ATM Credit Card Skimming Epidemic Upon Us

atmAccording to a recent report in US News and World Report, ATM fraud is currently an issue, specifically ATM skimming. The report states that the practice is on the rise, leaping approximately 545% between 2014 and 2015. The data was recently issued by the analytics software firm FICO. While the amount of money that gets stolen via this route has not been pinpointed, industry insiders estimate that as much as $2 billion per year is lost as the result of ATM skimming.

Definitively, ATM skimming is a practice where debit card information, including PIN numbers, is stolen by electronic reading devices. The devices are secretly attached to ATMs. Security professionals recommend the following solutions to protect yourself from the hacker thieves.

Don’t Use a Public ATM. Security specialists advise ATM users to only use ATMs inside a bank. Don’t patronize machines that are located in gas stations, convenience stores, malls, bars or on city streets. The aforementioned machines, according to identity theft consultants, are easier to access for thieves.

For example, a thief might rig a machine on an icy cold night when no one is out and retrieve the data when more people are out and about. That is why it is best to use an ATM machine that is inside the vestibule of a bank. These locations are well-lit and are surveilled by video, which increases the risk of getting caught for a would-be skimmer. Major banks also practice security initiatives that safeguard the ATMs from fraud. You probably are better off using an ATM inside a bank anyway as the other ATMs can charge excessive fees.

Check the Machine. If you do use an ATM machine, check it out thoroughly. For example, is the slot a bit askew or not solidly attached? Try tugging it if you can. Do parts of the keypad look newer than other parts of the machine? Are key parts different colors? If you find any of these discrepancies, it might be best to use another machine.

Be Cautious When Using an ATM. When you do use an ATM, security experts suggest covering the PIN pad with your hand while you enter the PIN number. While your magnetic strip data may still be compromised at least thieves cannot access the PIN.

Millions of Britons to be Compensated for Bad Credit Loans

BritonsLast week, the Financial Ombudsman Service released the results of its annual review of the 2015-2016 financial year. The government body received more than 340,000 complaints from consumers regarding an array of financial products and services. The complaints varied from payment protection insurance (PPI) to payday loans.

In fact, according to the report, the number of complaints about payday loans nearly tripled in the past year, even with tougher regulation implemented by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Complaints about payday loans skyrocketed 178 percent from 1,157 to 3,216.

Although it is a concerning number, officials say this is actually a positive sign because it suggests that consumers are more aware of their rights and the rules set in place by the state.
British newspaper The Mirror released a new report that suggested millions of Britons could be in line for compensation if they had taken out a payday loan from the likes of Wonga, Sunny, The Money Shop and Quick Quid. You may be wondering how it works.

First, did you repay the principal amount without any “due difficulty? In other words, you paid back the payday loan, plus the interest and other fees, without resorting to borrowing funds to repay that amount. If you didn’t then you will not be eligible for compensation. However, if you did have a difficult time then you could be paid back a certain amount from payday loan stores.

In addition, if you inform a payday lender that you’re struggling with your poor credit loans then they have a legal responsibility to treat you fairly and provide you with other options. One of them is to provide you with information regarding free debt advice services, including Money Advice Service and Citizen Advice. The stores are also prohibited from selling you additional loans if you’re already having a difficult time with your initial loan.

The report suggests that you could be compensated all of the interest you paid on the loan, all of the charges you paid and an additional statutory interest rate of eight percent. You could also apply for a refund from the loans you already paid off, but the request must be made within six years of taking out the loan. Finally, you can ask for the payday loans to be removed from your credit record and request that the stores cancel the remaining balance.

Now, you have two options to request compensation: contact the payday lender in writing or contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.

This isn’t the first time that borrowers have been given a refund. Late last year, approximately 147,000 payday loan customers would be compensated more than $22 million because of “a number of serious failings” that “caused detriment for many customers.”

As part of an investigation by the FCA, officials discovered that Debt Financial made mistakes, had faulty debt collection practices and failed to conduct affordability checks.

“The FCA expects all credit providers to carry out proper checks to ensure that borrowers don’t take on more than they can afford to pay back,” FCA’s Jonathan Davidson said in a statement at the time. We are encouraged that Dollar is committed to putting things right for its customers.”

In the end, 65,000 customers would receive a cash refund, 67,000 customers would have their loan balance reduced and 15,000 customers will be given cash and have their loans lowered.

Debt Collection Agents Harassing Military Families

debtThere are many people who end up having huge problems with companies and individuals involved in debt collecting. However, according to a recent report debt collection is the top consumer complaint amongst service members and their families. It was found that compared to the general public, members of the services were twice as likely to make a complaint relating to debt collection. The data comes from a recent report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The data showed that close to fifty percent of complaints that were made were in relation to companies trying to collect money that was not even owed or trying to collect incorrect sums of money. Last year the CFPB is said to have received over 270,000 complaints from service members and their families in relation to issues such as these.

Getting out of debt is a priority

The Financial Behaviors Index from First Command showed that when it came to middle class military families, nearly one third said that getting out of debt was their top priority for the coming year. The next most popular goal amongst these families was to work on improving credit scores.

With regards to complaints from military members and their families, there has been an increase year on year since 2011 according to the CFPB. There was an increase of 13 percent when it came to complaints in 2015 and close to fifty percent of these complaints was in relation to debt collection issues. One major type of debt that service members tend to make relates to medical debt, which made up close to 13 percent of total complaints about debt from service members and veterans.

Another type of debt that has resulted in a large proportion of complaints is mortgage debt, which made up 14 percent of debt complaints. Credit reporting made up around 11 percent of complaints from military members and their families with 75 percent relating to incorrect information on credit files. This can be particularly damaging for service members because it can affect the security clearance they need for their jobs.

Other complaints made by members of the military included fraud and identity theft. These are issues that can be particularly difficult for service members to deal with, as they are unable to properly deal with such issues when they are deployed, which puts them at increased risk.