Spring Clean Your ID Theft Habits

collegemoneyIf you’re like three-quarters of Americans you take part in the annual ritual of spring cleaning, according to research from the American Cleaning Institute. The places that top your list for dusting off or sprucing up include the bedroom (76%), kitchen (73%), bathroom (69%), family room (61%) and dining room (45%).

Well, I’ve got another few targets to add to that list: How about spring cleaning your desktops (both real and virtual), your wallet and your online presence as a way to protect yourself from identity theft. Nearly 8.5 million people that were victims of a data breach in 2014 were also victims of fraud, according to a survey from Javelin Strategy and Research sponsored by LifeLock. That’s not a trend that’s going away any time soon.  But while it’s tough to protect yourself from becoming someone whose data is pilfered, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of a data heist turning into full-blown identity theft. Here’s what you’ll want to do.
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How chewing gum can save you money

iStock_000024738476SmallI kicked off this 52-week savings challenge on TODAY in January, so if you joined back then, right now you’re at the point where you should start feeling pretty good about the amount of money you’re putting away. If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late to catch up! We’re in the 9th week of 2015, so at this point you should have put aside $45 to play along. On Today.com I offer more tricks on how to put away cash. Read the full article here.

How to use Facebook’s new “Sell” feature for your online tag sale

iStock_smartphoneRemember my #startTODAY segment on how to sell your unwanted goods on Facebook Groups? I showed you how I successfully sold Natalie’s stuff for hundreds of dollars, and my couch for $500! Well, if you’re in the Facebook sales business too – or are looking to make some extra cash – now you can try Facebook’s new feature for Facebook Groups called “Sell.” Read more on Today.com.

Money Sense on Fortune

Locked WalletAccording to a study by Princeton Research Associates for CreditCards.com, many more men than women have bank accounts or credit cards that their spouse or live-in partner don’t know about. So, should a married woman have a slush fund…a stash of cash that her spouse doesn’t have access to and maybe doesn’t even know about? I tackle the question in this week’s Fortune column. Read on here.

4 Steps For Protecting Your Identity This Tax Season

itheftLast Thursday, as you may have heard, TurboTax put a halt to it’s filing of state tax returns after a spike in suspicious filings. By Friday at 6 p.m., it was back in business. But a number of states that stopped issuing state tax refunds amid similar worries – including Vermont and Massachusetts – have yet to turn the spigot back on.

What’s the deal? In the past couple of years, there has been an increase in fraudulent returns filed in the hope of gaining a tax refund that belongs to someone else. In 2013, 1.6 million taxpayers were affected – and the IRS paid out $5.2 billion in fraudulent refunds. This year, state tax refunds are being targeted in particular.

Why? Because they’re low-hanging fruit.

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Today’s Money: 5 Steps to Sell Your Stuff For Extra Cash

Are you sitting on hundreds of dollars? I mean that literally. Last week, in addition to selling the stuff Natalie hadn’t used for a good six years, I sold my couch… for $500! I’ve been selling items online now for several years and I was confident I could make way for the new one – and rake in a tidy profit – before delivery day. My secret? Facebook groups. See my five steps for selling on Today.com, and in the meantime, check out the #startTODAY segment below!

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Today’s Money: How to Save For Your Baby’s Future

In this morning’s #startTODAY segment, I offered suggestions to a few TODAY staffers on how to save for their babies’ futures.

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Today’s Money: How to Save Money at Every Age

Young, old or in the middle — it’s totally possible to start saving up more. And to prove it, I’ll show you four kinds of people, real people who tweeted me what they were saving for, and what tips each can use to begin growing their nest egg. For age-specific advice, check out my article on Today.com and #startTODAY segment below!

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The #startTODAY 52-week Savings Challenge

photo-money-dietIs saving money one of your new year’s resolutions, or something you want to make a priority in 2015? Then keep reading!This month, as part of our #StartTODAY series, #TeamJean will take the 52-week Savings Challenge — and if you join us, you’ll end the year with $1378 to your name.

That’s a big deal. According to Bankrate.com, 26% of Americans have no emergency savings at all, and the number of those with enough to cover six months worth of expenses shrank from 45% a year ago to 40% today.

There are different ways to save — some people save their windfalls, like tax refunds or bonuses — but the very best way to do it is habitually (i.e. every week) and automatically (so that you don’t really have to think about it.)

Enter: the 52-week Savings Challenge. Here’s how it works:

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Protect Your Personal Information This Holiday Season

Locked WalletJP Morgan. Home Depot. Goodwill. And, yes, the IRS. Those are just four of the 636 data breaches that occurred through the first 10 months of 2014, a 30% increase over the same time period last year, according to the Identity Theft Research Center. Is it any wonder consumers are experiencing breach fatigue?

That’s what a new study of more than 1,200 consumers conducted by Morpace on behalf of LifeLock reveals. Consumers are very worried about their personal information being pilfered and used for identity fraud – two-thirds describe data breach as a serious life disruption, and half think it would be one of the worst things that could happen to them. But data breach is now so common that the overall attitude of many seems to be one of helplessness, with about half of consumers agreeing that they don’t know how to prevent data breach or what to do if it happens to them.

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