Wednesday, October 29, 2008

GOLETA, Calif., Oct 28, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Software Runs Securely on the Computer to Keep Sensitive Financial Data Away From Online Threats, While Automatically Helping Consumers and Businesses Stay on Top of Credit Card Rates, Payments, and Fees
GOLETA, Calif., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- My Best Interest, Inc. today announced the general availability launch of Rate Surfer (, a desktop console for secure and simple credit card management. Offered as a free download, Rate Surfer Basic lets consumers and businesses take back control of their finances by making it easy for them to maintain their credit cards at the lowest possible interest rates, at all times - helping to save money, avoid fees, and preserve credit scores.
Rate Surfer offers a simple dashboard that allows users to view all of their credit card details in one place. With the touch of a button, they can easily find lower interest rates, transfer credit card balances, request credit line increases, dispute charges, and more.
Rate Surfer also provides a range of "push" information services, with automatic SMS and email notifications to alert users if they are nearing their credit limit, payment due date, or the expiration of a promotional interest rate. Sensitive financial data remains on the computer at all times and is never stored on the Internet or a web server - ensuring that it remains safe and confidential at all times.
"Properly managing your personal or business credit is going to be critical to surviving today's volatile, ever-changing financial market conditions," said Mitch Calderwood, CEO and founder of My Best Interest. "Rate Surfer makes this easy by simplifying and automating complete credit card management. Our goal is not only to help users save money and preserve their credit scores, but also to give them the peace of mind that their identity and personal financial data remains secure at all times."
How It Works
Instead of requiring users to enter their financial data online to access information, Rate Surfer brings the information to them. The application automatically interacts with most all of the major card issuing banks to transfer securely a user's financial data onto the desktop, using the same state-of-the-art anti-fraud and encryption capabilities as leading financial institutions use for online banking. Once there, Rate Surfer streams only non-sensitive information - such as balances and due dates - onto an online server for processing through the patent-pending Rate Surfer algorithms, which identify the lowest interest rates, special promotions, and more. This information is then made visible in the desktop console, for users to view - and most importantly, act on - with a single click.

source :

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Money Moves You Should Make Now

Last week's volatile stock market suggests that economic woes are far from over. After Monday's record gain was followed by triple-digit ups and downs, it's clear no one is out of the woods yet.

And with no certainty that efforts to rescue the global financial system will work, with unemployment on the rise and with the stock market still 38% off its 2007 high, it's time to protect your finances.

Here are four smart money moves to make now:

Create a Budget

"Watch every dime coming into your house, because tomorrow it could be a nickel," warns Catherine Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, which oversees nonprofit credit-counseling agencies. The best way to do that? Stick to a budget.

The basic premise of a budget is, of course, simple: Make sure expenses don't exceed income. But you also need to find a way to squeeze out some savings, says Donald Ray Haas, a financial planner in Birmingham, Mich.

Check your budget breakdown against these rough guidelines from Money Management International's Consumer Credit Counseling Services: savings (10% minimum); housing (20-35%); food (15-30%); transportation (6-20%); medical (2-8%); insurance (4-6%); utilities (4-7%); clothing (3-10%); personal care (2-4%); miscellaneous items (1-4%); personal debt (20% maximum).

Eliminate Debt

If the stock market has you spooked, you can get a nearly unbeatable return by focusing on paying off debts instead.

Credit cards: Attack high-interest-rate credit cards by seeking out the cheapest rates you can find, says Scott Bilker, founder of Look to credit unions, which tend to offer more favorable rates than big-name banks.

Mortgages: Prepaying your mortgage may not be a bad idea. Generally speaking, mortgage debt is cheap debt, but prepaying can give you an after-tax return that is a lot better than what most folks have earned in the stock market this year.

source :

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Discount home loans with frills

Banking packages that combine a mortgage, transaction account and credit card with the one institution are the best value on the home-lending market. Packages offer a discount to the advertised rate and the saving on the interest more than covers the package fee. The bundling of services also offers convenience.

This is the view of banking industry research group Cannex, which says institutions offering packages have made them more attractive by varying them to benefit a wider spectrum of borrowers.

Cannex says more than half of all new mortgages written by the major banks are "super sized" to packages.

Borrowers like them because they get the features of a standard variable-rate loan (and, increasingly, other types of loans) at the discounted price of a basic variable-rate loan.

Discounts are 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points, depending on the size of the loan. At one stage last year some brokers were given discretion to offer discounts of as much as 0.9 percentage points but with the general tightening in the market, those deals are now hard to find.

Assuming an advertised standard variable rate of 9.47 per cent, a $150,000 loan with a 0.4 percentage point discount will reduce interest by $500 a year. A loan of $250,000 may attract a 0.7 per cent discount and will save $1500 a year. The annual fee is between $250 and $500 but this is less than the savings from the discount.

Traditionally aimed at typical home-buyers, package banking has broadened its appeal to attract property investors and the self-employed. Investors value loan options such as interest only, line-of-credit and discounts. Those who own their own business usually need a package with a good low-doc loan.

In a report published in June, Cannex says the top variable-rate packages are Adelaide Bank's Executive Offer, Newcastle Permanent's Premium Plus Package, Commonwealth Bank's Wealth Package and AMP Banking's Select Package.

The top five fixed-rate packages were offered by Commonwealth Bank, HSBC, BankSA and St George.

When taking out a package loan, there is a requirement to take other products, usually a deposit account and a credit card. This is attractive because the annual fee is bundled into the package's annual fee.

However, if the product offered in the package does not suit, there is no obligation to use them.

The type of credit card does vary between institutions. Many will offer their standard credit card but some, such as St George, offer a platinum card.

source :

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Four Tips: Smart Money Moves for a Down Economy

The tally for last week's government rescue plan: $700 billion. The number of job cuts in September: an eye-popping 159,000. And on Thursday, the magic number was 9,000 -- or, more precisely, below 9,000 -- where the Dow Jones Industrial Average found itself for the first time in four years.

For consumers, these numbers indicate one thing: Now's the time to do everything you can to protect your finances. A couple weeks ago, we offered 5 Tips for Navigating Troubled Markets. Here are four additional smart money moves to make now:

Convert to a Roth

The down markets may decimate your retirement savings, but they also provide a rare opportunity: To convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA with a reduced tax hit. (For a tutorial on the differences between these two types of IRA accounts, click here.) When you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth, you owe ordinary income tax on every dollar you roll over (unless you've made nondeductible contributions to the account). Fewer dollars in your account spells a smaller tax bill. And if you covert the account only to see your balance dip further, you can always redo the conversion, so you aren't paying taxes on gains that are now gone.

A big perk of Roth IRAs is that withdrawals taken during retirement are completely tax free. That's a big gift from the government. Typically, Roth IRAs make the most sense for younger folks since they have a bigger window to benefit from the compounding growth and they're likely to be in the same tax bracket or higher during retirement. But given the budget deficit and the idea that it will result in higher taxes across the board, the Roth could benefit most people regardless of age.

The one catch with a Roth conversion is that your adjusted gross income must be $100,000 or less. Given the number of layoffs and eliminated bonuses this year, some folks who've previously been ineligible may qualify this year. If you're still making more than that amount, the $100,000 limit will be eliminated starting in 2010.

Create a Budget

"Watch every dime coming into your house, because tomorrow it could be a nickel," warns Catherine Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, which oversees nonprofit credit counseling agencies. There's no better way to do this than to stick to a budget.

The basic premise of a budget is, of course, simple: Make sure expenses don't exceed income. (Click here for a few easy budget cuts.) But you also need to find a way to squeeze out some savings, says Donald Ray Haas, a certified financial planner and president of Haas Financial Services in Birmingham, Mich. "Until you accept that, you're in trouble."

Check your budget breakdown against these rough guidelines from Money Management International's Consumer Credit Counseling Services:

  • Housing (20-35%)
  • Food (15-30%)
  • Transportation (6-20%)
  • Medical (2-8%)
  • Insurance (4-6%)
  • Utilities (4-7%)
  • Clothing (3-10%)
  • Personal Care (2-4%)
  • Misc. Items (1-4%)
  • Personal Debt (20% maximum)
  • Savings (10% minimum)
    * Source: Money Management International
Eliminate Debt

Sound investing is one way to shore up your personal balance sheet. But if today's stock market has you spooked, you can get a nearly unbeatable return by focusing on paying off debts instead.

High-Interest Credit Cards

Attack high-interest-rate credit cards with a vengeance by seeking out the cheapest rates you can find, says Scott Bilker, founder of Look to credit unions, which tend to offer more favorable rates than big-name banks. Or call your card issuer and tell them you've received better rate offers. Lenders would rather lose a little money by lowering your rate than have you move your entire balance and future business to another company.

source :

Friday, October 10, 2008

Two arrested for illegal use of credit card

NEW MILFORD -- Two town residents were arrested Tuesday night on warrants charging them with illegally buying $36 worth of items at the Pickett District Sunoco gas station in August, police said.

Gregory Gardner, 18, of Candlewood Lake Road North, and Robert Cockcroft, 19, of Aspetuck Village, were charged with two counts of illegal use of a credit card.

News Source :

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The great credit card swindle

AUSTRALIANS lost more than half a billion dollars in credit card fraud last year, and security experts warn that banks are not doing enough to protect customers online and are playing down the problem for fear of harming their reputations.

Last year 383,300 people lost an average of $1600 to credit card fraud, says the Bureau of Statistics, which acknowledges the true figure is much higher.

This is because the bureau's survey into personal fraud - the first of its kind - recorded only an individual's most recent loss, but one-third of victims admitted they had been bilked two or more times.

Further losses were suffered by 124,000 victims of identity theft and 57,800 people defrauded by "phishing" - online scams that collect personal details.

A Herald investigation has found hackers, computer security experts and law enforcement authorities agree that online crimes involving credit cards and other transactions are easy to commit, hard to track and that criminals quickly circumvent new security measures.

In spite of this, bank customers are given little information about the severity of the problem.

Between 2006 and 2007 the dollar value of fraudulent credit card transactions grew by 30 per cent and the volume of illegal transactions climbed by 35 per cent, says the Australian Payments Clearing Association, which collects statistics from the nation's financial institutions.

While its figures show progress against activities such as cheque fraud, credit cards are the biggest and fastest-growing area of fraud, especially within online use.

Finance and computer experts say the growth is the result of banks inadequately protecting consumers.

"To encourage customers to get into online banking, the banks and online merchants downplayed the risks of fraud," said Andrew Wallis, an analyst at the independent research company Gartner.

"It's a classic thing. How do you get people moving into something? Well, you don't tell them it's dangerous. You don't mention the negative side. You'll extol the virtues and the benefits."

The benefits are clear - fewer tellers for banks and greater convenience for customers - but the dangers are complex.

"Realistically, the vast majority of people are never going to become computer security experts," Mr Wallis said. "It's the banks' responsibility to do everything they can to protect the customer."

Steve Lewis, of the security software vendor VeCommerce, said: "I talk to some of the chief security risk officers in the banks. You don't hear much about it in the media but, once you're in there having a quiet chat, you learn there is a lot going on, a lot that is not talked about."

News Source :

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Technology Frees Small Business Cash Advances from Credit Card Processors

Small business can now seek advantages of dealing with a third party and are no longer tied to their credit card processor for unsecured cash advances.

Cliffton, NJ (PRWEB) October 7, 2008 -- FastUpFront introduces a new technology that provides small business to qualify for unsecured cash advance loans. Traditionally, these loans were only available from the business's credit card processor, making these companies vulnerable to inflated costs, bad service and refusal. Through its new technology, FastUpFront provides businesses a new option for cash advances, which are an essential financial lifeline for many small to medium sized companies.

"No one likes dealing with a monopoly situation," explains FastUpFront Manager of Business Development, Mark Schafer. "Without any competition, there is no incentive to bring down costs or increase service levels. So many of our customers tell us how they were literally trapped before."

FastUpFront provides this essential service to businesses facing cash crunches. This is a common phenomenon for firms dealing with steep growth curves or seasonal lulls in revenues. Banks and other institutional lenders are often unwilling to provide unsecured loans for operating cash flow, leaving businesses to seek other methods of financing. Small business cash advances are generally offered against a company's credit card receipts. FastUpFront now provides these companies options in seeking cash advances.

"Our technology makes it easy to apply, receive the business cash advance and repay the unsecured loan," says Schafer. "We have chosen to compete not just on approval rates and low fees, but also on customer service. Bad service has been a source of major complaints from businesses seeking cash advances." He points out that more than half of first-time customers return for further advances. FastUpFront approves 95 percent of applications.

FastUpFront has established itself as a leader in the lending industry. Our mission is to help businesses succeed by offering simple and effective programs for financing while focusing on quality service. Their unsecured cash advance program makes borrowing money simple and quick, and cuts out the strict application requirements normally associated with business loans. Their unsecured cash advance works for business on a variety of levels and in ways that make small business loans either unattainable or not suitable due to repayment schedules or credit history.

News Source :