© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
Think you know your biggest risk in using credit cards? Think again. We all need to pay closer attention than ever before.
In the late 1970’s, the major concerns around credit cards were only: interest rates, on-time payment, and potential wallet theft. New dimensions of credit/debit card use are creating situations that cause customers extra costs and risks. In this area of stress management, the best approach may be “living well is the best revenge”. So what’s new?
- You think you enrolled with a bank for a particular card at a particular rate, right? Now, all the bank has to do is issue new Terms of Service, with new requirements and higher rates. If you use the card again, you have committed to the higher rates.
- You think you know your due date? Now payments often must be made by the morning of the “due date”, due to cutoffs as early as 4 pm EST. Payments with a Saturday or Sunday “due date” can be considered late, even if paid in cash at a branch office, if not paid by the morning of the day prior, since Saturday may not be a “business day”. “Late” payments actually made on the due date or prior can be reported to credit scoring agencies and reduce the customer’s credit score. At one time, weekend “due dates” defaulted to the following business day. Now due dates that are on nonbusiness days are not true due dates, but “late” dates.
- Think you know how to safely use your card? In restaurants, formerly, your biggest card concern was simply making sure to get the card back after the transaction. Today, it is necessary to be sure the credit card never leaves your line of sight, since the card number and code may be hand copied or swiped through a cloning device as small as a modest sandwich, even magnetically cloned from feet away. Credit card processing companies have self-serving policies to help them hold funds. When a charge is run, the restaurant doesn’t get the funds for 3 to 5 days. When a credit or debit mistake is made and voided, the customer’s account may show the mistaken charge as “reserved” for up to a week, even though the void-charge action was run within minutes of the initial mistaken charge. Since the credit card processing company is the entity holding the funds, there is little the restaurant or your credit card bank can do to move the refund into your account. Imagine having your whole club’s dinner ticket charged to your debit card!
- Think you’re safe with the card tucked in your wallet? Now, walking down the street, a person can have their credit card number captured by an electronic “snatcher”, held by a passer-by. Travel gear companies now sell snatcher-blocking inserts for your wallet, and snatcher-proof purses and wallets. Recently, a major “secure” customer data management company reported the “loss” (i.e., copying) of a million confidential customer email addresses. Some prefer to use PayPal, so their credit card data is not directly accessed by merchants.
- Think you should close a few accounts to simplify your credit card stress? Oh no! If you close any, your credit score will dip. This, in turn, will cause some of your interest rates to rise, as well as your insurance rates. Worse, the closed account will show under “adverse reports”, at the top of your credit report, for years. Yes, even though YOU paid it off and YOU closed it in good standing. So never again close an account!
So how should you handle all this credit card stress? I recommend getting the banks and cons back, by living well and wisely. Especially if some or all of these facts make you angry: truly, “living well is the best revenge.” Just get out of the game, without hurting yourself: pay off the cards, track your accounts regularly, carry only one or two cards if any, and use them almost never. Show the credit card processing companies and the banks your true regard, by denying them the income from deceptive practices. Limit the profits of identity thieves by keeping your data to yourself. Get the total satisfaction of knowing you are doing the best for yourself. Now, smile whenever you think of it. Now that’s UpBeat Living!
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● Kebba Buckley Button is a Master’s Degree scientist, a minister, and the award-winning author of the 2012 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core (http://tinyurl.com/abd47jr), and also Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br). She also has a natural healing and stress management practice and is a celebrated public speaker.
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