FEES Fi Fo Fum
NEA Member Benefits offers a variety of money-saving products, including credit cards, auto and home insurance, and savings and loan programs.
During the past year, many credit card companies have revised how they levy late payment and over-the-limit fees.
Now, instead of paying flat fees for these “transgressions,” cardholders incur penalties based on their outstanding credit balances. The fee structure may go something like this: $15 for balances from $0 to $500, $29 for balances from $501 to $1,500, and $39 for balances greater than $1,500.
In addition, some credit card issuers are even starting to charge an annual fee (up to $20 per year) to accountholders who pay off their balances in full each month. Check the fine print for your credit card to see if anything has changed, and be sure to pay on time and not overcharge!
Savvy Cyber Shopping
Shopping online offers the ultimate in convenience and can be just as safe as buying at the local mall or by mail order. To ensure your Internet shopping is worry-free:
- Use a secure browser. Look for a padlock symbol on the screen indicating a secure site.
- Shop only with companies you know. Almost anyone can set up shop online. Also, find out the company’s refund and return policies before placing an order.
- Keep your password private. Be creative when you establish a password, and don’t use the same password on shopping sites that you use for your e-mail and Internet access.
- Pay by credit card. You’ll be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which enables consumers to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates the problem.
- Keep good records. Print out and save a copy of your purchase order and confirmation number.
Just as technology makes our lives easier, it also makes it easier for strangers to steal our personal information. Whenever you use your wireless network, it’s possible that your neighbor—or worse, a drive-by hacker—could be “camping” on it, too. And if you have file-sharing enabled on your computer, your personal data could be at risk. Keep out wireless intruders by taking these steps:
- First, activate any security programs that come with your router. All wireless products support the Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol. Newer products support Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).
- Change the default password of your router.
- “Enable” MAC (Media Access Control) address filtering on your router and enter the MAC addresses of the network devices in your system. This will block devices with “foreign” MAC addresses from accessing your network. (To find the appropriate addresses for a Windows network, click Start, select Run, type “cmd” in the textbox, click OK, type “ipconfig/all” at the prompt, and press Enter. In the dialog box that appears, look for the line labeled Physical Address. Here you should find a MAC address for each network card or device in your system.)
- Install a firewall program to protect your network from outside attacks.
- Change the default network name to one that doesn’t reflect your name or address.
- Update your firewall and other security software on a regular basis.