Chip-Enabled Cards Help Prevent Fraud

It wasn’t that long ago when few, if any, people in the U.S. knew what a chip-enabled card was. Today, millions of these cards are now in circulation across the nation, much to the disappointment of fraudsters.AdobeStock_22591245

That’s because chip-enabled debit and credit cards make it a lot more difficult for crooks to steal data, especially compared to their older cousins – magnetic stripe cards. The technology used for each type of card is what makes the difference.

Chip-enabled cards take advantage of EMV technology. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa – a global standard for credit and debit cards. All Bank5 Connect debit cards are now equipped with EMV chips for added security.

Older cards that lack chip technology have their data embedded in the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. The problem is, that this data doesn’t change from one transaction to another. This means that if a thief happens to steal the data during an in-person transaction (by using a card skimmer, or installing malware on the cash register system) they can then turn around and create counterfeit cards with the stolen data.

Each time a chip-enabled card is used for payment in a chip reader however, the card’s chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. So if a thief creates a fake card based on transaction information stolen from a chip-embedded card, the fake card will be denied because the information will be outdated.

The process of inserting a chip-enabled card into a chip reader is called card “dipping”, as opposed to the “swiping” method used for magnetic stripe cards. If you’ve used a chip reader, you may have noticed that the transaction takes a few seconds longer than a card swipe. This is because when a card is “dipped”, information has to flow between the chip and the financial institution that issued the card in order to verify the card and create the unique transaction data. But, this slightly longer transaction time is well worth the additional security!

Since the switch to EMV chip technology began in the United States in October 2015, it’s estimated that 40-60 million chip-enabled cards have replaced magnetic stripe cards. Bank5 Connect alone has issued thousands of chip-enabled debit cards to its customers.

Unlike Europe, where EMV cards have been in use for many years, it’s going to take some time before chip-embedded technology is fully in place across the U.S. A major reason for the slow switchover is the cost involved with creating the new cards and installing the equipment needed to read them. The good news is that chip-enabled cards are still equipped with a magnetic stripe on the back of them, so if you happen to be checking out at a retailer who hasn’t yet installed a chip reader, you can still pay for your purchase with a good old-fashioned card swipe.

While chip-embedded cards provide an added defense against fraud, there are still ways that thieves can get their hands on your card information. Keep in mind that the card still has a magnetic stripe, and any purchases you make with a “swipe” do not utilize the chip’s security benefits. And it’s still possible to lose your card, have it stolen, or have it compromised during an online purchase. Because of this, it’s always wise to monitor your bank statements and card activity on a regular basis. If you suspect someone has used your card fraudulently, you should immediately alert your bank or the financial institution that issued your card.

Some Tips For Easing The Pain Of Vacation Planning

Going on vacation can be like a love-hate relationship – you love getting away, but you hate planning for it.AdobeStock_71167350

To make your getaway as fun and stress-free as possible, you should prepare ahead of time. Yes, it can be a bit of a pain, but isn’t it better than forgetting to pack your passport or accidentally leaving behind your credit cards?

What helps make planning easier is creating a checklist of what you need to pack, things you have to do before leaving, etc. Lucky for you, you don’t have to start from scratch. Here are several suggestions to get you pointed in the right direction:

  • Wherever you’re going, take along snacks! This is especially important if you have kids who are constantly asking, “When are we going to eat?”
  • Notify your credit card company before you go on vacation so they can put a travel alert on your card.
  • If you discover once you’re at the hotel that you forgot a toiletry such as a toothbrush or comb, stop by the front desk and ask if they have complimentary ones available (most usually do).
  • Save space when packing by sticking socks and underwear inside of shoes.
  • Roll up clothes before placing them in a suitcase. Zip all zippers and button all buttons. And avoid taking clothes that require ironing. Who has time for that when you’re on vacation?!
  • Pass on packing new shoes or clothing. Guaranteed the shoes will be uncomfortable since they won’t be broken in, and you’ll worry about spilling something on your new shirt and skirt.
  • Don’t pack things that your hotel will provide, such as soap, shampoo, hair dryer, etc.
  • Leave behind jewelry that’s expensive and could attract the attention of crooks. Only take those pieces that you really plan to wear.
  • Take a reusable water bottle. It will save you money on buying expensive bottles of water and will also help save the planet a bit, too.
  • Carry your wallet in your front pocket. And if you carry a purse, hold it toward the front so you can keep a hand on it instead of leaving it dangle by your side.
  • Wherever you park your car – whether it’s at an airport parking lot or with you during your entire vacation – make sure it’s locked and don’t leave any valuables inside. Speaking of parking at an airport, take a photo of where your car is parked with your cell phone, making sure that an identifying symbol of the parking area (usually a conspicuously placed number or letter or a combination thereof) is clearly visible so it’s easier to find when you return from vacation.
  • Remember to tip the hotel housekeeping staff. A good rule of thumb is $2 per day, and maybe a little more if you have more than two people in a room. Hotels usually provide envelopes to leave the tips, but if they don’t, write a note saying the money is for the housekeeping person.
  • Use a travel kit for toiletries. Because of its compact size, it will force you to keep things to a minimum. And pack a travel-size first aid kit that includes pain relief medicine, bandages, allergy medicine, anti-itch cream, and anti-diarrhea medicine.
  • Bypass packing the electric toothbrush and razor in favor of manual models.
  • Pack chronologically, placing the items to be worn first on top. This will prevent you from turning a suitcase inside out looking for a particular piece of clothing.
  • Your carry-on luggage should hold your jewelry, travel documents, medication, keys, and other valuables. And if there’s room, throw in a change of underwear and clothes just in case your checked-in baggage gets lost or misplaced.
  • If traveling by air, check in advance the rules and regulations of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Go to a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! for travel tips.

And here’s one more friendly reminder – don’t forget your passport and credit cards!

Cashing In On Presidents Day Weekend Sales

What do the names Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson, Cleveland, Madison, Grant, and McKinley have in common? Of course, they’re all the last names of presidents of the United States.AdobeStock_101281432.fw

And all of them, at one time or another, have also had their portraits appear on U.S. currency. Currently, Washington is on the $1 bill, Jefferson is on the $2 note, Lincoln is on the $5 bill, and Jackson appears on the $20 note.

So what does all of this have to do with Presidents Day Weekend sales? Why, without all those Jacksons, Lincolns, and Washingtons floating about, those sales would fall flat on their faces!

It’s safe to say that the commander-in-chiefs appeared on our currency long before Presidents Day sales became popular. But now they’re all but inseparable.

That doesn’t mean, however, that people aren’t willing to separate themselves from their currency if the right sales come along. And they’re will be a lot of them to choose from during the holiday weekend. From car dealership lots to clothing stores, the bargains will be waiting for buyers to snatch them up.

And getting the best buys is now easier than ever, thanks in large part to those things called apps. No, we’re not talking appetizers. We’re referring to those software applications that you can download onto your smart phones and tablets.

There are plenty of them to choose from these days. The big players like Amazon and eBay have them. But there are lots more floating about, including RetailMeNot, Coupon Sherpa, SlickDeals, Shopular, Ebates, BuyVia, Hafta Have, Gilt, Purchx, ShopSavvy, ScanLife, and Flipp.

Within those listed are mobile comparison shopping apps like BuyVia and Purchx, while others feature mobile coupons for various retailers, such as Ebates and Coupon Sherpa. The majority of shopping apps are compatible with both IOS and Android operating systems.

All of this modern technology makes it more convenient to shop, whether you decide to do so from the comfort of your home or in brick-and-mortar stores. You have the capability of comparing retailers or tracking down valuable coupons with just a few clicks.

But as the saying goes – buyer beware. Crooks are still out there waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Fortunately, people who shop in physical stores are being afforded more protection by the recently introduced chip-enabled credit and debit cards. These cards are designed to make it a lot harder to steal vital information from consumers.

As a result, thieves are turning to a lesser path of resistance – cyber space. Since chip cards can’t be used physically to make online purchases, this gives criminals greater opportunity to access your information. You can keep the bad guys at bay by buying from online retailers you know and trust.

On a lighter note and returning to the earlier theme of U.S. currency, trivia buffs might know that there are several denominations of currency notes that are no longer produced. They include the $500 bill featuring William McKinley’s portrait, the $1,000 note that pictured Grover Cleveland, the $5,000 bill with a portrait of James Madison, and the $100,000 note featuring Woodrow Wilson’s caricature.

And that brings us full circle to Presidents Day Weekend and lots and lots of sales. So get out there and spend your bucks on the best buys of the season!

Put Yourself In The Driver’s Seat With Your Credit Report

You’ve finally saved up enough money for a sizeable down payment on a new car, and now you’re prepared to shop around for a loan to cover the rest of the cost. But before you head out the door, it would be wise to first pull up your credit report.AdobeStock_123813415


You want to be sure that the report accurately reflects your credit history and that there’s nothing in it that could impact you getting the loan. If it contains inaccuracies that you were unaware of, that could jeopardize your dream of owning a new set of wheels.

Credit reports are a key resource used by banks, insurers, and other businesses to evaluate applications for credit. The reports contain such information as how you pay your bills, whether you pay them on time, and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy or been sued.

While businesses have to pay to access credit reports, you can obtain yours for free once a year. A federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with free reports upon your request.

FCRA is intended to promote the accuracy and privacy of information that’s on file with these credit reporting companies. That information might include what credit card accounts you have opened and whether you pay your bills on time.

So suppose you discover an inaccuracy in one of your credit reports, such as a credit card account that appears to still be opened even though you closed it several years ago? You need to contact the agency that issued the report to correct the error. Otherwise, that mistake could haunt your credit worthiness.

Another benefit of reviewing your reports on an annual basis is to guard against identity theft. Someone who’s stolen your identity could be making purchases or opening credit card accounts in your name. If that would occur, your report might show it, and you could take steps to block future fraud.

You can order your free reports through a central website – www.annualreport.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!. Or you can call 1-877-322-8228. There is also a request form that you can fill out and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Click on this link — Annual Credit Report Request FormAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! – to access the document.

Reports ordered online should be accessible immediately on the website. For requests made by phone or by mail, the report should be mailed to you within 15 days.

Credit reports can be ordered one at a time from each of the credit reporting agencies. Or you can order reports from all three agencies at the same time. The choice is yours. But the important thing is to access them every year so you know where your credit stands. It could mean the difference between getting that new car or being stuck with your old clunker.

Bank5 Connect Wins Awards for Best Checking Account and Top Customer Service

We’re proud to announce that Bank5 Connect’s High Interest Checking Account has been named Best Checking Account of 2017As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! by GOBankingRates. This is the third year in a row that Bank5 Connect has received the honor, having won the Best Checking Account designation in 2016As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! and 2015As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! as well. GOBankingRates cited our High Interest Checking Account’s high APY, low fees, low initial deposit requirement, and low minimum balance requirement as reasons for the top ranking.

Bank5 Connect was also named one of the 10 Best Online Banks of 2017As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!, and received an Editors’ Pick for Top Customer ServiceAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! in the Best Online Banks category. GOBankingRates particularly praised our live chat support feature, which they said is not offered by most other online banks.

To determine the 2017 Best Bank winners, GOBankingRates surveyed data from 100 banks, including brick-and-mortar banks as well as online-only institutions, using criteria such as minimum deposit and balance requirements, fees, annual percentage yield (APY), availability of features such as mobile apps and remote check deposit, customer service accessibility, and BauerFinancial Star Ratings.

It’s Time to Look Back and Look Forward

As 2016 quickly becomes a fading memory, are there some things that stick out in your mind from the past year? Like that $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot (a U.S. record) that you thought for sure you would win last January? Or U.S. stocks reaching all-time highs this past month – which is like winning the lottery for your 401k?

Hopefully this past year opened your eyes to some financial insights that could be of benefit in 2017 and beyond. And if you could use some more, it’s your lucky day! Over the next several weeks, we’ll offer several tips to help get you on track. Here’s a sampling:

  1. Set realistic and achievable short term and long-term financial goals.
  2. Maximize your tax return.
  3. Check your credit reports.
  4. Keep your finances safe in the cyber world.
  5. Plan ahead financially for a summer vacation.
  6. Study your spending habits over a week or month, and then decide which are good and which are bad.
  7. Devise and implement a plan to ditch those habits that are bad.
  8. Draw up a personal financial statement – assets vs. liabilities.
  9. Assess and, if necessary, alter your retirement portfolio to make it more profitable.
  10. Review your insurance coverages and make changes where necessary.

We hope these will help you get started off on the right foot in 2017. And even though you didn’t win the “big one” in 2016, maybe your Powerball luck will change in the New Year!