Top 10 Credit Score Myths

Financial news website Quizzle offers up the top 10 myths about credit scores.  Take a look and make sure you are informed on what actually affects your credit score and how you can manage it properly.  Some of them are common sense, or things you already know, but there might be a few surprises on there too.

Read the article at Quizzle.



The Best and Worst of PIN Numbers

Here’s an interesting article from back in September about PIN Numbers.  Using a database of exposed passwords as a proxy for PIN Numbers, the researcher does some statistical analysis on the most common and least common PIN Numbers.

Statistically, with 10,000 possible combinations, if passwords were uniformly randomly distributed, we would expect the top twenty passwords to account for just 0.2% of the total, not the 26.83% actually encountered in the database.

The article is filled with many interesting tidbits of number data:  The most popular PIN code of  1234  is more popular than the lowest 4,200 codes combined!

Read the article and find out what the most popular and least popular PIN Numbers are.  Note, that now that the least popular PINs have been published, bad guys will probably add these to their lists to just give them a try.

Remember to always pick good PIN Numbers for your ATM Cards.




Beware Unsolicited Phone Support Calls

While it might seem convenient that a stranger calling you on the phone claims to have discovered a problem with your computer, beware that this common phone scam is designed to trick you into paying for support you may or may not even need. If you didn’t initiate the support call in the first place, things are probably not as they seem. Even if the caller’s company name sounds familiar, it is a good idea to call them back using the vendor phone number from your own bills or records to initiate contact.

Read the Ars Tech Article



Update your Antivirus and Software to Protect Your PC

The complexity of computer viruses and malware is increasing every day. Modern exploits simultaneously target multiple vulnerabilities in various technology layers; operating system, web browser, browser add-ons, multimedia extensions and more. Common targets such as Adobe Flash and Oracle’s Java are ripe for exploitation for malicious intent. Stop ignoring those notices that a Java, Flash, Web Browser, Antivirus, or Windows Update is available, and update today. Updates frequently contain patches that close security holes that make your PC susceptible to attack. The most widespread modern computer viruses are spread by what appears to be people you trust, via email, and compromised websites; including friends accounts on popular social networks. Viruses leverage security flaws so effectively that often no user interaction is required. Antivirus software alerts are often the only way you’ll even have a clue your computer security has been compromised. Don’t be a victim, do your computer security a favor and perform your software updates today!



How Saving $2.75 a Day Can Change Your Life

Small changes can have a drastic effect.  US News Money has a neat article on how saving just $2.75 a day can have far-reaching changes on your future financial security.  Skip that fancy coffee today and read about how putting that money in the savings jar can make a big difference.

Read the article at US News.



Online Security Checklists

Not all computer security is about tin foil hats and anonymous browsing. Everyone who uses a computer has a horse in the security race.  Lifehacker.com has put together 4 security checklists for Passwords, Browsers, Home Network and Public Wi-Fi running the spectrum from the bare minimum you need to do to remain secure all the way up to full tin foil hat mode.

Check out Lifehacker’s Checklists:



So You Think You’re The Victim Of Identity Theft… Now What?

“With so many purchases being made online these days — and with more people using credit cards to buy things at retail locations — it’s surprising we don’t hear about massive data breaches every day. But alas, ID theft is an all-too-frequent occurrence, so it couldn’t hurt to know in advance the steps to take to minimize the damage.

The folks at the Federal Trade Commission have created a comprehensive guide called Taking Back: What to do if your identity is stolen [here’s the PDF] that not only provides detailed information but also sample letters, forms and contact info for various private and federal agencies.”

Read the entire article from http://consumerist.com



Having a safe vacation with Social Media

It’s vacation season!  Hope you are having fun with your family out in the sun.  But remember to play it safe.  Lock up your house before you leave, and stop the mail and newspaper from being delivered and piling up.  Pretty standard, second nature things.  But also think about Social Media.  Posting that you are on vacation or out of town for an extended period of time on Facebook or Twitter broadcasts that your home is unattended.

Ars Technica has a story about a a couple in South Carolina who used Facebook vacation photos to determine when friends and acquaintances were out of town and took that opportunity to break in and rob the house.

Post your pictures and status updates after you get back.

Read the article at Ars Technica.



Are We Still Using Weak Passwords?

In case you needed another reminder, your passwords should absolutely not be a single dictionary word.  The news that over 8 million user password hashes have been leaked from LinkedIn and eHarmony this week should be enough to convince you stragglers that you should protect yourself by always using strong passwords!  And if you’re like us, you’ll also make yourself far less vulnerable by never reusing the same password for multiple sites and services.  That helps, because when your password is leaked by a site like LinkedIn, that password can’t be used by hackers to log in to your Facebook, email account, etc on other popular sites to gain more control over your identity.  The price of security is often convenience, but you can make it easier on yourself than trying to remember all these passwords by using a password safe like KeePass or PWSafe that can remember them for you, or even automatically type them into websites for you.  The time to improve your password security habits is now!

You may also be interested in reading Ars Technica’s article 10 (or so) of the worst passwords exposed by the LinkedIn hack.

Or this article explaining how long it takes to crack passwords based on length.



How Thieves Steal Your Identity (and How You Can Protect Yourself)

Lifehacker has an interesting post about how badguys actually steal your identity and what they do with it once they have it, ranging from opening department store credit cards to securing medical benefits for illegal immigrants.  The article also mentions  the most important thing you can do is protect your Social Security number.  While your SSN isn’t the keys to the kingdom, it is an important piece of your identity that you should protect.




Spring Clean Your Finances

Last week NPR broadcasted an interview with life coach and expert organizer Gail Blanke about cleaning up your finances.

For many people, the arrival of Spring might mean cleaning out closets, the garage or the basement. But life coach and expert organizer Gail Blanke says the new season is a great time to tidy up your finances. Host Michel Martin speaks with Blanke about spring cleaning your financial life, which she says might also help get other parts of your life in order.

Read the transcript or listen to the interview online at NPR.org.



Hacked Inboxes Lead to Bank Fraud

“Hacked and phished email accounts increasingly are serving as the staging grounds for bank fraud schemes targeting small businesses. The scams are decidedly low-tech and often result in losses of just a few thousand dollars, but the attacks frequently succeed because they exploit existing trust relationships between banks and their customers.”

Read More »