After the holiday shopping season, many consumers were in a panic while bustling through malls and heading online to shop 'till they (literally and figuratively) dropped. Credit cards were whipped out left and right, allowing thieves potential access to secure and personal information.
Each year, far too many people fall victim to identity theft and fraud, and the free credit-monitoring website, WalletHub, released a thorough analysis covering six key metrics, as to which states were most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud in 2016.
As per the Identity Theft Resource Center's Data Breach Report, more than 900 breaches with access to 34 million+ records took place last year. If you were one of the many people affected, you already know how this can change your life.
The states which were declared most vulnerable were:
- 1.District of Columbia
Those which were the least vulnerable to such crimes were:
- 1.South Dakota
- 3.West Virginia
- 5.North Dakota
The full report with information for each state can be reviewed on WalletHub.
As per War On ID Theft, "Every state has some or the other factor which makes it more or less vulnerable to identity theft. Factors such as unemployment, a large population of elderly people, a high tourist ratio, etc. lead to identity thefts."
In the meantime, take a moment to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft. Consider credit monitoring and using common sense online and while emailing.
Some people are more vulnerable than others. An AARP study shows that certain behaviors and experiences make a difference. "Researchers compared the life experiences of victims and non-victims, based on a nationwide survey of 11,000 adults. They found that online fraud victims have experienced 53 percent more negative life events. They felt more isolated, were twice as likely to have lost a job, worried more about debt and were nearly twice as likely to have experienced a negative change in financial status in the last two years."
Learn more about personal habits and traits you may have that can put you at risk and make appropriate changes for your protection.
For more info on how to protect your identity and credit, read these important tips from USA.gov. Don't let your credit status get ruined or lose valuable time and money getting your personal information and status back in order.
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.