What the experts say
Saving on car insurance
Many factors go into what you pay for car insurance, including your age, type of vehicle, and, of course, driving record, said Tobie Stanger in Consumer Reports. But car insurers also consider issues you may not even be aware of. A couple with poor credit and two cars, for example, “will pay an extra $2,090 a year, on average, compared with a family with excellent credit,” according to a Consumer Reports analysis of more than 2.7 billion premiums. That’s “more than what it usually costs to add a teen driver or even the penalty for having two DWIs.” Getting married knocks premiums down by an average of $535 a year; becoming a homeowner knocks $110 off an annual bill. Each insurer uses its own formula, however, so the rewards and penalties are never the same. Bottom line: “Shop around.”
The app that saves for you
A simple app can put your savings on autopilot, said Suzanne Woolley in Bloomberg.com. Digit tracks its users’ income and spending patterns—including pay dates and when bills are due—and socks away small amounts of money into a savings account when users are least likely to miss it. The app, which is available for Android and iOS devices, has been growing steadily in popularity. When the company’s pilot phase ended in 2015, Digit users were saving roughly about $1 million a month, according to the company. “Now that’s more than $35 million a month.” The app can also help users save for specific goals, like travel or paying off debt. Digit’s savings accounts don’t pay interest, but the service is free to use.
Fraudsters give chip cards the slip
Identity and credit card fraud “keep rising,” said AnnaMaria Andriotis and Peter Rudegeair in The Wall Street Journal. “Some 15.4 million U.S. consumers were victims of identity fraud in 2016, resulting in $16 billion in total losses,” according to a report published last week by Javelin Strategy & Research and LifeLock Inc. That’s up 18 percent from 2015 and the highest level of identity fraud since Javelin started tracking it in 2003. The bulk of the theft comes from credit card fraud, driven by a 15 percent rise in fraudulent online purchases last year. The findings suggest fraudsters are finding ways around new chip-enabled cards embraced by card issuers. The chips are supposed to make it harder for thieves to steal consumers’ card information from retailers. But “with online shopping, there is no way to use the chips on cards.”