Card skimmers are not just a major problem for gas stations. Just last month, there were skimmers discovered at self-checkout card readers found in Walmart stores in  Fredericksburg, VA and Fort Wright, KY. Now you may be thinking that since you are living in states that are a comfortable distance away from these attacks you are far enough from having to worry next time you swipe your card in a Walmart near you. This is not the case. There is a likely chance that you are in reasonable distance to an Ingenico card reader. The skimmers that have been recently detected specifically target the payment solutions company’s card readers. The device is able to be installed in seconds and uses the pad overlay to take the victim’s PIN as well as recording the data on the card’s magnetic swipe. This skimmer goes for around $200. In recent years Walmart has been assisting customers with safer payments by having customers with EMV chip cards to insert their cards in the card reader rather than swiping since counterfeiting EMV-chip cards are more difficult and more expensive.

So, how do you know the Ingenico reader you’re using is a fake? Here are some of the key differences:

  • The overlay on the reader is noticeably larger (possibly over an inch wider) than the rest of the body.
  • The skimmer pad will be blocking the backlight behind the keys.
  • The Apple Pay green LED light in the top right corner will not be lit.
  • Both the fake device and real reader needs to read your card so the device will be running suspiciously slower than usual.
  • There will be more card read failures than usual.
  • The stylus used to sign your name on the machine can always be placed comfortably on the reader. A fake overlay prevents the stylus from having a normal holding spot.

If you feel that you are a victim of identity theft you can fill out a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more security tips on skimmers and prevention, you can read the full article of KrebOnSecurity.com.

~Bobby

Having bright, shiny pearl whites in your mouth is important for a few reasons. Your fresh breath and glowing smile will be met positively by friends, family, and strangers. Keeping clean teeth gives you a lower risk of dental disease related health risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature birth, Alzheimer’s disease, and more as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Beautiful, healthy teeth also barricade you from the price of root canals, crowns, pulled teeth, or other expensive dental surgery in the future. So, say you go for the recommended twice a year cleaning. That’s the best case scenario for your dental hygiene and that can still be unfortunately costly. Yet, when there’s a will there’s a way, and there are several ways that can get you the proper health care you need, AND not spend a high price to get it. Here are four ways to cut dental costs:

Social Buying Sites

If you go on a site like Groupon on the right day, you can find an excellent deal. That’s correct. You can get your teeth cleaned because of a Groupon. Besides Groupon, keep your eyes peeled on LivingSocial or any of your local newspapers for deals. You can even get a deal with an expired coupon. If you spent $40 on Groupon for a deal at a dentist, and the voucher expires, you can still knock $40 off the price tag. Just keep in mind that the price will be heftier. Also keep in mind that these discounts work best for new customers.

If you discover that there is work that needs to be down write down the procedure and the costs then research the average cost of these procedures and make sure you are getting a reasonable deal.

Extra Procedures

One, if not “the”, of the most unnecessary procedures that you can receive in the dentist’s chair is teeth whitening. It’s stated in Consumer Reports that there are a lot of dentists that will try to push patients for these sort of procedures to try and boost their bottom line. Nearly half of surveyed readers felt pressured by their dentist to do these cosmetic procedures. The Consumer Guide to Dentistry reports that the average cost of teeth whitening is $650. That is far too much for a procedure that you can do yourself with white strips in your local pharmacy for hundreds of dollars less.

Second Opinions

All it can take is a second opinion to save you thousands. Dentists aren’t robbers, but they are humans who have businesses to run, so if you hear that you need a major surgery because of your decaying teeth when sixth months ago your teeth were good as new, it’d be for the best for your wallet and your health that you make sure that your teeth are in that serious of a condition. If they’re not, then great! You can be on your merry way. If they are, space out surgery a couple of months apart. Schedule the most painful or infected surgery first and you can wait a few months for the non-damaging ones.

Free & Low Cost Options

There are a few other options you can look into for cheaper dental care:

  • Clinical trials: If you qualify for studies that include a dental situation you have, you can receive free or low-cost care thanks to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
  • Dental schools: You can be the patients of dental students, for a low cost and it is always supervised by a professional.
  • Dental hygiene schools: Like with a dental school, you can receive low-cost cleanings as a patient at some of these schools.
  • Online searches: Keep aware when you’re online of special events that offer things like one day of free dental care.

For more information on the ways to cut the cost of those dentist bills, you can read the full article on MoneyTalksNews.com.

~Bobby

It’s so much easier shopping online. First off, you don’t have to leave the house. Second, you have an unlimited amount of options. Why drive to your favorite retail store and see a few decent shirts and pants when in a few mouse clicks you have a wide array of outfits you love, reviews of the items, and different tabs of similar outfits at different retailer website so you can compare prices. And finally, you do not have to spend money on gas, parking, and since you are comparing prices you can get a better deal, so you are saving a decent chunk of change. The downside? There are plenty of scammers that try to take advantage of unassuming online shopping by setting up fake coupons, security icons, and popups to trick you into sending them your personal information. For now, these scams are impossible to avoid, but as long as you keep your eye on these common techniques, you will be safer when you do your shopping:

Lack of Contact Information

Even if you are shopping on a site that does not have a physical presence, that site still has to be based SOMEWHERE. If you try to find a contact number, address, or even a little background information and come up short, you may want to reevaluate giving the site your information.

Scareware

Say you are on a site that you believe is a legitimate online retailer website, and out of the blue, a popup appears and it says there is suspicious activity and that your computer is not safe, and for you to press this button to download this anti-virus software. DON’T DO IT. That message may be the virus, and downloading it onto your computer may lead to a whole mess of problems. If you see this message close the window and run your own virus scan through your own virus protection software.

Shop On HTTPS Sites

When you look up at the URL and see “https,” the “s” ensures that the site is secure and that the site encrypts data such as your payment information. Also look for a little green padlock in the address bar as well. If the lock is red and open, then the site isn’t using a secure protocol. So, if you see “https” and a green padlock, then you should feel more comfortable typing in your card information.

Unnecessary Personal Information Request

Once you decide to buy an item, you will have to give away some personal information just as name, phone number, card information, and address. They need to send you the item, don’t they? When you should be cautious is in they are asking for unnecessary information such as social security number, ATM pin number, or your mother’s maiden name.

For more signs your online shopping may end with your information in the hands of scammers, you can read the full article on Cheapism.com.

~Bobby

We previously wrote about the money pitfalls not to fall in during the summer months. Fall in them? It’s understandable if you did. Summer is a notoriously tough season to be frugal. Even with the best intentions of free or cheap activities throughout June and July, you end up spending more than planned. The most carefully organized vacation can end up being mistakenly costly. Now you just got back from a long weekend, you may have had a vacation already or one planned, and now you may have to deal with back to school expenses or other expenses once the fall falls upon us. A lot of money has gone and now we need to start boosting the finances back up. Maybe as quickly as possible. Here are some ways to start quickly making money back as quickly as it was spent. These tactics can get you around $1,000 saved by the time August has arrived:

Skip the Gym

Statistic Brain reports that gym memberships average over $50 a month. Now that we are looking at a couple more months of warm, sunny weather, why spend $100 or $150 to work indoors? You can run, bike, waterski, canoe, play sports, do yoga, or many other exercises outside. Take advantage of the weather! Just don’t do it at the cost of wasting money. Contact your gym and ask if they allow members to freeze their memberships and let you restart in a couple months. If they don’t, then back indoors to work out, it is!

Start a Small Side Job

Time to start raking up the cash with side gigs. It can be washing your neighbor’s car for $20. It can be mowing their grass for $50. You can browse online for the hundreds of sites like Craigslist or UpWork.com that offer jobs from helping somebody move for $200 to an hourly freelance gig that will be worked on for the next couple of months. Whatever type of side job that aligns with your skills is a perfect side job as long as you are making a little money.

Stop Back to School Shopping

It’s reported by the National Retail Federation that the average family that have children from kindergarten to 12th grade spent around $630.40 last year. The best way to save over half of $1,000 by August? Skip school shopping. There’ll be tears. There’ll be fighting. Traditions will be broken, yes BUT, you will have saved a lot of money on what would be items your kids already had. Most of their notebooks have plenty of unused pages with unused pencils to fill them in during the semester. Some kids are going to be unhappy that they are wearing last year cloths, for sure. Convince them they are ahead of the fashion trends.

Use Retailer Sales to Shop

We all have our favorite places to shop and I’m sure there have been many items we’re paid full price for. During these summer months, take advantage of sales during the back to school season, Labor Day, or even a retailer’s Anniversary or Friends & Family event.

For more ways to save $1,000 by August, you can read the full article on Go Banking Rates.

~Bobby

Summer is here! The warm weather! The beach! The pool! Barbeques! Road trips! Vacations! It has all finally come back! Not a worry in the world!

Well, maybe one worry.

When the heat turns up outside, the heat can turn up inside the wallet. Money for the pool, the grill, vacations, and all the day trips with the kids can add up significantly before July even begins. Here are four moves to make so you don’t lose a large chunk of change this summer:

Eat In

When given a gorgeous night where it is warm but not humid, the sky is lit a magnificent orange with a tinge of purple, no bothersome bugs, and, of course, an empty stomach, you may be enticed to go out to eat. Hopefully at a restaurant that lets you sit outside. The trouble is that it can be pricey. Even unexpectedly pricey. You need either gas for your car or money for an Uber to get to and from the restaurant, money for parking if you drove in, you’d have to pay corkage fees if you’d like a drink or two, and money for the tip. Plus the bill may be overly expensive depending on the restaurant you are at.

When you eat at home, it’s cheap, no one has to drive and use up gas, and you can eat anytime you’d like. Spice it up by hosting a happy hour with your friends. They can either bring their own drinks or have a rotation where one guest brings the drinks. You can start a rotation where a different friend hosts dinner once a week or once a month. It can be home cooked, ordered out, or a fun summer barbeque!

More Home Activities for the Children

While summer vacation is every child’s dream come true, they can get bored at home REALLY quick. That’s why many parents are consistently coming up with daily activities for them to do. Maybe the circus one day, duck boats another day, and the Museum of Science after that. None of these activities are free. Neither is transportation and parking to get to these. One week of day trips and you are potentially out hundreds of dollars, and there are still eight weeks of summer day trips ahead of you…

 

Instead of day trips, sign them up for lessons. It can been swimming, golf, tennis, dance, acting, ANYTHING! Lessons gives you an idea of exactly how much you would need to spend on your children this summer while also keeping them busy with something they love doing. Camp is also a great daytime activity for them to do. You could look around a different camps around your area. See which one is closest, which ones serves meals, or which ones do not supply the kids with equipment, and then you can decide which one is the best fit.

No Procrastinating Your Vacation

A vacation isn’t going to put you in the poor house. Even the most exotic of vacations can be done on a budget as long as you do not wait last minute. Waiting until the end means rates can be higher, and you’ll have to settle on whatever ticket fares and hotel rooms are left, no matter how expensive they are. When you plan accordingly, you can follow travel discount sites online and receive great deals for your destination months in advance.

Turn Your House Energy Efficient

There are other ways to keep your house cool besides blasting the air conditioner. Keeping the windows open and letting cool air in the house during the night helps just as much. During daytime hours keep all the blinds down. That’ll help keep the cool air in. The other thing to do is to avoid any appliances that produce heat like the washing machine, oven, and dishwasher as much as possible. When washing your clothes, you can cut electricity costs by using cold water and air drying them afterwards.

For more unnecessary summer spending moves to avoid this summer you can read the full article at US News & World Report.

~Bobby

Have you experienced fraud on your account recently? If you have used an ATM in the last few months, chances are strong that you have been skimmed. Skimmed? What does that mean? Sounds terrifying. Unfortunately, it’s as scary as it sounds. Insert skimmers are small devices that can fit into an ATM’s card slot without being able to be seen or felt by ATM users. These devices were always inconspicuous, though. Originally, they were semi large and were almost the same width of the cards. Now they are thin, tiny, and are placed exactly where the magnetic stripe reader is located. The skimmers take the data from the stripe which lets the scammer create a new counterfeit copy of your card. If they want to also be able to withdraw money from the ATM, they would install a tiny camera or fake keypad, the camera being the cheaper option. You can learn the ins and outs of how skimmers work from this online skimmer vendor’s YouTube tutorial.

So…how do you stay protected?

First off, it isn’t good to live in constant fear of your information being stolen. It is more likely for you to be mugged after visiting an ATM than for you to be a skimmed victim. Neither option is ideal, but both aren’t likely scenarios, so don’t worry.

Second, if you need to use an ATM, make sure to always take these actions to help protect your safety:

  • Avoid ATMs that are not installed in a bank or credit union.
  • Do not use ATMs that are located in low lit areas.
  • Try not to use ATMs on the weekends. That is when people with skimming devices are likely to install them because they know banks and credit unions will not be open for over 24 hours.
  • When typing your PIN on the ATM keypad, use your free hand to cover the number in case there is a hidden camera. When skimmers are found, a majority of them also have a hidden camera located over the keypad.

For more information on ATM skimmers, you can read the full article on Krebson Security, and you can look at all of our own tips on our security page.

~Bobby

Yes, yes, yes. You know what foods you should be eating. Less candy, more kale. Less wings, more water. Even if you are not on a diet, you have a basic idea of what foods are unloading empty calories on your system, what foods that may not be as fun to eat, but keep you happy and healthy. But what about the healthy foods you’ve never heard of, but would do wonders for you to eat. Or the healthy foods that you do know of, but you’re missing out on dining on the healthiest part of them. Here are the foods that you have not been eating, but for the benefit of your health you should start:

Banana Peals

How many years have you been throwing away those banana peels? Your entire life, likely. Have you ever considered taking a bite before tossing it in the garbage? Probably not, but you should give it a try next time. Yes, they are in fact edible. Banana peels are high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They also have vitamin B-6 and c. What makes people a tad hesitant on eating a banana peel, it’s that is a pain to chew and digest. To make it easier on yourself, you can fry it, bake it or boil it. You could also blend it into a smoothie.

Broccoli Water

Are you a fan of broccoli? After you are done boiling broccoli, what do you do with the water? Don’t tell us you empty in the drain! That water is chock full of nutrients. If you are cooking something later that involves water, use broccoli water instead. It could be soup, or a sauce, or macaroni and cheese. Anything that needs water.

Kohlrabi

This may be the first time you’ve ever heard of this vegetable, and trust us, you’re not the only person who hasn’t heard of kohlrabi. It is a shame because this vegetable, like most vegetables, is great for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed it as a “powerhouse” food. What is “powerhouse” food you ask? Good question. They’re foods that have many key nutrients in every calorie you consume, help reduce chronic disease, and anybody who eats them tend to be thinner and live longer than those who continue to have never heard of it. So start eating!

Watercress

Not only was this item on the CDC’s list of “powerhouse” foods, but it was number 1. Watercress is a leafy green that is easy to grow, easy to place on vegetables, and studies show that watercress and other similar greens are strong preventions to developing type-2 diabetes. That is a tasty enough fact to start putting watercress on every salad you eat from now on.

For more foods that you are not eating but you should, you can read the full article on Business Insider.

~Bobby

How much are you willing to spend on your pet’s health? You love your pet and would do anything for them, right? Many people would. In 2000, the American Pet Products Association reported that pet owners spent $8 billion on vet bills, whether it be a checkup or surgery. 13 years later, and pet owners now spend over $14 billion a year on their beloved pet. With the price of pet health at a substantial high, owners may be starting to feel that the cost is now unmanageable. Will they have to let their pet’s health stay poor and hope that it doesn’t get worse, or to even consider euthanasian? I’m here to tell you that does NOT have to be the case. There are alternative ways to get your pet the health care they deserve at a lower than average cost. Here they are:

Ask Your Vet

If you are a loyal client, you can ask for vet about the discounts that vets may have for their steady customers. You can also discuss payment plans that would only require a small payment every month. There also may be specials offers only on specific months that could benefit you, so always keep your eye out for them. If there is a certain special that happens every month, you can start organizing your vet appointments to align with that special.

Keep Pets Healthy

If your pet already requires medical attention this may not be an option for you, but if your pet is young and healthy at this moment, prevention is the best and cheapest cure of all. If you have a female pet you could get her spayed. If she is spayed before her first heat cycle, her chance of breast cancer is almost gone completely. The chances of uterine infection and uterine cancer are gone all together. If males are neutered, there is no chance of testicular cancer, enlargement of the prostate gland, and an unlikely chance of perineal tumors. Aside from that, make sure your pet gets an annual checkup and keep any dangerous food or plants from ever reaching your pet.

Pet Rescue Groups

If you are really struggling with the major surgery costs, take a gander at the Human Society list of charities. Some charities will help pay for medical care that if not implemented, endangers your pet’s life. See if any charities in your state have a program like this.

Take them to School

If you can’t afford a licensed vet, you can go to a vet that is in the process of getting theirs. Vet schools are likely to be cheaper than the vets and you still have an experienced, licensed vet overseeing the appointment.

For more tips how to save cash for the cat and dollars for the dog, you can read the full MoneyTalks News article.

~Bobby

Credit and debit cards save you from having to carry cash, reward you points, and keep your finances organized and safe…unless they are used unwisely. In January, reports came out stating a highly successful fast food chain was investigating a card breach. At the time, it was unclear how many stores were affected by the breach. Last month, the franchise released their first quarter financial statement where it was stated that only 5% of stores were affected. Not great, but at least it was only 5%, right?

This no longer seems like the case.

On June 9th, the franchise released a statement that the breach is much higher than only 300 of their over 5,000 locations. The specifics of the stores involved are unknown, and there is no confirmation that the breach has been contained. This breach could still be ongoing.

How did it go from hundreds of stores to possibly thousands?

The store was hit twice. Originally, malware was discovered on only 300 point-of-sales devices. It wasn’t until later on in the investigation that a second, different strain of the malware was at different locations. It wasn’t until this week that it was discovered the second strain of the malware was targeting different sections of the sales system. All stores were franchised and not company run.

The hackers were able to do this by using a remote access tool. After stealing credentials that would allow them to use the remote access tool, reported as being highly sophisticated, which would then let the hackers be able to download malware onto the POS terminals. From there, they are able to collect data from every card swiped at that register. The hackers who steal the information can sell the data to crooks who can encode data onto any card with a magnetic stripe. If you have used a debit or credit card to pay for fast food in the last year, you may want to look over your bank statements and order a free credit report to make sure there is no suspicious activity on any of your cards.

How can this not happen to you?

There are many ways you cannot have your information stolen.

  • Make sure your credit and debit card have EMV chips in them. Chips are more secure and it is more expensive for thieves to clone.
  • If you are buying something and the card swipe does not have an EMV chip reader, use cash instead.
  • Go over bank statements thoroughly ever month and report any suspicious activity you may see.
  • Change any passwords for specific businesses that leads to your account every three months.
  • Contact your financial institution to go through the actions you should take after a data breach happens.

You can find all current security alerts and information on protecting your identity on our Security page.

~Bobby

No longer is a tie the only option to get the old man on Father’s Day. Neither is a mug that says “#1 Dad” on the front. Those days are over. We are now living in a world where Father’s Day gifts are more creative, or extravagant, or at least have a little more thought put into them. He did help bring you into the world. The least you can do is put a little effort into his gift. Listed below are gifts that really show your appreciation to your favorite patriarch and yet, do not break the bank:

Anthony Fresh 5 Kit

Is your dad a traveler? He may enjoy a travel kit with TSA-approved sizes of shave cream, shampoo, body wash, facial moisturizer, and facial scrub. A portion of the proceeds from any Anthony.com product go to prostate cancer research.

Price: $30

Where to Buy: Anthony.com

AwesomeBox

A handmade gift for those not good at home made gifts. You can create a personalized box for dad that is covered with pictures, quotes, memories, stories, speeches, or anything off the top of your head or on social media. Once you’re done, your creations are miraculously transformed into beautiful, two-sided 5.25” x 5.25” cards packaged in a cool box.

Price: $19-Up

Where to Buy: Awesomebox.com

Crosley Chalkboard Cruiser

Turntables and vinyl records have been making an enormous resurgence in the last five years, so getting a new, beautiful turntable is accessible and affordable. Don’t let your dad’s record collection go to waste if his last turntable has been out of use in over a decade. The Crosley Chalkboard Cruiser has three speeds, built-in speakers, a headphone jack, and chalk to write on the case. It is a chalkboard cruiser, you know.

Price: $99.95

Where to Buy: Crosleyradio.com

Remington XR1410 Verso Wet & Dry Men’s Electric Shaver Facial Cleanser & Trimmer

You’re dad has to shave every once in a while if not every day. This razor is stupendously efficient at it. It is rechargeable and waterproof. It shaves, it trims, and it even preps the skin for shaving. With five attachments, it is one of the best multi tasker electric razors on the market.

Price: $99 with coupon

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Stojo

For all the coffee loving patriarchs out there, Stojo is a collapsible silicone cup that is leak free, easy to carry, and will protect him from any 1st to third degree coffee burns.

Price: $15

Where to Buy: Stojo.co

For more Father’s Day gift ideas under $100, you can read the full article on Credit.com.

~Bobby