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First Financial identity theft

Overlooked Benefits of Credit Card Usage

Want to maximize your money and scrutinize your spending? Use credit cards! Most come with no monthly fee, and if you pay them off every month, no interest accrues. In addition to convenience at the parking structure exit and online store, credit cards make life easier in so many ways.

Credit Cards Protect Your Purchases

Hopefully, you choose your purchases only after careful consideration. If you want extra protection, however, use credit cards for online purchases and even large in-person transactions. Money transferred via debit card, check or cash is far tougher to retrieve if the purchase turns out to be defective or not what you have expected. With credit cards, however, you can call the issuer and dispute the charge. This puts the financial transfer on hold until the vendor can satisfy the buyer, until the vendor agrees to return the money, or the bank sides with the consumer and refuses to pay. The protections afforded by the credit card give you a chance to try out the product so you can make sure you’ve gotten what you expected.

Consider, too, putting home and lawn remodeling on a credit card to protect yourself. If you cut a down-payment check up front, that money is gone. A landscaper can leave your yard an excavated mess and never show up again. If you put the down-payment on a credit card, you can dispute the charges and hopefully get your money back from the bank. While a dispute is pending, you won’t have to pay interest charges according to federal law.  If your credit issuer decides in your favor, you won’t owe anything.

Credit Cards Protect You from Fraud

Barely a month goes without hearing about how a large company’s customer data has been hacked. Your financial liability for charges resulting from identity theft depends how quickly you find out about it and alert the card issuer. Federal law mandates that your liability for credit card fraud can never be more than $50.00.

You Want Vacation Benefits

Hotels, restaurants and car rental companies know your credit card most likely has a higher limit than the money in your checking account. They want you to use your credit card and will offer all kinds of incentives if you pull out the plastic. All you need is a little self-discipline to take advantage of the perks without getting into over-spending. And, whatever you do, don’t fall for messages that you can afford more. Stick to your budget. They’re happy to run your credit cards up to the limit, but you have ultimate control.

The cards themselves, too, pass along incentives from time to time. If you read your credit card agreement, you may find extended warranties on large purchases, insurance coverage on rental cars or price guarantees on products bought with the card. Want to leverage every penny you earn? Read your credit card fine print! You won’t find rewards on debit cards.

Transacting business in the United States today often takes credit cards. They not only make life convenient, they make it safer and filled with more fun perks. If you want a credit card that fits your lifestyle and helps you achieve your goal, don’t hesitate to review First Financial’s wide variety of credit cards here.

Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

It’s likely that you have heard about it a lot lately. Recent government statistics show that more than 7 million adults were victims of identity theft last year. That equals 19,178 people a day, 700 per hour, or 13.3 a minute, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, California. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that identity theft is the number one source of consumer complaints and costs the average victim more than $1,000 to recover their identity.

Identity theft is a crime in which someone takes your personal information (such as your name or social security number) in an effort to steal from your existing accounts, open fraudulent accounts in your name, or obtain a loan using your credit history.

How to Prevent Identity Theft!

Unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone, even you. The easiest way to control identity theft is to prevent it from happening. Here are some tips to reduce the likeliness of becoming a victim:

  • Monitor all of your accounts and statements consistently and carefully
  • Review your credit report at least once a year
  • Shred or destroy any documents that contain your personal information prior to throwing them in the garbage
  • Never carry your social security card in your wallet or use your social security number on checks or identification cards, such as a driver’s license or membership card
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards, checks or other personal information immediately
  • Don’t leave your mail in an unsecured mailbox

The FTC provides an overview of identity fraud and suggestions on ways to protect your personal information.

What To Do if You Suspect You’re A Victim of Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity theft, there are three steps you should take immediately!

  1. Contact any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. Ask them to place a 90-day Fraud/Security Alert on your account, which will require any company seeking to extend credit on your account to request additional identification and/or contact you for verification. Placing an alert with any of the credit bureaus will automatically create an alert at all three bureaus, and each will send you a free copy of your credit report within 7-10 days.
  2. Contact all of your financial institutions and creditors to make them aware of the situation. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or were opened fraudulently.
  3. Call your local police or sheriff’s department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or (877) ID-THEFT.

First Financial

First Financial ® Corporate Headquarters 2850 Womble Road Suite 100-604 San Diego, CA 92106

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