Should Know About the Fair Credit Billing Act

Today, consumers enjoy several protections when it comes to purchases made with their credit cards. These protections allow them to receive compensation for unauthorized charges, request that inaccuracies are removed from their billing statements and, in some cases, withhold payment when a merchant makes an error regarding
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Do You Suffer from Password Fatigue?

Here’s a scene that’s probably familiar: a website has notified you of a data breach and forced you to change your password. You visit the website and enter a new password, but it doesn’t meet the security requirements for password length or complexity. You think of another
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Online Banking Cybersecurity: How to Make Sure Your Accounts Remain Secure

While online banking is designed to provide convenience to manage and access your accounts whenever you please, in today’s world — full of data breaches and identity theft — the security of online banking is something you likely think about. Luckily, as scammers have gotten smarter, so
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Is a Web Host or a Website Builder Better for Blogging?

In today’s world, where lots of important discussions take place online, blogs are a natural means of self-expression. As such, many individuals with limited web design experience might find themselves drawn to blogging. While tons of resources detailing how to set up blogs exist, trying to follow
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When Should You Take Your Online Dating Conversation Offline?

Online dating can be enjoyable and exciting, as it’s designed to be a low-pressure environment to have conversations with new people and find someone you share a lot in common with. But while meeting people online is fun and easy, something that worries many online daters is
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5 Tips to Prepare New Homeowners for the Next Tax Season

Homeownership is a wonderful investment for yourself and your family, but it takes a lot of consideration and planning to prepare for it effectively. Given that taxes affect both property management and investments, preparing for homeownership includes familiarizing yourself with the tax code as it applies to
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The College Graduate’s Financial Guide to the Real World

It’s May, which means soon college seniors across the country will be transitioning from college life to adulthood. They will be going from managing units and grades to managing student loan debt and income. To help you make this transition easier, we’re detailing what a soon-to-be college graduate
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Owe Money to Uncle Sam? Here’s How to Adjust Your Tax Liability

Even though tax season ended last month (unless you filed an extension), you might be wondering if you can reduce what you’ll pay in taxes next year or reduce the refund you’ll receive, so you can get more money in your pocket throughout the year. The good
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Why You Should Monitor Your Credit Frequently

Your credit is the precious lifeblood of your financial health. While many people are familiar with this fact, a lot don’t seem to manage their credit accordingly. Managing credit doesn’t simply mean building good credit and developing a set-and-forget mentality toward credit reports and scores. Even if
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What are Facebook Sweepstakes Scams and How Can You Spot Them?

Unfortunately, Facebook scams have been part of the website’s history since the social network’s popularity took off at the end of last decade. Among the most popular scams that have ever targeted Facebook users is the contest giveaway or sweepstakes scam, which involves fraudsters luring Facebook users
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BrickerBot Malware Destroys Internet of Things Devices: How to Protect Yourself

Earlier this month, security researcher Pascal Geenens documented a new type of threat ravaging the Internet of things (IoT). Dubbed BrickerBot, this malware “bricks” or destroys the devices it infects and utilizes the same vulnerabilities used by Mirai in last year’s massive Internet DDoS attack. Although BrickerBot
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Mastercard Unveils Cards with Built-in Fingerprint Scanners: Are They More Secure?

Last week, Mastercard unveiled a new EMV card with an added feature – a fingerprint scanner which will be used to authorize payments. The new card is currently being tested in limited markets in South Africa, and the plan is to slowly expand tests to other markets
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4 Personal Finance Lessons to Teach Your Children

Having a solid grasp of money and credit is necessary for any responsible and financially-literate person. Unfortunately, though, it’s one of the least taught aspects of life for children and adolescents, and as a consequence, many young adults must learn about money and credit the hard way.
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How to Open an Online Savings Account

Even though interest rates remain at record lows and banks aren’t paying out much in terms of an annual percentage yield, savings accounts remain a centerpiece of financial planning. Whether or not you intend to have multiple savings accounts or just a single savings account, banks can
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The Internet of Toys: A Look at Playtime in the Era of Data Breaches

We’ve talked before about the Internet of things, which is considered by many to be the next frontier of consumer electronics. With IoT technology rapidly spreading to a wide range of products – from appliances to lightbulbs and air fresheners – more and more toys are now
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Common Myths About Building and Managing Your Credit

For those trying to get a handle on their credit, or for those just learning about credit, it can be hard to understand what credit is and how it works. This task is made even more difficult by persistent myths and falsehoods that tend to be perpetuated
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How Do You File a Tax Extension?

It’s already that time of year when early-bird tax filers have likely cashed in their refunds, and last-minute tax filers are kicking things into overdrive. With Tax Day upon us and tax season coming to a close, we thought it best to talk about how you can
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Microsoft Ends Support for Windows Vista: What This Means for You

As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista has officially reached its end of life. As per Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy, which sets dates terminating Microsoft’s commitment to specific product lines, Vista’s current status means that tech giant will be abandoning support and updates for the operating system and
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IRS to Start Using Private Debt Collectors for Past Due Taxes This Month

Early last year, we reported on a story detailing a transportation bill, called the FAST Act, which contained provisions allowing the IRS to rely on private contractors to assist with the collection of back owed taxes. This month, those provisions are set to go into effect and
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Do Students Need to File Taxes?

Although college students might see filing tax returns as something squarely in the realm of “adulting,” the truth is that many students may have to file taxes well before entering the adult world. Other students might not technically have to file, but will benefit nonetheless because they
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What to Know Now That the FCC Internet Privacy Rules are Reversed

One of the most discussed stories of last week concluded Monday when President Trump signed legislation repealing the soon-to-be implemented FCC Internet privacy rules regarding Internet Service Providers’ (or ISPs) use of consumer data. Given the multifaceted nature of this issue, it might feel overwhelming following this
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How to Know You’re Dealing with a Scammer

Nowadays, it seems like scams are a fundamental part of life. While people know what scams are, they may not always recognize that they’re dealing with a scammer until it’s too late. To help you avoid falling for a scammer, we detailed four tell-tale signs that you’re
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4 Ways Your Smartphone Compromises Your Identity

Today’s smartphones contain nearly every detail of our lives, which means that protecting your identity on the device starts with good cybersecurity practices. To help you protect yourself from unknowingly exposing your personal information tracked and stored on your phone, we detailed four ways your smartphone compromises
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FCC Takes Steps Toward Combating Phone Scams: What This Means for You

Phone Scams, which we’ve discussed before in detail, are among the most common types of scams consumers encounter. Since unwanted calls, including illegal robocalls and telemarketing calls, tops the list of the FCC’s consumer complaints, the commission has continued to devote resources to combat the problem. Last
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How Sharing a Credit Account Affects Your Credit Scores

Credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other types of credit offer multiple account options, and keeping track of all of them can be confusing. This is especially true when it comes to the options that allow you to share a credit account with other individuals. Despite some
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Hobby vs. Business: What’s the Difference When It Comes to Taxes?

In an era of freelancing, gigs, self-employment and working from home, more people than ever are making money outside of the traditional 9 to 5. When it comes to tax season, though, not all income-generating activities are the same. Generally speaking, the IRS uses the distinctions “hobby”
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Facebook Like-Farming Scams: Why You Should Think Before You Like

Facebook is a convenient way for many people to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, but it’s not all fun and games. While the service is relatively secure, there are scammers on the site who will stop at nothing to get you to engage in
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Can Being Evicted Hurt Your Credit?

Being evicted is one of the most stressful experiences that can happen to someone who rents their home. Although the stress of having to quickly find new, affordable housing can be hard to deal with, what if there was more at stake? As difficult as it is
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Is Internet Fax Better Than Email?

If you need to send an important document for a personal matter or business purposes, what is your file-sending method of choice? Your answer will likely be email, but did you know that email might not be the best way to send sensitive documents? Instead you may want
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What Consumers Should Know About the Leaked CIA Toolkits

Last Tuesday, the WikiLeaks organization released a cache of almost 9,000 documents allegedly leaked from the CIA. Dubbed “Vault 7,” these documents are said to detail everything from CIA trade secrets to, oddly enough, Internet memes and geek-culture references shared between agents. While the public is aware
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What Can You Do if Your Credit Dispute is Rejected?

With credit report errors being a somewhat common occurrence, it might not come as a surprise that one day you may have to file a dispute to remove inaccuracies from your reports. What might come as a shock, though, is that sometimes credit report disputes can be
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Credit Limits and Your Credit: How Do They Relate?

If you have a credit card or line of credit, you may be familiar with the term credit limit. Although most people know that a credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on a credit account, they may not understand how a credit limit impacts
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How Repossession Impacts Your Credit

Losing your vehicle or property to repossession is not an ideal situation, but while you might understand what it means to have something repossessed – essentially, a lender or creditor takes away someone’s possessions for a debt that was defaulted on – you might be left wondering
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What is Metadata and Should You Worry About It?

Americans are submerged in the digital world. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, over 70% of Americans use the Internet on a daily basis with 21% saying that they’re online “almost constantly.” The Internet has made it so we are frequently connected to the people we
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How Do You Know if Your E-filing Service is Secure?

In this day in age, where even air fresheners are connected to the Internet, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that you should be security conscious about everything. From the stores and sites you use to the appliances you put in your home, Internet insecurity is a threat that
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What’s Hiding in a Terms of Service Agreement?

We’ve all done it before, simply clicking the box next to the words “accept” and “agree” after zooming past what is effectively a long (legally binding) contract. Even though terms of service agreements should be taken seriously, it’s hard to expect any of us to read them,
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U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Identifies Top 10 Senior Scams

Although research has found that millennials are most likely to get scammed, the sheer number of scams specifically targeting seniors is astounding. While there are no hard numbers, a report by the FTC estimates that nearly a third of scam victims who contacted them in 2016 were
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Making Sure They’re the One: Financial Compatibility and Your Relationship

Love is blind, or so it’s said, but when it comes to long-term relationships, there are some differences you can’t hide from forever. This is especially true when it comes to your financial compatibility. A multitude of studies have suggested that the No. 1 source of stress
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‘CloudBleed’ Flaw May Expose Your Passwords, Private Messages and More

This morning, news broke that Cloudflare, a popular content delivery network (CDN), contains a critical vulnerability that is believed to have leaked all types of user information, from passwords to private messages, on millions of websites. This vulnerability is so serious that the Google researcher who uncovered
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Phishing Tops the IRS’ Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams for 2017

The IRS has again released its annual “dirty dozen” list of tax scams for 2017, and while it contains the usual suspects, like phone scams and tax identity theft, this year there’s a new scam topping the list – phishing. Given that the IRS has been warning
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Ransomware is Evolving: What You Need to Know

We’ve talked before about the problem of ransomware and its broad impact on both individuals and important institutions, like hospitals and schools. Although some security experts have predicted that by the end of this year it won’t be as big a threat, there’s no chance it’s going
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How to Avoid Common Online Dating Scams

Valentine’s Day is over, but the search for true love continues. While online dating makes this search easier, at the same time, it can be a battlefield – one littered with time-wasters, creeps and scammers. Is there a way online daters can protect themselves? Below, we highlight some
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Auto Insurance Savings: How to Tune-Up Your Policy

For most of us, auto insurance is simply part of our cost of living, but while auto insurance might be a necessary expense, that doesn’t mean that it has to come at a steep cost or that the price is fixed. Indeed, your insurance company will not
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What You Need to Know About This ‘Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam’

This month, the IRS warned of a “dangerous W-2 phishing scam” that is a continuation of a scam which hurt multitudes of taxpayers last year. This year, however, not only is this W-2 phishing scam even more effective, but its consequences and reach have drastically intensified and expanded. What exactly is
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How to Choose an Online Tax Service

Tax season is officially underway, and since tax identity theft continues to be a growing problem, some might be eager to file sooner rather than later. For those who opt to e-file, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the right service to use. While many
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Do Tax Payments Affect Your Credit?

Your credit scores are probably the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you file your taxes this season, but did you know that there are instances when your tax payments may impact your credit scores? If you owe or plan to owe the IRS money after you file
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What is Social Engineering and How Can You Avoid It?

You’ve likely been overwhelmed with years of warnings about the importance of strong cybersecurity practices. Once relegated to being solely the concern of IT departments, cybersecurity has become of increasing importance in the last decade due to the entangled nature of our digital and offline lives. As
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When Can You Get Free Copies of Your Credit Reports?

We’ve spoken at length about your right to check all three of your credit reports for free once every 12 months, but did you know that there are other times when you can get free copies of your credit reports? As dictated by section 612 of the Fair
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What We Can Learn from 2016’s Worst Passwords

Although 2017 is already in full swing, you may still be thinking of ways to better yourself in the new year. While it’s probably not at the top of your list, changing your password should be, especially since SplashData’s list of 2016’s worst passwords has been released.
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Is It Safe to Share Bank Account Information?

We’ve talked before about scams that target your banking information and how the best way to combat these scams is to avoid sharing your information in the first place, but can you be scammed or hacked after providing your bank account information for a legitimate reason, like
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What Everyone Can Learn from the Gmail Phishing Scam

Last week, news broke about a phishing attack targeting Gmail users. It’s said to be one of the most sophisticated phishing campaigns in the past year, as even several tech-savvy individuals fell for the scam. What do you need to know to keep yourself safe from this scheme?
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Which Online Tax Preparation Service is Best for Me?

It’s once again that wonderful time of year — a time filled with tax returns and, for some, refund checks. While there are a number of individuals who still submit tax returns by mail, which we should note isn’t the safest way to file, a large majority
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A Guide to Choosing Between Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Protection

In today’s world, it’s important to safeguard your credit and your identity. Given the growing number of data breaches and many different types of identity theft out there, this can prove difficult, but luckily there are services like credit monitoring and identity theft protection which can help.
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Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards: How to Decide Between the Two

Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 Choosing a rewards credit card is not always an easy feat. While some consumers know exactly what they want, others may find themselves lost among the seemingly endless options. To help you find the best rewards credit card for your needs, we detail
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January is National Stalking Awareness Month: What Do You Need to Know About Cyberstalking?

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and to bring awareness, we’re digging into cyberstalking — what it is, its effects on victims and how you can protect yourself and your family. The exact statistics on who is affected by cyberstalking are somewhat hazy because not all acts
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What are Your Options for Dealing with a Debt Collector?

Having a debt in collections is no fun for many reasons, but most of all because debt collectors have the potential to flip individuals’ lives upside down. Everyone, from comedians like John Oliver to government bureaus like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has noted the degree
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6 Ways Credit Affects Your Everyday Life

Credit is like an invisible shadow that follows each of us around throughout our lives. For those who have good credit, it’s easy not to pay attention to the shadow; it’s simply present in the background and not noticeable unless you’re actively seeking a loan or applying
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Your Digital Inheritance: What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts When You Die?

As morbid a topic as death is, preparing for it is important for both your family’s financial health as well as your personal legacy. While Facebook or Twitter are likely the last things on your mind if you’re terminally ill or seriously injured, these online accounts have
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How Can I Maintain Good Credit?

We talk a lot about improving less-than-stellar credit, but continuing to maintain good credit once you’ve worked to build it requires a different perspective. Credit maintenance is about commitment and consistency. Good credit is a journey, not a destination, and like many other goals – such as
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Are There Different Types of Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a problem that affects millions of Americans every year. While the number of people who fall victim to identity theft can be hard to calculate, reports by various sources – from government agencies like the Bureau of Justice Statistics to research firms like Javelin
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Why Good Credit Matters After Retirement

Some people imagine retired, debt-free individuals to be above the consequences of bad credit scores. They think that if a retiree has paid off their home along with any other loans or debt they accumulated, then their credit scores don’t matter, while the reality is commitment to good credit
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Does ‘Good Debt’ Exist?

In most people‘s lives, there will come a time when they‘ll have to borrow money. As burdensome as being in debt sounds, strategically acquired debt isn’t bad, and in some cases, might actually be useful. While being debt free is a goal many people have, you shouldn’t
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What Consumers Can Learn from 2016’s Financial Scandals

When it comes to financial scandals, 2016 was no stranger. While the headlines of the past year, thankfully, didn’t quite compare to the ones from 2008, there were some major issues that came up in the financial sector this year. From a JP Morgan bribery settlement to
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6 Reasons Your Loan or New Credit Application Was Denied

If you’ve ever submitted a loan or new credit application, there’s a possibility that your application was denied. Worse yet, you may not entirely understand (or know) the reason for your rejection. Failure to get approval from a lender can be demoralizing, especially since creditworthiness is an
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Fed Raises Interest Rates: What This Means for Your Savings in 2017

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written for the Dec. 15, 2016 interest rate increase and updated when the March 15, 2017 interest rate increase was announced. In the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting of 2016, it was decided that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates
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How is Your Credit Score Calculated?

Many Americans know what credit scores are, as well as where they can view their credit reports. Some even know the names of the companies, like the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), that produce credit scores. However, what’s less commonly known is exactly how credit scores are calculated.
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What is Synthetic Identity Theft and How Does It Affect You?

When it comes to identity theft, many people think that identity thieves lift names, addresses and other identifying information and simply use that information to pretend to be that person. While this is somewhat true, that’s not how all identity theft cases work. In the last few
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5 Holiday Safety Tips to Protect Your Home and Identity

Whether you’re traveling or staying home for the holidays, it’s important to take some necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe from would-be scammers, identity thieves and home invaders. Given how hectic this time of year can be, it may be difficult to take every
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What Happens to Your Finances After a Divorce?

When the wedding bells ring, nobody wants to think that their future plans might go sour, but unfortunately divorce is something that could happen. While the divorce rate has been falling for decades, the truth is that there are still a lot of couples who, expecting only to
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Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases

Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 Groceries, gas and dining out are some of the biggest and most common expenses in our budgets. While you may usually grab your debit card to pay for these purchases, a credit card is actually your best bet. That’s because a credit card
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What are Derogatory Items and How Do They Affect Your Credit?

Credit reports are essentially the report cards of your financial life and, like report cards, credit reports have a grading rubric that must be thoroughly understood to read them properly. Many people are familiar with credit scores and even credit ratings like fair and excellent, but they
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Are Security Questions a Safe Way to Protect Your Online Account?

When it comes to cybersecurity, good password practices are seen as the bedrock that can help consumers stay safe. But while strong passwords are an extremely important part of the puzzle, there’s often another aspect of cybersecurity that goes unmentioned – security questions. These are common questions
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Fake Apps Flood the App Store: How to Protect Yourself

With the holiday season underway, Americans have begun holiday shopping. This means that a number of shoppers are looking for the best deals. While some people prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, others prefer to shop in their living room through the Internet using their computer or
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Are Personal Checks a Safe Way to Pay?

Personal checks are a form of payment that’s at least as old as the 11th century, with the modern version tracing its name and origins to English bankers in the 18th century. While the check has gone through many updates throughout history, in a lot of respects,
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What is Collections and How Does It Affect My Credit?

Credit report blemishes are a big problem for Americans. While the types of derogatory items on your credit reports can differ — and some may be errors — one thing you may spot on your credit reports is a collection account. According to the Consumer Financial Protection
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Can I Request a Credit Freeze for My Child?

Protection against identity theft requires potential victims to take preventative steps that make it harder for would-be thieves to get their hands on any personal information. With all of the security breaches these days, it almost guaranteed that some of your information, whether it’s your credit card
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How Do Public Records Affect Your Credit?

Record systems for tracking people have been around since the invention of writing and civilization itself, though if you ask any genealogy enthusiast, past records aren’t always easy to track down. These days, though, the information that ends up in public records is far more extensive and
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What is an Insurance Score and How Does It Affect Your Premiums?

Grading is an inescapable part of life. Long after our days of cramming for exams, we still find ourselves looking at grades, albeit different from the sort we got in school. In the real world we’re usually only graded on one thing – our ability to pay
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How to Protect Yourself from Crowdfunding Scams

Imagine having a personal cause that you want to promote. In the past, you might have been limited to asking friends, family and maybe neighbors and coworkers for support, but today with crowdfunding websites, like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and more, you can reach out to thousands of
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How to Get Financially Ready for a Natural Disaster

The toll of extreme weather events, like the recent Hurricane Matthew, is often staggering. With the cost of damages sometimes reaching into the billions, entire regions can have their way of life destroyed in a flash. While these regions work to rebuild, survivors and evacuees have their
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Tax Scams to Be Aware of as the Extension Deadline Approaches

With the Oct. 17 deadline for tax extensions quickly approaching, some scammers might try to take advantage of the last minute rush to file. As we’ve mentioned numerous times before, scams, including tax scams, happen year-round, which means you need to be aware of them throughout the
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Do VoIP Services Work Abroad?

Perhaps one of the most common questions asked by potential and current VoIP users is if their services can be used abroad. It’s an important to know because some users may want or need access to their service if they frequently travel or temporarily live abroad. The
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Familiar Fraud: When Your Identity is Stolen by Someone You Know

Identity theft can be a disheartening experience, and the idea of a stranger desecrating your good name is an awful thought for most people. But how much worse would it feel if the perpetrator was someone you knew and trusted? We tend to think of identity thieves
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Best Secured Credit Cards for Rebuilding Your Credit

Whether you have poor credit or no credit, there are still opportunities for you to work toward improving your credit scores. Despite what you might believe, there are cards called secured credit cards that are specifically designed to help people build or rebuild their credit. Below we
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What Can You Do if You Become a Ransomware Victim?

2016 has turned out to be the year that cybercrime upped its game. Between an uptick in phishing of all kinds, a rise in scams targeting millennials and the domination of ransomware threats, experts are struggling to keep pace with the bad guys. By security company Symantec’s
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What is Domain Privacy and How Can It Help Me?

One of the first things you need in order to have a website is a domain name. While you can opt to use the free domain name your web builder provides, purchasing a domain name is likely a better option, especially if you’re using the site to
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4 VoIP Myths You Likely Believe to Be True

Switching to a new phone service can sometimes be a challenge, as you have to get used to a new service provider. It may appear that this is especially true with VoIP services because you not only have to find a new service, but you may also
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Was Yahoo Breached? Here’s What You Need to Know

Yahoo has been in the news a lot recently, especially at the end of last month when the tech company found a buyer interested in purchasing its core business. But now Yahoo is making headlines for some very different news — a potential data breach. On the
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Should You Cover Your Webcam?

Covering your webcam with a sticky note, sticker or tape might seem like a strange idea, but it’s something that some security experts and even high-profile individuals like Mark Zuckerberg and FBI Director James Comey do for security purposes. Are these security threats something that someone really
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Should I Install Multiple Internet Security Software on My Device?

With all of the breakout malware attacks and frequent breaches going on these days, you might be looking for a way to enhance the defenses of the devices you use. Maybe you already have Internet security software but now you’re thinking that one isn’t enough anymore, especially since
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How Does Marriage Affect Your Credit?

Getting married is a wonderful experience, but after the walk down the aisle, the vows and the I do’s come some really hard but important decisions, one of the most important being how you and your spouse will manage your finances. Even if you and your partner
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Will VoIP Providers Allow Me to Use My Own Adapter?

VoIP adapters are an important piece of hardware pivotal to most home VoIP services. Customers switching between VoIP services might be wondering if they can simply use their own adapter rather than one a VoIP provider offers, while others who are new to VoIP may not understand
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What are Credit Reports and Credit Scores?

It’s pretty clear that there are some major benefits to maintaining a positive credit history, as good credit is central to both financial responsibility and financial access. While it’s easy to see the consequences of bad credit, it can be downright confusing to actually keep track of
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What You Need to Know About Card Cracking Scams

The face of fraud is always changing, and while we hear a lot about scams targeting the elderly or tech newbies, scammers are always expanding their reach to different demographics. One scam that emerged in 2011 and has since peaked is known as card cracking, which targets
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What is Phishing and How Does It Affect You?

In this day and age, one of the biggest cybersecurity issues is phishing. Between last October and March of this year, experts found that instances of phishing have increased 250%, putting phishing activity at the highest level it’s been in 12 years, as reported by Infosecurity Magazine.
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6 Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Savings Account

When it comes to online savings accounts, there are a lot of options to choose from. While it’s easy to compare online banks to traditional banks, it can be hard comparing them to one another. The good news is that having some criteria in mind while looking
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I Received an Email from Amazon About e-Book Credits: Is it a Scam?

In mid-June, many people received an unexpected email stating that they will be provided with Amazon credits as a result of an Apple settlement. In an era filled with email scams, one can’t be too sure about the legitimacy of an email like this, especially one offering
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How Much Tax Withholding Should You Accept on Your W-4?

If you’ll be starting a new job soon, chances are that you will be filling out a tax form known as a Form W-4. This form will help determine how much of your pay will go toward your tax bill and how much you keep, which consequently
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Road Trip Checklist: Why Auto Insurance Should Be at the Top

It’s summer, which means it’s a great time to take a road trip. If you’re already planning one, chances are you’re making a checklist to help you pack and get your car road-ready. But something that can be easily overlooked when planning for a road trip is
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Homebuyers Beware: Ongoing Mortgage Scam Puts Home Sales at Risk

Imagine making a successful offer for your dream home and getting your mortgage approved. While you’re waiting for the closing process to begin, you receive an email from your real estate agent stating that the buying timeline has changed. To expedite the closing process, they ask you
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What are Tech Support Scams and How Can You Avoid Them?

It seems like there’s nothing scammers wouldn’t exploit to get to your wallet or personal information. Starting sometime late last decade with an explosion of fake Indian call centers targeting English speakers, tech support scams are now nearly a global phenomenon. With scammers making billions from targeting
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How Student Loans Affect Your Credit

School can have a lifelong impact in more ways than you think. If you’ve taken out student loans, then your credit scores, essentially your credit reports’ final grades, will be affected. While credit scores sound intense, they can easily be maintained with responsible use of credit, such
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3 Unexpected Ways to Put Your Identity at Risk

We all know that identity theft can happen anywhere at any time. While individually we cannot put an end to identity theft, there are small habits many of us have that unexpectedly put our own identities at risk. Being aware of these habits won’t guarantee that identity
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What are the Consequences of Parental Oversharing?

Since the advent of social media, efforts have been made to teach children the dangers of oversharing online. Shockingly though, it seems that it’s parents who might need to learn a thing or two about oversharing. A relatively new phenomenon dubbed sharenting or oversharenting reflects the trend
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Should You Have More Than One Savings Account?

This might sound like a strange question, but choosing how you manage your bank savings is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make. Financial success requires financial planning, and this is a decision you’ll likely need to make over time as your finances change. But
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What is Home Equity and Why is It Important?

If you’re a new or recent homeowner, you might have any number things on your plate, like managing the upkeep of your property or paying off your mortgage. However, the one thing all homeowners could benefit from adding to that list is keeping track of their home
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Walmart Sues Visa Over Chip-and-PIN Transactions: What You Need to Know

These days, it might seem like a lot of companies are going to court over consumer security. The trend started with last year’s Target lawsuit following the 2013 breach, then we saw Apple taking on the FBI regarding iPhone encryption earlier this year and now we have
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Where Does Your Information Go After a Data Breach?

Week after week, reports of stolen credit cards, social security numbers and other sensitive information flood the media. While data breaches are a headache, what’s worse is that the evolution of malware has made it so that thieves can nab your information at nearly any time, like
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3 Summer Scams That Can Ruin Your Plans

Summer’s nearly here, which means it’s time for barbecues, family vacations and weekend outings. But while you’re planning for summer, scammers will be hard at work doing some planning of their own. To avoid taking away from your summer fun, we detailed a handful of scams to
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How to Be Tax Ready Year-Round

Now that tax season is over, anything tax-related is likely the last thing on your mind, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Every year when tax season comes around, a handful of taxpayers feel the stress of making sure they have everything compiled and ready to file before
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WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption: What You Need to Know

Early in April, right on the heels of the FBI vs. Apple conflict, the instant messaging service WhatsApp announced that it had deployed end-to-end encryption, joining other popular messaging apps like Apple’s iMessage in using this security feature. While this announcement really only affects WhatsApp’s 1 billion or
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How Common are Credit Report Errors?

While we’ve previously talked about disputing credit report errors as well as the role of credit repair agencies in restoring your credit, it may seem like credit report errors are common occurrences, but are they really? To put it in perspective, we did some digging to find
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Tax Season is Almost Over: Tips for Last-Minute Filers

With the month of April now underway, we’re nearing the end of the 2016 tax season. This means that taxpayers who have not yet filed either need to file their return or request an extension before April 18. If you’re one of the numerous last-minute filers, here
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What Can You Do with Your Tax Refund?

With Tax Day approaching, it’s now the season for receiving as millions of Americans are anticipating refund checks (if they haven’t gotten them already). Uncle Sam will pay out some $300 billion in refunds to about 66% of taxpayers, according to a study from the National Retail
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Website Building and Web Hosting: What’s the Difference?

While it’s clear that having a website for your business or personal brand in this day and age is extremely important, the methods of making a website may not be as clear. Typically there are two types of services people turn to when they want to create
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What is Malvertising and How Does It Impact You?

On Saturday, March 19, major news websites such as The New York Times, BBC, Newsweek and Aol.com began serving visitors malware for the duration of the weekend. The malware didn’t come from these pages; instead, what happened was the advertisements posted to these sites were remotely hijacked. This
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Can Wearables and Fitness Devices Compromise Your Privacy?

We live in a wonderful time where technology is now able to interface with health systems. In the past, measuring health and fitness was something reserved for just doctor’s appointments and personal training sessions. But now, with wearable technology and smartwatches like the Fitbit or Apple Watch,
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How Can a Fraud Alert Help Me?

In this day and age, as data breaches and identity theft run rampant, it helps to have some degree of protection. While identity theft protection or credit monitoring are definitely good tools to have, credit bureaus also provide additional protection to consumers by allowing them to place
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Facebook’s Privacy Checkup: What is It and Why is It Important?

If you’ve used Facebook’s mobile application in the last month, you might have gotten a visit from a little blue dinosaur. This cute little fella is Facebook’s security and privacy mascot and he’s here to inform you about Facebook’s privacy checkup feature, which alerts you to the status of
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Why Should You File Your Taxes Sooner Rather Than Later?

With February coming to a close, we’re almost halfway through tax season, which means the April 18 deadline is quickly approaching. Even though you still have some time to file your taxes, it’s in your best interest to file sooner rather than later. Don’t believe us? Here
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What’s the Difference Between VoIP and Virtual Phone?

When it comes to selecting a phone service for your business, one decision you may have to make is whether VoIP or virtual phone is better for you. At first glance VoIP and virtual phone might seem similar, but they both serve somewhat different purposes. Before using
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What is HTTPS and Why is It Important?

Last month, Google announced a change to its Chrome browser that would clearly show the user that they are browsing on an unsecure site by showing a red padlock with an “X.” This update by Google, along with other companies’ updates, is part of an effort to
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What Do First-Time Tax Filers Need to Know?

It has been said that only two things are certain in life, death and taxes. While taxes are simply just a routine aspect of life for many filers, they can be foreign, confusing and daunting for first-time tax filers. Here’s what you need to know if you’re
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Credit Monitoring and Credit Repair: What’s the Difference?

There’s no denying that credit is your financial lifeblood, as it helps you do everything from signing up for a cell phone plan to buying a house. Since it holds so much importance in our lives, it’s essential for us to take steps to protect our credit.
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Is E-filing My Taxes Safe?

Many taxpayers are no strangers to filing their taxes online (or e-filing). In fact, according to the IRS, the percentage of U.S. taxpayers who file online has increased from 52% in 2004 to 85% in 2014, and it’s likely to be even higher this year. E-filing by
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IRS Enlists Help of Private Debt Collectors: What This Means for You

Thanks to a recently-enacted law, the IRS is going to intensely pursue owed back taxes with the help of private debt collectors. Dubbed the FAST Act, this law has the potential to cause a lot of confusion with regards to how the IRS operates and legitimacy of
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5 Things to Know About the Internet of Things

The biggest buzzword of business operations and consumer electronics in the last three years is Internet of Things. As we explained in this post, Internet of Things (IoT) refers to essentially any device you have that can connect to the Internet or a network of “smart” devices
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Tax Season is Here: Which Online Tax Service is Best?

Now that tax season is here, consumers are looking for a reliable, easy way to file their taxes. Why not use an online tax service? These services allow you to easily and safely file your taxes online from the convenience of your own home. And the best
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How Can I Save More Money in 2016?

A brand new year is here, and that means new goals and standards to hold yourself to. While some may be working towards building a healthier lifestyle, others concentrate on getting their finances squared away. Financial goals are among the most common resolutions and with almost 50% of
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Know Before You Owe: How This Mortgage Rule Impacts You

It seems like rules and regulations for mortgages are always updating, and this year has been no exception as one new mortgage rule has been added to the mix. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Know Before You Owe rule, which went into effect on Oct. 3, provided
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3 Cybersecurity Tips to Teach Your Children

In a world full of frequent security breaches, identity theft and privacy invasions, knowing the basics of cybersecurity is important for everyone, especially children, who are just as vulnerable to cybercrime, as we saw with the recent VTech breach. Similar to how good financial habits can never
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Tips to Protect Your Identity During the Holidays

Vacations and the holiday season usually go hand-in-hand, as many people get time off of work to spend time with the ones they love most, away from the worries of the world. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also one where you’re most susceptible to identity theft.
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Chip Card Scams: What You Need to Know

With the long awaited transition to EMV cards, more commonly known as chip cards, finally occurring in the U.S., many are hopeful that instances of credit and debit card fraud will decrease. However, the process of implementation and standardization is taking longer than expected, and there has
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Can Credit Repair Services Help My Bad Credit?

Your credit score is one of the most important metrics in your financial life. As such, keeping a close eye on it is not only beneficial, but also outright necessary given today’s rampant data breaches, as identity thieves will use the information leaked in these breaches to
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Everything You Need to Know About Certificate of Deposits

Whenever you’re thinking of saving some money, there’s usually always a question of whether you should open a savings account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD). While both accounts have their benefits, a CD may be a better bet if you’re planning to save larger amounts of
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5 Signs You May Be Falling for an Online Job Scam

Job searching can be a long, dreadful process. To make matters worse, scammers benefit from this misery by posting phony job ads and attempting to extort job seekers. While online job scams may not seem like a major issue, a FlexJobs survey found that for every one
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What is a C.L.U.E. Report and How Does It Affect Your Insurance?

Searching for insurance can be a stressful process, as there are many things to consider. On top of the most-obvious concern of price, there’s the need to meet the insurer’s criteria. For those who have filed an auto insurance claim, it might seem as if past claim(s)
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Filed a Tax Extension? 4 Tips for Meeting the October Deadline

Updated: Sept. 26, 2016 We’re already almost midway into October, which means that the season for extended tax filing is ending soon. If you requested an extension on your 2015 taxes, the six-month period will end on Oct. 17. Although the tax extension deadline is nearly here,
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Will Your Car Insurance Premium Increase After an Accident?

Having car insurance isn’t just mandatory in most states, it can also be an outright lifesaver. But are there times where car insurance can hurt you? It may not have an effect on you physically, but it may impact your pocketbook, especially after you’ve gotten into an
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What to Do if You Spot Fraudulent Activity on Your Bank Account

Just imagine that you log into your online banking one day and realize there’s a lot less money than you budgeted for — one minute it was there, the next it’s gone. What happened to your money? Whether it’s your savings, debit card or checking account, someone’s
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3 Ways College Students Can Start Saving Money

College is expensive, and saving is probably the last thing on a student’s or parent’s mind — that’s what one’s 20s and 30s are for, right? While it seems that once the student has a career they should start saving, that isn’t necessarily the best time, especially
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What is Domain Parking and How Can It Benefit You?

Have you ever been in a situation where you had a really good idea for a website name, but you didn’t have the time to invest into making the website? Or maybe you’re running a really popular website and you’re tired of other websites with a simple
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Are Online Banks Safe?

Is it safe for me to put my money in an online bank? This is one of the most common questions people transitioning from a brick-and-mortar bank to an online option ask. Online banks with their almost too good to be true competitive APYs appear as a
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Post-Tax Season Scams to Look Out for

Earlier in August, the IRS revealed that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has been informed of nearly 4,000 instances of tax scamming this year, which added up to over $20 million in losses. Tax season may be over, but for scammers it’s always the
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Why Can I Only Make 6 Withdrawals From My Savings Account?

Whether you’re opening a new savings account or managing one you already have, you’ve likely noticed your account has a six withdrawal limit per month, with overages resulting in fees or even cancellation of the account. It turns out the Federal Reserve Board requires each bank to
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Ally Bank vs. CIT Bank: Which High-Yield Savings Account is Right for Me?

Do you want to earn more interest on your savings account, but aren’t sure how? Online savings accounts may be the solution for you, as these accounts earn much more interest than you’d get with a traditional bank. These online banks can provide more favorable rates because
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What Does the Future of Banking Look Like?

Over the last 20 years, one of the biggest structural changes to banking has emerged. The rise of direct banking, or essentially branchless services, has revolutionized how banking is being done today. Some predict that this form of banking will completely erode all traditional means of banking,
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Can Parents Get Tax Credits on Back-to-School Expenses?

Summer’s almost over, which means it’s time to go back to school. At the moment you might be looking for ways to save on school supplies, but did you know there are tax breaks that can help you save on some of the most common costs of
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Does a First-Time Blogger Need a Domain Name?

Blogging is a wonderful and personally rewarding activity for a great many individuals. Successful bloggers not only develop expertise in a specific topic, but they can be a part of a supportive community and gain friendships as well. In addition, some lucky bloggers reap monetary benefits from
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6 Traps to Avoid When Talking to Kids About Finance

Given the U.S. is a credit-driven society, a strong grasp of financial topics, especially credit and budgeting, are extremely important to have. But how do you talk to your children about finances? There are a number of surveys, such as those conducted by Spectrem Group and T.Rowe Price,
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Is Unlimited Web Hosting Really Unlimited?

With so many web hosts today offering unlimited as part of their shared hosting packages, a web newbie might be wondering if it’s legitimate or if the entire industry is trying to deliberately mislead customers. The answer, like many things in life, is not so clear cut.
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Do Insurance Companies Look at Your Social Media Profiles?

The Internet is a great resource for conducting research and gathering information on almost anything. Today, with the emergence of data tracking devices and social media, this now includes information about people. While some industries have been using social media to get to know their customers, insurance
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5 Ways to Help You Read More Books

As technology advances, it’s making it easier and easier to keep up with some of our favorite hobbies, such as reading. Even though books have become more accessible — after all, you don’t have to carry a paperback book around anymore — Americans are not making time
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