Or do you? The FTC shuts down two alleged tech support scams, reminding consumers to watch out for this con job.
If you own a computer, there's a good chance at some point you're going to run into a problem you can't fix on your own. And that's enough of an opportunity for phony tech support companies to inject themselves into your situation and try to take your money.
Just in case you don't have a problem, they've got that covered, too. Many of the scams revolve around phony websites that promise a scan of your computer, which is actually a trick to load viruses and malware so you actually do end up with a problem.
The Federal Trade Commission announced today two of six cases the agency filed after a crack-down against alleged tech support scammers ended with the defendants agreeing to give up "their ill-gotten gains" and to never run such a scheme again.
But the scams still abound.
An actress says hers was closed suddenly, and an executive has filed suit, alleging that fair lending laws have been violated.
Chanel Preston knows not everyone approves of her chosen profession. That's one of the risks that go with being one of the biggest stars in porn. But she never thought it would affect her ability to open a bank account.
Preston recently opened a business account with City National Bank in Los Angeles. When she went to deposit checks into the account days later, however, she was told it had been shut down because of "compliance issues."
She found the manager she had worked with originally and asked what had happened. The bank, she was told, was worried about the Webcam shows she had on her site and had revoked the account.
City National declined to comment on Preston's accusations and on whether it had any policy regarding accounts tied to the porn industry.
Preston is not the only porn star who has had trouble with banks. Several performers and porn insiders (who were afraid to go on the record because of possible repercussions from their banks) said they have been denied accounts from a variety of financial institutions.
Not every card issuer will ding you for using your card overseas or taking advantage of a 0% balance transfer offer. And that is why learning to play your cards right is so valuable.
Mark Twain once said “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” But when it comes to credit card fees, there is actually a lot that credit card users can do to reduce or eliminate them. In fact, conscientious cardholders can avoid paying these fees altogether when they choose the right cards and use them wisely.
Here are the top five credit card fees, and how to avoid them.
1. Annual fee. It is true that many credit card issuers now charge an annual fee, but there are still plenty of free products available. And even when a card does have an annual fee, there are ways to avoid paying it.
2. Foreign transaction fees. Of all the credit card fees, this might be among the more controversial ones. Credit card issuers exchange currency at the interbank exchange rate, which is the best possible rate. And actually, they impose these charges on any transaction processed outside the U.S., even if it’s in U.S. dollars.
Nevertheless, most banks tack on a 3% foreign transaction fee to all of these charges. Thankfully there are now many cards without this fee, and several banks that never charge it. For example, Capital One, Discover, and the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) have eliminated this fee on all of their products. All you need is just one of these cards to use in foreign countries, and you are good to go.
3. Late fees. In most cases, cardholders must take responsibility to make their payments on time in order to avoid this fee. Setting up automatic payments makes it impossible to forget a payment while paying electronically avoids the risk of having a check lost in the mail. In addition, there are a few cards that boast of no late payment fees. But be careful, it is important to know that interest continues to accrue, your late payment will be reported to credit bureaus and it could trigger a higher interest rate.
4. Cash advance fees. Most cards have a cash advance fee of 3% with a minimum of $5 or $10. And beyond cash advance fees, a higher APR will be charged on the cash withdrawal, and there is no grace period. To avoid paying this fee, never use a credit card for a cash advance. In fact, it is best to avoid this possibility by not creating a PIN code with your credit card.
5. Balance transfer fee. Most credit cards that feature 0% APR promotional financing on cash advances also have a 3% balance transfer fee. There are two ways to avoid this fee.
First, consider the Chase Slate, the only card from a major issuer that has a promotional balance transfer offer and no balance transfer fee. But most of these offers also feature interest-free financing on new purchases. If you absolutely must finance a purchases with a credit card, use a 0% offer on new purchases before you do, and not a balance transfer offer afterwards.
Credit card fees may always be with us, but we don’t have to pay them. By taking the right steps to avoid paying unnecessary fees, you can enjoy these powerful financial instruments for free.
More from Credit.com:
- The first thing to do before applying for a credit card
- 5 things you should never put on a credit card
- Can you really get your credit score for free?
Demand is strong for these affordable, trendy, teeny new digs, some about the size of a parking space. And in some locations, opposition is strong as well.
This post comes from MSN Money contributor Marilyn Lewis.
There's no middle ground when it comes to the matchbox-size apartments springing up in cities around the country. You love them or you hate them. They're tiny and cheap, and that's both the appeal and the problem.
Itty-bitty apartments with 150 to 300 square feet of total living space are a fast-growing trend in high-priced cities. A space 15 by 17 feet, for example, provides 255 square feet of living area. The biggest micros are 500 square feet. That's half the size of a two-car garage. High-priced custom homes often have closets vastly larger.
Demand for micro apartments is strong in cities such as Boston, New York, Montreal, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, where rents are rising fast. There, micro apartments constitute a new kind of affordable housing -- minus the government subsidies. (The photo shows a micro apartment unit in Boston.)
Money lessons are where you find them. Use these tips to live long and prosper.
But I'm also a PF geek, which leads me to look for personal finance resonance just about everywhere. If I could turn out a piece like "8 personal finance lessons from 'Gotterdammerung'," you just know I'll find some pecuniary reverb in "Star Trek: Into Darkness."
One of the most important lessons comes from the filmmakers' audacity in rebooting a legend:
Wine makes everything better, except for maybe your wallet. But take hope! Here are 10 good ways to save money on your tipple.
You don’t have to be a wine expert to get nice quality wines at a decent price. There are plenty of wonderful wines that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and no matter what level your wine expertise, there are some simple steps that you can take to save money without compromising on quality. Here are 10 that you can take to save money the next time you purchase wine.
1. Don't buy by the glass
If you’re at a restaurant with a couple of friends or family members, it might seem tempting to buy wine by the glass instead of ordering a bottle. Most bottles of wine will give you four or five glasses. If you buy a $25 bottle of wine, that should be about $5 a glass which is much cheaper than the $7 (or more) a restaurant may charge for a single glass of that same wine.
2. Try the house wine
Lately, more restaurants are trying to offer a house wine. House wines are often cheaper than ordering bottled wines, but the wine is often just as good. If you’re a casual drinker, what’s the harm of trying out the house wine? Sometimes it can be cheaper by as much as $10.
New technology means the mountain of paperwork you need to sign for your mortgage may soon be a thing of the past.
While many of us have grown accustomed to paying bills, income taxes and shopping online, the mortgage process, for the most part, has yet to fully step into the digital age. But the piles of paperwork and countless signatures could soon become old news as new technology allows for the majority of the mortgage process -- even the closing in some cases -- to be done in front of a computer screen.
"We recently launched new online capabilities that make applying for a mortgage, an experience that's notoriously painful, much easier," says Jerry Gross, chief information officer of Guaranteed Rate, a mortgage company in Chicago. "We're deploying document synchronization and sharing and electronic signatures to streamline the mortgage process."
The main benefit of online mortgage applications is convenience for the customer, says Gross. Guaranteed Rate's customers can submit an application, allow instant access to their financial information, put the data through an automated underwriting system and receive a home loan approval in as little as 15 minutes, he says.
Some college-age folks believe there doesn't need to be a limit, while older people are more conservative. But students' crushing debt loads affect us all.
Some call it the Student Loan Bubble -- I call it crazy. And what better time to discuss student debt insanity than now, as countless soon-to-be graduates prepare to slip on their caps and gowns? An estimated 1.8 million students are graduating this year, many with degrees that perhaps aren’t worth a damn when it comes to actually getting a job.
Nevertheless, many of them will soon be paying back the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars they borrowed to get those nice degrees, and I wonder how many will regret the decision to spend what they spent as they see their interest compound and principals skyrocket through cycles of deferment and forbearance. The college experience can be an amazing one, but is it really worth the cost? (And I’m not talking about just tuition.)
To get at the heart of this question, I recently commissioned a poll that asked adults of all ages about student loans. We asked how much student debt is OK, and how much is too much. One in five senior citizens and almost a quarter of adults between the ages of 35 to 49 agree that $20,000 to $50,000 in student loan debt is too much to borrow. People of college age, between 18 and 24, disagreed; only 16% said graduating with that much debt is too much. Many respondents believe there should be no limits at all.
Borrow now, pay later
Among recent graduates, 22% agreed that students “should borrow as much as they need,” and “no amount is too much.” Baby boomers and seniors overwhelmingly disagree -- only 7.9% of people age 65 and up agreed that college students should borrow to the hilt.
Clearly, many college students and recent grads take a more cavalier approach to student loans than their parents and grandparents. Research shows that many consider high debt loads to be empowering and give them higher self-esteem.
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