Equifax offering free Freezes until Nov 21st – Because they have to

Equifax (photo by Mike Stewart/AP c/o <a href=http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/09/equifax-hack-143-million-us-customers-credit-data-leaked.html>Nymag.com</a>)
Equifax (photo by Mike Stewart/AP c/o Nymag.com)

According to the New York Times: Equifax reluctantly decided to make freezes free for a little while in light of their colossal blunder. It remains to be seen if they will also be issuing new PINs to those of us who already had a freeze in place. I reached out to a staff lawyer for consumers-union to ask if they had any plans to do so, but she didn't know (and didn't have any way to find out since the credit report companies avoid contact as much as possible).

I'll be looking for more details and try to get an answer, but until then I'll assume Equifax has no plans to take responsibility for their error.

Update: According to the New York times, Equifax is claiming that no PINs for current freezes were lost Tags: ,

Equifax Loses Data on 143 Million customers, unlikely to offer help to victims

Equifax (photo by Mike Stewart/AP c/o <a href=http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/09/equifax-hack-143-million-us-customers-credit-data-leaked.html>Nymag.com</a>)
Equifax (photo by Mike Stewart/AP c/o Nymag.com)

Oh look! Yet another data breach. This time affecting Credit Reporting Company Equifax; one of the three businesses most directly responsible for ID theft woes. Most companies don't offer any information or help to get your credit reports frozen (the only actual solution for ID theft) and I don't expect Equifax to be any different.

Equifax has a sorted past with multiple class action lawsuits and various other kinds of misconduct that had to be addressed by the Federal Trade Commission. Chances are they'll use this opportunity to offer free credit monitoring to appear to help while really just trying to avoid lawsuits and I guarantee, they won't talk about credit-freezes at all. Don't let them snow you and freeze your credit reports now!

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Great Money Advice

Today I found some great and solid advice from "TheSimpleDollar.com" about managing money the right way. I agree with most of this, though I wonder about the advice of investing before paying off bills. If your interest rates of debts are always higher than those of investments, it seems you're spending more than you're gaining.

Shouldn't you pay off debts then invest?

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Smart Money Advice – How To Afford Anything

This is some great stuff:

If big business has its way, which it usually does since those with the gold make the rules, business will suck every penny you have out of you until you can't earn any more and are left dead or dying. This is the way a competitive economy works: there are winners and there are losers.

The great thing about America is that anyone who wants to can achieve anything, limited only by their imaginations, but the bad thing is that those who just want to slide along in life usually slide off a cliff to the benefit of those who are paying attention.

Here he explains how to buy whatever you want, but to do it intelligently and cheaply. He drives better cars than his friends, but paid far less. He saves tons of money so he can afford to buy the toys he wants. He avoids credit and worthless expenditures.

Sounds good to me 🙂

About the only thing I disagree with is his stance on TV and video games. I happen to learn quite a lot from those. A whole lot. Really! It's totally not a waste of my time…

Ok, maybe it is, but he spends all his time working on cars. Everyone has to have their hobbies.

Anyway, read it. It's fun and interesting like this section here:

I got lucky with my wife. She's even cheaper than I am, but she's rare.

Want to know how cheap she is? She hates flowers because she can't bear knowing that they die in a week and then the money is gone. She'd rather just have the money. I sometimes leave a $20 on the counter. When she asks "what's this?" I respond "flowers." She then gets all smiley. Marriage is weird.

Oh, and extra points to the author for doing advertising right! Way to go!

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Every Bank Abuses You With Credit

One hundred percent of credit cards offered online by the leading bank card issuers continue to include practices that will be outlawed once legislation passed in May takes effect next year.

What this hardly surprising bit of news is saying is that every single bank, because they've been allowed to thus far, uses abusive and deceptive credit practices. It just boggles my mind when people say the market can "regulate itself". I wonder why several hundred years of abuses isn't enough evidence of just how wrong that is.

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Control Your Online Banking With Twitter. Seriously!?

With tweetMyMoney, you can monitor your account balance, deposits, withdrawals, holds and cleared checks with simple commands. And, you can even transfer funds within your account. It’s all available on Twitter, 24/7! And, the best part is, our tweetMyMoney service is free!

(Emphasis mine)

Hello Twitter banking, goodbye money.
Hello Twitter banking, goodbye money.

Why anyone thought this was a good idea, I don't know. Granted, you can't transfer money to OTHER accounts, only "within you account", but someone who breaks into your twitter account can still get a lot of information about you and move your money around causing you serious overdraft fees.

The issue at heart here is that getting information about your account and moving money around only requires the security of your Twitter account (which isn't to say much). How many people put strong passwords on their Twitter like they do the bank? How much effort does Twitter put into their security?

I think the idea of alerts to your phone is kind of cool, but maybe the bank should have set up its own Twitter-like messaging service instead of using a public one that's a big fat target of bad guys already.

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How to use Paypal Safely

the Paypal logo
the Paypal logo
This isn't going to be an exhaustive write-up about Paypal and the various trouble you can get into with it. Instead, I'm going to talk about one very important part of the system that most people should know how to deal with.

Specifically, the direct bank access.

When you sign up for Paypal, they ask for your bank account information so they can make some test deposits. Once you see the deposits, you return to the system to tell them how much was sent to verify your account.

Here's the problem: if you do it, Paypal will then have full access to your bank account to pull funds if you were to say, go negative on your Paypal account or some Paypal employee decides they need a little of what you have or a hacker breaks through their world class security.

Instead, don't ever confirm the deposits. What this does is allow Paypal to continue making deposits (for when you get cash in Paypal), but they can't debit your account (so there!). Granted, doing this will limit the amount of money you can filter through paypal (like $500 a month or so), but so what? Most people never do transactions that large and worst-case, if you manage to get a single transaction over $500, just withdraw it over the course of a few months.

If that's not realistic for you, fine, confirm the numbers, just make sure the account you're using is disposable.

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Save on Textbooks

Funny that I was just talking about this with someone yesterday, but today there’s an article on Lifehacker about saving money on textbooks. I have used their first suggestion, Bigwords.com many times myself though I’ve often found even better deals by simply looking for a previous edition book. For example, if your class is using the 5th edition, look for the 4th for big savings.

Anyway, if you or someone you know is looking for textbooks, perhaps you should give it a try.

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Landline NOT Required for DSL

Did you know that you could get DSL service WITHOUT having to have a phone land line with the same company? Probably not since the phone company won’t tell you.

Check out this article for tips on how to teach the “Customer Service Reps” what and how to do it.

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How To Avoid Four of the New Airline Fees

CNN has a story covering four of the new annoying fees you might see at the airport and how you might be able to avoid them. But then there’s this…

By the way, there’s plenty of evidence that the airlines are just getting started with their new fees. Once passengers are used to paying for beverages, checked luggage and “free” award tickets, it’s on to bigger and better things for the chronically mismanaged airline industry.

What’s next? No one knows.

And that’s a very good reason to follow this advice:

Of course, the best way around all of these fees is to fly on an airline that doesn’t have them. Southwest Airlines still allows you to check two bags at no extra charge. JetBlue still serves free drinks and snacks and charges $25 less than the big airlines for unaccompanied minors. Supporting these less fee-prone companies will hasten the inevitable demise of the airlines that erroneously believe they can surcharge their way back to a profit.

It’s important to note here that Southwest is the only profitable airline and they’ve never had to stoop to this. Go figure.

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IDENTITY THEFT
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