Friday Grab Bag – 9/11/2009

The King of credit

Elvis Presley fans can rejoice (and spend)! A King of Rock ‘N’ Roll credit card has just been released (and it’s Platinum, of course). The new Visa card offers rewards points, no annual fee, and 0% APR for six months. Qualifying applicants can choose from five Elvis designs for their card (I personally like the sweaty, side-burned Elvis). The marketers behind the card are saying that the funds generated will go directly to the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation. But really, isn’t this just another gimmick to encourage consumers to view the accumulation of debt as a form of personal expression? I say putting an image of Elvis on a credit card is a cheap trick, no better than exploiting a basket of irresistibly cute zoo babies, or worse, Hello Kitty.

Need an online safety refresher?

Whether you have a personalized credit card or a boring gray-colored one like mine, you need to take precaution when shopping with it on the internet. Credit Cards offers some great tips that will transform you into a safe online shopper in no time. You’ll learn the two key signs to check for before handing over those valuable credit card digits.

Robber accidentally gives up his identity

You know a bank robber’s an amateur when he only walks away with $800 in loot AND he leaves his wallet behind on the counter. Lloyd Virgil Barclay held up a small bank in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania earlier this week, and left his wallet—complete with Social Security card—next to the teller. So authorities now have all of Barclay’s identifying information, but Barclay himself remains on the run.

College identity theft: a boring but real threat

When I think back to my college days, security was low on the list of priorities (sleeping in and figuring out weekend plans were probably in the top five). But looking back on it, I should have taken greater care to protect my financial documents, student records, and credit cards and IDs. A mini-safe is the perfect dorm room accessory to prevent nosy roommates and wandering residence hall neighbors from poking into your stuff. And don’t forget to password-protect your laptop.

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How much are you worth?

Symantec has just come out with a calculator to determine how much your identity is worth on the black market. You might be surprised to learn that you may only fetch a few $10 bills. Don’t take it personally, though; it’s simply matter of supply and demand. Large data breaches like the one at Heartland Systems have flooded the market with identities, driving the value of each down. An identity thief may have hundreds of thousands he wants to unload quickly, and would rather take a low price for the lot of them than spend time haggling.

To buy or not to buy a house

Everyone struggles with this question at some point, and often, it can be more easily answered after you check your credit score. If you have really strong credit, you’re going to qualify for a low interest rate which will save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. If you have poor credit, though, you might be better off waiting to buy. GreenPandaTreehouse offers some other considerations when weighing this important decision.

Honey, wanna see my credit score?

Not exactly a sexy invitation, but an important one nonetheless. Financial Highway discusses ways to start the conversation about finances with your significant other. His list is a good one, but I might also add the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” technique…of credit reports and scores, that is. Sit down with your partner and review each other’s credit together. This is something individuals should do regularly anyway, so why not make it a date? Ice cream optional.

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