Recent Developments in Credit Card Technology
For decades, many have preferred using credit cards to paying with cash for reasons including convenience and practicality. Today, credit cards are even easier for consumers to use and business owners to process due to technological advances in reading card numbers. The introduction and popular use of smartphones, the Internet, and microchips have played roles in the development of new credit card technologies. These technological advances include smartphone credit card readers, virtual credit cards, and RFID chip embedded credit cards.
Smartphone Credit Card Readers
Smartphone credit card readers, which plug into phones, enable business owners and employees to complete customers’ credit card transactions via smartphone apps. These card reading devices, which are made mostly of plastic, are available through a number of payment processors, including PayPal, Square, PayAnywhere, and Intuit.
This form of credit card technology is ideal for traveling businesspeople and home delivery businesses as it provides customers with the option of paying with credit if they do not have cash or checks on hand. A customer need only swipe his or her card through the smartphone reader and provide a signature to complete the transaction. Credit card readers are available for all types of smartphones, including the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones.
One potential drawback of using a smartphone credit card reader for your business is that some customers may be wary of swiping their cards in a device attached to your personal smartphone. The good news is that the legitimate payment processors offering smartphone readers take all of the necessary steps to ensure that data is encrypted and that no personal information is compromised.
Virtual Credit Cards
Virtual credit cards are temporary credit card numbers designed to protect against identity theft during online transactions. Virtual numbers, which are offered by credit card providers such as Discover, Bank of America, and MasterCard, may be valid for one time only use or may be used several times with a single merchant. A temporary number is typically generated through a software program that associates the number with an actual credit card. The use of this virtual number online keeps your personal information safe from potential identity thieves, who cannot trace it back to your card.
Though virtual credit cards are advantageous for people who do not want to provide their actual credit card numbers to online payment processors, they can cause issues for consumers who try to return items after the numbers have expired. In order to avoid such issues, you may want to request a number that will be valid for an extended period of time. Also, you should remember to keep your receipts from virtual credit card purchases on hand so that you will recognize the numbers on your credit card bills and can confirm that you made each purchase.
Credit Cards with RFID Chips
Credit cards with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips are capable of being read by being held in front of readers in addition to being swiped through credit card machines in the usual manner. The chips embedded in these types of cards emit radio waves that can be read by receivers. This way of processing credit card information can help to protect against security hazards and make the transaction process move more quickly and efficiently.
If you carry a credit card with an RFID chip, you’re able to scan your card without removing it from a wallet or purse. The scanners encrypt all of the data that they receive, making it difficult for identity thieves to retrieve personal information. Further, the authentication code on an RFID chip card changes with each scan, offering protection against multiple unauthorized transactions. One downside to RFID chip cards is that they can still function like traditional credit cards, giving thieves the potential to use them by swiping the magnetic strips.
Whether you decide to use a technologically advanced credit card or are more comfortable with a traditional one, you can benefit greatly by learning about ways to stay out of debt. Companies such as National Debt Relief offer a number of online educational resources focused on managing your credit cards and finances.
How Your Credit History Can Influence Your Future Employment
Everyone knows that having bad credit can cost a lot in terms of interest fees, but did you know that it can also cost you a job? That’s right: potential employers may actually use your credit history to determine whether to hire you.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 43% of companies polled in 2006 reported running credit checks on at least some of their job applicants. Applicants for airport screening jobs with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) have even been rejected for having more than $5,000 of debt.
Clearly, financial history is a factor in employability. The theory that many employers work with is that a good credit history demonstrates a job candidate’s competence at handling money. That is to say, someone with a good credit history is seen by many employers as likely to pay bills on time, liable to control his or her spending, and able to manage his or her budget. Someone who can do these things will generally be perceived as responsible. Someone with a large amount of debt, on the other hand, will often be perceived as irresponsible.
In a tight economy, of course, debt frequently has more to do with job losses caused by corporate cutbacks than with individual irresponsibility. When someone suddenly loses his or her job because of a faltering economy, he or she often has no means of making enough money to cover the bills. The result is a vicious circle: the debtor can’t pay off the debt and as a result becomes increasingly unable to find a new job, and the longer the unemployment lasts, the more debt is incurred with bill after monthly bill.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, these are a few steps you should take:
1. Do whatever you can to minimize your debt. One simple way to do this is by paying with cash whenever possible. Avoid splurges like dinners out and use the savings to pay down your credit-card and other debt.
2. Keep at least one major credit card but avoid having too many. Having one or two cards with a small balance that you pay off on a monthly basis shows that you can handle funds. Owning too many cards, however, even if they all have zero balance, can actually result in a lowered credit score.
3. Get a copy of your credit report. The three credit-reporting agencies should allow you one free copy of your credit report each year. Study it to make sure it’s accurate. Contact the credit-reporting companies if you find any errors.
4. When you apply for a credit card and your application is denied, pay close attention to the reasons given for the denial. (In a similar vein, be aware that potential employers are supposed to inform you if you are denied a job or promotion because of your credit history. If that happens, they are supposed to give you a copy of the report, tell you which company provided the information, and explain how you can dispute it.)
5. Keep in mind that a bankruptcy is not a legally-acceptable reason to deny you a job.
Being aware that a potential employer might utilize credit-card information to determine which candidate gets a job can make a big difference in your spending habits. After polishing off your resume, be sure to take a little time to tidy up your credit history as well.
Thirty Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud and Theft
Credit cards have become a popular and trusted method of payment for consumers and retailers alike. In addition to being convenient, they provide a short-term means of borrowing. However, with the increase in credit card use has come an increase in the incidence of credit card fraud and theft. Here are some tips to help you keep your card safe from misuse.
1. Check your statement on a regular basis. Question any purchases that you don’t remember having made.
2. Never save your credit card details on a retailer site.
3. Never let your card out of your sight, especially in restaurants.
4. Use websites with payment-authorization mechanisms. Increasingly, MasterCard and Visa are installing payment validation passwords into merchant processes as an added layer of protection.
5. Always remember to sign your cards so that merchants have a signature to check against. (You’d be surprised how many people don’t.)
6. Guard your PIN (personal identification number) carefully by shielding your hand when typing the number into keypads.
7. Use different PINs for different cards.
8. Compare credit cards to see what type of fraud liability guarantee is available with each. A little credit card comparison in the beginning can pay you back later if you ever become a victim of fraud.
9. Shred or burn any receipts or other documents with your credit card number on them.
10. Don’t purchase from unfamiliar or untrusted websites.
11. Try not to use credit cards to buy goods from outside of the developed world. Data is more likely to be compromised there.
12. Never let someone else use your card when you aren’t present.
13. Never respond to e-mails asking you to validate your credit card number or other card information.
14. Never divulge credit card information to unsolicited telephone callers purporting to be from a bank or retailer.
15. Keep a record of your credit card number in a safe place or memorize it in case your card goes missing.
16. Call your bank or card provider immediately if you are ever unable to find your card or you suspect a fraudulent transaction has been made.
17. Don’t use obvious numbers for your PIN such as a date of birth or house number.
18. Use ATMs that are located in busy, well-lit areas or inside bank premises.
19. Never walk away from an ATM with cash in your hand. Always count it and put it away before turning to leave the machine.
20. Keep your virus-protection software up-to-date and do regular scans of your system.
21. Use a firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your home system. If you’re a Windows user, switch on the Microsoft standard firewall at a minimum.
22. Use PayPal as an accepted third-party way of paying to shield your credit card data from retailers.
23. Never divulge more information than needed to place an order. Keep bank account details private.
24. If using an auction site such as eBay, check out sellers’ feedback ratings and only deal with those with excellent scores.
25. Don’t carry your cash and cards in the same place. That way if you lose one or have one stolen, you will have the other as a backup.
26. Never sign a blank authorization form.
27. Only take the card with you that you need for a given day’s purchases. Leave the others at home.
28. When moving, make sure to notify your card issuer as soon as possible and to have all mail forwarded from your old address to your new one for at least six months.
29. Make sure that your card provider has up-to-date contact details.
30. Close any credit card accounts that you no longer use. Otherwise, someone else might use them to get cashback at your expense.