Thursday, August 15, 2013

New type of debit card skimming

Updated from September 2012.

Over 86% of Canadian adults have at least 1 debit card and about 74% have at least 1 credit card. Despite the convenience and popularity of these cards, there is a risk of fraud. It is important to protect your cards, just as you would cash or cheques. Some of the risks associated with debit/credit card fraud are the same as carrying around your account numbers, so protect your card information in your wallet, online and over the phone.

There is, however, another threat to card users that is unique - it's called "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic stripe and keypad information from point of sales terminals.   It is important to note that debit card fraud has been decreasing in Canada because of the conversion away from magnetic striped to chip cards, but skimming with magnetic stripe cards still occurs.  
Crooks are now trying to get around the CHIP protection by somehow replacing a store/restaurant/gas station’s debit keypad with their own version.  The criminal’s keypad makes you push your debit card in over half of the length of the card so that a scanner can copy the magnetic strip.  The keypad then records your PIN as you enter it.  To combat this keypad switch many retailers are putting locks or other types of protection on the keypads themselves.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Student Loans and Education Financing updated 2013

1.  What student loan options do I have?
There are 2 main government student loan options (National and Provincial) and there are Education Loans from Financial Institutions like Credit Unions and banks.

2.  Which is best for me?
 I would recommend starting with the Provincial and National student loan programs.  You apply for both on the same application.  With these government student loans you do not pay or accumulate interest while you are going to school, there are some payment relief programs in place after graduation, and the interest paid on government student loans is tax deductible.  There are also some scholarships or grants that may decrease what you owe for government student loans.

More information can be found at

3.  So why would I use a credit union or bank education loan?