Protecting your credit card information while shopping on CyberMonday

I will start with saying that, after so many data breaches reported over the years, it is impossible to say that your credit card information is safe when stored on your computer or in stores’ databases. However, you can be a little more vigilant while shopping online, by following the ideas below.

  • Always check the shopping cart website address before entering your credit card payment information, ensuring that it is the correct one and that has an encryption certificate installed which is represented by “https://”, instead of “http://”. “https” means that all information you send and receive from the online store is encrypted.
  • If you receive an email with a special offer, it is best that, instead of clicking on the links in the email, you go directly to the website by typing it in your browser’s address bar. Your browser could be Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, FireFox, Windows Edge, etc.
  • However, if you decide to click on the link provided in the email, hover over it first (if available) and wait to see the website address (url) that it directs to. The link could be a redirecting link, instead of the online store website address. In this case, use your judgement… just remember, it is always safer if the url starts with “https://”, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t direct you to a malicious, spamming website.
  • Additionally, if you’re still questioning whether to click or not on a special offer link from an email, view the email header details and do a quick review of the sender. Most email applications have an option in the “from/to” area that will allow you to view more details about the sender.
  • Never save credit card information unencrypted on your computer, in the cloud, on your phone, tablet, etc. Never send it via email.

Co-signing for a Loan

When co-signing on a loan you enter into an agreement to become responsible for the re-payment of the loan, including the late and legal fees, if the borrower defaults. However, the financial institution can lawfully go after the co-signer at any time.

If you do agree to co-sign on a loan for someone, you can request that the lender agrees that it will refrain from collecting from you unless the primary borrower defaults. Additionally, you can request that your co-signer agreement includes that your liability is limited to the unpaid principal and not any late or legal fees.

Upon co-signing you may have to provide financial documents to the lender just as the primary borrower and you will assume the same legal responsibility for the repayment of the debt as the borrower. Remember that any late payments will affect your credit as well.

Qualified Retirement Plans: Know the Rules

The IRS annually releases its Required Amendments (RA) list, which includes changes that individually designed retirement plans may need to make in order to remain qualified under the Internal Revenue Code. The most recent RA list was released via Notice 2017-72, which contains changes not only to the qualification requirements for individually designed plans but also to the deadline for amending the plans. There are two categories: Part A and Part B.

Part A: Likely Amendments

Two changes were made in 2017 to:

  • Cash balance/hybrid plans
  • Eligible cooperative plans or eligible charity plans

Part B: Unlikely Amendments

The 2017 RA list addresses: partial annuity distribution for defined benefit pension plans

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