Archive for December, 2008

Year 2008 – In the Rear view Mirror

I cannot imagine we are already saying good bye to this year. It is Dec 30th and in just 24 hours we are about to welcome yet another year. A new year full of hopes and promises in many folds especially on the economy front all around the globe. With brand new US president in place, there is lot of expectation from him to the put this economy crisis as the first priority in way to stop us going to depression.
 

Let’s give this final moment to look back and reflect on things which just crossed us last year. I am going quickly few things which I remember about last year.


BAILOUT Year Webster dictionary company every year comes out with top 10 words mostly used in that year. This year “BAILOUT” scored the number one spot and winning the title as “2008 Word of the year”.

This year will surely go in the history books for the financial downturns and economy crisis but especially for quite number of bail outs by the government. Bailout was the sole mantra used by the last oval officials to tackle the financial crisis which devastated the wall street and main street. They developed quite number of strategies to stop the bleed but its too late for many things. According to many analyst, Bail outs just helped to stop the issues temporarily and didn’t help for any long term perspectives. Actually it made things worse for many financial organizations. It is going to take year for those companies to recover and get back to normal after weather this storm fully.

GOLD’s, Golden year


Gold reached his all time highest ever for an ounce this year. It reached $1,023.50 on 17th March 2008 A.M. It bottomed out in 1999, and has been on an uptrend ever since. The previous all-time record high gold price in US dollars, reached on 21st January 1980, fixing at $850.00 on that day’s p.m. On 13th March 2008, it broke through the $1,000 per ounce barrier for the first time ever. Although it retreated to about $995, we think it may fix at over $1,000 tomorrow or soon but it went on to make the history reach $1023. It is still an attractive investment for many with global recession concerns. It is currently lingering around $775-$850.

Beijing Olympics – China’s Class Act It was an Olympics we will never forgot for many years to come. Every Olympiad Games is special and unique on its own. But this time, China made it a point to make it more memorable. It displayed great professionalism and authenticity both in opening and closing ceremonies with high end tradition routines. With billions of dollars spent in the making, China world number one populous country made sure, we take away the splendid memories about this 29th Olympics put up by the 22nd nation.

One more important reason to make this Olympics unforgettable time is because of the Swimming Animal Michael Phelps who made history claiming the most golds in single Olympics. He holds the record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympics with the eight golds he won at the 2008 Olympic Games. He also holds seven world records in swimming. With this record, he surpassed American Mark Spitz, who was also a swimmer and had held the previous gold medal total with the seven that he won at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.


All over the world, people glued into their TV set to at least take a glimpse of this human dolphin creating the history in his every attempt at the pool. It was great watching him accomplish his tall feat.

Historic US Presidential Campaign

It was indeed an historic campaign between a Black Democrat and White Republican. Finally, the popular vote goes to “Barack Obama” . It wasn’t hard fought campaign for John Mccain because he is from the ruling party been in the power for 8 years. Obviously, people wanted a change and whether its obama or Clinton (who failed to secure her presidential Democrat seat with Obama), they would have own. It is historic in many ways mainly the first Black American is elected president after US fought its Civil war few decades ago.  It is a welcome news for lot of americans which signs the real change in people’s heart and mind. It is sign of revolution yet to happen.

Mumbai Terror Attack

An unforgetable event unfolded in the Wall Street City of India, Mumbai on Nov 29, 2008. There were a series of ten coordinated terrorist attacks across Mumbai devastating many people life killing almost 164 people (civilians and security personnel). Among the dead were 30 foreign nationals from 10 countries as it happened in famous hotels where foreigns usually stay. The attack went on for 2 days and Mumbai police where finally able to end it after a big chaos. After initial investigations, it was determined that its an act of Pakistani terrorists organization to create yet another panic putting this horror show in way to convey the message Terrorisum will never end in this high tech world.

Finally – A Wise Thought

Last week, I got a video from the Toastmaster Speech Champion and speech mentor Darren Lacroix wishing Happy Holidays with a nice message to Thank ourselves first for this year. I like to ditto his message and stress the point. We sometime forgot to take a moment to accolade ourselves for all the effort we put in to get thru his year. We might have faced some real tough times and good happy moments, it is you who made your days meaningful to get through one at a time.

Before you step into the new year, take some time to Thank yourself for all the things you have done and able to accomplish. Give yourself a nice treat and welcome this new year. That will surely help to make the coming year another fruitful one.


I like to end this post wishing Happy New year to you and your family.

Credit Card – Things you should know – Final Part

I been talking about one of my favorite topic for the past 4-5 weeks or so with some deviation to other topic as and when needed. We covered IDENTITY THEFT in a large extent from top to bottom starting out from, what to do when your cheque book is lost, what are the way scammers can steal your identity over the Internet, how can you protect your identity and finally moved on to Credit card arena. In Credit card, I mentioned why credit card rules and how to get your first credit card taking different people into perspective in my last post.

This post, I am going to talk about how to manage your credit card, how to handle it safely, what are the ways identity can be stolen in real world and What to do when credit card is stolen.


I got the credit card, now what?



Wait a sec, not so fast!! I am might sound too PRO to Credit cards but only if you have taken these safety steps.
As I mentioned earlier, Credit card is a real tricky instrument. If you know how to handle or use it, it helps you a lot but if you don’t it has tendency to put you in debt.

1. Whether you are a student or smart adult, you better make up your mind and plan before start using your first ever credit card. You should plan on how to spend and how are you going to make payment to your charges. It is as simple as it.

2. If you are already an experienced credit card user, I don’t have to tell you anything except be cautious at this credit crisis time. Many banks these days are changing their agreement and how they operate their credit card business. They are jacking up on their ATM charges, so try not to take money out using your credit card. Just use for purchases.

3. Be wary and very careful not to go beyond your credit limits. You might end up paying hefty charges which is the norm but it might be more expensive these hard days as many banks have increased their charges.

4. Check the fine prints which comes to your mail box from credit companies all the time. Don’t throw it out or tear them off. Read them careful if you are really using the credit cards.

Precautionary Measures

Precaution is always better than cure. You can avoid all your worries if you can just take a little of precautionary measure before something bad happens.

1. Don’t carry too many credit cards in your wallet to show off. If you end up losing your wallet, your identity is at the mercy of beholder(thief).

2.Take a Wallet Blueprint – Write down all the credit card numbers and its corresponding 1-800 numbers to call when its lost. Try to write down all other things you carry in the wallet to help out in rare situation when it is lost.

3. Always keep upto date on your credit card statements by signing in online as many banks offer it as free service. You never know bad times hit, these thieves are very smart. So checking often helps you to be act fast instead of waiting for a monthly statement to arrive.

4. Don’t use every card for online purchase. Analyst suggest to keep one card designated for online purchase, that way you don’t have to deal with too many problems at the same time.

5. Check your credit report regularly using credit report services or from the free credit report website http://www.annualcreditreports.com/

6. Opt-out of any credit card offers which is a pain in the first place but it also helps to see whether you are getting a good balance transfer offer. So its upto you whether you want to go thru the pain or not.

7. Shred your mails instead of just throwing them. If you don’t have a shredder, try to atleast tear them tiny bits and pieces.

Thieves Tricky ways

Identity theft is the number one crime in American and even in entire world. It is mainly caused by credit cards. Bad days never knock your door asking for your permission to show up in your life. It just comes and you won’t know when and which avatar it shocks to wet your pants off. These are some common ways thieves steal your identity,

1. Stealing your Wallet with SSN Card and Credit card from your car
2. Cheque books from Mails or Mail box
3. Bills and documents from Trash
4. Scam emails
5. Emails from Classified website which you posted to sell or buy
6. Emails from Phisher pretending like a Bank or mortgage company
7. Calling Kids and offering freebies to gather information
8. Phone call from Banks for SSN info
9. ATM Machines
10. Film Rental Machines
11. Online shopping stores
12. Changing rooms in Mall
13. Parking lots – Underneath your car
14. Pickpocket in Malls by distracting you and so much more.

My Credit Card is Stolen, What to do now?

If it just your credit card stolen, don’t panic. Call your credit card company and report the lost or stolen credit.

If you lost your wallet which had SSN card and everything,
1. Call the local sherrif department or police station and file a compliant.
2. Call all the credit card companies to intimate that your card is stolen and ask them to deactivate it.
3. Call the credit card bureaus and put a freeze on your credit report
4. Put a fraud alert with Credit Bureau as well. Please do everything in writing and send mails via certified mail.

To make your life easier, there are lot of Identity Protection services like Lifelock.com which can help you to stop your identity theft and act on your behalf to stop the leak.

That concludes the series of blogs about IDENTITY THEFT and CREDIT CARDS. I hope it enlightened you all with some useful information and ways you can start using to protect your identity. Please don’t hesitate to add comments and send me an email if you have any questions.

Happy Holidays to all of you!!!

Credit Card – Things you should know

Last week was a busy week at my work as I was working extra hours to get things done. Obviously, work takes priority as pays the bills. For that reason, I had to miss my last week post.



Before that, I posted a blog about CITIBANK which was needed to shed some light on the issue. Let me switch gears to get back to my favorite which is left over topic, IDENTIFY THEFT&CREDIT CARDS. I talked about why credit is preferred by many people and talked about self searching yourself to see whether you need one or not. This post I am going to cover some things on how to get a credit card taking different individuals role from different walks of life.



Getting your first Credit Card



First of all, once you decid to get a card after finding its ease of use and to avoid the burden of carrying cash all around. To tell you frankly, it is not that easy to get one these days. It was easy a year ago but not now as companies are going back to basics looking out for credit history to offer a card. You would have to have good credit history to get a credit card with good limits. But Credit history only gets built once you start borrowing and paying back your debts from the lender whether its credit card company and bank. Its Catch 22!!



Normally, you are eligible to carry a credit card after 18 years. So College students are very attractive customers for the credit card companies.


If you are a student, you are sure to be haunted by credit card companies as they are so willing to offer your student loans. That’s one way to start out credit history and many people do that way. Many kids have good bank history even before they start their college because of their well planned parents who open accounts and educated their kids on money and saving ideas. I strongly recommend parents to educate their kids early and give a kick start to their financial life.



Let say you didn’t go to college and your parents didn’t help you out, then it gets tough. You have to start it all out from scratch. Luckily you found a job and earning reasonable income. You can open a bank account and get your earning flow through the bank. This way y
ou would have accomplished a good bank history. Once you have the bank history, you can apply for a credit card with low credit limit as many banks offer these days and start building your credit history.



Another section of consumer are the Immigrants(like me when I came first) who are here to work and your situation is similar to the above. They don’t have any history of any type as they don’t even have SSN. They have to start it all out and it is tough so most of the time they
dependent on their company offerings until they accomplish some history.



Without credit history, it makes living in America a tough ordeal. I been there and learnt lot of lessons. You cannot buy a car, you cannot get a good place to live and list goes endless. You end up depending on their big brothers/co workers who came before them for everything. Once they good bank history, try banks low credit limit cards many banks offer binding to your savings/checking account. You can start with those credit cards to get your history and slowly you will get into to good books of credit card companies.

Once you got into the good books of credit card companies with good credit history and credit score, then you will start getting offers at your door steps and they won’t stop until you die.


Things to know in advance


1. If you have a good credit history, attractive offers will sure to show up for you even in bad times like this one. Credit card companies/banks need borrowers to borrow money so they can do business and make money in interests. But be wary of their offers. Its not all the same.


Every credit card is different and they have similar rules but different mechanism to attract you to getting the card. So read the offer carefuly before signing up.

2. I strongly recommend you to check whether your credit card issuing bank offer Fraud Alerts for free or might be able to sign for little cost. This alert system come in handy to give signals when peculiar activity happens in your card that may be a hacker who got your card number or thief stole your card.

3. Check all the fine prints like fees or charges on withdrawals, Interest rates for Balance Transfer/Purchases, fees on Balance transfers. Some card offers 0% interest on purchases which is not the same as Balance transfers to your card. Both are entirely different. Also check whether they have transaction fees for Balance transfers. Many credit card companies charge 3% – $10 min fees but very rarely you get free balance transfer fee offers.

4. Check on their billing period and when do they start so you can plan on paying back the money borrowed. Also try to check on their grace period which is either 20 or 25 days depending on their bank offering the card.

5. Finally, just make sure the offers are right when you apply for your card over the phone which is better than applying over mail. That way you can confirm the offers sent to you and you can always use that conversation in future when things go wrong.

I covered some basic as well as important points on how to get a credit card and how to start your credit history according to my experience. I will cover some more facts and pointers in my next post on what are the ways your card or card number can be stolen so you can watch out and what you can do when it happens.

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