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4 Ways Credit Cards Will Change By 2020

April 12th, 2016 · No Comments

future-credit-card-400x230

It’s hard to believe how some things have changed during our lifetime. Not long ago, we used to hurry home to watch our favorite shows on low-definition televisions, but now we stream high-def programing on demand through the Internet onto any device with a screen. In addition, we now have our choice of dozens of hybrid and electric cars that don’t quite drive themselves yet, but may just do so in the not-too-distant future.

Given the fantastic pace of innovation, what might we expect from our credit cards in the next four years?

1. Chip and PIN everywhere. While 2015 will be the year that most merchants in the United States adopt smart-chip compatible terminals, the technological migration away from from magnetic stripes still has a way to go. Nearly all card issuers and merchants are just now using the chip-and-signature implementation, which just replaces the magnetic stripe with a more advanced microchip. So if someone steals your credit card, it can still be used fraudulently. The next step is to migrate to the chip-and-PIN standard, already in use in Europe and several other parts of the world. Only when credit card transactions require the input of a personal identification number (as ATM transactions do now) will we truly reach the next level of security.

2. One card fits all. There are currently several companies vying to introduce a single credit card that will store and transmit the information from all of your accounts. Right now, these cards cost more than $100 apiece, and none has proved itself in the marketplace. But cardholders can expect that the quality of these devices will rapidly improve while the price falls to a level considered to be an affordable, or perhaps even negligible, expense.

3. A standardized smartphone protocol for credit cards. When it introduced Apple Pay, Apple made prominent the idea that we could make payments with our mobile devices. Nevertheless, the adoption of the iPhone and the Apple Pay standard has been far from universal. So it seems logical that the next step in the evolution of mobile payments will be an industrywide technological standard, rather than a proprietary one, much like the EMV smart chip and the magnetic stripe that came before it.

4. Taking the card out of credit. You don’t carry around a plastic card that represents your savings account or investments, so why do you need a physical object to represent your line of credit? The purpose of the credit card itself is to authenticate the transaction, and it isn’t very good at that. Since credit cards can be lost, stolen, damaged, or just left at home, perhaps the ultimate solution will be to carry no credit card at all. Inexpensive fingerprint readers, like the ones in every new iPhone, could be easily included in merchant terminals, allowing us to leave our cards at home. When shopping over the phone or online, our devices could store and transmit our account information, making the plastic credit card itself into a relic of past.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

This article by Jason Steele was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.



Source

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See, it pays to notify the authorities when your identity is stolen!

April 8th, 2016 · No Comments

Report ID theft to the authorities!

From the FTC’s blog:

The story started with an email from a company the family knew. It said ‘We received your order.’ That seemed ok; they had recently placed an order. A second email said ‘Your new mobile phone is on its way’ and listed a delivery address that wasn’t theirs. ‘That’s wrong!’ my co-worker thought, and she called the company.

The company confirmed that someone using her husband’s account had ordered a mobile phone, and was having it sent to a nearby hotel. She told the company it was a scam, closed the account and filed an identity theft report. She also contacted local law enforcement. When the scammer — complete with fake ID — came to pick up the package, local law enforcement arrested him.

You may think that it’s pointless to report your cases of ID theft to the FTC or the authorities, but in actuality, it does a lot of good. It’s also pretty easy. Most city police departments have online forms you can fill out to file a police report, and by having a police report, you are afforded a few protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

  1. You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft.
  2. You have the right to free copies of the information in your file (you “file disclosure”).
  3. You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information.
  4. You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector.
  5. If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block that information from your file.
  6. You also may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft.

In addition, if enough complaints are filed with the FTC and they notice a pattern or a specific perpetrator, the FTC can initiate legal proceeding against the entities or get your state attorney general involved in an investigation.

Report your incidences of theft!

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Credit: When You’re Doing It Wrong

March 26th, 2016 · No Comments

Right or Wrong way Road Sign
Only a small percentage of the world’s working population are debt free. For many, the only reason they’re working is to pay off debt. Even rural areas are seeing an alarming increase in personal debt among its people. What is the reason for this increase in debt and what can be done about it?

Not Enough Risk Cover

Life cover is not the only type of coverage you should consider the moment you start earning a salary. You would also need to consider insurance for your car and household content. Then, of course, there’s health cover. The more you go into detail with a financial adviser, the more options they will present to you; for instance, retrenchment cover, disability and more. When a risk incident happens and you’re not covered, you will still be liable for the costs, which could result in a judgment. This will drop your credit score, making it virtually impossible to get credit. Many people apply for credit the moment they see things are spiraling out of control, but few are able to raise enough to cover the mounting risk incident bills. Before they know it, they’re in a situation wherein they are unable to pay the risk bills and the mountain of debt they got themselves into. The remedy here is to ensure that you are sufficiently covered. Even starting with the basic plan is better than nothing.

Using The Wrong Finance Method

Stepping into a bank and getting a credit card with a $50 000 limit to purchase a vehicle is reckless and expensive, unless you are able to settle the account within a month or two or if there is no credit interest charged on the account. The right way is to apply for installment finance, unless you have 0% interest on another product.

It also dangerous to purchase everyday goods on your credit card and then paying back the outstanding balance in installments. Not only does this make you reliant on your credit card, but it also means you will struggle to pay it off.

Mustering up the courage to go to a bank for a loan does not sit well with everyone. Some prefer approaching in-house finance and getting the likes of payday loans and microloans. The unfortunate thing is that this creates a cycle of perpetual lending as these limits are usually low, but payable in one installment. Approaching a bank and rather applying for finance through them means that you are able to repay these installments over a few months. Shop around and look for favorable interest as opposed to just going with the first offer.

Getting a Loan Without Knowing the Terms or Interest Rate

These are common in rural communities, especially where the lender is their boss. The terms are decided monthly, and when the owner is unhappy about something, he pushes up the rate. The worker is then unable to work for anyone else as they would need to pay off their debt before they are released. These workers are often under the impression that they owe a certain amount of money, but when they inquire, the figure far outweighs any future income they may receive.

Loan sharks work in a similar manner, although stories of violence are not uncommon where they are concerned. The interest is exorbitant and failure to pay has dire consequences.

Getting into debt is a serious decision to make, with many implications if not handled correctly. Approaching reputable institutions is always a better option, as you know they need to comply with certain regulations. This offers protection to both the lender and borrower.

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Debt Collection Lawsuits and the Statute of Limitations

March 21st, 2016 · No Comments

Class action lawsuit concept as a plaintiff group represented by many judge mallets or gavel icons coming down as a symbol for social litigation or organized legal legislation.

If you’re already struggling with your finances, the last thing you want is to wake up one morning and find out that your bank accounts have been frozen or your wages have been garnished. Unfortunately, aggressive debt collectors can do just that. Debt collection lawsuits have become more common in the last decade, and the judgments that result give collection agencies the ability to seize a debtor’s assets. In an effort to protect consumers from unethical business practices on the part of debt collectors, each state utilizes a statute of limitations that places restrictions on these types of lawsuits.

Debt Collection Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for collecting debt is a limited time period during which the original creditor or any collection agency that purchases the debt can legally sue the debtor. The statute of limitations begins 180 days after the debtor’s last payment. Each statute of limitations differs by state, but most range from three to five years.

Out-of-Statute Lawsuits

Debtors often aren’t aware that the statute of limitations on their debt has passed. Many are unaware that such a thing exists at all. Unethical collectors prey on this ignorance by filing lawsuits long after the statutory period expires. Any debt collection lawsuit filed over obsolete debt is known as an “out-of-statute” lawsuit.

You cannot ignore an out-of-statute lawsuit simply because the statute of limitations has expired. The court isn’t aware of your debt’s statute of limitations, and it will waste no time awarding the collection agency a judgment if you fail to respond to the lawsuit or appear in court. You must actively contest the lawsuit and inform the court that the statute of limitations has passed in order to avoid a civil judgment.

Circumstances That May Affect the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations isn’t unyielding. Certain actions you take can extend this term–giving debt collectors additional time in which to sue you. Making a payment is one example of an action that negatively affects the statute of limitations. Because the date of your last payment dictates when the clock starts ticking, making a payment resets the statute of limitations in most states.

Not only can you unintentionally reset the statute of limitations, you can pause it indefinitely by becoming inaccessible to the creditor. If you were to move overseas, for example, it would be difficult–if not impossible–for creditors to collect from you. The statute of limitations remains frozen until you return. In some cases, moving out of state is enough to temporarily freeze the statutory period.

The Statue of Limitations Protects You From Legal Action -Not Liability

An expired statute of limitations isn’t a shield against debt collection in general. Although it gives you an airtight defense against future lawsuits, it doesn’t protect you from everyday collection activity. Even if a debt collector no longer has the right to sue you, the company will likely continue to pursue you for payment. You remain liable for the debts you owe regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired or not.

Unfortunately, debt collectors don’t have to sue you to make your life miserable. As long as a collection agency owns your debt, it has the right to pull your credit reports (leaving a record of its inquiry and slightly damaging your credit scores), contact you demanding payment and sell or transfer ownership of your account to another collector. If you defaulted on the original debt within the past seven years,you can also expect the debt to appear on your credit reports. Delinquent debts are particularly damaging for your credit scores.

Unpaid debt carries consequences far beyond a mere lawsuit. Even if you can no longer be held legally liable for payment, it’s always wise to pay off your debts whenever possible. If you opt to pay, contact your creditor and work out an agreement in writing first. Making a payment restarts the statute of limitations and, without a written agreement to the contrary, could leave you facing the very lawsuit you were trying to avoid.

Types of Legal Debt Agreements

Oral Contract: You agree to pay money loaned to you by someone, but this contract or agreement is verbal (i.e., no written contract, “handshake agreement”). Remember a verbal contract is legal, if tougher to prove in court.

Written Contract: You agree to pay on a loan under the terms written in a document that you and your debtor have signed.

Promissory Note: You agree to pay on a loan via a written contract, just like the written contract. The big difference between a promissory note and a regular written contract is that the scheduled payments and interest on the loan also is spelled out in the promissory note. A mortgage is an example of a promissory note.

Open-ended Accounts: These are revolving lines of credit with varying balances. The best example is a credit card account. Note: A credit card is ALWAYS an open account. This is established under the Truth-in-Lending Act.

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Years – State by State Listing

State

Oral

Written

Promissory

Open-ended Accounts

State Statute: Open Accounts

AL

6

6

6

3

§6.2.37

AR

5

5

5

3

§4-3-118

AK

6

6

3

3

§09.10.053

AZ

3

6

6

3

HB 2412

CA

2

4

4

4

§337

CO

6

6

6

3

§13-80-103.5

CT

3

6

6

6

Ch. 926 Sec. 52-576

DE

3

3

3

4

Title 10 Sec.8106

DC

3

3

3

3

§12-301

FL

4

5

5

4

§95.11

GA

4

6

6

4

§9-3-25

HI

6

6

6

6

HRS 657-1(4)

IA

5

10

5

5

§614.1.5

ID

4

5

5

4

§5-216

IL

5

10

10

5 or 10

735 ILCS 5/13-206

IN

6

10

10

6

§34-11-2-9

KS

3

5

5

3

§60-512

KY

5

15

15

5

§413.120 & 413.090

LA

10

10

10

3

§2-3494-4

ME

6

6

6

6

§14-205-752

MD

3

3

6

3

§5-101

MA

6

6

6

6

§260-2

MI

6

6

6

6

§600.5807.8

MN

6

6

6

6

§541.05

MO

5

10

10

5

§516.120

MS

3

3

3

3

§15-1-29

MT

3

8

8

5

22-2-207

NC

3

3

5

4

§1-52.1

ND

6

6

6

6

28-01-16

NE

4

5

5

4

§25-206

NH

3

3

6

3

382-A:3-118

NJ

6

6

6

6

2A:14-1

NM

4

6

6

4

§37-1-4

NV

4

6

3

4

NRS 11.190

NY

6

6

6

6

§2-213

OH

6

15

15

6

§2305.07

OK

3

5

5

3

§12-95A(1), (2)

OR

6

6

6

6

§12.08

PA

4

6

4

6

42 Pa. C.S.5525(a)

RI

10

10

6

4

§6A-2-725

SC

3

3

3

3

SEC 15-3-530

SD

6

6

6

6

15-2-13

TN

6

4

6

6

28-3-109

TX

4

4

4

4

§16.004

UT

4

6

6

4

78-12-25

VA

3

6

6

3

8.01-246

VT

6

6

5

4

§9A-3-118

WA

3

6

6

3

4.16.040

WI

6

6

10

6

893.43

WV

5

15

6

4

§55-2-6

WY

8

10

10

8

§1-3-105

The material provided in this table for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is not without errors.

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The Length of Time Before Unpaid Debts Fall Into Collections

February 29th, 2016 · No Comments

Regardless of the financial strain you may find yourself under, keeping your debts out of collections should be one of your highest priorities. Not only do collections severely damage your credit rating, but negative entries remain on your credit report for seven years–sometimes longer, depending on the debt. In extreme cases, creditors can file a lawsuit against you. Lawsuits carry severe consequences like wage garnishment, bank levies and, in some cases, property seizure. Fortunately, most forms of debt carry a grace period before sending accounts to collections. This gives you time to negotiate with your creditor in an effort to avoid collection costs and protect your credit rating.

Credit Card Companies

One of the most common debts consumers default on is credit card debt. Credit card companies would strongly prefer not to send your unpaid debt to a third-party collection agency. Because third-party collectors take a percentage of the amount they collect, credit card providers put extensive effort toward collecting defaulted debts on their own before turning to an outside agency for help. Major credit card providers generally wait 180 days from the date of your last payment to send your account to an outside collector.

Medical Debts

Unlike credit card companies, health care providers have few advanced resources for dealing with defaulted debts. They also have more difficulty in coercing debtors to pay, since medical debts aren’t something most individuals budget for. Because of this, health care providers often send medical debts to collection agencies after as little as 30 to 60 days without payment. Fortunately, health care providers are often easier to negotiate with than other types of creditors–allowing you to keep your medical debts out of collections even if you can’t pay the full amount right away.

Post-foreclosure Debt

If you’ve lost your home to foreclosure and the sale of your home doesn’t cover the remaining balance of your mortgage loan, you are still liable to your mortgage company for that amount. As a rule, mortgage companies don’t generally send post-foreclosure debts to collection agencies unless the amount you owe is relatively small. Lenders often wait–sometimes years–to give you time to get back on your feet financially before attempting to collect the unpaid balance via a lawsuit. Although this is financially devastating for most former homeowners, you can often prevent a lawsuit from occurring by contacting your mortgage lender and making payment arrangements on your remaining mortgage balance. Because lenders may wait years before filing suit against you, the grace period for negotiating and paying this form of debt is substantial.

Keeping Debts Out of Collections

When debts fall into the hands of a third-party collection agency, it’s usually game over for the debtor. Most collection agencies have a policy of immediately reporting new accounts to the credit bureaus. Once this occurs, depending on what scoring models your lenders use, paying off the debt may not improve your credit scores nor cause the account to be removed from your credit report (although paying the debt will protect you from the possibility of legal action later on). It’s critical that you address your unpaid debt problems with the original creditors before these accounts fall into the hands of collectors. It’s often possible to postpone payments or even pay a lesser amount until you get back on your feet financially. Remember, your creditors would far rather work with you than sell your debt to a collection agency for much less than it’s worth.

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What Android Phone Should You Buy This Year?

September 28th, 2015 · No Comments

Lollipop Android Phone

It’s coming up to the end of the year. That means that Apple will be releasing their new iPhone, Samsung will be readying a new Note and there are a few new phones to choose from in the run up to the holiday season. If you’re coming up to the end of your phone contract it might be time to start looking for a new phone.

If you’re locked into the Apple ecosystem then you will be interested in whatever new phone they bring out. History has taught us that they tend to operate on a tick-tock policy. With a new model number every other announcement followed by a refinement of the same. With this in mind we will probably see a “S” version of their existing phones, featuring incremental updates but no new features or real point of differentiation. The existing phones will come down in price, although some of the storage options will disappear.

On the Android side of the fence, the choices get more interesting. Samsung has already confirmed there will be a new version of the Note, which will apparently do away with external storage and actually be slightly smaller than the existing model (physically) but may take design cues from the Galaxy 6 and 6 Edge. The two aforementioned Galaxy phones will see their prices drop in an effort to compete with the iphone and to stave off disappointing sales (arguably caused by a shortage of the Edge variant on launch.)

There have been persistent rumors of new versions of the Google Nexus range, with LG and Huawei the names that keep cropping up. Consensus seems to be that there will be two versions: a phablet more akin to the Nexus 6 and a new version of the Nexus 5. Having had a preview version of Android M (the next iteration of the Android Operating System) it would appear that a fingerprint reader is likely for both phones. This will tie into Google’s latest attempts to enter the mobile payment arena and could make unlocking phones easier as well as beefing up their security. Certainly it would appear to be the only thing to differentiate them from the current crop of Android flagships.

Of the current flagships, Motorola has just announced the successor to the Moto X. Featuring a nearly pure variant of Android, which should mean regular and speedy updates to the Operating System, they boast highly competitive prices. The more powerful of the two is the only one to be released in North America and features a Snapdragon 808 processor rather than the top of the line 810 (which was prone to overheating at launch) but a QHD (2560 by 1440 pixels) screen, a highly touted camera and external storage. The less powerful of the two has a standard HD screen (1920 by 1080 pixels) but a massive 3,630mAh battery. It will share the more powerful phone’s camera.

Beyond that, HTC is expected to announce a new phone and OnePlus has already seen more than a million people register for the chance to buy their new (and very affordably priced) phone.

The trend amongst the upper tier Android phones seems to be of customization and more attractive appearance as they try to define themselves as premium products, with Motorola’s and LG’s current offerings all allowing for a choice of finishes that includes wood and leather. Samsung are trying to emulate the attractive designs pioneered by Apple but there is little to choose between most of the phones in terms of processor and RAM configurations.

Really, besides operating system, choosing a phone comes down to cost, aesthetic taste and how big a priority things like external storage, a fingerprint reader and the camera are. There is a massive choice of very capable and very similar phones vying for sales based on differences outside the core functionality of being a smart phone.

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Can a Collection Agency Garnish Your Wages?

August 8th, 2015 · No Comments

Gavel and money in wallet on wooden background
It’s a given that if you leave your student loans, tax debts or child support obligations unpaid, you’ll probably find yourself facing a wage garnishment. What many consumers fail to realize, however, is that commercial creditors, such as collection agencies, can also garnish wages under certain circumstances.

Debt Collection Lawsuits and Civil Judgments

No collection agency can legally seize your wages without first filing and winning a debt collection lawsuit against you. Should the collector win the lawsuit, the court will grant it a civil judgment against you. The collector then becomes a “judgment creditor.” Judgment creditors have the ability to force consumers to pay, giving them a wider ranger of debt collection options than creditors without judgments.

State guidelines vary, but in addition to wage garnishment, a judgment creditor can garnish your bank accounts via a bank levy, or attach a lien to your real estate. In extreme circumstances, a collector may also opt to seize and sell your personal property in lieu of payment.

How Wage Garnishment Works

A collection agency must provide the court with proof of its judgment in order to obtain a writ of execution. The sheriff will then serve the writ of execution on your employer. Once officially served, your employer is bound by law to withhold a portion of your wages each pay period and remit the funds to the debt collector.

If the collection agency doesn’t know where you work, it can request that the court summon you to a post-judgment interrogatory. This is a hearing in which the judgment creditor can ask you a series of questions about your assets and employment. Although answering these questions gives your creditor the information necessary to pursue wage garnishment, refusing to respond or knowingly giving false information could leave you facing contempt charges from the court.

Wage Garnishment Limitation

Even if a debt collector obtains a judgment against you, that doesn’t give the company the right to seize your entire paycheck. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits the amount that a commercial creditor, such as a collector, can garnish from you per pay period.

Judgment creditors can only garnish your disposable earnings. Often referred to as “take-home pay,” your disposable income is the amount you bring home each pay period after taxes and other legally mandatory deductions. Debt collectors and other commercial creditors are entitled to either 25 percent of your disposable earnings or the amount by which your wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is less.

Financial limitations on garnishment aren’t the only protective measures in place that benefit consumers. Because processing a wage garnishment each pay period creates additional work for employers, federal law also prohibits employers from firing an employee due to a wage garnishment order.

As problematic as wage garnishment may seem, it doesn’t last forever. The garnishment order remains in place until the debt is paid off or the debt collector’s judgment expires. State laws vary, but most judgments remain valid for seven to 10 years. Some states grant creditors the right to renew an unpaid judgment before it expires. If the judgment lapses, however, the collector loses the legal right to seize your assets. Your employer must then cease garnishing your wages, even if you have yet to pay off the debt.

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5 More Ways to Save on Bank Fees

July 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

FEES on gold coins on white background

Most people use banks and credit cards these days, but the fees associated with the accounts can be brutal. There are many ways you can help minimize these unnecessary fees, though. This is Part 2 of our ways to save on bank fees.

Shop around

Just as with any other product or service, you need to shop around to get the best deal for your bank account or credit card. Make sure you read the terms and conditions completely and that you are fully aware of all the possible charges. Sometimes a credit card will waive fees for the first year, but the fine print will alert you to an annual fee for subsequent years. Banks may provide a variety of account types, each of which offers different features or disadvantages. Take time to understand the benefits of each one before deciding to open a new account.

Call your current credit card company

If you already have a credit card, you might want to call your company to negotiate a reduction in the interest rate. Oftentimes a credit company will reduce your rate if you have a good payment history. This can reduce the overall amount you are paying in interest every month.

Pay bills on time

Paying your bills on time will allow you to save money, not only on late fees but also on interest. Whenever possible, use direct debit options to pay your bills on time and avoid these unnecessary charges. To further reduce interest payments, making extra payments, even small ones, can pay down your principal balance faster. Utilize mobile apps to remind you of payment due dates.

Use your own bank’s ATM

Using your bank’s ATM will save you money on fees related to using ATMs elsewhere. Many ATMs located in stores and bars will charge $2 to $5 each, in addition to your bank charging you for the convenience of using another bank’s ATM. As often as possible, use your debit card only at ATMs that are owned by your own bank. Avoid using cash advance options from your credit card to avoid paying fees and expensive interest rates.

Avoid using checks

As much as possible, use direct transfer online or use your credit or debit cards instead of checks. Many banks now charge transaction fees for handling paper checks. This will also eliminate the need to purchase new checkbooks in the future and minimize postage costs associated with mailing checks to companies for bill payments.

There are plenty of ways for you to save money on your banking and credit card fees. The most important thing is to make sure you know all possible fees associated with your accounts and reduce the frequency with which you are charged.

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How Google Mobilegeddon Has Changed SEO – 6 Things You Must Know

June 27th, 2015 · No Comments

SEO design

It may be great news for smartphone users, but the arrival of the latest Google update has worried many business owners. Dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’ in the SEO community, the update means that mobile-friendly websites will now rank higher in search results. It’s estimated that over seventy percent of consumers regularly access the Internet from mobile devices, so the reasons for the changes are obvious.

Google is constantly making changes to its search engine algorithm, but many SEO experts believe that Mobilegeddon is the most significant update since 2011. The Panda update of 2011 had a significant impact on millions of websites at the time, and some fear the same will happen with this one. The following information about Mobilegeddon will help you to understand how it will impact SEO in the future.

  1. The May 2015 update is just the start.
    Many SEO experts believe that changes to the Google algorithms have given preferential ranking to mobile-friendly sites for some time. The process began months ago, and it will be an ongoing series of changes. Making a website mobile-friendly now is relatively simple, but you can’t assume that the rules won’t continue to change to reflect new technology and consumer habits.
  2. Mobilegeddon affects each page, not entire websites.
    It’s important to understand that the update operates at page level. If twenty of your website’s pages are mobile-friendly and the rest aren’t, you need to take steps to ensure you have consistency. If you have good reasons for retaining pages that aren’t mobile-friendly, that won’t cause problems for your entire website’s rankings.
  3. Google offers help to test if a website meets its mobile-friendly standards.
    Some SEO gurus claim that Google likes to keep webmasters guessing about how to rank a site well, but this is far from the truth. By entering a website’s URL into the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool you can run a scan in a matter of seconds. The tool will also show you how your site will appear on a smartphone. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google’s tool will provide details of why it’s failed. For example, a report will state “Uses incompatible plugins.”
  4. Mobile-friendly tags now appear in search results.
    Google’s focus is always on providing the best user experience. A visible “Mobile-friendly” tag will now appear in search results to highlight websites suitable for smartphone users. This saves a user wasting time going to a site with small text and poor navigation on a mobile device. A page will qualify for the tag if it meets the new rules in relation to Google’s definition of being mobile-friendly. Results displaying the tag will be at an obvious advantage to others, and this is another reason to take steps to make sure a site supports smartphone users.
  5. Relevant, quality content is still key to SEO success.
    Further updates to Google’s algorithm are inevitable, so sticking to the basics of SEO is a sensible way to keep a website high in search rankings. Providing high quality content remains one of the foundations. You have to think carefully about using video clips and large image files to ensure pages are mobile-friendly, but Google still wants to see a range of fresh and interesting content on websites.
  6. You need to track mobile and desktop traffic separately.
    Using Google Analytics and other tools is essential if you want to understand where your traffic is coming from. By tracking traffic from mobile sources and desktops separately you can understand what is and isn’t working for each channel and take steps to increase visitor numbers.

If you understand why Google is making changes and take steps to ensure your website is mobile-friendly there’s no need to worry about a drop in ranking.

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How to Avoid Those Pesky Bank Fees

June 13th, 2015 · No Comments

Fee - Jigsaw Puzzle with Missing Pieces.

One of the biggest sources of revenue for banks comes from “hidden” fees. These fees are commonly assessed on overdrafts, but there are other ways to rack up charges, depending on the bank.

Many banks aren’t upfront with their customers when it comes to these extra costs, so it’s worth your time to do some research to avoid any surprise charges. Here are five things that you can do to help avoid these fees.

Monitor Your Account Online

Check your bank account at least once a week. Doing so will ensure that you catch any banking errors or other suspicious activities before it’s too late to contest them. There have been cases where someone checked their account activity only to find that their balance was several hundred dollars lower than it should have been. Discovering these mishaps as soon as they happen gives you a much better chance of reaching a solution.

Also, be sure to save your receipts from ATM and debit card transactions until they show up online, just in case you need to dispute something.

Beware of Overdraft Protection

Most banks will automatically enroll you in a “courtesy overdraft protection program”. This protection plan is supposed to save you from having to pay fees incurred by a bounced check or a debit transaction with insufficient funds. But what really happens is that the bank covers for you in the case of an overdraft or bad check, but charges you a hefty fee for doing so. These fees can end up costing you more than the overdraft charges that the bank is “protecting” you from.

Link Your Checking and Savings

One thing you can do to avoid overdraft fees is to link your checking account to your savings. By doing this, you can set it up so that your savings will automatically transfer money to your checking if you buy something without enough money. The downside to this option is that some banks will charge a transfer fee, but they’ll be less costly than the overdrafts.

Take Advantage of Online Bill Pay

The majority of banks offer online bill payment as a free service. You should be able to log on to your account and find a link where you can fill out the necessary information. This may include company names, the amount you want to pay, and whether it’s a one-time payment or recurring. Your bank will then either send the company a check from money they withdraw from your account, or they’ll transfer the payment electronically. Paying your bills online will prevent you from accidentally sending out a bad check. And signing up for recurring payments will ensure that your account balance is up to date.

Talk to a Service Representative

Sometimes picking up the phone and talking to an actual person is all it takes to settle a dispute. Most banks will end up waiving a fee if you call them and contest it. Just tell them how the fee occurred and why you want it to be waived. If it’s the first time you’ve ever received a fee, there’s an even better chance the bank will remove it.

You might also consider getting to know your bank manager. Visit your bank, introduce yourself, and keep in touch. If you’re ever in a predicament where you owe a lot in fees, or there is some other banking matter that needs resolved, your chances of getting help will be much better if the bank manager knows you personally.

Try a Credit Union

Credit unions are owned by their members and they have monthly meetings to discuss how they can improve the member experience. All profits are returned to their members in the form of lower interest rates and reduced or no fees. In addition to having lower fees, credit unions often offer loan products to people with less than perfect credit; their guidelines don’t necessarily follow those of the big banks. Credit unions offer online banking and bill pay, and have a wide range of loan products: mortgage, credit cards and auto loans.

View Part 2 of our ways to save on bank fees.

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